HEAD-TO-HEAD: Consistency series, part II—Potential QC risers and fallers

Introduction

As discussed in Part I of our Consistency Series, quality-consistency scores (QC scores) provide us with a useful metric to measure the consistency of a player's week-to-week performance. In Part II, we analyze which players might become more consistent 2014, as well as who might be less consistent.

Finding a Metric that Might Lead to Improved QCs—Hard Contact Index

At their heart, QC scores focus on BPV, which means that they are fairly well-rounded in evaluating a player's performance. But they are not perfect. They do not consider those players who consistently made hard outs in 2013. Evaluating bad luck in 2013 might lead to a prosperous 2014. So let's figure out who has QC upside in 2014.

Hard Contact Index ("HctX") is a metric which combines (1) how often a batter makes contact, and (2) how hard he hits the ball. While HctX is not necessarily indicative of a hit, it is indicative of hitting frozen ropes—though some of those can end up in a glove. Therefore, those players with high HctX scores but low QC scores may have room for growth.

For our purposes, we are evaluating players whose consistency scores were under 50, but had a near elite HctX score of 120 (100 HctX is league-average). This should lead to a pool of players who consistently hit the ball hard, but were perhaps the victims of bad luck that negatively impacted their QC scores.

2013's QC Under-Performers With Upside

NAME           TEAM    2013 QC   2012 QC   2011 QC   HctX    ADP
===========    ====    =======   =======   =======   ====   ======
Ramirez, H.    LA      46        -28       -22       158     10.52
Davis, K.      MIL     26         NA        NA       147    212.03
Lind, A.       TOR     28         44       -52       134    242.06
Pollock IV, A. ARI     8          0         NA       127    374.23
Zimmerman, R.  WAS     0          64        44       127     64.06
Longoria, E.   TAM     -6         30        72       126     22
Jones, A.      BAL     48         42        16       125     11.71
Molina, Y.     STL     38         148       106      125     72.84
Mauer, J.      MIN     18         106       22       124     67.48
Ramirez, A.    MIL     42         120       104      123    159.48
Bloomquist, W. SEA     -18       -10       -94       123     -NA-
Valencia, D.   BAL     -46       -202      -22       122    577.6
Rendon, A.     WAS     10         NA        NA       121    224.71
Cabrera, M.    TOR     2          90        50       121    270.33
Myers, W.      TAM     0          NA        NA       121     68.06
Morales, K.    FA      -8        -52        NA       121    160.45
Adams, M.      STL     -60       -200       NA       121    130.87
Cruz, N.       BAL     30         20        74       120    165.65
Braun, R.      MIL     30         88        146      120     12.97
Turner, J.     NYM     -38        0        -40       120     -NA-
Howard, R.     PHI     -100       -140     -68       120    220.58

This list, sorted by HctX, generally contains two types of players. The first is veteran players who were inconsistent in 2013. The second type is younger players who lack historical QC scores but have upside potential.

Veterans With QC Upside

Between injuries and his suspension, Ryan Braun's (OF, MIL) 2013 QC score of 30 was an aberration based on his 2011 and 2012 scores. He is a very good value pick at the turn in round 1 or early round 2.

Yadier Molina's (C, STL) HctX has risen every year since 2009. Based on his 2014 ADP trend, which was higher when Part I of this series was written, drafters seem to be ever so slightly moving away from him. His QC track record  in 2011 and 2012 (148-106) and HctX make him a nice target if his ADP slide continues.

Admittedly, injuries are a concern with Aramis Ramirez (3B, MIL). However, based on his triple-digit QC scores in 2011 and 2012, we know he will be consistent when he's healthy. His historical HctX scores (128-148-123) suggest that if you haven't drafted a third baseman by round fourteen, he should be your target.

Ryan Zimmerman (3B, WAS) had a bit of a rollercoaster year in 2013 with most of his production coming in the second half of the season.  His 2011 and 2012 QC scores suggest that he should be more consistent in 2014.  His xPX surged in the second half of last year to 149, and if he's available late in round six or seven, he is a very solid buy.

Young Bucks With QC Upside

Anthony Rendon (2B, WAS) had a poor QC score of 10 in 2013. With an above-average 35% BPV-neutral weeks, and a HctX of 121, there is room for that QC score to grow. He is not being drafted until round 19, and he is a great "PUSH" draft candidate.

Matt Adams (1B, STL) has reportedly spent his off-season improving his conditioning and working on hitting lefties (.654 OPS v. LHP in '13). Adams was highly inconsistent in 2013 (-60 QC score). However, at age 25 with a '13 HctX of 121, he could deliver significant value in round 11 if he has improved his approach against lefties.

Khristopher Davis' (OF, MIL) mediocre contact rate makes him a borderline-candidate for those drafting a homogenous team. But an elite HctX of 147 and an xPX of 162 suggest that when he puts the bat on the ball, he makes quality contact. There is not much of a MLB track record to go on, but in round 18, he is worth the gamble.

A.J. Pollock IV (OF, ARI) is not likely on most people's draft radar.  He is currently being drafted, on average, in round 32. But between 2012 and 2013, he has over 500 MLB plate appearances and an average HctX score of 125. With Adam Eaton (OF, CHW) now gone, Pollock is reportedly a candidate for the leadoff spot.  He is an excellent end-game target.

Potential 2014 QC Downside

In analyzing the short list of batters who had a 2013 QC score above 50, but a HctX score of 100 or below, an interesting type of player appears:

NAME              TM    2013 QC    2012 QC    2011 QC    HctX     ADP
============      ==    =======    =======    =======    =====    ======
Infante, O.       KC    82         16         52         100      274.81
Sweeney, R.       CHC   78         2          -64        97       665.22
Callaspo, A.      OAK   88        -24         -8         94       444.22
Lowrie, J.        OAK   106        32         -90        94       142.49
Pagan, A.         SF    158        58         74         86       238.62
Scutaro, M.       SF    72         90         114        75       388.88

Notice anything odd about the players on this list? It is comprised of slap-hitters with elite contact rates. In 2013, the players listed above had an average contact rate of 88%. With the exception of Marco Scutaro (2B, SF), each of these players 2013 QC scores was a three-year high. In short, they raised other aspects of their game to increase their BPV scores, and in turn, their QC scores. Absent hard contact however, and based on their three-year QC trends, these players are likely to see a decrease in their 2014 QC scores. Sorry, Mr. Pagan, but your reign as QC King will likely be short-lived.

Conclusion

There are players both young and old who are likely to see their QC scores increase in 2014. During your drafts, focus on HctX as a barometer for those players who have QC upside.

In the final chapter of our 2014 Consistency Series, we will examine which pitchers meet our LIMA Plan "Supercharged and Rebooted" head-to-head criteria.


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