BATTERS: Second half surgers, 2017

Identifying power and batting eye changes from one half to the next can help you allocate your breakout and speculative dollars most efficiently.

Let's take a look at the hitters from 2017 who showed the greatest growth in either their isolated power (Slg minus BA) or batting eye (BB/K) from the first half to the second half.

The following bats experienced a substantial spike in their ISO between the 1H and 2H of 2017:

  • ISO, 2017 Post-ASB vs. Pre-ASB*
    
    Name                League  Position     ISO 1H  ISO 2H  Diff
    ==================  ======  ===========  ======  ======  =====
    Bird, Gregory           AL           1B   .100     .322  +.222
    Ellis, A.J.             NL            C   .045     .260  +.215
    Valbuena, Luis          AL        3B/1B   .133     .333  +.200
    Perez, Roberto          AL            C   .075     .255  +.180
    Moroff, Max             NL           2B   .021     .194  +.173
    Olson, Matt             AL           1B   .265     .436  +.171
    Martin, Leonys          AL           CF   .019     .176  +.157
    Buxton, Byron           AL           CF   .090     .246  +.156
    Cron, C.J.              AL           1B   .090     .244  +.154
    Martinez, J.D.          NL           RF   .310     .445  +.135
    Flores, Wilmer          NL        3B/1B   .167     .299  +.132
    Peterson, Jace          AL           LF   .057     .188  +.131
    Castillo, Welington     AL            C   .155     .279  +.124
    Rupp, Cameron           NL            C   .150     .270  +.120
    Stanton, Giancarlo      AL           RF   .295     .415  +.120
    Polanco, Jorge          AL           SS   .099     .218  +.119
    Dozier, Brian           AL           2B   .175     .287  +.112
    Donaldson, Josh         AL           3B   .224     .331  +.107
    Aoki, Nori              FA           LF   .067     .171  +.104
    Seager, Kyle            AL           3B   .155     .258  +.103
    Gonzalez, Carlos        NL           RF   .118     .217  +.099
    Hechavarria, Adeiny     AL           SS   .078     .175  +.097
    Gonzalez, Adrian        NL           1B   .085     .182  +.097
    Rosario, Eddie          AL           LF   .171     .266  +.095
    Story, Trevor           NL           SS   .173     .266  +.093
    Grichuk, Randal         AL           RF   .193     .286  +.093
    Joyce, Matt             AL           RF   .189     .279  +.090
    Herrera, Odubel         NL           CF   .137     .227  +.090
    Schwarber, Kyle         NL           LF   .216     .306  +.090
    Narvaez, Omar           AL            C   .022     .111  +.089
    Contreras, Willson      NL            C   .193     .281  +.088
    Turner, Trea            NL           SS   .143     .229  +.086
    Russell, Addison        NL           SS   .156     .242  +.086
    Hanson, Alen            NL        2B/RF   .079     .164  +.085
    Upton, Justin           AL           LF   .227     .312  +.085
    Diaz, Yandy             AL           3B   .016     .098  +.082
    Almora Jr, Albert       NL           CF   .112     .194  +.082
    Suzuki, Kurt            NL            C   .211     .291  +.080
    Adrianza, Ehire         AL           SS   .068     .146  +.078
    Flowers, Tyler          NL            C   .135     .210  +.075
    *min 50 PA each half

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These players posted a big spike in their batting eye ratios from the 1H to 2H:

  • Eye Ratio (BB/K), 2017 Post-ASB vs. Pre-ASB*
    
    Name                League  Position     Eye 1H  Eye 2H  Diff
    ==================  ======  ===========  ======  ======  =====
    Tejada, Ruben           AL           SS    0.27    1.25  +0.98
    Suzuki, Ichiro          NL           RF    0.24    1.10  +0.86
    Lucroy, Jonathan        AL            C    0.52    1.33  +0.81
    Revere, Ben             AL           CF    0.35    1.13  +0.78
    Springer, George        AL           CF    0.41    1.07  +0.66
    Peraza, Jose            NL        2B/SS    0.10    0.75  +0.65
    Lowrie, Jed             AL           2B    0.50    1.14  +0.64
    Panik, Joe              NL           2B    0.69    1.27  +0.58
    Jaso, John              NL        1B/RF    0.43    1.00  +0.57
    Contreras, Willson      NL            C    0.32    0.85  +0.53
    Martinez, Jose          NL        1B/LF    0.27    0.80  +0.53
    Garneau, Dustin         NL            C    0.17    0.67  +0.50
    Diaz, Yandy             NL           3B    0.35    0.83  +0.48
    Gurriel, Yulieski       AL           1B    0.16    0.64  +0.48
    Iannetta, Chris         NL            C    0.23    0.65  +0.42
    Arenado, Nolan          NL           3B    0.42    0.83  +0.41
    Encarnacion, Edwin      AL        DH/1B    0.63    1.02  +0.39
    Peterson, Jace          AL           LF    0.44    0.81  +0.37
    Pham, Tommy             NL           LF    0.43    0.79  +0.36
    Desmond, Ian            AL        1B/LF    0.17    0.52  +0.35
    Trout, Mike             AL           CF    0.86    1.21  +0.35
    Mahtook, Mikie          AL           CF    0.09    0.43  +0.34
    Blackmon, Charlie       NL           CF    0.36    0.67  +0.31
    Cuthbert, Cheslor       AL           3B    0.12    0.43  +0.31
    Pirela, Jose            NL           LF    0.20    0.51  +0.31
    Ellsbury, Jacoby        AL           CF    0.51    0.82  +0.31
    Guyer, Brandon          AL           RF    0.17    0.48  +0.31
    Pollock, A.J.           NL           CF    0.33    0.63  +0.30
    DeShields, Delino       AL           LF    0.28    0.58  +0.30
    *min 50 PA each half

