Indians Yonder Alonso Will Surge, Rockies Carlos Gonzalez Will Fizzle
Indians and Rockies Sluggers among those to see late changes in production
The MLB playoff race is tightening up, and some players that are ready to break out late in the season could change the playoff landscape. We are more than halfway through the year, but there are still players that are overperforming and due for regression, and others that should start turning it on. Baseball numbers are always subject to change, and here are players that will see a change in their statistical trends during the remainder of 2018.
Peralta is having a great 2018 season, but I expect some regression as the season winds down. The biggest change from last year has been a big jump in his power numbers. His Isolated Power was .150 in 2017, and is up to .223 this year. That increase can be credited to a spike in his Home Run to Fly Ball rate. Only 12.2 percent of his fly balls went for home runs in 2017, but has seen 20.6 of them go for home runs in 2018. That rate is the one that will see some regression.
DeJong is coming to life this season after a great rookie campaign in 2017. He is off to a good start with his power numbers in August with four home runs in 12 games. That is what he showed he was capable of last year, and I think he is primed to ride out his momentum the rest of the season. He could see positive regression in his HR/FB rate, which is down six percent from last year. Also, his .286 BABIP is down from his .349 rate in 2017, and he could very well have positive regression there too. DeJong will be a valuable piece for the Cardinals down the stretch, and I see him posting big numbers.
Odor has one of the biggest changes in BABIP I have ever come across. Last year Odor had some tough luck and fell victim to good defense with a BABIP of .224. It has been the polar opposite so far in 2018, as he has a .329 BABIP. That is a career high for him and up a good amount from his .280 career average. It has helped him attain better numbers than what would be expected. His xwOBA is .024 lower than his actual wOBA and he has the 13th highest difference among MLB batters. The outcomes should regress.
After a big month in July, Alonso has been terrible so far in August. He posted a .302 batting average in July, but has just a .170 average in August. I am betting on Alonso to return to what he was doing so well in July. He should have some positive regression in his power numbers, and he will start getting more RBIs and home runs. He took a new approach last year, with a lot more fly balls and that has remained true this year. He is behind some of the best hitters in baseball in Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, which gives him opportunities for big games.
After a great month of July for Gonzalez, I think he is due for regression in his numbers. He has been crazy effective in Coors Field, and it is tough to imagine him keeping it up. He has a .333 batting average there, but it could be due to his .418 BABIP at the park. I expect him to slow down at Coors, and come back to the mean. He also will regress versus left-handed pitchers. He has improved drastically against LHPs (291 BA) this season after batting just .206 against them last year. His Expected Slugging Percentage is the highest of any batter is baseball, which shows his power numbers should be lower. Gonzalez will cool down after having a hot bat in July.
Votto is having the worst year of his career, but I am betting on him to turn it around. He has just nine home runs after hitting 36 in 2017. Only nine percent of his fly balls have gone for home runs after a 19.7 rate last year. I expect him to see positive regression in that area. Also, his wOBA is nearly .050 off his career average. His Expected wOBA points to positive regression as well. Votto is too good of a hitter to not flip the switch before the year ends.
The highly-touted prospect for the White Sox is having an overall disaster of a season in 2018, but is showing some progress recently. In the second half of the season, he has a xFIP of 4.12 and a strikeout rate of 22 percent. His last start against the Tigers was the best outing of the season, and I believe he will be able to build on that performance. His change-up has improved a lot, and has been able to generate more swinging strikes lately. Two out of his last four starts have produced Swinging Strike rates of 13.1 percent and 14.9 percent. If Giolito can keep his confidence on the mound, I expect him to perform better the rest of this year.
Williams is due for serious regression in his 3.66 ERA. Looking at that number, you would expect him to be pitching well, but he has not done much to get you excited. He is only striking out 16 percent of batters and generating a seven percent Swinging Strike rate. That Swinging Strike percentage is the fourth lowest among all MLB pitchers. His high xFIP and SIERA point to his ERA not staying so low, and he should start to give up a lot more runs. Williams has squeezed his way through a good year, but his luck will run out soon.
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