BATTERS: Skill changes, 2015 to 2016

Let's continue our look at players whose early skills have changed drastically from 2015 by moving on to hitters.

These bats have seen their BPV increase or decrease significantly between 2015 and the early part of 2016:

  • BPV, 2016 YTD vs. 2015*
    
    Name                League  Position  BPV 2015  BPV 2016  Diff
    ==================  ======  ========  ========  ========  ====
    Lamb, Jacob             NL        3B        18        95   +77
    Crisp, Coco             AL        LF         5        75   +70
    Ozuna, Marcell          NL        CF        13        81   +68
    Ramos, Wilson           NL         C         8        69   +61
    Carter, Chris           NL        1B        34        94   +60
    Polanco, Gregory        NL        RF        42       100   +58
    Cano, Robinson          AL        2B        49        97   +48
    Yelich, Christian       NL        LF        39        87   +48
    Segura, Jean            NL     SS/2B        18        66   +48
    Santana, Carlos         AL     1B/DH        54       101   +47
    Tomas, Yasmany          NL     RF/3B         2        49   +47
    Altuve, Jose            AL        2B        81       126   +45
    Martin, Leonys          AL        CF        -1        42   +43
    Ortiz, David            AL        DH       106       148   +42
    Castellanos, Nick       AL        3B        28        70   +42
    Ellsbury, Jacoby        AL        CF        27        68   +41
    Owings, Chris           NL  2B/CF/SS        -3        37   +40
    Cespedes, Yoenis        NL        LF        81       120   +39
    Martinez, Victor        AL        DH        46        85   +39
    Pederson, Joc           NL        CF        40        76   +36
    Machado, Manny          AL     3B/SS        87       123   +36
    Herrera, Odubel         NL        CF        22        58   +36
    Pagan, Angel            NL        SF        14        50   +36
    Arenado, Nolan          NL        3B       107       142   +35
    Holliday, Matt          NL        LF        46        81   +35
    LeMahieu, D.J.          NL        2B        30        62   +32
    Desmond, Ian            AL     SS/LF        13        44   +31
    Fowler, Dexter          NL        CF        60        91   +31
    Molina, Yadier          NL         C        30        61   +31
    Rizzo, Anthony          NL        1B        91       121   +30
    Moustakas, Mike         AL        3B        72       102   +30
    Belt, Brandon           NL        1B        48        77   +29
    Souza, Steven           AL        RF        12        41   +29
    Seager, Kyle            AL        3B        69        97   +28
    Moss, Brandon           NL     RF/1B        27        52   +25
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Martin, Russell         AL         C        66      -105  -171
    Teixeira, Mark          AL        1B       104       -20  -124
    Upton, Justin           AL        LF        57       -38   -95
    Gomez, Carlos           AL        CF        38       -53   -91
    Votto, Joey             NL        1B        90         5   -85
    Garcia, Adonis          NL        3B        60       -23   -83
    Morrison, Logan         NL        1B        48       -29   -77
    Lind, Adam              AL        1B        67        -9   -76
    Coghlan, Chris          AL  LF/2B/3B        77         2   -75
    Cain, Lorenzo           AL        CF        71         2   -69
    Heyward, Jason          NL        RF        63        -2   -65
    Morales, Kendrys        AL        DH        70         6   -64
    Deshields, Jr., Delino  AL        CF        41       -22   -63
    Sano, Miguel            AL     DH/RF        68         6   -62
    Encarnacion, Edwin      AL        1B       102        43   -59
    Aybar, Erick            NL        SS        33       -24   -57
    Lowrie, Jed             AL     3B/2B        69        13   -56
    Gordon, Alex            AL        LF        35       -20   -55
    Stanton, Giancarlo      NL        RF       104        50   -54
    Valbuena, Luis          AL     3B/1B        57         5   -52
    Espinosa, Danny         NL     2B/SS        32       -20   -52
    Correa, Carlos          AL        SS        80        30   -50
    Gonzalez, Adrian        NL        1B        65        15   -50
    *min 100 AB each season

Let's take a closer look at several interesting 2015-2016 skill changes.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Nick Castellanos (3B, DET) has made massive growth from 2015 to 2016, both on the surface (.721 to .948 OPS) and beneath it (28 to 70 BPV). His power emergence has been validated by an elite 172 xPX that has been generated by frequent hard contact (119 HctX) and increased LD% and FB% (28/28/45 G/L/F). Just be advised that his .330 BA is due for a big fall, since his plate control is more mediocre than good (5% bb%, 76% ct%, 0.22 Eye). A friendly 40% h% has been hiding that bugaboo.

