Jackie Bradley Jr. OF $2900
Yes, I know what you are thinking. Jackie Bradley Jr. has put up horrible stats against RHP so far this year. His batting average against RHP is .130 and his wRC+ is a pathetic -6. While his numbers have been awful thus far, we feel that Bradley is due for positive regression. Two factors that exemplify this are Bradley’s BABIP and batted ball percentages. Bradley’s BABIP against RHP thus far is .176. This is an extremely low rate, meaning that Bradley is hitting into outs on about ⅙ of his balls in play against RHP this year. When looking at BABIP, it is important to couple the data with batted ball percentages. If a player has a BABIP of .200 but only records hard hit balls on 20% of his contact, there would not be an obvious sign for regression in the near future. Bradley’s batted ball numbers is what leads us to believe his BABIP should be much higher than it is. In 2016, Bradley crushed RHP with a wRC+ of 134 and an ISO of .261. Along with these stats, he boasted a BABIP of .309 and a hard hit % of 38.5%, meaning that 38.5% of his balls in play were considered to be a hard hit ball by an algorithm that considers the hang time, the landing spot, and the trajectory of the ball off the bat. In 2017, Bradley’s hard hit % is only sitting .3 points under his 2016 percentage at 38.2%. What this tells us is that Bradley is hitting the ball just as hard as last year, but has hit into more outs than he should have, courtesy of his BABIP numbers. While his batted ball numbers lead us to believe his numbers should improve soon, his strikeout rate has jumped up to 25.5% from 21.4% this year. Fortunately for us, Bradley is facing a pitcher tonight who has never profiled as a power pitcher, giving us less to worry about in the strikeout department. These factors lead us to believe that Bradley has been getting very unlucky to start the season, and a matchup against Wily Peralta in the hitter’s paradise of Miller Park could be just what Bradley needs.
Wily Peralta has been in the MLB for 6 years now, yet the 28 year old pitcher has never faced more trouble. His 2016 campaign was uninspiring, and his 2017 start has not shown any signs of improvement. Peralta has a lousy FIP of 6.17 against LHB this year, and his home/road splits tell even more of a story. His FIP against LHB at home this year is 5.56 higher than on the road at 9.19. Obviously we are working with a small sample size, but this has been a trend for Peralta’s entire career, with his FIP being at least a full point higher at home. His HR/9 at home against LHB is at 5.06 this year, and was at 1.95 last year with a much larger sample size. As a matter of fact, Peralta has always had his highest HR/9 rate against lefties at home throughout his career. A large misconception in baseball is that ground ball pitchers do not let up many home runs. Peralta is a groundball pitcher, and he certainly lets up enough homers to debunk this idea, giving Bradley a lot of upside this year. Peralta is a ground ball pitcher who has profiled as a finesse pitcher for the majority of his career. Looking at Bradley, he hits power and finesse pitching with very similar success, but he hits ground ball pitching significantly better than fly ball pitching with an OPS increase of .114.
Peralta throws three pitches 92% of the time, with a two seam fastball taking up 35% of his pitches, and his slider sitting at 32% and his four seam fastball at 25%. In the last three years all of these pitches have been well below league average, with his two seam fastball profiling as the worst. Looking at Bradley, his best pitch last year was the slider with a pitch f/x value /100 of 2.75. He also posted positive numbers for both fastballs, but his pitch f/x value /100 against two seam fastballs was 1.69 higher than four seams with a 1.98 pitch f/x value /100.
Bradley clearly matches up well with Peralta in multiple areas, and his bad luck to start the year should allow us to roster him with low ownership. Tweet @mlbmayhem and @wess719 if you’re able to hit it big tonight with Jackie Bradley Jr. in your lineup.