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MLB Hitting Performances You Might Have Missed
Chris Clegg runs down some hitting performances that have not been talked about enough.
People often get fixated on early-season results with players. As the season goes on, people usually hang onto the early season results because a full season line may still look good. But people often miss a player struggling the entire second half of the year or that might have been incredibly hot down the stretch. Let’s talk about some MLB hitters who have been stellar and not getting much love.
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J.P. Crawford, SS, SEA, 28, MLB
Crawford has not gotten enough love for his performance this season, but his game has been massively transformed as he has six more home runs than his previous career high and is showing improved exit velocities to back it.
Since July 1, Crawford has nine of those home runs while slashing .319/.438/.544 with a 176 wRC+. His 89 mph average exit velocity is a career-high by nearly three mph, and his 37.2 percent hard-hit rate is also a career-best mark by over six percentage points.
What Crawford has done is highly impressive, and when you pair it with elite contact skills(83.5 percent overall and 90.3 percent zone), you have the makings of a very solid hitter. Crawford needs more love!
Chas McCormick, OF, HOU, 28, MLB
Many believed that McCormick’s hot June was simply that, a hot streak, but that hot streak had extended the rest of the year. Since June 1, McCormick is hitting .316/.397/.564 with 16 home runs and ten stolen bases. McCormick’s barrel rate is an impressive 13 percent over that time with a 42 percent hard-hit rate.
The contact skills are a bit questionable, especially with a 34 percent chase rate, but McCormick has continued to make it work. The aggressive approach has paid, and it will be fun to see if it continues. But we have now seen a three-month sample, which does help back that McCormick’s performance is legit.
James Outman, OF, LAD, 26, MLB
Outman burst on the scene in April, mashing seven home runs to pair with a .292/.376/.615 slash and four stolen bases. After falling off pretty hard in May and June, Outman has had a strong resurgence since July 1, slashing .289/.422/.476 with nine home runs and six stolen bases over 206 plate appearances. I encouraged people to keep the course with Outman, and this is why.
Yes, Outman could be a streaky player due to his contact skills. He is a disciplined hitter and does not chase often, but his 78 percent zone-contact rate is well below the league average of 85.5 percent. MLB's average contact rate is 76.4 percent, and Outman’s is 65.6 percent. Yes, those are reasons for concern, but the power and speed combo is worth it with Outman.
Luis Rengifo, INF/OF, LAA, 26, MLB
While Rengifo has had a great year, his last two months have been on another level. In 219 plate appearances since July 1, Rengifo has 12 home runs and 25 extra-base hits while slashing .327/.388/.592. The contact skills are close to the league average at 85 percent zone and 78 percent overall.
One of the significant differences this year in Rengifo is that his contact quality has taken a significant jump forward. His average exit velocity has jumped to a new career high by over two mph. Rengifo’s barrel rate over the last two months is 11.5 percent, and his hard-hit rate is 39 percent. If the quality of contact sustains, Rengifo’s position eligibility makes him a desirable option for fantasy baseball.
Mitch Garver, C, TEX, 32, MLB
Garver missed over two months with a knee sprain and struggled upon his return to no surprise. But since the All-Star break, Garver has been scorching hot, with 12 home runs over 156 plate appearances and a .301/.400/.609 slash line and a .425 wOBA.
Garver’s 17.3 percent barrel rate since July 14 is tenth best among all hitters in the league. He also pairs this with a 50 percent hard-hit rate a 91.2 mph average exit velocity, and above-average contact skills. If this continues over the season's final month, Garver will be a stellar buy for 2024.
Kerry Carpenter, OF, DET, 26, MLB
Carpenter’s rise in 2023 has been nothing short of impressive as he leaders the team in wRC+(139) by 20 points and wOBA(.374) by .030 points. In 96 games this year, Carpenter has 20 home runs and a .292/.355/.526 slash. His performance has improved each month of the year, and since the All-Star break, Carpenter is slashing .318/.388/.563 with 12 home runs and 18 extra-base hits. Considering the fact he plays his home games in a very pitcher-friendly environment, Carpenter’s performance warrants him being considered a top-100 fantasy asset.
Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, PIT, 26, MLB
We have all waited for the Ke’Bryan Hayes breakout for what seems like forever. Hayes always ranks very high in quality of contact metrics; in fact, his average exit velocity and hard-hit rate both rank 90th percentile or better among MLB hitters.
The issue has always been too many ground balls and opposite-field fly balls. Hayes missed all of July with a back injury, but since returning in August, he is slashing .306/.356/.587 with eight home runs and 16 extra-base hits in 30 games. His quality of contact metrics are off the charts, with a 94 mph average exit velocity, a 57 percent hard-hit rate, and an 11 percent barrel rate. The average exit velocity and hard-hit rate both rank top-ten among hitters over that span. Let’s hope that this hot stretch carries into 2024, and we see a full-season breakout from Ke’Bryan Hayes.
Nolan Jones, OF, COL, 25, MLB
Why Nolan Jones does not get more love is a question I have asked myself a lot. The 25-year-old outfielder has been highly impressive this year at both the plate and in the field. Despite playing just 83 games with Colorado this year, Jones is second in all of baseball in outfield assists. At the plate, he is slashing .282/.363/.514 with 14 home runs and 12 stolen bases.
The numbers have even improved over the last couple of months, and since the All-Star break, Jones has nine of those home runs. He hits the ball incredibly hard, has a 15 percent barrel rate, and plays his home games in Coors Field. Despite the contact issues, Jones can be a high-impact fantasy bat for a long time.