Coco Crisp (LF, OAK) has enjoyed a nice bounce-back season after battling inuries in 2015. In fact, his BPV improvement from 5 to 75 is the biggest jump of any bat in the AL. Just know that his 73 xPX makes it likely that his days of double-digit HR are long gone, and his marginal 98 Spd suggests 15 SB is probably his cap now.

Mike Moustakas (3B, KC) was a player on the path to a breakout before suffering a fractured thumb. His 2016 skills were featuring an uptick in pitch recognition (8% bb%, 88% ct%, 0.69 Eye) as well as impact power (139 PX, 142 xPX). And he was showing both facets of his game against LH and RH pitchers. Assuming his thumb is fully healed, Moustakas has a great shot of having a big last four months of the season.

Miguel Sano (RF/DH, MIN) has watched his skills plummet so far in 2016 (68 to 6 BPV). While his PX has gone from superhuman (223 PX) to upper-tier (149 PX), his 173 xPX is nearly unchanged from 2015, and he's hitting more flyballs than ever (27/26/47 G/L/F). And his subpar strikeout rate has actually improved a bit (57% to 59% ct%). No reason to panic here.

Carlos Santana (1B/DH, CLE) owns a poor .234 BA and so-so .823 OPS after 145 AB, so he's not someone that has thrilled his owners in the early-going. That said, his 101 BPV is nearly double the level he posted in 2015. His current 85% ct% is the highest of his career, he's hitting more flyballs than ever (50% FB%), and his 136 HctX is the highest it's been since his rookie season. It all adds up to a player who could be in store for a nice surge.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Yoenis Cespedes (LF, NYM) banked on himself when negotiating an opt-out in his contract after one year. So far, so good. He has been one of the elite bats in the game (.298 BA, 14 HR, 35 RBI, 1.041 OPS in 141 AB). And those gains haven't been the result of opening up his swing. His pitch recognition has improved significantly (11% bb%, 76% ct%, 0.50 Eye). His overall skills have surged too (81 to 120 BPV). If Cespedes can stay healthy, there's no reason to believe he can't continue to be an impact bat.

Odubel Herrera (CF, PHI) has made huge gains in plate control so far in 2016 (5% to 17% bb%, 74% to 80% ct%, 0.22 to 1.00 Eye). His premium pitch recognition and elite 163 Spd make him a legitimate 25+ SB threat, especially if he is given more opportunities to run. While his .300+ BA probably won't last, this is a speed source worth investing in.

Jacob Lamb (3B, ARI) has improved his BPV from 2015 (18 BPV) to 2016 (95 BPV) more than any batter in MLB (+77 BPV), nailing down the 3B job for the Diamondbacks. While he still hits too many groundballs to become a big-time power threat (48/20/32 G/L/F), he is hitting nearly everything hard (132 HctX). And both his contact (78% ct%) and walk (11% bb%) rates are up. Making a tweak against lefties (.567 OPS) is the missing hurdle to a true breakout.

Marcell Ozuna (CF, MIA) has watched his skills surge so far in 2016 (13 to 81 BPV). He owns one of the best power/speed packages in the game (141 PX, 159 Spd). A total lack of green light (2% SBO%) has prevented him from using his wheels. While he's likely to give back some BA (.273 xBA) given his so-so 76% ct%, his improving GB/FB tilt (42/19/39 G/L/F) means he's got a legitimate shot at his first 25-HR season.

Gregory Polanco (RF, PIT) quietly is paving the path to a breakout in 2016. His batting eye is soaring (0.45 to 0.81 Eye), he's hitting a lot of hard contact (124 HctX), and his once-groundball stroke now is a line-drive one with the highest FB% of his career (38/26/36 G/L/F). Only 12 bats with at least 100 AB own a 100+ BPV. Polanco is one of them.

Yasmany Tomas (RF/3B, ARI) is another young bat who has shown nice growth so far in 2016, especially with pitch recognition: 9% bb%, 79% ct%, 0.45 Eye. And the raw thump in his bat is starting to materialize (145 HctX, 126 xPX) as he gets a little more loft in his swing. Just note that he is doing nearly all of his damage against lefties (1.147 OPS, 179 PX). He doesn't offer much production or power against RHers (.683 OPS, 92 PX).

Christian Yelich (LF, MIA) has nearly doubled his batting eye so far in 2016 (0.47 to 0.83 Eye). His 95.1-mph average exit velocity is good for third in MLB among qualified bats, and his average flyball distance of 314 feet is in the MLB top 10. He still hits the ball on the ground too much to produce consistent HR totals (58/24/18 G/L/F), but the seeds of a 20-HR hitter are starting to take root. Yelich is a legitimate building block in keeper leagues.


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