Regression to the Mean | April 22 through April 28

Regression to the Mean | April 22 through April 28

Last week’s poster boy for this column capped a strong week with two home runs on Sunday celebrating his birthday. Joc Pederson is a stud versus right-handed pitching yet gets overlooked due to his platoon role. This week could produce a player with similar results, but not with the power upside, or at least we believed in the preseason.

However, it’s tough to overlook the hitter match-ups for the White Sox this week in daily contests. Baltimore’s staff yields hard hits like candy and on the day after Easter, this could provide tremendous upside. Here are this week’s positive regression candidates along with their match-ups.

Chicago White Sox

  • Three games at Baltimore, Three at home versus Detroit

Overshadowed by the strong start by Yoan Moncada, Jose Abreu‘s due for a bounce-back week. He’s currently hitting .189 with a .365 slugging and paltry .280 weighted on-base average (wOBA). His expected statistics suggest Abreu’s been better with a .244 expected average, .495 expected slugging and .360 expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA).

Given the Orioles struggles to get right-handed batters out, Abreu could start the week on the right foot. Baltimore’s staff yields a .416 wOBA against right-handed hitters, a .635 slugging percentage and 24.9 home run per fly ball rate. Plus, Abreu’s accrued 71 plate appearances in Camden Yards so far with two doubles, three home runs and a .297/.366/.469 slash line.

Teammate Welington Castillo recorded one of his best seasons as an Oriole. He owns a robust .301/.352/.539 slash in Camden with 13 home runs in 213 plate appearances. Castillo’s starting to percolate with a .618 xwOBA over the last seven days. He’s also due for better results with an expected batting average 76 points above his actual along with a .487 expected slugging versus his .371 actual percentage.

Cincinnati Reds

  • Three games against Atlanta, Three games at St. Louis

Not listed within in the match-ups, all the potential starters line up to be right-handed. This bodes well for Jesse Winker, since he, like Pederson, can be pigeonholed by a platoon. In the preseason, many thought Winker owned the potential to hit .300 with latent power developing. However, he’s hitting .183 despite increases in his average exit velocity and launch angle.

Winker owns a .268 expected batting average, 85 points over his actual and his expected slugging of .500 exceeds his .483 actual rate. With a depressed cost in daily and the potential for power in the Reds lineup bodes well for Winker. He’s been a bit more aggressive to start the season, but Winker’s also increased his zone swing percentage by almost seven points. Simple improvement against the fastball would result in his average going up by over 60 points. Act accordingly.

Bonus Plays

  • Avisail Garcia, Tampa Bay
  • Teoscar Hernandez, Toronto

On the surface, Avisail Garcia feels like a regression candidate due to his inflated average. But, he still resides 36 points below his expected slugging percentage. With Austin Meadows out due to a thumb injury, this opens the door for Garcia play full time. Yes, hard hit rates have surged this year, but Garcia’s increased his average exit velocity to 94 MPH this year, well above his career best of 90.3 MPH in each of the two previous seasons.

Add in his launch angle growing to 12 degrees and his hard hit percentage to 47.9 percent according to Statcast, and Garcia could help in daily lineups with three Royals on tap and a trip to Fenway to end the week.

Although the Blue Jays only play five games this week, Teoscar Hernandez appears to be on the verge of a heater. He’s reduced his swinging strike percentage by 4.5 points and his O-Swing (swings and misses outside the strike zone) by 3.6 percent. As a result, Hernandez contact and more importantly, zone contact rates have increased.

Hernandez currently owns an expected slugging percentage of .438, 52 points higher than his actual, along with an xwOBA 25 points over his present wOBA. If the Blue Jays get revitalized with the promotion of a top prospect, Hernandez could thrive out of the spotlight. His isolated power of .237 in Toronto and match-ups with struggling staffs from the Bay area could be the recipe for a rebound week.

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Statistical Credits: