BATTERS: Exit velocity surgers, 2022 2H

Let's take an early second-half look at the batters whose average exit velocity has surged the most since the start of July.

These hitters have experienced big gains in their average exit velocity during the second half of 2022 (min 30 PA each half):

Let's take a closer look at a bunch of noteworthy second-half surgers with our usual focus on targets who might be available in deep leagues.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Christian Arroyo (RF/2B/SS/3B, BOS) hasn't produced much extended pop in the majors, and 2022 has been no different (.276 BA, .757 OPS in 163 AB). That said, Arroyo's second half has been better than you might realize. He has a .951 OPS in 54 AB during that period. Sure, an unsustainable 42% h% has driven it, but so has his improved batted ball quality (87.4 mph EV in 1H, 91.2 mph EV in 2H). He has improved his plate discipline in the process (5% bb%, 83% ct%, 0.33 Eye in 1H; 7% bb%, 85% ct%, 0.50 Eye in 2H). At age 27 and with an 8C prospect pedigree, Arroyo could be a premium value target in 2023 drafts.

Aledmys Diaz (LF/SS/2B/3B/1B/DH, HOU) remains unowned in some leagues, since his overall stats haven't pushed the needle much (.258 BA, 10 HR, 32 RBI in 248 AB). If you're looking for a Swiss Army knife whose bat has emerged lately, this could be a place to target. He has produced at a really high clip once the calendar turned to July (.304 BA, 6 HR, 16 RBI, .926 OPS in 102 AB during 2H). It would be easy to dismiss them given his mediocre track record, but his batted ball quality has elevated from poor (85.2 mph EV in 1H) to good (89.9 mph EV in 2H). Likewise, he has added five points of contact between the first and second halves. He's someone worth using in your MI or UT slot while he's hot.

Teoscar Hernández (RF/DH, TOR) was drafted as a top-30 player in 2022 but is on track to produce at a $20 level. However, that upside has come out in the second half. He has a .300 BA and .949 OPS in 110 AB since the beginning of July, a period that has seen his average exit velocity go from really good (92.4 mph EV in 1H) to fantastic (93.6 mph EV in 2H). His plate skills have taken a big step forward as well (+2% bb%, +4% ct%). He'll be a great profit target in 2023 drafts and should finish the 2022 season with thunder.

MJ Melendez (C/DH, KC) could be a trendy breakout pick in 2023 drafts. He has flashed an intriguing combination of walks (12% bb%) and power (14 HR in 297 AB) in his rookie season. The thump in his bat has surged as the season has gone along (89.7 mph EV in 1H, 91.9 mph EV in 2H). In addition, Melendez owns some weird reverse platoon splits that seem correctable (.837 OPS, 78% ct% vL; .729 OPS, 69% ct% vR). At age 23, Melendez has produced an under-the-radar rookie year.

Julio Rodríguez (CF, SEA) has made some big gains late in his electric rookie season, even though his surface stats have been pretty modest (.250 BA, 3 HR, 16 RBI in 64 AB during second half). His average exit velocity has gone from good (91.5 mph EV in 1H) to great (94.2 mph EV in 2H). His rates of walks and contact both have inched higher, too. If fully healthy, Rodríguez has the potential to carry his offenses over the final six weeks.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Sergio Alcántara (3B/2B/SS, ARI) was a production drain in the first half (.159 BA, .421 OPS in 1H), but in a very tiny sample size since July 1, his bat has awoken (.341 BA, .903 OPS in 41 AB). Those results have been paired with six-point gains in both his walk and contact rates. After pitchers knocked the bat out of his hands in the first half (83.7 mph EV), he has hit the ball with good authority since then (89.5 mph EV in 2H). Deep leaguers in need of a MI speculation might want to look here.

Bryan De La Cruz (RF, MIA) entered 2022 with concerns about his batted ball quality. He didn't assuage those fears early in the season (88.8 mph EV in 1H), but De La Cruz has been hitting the ball with a lot of authority lately (92.2 mph EV in 2H). Those gains have turned his power foundation elite (143 xPX in 2H). His primary bugaboo has been some deep struggles against southpaws (.376 OPS vL), against whom he dominated in 2021 (.949 OPS vL). He's another excellent buy-low target, especially in keeper leagues.

Randal Grichuk (RF, COL) sports a top-20 average exit velocity so far in the second half. His post-July 91.9 mph EV is +3.5 mph from what he showed in the first half. In addition, he has added seven points to his contact rate (79% ct% in 2H). Those gains have helped his production surge in each of the past three months: .598, .679, .747, .915 OPS. If he can find an uppercut in his swing (53% GB%), the late-blooming Grichuk could be in store for a big finish.

Michael Harris II (CF, ATL) is another outfield bat whose batted ball gains in the second half have been noteworthy. His 87.9 mph EV in the first half has grown to a 90.0 mph EV since the start of July. That gain is embedded in the huge growth in his power foundation (141 xPX in 2H). Groundballs are what's holding back his power (59/15/25 G/L/F in 2H). A tweak there would help him unlock even more of his talent.

Tyler O'Neill (LF, STL) is another low-performer worthy of speculation in deep leagues. While he has tanked in the second half and his at-bats have dried up (.162 BA, .549 OPS in 68 AB during 2H), he has gained 2.4 points in average exit velocity (88.8 to 91.2 mph EV). A 12-point drop in his hit rate has kept that gain hidden.

Jesus Sánchez (CF, MIA) has taken a step back in 2022, both in terms of production (.808 to .658 OPS) and skills (33 to 26 BPV). Still, note that Sánchez's batted ball quality has gone from so-so early in the season (88.8 mph EV in 1H) to really good since then (90.9 mph EV in 2H). His plate skills have gone from bad (6% bb%, 69% ct%, 0.21 Eye in 1H) to very good (13% bb%, 79% ct%, 0.69 Eye in 2H). Use his second-half slump as a reason to buy low.

Bryson Stott (SS/2B, PHI) quietly has made some huge gains in the second half. His first half marks left him on the waiver wire in nearly every league (.187 BA, .545 OPS in 1H). Those stats have improved to a .269 BA and .739 OPS since the calendar turned to July. Before you dismiss them as small sample-size flukes, note the huge gain in his exit velocity (85.8 mph in 1H, 91.1 mph in 2H). Likewise, he has gained an amazing 13 points in contact (77% to 90% ct%). He'll enter 2023 with some momentum.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.