BATTERS: BPV leaders, July 2017

Let's continue our regular look back at the hitters who posted the best skills during the previous month.

Here were the most skilled bats in July:

75+ BPV, July 2017*

Name                League  Position       bb%  ct%  Eye   PX   HctX  xPX  Spd  BPV
==================  ======  =============  ===  ===  ====  ===  ====  ===  ===  ===
Stanton, Giancarlo      NL             RF  17%  74%  0.79  247   125  166   81  155
Harper, Bryce           NL             RF  13%  81%  0.76  205   134  138  121  152
Cozart, Zack            NL             SS  14%  91%  1.80  142   139  124  130  146
Bregman, Alex           AL          3B/SS  12%  85%  0.92  163   110  121  134  136
McCutchen, Andrew       NL             CF  16%  82%  1.00  178   137  116   84  127
Rendon, Anthony         NL             3B  17%  84%  1.25  160   125  115   90  126
Arenado, Nolan          NL             3B   6%  82%  0.38  179   123  160  128  125
Altuve, Jose            AL             2B   7%  91%  0.78  126   110  104  129  118
Pollock, A.J.           NL             CF   6%  84%  0.42  163   145  151  120  117
Ramirez, Jose           AL       3B/LF/2B   8%  91%  1.00  123   101   77  118  117
Polanco, Gregory        NL             RF   3%  92%  0.40  125   110  101   92  104
Turner, Justin          NL             3B  20%  86%  1.80  118   139  189   76  104
Gattis, Evan            AL           C/DH   5%  76%  0.21  204   123  174   74  102
Conforto, Michael       NL             LF   9%  75%  0.39  198    99   97   77  102
Merrifield, Whit        AL          2B/RF   4%  85%  0.29  140   111  121  120   99
Rizzo, Anthony          NL             1B  15%  83%  1.00  144   128  136   66   98
Reyes, Jose             NL          SS/3B   2%  90%  0.22  117   111  118  132   98
Gurriel, Yulieski       AL          1B/3B   3%  90%  0.33  135   115   71   70   98
Pederson, Joc           NL             CF   9%  83%  0.56  147   114   99   90   96
Beltre, Adrian          AL             3B  13%  88%  1.18  111   144  119   97   96
Blackmon, Charlie       NL             CF   6%  79%  0.29  146   145  183  165   96
Valbuena, Luis          AL          3B/1B   3%  76%  0.14  204   133  235   55   93
Parra, Gerardo          NL          RF/1B   5%  89%  0.43  123   135  117   96   93
Springer, George        AL             RF  11%  84%  0.73  127   148  122  113   93
Martinez, J.D.          NL             RF  10%  71%  0.39  203   105  145   83   93
Santana, Carlos         AL             1B  12%  76%  0.58  173   131  139   73   91
Name                League  Position       bb%  ct%  Eye   PX   HctX  xPX  Spd  BPV
==================  ======  =============  ===  ===  ====  ===  ====  ===  ===  ===
Contreras, Willson      NL           C/LF  12%  77%  0.58  158   105  115   90   88
Schwarber, Kyle         NL          LF/DH  11%  64%  0.35  224   108  147   88   87
Realmuto, Jacob         NL              C   9%  85%  0.62  121   123   85  108   87
Mercer, Jordy           NL             SS  10%  87%  0.80  108   130  134  105   86
Murphy, Daniel          NL          2B/1B   8%  85%  0.58  130   139  151   77   86
Shaw, Travis            NL          3B/1B  12%  68%  0.42  195   113  152  105   86
DeJong, Paul            NL          SS/2B   7%  68%  0.23  217   111  177   78   85
Smoak, Justin           AL             1B  15%  73%  0.63  173   149  220   76   84
Marte, Ketel            NL             SS  11%  79%  0.58  140   110  137  104   83
Duda, Lucas             AL             1B  12%  73%  0.50  185   107  136   58   83
Gonzalez, Marwin        AL 1B/LF/3B/SS/2B   9%  76%  0.43  165   114  110   85   83
Yelich, Christian       NL             CF  11%  76%  0.52  156   123   94   93   82
Rivera, T.J.            NL       3B/2B/1B   5%  92%  0.60   91   110   97   96   81
Simmons, Andrelton      AL             SS   5%  84%  0.31  121   121  110  117   80
Bryant, Kris            NL          3B/LF  11%  83%  0.73  107   134   95  131   80
Herrera, Odubel         NL             CF   8%  74%  0.32  173   112  143   89   80
Odor, Rougned           AL             2B   4%  76%  0.17  173   145  177   97   80
Taylor, Chris           NL       LF/2B/CF   3%  72%  0.12  169   111  139  158   80
Moustakas, Mike         AL             3B   1%  84%  0.07  142   115  141   84   79
Bour, Justin            NL             1B  13%  79%  0.71  143   112  131   60   78
Braun, Ryan             NL             LF  11%  81%  0.64  133   145  198   81   77
Abreu, Jose             AL             1B   5%  80%  0.26  151   108  122   84   77
Lamb, Jake              NL             3B  21%  67%  0.79  164    65  144  110   76
Seager, Kyle            AL             3B   7%  80%  0.39  140   100  148   93   76
Castellanos, Nick       AL             3B   9%  75%  0.38  135   137  151  166   76
Gregorius, Didi         AL             SS   7%  83%  0.44  123    79   78   96   75
Franco, Maikel          NL             3B   8%  83%  0.53  129   105   81   73   75
*min 50 AB

