by Connor Henry
With only a few weeks left in the MLB regular season, it becomes crunch time in the fantasy universe. Making that final push for the title requires adept lineup monitoring, keeping track of matchups and a keen eye on the waiver wire. To help with your waiver wire adventures I want to check-in on some recently hot hitters to see if their high BABIP over the past 30 days is sustainable:
- Line Drive % (LD%): League Average of 21%
- Infield Fly Ball % (IFFB%): League Average of 10%
- Hard Contact %: League Average of 35%
- Ability to use all parts of the field relatively evenly (Pull, Center, Opposite)
Let’s consider a couple players to see if their high BABIPs can sustain to the end of the fantasy season.
Johan Camargo – Atlanta Braves
Once thought of as the stop gap at third base for the Braves, Camargo has done everything in his power to prove he deserves to be their long-term option. Along with playing solid defense he has batted .274 on the year with 18 HR and a .354 OBP. However, over the past 30 days he has ratcheted it up a notch by hitting .311 and smacking 5 HR. Over that span Camargo is sporting a .359 BABIP, certainly above league average (.296) but possibly sustainable if the data backs up the improvements. His batted ball data is listed below:
- Line Drive %: 28
- Infield Fly Ball %: 8
- Hard Contact %: 30
- Pull/Center/Opposite %: 42/32/26
Camargo has made some improvements in his batted ball data over the last 30 days including a drastic increase in his line drive rate. In addition he is also avoiding popups very effectively and therefore giving himself a high BABIP floor. On the other hand I’m slightly concerned about his hard contact rate and his lack of ability to use all parts of the field. It should be noted as well that his soft contact rate sits around 20% and could also be cause for concern.
Verdict: Camargo does not have a perfect batted ball profile by any means. I’m impressed with his line drive rate, which should allow him to sustain a BABIP of at least .300, but I would caution against relying on him to keep up a .311 batting average. His hard contact rate on the season is actually about 36% so if he can limit the soft contact and continue hitting line drives, a .320 BABIP and .280 batting average is not out of the question in the home stretch.
Kevin Kiermaier – Tampa Bay Rays
Known as a defensive wizard in center field, Kiermaier has always struggled a bit when it comes to consistency at the plate. After a disappointing start to the season, and yet another injury, he has bounced back and hit a very impressive .363 over the past 30 days including 3 HR and 2 SB. However, over this time period his BABIP is .419, 10th best in the league for qualified batters, which doesn’t lead me to believe the batting average is fully sustainable:
- Line Drive %: 29
- Infield Fly Ball %: 6
- Hard Contact %: 37
- Pull/Center/Opposite %: 28/39/33
For a glove-first center fielder, Kiermaier is showing fantastic skills in his batted ball data. He’s hitting plenty of line drives, avoiding popups and using all parts of the field. In addition he is sporting a 37% hard contact rate and 15% soft contact rate showing that he is making quality contact and not getting lucky with weak dribblers through the infield.
Verdict: If these adjustments stick he makes a very intriguing add for the home stretch. He has power, speed and a secure job in the suddenly red hot Rays lineup. I do not expect his BABIP to run above .400 for the remaining weeks of the season but the line drive rate, quality of contact and ability to use all parts of the field speak to someone who can sustain a well above league average BABIP. Ride the hot hand if you can.
Randal Grichuk – Toronto Blue Jays
If there is one thing Grichuk is not known for, it’s batting average. He’s always been able to hit home runs and even steal a couple of bases, but with his strikeout issues and overall lack of plate discipline, Grichuk has been a staple of the waiver wire for the last couple of fantasy seasons. However, over the last 30 days he is batting .337 with 7 HR and an OPS over 1.000 which should definitely catch your attention. Let’s see if the .447 BABIP, buoying this hot streak, is sustainable:
- Line Drive %: 24
- Infield Fly Ball %: 18
- Hard Contact %: 52
- Pull/Center/Opposite %: 52/30/18
Grichuk, over the past 30 days, is showing a bit of improvement when it comes to his batted ball data but seems to be the same player overall. He’s hitting a good amount of line drives, but his popup rate remains high and corresponds directly to his incredibly high 52% flyball rate. Grichuk may be hitting the ball hard (52% hard contact rate) but with his tendency to completely sell out for power will always limit his ability to hit for average.
Verdict: Grichuk will not be able to sustain the .337 batting average he’s had over the past 30 days. He’s hitting too many infield fly balls and lacks the ability to use the opposite side of the field, and even though his line drive rate is above average his 52% flyball rate completely limits his BABIP upside. He is an add if you are searching for power down the stretch but the BABIP regression seems inevitable unless his IFFB rate and flyball rate fall back to normal levels.