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Looking Back: 10 Lowest Fly Ball Rates In 2016 (Hitter’s Edition): Eric Hosmer, Ryan Braun & More

Friday, October 21, 2016 5:47
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(Before It's News)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It seems like common sense, if you don’t put the ball in the air very much you aren’t going to hit for much power.  It’s logical, and while most of the names on this list make sense there are certainly some surprising names among the ten lowest marks in the league that deserve noting:

1. Howie Kendrick – 19.6%
2. Christian Yelich – 20.0%
3. Cesar Hernandez – 20.7%
4. Yunel Escobar – 20.8%
5. Joe Mauer – 21.3%
6. D.J. LeMahieu – 22.8%
7. Jonathan Villar – 24.1%
8t. Eric Hosmer – 24.7%
8t. Denard Span – 24.7%
10. Ryan Braun – 25.1%

Thoughts:
The biggest surprise on this list is likely Ryan Braun, considering he still hit 30 HR despite not putting many balls in the air.  The reason is a league best 28.8% HR/FB, and while a favorable home ballpark certainly helps he actually split his home runs evenly (15 HR at home, 15 HR on the road).  While his fly ball rate has been down in recent seasons, this is by far the worst mark of his career (31.0% in ’15 was the previous low).  It certainly makes you wonder if a significant power outage could be in his future, especially given his consistently low fly ball rate (24.6% in the first half, 25.7% in the second half).  We’ll definitely delve into him later in the offseason, as there will be rumors flying as to his future, but consider him a likely overpay candidate.

Eric Hosmer has now posted a fly ball rate below 25% in three of the past four seasons, and he also saw his line drive rate plummet (16.5%) and his groundball rate soar (58.9%).  So does it make any sense that he actually hit 25 HR, courtesy of a career high 21.4% HR/FB?  There clearly was a shift in approach, as his SwStr% also rose (11.9% compared to a career 9.2% mark).  It’ll be interesting to see how things progress, but at this point there has to be significant concerns.

It was a breakout campaign of sorts for Christian Yelich, who set a career high with 21 HR (previously his high was 9).  Interestingly, his 20% fly ball rate was actually a career best and he saw his HR/FB rise to 23.6%.  The big spike came in the second half (14 HR), as his fly ball rate rose from 16.7% to 23.8% while maintaining a strong line drive rate (22.4%).  He’ll be 25-years old prior to the start of 2017, so would it be a surprise to see his power continue to grow and develop?  The fly ball rate is low, but it shouldn’t mean that he will be void of power moving forward.

Source – Fangraphs 

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