Let's take a closer look at a bunch of noteworthy skill performances that happened in July.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Alex Bregman (3B/SS, HOU) was the AL's most skilled hitter in July at age 23. His 136 BPV was driven by strong pitch recognition and plate control (12% bb%, 85% ct%, 0.92 Eye), good power (163 PX, 121 xPX), and some sneaky speed (134 Spd). He has shown some nice overall growth in his sophomore campaign, which will put him on many breakout lists heading into 2018.

C.J. Cron (1B, LAA) is still waiting for an opportunity to play every day at the MLB level this season. After being recalled from Triple-A in July, Cron put up some nice numbers in a small sample size: .946 OPS, 74 BPV in 31 AB. His problem in 2017 has been an inability to hit RHers (.558 OPS). He had an .827 OPS against them in 2016, so hope is not lost. Cron remains a peak-age bat worth buying in deep leagues while his value is low.

Lucas Duda (1B, TAM) was acquired from NYM just before the trade deadline. If he can stay healthy, there's no reason to believe that Duda will struggle. He has produced a near-.900 OPS in each month this season, and his overall .291 xBA even gives his batting average some upside. Duda also is hitting southpaws well (.837 OPS) after being up-and-down against them for most of his career.

Clint Frazier (LF, NYY) flashed his multiple tools during his MLB debut in July, including upper-tier power (160 PX, 177 xPX) and better speed (142 Spd) than his SB totals (1 SB) would seem to indicate. His bugaboo was shaky plate control (4% bb%, 71% ct%). Given his history of drawing walks in the minors, it's too early to consider his initial lack of walks with NYY as a significant concern. His power/speed potential makes him a premium investment in keeper leagues.

Whit Merrifield (2B/RF, KC) contributed both power (five HR) and speed (nine SB) in July, along with another month of high contact (85% ct%). His underlying skills gave full support to his results (121 xPX, 120 Spd). The key for him has been improving against righties. He has a .789 OPS against them so far in 2017 compared to a .657 OPS vR in 2016.

Mike Napoli (1B/DH, TEX) has always been a streaky hitter. This season has been no different. In July, he produced a solid 73 BPV due to elite underlying power (200 xPX). In addition, he has hit the ball harder in each month so far in 2017 even though his contact rate has remained stagnant. Check out his rising HctX by month: 81, 92, 103, 119, 161. Don't be surprised if Napoli puts up another 15 HR over the last two months of the season.

Justin Smoak (1B, TOR) is another streaky hitter. But he's one who hasn't been plagued by those ups-and-downs this season. He has put up a 1.000+ OPS in both June and July, as well as a 80+ BPV in each month from May to July. In addition to making mental adjustments, credit some adjustments vs. LHers for his breakout season. He has thumped lefties this season after posting a sub-.650 OPS in three of the last four seasons against them. There's no reason yet to sell high on him.

Luis Valbuena (1B/3B, LAA) could get squeezed out of playing time if LAA falls further out of contention. In the meantime, Valbuena put up some nice numbers in July (.868 OPS), production that was backed by a very good 93 BPV and elite 235 xPX. With rising expected power by month (76, 122, 235 xPX), Valbuena is another bat who could provide some sneaky power down the stretch.

Mike Zunino (C, SEA) seems to be solidifying his hold as SEA's everyday catcher in spite of some rough recent stats (.188 BA in July). His power skills in July remained off the charts (196 xPX). A correction in his hit rate from June (38% h%) to July (23% h%) caused his BA to plummet. He still needs to make better contact to smooth out his peaks and valleys (56% ct% in July), but backstop investments in keeper leagues don't get much better than Zunino.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Zack Cozart (SS, CIN) quietly was the most skilled infielder in the game in July (146 BPV). His plate control was fantastic (14% bb%, 91% ct%, 1.80 Eye) and he combined it with good power (142 PX, 124 xPX), a combination that helped him produce an elite 139 HctX. He also showed good wheels (130 Spd) that were zapped only by a complete absence of a green light (0% SBO%). While Cozart's overall 98 xPX continues to profile him as nothing more than an average HR hitter, his big surge in walks (7% bb% in '16, 13% bb% in '17) tells us that he's still maturing at the plate. At age 31, Cozart likely hasn't reached his peak and stands a good shot at finishing strong after he returns from his strained quad.

