The Atlanta Braves have started their season in full swing. The season is long and there is still a large chunk of the season yet to play.
That being said, it is always fun to look at players’ surface numbers and bounce them off of their XSTATs to see if we should see progression or regression if the player continues to swing the bat in the same manner.
We all know that looking at numbers like expected batting average (xBA) is not an exact science. However, they are a good tool to see if players have been unfortunate or of they have been getting a bit lucky.
So, let’s take a look at some of the Atlanta Braves hitters who at first look as though they may be struggling, but over a much larger sample size we could see that they may actually improve by simply taking the same approach.
At the time of this writing, Rosario was just the hero with a go ahead HR in the 8th inning, completing the sweep of the Reds.
However, his slash line is not excellent. He has a slash line .229/.270/.371 with a .281 wOBA and a 67 wRC+ (23.0 percent below league average) in thirty-seven plate appearances.
These are not the type of numbers that spark confidence to continue to give at bats. The Braves do have multiple options to play in left field, so in a world where we could not dig deeper and look at his peripherals, it would make sense to bench him and give someone else a shot.
However, we look at his XSTATs and see that he has been quite unlucky up to this point. His xBA is .321, his xSLG is .602, and his xwOBA is .408. To put that in perspective, his xBA is in the top 8.0 percent of MLB, his xSLG is in the top 11.0 percent, and his xwOBA is in the top 14.0 percent.
These are the type of numbers you definitely want in your lineup. Here is to hoping that over a larger sample size, his surface numbers start rising to his expected numbers.
We all know Ozuna’s history, which can make it easy to either not root for him or not be surprised by his lack of output. But, it would not be a true evaluation of the players with the worst luck if we did not mention him.
His strikeout rate is atrocious, there is no doubt about that. However, he has been unlucky when it comes to when he actually puts the bat on the ball. His current batting average of balls in play (BABIP), is comically low at 0.048. With a career mark of .307, it is safe to say that he has been quite unlucky in that regard.
We can also look at the xSTATS that at least in some part factor in batted balls and see the same thing. Currently, Ozuna sits with a slash line of .083/.195/.250 with a .206 wOBA and a wRC+ of 19. If a player had that slash line over a full season, they would have a hard time making a roster, regardless of how much money they were owed.
His XSTATS show a different story. His xBA is still low at .207, but that is still much higher than his actual batting average. His xSLG is .479 which is good for top 28.0 percent of MLB, and his xwOBA of .338 is top 42.0 percent of MLB. We can see by his 17.4 percent barrel rate (top 16.0 percent), that when he makes contact, that it is quality contact.
Although many fans probably don’t want to see him hit, if he does continue to get at bats, odds heavily favor a pretty big uptick in productivity.
At the time of this writing, Pillar has only had eleven plate appearances, so it is a perfect example of a small sample size.
If we look at his slash line we see a paltry .200/.273/.200 with a wOBA of .227. Another slashline that would be hard to keep a roster spot with. Some may have already guessed that he may be on this list because he was swinging the bat well in spring training.
If we look at his underlying numbers we can see that maybe he should be getting more at bats. Currently, he has an xBA of .393, xSLG of .456, and an xwOBA of .405. The difference in his wOBA of .227 and his xwOBA of .405 is a massive gap, showing that over time, we should see an evident increase in output.
Will he start getting more playing time? Time will tell.
Unfortunately, Albies’ XSTATS do not paint a pretty picture. If you were to jump onto Statcast and look, you will not see a lot of red. However, Albies still has been a bit unfortunate.
He currently has a slash line of .231/.255/.346 with a wOBA of .261 and a wRC+ of 55.
A lot of this is due to him being in the bottom 15.0 percent in MLB in walk rate, and chasing the ball out of the zone at a rate that only 5.0 percent of the league chases more than he does. However, his swing and miss rate is in the top 42.0 percent of the league.
This would make sense as to why his average exit velocity is in the bottom 8.0 percent of the league, and his hard hit rate is in the bottom 20.0 percent. It appears he is making contact with quite a few pitches that he should not be swinging at, and that is resulting in outs.
That being said, he still has been unfortunate. His xBA is .270 which is considerably higher than his current .231, and his xSLG of .426 is much higher than his current .346.
His BABIP of .240 is also much lower than his career average of .290.
Odds obviously do not point to Albies seeing a massive increase in production like the other previously mentioned players. However, if he can stop swinging at pitches outside of the zone so that he can have more solid contact, he could absolutely see some progression.
Of course, it is hard to predict anything with such small sample sizes to this point, but it is always fun to dig into the numbers and see if there is hope for progress in these players. For the most part, hope does seem to be on the horizon for these players that have had poor fortune.