Mar 2, 2012

Lucky & Unlucky HR Totals from 2011




As fantasy baseball managers, we all try to effectively predict the future based on the past. Those who can predict the future better than others are the ones who take home the money each year. In this particular post, we'll be taking a glance back at some HR totals from 2011 that seem a bit abnormal so we can predict some potential fluctuations in 2012.

A while back, I had a post about how to evaluate home run totals which explained that HitTracker data can tell us a lot about whether a batter was unlucky or not. HitTracker classifies HR's into three main types: Just Enough, Plenty or No Doubt. For each of those HR types, there are league averages that most hitters should be close to and we start to become skeptical if they deviate from those averages. For instance, about 33% of HR's in 2011 were Just Enough so if a player was way below or above that mark then we must raise a red flag. I did a Google Doc which shows data from last year but let's take a look at some of those unique cases.
Lucky
When we see a player with a very large percentage of Just Enough HR's, this usually means that they had a few too many lucky HR's slip over the fence. In 2010, Casey McGehee fell into this category with 65% of his 23 homers being Just Enough. Drafters may have thought he was an up-and-coming slugger but found out otherwise when he hit 13 HR last year. Here's five players that may fall into the same trap in 2012 based on last year's numbers:

  • Asdrubal Cabrera
  • Howie Kendrick
  • Adam Lind
  • Michael Morse
  • Michael Young
Asdrubal had 25 HR's last year but had 60% of them were Just Enough which means that you'd have to take away 10 of those to return him back to league average here. For Kendrick, he's vaulted up the draft boards partly due to his HR total last year but he hit an astounding 78% of his HR's in the Just Enough variety which should be a huge red flag that he's not going to continue to produce anywhere close to 15-20 HR's again. Meanwhile, both Lind and Morse are power hitters but use caution on them as they did benefit from an additional 5 or so extra HR's based on their Just Enough HR percentage.

The name that may jump out at you a bit more from that list is Michael Young. Yes, he only hit 11 HR last year but 91% of them were Just Enough HR's! That's a crazy mark as he hit 0 No Doubt HR's and only one Plenty HR. Young's FB% dropped and his LD% rose last year which may be evidence of a change in approach to lean more towards hitting for a high average instead of power. Despite only hitting 11 HR, he probably should have been way under even that mark last year.

Unlucky
On the other side of that Just Enough coin is the players who had a tiny amount of Just Enough HR's and probably could have had quite a few more last year. In looking at 2010, Curtis Granderson was an example of this with his 12% Just Enough HR's. Smart fantasy owners recognized that and saw Grandy rise from 24 to 41 HR's last year. Who might see a similar rise in power in 2012?

  • Pablo Sandoval
  • Carlos Pena
  • Paul Konerko
  • J.P. Arencibia
  • Mike Napoli
The Big Panda hit 23 HR last year but only 4 of them were Just Enough homers. To get to a league average rate, he could have hit about 5 additional homers last year. J.P. Arencibia had nearly the same numbers as Sandoval so would have had an additional 5 homers if he was at league average. Carlos Pena actually had even worse luck than those two with 28 total HR and 2 Just Enough HR's so he clearly could have been way over 30 HR's last year. Meanwhile, Konerko and Napoli both had pretty good HR totals with around 30 each but they could have been even closer to 40 HR last year if their measly Just Enough HR's were at a league average rate.

This method is a bit untraditional but can give you a leg up on the competition as you know your leaguemates  won't be tapping into the same data. When it comes to your point in the draft, possibly pass on those lucky HR hitters and cash in on the unlucky hitters from last year. You might find yourself drafting the next Curtis Granderson when all is said and done.

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