Nowadays, we fantasy baseball mangers have an inordinate amount of information at our fingertips. This surplus of data helps us draft our teams, make savvy trades and pilfer the waiver wire (WW) for players that will hopefully take us to the Promised Land. The WW will be the focus of this article and the data we will concentrate on will be a hitter’s Hard%. That is to say, how hard a batter hits the ball on average. It’s so simplistic when you think about it, but perhaps analyzing a hitter’s ability has much to do with simply how hard they hit the damn ball. “Bam-Bam see ball, hit ball.” Silly as it sounds, it’s not that ludicrous for us to limit our focus to Hard% as a means of valuing a hitter. Especially, when you’re deciding which unsexy name to pluck off the WW. I did a little stat compiling, so let’s now look at the 2016 Hard% and 2016 Hard% rank of 2017’s pre-season, top 20 hitters according to the experts.
Unsurprisingly, the best fantasy hitters in the game happen to be the best at hitting the ball pretty, damn hard with an average 2016 Hard% rank of 50.2. Freeman’s 43.5% hard hit rate was surpassed only by the recently retired, David Ortiz (45.9%), and Rockies’ SS phenom, Trevor Story (44.9%). Only one player with a minimum of 400 PA’s was ranked outside of the top 100 Hard% rankings. That was 2016 AL MVP candidate, Mookie Betts. We should now have a general understanding that the best fantasy hitters consistently crush the baseball. So, let’s take a look at three Week 2 waiver wire pickups that hit the ball like it stole something from them. These hitters had a minimum of at least 300 PA’s in 2016.
Michael Conforto (OF-NYM) – 2016 Hard%: 39.9%, 21st
Ownership: 21% Yahoo, 20% ESPN. Addict’s advice: Conforto came into the 2016 season with plenty of hype, but shit the bed, putting up a paltry slash line of .238/.319/.447. Don’t let those numbers dissuade you from adding him. Currently, his biggest issue is playing time. However, Granderson is a hard sneeze away from his annual DL trip and the Mets have faith in Conforto for the long-term. Stash him in 12-team leagues and thank me later.
Asdrubal Cabrera (SS-NYM) – 2016 Hard%: 36.7%, 59th
Ownership: 31% Yahoo, 38% ESPN. Addict’s advice: First off, no, I’m not a Mets fan. Secondly, if you haven’t heard of Asdrubal, affectionately known as “ass dribble,” then wake up. All he did was slash .280/.336/.447 with 23 home runs in 2016. If you missed the boat on a good SS then it’s probably not too late to add him in 12-team leagues.
Steve Pearce (1B, 2B, OF-TOR) – 2016 Hard%: 34.6%, 107th
Ownership: 16% Yahoo, 8% ESPN. Addict’s advice: Looking for cheap power? Then look no further than Steve Pearce. All this 33-year-old did was slash .288/.374/.492 with 13 home runs in just 302 PA’s as a member of the Orioles and Rays. Fast forward to 2017 and Pearce finds himself in one of the friendliest hitting environments in Toronto. He’s currently hitting 7th early on this season, but look for him to move up in the order when Devon Travis needs a day off. His multiple position eligibility make him even more attractive in Yahoo leagues. Add him in 14-team leagues as soon as possible.