Statcast Standouts: Early Season Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Edition

Statcast Standouts: Early Season Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Edition

While there may be many fantasy baseball tools out there at your disposal, Statcast may be the best. There’s no easier way to spot a potential breakout before it happens.

If you’ve read my “Death By BABIP” series you’ll know I enjoy deep diving for unlucky hitters. Not all unlucky hitters are created equally, though. Instead of basing this list off of unlucky hitters, we’re digging into some hitters putting up surprising statcast numbers at a sustainable rate. This is fantasy baseball statcast diving at its finest.

Daniel Vogelbach – 1B/DH (6.4% Rostered)

Back in 2017 I couldn’t get enough of Vogelbach. He had a combination of plate discipline and power that was easy to pick up on after watching just one game. That all came to a head in 2019 when Vogey hit 17 doubles, 30 home runs and walked 98 times.

Now in 2022, Vogelbach is once again breaking out. So much so, the Pirates have even batted him leadoff. His six home runs on the year are enough to be excited about already, but there’s more to it than that. Vogelbach’s 14.3% barrel rate is a career best and good for 20th in baseball. Ahead of guys like Ohtani, Freeman, Chisholm and Alonso. He’s also bumped up his launch angle to 18.6%. The only other time in his career where it was above 17% was that 30 home run season in 2019.

Along with the barrel rate, Vogelbach also excels in chase rate (90th percentile) and whiff rate (73rd percentile). That’s lead to him making a very impressive 86.3% zone contact and 64.2% chase contact. Both of which are the second best rates of his career. He’s also still walking at a well above league average 11.5%.

In a nutshell, Vogey’s statcast numbers point to him progressing back to those 2019 numbers with a potentially higher average. He’s worthy of a roster spot, especially if he’s going to continue to bat towards the top of the order.

Brandon Drury – OF/2B/3B (58.2% Owned)

Despite their ridiculously poor record, the Reds do actually have some fantasy baseball bright spots in the statcast realm. Drury fits right in on that list. While he’s best known for being more of a utility man, Drury is showing all he needs is regular ABs to make a real impact.

Through 31 games Drury already has seven home runs and 22 RBI. Much of that success is due to Drury’s newly found ability to make excellent contact. A career 7.4% barrel rate guy, Drury is barreling up the ball this season at an impressive 15.6% rate. Combined with his higher launch angle (15 degrees) Drury has lowered his ground ball rate to below 40%, raised his line drive rate to 20.8% and is seeing the ball jump off his bat like never before.

With a career high average exit velocity of 90 MPH, Drury’s power surge has the makings of being legitimate. Imagine his 2016 season (31 doubles, 16 homeruns) but with 20-22 homerun potential. Especially with his excellent 49.4% hard hit rate (87th percentile). With him now becoming a player who barrels up the ball at a high rate, his ability to really hit the fastball has also followed. After hitting only .220 off of them in 2021, Drury is tearing the cover off of them in 2022 to the tune of a .293 average and .553 xSLG.

He does strike out a decent amount (23.9%) so that may limit him a tad bit in points leagues. That doesn’t mean he’s not worth an add if available. Drury has shown the type of numbers he can put up in the past, so this season’s breakout shouldn’t be as much of a surprise.

Adolis Garcia – OF (52.7% Owned)

After the year Garcia put up last year I’m surprised he’s barely over 50% owned to be honest. Sure, he does strikeout a lot which isn’t ideal in some formats (points leagues, I’m looking at you), but even in those standard points leagues he’s still a top 10 outfield option this year. In 2021 he proved the power (26 doubles, 31 home runs) and speed (16 stolen base) combo was real. In 2022 he’s showing it wasn’t a fluke.

If you haven’t picked up on it by now one of my favorite statcast numbers to keep an eye on is barrel rate, and Garcia falls right in line with the others on this list. His 11.2% barrel rate puts him in the 77th percentile. Not only is his barrel rate high, his average exit velocity (93.1 MPH, 95th percentile) and hard hit rate (53.9%, 96th percentile) put him amongst the league leaders in those categories.

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Another thing that’s been a huge key to Garcia’s success this year is the fact that he’s lowered both his ground ball and fly ball rates and bumped up his line drive rate significantly (27%). Transitioning that incredible power into line drives is making Garcia an even more effective hitter. Especially when you take his speed into consideration as well. At 28.3 feet per second, Garcia’s speed puts him in the 82nd percentile.

Six doubles, two triples, six home runs, 24 RBI and four stolen bases through 34 games is more than good enough to deserve a roster spot.

Tommy Pham – OF (44.4% Owned)

Yes I realize this list now has two Reds players on it, but Pham is deserving of this spot I promise. Despite being the most veteran player on this list, Pham actually has the best statcast chart of them all.

To get straight to the point, through 34 games Pham is in the 98th percentile in average exit velocity (94.3 MPH). The only players higher on that list are Stanton, Judge, Alvarez and Abreu. Not bad company for a guy still mostly unowned in fantasy baseball. And while the exit velo is a career high, it’s not high enough to be considered an outlier. For his career he’s a 91.4 MPH guy with a previous career high of 93 MPH.

The high exit velo has attributed to Pham’s unreal 56.2% hard hit rate as well (99th percentile). Combine those with his low launch angle (9.1 degrees) and you end up with someone who becomes an extra base hit machine. He’s never really been a home run guy thanks to his low fly ball rate (19.3% career), so don’t expect him to break his old career high of 23. But what he does bring to the table is a solid average, high amount of doubles and potential to be top five in the league in triples. All while stealing double digit bases.

As it sits, Pham has career highs in xBA (.291), xSLG (.528), xwOBA (.397) and walk rate (15.4%). He’s doing an excellent job of getting on base and with his speed on the base paths (28.1 feet per second, 77th percentile) he’s looking at a potential career resurgence even at 34 years old. Pham is what I would consider a waiver wire steal and should be owned everywhere.

Fantasy Baseball Statcast Standout Honorable Mentions:

Jorge Mateo – OF/2B/SS (15.5% owned)

Christian Walker – 1B (9.1% owned)

Alec Bohm – 3B (42.2% owned)

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