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The Regression Fairy is Coming for These Hitters

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

You've heard of the regression monster. He's bad. Well, despite near universal misunderstanding and misuse of the term "regression," regression is not all bad. There is also a regression fairy, and she's good. Three weeks into the young 2021 season, we have a big enough sample for fantasy owners to start worrying about players, but those samples are so small that they would go largely unnoticed if they occurred in July. Here are a few players who have gotten off to a slow start, but with certain metrics so out of the norm that the regression fairy is sure to visit them soon.

Ozzie Albies

Albies is currently hitting .155, but his low batting average is fueled by a BABIP that current sits at .149, which is less than half of his career rate of .302. Other metrics, including contact rate, hard-hit rate, and maxEV are all within career norms. Expect Albies to improve in a hurry.

Ian Happ

1 HR and 1 RBI. Ouch.

The Good: Walk rate (18.8%) is top 5 in the league (tied with Trout). Hard hit rate (47.2%) is top 50 in the league. Barrel rate (11.1%) is top 75 in the league.

The Bad: Strikeouts are high (27.5%), but not abnormally so for Happ. Contact rate of 68.2% is low, but actually higher than his career rate of 66.5%.

The Ugly: Groundball rate of 51.4% is way outside of career rate of 41.8%. Launch angle of 6 degrees is a career low. His max EV of 108.2 is a career low.

The Verdict: Happ will find his swing and start putting the ball in the air. The hits will come.

Dansby Swanson

Swanson is slashing .179/.267/.284 with 1 HR, 3 R, and 4 RBI. His strikeout rate of 32% is nearly 10 percentage points above his career rate of 23.4%. Contact rate, hard hit rate, maxEV, and barrel rate, all look good. Swanson will find his stroke soon.

Jeff McNeil

McNeil is hitting .167 with 4 runs scored and 4 RBI. This is fueled by a .158 BABIP, which is less than half of McNeil’s career BABIP of .333. Walk rate, contact rate, hard hit rate, barrel rate, EV, and max EV all perfectly within career norms (and some are career bests in this short sample). The hits will fall.

Michael Conforto

2 runs, 0 home runs, 3 runs batted in in 50 plate appearances with a .171 batting average. Walk rate, strikeout rate, and contact rate are all in line with career norms. A 62.1% groundball rate is 50% higher than his career rate of 39.5%. He has not barreled a single ball in 29 events, but double-digit barrel rates are the norm for Conforto. There is enough of a track record here to assume Conforto turns things around in a hurry.

Marcus Semien

Four home runs and four steals are nice, but a sub-Mendoza batting average is not. Semien’s contact rate of 74.5% is well blow his career rate of 79.4% and his strikeout rate of 26.8% is well above his career rate of 20.3%. Semien is pulling the ball at a rate of 67.3%, which is far outside his career rate of 44.4%. All of that suggests that this small sample should start to look more normal sooner than later.


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