Continuing on the series that began with April Powers Part 1, I showed you the top hitters over the last 3 years in the month of April with the caveat that they had to be “hot” at least twice. This week we’ll take an initial look at the top hitters from April 2019 and see if how they performed in the following months, and maybe catch a glimpse of what to look out for in Part 3.

In honor of Star Wars week, let’s take a page from Master Yoda. Always in motion is the future, difficult to tell. But to find our way there, we can start by looking at the present. After all, it’s impossible to know where you are going, if you don’t know where you’ve been without feeling under pressure. Right, David Bowie? They said it couldn’t be done! Yoda and Bowie in the same reference? Check. Now lets look at the board:

Name Season Apr wRC+ May wRC+ Jun wRC+
Cody Bellinger 2019 248 155 141
Daniel Vogelbach 2019 208 91 121
Christian Yelich 2019 207 124 189
Mitch Garver 2019 198 198 90
Anthony Rendon 2019 193 141 142
Hunter Dozier 2019 190 122 84
Austin Meadows 2019 186 193 53
Mike Trout 2019 174 170 182
Tim Anderson 2019 168 89 103
Willson Contreras 2019 166 130 120
Joey Gallo 2019 165 152 289
Trey Mancini 2019 164 90 139
Peter Alonso 2019 164 122 184
Brian Goodwin 2019 164 73 52
Paul DeJong 2019 163 95 67
Elvis Andrus 2019 159 37 88
Jeff McNeil 2019 159 107 163
Rhys Hoskins 2019 158 122 126
Yandy Diaz 2019 158 57 136
Jorge Polanco 2019 156 165 85
Alex Verdugo 2019 154 108 122
Shin-Soo Choo 2019 152 115 90
Christian Walker 2019 152 68 92
James McCann 2019 151 136 128
Nelson Cruz 2019 150 79 171
Yoan Moncada 2019 150 88 189
Howie Kendrick 2019 149 128 144
Matt Chapman 2019 149 127 143
Tyler Flowers 2019 148 41 103
Joc Pederson 2019 148 188 53
Gary Sanchez 2019 148 150 111
Clint Frazier 2019 148 83 126
J.D. Davis 2019 145 63 132
Luke Voit 2019 144 117 159
Aaron Judge 2019 144 169 120
George Springer 2019 144 207 107
Marcell Ozuna 2019 143 94 120
Giovanny Urshela 2019 143 125 75
Michael Conforto 2019 143 139 91
Carlos Correa 2019 143 134 78
Alex Gordon 2019 142 108 58
Alex Bregman 2019 142 157 138
Freddie Freeman 2019 141 149 166
Jason Heyward 2019 141 62 147
Tommy Pham 2019 141 146 101
Josh Bell 2019 140 213 91
Brandon Lowe 2019 140 115 117
Josh Reddick 2019 140 86 94
Michael Brantley 2019 139 156 97
Javier Baez 2019 138 124 92
Eduardo Escobar 2019 137 127 113
Max Kepler 2019 137 106 150
Omar Narvaez 2019 137 106 120
Fernando Tatis Jr. 2019 136 195
Tommy La Stella 2019 136 139 114
Ji-Man Choi 2019 135 75 126
Jarrod Dyson 2019 134 57 87
Mookie Betts 2019 134 115 102
Tim Beckham 2019 134 81 19
Edwin Encarnacion 2019 134 106 138
Josh Donaldson 2019 133 100 115
Marcus Semien 2019 133 81 122
Mike Moustakas 2019 132 118 151
Eric Thames 2019 131 90 189
Carlos Santana 2019 131 142 159
Ronald Acuna Jr. 2019 130 96 157
J.D. Martinez 2019 129 122 153

So the interesting thing here is you see the top performers in April of 2019 had many different patterns in the following months. The difficulty trying to find patterns is you have to be mindful of externalities (word of the day). A big one being playing through injuries or missing time altogether. Take Fernando Tatis Jr. for example; he missed all of May so it’s hard to say if he’s a rhythm player (ramps up each month with more exposure and working out timing like Carlos Santana) or if he’s a fast-starter with a May dropoff and a summer heat boon like Nelson Cruz and Yoan Moncada. Both of which have a clear pattern starting hot in April with a wRC+ over 140 for their career, and a noticeable drop in May.

Then you have rookies like Jeff McNeil, they hit the ground running often because no one has a book on them yet. Then there’s an adjustment period for the league, followed by adaption. Because of this, it’s hard to gauge what type of hitter a rookie will be until they get a few seasons under their belt like Moncada.

Which brings us to the breakout players; you may have noticed that Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich did not appear in Part 1. Bellinger did not break camp in 2017 and had a comparably rough 2018, whereas Yelich didn’t break out until the second half in 2018. They also serve as examples of nearly opposite profiles. Yin and Yang, Belli and Yeli. Bellinger after 3 seasons has shown himself to be a first-half hitter. His career wRC+ split is 149/129 with 2019 being a very loud example. Whereas Yelich has shown to be a second-half hitter with a career split of 130/144, but is still a little murky post-breakout since getting injured and shut down in September last year. Hmmmm, in redrafts one could draft Belli and trade for Yeli at the All-Star break and reap the best of both worlds.

