MLB Regression – Can Jack Flaherty turn year around? – The Quant Edge

MLB Regression – Can Jack Flaherty turn year around? – The Quant Edge

Hello Friends! With the All-Star Break approaching, the mid-point of the season is a great time to utilize regression as a tool to sell players at their highest stock and buy others at their lowest. Lets’ analyze this week’s MLB Regression group, including Joey Votto, Chris Taylor, Jack Flaherty, and others!

Joey Votto

Batted Ball Metrics Baseline Form Past 14 Days Difference
Distance 229 feet 258 feet +29 feet
Fly Ball Percentage 31.1% 51.4% +20.3%
Hard Hit Rate 41.0% 45.7% +4.7%
Exit Velocity 93 mph 97 mph + 4 mph

The veteran first baseman has struggled this season but advanced metrics would suggest the Cincy slugger has figured things out at the plate. In his past 13 games, Votto has produced a .341 average and six extra-base hits including some power (two home runs).

With the six-time All-Star seeing and hitting the ball well again, we could be seeing the 36-year old hitting a ton of home runs with the Reds playing at home all of this week (Our Park Factors tool rates Great American Ballpark as the third overall offensive environment).

Chris Taylor

Batted Ball Metrics Baseline Form Past 14 Days Difference
Distance 220 feet 231 feet +11 feet
Hard Hit Rate 38.4% 51.4% +13%
Line Drive Percentage 27.5% 37.1% +9.6%
Exit Velocity 93 mph 94 mph + 1 mph

In the past two weeks, the Dodgers’ utility-man has on been on fire, accumulating a beast .431 batting average and 22 total hits. As we see in the table above, all his batted balls metrics have increased, which relates well with his twelve extra-base hits produced during this time period.

Ride his hot streak for free money in tournaments this week!

Maikel Franco

Batted Ball Metrics Baseline Form Past 14 Days Difference
Distance 198 feet 228 feet +30 feet
Hard Hit Rate 27.5% 41.9% +14.4%
Line Drive Percentage 17.1% 22.6% +5.5%
Exit Velocity 89 mph 94 mph +5%

The Philadelphia third baseman has been in great form despite hitting in the eighth spot or the bottom of the order. In the past 14 days, Franco has produced an impressive .361 batting average and five extra-base hits including three home runs. Fire him up in daily fantasy formats as a low owned play!

Jack Flaherty

Pitching Metrics Baseline Form  2019 Form
Skilled Interactive Earned Run Average 3.82 4.05
Swinging Strike Rate  13.1% 12.6%
Strikeout Percentage 27.8% 26.3%
Ground Ball Percentage 40.6% 36.4%

After producing impressive numbers in 2018, most of the public is down on the Cardinals’ right-hander after a poor first half, but we can feel confident Flaherty can turn it around if one aspect of his game can change.

Let’s first discuss the good things about the 23-year old’s performance this season. Despite a disappointing start, the right-hander’s current swinging strike rate is on par with his career or baseline average and his 9.91 K/9 gives us a good indication his stuff is still fooling hitters.

So why the concern about Flaherty? Through 85.1 innings pitched this season, the Cardinals’ starter has allowed a ton of hard contact (41.5%) and his ground-ball percentage has seen a reasonable decrease (-4.2%). After allowing 20 home runs last season, Flaherty has already served 18 up this year, which only magnifies his current hard-hit rate problem even more.

What could be the reason for the long-ball problems? My best guess would be it’s not Flaherty’s actual stuff, but the predictability of his pitches, specifically his fastball. In 2018, the St. Louis pitcher’s fastball percentage was at 40.0% but this year, it has jumped to 48.6% while his slider usage has decreased by 4.1%. We all know at the major league level, every hitter can hit a fastball especially if they can guess it is coming.

Overall, if the Flaherty can improve his hard contact problems, we will definitely see his 4.05  Skilled Interactive Earned Run Average (SIERA) positively regress towards his career mean. Take advantage of negative recency bias by buying low on this young pitcher, especially if his ground-ball percentage increases!

Shaun Anderson

San Francisco’s rookie starter has enjoyed some success so far in the first half but serious regression is coming.

Let’s first take a look at Anderson’s skilled based metrics. In 51.1 innings pitched this year, the 24-year old has produced a 5.30 SIERA, 6.4% swinging strike rate, and 5.08 K/9 which supports the idea his stuff may not work in the long term. Combined with his concerning hard-hit rate (40.0%) and lack of minor league production (71 strikeouts in 82.1 Triple-A innings), it’s only a matter of time before teams light up Anderson’s stuff if he is not producing ground-balls.

Ignore the deceiving 3.86 Earned Run Average and take advantage of Anderson’s regression by utilizing a likely low owned Padres’ stack this Wednesday!