BATTERS: Power and eye surgers, 2018

Identifying players who own significant 2018 production and batting eye improvements can help you target the batters who will help you the most down the stretch.

The following bats have seen a substantial spike in their OPS from 2017 to 2018:

  • OPS, 2018 vs. 2017*
    
    Name                League  Position     OPS '18  OPS '17  Diff
    ==================  ======  ===========  =======  =======  =====
    Soler, Jorge            AL           RF     .820     .503  +.317
    Betts, Mookie           AL           CF    1.114     .803  +.311
    Profar, Jurickson       AL  SS/3B/1B/2B     .788     .501  +.287
    Maile, Luke             AL            C     .682     .407  +.275
    Saladino, Tyler         NL     SS/2B/3B     .719     .484  +.235
    Mondesi, Adalberto      AL           SS     .695     .460  +.235
    Martin, Leonys          AL           CF     .747     .513  +.234
    d'Arnaud, Chase         NL        2B/3B     .744     .518  +.226
    Romine, Austin          AL            C     .722     .565  +.207
    Diaz, Elias             NL            C     .785     .579  +.206
    Pearce, Steve           AL     1B/DH/LF     .951     .757  +.194
    Arroyo, Christian       AL        3B/2B     .735     .548  +.187
    Odor, Rougned           AL           2B     .835     .649  +.186
    Hanson, Alen            NL  2B/3B/SS/LF     .786     .607  +.179
    Barreto, Franklin       AL           2B     .778     .602  +.176
    Stevenson, Andrew       NL           LF     .613     .443  +.170
    Zobrist, Ben            NL        2B/LF     .858     .693  +.165
    Robertson, Daniel       AL     2B/SS/3B     .797     .634  +.163
    Jankowski, Travis       NL           RF     .659     .496  +.163
    Holt, Brock             AL     2B/SS/RF     .706     .548  +.158
    Markakis, Nick          NL           RF     .895     .738  +.157
    Carpenter, Matt         NL     3B/1B/2B     .991     .835  +.156
    Machado, Manny          NL        3B/SS     .930     .782  +.148
    Cervelli, Francisco     NL            C     .852     .712  +.140
    Polanco, Gregory        NL           RF     .835     .695  +.140
    Canha, Mark             AL        CF/1B     .784     .644  +.140
    Story, Trevor           NL           SS     .897     .765  +.132
    Suarez, Eugenio         NL           3B     .955     .828  +.127
    Refsnyder, Rob          AL     LF/2B/DH     .588     .463  +.125
    Benintendi, Andrew      AL           LF     .897     .776  +.121
    Pederson, Joc           NL           CF     .859     .738  +.121
    Baez, Javier            NL     2B/SS/3B     .911     .796  +.115
    Cabrera, Miguel         AL        1B/DH     .843     .728  +.115
    Herrmann, Chris         AL            C     .734     .619  +.115
    Bogaerts, Xander        AL           SS     .860     .746  +.114
    Jones, JaCoby           AL           CF     .624     .510  +.114
    Trumbo, Mark            AL           DH     .798     .686  +.112
    Smith, Mallex           AL           CF     .793     .684  +.109
    Garver, Mitch           AL            C     .743     .636  +.107
    Franco, Maikel          NL           3B     .795     .690  +.105
    Lagares, Juan           NL           CF     .765     .661  +.104
    Yelich, Christian       NL           CF     .909     .807  +.102
    Hedges, Austin          NL            C     .761     .660  +.101
    White, Tyler            AL           1B     .953     .853  +.100
    Descalso, Daniel        NL  2B/3B/LF/1B     .827     .727  +.100
    *min 50 PA each season

These players have posted a big spike in their batting eye ratios (BB/K) from 2017 to 2018:

