Friday, April 25, 2008

Transient Power

On Wednesday we took a look at some pitchers whose HR/F ratios were inordinately high (the pitchers are unlucky). Today we will look at some hitters who sport a higher than usual (for them) HR/F ratio. These hitters have been lucky with the long ball to date and owners can expect to see that power tail off a bit in the months ahead.

Hanley Ramirez: Hanley leads the majors in HR/F rate (minimum 50 PA) to the tune of a 31.60% ratio. This simply can not be sustained. He already has 7 HRs on the year despite hitting ground balls 49.3% of the time. To put it in perspective, in 2007 he sported a 13.20% HR/F rate and in 2006 it was 10.20%. Once his fly balls start being caught for outs at a more normal rate his power numbers will come back to earth a bit. I know this hot start with the bat has his owners salivating at the thought of a 40/40 season, but my guess is that he only makes a modest improvement over last year's power numbers; maybe to 32 HRs.

Casey Kotchman: Kotchman has had a nice start to the season with 6 HRs. The problem is that he has a GB% of 54.80% and he is getting lucky with his fly balls (27.00% HR/F). In the past two seasons Kotchman has not had a HR/F rate above 9.00%. Maybe this hot start gets him to 20 HRs, but I do not see 25. Most people projected him to fall in the 15-20 HR range in the pre-season, so it looks like he might end up in the upper end of that range. Try to sell high if you can.

Josh Willingham: Willingham has power. He has hit 20+ HRs each of the past two seasons and he already has 6 in 2008. He does however have an inflated HR/F rate of 24.90%. His previous high in the category was back in 2006 when he finished with a 16.80% HR/F rate. The power will slow down but Willingham looks like he can challenge his career high of 26 HRs.

Gary Matthews, Jr.: Mr. Matthews has a 24.00% HR/F rate to start the year and 4 HRs. Over the past three seasons he has averaged roughly a 12.00% HR/F rate. This pop won't last, especially given that he is hitting ground balls in more than 58.00% of his at-bats.

Yunel Escobar: Esco has a 61.00% GB rate and a 19.80% HR/F rate. His three HRs to date are somewhat of a mirage. Many people are looking for 15+ jacks from him this year. This just does not seem possible given that he hits ground balls at such a high rate. In 2007 he had a 56.00% GB rate and a 7.90% HR/F rate. Sell high if someone is willing to bite, otherwise just enjoy the lucky long balls while they last.

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