Wilmer Difo (2B, WAS) has flopped at the plate during his prior MLB auditions, but if July is any indication, he could be making a legitimate step forward at age 25. He showed one of the better collection of skills among any 2B in July: 12% bb%, 82% ct%, 0.75 Eye, 145 Spd. That combination of pitch recognition and speed was one that made him an attractive prospect several years ago, so it's one worth speculating on in deep leagues.

Paul DeJong (SS/2B, STL) has made the most of his opportunities to plug openings in the STL infield, putting up a .298 BA and .985 OPS in regular duty during July. Even his underlying power was impressive (177 xPX), which backed the eight HR he hit that month. Problem is, DeJong's control of home plate is shaky at best (7% bb%, 68% ct%, 0.23 Eye), and his history of hacking has kept his BA low in the past. He's someone worth selling high on if you can use him to improve your roster in other areas.

Jake Lamb (3B, ARI) saw a huge increase in his walk rate in July (21% bb%, 0.79 Eye). It's an approach that helped him generate an .800+ OPS that month in spite of a horrible .178 BA. That low batting average was the result of a tiny 18% h%. He posted a 33%+ h% during each of the prior three months, so chalk it up as an aberration. Lamb's combination of patience and power continues to make him one of the best young 3B targets in the game.

Ketel Marte (SS, ARI) is putting up the best skills we've ever seen from him. He had an 83 BPV over semi-regular duty in July, showing both good production (.832 OPS), solid plate discipline (11% bb%, 79% ct%, 0.58 Eye), good hard contact (110 HctX) and really good power skills (140 PX, 137 xPX). A 24% h% was the reason for his low BA that month; his .302 xBA confirms that he was a legit .300 hitter. For the season, Marte has shifted his approach from a groundball hitter to a line-drive/flyball one (37/27/37 G/L/F). At age 23, it's a noticeable gain, even though we need to see it over a longer period to know if it's legit growth.

Andrew McCutchen (CF, PIT) now firmly appears to be back as an elite performer. He followed up his excellent 125 BPV in June with a 127 BPV in July and also posted a 1.100+ OPS in both months. While his 20+ SB days are likely gone, he's got 30 HR in his sights for the first time since 2012.

Jordy Mercer (SS, PIT) has been powering up as the season has gone along. Check out his xPX by month: 55, 85, 95, 134 xPX. He posted the best skills of the season in July (86 BPV), and his upper-tier power that month wasn't the result of him opening up his swing (87% ct%). Mercer is a peak-age bat who could produce a decent BA/power combo for a MI down the stretch.

Gerardo Parra (RF/1B, COL) has been one of the most productive hitters in the game since July 1 (1.061 OPS in 65 AB). And we can't attribute the spike solely to random fluctuations, as his skills in July were superb too (93 BPV). His three-year rise in underlying power (85, 96, 100, 116 xPX) suggests he's starting to shed his profile of being a modest power source. The reason for his big surge there in 2017 has been some huge gains against lefties (.939 OPS vL). Problem is, that mark entirely has been driven by an inflated hit rate (50% h%), so it's not likely to stick. Still, Parra's steady xPX growth makes him more worthy of use in deep leagues than in the past.

Joc Pederson (CF, LA) is a pre-peak bat who could be on the verge of a very big finish. Check out his contact rate by year since his rookie season in 2014: 61%, 65%, 68%, 74% ct%. Then take a look at his contact rate by month so far in 2017: 64%, 73%, 77%, 83% ct%. In addition, he posted a 150 BPV in June and a 96 BPV in July, an indication that he might be overcoming his concussion issues. While he's trading off some power to make more contact (106 xPX in '17), it's an adjustment that could put him on a path to a big finish and a precursor to a 30+ HR breakout in 2018.

Gregory Polanco (RF, PIT) has been one of the game's best hitters since July 1 (.976 OPS, 102 BPV in 58 AB). The key has been a huge surge in his contact rate (93% ct%). He also showed the best underlying power skills of the season in July (101 xPX). We've seen these flashes before, and Polanco certainly hasn't delivered on his breakout upside so far this season. But he's another young, high-upside bat who could be poised to go on a nice run down the stretch.

Kyle Schwarber (LF/DH, CHC) still carries a rough .189 AB after 280 AB with CHC. But that mark has been driven by a fluky 21% h% more than anything else. After his recall from Triple-A, Schwarber posted a 29% h% in July, a mark that gave him a decent .250 BA that month. And he continued to show top-flight power skills (223 PX, 147 xPX). Schwarber's two-month rise in OPS since May (.569 in May, .849 OPS in June, .940 OPS in July) puts him on the path to a big finish.


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