2022 Fantasy Baseball Trends: Jorge Soler and Mike Yastrzemski

by Ryan Kirksey
2022 Fantasy Baseball Yastrzemski

In this week’s 2022 Fantasy Baseball Trends column, we will look at how Jorge Soler and Mike Yastrzemski have exploded to the top of the slugging and OPS charts in the last two weeks.

Both are available in many Fantasy Baseball leagues, but their surges will likely make them popular waiver additions or trade candidates.

Soler and Yastrzemski sit atop the slugging percentage leaderboards the last two weeks, alongside names like Aaron Judge, Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, and Jose Ramirez. Are they both truly entering the level of elite run producers or are these flukes that are destined to let Fantasy managers down in the coming weeks?

This weekly column will look at some of the more intriguing 2022 Fantasy Baseball Trends and provide actionable advice on how to handle the data we collected. For this week’s piece, we will examine the incredible last two weeks by Jorge Soler and Mike Yastrzemski to try and determine if they should be available in any Fantasy leagues.

2022 Fantasy Baseball Trends: Jorge Soler and Mike Yastrzemski

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Jorge Soler Has Started Mashing again

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Ever since Jorge Soler broke out in a massive way in 2019 (47 home runs and 117 RBI), Fantasy managers have been chasing that production, but have come up empty in their attempt to get anywhere close to those numbers. After a disappointing short season in 2020, some of Soler's power found its way into 2021. He hit 27 home runs with 70 RBI that season while playing almost 150 games. It was just a good, not great, campaign. He became a postseason hero including hitting an absolute monster home run in the deciding game of the World Series. After that barrage, many thought the Soler of 2019 was coming back, even after he signed with the Miami Marlins. But then April happened.

In the first month of the season, Soler struggled to a .171/.284/.303 slash line with a 28.5% strikeout rate. With just two homers in the entire month, Fantasy managers were thinking "here we go again." But when the calendar flipped to May, something clicked for Soler. Since May 1, he has a .252/.333/.613 slash with a more reasonable 25.5% strikeout rate. Why the massive change, particularly in slugging percentage? Simply put, Soler started doing Soler things again. Primarily, he started selling out for flyball power.

Here are Soler's line drive and flyball rates for the 2022 season:

Towards the end of April, Soler got to a point where his line drive rate was 27.5% and his flyball rate was 32%, a full 7.5% below his career average. As much as we love players who hit line drives, that is just not Soler's game. His game is selling out for massive power, which is exactly what he is doing during this second month of the year. Now, Soler's home run per flyball rate in May is an unsustainable 32%, but he has always excelled in that department. His career rate is 20% because he has some of the purest power behind his flyballs in the entire league.

With nine home runs in the month, he is behind only Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge. I don't expect Soler to keep up a 50 home run pace, but this looks like a batted-ball profile that is reverting back to what has worked well in the past. Soler is presently available in 30% of Yahoo Fantasy leagues.

Mike Yastrzemski Might Have the Best Plate Skills in the League

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There was a myriad combination of factors that led to Mike Yastrzemski having an abysmal season in 2021. His walk rate was down. His BABIP was a laughably low .254 (.304 for his career). And his swinging strike rate was up. But even with all that working against him coming into 2022, he has bounced back in a big way and now is one of the most valuable Fantasy assets a team can have. Yet somehow he is unrostered in 40% of Yahoo Fantasy baseball leagues.

Yastrzemski joins Soler in this top ten in slugging over the past two weeks (both are over .700). And both have identical 1.190 OPS numbers during the last 14 days. But while those numbers are extremely similar, they are achieving them in very different ways. As we saw above, Soler has more home runs that all but two players in baseball this month. On the other hand, Yastrzemski has seen 58 players hit more home runs than him. However, Yaz is 10th in doubles (9) and third in walks (17). Soler has become the master of having one monster hit per game, while Yastrzemski was fifth in on-base percentage in the month of May.

How is he doing it this year after such a terrible 2021? He finally has brought his elite-level contact rate up to previous levels. Both on pitches in the zone and pitches outside the zone.

You can see Yastrzemski spent most of last season below the league average for both zone contact rate and outside zone contact rate. But now his zone contact is back to levels of the best hitters in the game. He has been over 90% since April 23rd and shows no signs of giving back those gains. In addition to the contact rate, his eye is still exceptional. In 2022,  he currently has his highest walk rate (14.4%) and lowest strikeout rate (16% of his career.

How he is available right now in 40% of Yahoo leagues in just baffling to me. I get that many people might have been burned by this player last year, but he looks like he is here to stay as one of the best plate-disciplined hitters in the game today.


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2 comments

Statix May 31, 2022 - 4:43 pm

*Yaz gets on base fewer than only 4 other players in the month of May, not more than ;/ . Glad I was able to get him in a league about a week ago. His Savant page is all red. Yeah he’s good. Vintage Votto-esque

Reply
Ryan Kirksey May 31, 2022 - 4:46 pm

Yes! I could definitely see a Votto-like career with his skill set.

Reply

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