And then there’s Javier Baez. Since his second-half breakout in 2017, he’s shown himself to be a first-half hitter which was compounded by a heel injury in June last year and never fully recovered from it. He had a .924 OPS before the injury, and a .797 OPS after it. I am looking forward to a healthy Baez in this shortened season after he was hitting .429 with 3 HRs in spring training before it was put on pause. His stroke and timing were once again ready for Opening Day in short order.

The final hitter I’d like to highlight is Michael Conforto. His career splits are 116/144, yeat April is always his hottest month followed be continuous decline until July. Which, he then gets a second wind for the home stretch. You could say he’s a 2-peak hitter, which there are many of. Many things could be responsible for that: the cycle of adjustments between hitters and pitchers, physical conditioning, and summer weather to a degree.

This is a quick outline for you to see that players can follow different patterns, and especially in Roto leagues understanding these patterns can help you maximize the production of your lineup and make savvy trades at ideal times. Next issue, Part 3, I will attempt to clear the bats from the belfry and dive in deeper. Digging for trends in batting profiles and player adjustments, we’ll try to predict who can be a fast-starter in “April” that might not have an established pattern yet, and maybe even why that is. Stay tuned!

 

 
  1. The Itch

    The Itch says:
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    Love the Baez call!!

    Also dug the throwback. His 2017 second half was one of the many times tracking the month-to-month movement of a young hitter brings profit.

    Maybe I’m alone in feeling this, but there seems to be a current of split-shaming running through game these days. I guess I’m cool w that because I think it’s an awesome way to identify possible trends and go looking for the reasons for those sexy split seasons, but it’s always interesting how people decide they’ll distinguish between signal and noise.

    • Coolwhip

      Coolwhip says:
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      Thanks dude! Yeah I’m not really into heavily weighing splits for the most part. But I do think they are very useful in understanding approach and tracking progress of a players development. And like I pointed out, if certain players show a pattern, repeated bahavior, over multiple cycles, it’s worth pointing out and at least having it in the back of mind – yet there are so many extra factors you have to be mindful of too, like breakouts. A player may have had a pattern pre-breakout but a new pattern post-breakout because their skills etc have shifted.

      • baby seal says:
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        Jose Abreu is like that… 60% of the time, it works every time

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Yeah, I hear that too, Itch…People want to ignore splits like they’re random, but maybe a guy just is better during a different part of the season for a reason — be it weather, gets off hot, wears down mid-summer, etc

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        I know I personally like it hot

        I hear it’s similar for some

        • Coolwhip

          Coolwhip says:
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          I prefer medium rare… now i’m hungry

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Hey now! What on earth *pulls on collar*

          • Jon Gray’s Broken Toe says:
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            My favourite split going into the 2019 season … Jorge Soler 2018 pre broken foot and after. He was in the midst of a break out in 2018 and then he hit a ball into his foot. Folks still debating whether or not he broke out in 2019 when it’s already been two years.

  2. Grey

    Grey says:
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    This is great stuff, whip! Why do I want to draft Vogelbach now…Hmm….

    • Coolwhip

      Coolwhip says:
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      haha yeahhhh, he’s an interesting case… I dodged highlighting him because I didn’t have any concrete data to back him up as this was his first real season, i guess I should of listed him with McNeil… but one thing that is in his favor is plate discipline a la Mitch Garver, and in spring training part 1 the hitting coach said his contact skills were improved… so maybe theres something there… a dart throw???

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking…Gonna look at him and see if there’s anything more… He is kinda garbage tho, methinks

        • The Itch

          The Itch says:
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          Just doesn’t seem like he’ll ever catch up to stuff high or inside

          • Coolwhip

            Coolwhip says:
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            *tags in the Itch*

          • Grey

            Grey says:
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            HAHA

        • baby seal says:
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          He’s garbage

  3. Wake Up says:
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    Nice work!

    Now I can’t stop picturing David Bowie and Yoda sitting in full lotus watching Cosmos…

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Kinda wish I didn’t say anything now

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Oh, wrong thread…I thought this was about Lenny Kravitz…Haha

      • Coolwhip

        Coolwhip says:
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        BAHAHAHA… *looks aorund room… then slowly backs out*

      • Wake Up says:
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        talk about being Under Pressure…

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          *gulps*

    • Coolwhip

      Coolwhip says:
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      you are welcome, sir.

  4. Wake Up says:
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    they just caught a glimpse of Oz’s legs…

    “it’s the terror of knowing what this world is about”

    • Coolwhip

      Coolwhip says:
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      LOL

      • David says:
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        Thanks Coolwhip!

  5. krazyivan says:
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    Correction- Conforto didn’t go cold in June and July-he was just too scared of colliding into Robinson Cano in the on deck circle if he didn’t get on base that he couldn’t concentrate at the dish.

    • Coolwhip

      Coolwhip says:
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      haha I totally forgot about that. Feels like ages ago now.

