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So, Did Any of Those Hidden "Big Power" Hitters Come Out of Hiding?

Last off-season, I posted an article looking at "10 Hitters With Big Power Hidden by Ground Ball Rate." The premise of that article was that there are certain players who hit the ball hard enough that a slight adjustment in launch angle could unlock power that the player has yet to display. I conducted a search (300 plate appearance minimum) of hitters who in 2021 had (1) an average exit velocity of 90 miles per hour, (2) a maximum exit velocity of at least 110 miles per hour, (3) a hard hit rate of at least 45%, and who (4) hit balls on the ground at least 50% of the time. That search came up with 10 results. Did any of them tap into that power?

  1. Juan Soto - No

  2. Josh Bell - No

  3. Alec Bohm - No

  4. Jorge Alfaro - No

  5. Christian Yelich - No

  6. Willson Contreras - No

  7. Eric Hosmer - No

  8. Nate Lowe - Yes!

  9. Harold Ramirez - No

  10. Ke'Bryan Hayes - No

Most of this list either didn't change their profile, or fell off the list in one or more categories. But Nate Lowe is a clear success story. Here's what I wrote about him in the original article:

Lowe was a much heralded prospect in the Tampa system and expectations were high when he came up for Tampa in 2019 (and 2020). They were even higher when he was traded to Texas before the 2021 season. Some may view Lowe's 2021 season as a disappointment. I don't. Playing every day, Lowe nearly went 20/10 with an acceptable .264 batting average. That plays really well as a corner infielder in a 15-team league. Still just 26 years old, there is growth in Lowe's profile. He hit 18 home runs in 2021 despite a 54.5% ground ball rate, which is the highest of his career (both MLB and MiLB). Regression alone should bring it back down under 50%. 20+ home runs are likely. 25-30 home runs are perfectly within the range of plausible outcomes.

Lowe's profile was somewhat unique among the list because, as pointed out in the piece, his 54.5% ground ball rate was an outlier in his professional career. Regression did, indeed, bring it back down below 50% (48.1%) and he hit 27 home runs without major changes in hard hit rate, barrel rate, or exit velocity. What's more, 48.1% is still higher than Lowe's professional baseline, meaning that there could be even more power there without much of a profile change. He could hit 30 HR in 2023 and it would not surprise me.


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Thanks for reading!

- Russell

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Anthony Pumilia
Anthony Pumilia
Oct 31, 2022

Nate kept me out of the cellar in a couple leagues!

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