By Brett Greenfield:
A high post-break batting average can often be an indicator of a hitter's average in the following year.
Today, we'll browse through and later on examine some hitters who had both 140+ AB's post-break and a .340 AVG. or better.
Using 2006 as a predictor for 2007, there were several guys who fit the bill. 11 players hit .340 or better in the second half of the 2006 season.
Nine of those 11 went on to hit over .295 in the 2007 season. So this could work.
The only two hitters who finished 2006 by hitting .340 or higher and went on to have awful batting averages in 2007 were Justin Morneau and Ryan Howard.
The hitters who finished 2006 by hitting .340 or higher and then went on to bat .295 or higher in 2007 were Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, Vladmir Guerrero, Chipper Jones, Miguel Cabrera, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Carlos Guillen, Garrett Atkins and Miguel Tejada.
Some of those players were not considered "sure things" to repeat their batting average success in 2007 like Atkins, Cano, Chipper, and Tejada. But they did. Maybe they discovered their swing during the second half of 2006.
Since last year's experiment had an 82 percent success rate (9/11) it should be worth looking into again for 2008 predictions.
Post All-Star break in 2007, there were not 11, but 21 hitters who reached 140+ AB and batted .340 or better. They were:
- Norris Hopper A .365 post-break should have guaranteed him a starting gig in 2008. Unfortunately until Griffey gets hurt or Dunn gets traded, Hopper will be riding the pine.
- Chone Figgins He usually bats about .290. Last year he batted .361 post-break and ended with a .330 AVG. His 75 percent Contact Rate doesn't support that high of a batting average. Again, get him for steals and a dab of runs.
- Magglio Ordonez Normally a .300 hitter, he led the league with a .363 AVG in 2007. He kept it up all year going .355 post-break. He should remain a .300 hitter, but a decline from .361 is highly likely.
- Howie Kendrick He certainly made a splash when he came up batting .357 in limited time. An 85 percent Contact Rate makes his AVG more likely to remain at the .300 level of better in 2008. I'd not be surprised if he finished in the top 5 among 2B this year. Think ninth round.
- Jack Wilson He's an interesting guy. For fantasy purposes he's as empty as a a dugout during a brawl. Hard to overlook however, a 7th best .356 post-break AVG. While he could bat .300 next year, I don't think you'll want him on your roster unless you've been a big fan of David Eckstein in the past.
- Moises Alou and Chipper Jones The ageless wonders. Hugely undervalued hitters because they never give you 500 AB and they are getting up there in age. Both of these hitters can be had late and can have a great impact on your team's batting average. Think round eight for Chipper and round 17 for Alou.
- David Ortiz He jumped from .287 to .331. He also dropped from 54 homers to 35. I'll take that trade off any day. He batted .352 post-break and scored 61 runs while driving in 65. Maybe he's starting to hit more line drives instead of fly balls at this point in his career? If he hit this well all season, expect another .300+ season from Big Papi.
- David Wright Over the last four years we've seen his AVG increase from .292 to .306 to .311 to .325. Add to the mix a .364 AVG after the last year's break and we have reason enough to believe his AVG should continue to climb.
- Mike Lowell His .324 average was mostly aided by a .350 post-break average. Part of me feels like he was playing for his new contract and part of me thinks having Ortiz and Manny on in front of him helped out a lot. I'm on the fence regarding Lowell in 2008.
- Jorge Posada Let's see... A career .275 hitter playing for a contract last year. Despite hitting .355 post-break and finishing at .330, he's got to be my #1 candidate to not finish with a .300+ AVG in 2008.
- Jeremy Hermida Who doesn't want him to do well? We all had high aspirations for him going into 2006 but nothing came of it. Can the post-hype sleeper have a solid 2008? If his second half of 2007 is any indicator, the answer is yes. While his .340 post-break AVG is rather high, a .300 AVG seems realistic.
Some of the 21 hitters who maintained a .340+ post-break AVG in 2007 while amassing 140 or more AB's are not surprising. Here is a quick list of the hitters who usually bat .295 or better.
If 82 percent of these hitters were to bat .295 or better in 2008, just like 82 percent of them did in 2007, that would mean 4 of the 21 would not. If I had to choose four of these aforementioned hitters to not bat over .295 next year they would be...
2. Chone Figgins
3. Jeremy Hermida
4. Jack Wilson
Treat the rest as if they will bat .295 or better, helping your team tremendously in the AVG department.