FACTS/FLUKES: Pence, Grichuk, Colome, M. Gonzales, R. Nunez

Pence as good as he's ever been...After a surprisingly productive spring training (.315/.383/.574 in 54 AB), Hunter Pence (OF, TEX) has continued to exceed expectations, netting him his first All-Star nod since 2014. Can he keep this up and remain fantasy relevent the remainder of the season? 

Year   AB  HR   BA/xBA    ct%  bb%   h%   OBA  HctX   PX/xPX    G/L/F   hr/f  
====  ===  ==  =========  ===  ===  ===  ====  ====  =======  ========  ====  
2014  650  20  .277/.264   80    7   32   332    97  112/ 88  52/14/34   11%
2015  207   9  .275/.279   77    7   32   327   119  135/117  54/17/29   20%
2016  395  13  .289/.254   76   10   35   357    93  104/ 79  55/17/28   15%                   
2017  493  13  .260/.239   79    7   30   315    94   66/ 76  57/13/29   11%
2018  235   4  .226/.237   75    4   28   258    84   71/ 64  50/21/29    8%
2019  194  15  .294/.302   76    8   32   353   125  168/131  46/19/36   28%

It is unusual for a player not named Barry Bonds to have a career year at age 36, but Pence's skills are intact and are at career-best levels:

  • His power metrics (HctX, PX, and xPX) are at career highs. Statcast backs these metrics up. He is in the 94th percentile of Average Exit Velocity and in the 86th percentile of Hard Hit %.
  • His resurgent power has resulted in 15 first half home runs, which is more than he has had in any full season since 2014. Although his 28% hr/f is likely to normalize, hitting at Globe Life Park in Arlington throughout the summer months, coupled with his increased fly ball rate (36%) compared to recent years, suggests that a 30 HR campaign is well within reach.
  • His bb% is league-average at 8%, but is better than five of his past six years. His ct% is also average, but his Hard Hit metrics help support his .302 xBA.
  • The risk with Pence is his F Health Grade. His is currently on the IL with a strained right groin. He is expected back shortly after the All-Star break. 

Pence's first half was no fluke. His skills are among the best of his career. Owners willing to take on the injury risk might consider acquiring him while his stock is low because of the injury. If he returns as expected a .290 BA with 30+ HR is well within reach.

 

Grichuk providing HR, but little else...Randal Grichuk (OF, TOR) is well on his way to his fourth consecutive 20+ HR season. Is he providing anything else of value to his fantasy teams? 

Year   AB  HR   BA/xBA    ct%  bb%   h%  OBA   HctX   PX/xPX   G/L/F    hr/f  
====  ===  ==  =========  ===  ===  ===  ====  ====  =======  ========  ==== 
2015  323  17  .276/.265   66    6   37   329   107  202/139  38/41/42   19% 
2016  446  24  .240/.251   68    6   30   289   111  162/142  41/16/44   18%
2017  412  22  .238/.249   68    6   30   285   110  150/152  36/21/43   18%
2018  424  25  .245/.260   71    6   29   301    96  167/136  35/18/47   18%
2019  326  15  .233/.225   69    7   29   291    84  107/ 92  39/18/43   15%

​Grichuk can be counted on for HR as long as he continues to play every day, but he is a liability in most other categories, and his playing time is not guaranteed:

  • His plate skills (bb% and ct%) are below average and his power metrics (HctX, PX, and xPX) are all at career lows. He is in the bottom half of MLB hitters in both Average Exit Velocity and Hard Hit %. This erosion in measured power suggests he may be hard-pressed to maintain his HR pace.
  • His sub-.300 OBA makes him a liability in OBA leagues. His BA is also below average and his xBA offers little hope for a rebound.
  • The Blue Jays may be losing patience with Grichuk. He's been dropping in the order since late May after beginning the year hitting 3rd or 4th. In recent weeks he's been batting 5th, 6th, or 7th. Both Socrates Brito (OF, TOR) and Patrick Kivlehan (OF, TOR) are having fine seasons at AAA-Buffalo.

At age 27 Grichuk has not shown skills growth, and in fact, has regressed this year. While he may put up decent HR numbers, even those are at risk due to his deteriorating power metrics and possible loss of playing time. His drop in the batting order may be signalling that the Blue Jays are losing patience. Grichuk owners in all but the deepest of leagues should look for alternatives.

 

Colome's surface stats hiding danger signs...Alexander Colome (LHP, CHW) has notched 19 saves with a 2.08 ERA and 0.69 WHIP. Are these eye-popping numbers backed up by supporting skills?