  6. Certainly give us another perspective, – interesting info thanks CW! Let’s play ball!

    • Coolwhip

      Coolwhip says:
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      np thanks!

  7. baby seal says:
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    Good thing we had that ‘Season’ column to remind us last year was 2019!

    Interesting, but not sure if there is anything really actionable from this table… if I’m being honest.

    Who and where someone played also has a big impact. Like Gleyber in Baltimore, wRC+ will account for that to som extent, but it doesn’t know he was playing against AAA pitching.

    BTW, I got some info on the distribution of steals in a typical year. Obviously, we all know homers go up in the summer. No surprise there.

    Stolen bases tend to peak in the first couple months, and then go down as homers go up. Makes sense. It’s just nice to confirm that…

    Soooooo, what do we do w/ that information for this year? Me still thinks the guys who get ~4-8 bags in a year will be completely unreliable. Think you need multiple 15/20+ steal guys, and maybe one 30+ guy (like a Robles, haha sorry, I had to!) in order to do well in the category.

    I’m usually not a fan of having a 30 or 40+ steal guy on the squad. Don’t like the risk of having such a large % of a scarce category being relied on one guy. Prefer the “antifragile” — “death by a thousand paper cuts” — strategy, usually.

    What do you think? Thanks, Whip!

    • baby seal says:
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      RE the second comment (Gleyber graph) — I meant to include that the main issue w/ the table for me is the small sample size. You surely listed some important factors to consider, and definitely some interesting thoughts in your paragraphs, but those are all idiosyncratic to each player.

      In the aggregate, it’s hard to draw too many conclusions when looking at monthly data. I understand you are just presenting the data and that is totally fine!

      Just wanted to clarify that part….

      • Coolwhip

        Coolwhip says:
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        Yep, the goal was to point out the different factors that can come into play when dissecting the data. And then by showing some examples. I should have been more clear and said it at the outset – a certain teething child is stealing all my sleep! lol – This was to show that in my researching process trying to find predictable trends I came across a host of anecdotal and (as you pointed out) idiosyncratic cases. But at the same time those cases are often not 1-offs. The are many players that do fall into trending behaviors, and in the coming parts I’m hoping to find trends in profiles that can clue us into possible behavior trends in the future.

        • baby seal says:
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          Yep, sounds good, man! Thanks for the reply!

    • baby seal says:
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      Also, some 10-12 steal guys should be fine too. Can’t entirely be 15/20 steal guys obviously. And it’s not that you *don’t* take 5 steal guys, it’s just that I wouldn’t be relying on them as much as usual, hence the one 30+ guy to make up for them…

      Last thing I want to add there is a minor correction. The distribution of steals is a U-shape, actually. There tends to be another spike in September. Will be interesting to see in the future if that goes away without the dumb Sep roster expansion rule…

      I think they decided to keep that rule for the shortened season, no? Can’t remember at all, lol.

      Saying all that just now made me realize that, depending on how much they increase rosters, maybe steals will be up a bit above (the summer) trend? Also if homers don’t pick up in July as much as normal…

      REALLY hard to say. At the least, we need more info on how much they increase the roster size, if it all.

      • Coolwhip

        Coolwhip says:
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        Ahhh gotcha, so it does trend up at end of season… so that might support what i said, also could be all the callups and expanded rosters with a lot of young players with fresher legs and steal/baserunning specialists on active rosters to help teams make the push – a la Gore, and functionally as we saw with Dave Roberts with “The Steal”.

        If rosters are expanded all season, i think there might be an increase in steals per week across the league… or at least in attempts.

        • baby seal says:
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          Yep, Berti, Hampson, etc. — hard to say but definitely something to keep in mind!

    • Coolwhip

      Coolwhip says:
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      haha, yes Season is there to remind everyone this chart is only for 2019, not past 3 ;-)

      So when it comes to steals… I think the biggest factor is “fresh legs”. In the dog days of summer after the first 60-70 games, guys aren’t feeling quite a fresh, aches and pains of long season start to surface a bit. And yeah, probably another factor being that HRs go up in the heat so teams probably are willing to give their guys more opportunity to clear bases rather than risk a SB.

      Did SB bases go up again in the fall? I would think when you are in a pennant race, teams would be more willing try for extra bases when more is on the line and every 90 ft counts.

      HAHA… so you raise an interesting point… the “handful” guys, 4-8 bags might be more willing to steal in a short season because YOLO, each game matters more and they don’t have to be concerned about preserving themselves for 160 games. Will be interesting to see. I agree that the best strategy is to have multiple medium steal guys.. like a well diversified portfolio! ;-) best practice is to spread the risk, and the gain, so that a hit to portfolio doesn’t sink the whole ship. I.E. day-to-day injuries etc. Like when Mondesi owners lost him for a stretch last year.

      • baby seal says:
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        Lotta good points here — thanks, man!

        Super busy day and has been like that the past week. Not as much free time these days as the prior weeks, :-(

        I always go the antifragile approach with steals. Asking for trouble if you load up on just a few big steal guys.

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