The Sox hitters are killing it right now! Second in the MLB only to the Padres in OPS (On-Base + Slugging Percentage). But let’s take a closer look at which guys are hitting better and worse than expected.
We can measure this by comparing expected statistics to actual statistics. Expected statistics uses the exit velocity and launch angles of batted balls to determine a hit probability based what happened on similarly struck balls in play in the past. This removes the variables of defense and ballparks from the calculation to give a more accurate look at a hitter.
The players with a higher expected value than actual value are underperforming; meaning they should have a higher actual value. Players with a higher actual value are overperforming; meaning they should have a lower actual value than they do.
Let’s compare wOBA (weighted on-base average) and expected wOBA of players this season. I picked wOBA because it measures how often batters reach base while also crediting for different types of hits (single, double, triple etc.) instead of treating all hits equal like on-base percentage.
Top 3 Underperformers
- Nomar Mazara– Difference of .032. Mazara is only hitting .222 this year and his average isn’t expected to be much higher, but his slugging is what should be higher than it is. He is yet to hit his first homer and only has 3 extra-base hits in 63 at-bats. More at-bats might do him good, but the Sox have a pretty loaded lineup as it is.
- Luis Robert– Difference of .030. Robert’s expected batting average is actually below his real one so all of his underperformance comes from power. It’s scary he could be underperforming because he’s been really impressive, but the metrics suggest his should be hitting for more power than he already is!
- Eloy Jimenez– Difference of .024. The numbers also suggest Eloy should have higher power numbers than he does. His expected slugging has him 21 points higher than his actual (.636 vs .615).
Top 3 Overperformers
- Tim Anderson– difference of -.051. He’s batting .343 right now so there’s really no way he can be on the underperforming list. His expected average is actually .55 points lower at .288 and his expected slugging is .524, 94 points lower than his actual at .618. Anderson’s really low walk-rate also make these numbers more volatile as much more of it is determined by balls in play.
- Adam Engel– difference of -.035. Engel benefitted from a hot start and he’s really on this team for his defense. His .263 batting average should be closer to .239 and his slugging should be lower than it is too, but to me any offense Engel gives is plus.
- Danny Mendick– difference of -.033. Mendick’s .253 batting average should closer to .225. His slugging should also be lower; Mendick’s three home runs have been wall-scrapers so he’s benefitting from some luck a bit more than others.
These lists don’t necessarily mean this group of guys is good or bad, it just tells us which guys have been hitting better than their results and are maybe getting a little unlucky. As well as which guys are getting a bit lucky and getting better results than those type of hits usually get on average. I’d also like to point out how Jose Abreu is not on either of these, which means his numbers this year have absolutely been legit, he’s raking.