FACTS/FLUKES: Ozuna, Lamb, Arcia, Paddack, Hudson

Ozuna contributing power and speed ... Marcell Ozuna (OF, STL) missed five weeks of action due to fractured fingers, but has been very productive when on the field, already topping 20 home runs, while stealing more bases than he had in the last five years combined. Is the speed something owners can count on going forward?

Year   AB  HR/SB    BA   xBA  bb%/ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX/xPX  hr/f  Spd/SBO
====  ===  =====  ====  ====  =======  ========  ==  ====  =======  ====  =======
2015* 579  14/3   .263  .255    6/77   48/21/31  32   115  102/106    9%   79/4%
2016  557  23/0   .266  .262    7/79   44/20/37  30   120  105/121   14%  134/2%
2017  613  37/1   .312  .275    9/77   47/19/34  36   121  130/106   23%   90/2%
2018  582  23/3   .280  .248    6/81   47/18/35  31   135   81/112   14%   95/2%
2019  349  22/12  .261  .281   10/77   40/23/37  28   133  123/126   22%   76/14%
*Includes MLEs

The speed is questionable, but the rest of Ozuna's skills are impressive:

  • His batting average has taken a hit, as he hasn't been able to maintain last year's contact rate improvement, and his hit rate has slipped below 30 percent for the first time. He's consistently making hard contact and hitting a lot of line drives, though, and xBA confirms he is deserving of a higher batting average.
  • His batted ball data is very encouraging, as PX and xPX have both surged, while Statcast shows he ranks in the top seven percent of the league in Barrel %, Hard Hit %, exit velocity, and xSlg. His 2017 home run per fly ball rate looked a little fluky prior to this season, but if his 2018 shoulder woes dragged him down more than we thought, perhaps he can keep it at 20 percent or above.
  • He is drawing more walks than ever, thanks in large part to an O-Swing% that is better than average for the first time in his career.
  • Though his Spd score and sprint speed are in decline, Ozuna has been a surprising stolen base source, as he has a 20 percent SBO since late May, and has been successful on 12 of 13 attempts, after never swiping more than five bags in a season before. It appears he'll be more active than expected on the base paths for the rest of 2019.

Ozuna hasn't provided the high average owners were counting on, but he's been a little unlucky in that regard, plus he has more than made up for it with his contributions on the bases. The stolen base pace may not quite stay at this level, but his recent SBO and success rate suggest he'll still help in the category, and his excellent batted ball skills suggest the return of his power is pretty legit. Ozuna won't carry your team in any particular category, but should continue to put up strong numbers across the board.  

 

Can Lamb get back on track? ... After a shoulder injury cost Jake Lamb (1B, ARI) nearly four months in 2018, an early April quad strain put him on the shelf for almost three months of the 2019 season. He's been a disappointment when on the field, batting just .218 with five home runs through 124 at-bats. Is there reason to believe he'll soon return to form?

Year   AB  HR/SB    BA/xBA    vR   bb%/ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX/PX/xPX   hr/f  Spd
====  ===  =====  =========  ====  =======  ========  ==  ============  ====  ===
2015  350   6/3   .263/.234  .743    9/72   45/23/32  35   115/87/114     7%  124
2016  523  29/6   .249/.271  .898   11/71   46/17/37  30   113/164/149   21%  112
2017  536  30/6   .248/.264  .938   14/72   39/23/38  29   104/142/125   20%   96
2018  207   6/1   .222/.216  .702   11/69   51/18/31  29   107/86/127    13%  109
2019  122   5/0   .218/.245  .652   15/71   40/23/38  27   117/105/175   15%  107

Lamb has been a little unlucky so far in 2019:

  • He has bumped his fly ball rate back up to 2016-17 levels, and both his HctX and xPX are career highs, as is his Hard% (FanGraphs), which ranks 23rd of 360 batters with 150-plus plate appearances. He isn't leaving the yard at home quite as frequently as he did pre-humidor, as he had a 25 percent home run per fly ball rate in 2016-17, but 17 percent in 2019.
  • His contact rate is right in line with his career norms, and he's hitting a lot of line drives, but hits haven't been falling in for Lamb. Odds are, he'll hit closer to his xBA going forward, which still isn't great, but isn't going to hurt too bad in today's game.
  • He has been known to hit RHP well, and struggle vs lefties, but has hit just .220/.324/.358  vs righties since the beginning of last season, striking out in just over a quarter of his 315 plate appearances. On the flip side, he has three homers in 16 at-bats vs southpaws in 2019, but his track record (.597 career OPS vL) will keep him on the bench against them most of the time.
  • Lamb has always shown decent speed, but after going just 1 for 3 on the bases in 2018, he's yet to attempt a stolen base in 2019. Any impact he'll have with his legs will be minimal. 

For the second straight season, Lamb has missed a significant chunk of time, and hasn't been very productive when on the field. He put fear into right-handed pitchers in 2016-17, but his numbers against them have dropped off significantly since then, though the sample is relatively small. Most of Lamb's power metrics have bounced back in 2019, and he has also been burned by a low hit rate that has suppressed his batting average. Signs point to improved production for Lamb the rest of the way, but probably not a full rebound.

 

Arcia providing more power than speed ... After a down year in 2018, Orlando Arcia (SS, MIL) has been better in 2019, providing more power than expected. But he's still been a batting average drag, and may not reach double digit steals. Let's check in on his skills.

Year   AB  HR/SB    BA   xBA  bb%/ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX  PX  hr/f  Spd/SBO
====  ===  =====  ====  ====  =======  ========  ==  ====  ==  ====  =======
2015* 512   7/23  .296   N/A   5/85       N/A    34   N/A  90   N/A  105/24%
2016^ 605  11/19  .228  .250   6/78    54/17/29  28    80  74    9%  152/21%
2017  506  15/14  .277  .259   7/80    52/20/29  32    98  70   13%  138/15%
2018^ 433   4/8   .244  .232   5/76    56/19/25  31    71  58    5%  120/13%
2019  394  14/7   .228  .248   8/78    52/18/30  26    89  70   15%  128/11%
*MLEs
^Includes MLEs

Arcia's power production is a little over his head:

  • His fly ball rate is up slightly, but it's still very low, and he's not making a lot of hard contact. He's been aided by a career best home run per fly ball rate, but given his 12th percentile Hard Hit %, it's probably not sustainable.
  • Arcia is very fast, but the speed hasn't translated to a lot of stolen bases for a couple of reasons. He's been successful on just 64 percent of his attempts both this year and last year, and has spent most of his time in 2019 in the eighth spot in the order, where he has just a nine percent SBO.
  • He's still striking out too much for a player without a lot of power, but his plus speed and ground ball tendencies should yield a higher hit rate. Look for his batting average to be closer to his current xBA the rest of the way.

Arcia has been more valuable in 2019 than he was last year, but is still not fulfilling the kind of promise he showed back in 2017. He has been a little unlucky, and should hit for a higher average going forward, but the power is likely to fall off, which will offset those gains. Arcia's clearest path to value would seem to be his wheels, but his OBP is under .300 for the second straight season, which will probably keep him at the bottom of the order, and limit his opportunities on the bases. Therefore, it's probably not wise to expect a lot of improvement from Arcia in the near future. 

 

Paddack enjoying strong rookie season ... Chris Paddack (RHP, SD) has provided plenty of profit for owners who bought into the pre-season hype, as he boasts a 3.44 ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP through 21 starts. He has been struggling a bit lately, allowing 13 ER and 5 HR in 14.2 IP across his last three outings. How legit has the breakout been, and can he still be started with confidence?