Year   IP  SV/HLD  ERA/xERA   Ctl   Dom  Cmd  FpK  SwK   Vel  H%  S%  hr/f  BPV
====  ===  ======  =========  ===  ====  ===  ===  ===  ====  ==  ==  ====  ===
2015  110   0/ 8   3.94/4.06  2.5   7.2  2.8   62   11  94.1  32  71   8%    79
2016   57  37/ 1   1.91/2.86  2.4  11.3  4.7   63   16  94.7  29  88  15%   164
2017   67  47/ 1   3.24/4.25  3.1   7.8  2.5   60   12  95.1  29  74   6%    84
2018   68  12/30   3.04/3.49  2.8   9.5  3.4   63   14  95.1  30  78  13%   120                                               
2019   35  19/ 0   2.08/4.26  2.6   7.0  2.7   61   13  94.4  12  80  10%    76 

Colome may be heading for a cliff. His skills offer little support for his gaudy stats:

  • Colome has consistently posted better ERAs than his xERAs throughout his career, but a 2+ run delta is extreme even for him.
  • His 12% H% is a major reason his WHIP is well below 1.00, but this is obviously not sustainable.
  • His FpK and SwK are solid, but his Dom is unusually low for a closer, as is his sub-100 BPV. 

Colome has been incredibly lucky with his H%, and owners cannot expect that to continue. He has a high risk of having a miserable second half and because the White Sox really don't have a viable alternative we can expect Colome to have a long leash even if his performance tanks. He is a great candidate to trade to an owner who is mesmerized by his current surface stats.  

 

Gonzales taking a step backwards in 2019...Marco Gonzales (LHP, SEA) showed real promise with significant skills improvement in 2018, but this year has been a different story. Do we see anything in his profile that suggests a second half turn around? 

Year    IP   ERA  xERA  WHIP  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  FpK  SwK  H%   Vel  hr/f  BPV   
====   ===  ====  ====  ====  ===  ====  ===  ===  ===  ==  ====  ====  ===  
2014*  119  3.36  3.78  1.27  2.9   7.8  2.7   61   10  30  89.6   10    80 
2015*   79  5.67  6.53  1.75  2.8   5.9  2.1   75    3  38  89.4   25    32  
2016   TJ Surgery  
2017*  120  4.57  4.65  1.38  2.5   6.6  2.6   60   10  32  91.5   18    60
2018   167  4.00  3.71  1.22  1.7   7.8  4.5   66   10  32  90.1   11   117
2019   107  4.39  5.14  1.40  2.6   6.4  2.5   64    8  32  88.7    8    63 
*includes MLEs

So far this year, Gonzales looks more like the pitcher returning from TJ surgery in 2017 than the pitcher on a positive trajectory in 2018:

  • His Ctl, Dom, and Cmd are almost mirror images of 2017. 
  • He has lost almost 3 mph of Vel since his Vel peak in 2017.
  • If there is any good news in his profile it is that his FpK, while not quite as good as last year, is still excellent.
  • His monthly xERAs do not show improvement during the season. April-4.22, May-5.95, and June-5.43.

Gonzales has not continued the improvement that he flashed during 2018, and has taken a step backwards. His skills profile in 2019 doesn't offer much hope of a better second half.

 

Nunez displaying real power...Renato Nunez (1B, BAL) is heading into the All-Star break on a HR pace just shy of 40. The Baseball Forecaster said that he needed to combine his 2017 power with 2018 ct% in order to have a fantasy impact. What is driving this year's success?

Year     AB   HR    BA/xBA    OBA  ct%  bb%   h%  HctX   PX/xPX    G/L/F   hr/f  
======  ===  ===  =========  ====  ===  ===  ===  ====  =======  ========  ====
2015aa  381  13   .243/       283   82    5   27        100/     
2016*   520  18   .203/.271   240   76    5   23    26   87/ -3  75/17/ 8    0%
2017*   488  25   .216/.279   273   67    7   27    77  135/116  29/43/29   50%
2018*   465  13   .262/.220   321   74    8   33    74   94/ 78  39/17/43   11%
2019    293  19   .239/.251   303   72    7   27   104  140/125  36/18/46   20%
*includes MLEs

The Forecaster call looks prescient:

  • Nunez's MLB sample size is still limited (less than 600 AB), but he has posted some intriguing power numbers. His PX and xPX are well above league average and Statcast backs this up. He's in the top 15% of MLB hitters in both Average Exit Velocity and Hard Hit %. He's been particularly successful hitting at Camden Yards. Twelve of his nineteen HR were hit at home.
  • He has a definite fly ball tilt in his profile which will help support his HR rate.
  • He likely will not help in BA, but his .251 xERA suggests he won't hurt a fantasy team either.
  • His platoon splits do suggest he has challenges with right-handed pitching (although 10 of his HR have been against righties). His OpsvR is .722 compared to .908 vR.

​Nunez is quietly on an almost 40 HR pace. Playing for Baltimore, he is under the radar and may be an interesting target for the second half.


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