by Stephen McFadden
Do you play in a league that utilizes OBP, as opposed to Batting Average? While in many cases a player’s value doesn’t change dramatically there are some who have a great disparity. A high-end player is likely going to be a high-end player, but what about the mid-to-lower tiers? With that in mind, let’s take a look at two players who may be sitting on your waiver wire and determine their potential value for those in OBP formats:
Enrique Hernandez – 2B, 3B, SS, OF – Los Angeles Dodgers
42% ownership in CBS leagues, 42% ownership in Yahoo leagues
With Max Muncy already a must-own in every fantasy league, another Dodger with eligibility all over the field is putting himself on the radar with impressive power and on-base ability. Hernandez has blasted 15 HR in only 235 PA with an OBP of .316. Seven of those home runs have come in the last week as the slugging outfielder has also boasted a .371 OBP during that time span.
Hernandez has made a calculated decision to go for more power this year. His flyball rate has climbed all the way up to 51.9% from 39.7% last season. At the same time the ball is leaving the park more often with an 18.3% HR/FB% versus a rate of 12.6% last season. While it is too early to know which number is his normal, his improvement in plate discipline bodes well. Hernandez has lowered his O-Swing% to 24.1% from 27% last year while reducing his SwStrk% from 11.4% last year to 9.4% this season.
A FB% north of 50% will almost always lead to a low batting average, but Hernandez has shown a propensity to take walks. He has a 10.6 BB% that is line with his career marks. His future outlook is bright as Hernandez put up a SLG% of .570 with a .378 OBP in the month of June, following a lousy May in which he slugged .411 with a .250 OBP.
A closer look at his batted ball numbers shows that he faced some difficulties with the new flyball centric approach early in the season. In March and April Hernandez had a pathetic 20% IFFB% and a 15% HR/FB%. In June he completely reversed those numbers, racking up a 23.3% HR/FB% and a 13.3% IFFB%.
He has logged at least 3 games in every position in the field besides catcher, enabling him to get regular at-bats in the Dodgers run-producing lineup. He makes for an excellent add in all leagues as in injury fill-in and in weekly leagues where you can plug him in all over the field depending on injuries and off days.
Ian Happ – 2B, 3B, OF – Chicago Cubs
59% ownership in CBS leagues, 46% ownership in Yahoo leagues
Happ checks in this week as my favorite three true outcomes pickup. The slugging utilityman has a 16.2% BB%, a 36.8% K% and has homered in 4% of his plate appearances. That’s an astonishing 57% of his plate appearances that don’t end in the field of play. In OBP leagues that 16.2% BB is quite attractive. Although his contact skills are scaring off many owners, his ability to get on-base and square the ball up when he does connect makes him valuable.
In his second season in the Majors Happ is showcasing an improved batting eye, swinging only at 24.2% of pitches outside of the zone versus 31.5% last year. It bears noting that he is swinging at pitches in the zone less as well (61% Z-Swing this season versus 68.6% last year), racking up more strikeouts looking than before. His SwStr% remains almost identical to last season (15.7% versus 16% last year) with an increase in K% from 31.2% to 36.8%.
A look at Happ’s batted ball mix shows us a hefty improvement in Hard% from 32.8% to 43.5%, which explains how he has managed a .410 OBP to date. He has shown tremendous improvement since the beginning of the season, raising his Hard% steadily every month (36.1% in March/April, 44.1% in May and 51.2% in June). There is no denying that when Happ takes the bat off his shoulder he is hitting the ball extremely hard.
A .410 BABIP is not sustainable over a large sample, but I am comfortable riding this hot streak out. His unique blend of skills and positional eligibility make for a solid add in most leagues. He provides a rare blend of power (10 HR) and OBP with a dash of speed (4 SB), and he receives a boost to his counting stats being part of a lineup that has produced the 4th highest run total in the Majors.