Let's take a closer look at a bunch of interesting 2017 second half power and patience surgers.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Greg Bird (1B, NYY) has been hampered by injuries the last two years. When healthy late in 2017, he showed why he has the skills to be an impact bat: .891 OPS, .322 ISO. His 170 PX in the second half was backed by a strong 140 xPX, and his contact rate surged from a 63% ct% in the 1H to a 77% ct% in the 2H. He's a wildcard with a high power ceiling.

Byron Buxton (CF, MIN) had a rough start to the 2017 season. He struggled to make contact (66% ct%) and did not hit the ball with much authority (.594 OPS, .090 ISO). But the second half was a growth period for him. He inched up his contact rate (70% ct%) while hitting for more production (.893 OPS) and power (.246 ISO). Upside plays for 2018 don't get much better than Buxton.

C.J. Cron (1B, LAA) is another post-hype bat who struggled mightily early in 2017 (5% bb%, 75% ct%, 0.23 Eye, .568 OPS, .090 ISO). While his plate skills remained mediocre, his raw power started to show itself in the second half (.838 OPS, .244 ISO). With a growing contact rate prior to 2017 and flashes of upper-tier power, Cron makes for a good CI speculation.

Delino DeShields (LF, TEX) quietly made some significant gains late in 2017. His plate skills in the first half were mediocre at best (8% bb%, 67% ct%, 0.28 Eye). They surged across the board in the second half: 13% bb%, 75% ct%, 0.58 Eye. He also improved his SB success rate in 2017. If his jump in walks and reduction in strikeouts holds, there's 40-SB upside here.

Yandy Diaz (3B, CLE) owned some top-tier plate discipline skills in the high minors that did not translate well to MLB early in 2017 (9% bb%, 73% ct%, 0.35 Eye). Pitchers knocked the bat out of his hands too (.486 OPS, .016 ISO). His control of home plate surged in the second half though (14% bb%, 80% ct%, 0.83 Eye). Diaz also hit for more production (.810 OPS) and authority (.098 ISO). He's someone to draft as your CI in deep leagues with rosters that could benefit from his likely multi-position eligibility later in the year.

Randall Grichuk (RF, TOR) enters 2018 with a bit of a clean slate after his switch to the AL. Few batters possess a higher power upside than Grichuk does, and at age 26, he's at the right age to take a big step forward. Especially if he can sustain the production (.854 OPS) and power (.286 ISO) he flashed in the second half of 2017.

Mikie Mahtook (CF, DET) won't be viewed even as a mid-tier OF in many leagues on draft day. However, he put his tools together in the second half of 2017 after getting steady playing time. His plate discipline soared (2% bb%, 76% ct%, 0.09 Eye in 1H; 9% bb%, 78% ct%, 0.43 Eye in 2H). His production and power jumped too (.697 OPS, .147 ISO in 1H; .841 OPS, .203 ISO in 2H). There's 20/20 upside here that most people won't realize.

Matt Olson (1B, OAK) is a young bat whose light started to turn on late in 2017. He had an elite 108 BPV after July 1, and it wasn't a fluke. His terrible bat-on-ball aptitude in the first half (57% ct%) turned passable in the second half (72% ct%), and his raw power went from very good (.265 ISO) to elite (.436 ISO). He also manhandled righties all season long (1.081 OPS, 241 PX). There's a lot to like here.

Jace Peterson (LF, NYY) will go undrafted in nearly all leagues in 2018, since he's never provided much in the way of production. That said, Peterson's patience soared in the 2H of 2017 (17% bb%). Given his above-average speed skills, it's something worth tucking away, as he could have value in very deep AL-only leagues as your MI once he qualifies there again.