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  FpK  SwK   Vel    G/L/F   H%/S%  hr/f  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ===  ===  ====  ========  =====  ====  ===
2018*  39  2.16   N/A  0.9  7.5  8.3  N/A  N/A   N/A  38/21/41  24/71   N/A  228  
2019  114  3.44  3.96  2.0  9.5  4.7  73%  12%  93.9  41/18/41  25/74   16%  135 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
19 1H  77  3.05  3.84  2.0  9.5  4.8  74%  12%  93.8  43/16/41  24/77   15%  138
19 2H  38  4.23  4.20  2.1  9.4  4.4  72%  12%  94.2  39/21/40  26/70   18%  129
*MLEs at Double-A

Paddack's skills are strong, and holding up pretty well:

  • He walked just eight batters across 17 minor league starts in 2017, and has been stingy with the walks in the majors as well. With full support from an elite FpK, his stellar Ctl should remain a strength.
  • The swing-and-miss stuff has been consistently solid throughout the season, and his velocity on his four-seam fastball has increased in the second half. He has a 16 percent SwK on the pitch in his three August starts, but opposing batters have hit .314 with a .371 ISO against the pitch over that span, compared to .200 and .196 marks, respectively, in his first 18 starts.
  • Paddack's change-up has been a very effective pitch all season, and he had a 17 percent SwK on the pitch through the end of July. It's down to nine percent during his August struggles, and while it's probably a small sample blip, it is something worth tracking.
  • A higher than average fly ball rate and elevated hr/f have combined to lead to a 1.6 hr/9 on the year. However, he's doing a great job of limiting hard contact, ranking in the 80th percentile or better in both exit velocity and Hard Hit %. 

Paddack has been one of the top rookie pitchers in the league throughout the season, combining pinpoint control with the ability to miss bats and limit hard contact. He has hit a rough patch lately, but still has a 17/3 K/BB ratio in his past three starts, along with a 13 percent SwK. The Padres have exercised caution with their young pitchers this season, and Paddack may be coming up on an innings limit in the not too distant future. He should get back to pitching well for as long as he's out there, though, and his excellent skills suggest he'll be a highly sought after commodity in 2020.

 

Hudson outperforming his skills ... Dakota Hudson (RHP, STL) came up as a starter, and recorded a 2.50 ERA in 19 Triple-A starts in 2018. But he was used exclusively out of the pen in the majors, where he put up a 2.63 in 26 appearances following his call-up, despite an atrocious 1.1 Cmd. Hudson is back to starting this season, and owns a 3.63 ERA through 26 appearances (25 starts), but can he continue at this level?

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  FpK  SwK   Vel    G/L/F   H%/S%  hr/f  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ===  ===  ====  ========  =====  ====  ===
2017* 153  3.63  4.18  2.9  4.7  1.6  N/A  N/A   N/A  58/15/27  32/74   N/A   48
2018^ 141  2.75  3.45  3.5  5.7  1.6  59%  10%  96.0  61/20/19  31/78   N/A   70
2019  134  3.63  4.58  4.2  7.0  1.7  57%  10%  93.8  58/22/20  30/81   23%   47 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2H 19  47  4.05  4.64  4.8  8.1  1.7  55%  12%  94.1  49/27/24  30/78   22%   43 
*MLEs
^Includes MLEs

Hudson's poor Cmd suggests he's not likely to keep this up:

  • His SwK remains below average, but he has increased his Dom, and has actually been missing more bats lately. He has recorded double digit swinging strikes in six of his nine second half starts, with a 12 percent SwK during that time, after achieving the feat in in just six of 15 starts with a 10 percent SwK in the first half.
  • His Ctl continues to trend in the wrong direction, as he struggles to get first pitch strikes, and doesn't get batters to chase a lot, as his 27 percent O-Swing % is nearly five points below league average.
  • He doesn't allow many fly balls, but there are a lot of balls in play against him, and batters typically make good contact. According to Statcast, he ranks in the bottom quartile in both Hard Hit % and exit velocity.
  • Hudson has a pretty high strand rate, especially for a pitcher with a low 18 percent K%. The extreme ground ball tilt has helped, as he is tied for fourth in the league with 18 double plays induced.

Hudson appears to be well on his way to besting his xERA by a wide margin for the second consecutive season. His modest strikeout totals have been improving somewhat lately, but have been accompanied by his already poor Ctl getting worse. The 24-year-old still has time to refine his craft, but for now, this is a mediocre skill-set any way you slice it, and not a sub-4.00 ERA pitcher.


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