  • Eye Ratio (BB/K), 2018 vs. 2017*
    
    Name                League  Position     Eye '18  Eye '17  Diff
    ==================  ======  ===========  =======  =======  =====
    Ramirez, Jose           AL        3B/2B     1.42     0.75  +0.67
    Simmons, Andrelton      AL           SS     1.30     0.70  +0.60
    Flores, Wilmer          NL        1B/3B     0.89     0.31  +0.58
    Winker, Jesse           NL           RF     1.07     0.63  +0.44
    Bregman, Alex           AL        3B/SS     1.00     0.57  +0.43    
    Ellis, A.J.             NL            C     0.79     0.41  +0.38
    Broxton, Keon           NL           CF     0.61     0.23  +0.38
    Panik, Joe              NL           2B     1.19     0.85  +0.34
    Cano, Robinson          AL           2B     0.91     0.58  +0.33
    Cabrera, Miguel         AL        1B/DH     0.81     0.49  +0.32
    Gregorius, Didi         AL           SS     0.68     0.36  +0.32
    Santana, Carlos         NL           1B     1.26     0.94  +0.32
    Markakis, Nick          NL           RF     0.93     0.62  +0.31
    Camargo, Johan          NL           3B     0.55     0.24  +0.31
    Kepler, Max             AL           RF     0.72     0.41  +0.31
    White, Tyler            AL           1B     0.55     0.25  +0.30
    Machado, Manny          NL        3B/SS     0.73     0.43  +0.30
    Shaw, Travis            NL        3B/2B     0.72     0.43  +0.29
    Wieters, Matt           NL            C     0.68     0.40  +0.28
    Dyson, Jarrod           NL           CF     0.79     0.51  +0.28
    Slater, Austin          NL        LF/1B     0.55     0.28  +0.27
    Zobrist, Ben            NL        2B/LF     1.02     0.76  +0.26
    Grandal, Yasmani        NL            C     0.57     0.31  +0.26
    Maile, Luke             AL            C     0.34     0.09  +0.25
    Cuthbert, Cheslor       AL     3B/1B/DH     0.48     0.23  +0.25
    *min 50 PA each season

Let's take a closer look at a bunch of interesting 2018 production and batting eye surgers.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Andrew Benintendi (LF, BOS) already has reached the 15-HR, 20-SB threshold. His overall production has increased dramatically from 2017 (.776 OPS in '17, .897 OPS in '18). And he hasn't done so by opening up his swing. Check out the improvement he has shown in his batting eye: 0.63 Eye in '17, 0.75 Eye in '18. He's a blossoming multi-category stud.

Xander Bogaerts (SS, BOS) is another BOS hitter whose gains this season have been for real. He has put up an .860 OPS so far in 2018, a mark that is way above what he showed last season (.746 OPS). In addition, he has shown some modest concurrent improvement in his batting eye (0.48 Eye in '17, 0.53 Eye in '18).

Alex Bregman (3B/SS, HOU) also is on the verge of fulfilling his prior top prospect upside. His production has gone from good (.827 OPS in '17) to very good (.898 OPS in '18). Even more striking have been the gains in his plate discipline. His batting eye has gone from a 0.57 Eye in '17 to an elite 1.00 Eye in '18.

Max Kepler (RF, MIN) seemingly has not shown much growth in 2018. After all, he has a .231 BA and .739 OPS after 389 AB. Still, Kepler has made some dramatic gains with his plate discipline. He had a marginal 8% bb%, 78% ct%, and 0.41 Eye last season. All of those marks have soared this year: 11% bb%, 82% ct%, 0.72 Eye. His underlying power skills have surged too (120 xPX). He'll enter 2019 with some real age 26 breakout potential.

Luke Maile (C, TOR) isn't putting up production worthy of note in most leagues (.238 BA, .682 OPS in 172 AB). That said, Maile has gone from being an offensive liability (.146 BA, .407 OPS in '17) to a second catcher worth using in deep leagues. After not drawing any walks during his first two seasons in the majors, he has posted an 11% bb% in 2018. He's certainly worth using against southpaws (.845 OPS, 163 PX vL).

Jurickson Profar (SS/3B/1B/2B, TEX) displayed a decent batting eye in 2017 (0.64 Eye) but didn't do much of anything else (.501 OPS). His production has soared in 2018 (.788 OPS), and it hasn't been the result of abandoning his plate discipline (0.71 Eye). And he's getting better as the season goes along. He has an .834 OPS and 88 BPV since July 1. He's another post-hype surger with legitimate breakout potential heading into 2019.

