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Magazine Content

By The Numbers

by Fred Zinkie
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

This week’s 10-pack of statistical tidbits ranges all the way from superstars (Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock) to less-coveted assets (Eduardo Escobar, Archie Bradley), with a little bit of team-centric data mixed in. Overall, owners who consistently try to analyze data from a variety of angles throughout the season will find a series of small edges that could mean the difference between victory and a narrow defeat.
 
23 extra-base hitsEduardo Escobar, Third baseman (Twins): Escobar is quickly proving that his breakout 2017 season (21 homers, 73 RBIs across 457 at-bats) was no fluke by producing 23 extra-base hits across 131 at-bats so far this year. In fact, just four players have produced more extra-base knocks than the Twins’ utility man. The 29-year-old owns an impressive .903 OPS, and he has earned that mark on the strength of high rates of hard contact (37.9 percent) and fly balls (47.6 percent) rather than good fortune (.313 BABIP). Mixed-league owners should feel comfortable expecting Escobar to stay in their active lineup throughout the season.
 
.375 BABIPMatt Kemp, Outfielder (Dodgers): Virtually no one saw this coming, but in the middle of May, Kemp leads the Dodgers in batting average (.317) and ranks second on the team in OPS (.857). A cursory glance at the veteran’s numbers reveal a .375 BABIP, which strongly suggests that regression is coming. However, an even deeper look indicates that the performance dip may not be too severe. After all, Kemp has been stinging the baseball harder than ever before (45.2 percent hard-contact rate) and ripping line drives at a lofty rate of 29.0 percent. While owners of the 33-year-old cannot expect six months of mixed-league-worthy production, they also should not make a concerted effort to trade him away.
 
33 RBIsA.J. Pollock, Outfielder (D-backs): Formerly one of the best table-setters in baseball, Pollock has transformed himself into arguably the most dynamic cleanup hitter. The 30-year-old is already nearly half way to his career high in RBIs, and he ranks sixth in the Majors in that statistic. Additionally, he places among the league leaders in homers (ninth, 11), batting average (29th, .301), steals (seventh, nine) and runs scored (46th, 23). In fact, Pollock and Angels superstar Mike Trout are the only players who have already compiled at least eight homers and swipes. By combining his plus speed with an improved ability to produce hard contact (45.5 percent) and fly balls (38.4 percent), Pollock needs only to stay healthy to perform at the level of a first-round pick this year.
 
31.0 percent strikeout ratePaul Goldschmidt, First baseman (D-backs): In short, pretty much everything is wrong with Goldschmidt right now. The superstar slugger has logged a career-worst 31.0 percent strikeout rate and an inflated 11.5 percent swinging-strike rate, which has led to a lowly .210 batting average despite a reasonable .302 BABIP. Usually someone who punishes fastballs, Goldschmidt has made life easy for opposing starters by having little success against their most-used offerings this season. The impact (mental or physical) of the newly installed humidor at Chase Field may be messing with the 30-year-old’s season, as he owns Goldschmidt-like .910 OPS on the road but a .543 mark at home.
 
4 winsFour Astros starters: Remarkably, four members of the Astros’ rotation are among the 34 starters who have already amassed four wins this season. Lance McCullers Jr. (five wins, 3.72 ERA), Gerrit Cole (four wins, 1.43 ERA), Charlie Morton (five wins, 2.03 ERA) and Justin Verlander (four wins, 1.21 ERA) have all been performing at an elite fantasy level. With stellar skills that are supported by a bullpen that ranks fifth in baseball with a 3.10 ERA and an offense that sits fourth in the Majors with 202 runs scored, Houston’s starters are set to be fantasy gold throughout the 2018 season.
 
5 lossesDallas Keuchel, Starter (Astros): Expected by many to be Houston’s No. 2 starter, Keuchel has thus far missed out on the fantasy party. The left-hander sits at 3-5, which actually gives him more losses than the combined total of the other four Astros starters. Still, Keuchel has logged a lower ERA and WHIP than Lance McCullers Jr. while also tossing more innings than Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton. Wise owners could trade for Keuchel now in hopes that he enjoys his own stretch of wins at some point in the coming weeks.
 
13 holdsArchie Bradley, Reliever (D-backs): Holds are becoming an increasingly popular stat in fantasy leagues, making Bradley a coveted asset in many formats. After ranking eighth in the Majors with 25 holds during his first season as a reliever, the right-hander is leading the Majors in that statistic this year. In fact, Mariners reliever Juan Nicasio is the only other reliever with more than 10 holds, and Nicasio currently owns a 6.16 ERA. Sure, Bradley lacks the swing-and-miss skills (7.8 K/9 rate) of the prototypical setup studs, but he is producing outstanding ratios (2.05 ERA, 0.91 WHIP) and is incredibly valuable in holds leagues. Additionally, the 25-year-old has compiled a pair of saves and is the clear alternative if Brad Boxberger becomes unable to work the ninth inning.
 
33 OPS pointsBoston Red Sox: While we all know that the Red Sox have a productive lineup, many owners are unaware of their outstanding success against right-handers. To this point in the season, Boston’s hitters have produced an .822 OPS against righties, which is 33 points higher than the OPS logged by any other team. To put that gap in perspective, the space between Boston and the next club in OPS versus righties is larger than the gap between second place and sixth. While owners can be a little more liberal with their use of southpaws against the Red Sox (Boston ranks 26th in baseball in OPS vs. lefties), wise owners will bench most of their right-handers when the Red Sox are the scheduled opponent.
 
Three top-7 lineupsAL East: The glory days of the high-octane AL East seems to be back again. Sure, the Orioles and Rays aren’t pulling their weight, but the Yankees (first), Red Sox (second) and Blue Jays (seventh) currently rank among the top-seven offenses in runs per game. With star-studded lineups, New York and Boston seem likely to continue their hot starts throughout the season. Although Toronto has been somewhat of a surprise, they have been scoring runs in bunches while overcoming the lowest BABIP (.274) of any team in the American League and could add prized prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1.091 OPS in Double-A) to their lineup this summer. When assessing starters on the Orioles and Rays, wise owners will be acutely aware of the many unfavorable matchups that will inevitably pop up on their docket the rest of the way.
 
Two lineups with more than 400 strikeoutsTexas Rangers and San Diego Padres: Owners who want to make a move in the strikeouts category should be targeting starters who are scheduled to face the Rangers and Padres in the coming days. The two clubs are running away with the whiffs crown, as they have each fanned at least 416 times while no other lineup has compiled more than 392 strikeouts. Additionally, both clubs rank ahead of only the lowly Marlins in runs-per-game. Wise owners will be set to stream starters against San Diego and Texas until they see either club change their trends thus far.

Fred Zinkie
Fred Zinkie is a baseball writer for Rotoworld and BaseballHQ. You can find him on Twitter @FredZinkieMLB.