Knowledge Drop May 29, 2018 – Hideki Irabu Edition* (#28)
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*On this date in 1997, The Yankees agree to terms with Japanese pitcher Hideki Irabu‚ signing the fireballer to a four-year contract worth $12.8 million. The deal includes a signing bonus of $8.5 million. Less than two years later, Yankees boss George Steinbrenner called him a “fat puss-y toad.” (It rhymes with fussy, it’s not the other word.)
TOP KNOWLEDGE — WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
IS BRANDON BELT FOR REAL?
Before this season we had a major crush on Brandon Belt. Aside from his multiple concussions, there was nothing not to like about Belt going into this season. He was headed for a career year before, well his head got in the way last season.
He’s been borderline spectacular this season. We believe he’ll continue his terrific season – he might cool off a bit – but you can use him as a good trade chip/keeper option in your league.
Belt was an All-Star in 2016, hitting .275 with 17 HR, 82 RBI and 77 runs in 156 games. We tabbed him for an excellent season in 2017 and were correct, until injuries hit. He notched 18 HR in 104 games, adding 51 RBI and 63 runs in 104 games. He collected only a .241 average but that was on a .284 BABIP, some 50 points below his career average.
This spring his ADP was in the low 300s making him a no-brainer in our mind – we’d have picked him up 100 points sooner at least.
So far in 2018, Belt has blasted 11 HR, with 31 RBI and 31 runs. His average is .311 (.374 BABIP). Other stats are mixed: His hard hit percentage is actually down from last year (35.8 percent from 40.9 percent); so is his exit velocity (87.8 mph) from 88.2. The biggest difference is that his ground balls are down about 9 percent and have mostly become line drives (up 8 percent) with a slight increase in fly balls.
Belt is in the top 5 in barrels, that is the combination of batted balls with a certain exit velocity and launch angle that typically produce extra base hits.
In general we see Belt having an outstanding season so far, but we see some regression coming, though we’re unsure how much. A look at the below trends is a mixed bag:
You can see fairly stable trends in contact and swinging strike percentages. We’re a bit troubled by the o-swing percentage in particular, that is the pitches out of the zone Belt is swinging at. He’s chasing a bit more than he has in a few seasons and he’s making less contact out of the zone (which is not necessarily a bad thing, unless it’s on two strikes).
His overall contact rate is down but his 85 percent z-contact rate (pitches in the strike zone) is up 3 percentage points from last season, but that chasing pitches tendency is driving up the swinging strike percentage and driving down overall contact.
We’re not particularly worried – it’s still May – but Belt’s growing affinity for pitches out of the zone is something we will watch.
If Belt stays healthy, we like him for 28 HR, 95 RBI and runs, and about a .290 average over the full season. But certainly if your team has noticeable holes, Belt might be your best bet to trade away.
A THOUSAND WORDS
Today @BatFlipCrazy isn’t as crazy about Jurickson Profar’s month of May as you might imagine:
Jurickson Profar’s had a decent last month (.248-14-2-19-2), but the skills are high contact/low K% and nothing else: O-swing: 36.3% last 20 / 31.3% season (30.0% MLB) Contact: 86.7% / 85.8% (76.8%) Hard: 20.0% / 25.5% (34.8%) wOBA: .319 / xOBA: .308
Follow @BatFlipCrazy on Twitter and read more in-depth data analysis at batflipcrazy.com
RIDDLE ME THIS
You are in a room that has three switches and a closed door. Each switch controls one of three light bulbs on the other side of the door. Once you open the door, you may never touch the switches again. How can you definitively tell which switch is connected to each of the light bulbs?
Email your guess to BigMacFantasySports@gmail.com
DAD JOKE OF THE DAY
What did the ocean say to the shore?
Nothing. It just waved.