Jose Ramirez (3B/2B, CLE) is on his way to an MVP campaign. What's remarkable about it isn't necessarily his multi-category production, which certainly has solidified him as an elite hitter (33 HR, 27 SB in 419 AB). It's the fact that he's producing at a high level while also dramatically showing gains in his plate approach. His batting eye has gone from a 0.75 Eye in '17 to an elite 1.42 Eye in '18.

Mallex Smith (CF, TAM) was drafted as a late-round outfielder in most leagues (309 ADP). Those who took a gamble on him have been rewarded with both average (.300 BA) and speed (25 SB). In total, both his production (.684 to .793 OPS) and plate approach (0.37 to 0.50 Eye) have soared from last season.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Elias Diaz (C, PIT) entered the season as a second catcher with interest only in the deepest of leagues (474 ADP). Owners who have rode him as their second catcher can't be disappointed with his results (.293 BA, .796 OPS in 205 AB) after he failed to do much of anything in 2017 (.223 BA, .579 OPS in '17). Interestingly, his contact rate has soared along with his production (80% to 86% ct%). He has been one of the game's best backstops against lefties (1.019 OPS, 130 PX vL). He'll also carry some breakout potential heading into next season.

Wilmer Flores (1B/3B, NYM) hasn't done a lot in 2018 to warrant attention (.273 BA, .781 OPS in 282 AB). Still, his approach at the plate has improved significantly. After posting so-so plate discipline in 2017 (5% bb%, 84% ct%, 0.31 Eye), all of those marks have soared in 2018: 8% bb%, 90% ct%, 0.86 Eye. And he is posting impactful underlying power skills for the second straight season (127 xPX in '17, 122 xPX in '18). He remains a premium stash.

Nick Markakis (RF, ATL) has come out of nowhere to deliver some surprising results in 2018. After being drafted as an afterthought (443 ADP), Markakis has a .326 BA and .895 OPS in 442 AB. And after seeing his contact rate dip over the prior two seasons, Markakis again is putting the bat on the ball at a high clip (88% ct%). No reason to sell high here yet.

Gregory Polanco (RF, PIT) is showing significantly more production (.835 OPS) than he did in 2017 (.695 OPS). While he has opened up his swing some to reach it (84% ct% in '17, 73% ct% in '18), he is drawing more walks than ever (12% bb%). And he's hitting more flyballs than we've ever seen from him before (35/16/49 G/L/F). Polanco is another post-hype bat who could finally deliver on his breakout potential in 2019.

Travis Shaw (3B/2B, MIL) is on his way towards another 30+ HR season (23 HR in 385 AB). And he might not have reached his peak yet. His plate metrics have gone from decent (10% bb%, 74% ct%, 0.43 Eye in '17) to quite good (12% bb%, 80% ct%, 0.72 Eye). No reason to sell high on him either.

Austin Slater (LF/1B, SF) is a young bat who has shown some intriguing gains with his plate skills in his second year in the majors. While he is struggling to make contact (66% ct%), he has nearly tripled his walk rate (6% bb% in '17, 15% bb% in '18). And we know that his legs have the potential for steals (135 Spd in '17). As an extreme groundball hitter, he won't give you power any time soon. But his improving walk rate and decent legs give him some speculative value in deep NL-only leagues.

Trevor Story (SS, COL) battled through a rough sophomore campaign, which saw him dip in many drafts this season (113 ADP). Nonetheless, he's on his way to delivering a $30 season this year. His OPS has increased from .765 to .896. Even more impressive have been the gains in his contact (72% ct%), the first season he has managed a contact rate better than 65%.

Jesse Winker (RF, CIN) will miss the rest of the season due to a shoulder injury. Prior to that, Winker was showing some latent growth that wasn't evident on the surface. All of his primary plate discipline metrics improved from his rookie season (11% to 15% bb%, 80% to 84% ct%, 0.63 to 1.07 Eye). And he has been able to convert the groundballs he was hitting in 2017 (53/16/31 G/L/F) to liners and flyballs (42/24/34 G/L/F). He remains an excellent investment in keeper leagues.


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