You can’t hit home runs without hitting flyballs, right? Let’s take a look at which 10 hitters with at least 400 plate appearances in both 2008 & 2009 enjoyed the biggest increase in flyball rate and if they have an opportunity to deliver a significant number of home runs in 2010:
- Chris Young – Arizona Diamondbacks – +12.8%
There’s no doubting that he has the power, but the significant number of flyballs coupled with an extreme number of strikeouts (30.7% in 2009) makes it nearly impossible for him to hit for a usable average. I would almost expect the Diamondbacks to try to get him to hit less flyballs in 2010, allowing him to utilize his speed more. Despite that, he hit 32 HR in 2007 with a flyball rate of 48.3%, so even if he does regress from 2009s 55.6% he should still have plenty of power.
- Dioner Navarro – Tampa Bay Rays – +12.8%
The 2009 season saw him get his flyball rate back to what it was in 2006 & 2007, but it doesn’t much matter. He has 33 career home runs in 1,642 at bats. That should tell you all you need to know about Navarro and his home run potential.
- Derrek Lee – Chicago Cubs – +12.0%
He had a resurgence in power, but his 45.7% flyball rate was a career high. In fact, since 2002 he had only posted two seasons over 40% (40.9% in 2002 and 40.5% in 2004). Maybe he has finally recovered from his wrist injury and could maintain his 17.9% HR/FB rate, but I tend to doubt it. A drop in flyballs and a drop in HR/FB means that his power is likely to take a major hit in 2010. We’re going to be discussing him in much more detail in the coming days.
- Ian Kinsler – Texas Rangers – +10.7%
Here is a player who saw a great power surge from the increased flyballs, but his average suffered greatly. As I’ve said before, you just don’t get as lucky with flyballs dropping in, so while a .245 BABIP is an extreme, the fact that he suffered should not be a surprise. Look for him to get back to what he did in 2008, which will mean less power but likely more overall value.
- Jimmy Rollins – Philadelphia Phillies – +10.5%
The increase comes, at least in part, courtesy of a career low flyball rate in 2008 (30.6%). Then again, he’s been all over the map, with a 44.2% in 2007, a 36.9% in 2006 and a 32.1% in 2005. He’s shown the ability to hit 20+ home runs in the past, and playing in Citizens Bank Ballpark certainly helps. I’d look for him to be about the same player in 2010. I recently compared him to Jose Reyes, which you can check out by clicking here.
- Ryan Theriot – Chicago Cubs – +9.8%
Yeah, he exploded for seven home runs in 2009, but who really cares? He doesn’t have power and likely never will.
- B.J. Upton – Tampa Bay Rays – +9.7%
I’ve already posted my 2010 projections for him, so we’ve already discussed him (click here to view). The flyball rate he posted in 2009 (40.3%) was similar to his 2007 mark (37.6%), so maybe 2008 (30.6%) was the outlier. We’ll have to wait and see, but repeating a 24 HR outburst seems like a long shot.
- Andre Ethier – Los Angeles Dodgers – +9.5%
He could have been the poster boy for those who believe in the 27-year old breakout, going from 20 to 31 HR. While he may take a small step backwards in the flyball department, the power is very much for real. Look for the home runs to continue.
- Marco Scutaro – Boston Red Sox – +9.0%
He set a career high with 12 HR, but that’s nothing to really brag about. Even if he can maintain the flyball rate, he’s unlikely to be a source of power from your middle infield. He’s maybe a 10/10 option, so don’t overvalue him, especially due to the move to Boston.
- Jason Bartlett – Tampa Bay Rays – +8.8%
The increased flyball rate is nice, but like Scutaro he’s not an elite power option. Still, reaching double-digits goes a long ways for him, as he’s had 20+ stolen bases each of the past three seasons. The HR/FB was 8.7%, more than double his career mark (4.2%), so I’m going to take the power surge with a grain of salt. While he may again reach double-digits, its no guarantee. Keep that in mind on draft day.
What are your thoughts on these ten players? Whose increased flyball rate will likely translate into more home runs? Who is most likely to see a regression?
Previous Statistical Anysis:
- Ten Biggest Batters HR/FB Increases from 2008 to 2009
- Ten Biggest Batters HR/FB Decreases from 2008 to 2009
- Ten Worst Pitcher’s HR/FB in 2009
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