Identifying batters weekly for positive regression can be tough, but, last week’s poster boy J.D. Martinez broke through with two home runs on Sunday against the Mariners. Plus, he could potentially surge in the days ahead with Colorado coming to town and armed with an expected weighted on-base average 112 points above his actual number so far in May. However, there are more hitters to focus on in the week ahead.
Two teammates from the Cardinals should benefit from a favorable schedule and the underlying statistics suggesting they’re capable of more production compared to their present statistics. Jose Martinez can rake. His defense leaves much to be desired. Injuries combined with his .327 average keep him in the lineup, plus, St. Louis will play three games in Texas this coming weekend, paving the way for Martinez be the designated hitter many wish he could do full time.
While running a search engine on Statcast for the biggest differential of expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA) compared to weighted on-base average (wOBA) for May, Martinez popped with almost a 100 point gap. His .353 wOBA prior to the start of games on Sunday lagged behind his .449 xwOBA. Plus, when looking at his seasonal numbers, Martinez owns a .341 expected batting average and a .556 expected slugging. Like his difference in on-base average, Martinez’s slugging rate stands to surge, which should move the needle in daily targets. Not only could Martinez provide a solid baseline of points due to his ability to reach base, but, a two-to-three home run week, or game, would differentiate in a GPP lineup, especially when the Cardinals arrive in Texas for a three-game set.
It’s been a boom-or-bust start to the year for Marcell Ozuna. He’s also well behind his xwOBA to start May with a 78 point potential growth possible with positive regression. Plus, Ozuna’s hitting .245 with a .280 expected average while slugging .531 with a .593 expected rate. As a sweetener, Ozuna’s hit nine of his 11 home runs this year on the road with six games on tap in Atlanta and Texas. He’s also slashing .286/.342/.600 with a .314 isolated power in 70 at-bats this season. It’s a small sample, but one worth noting.
Another name who popped when running the xwOBA search, Ronald Acuna Jr. It’s been a slow start to May for him, but, Atlanta could be moving him back to lead-off with him appearing there all weekend in Arizona. Acuna’s .456 xwOBA sits 131 points over his actual number since May’s inception. Combine this with his .295 expected average and .560 expected slugging and Acuna deserves some major regression to his talent. But, it gets better. As the lead-off hitter, Acuna’s accrued 271 at-bats in the spot prior to Sunday in 69 (nice) games with 55 runs, 20 home runs, 14 stolen bases, a .328/.406/.635 slash line, .306 isolated power and 47.1 hard hit percentage. Acuna will face the Cardinals and Brewers at home this week and could feast on fastballs hitting atop the lineup.
Not sure how the National League dominates this week’s targets, but, Adam Jones seems to be on the verge of a hot streak. He’s playing well for the Diamondbacks, but his xwOBA of .375 outdistances his .259 wOBA to this point in May. His expected batting average only sits 14 points above his actual, so, targeting Jones this week will be for power. Jones will end his week with two southpaws in town on the Giants. Plus, the Pirates bullpen will provide him with at-bats versus Francisco Liriano and Felipe Vazquez. Against lefties this year, Jones has slashed .278/.316/.537 with a .259 isolated power, five doubles and three home runs in 54 at-bats. Bake in Jeff Samardzija’s struggles on the road along with Nick Kingham and Joe Musgrove should not strike fear when targeting Jones to round out lineups.
Talking up a bat on Toronto could suggest some beers were consumed while researching this article. However, Justin Smoak has cratered to start May with a .272 wOBA compared to a .367 xwOBA and a .133 average. A road trip could be the remedy for Smoak’s slow start this month. The Blue Jays will head to San Francisco for two games then a four-game set at the White Sox. It’s a small sample, but, Smoak’s hitting a robust .315//.406/.630 on the road this season with four of his five home runs, a .315 isolated power and 63.6 hard hit percentage. No, that’s not a typo. When perusing his expected statistics, Smoak’s expected average (.257) and expected slugging (.490) outdistance his actual numbers which means something’s got to give. This week, it could be value on a depressed price for power with Smoak on the water.
Since today’s article will be free, here’s a couple of bonus bats to keep in your pocket. Yandy Diaz entered Sunday’s action with a 124 point difference in his xwOBA compared to his wOBA along with averaging an exit velocity of 98.7 MPH on his line drives and fly balls this year. A weekend in the Bronx could help him continue his power breakout. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a single with an exit velocity of 118.9 MPH, the second hardest hit ball this year on Saturday. It seems like the Blue Jays suffered from bad mojo at home, so like Smoak, getting away could fuel a big week.
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Been writing about fantasy baseball since 2012. Hit the Moonshot in 2016 without a fancy computer algorithm, just blood, sweat and tears, thanks to home runs by Ryan Flaherty along with Preston Tucker. So, each homer matters. Entered three 12-team NFBC leagues last year with a first and second place finish. Complete fantasy grinder, so check out the regression hitter articles weekly for cheap pivots or depressed sluggers due to pay dividends. My work also appears for free and behind the paywall at Fantasy Alarm, the Bullpen Reports on Rotographs and here. Thanks for all the support.