Jorge Polanco (SS, MIN) is one of the best breakout targets in the game heading into 2018. After a so-so first half in 2017 (0.48 Eye, .596 OPS, .099 ISO), all of those marks soared post-ASB: 0.58 Eye, .870 OPS, .218 ISO. His BPV nearly doubled in the 2H too. He's another bat with a 20-20 ceiling that is flying under the radar.

Eddie Rosario (LF, MIN) is another young MIN hitter who carries some nice upside in 2018. He's showed significant growth in 2017, posting his first $20+ season at age 25. And his surge in the second half suggests he hasn't reached his ceiling yet. His plate skills improved (5% bb%, 80% ct%, 0.29 Eye in 1H; 7% bb%, 81% ct%, 0.38 Eye in 2H) while his production (.784 OPS in 1H, .889 OPS in 2H) and power (.171 ISO in 1H, .266 ISO in 2H) soared. Don't assume he'll regress from his 2017 mini-breakout.

George Springer (CF, HOU) watched his production fall late in the season, but underneath that surface decline was some huge growth in his plate skills (9% bb%, 75% ct%, 0.41 Eye in 1H; 12% bb%, 87% ct%, 1.07 Eye in 2H). It's growth that gives him 40-HR, .300-BA upside in 2018.

Mike Zunino (C, SEA) struggled again early in 2017, especially with his plate discipline (7% bb%, 57% ct%, 0.17 Eye). He made some strides in that area in the second half (11% bb%, 61% ct%, 0.33 Eye). And he did not make those gains at the expense of his production (.943 OPS) or power (.286 ISO). He also cracked an .800+ OPS vs. RHers for the first time in his career. High-upside breakout targets behind the plate don't get much better than Zunino.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Albert Almora (CF, CHC) made some subtle gains in the second half of 2017. He focused on lofting the ball more, which helped him raise both his OPS (.730 OPS in 1H, .850 OPS in 2H) and ISO (.112 ISO in 1H, .194 ISO in 2H). And those spikes came with a jump in his contact rate (80% ct% in 1H, 85% ct% in 2H). There's some hidden upside here, especially if he can make some adjustments vs. RHers.

Austin Barnes (C/2B, LA) might not seem like a potential frontline catcher, but the growth he showed in 2017 supports that potential. His contact rate surged from 77% in the 1H to 83% in the 2H. If he can team that improvement with the .935 OPS and .255 ISO he put up in the first half, Barnes could double his value in 2018.

Willson Contreras (C, CHC) took a step forward in 2017, but not one significant enough to forecast a breakout from him. However, his output went way up late in the season (.782 OPS in 1H, .993 OPS in 2H), as did his power (.193 ISO in 1H, .281 ISO in 2H). And he didn't sell out his approach at the plate to do it. His pitch recognition improved across the board (8% bb%, 71% ct%, 0.32 Eye in 1H; 15% bb%, 80% ct%, 0.85 Eye in 2H). Contreras carries legitimate breakout potential.

Wilmer Flores (3B/1B, NYM) seemingly has been a breakout target for a while. The fact that he hasn't reached his ceiling only increases his post-hype appeal though. He sustained his solid contact in the second half as his power soared (.167 ISO in 1H, .299 ISO in 2H). Flores also fared better against RHers in 2017 than he has at any other point in his career (.765 OPS, 100 PX vs. RHers). His rate of hard contact (120 HctX) and underlying power (xPX) was the best of his career in 2017 too. Flores carries some hidden breakout appeal heading into 2018.

Cesar Hernandez (2B, PHI) has more SB upside than it might appear. His solid plate skills got much better in the second half of 2017 (13% bb%, 81% ct%, 0.77 Eye). With back-to-back 180+ Spd seasons, a friendlier green light could net him his first 20+ SB season.

Jose Martinez (1B/LF, STL) emerged out of nowhere with a huge spring in 2017. After slowing down once real action started, Martinez had a better second half than most people will realize (.989 OPS, .231 ISO). And it wasn't a mirage, as his plate discipline was much better than he showed earlier in the season (14% bb%, 80% ct%, 0.80 Eye). He'll be a nice value if you can get him as your fourth or fifth outfielder, especially given his dual CI/OF eligibility in most leagues.

Jose Peraza (2B/SS, CIN) posted his second straight 20+ SB season in 2017. While most of his underlying skills either stagnated or took a step backward, his pitch recognition soared in the second half (2% bb%, 85% ct%, 0.10 Eye in 1H; 8% bb%, 88% ct%, 0.75 Eye in 2H). At age 24 and with two straight 140+ Spd seasons, Peraza hasn't reached his speed ceiling yet.


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