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Fantasy Baseball Trends

I keep hearing fantasy experts talk about the 3 year decline of Albert Pujols and why they have little faith in him this season. His batting average has declined steadily, all the way down to .258, his slugging is down to .437, his on base percentage was just .330 and his strike out rate is up from 8.9% to 12.4%. So that got me thinking, who has been trending up for the past 3 seasons in some of fantasy baseballs most important categories?

Albert Pujols' bat is looking extra small these days!

Batting Average

Ben Revere0.2670.2940.305
Ben Zobrist0.2690.2700.275
Chris Davis0.2660.2700.286
Howie Kendrick0.2850.2870.297
Joe Mauer0.2870.3190.324
Robinson Cano0.3020.3130.314
Yadier Molina0.3050.3150.319

Just to make sure we start off on the right foot, these are not the BEST hitters over the last 3 seasons. These guys are the only hitters to have had an increase in batting average for 3 straight seasons and hit at least .260.

Clearly Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter in baseball, and actually led in each of the last 3 seasons, but he did decline in 2012, hitting .333 after hitting .344 in 2011. That is why he, and others like him, are not on this list.

*Justin Turner and Willie Bloomquist qualified, but they are not impact fantasy players

Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP)

Adam Jones0.3040.3130.314
Carlos Gonzalez0.3260.3520.368
Chris Johnson0.3170.3540.394
Ian Desmond0.3170.3320.336
Joe Mauer0.3190.3640.383
Paul Goldschmidt0.3230.3400.343
Robinson Cano0.3160.3260.327
Yadier Molina0.3110.3160.338

Joe Mauer, Robinson Cano and Yadier Molina also made this list, which would make sense.

Adam Jones did not make the BA list because he fell from .287 in 2012 to .285 last year. Carlos Gonzalez was very close to making the BA list, but his average dropped by .001 to .302. Chris Johnson hit .251 in 2011, failing to make the cut for BA, but his average went from .281 in 2012 to .321 last season. Ian Desmond saw a rise in his BABIP, but his batting average actually went down to .280 from .292. Paul Goldschmidt got his average up over .300 last season. In 2011 he hit just .250.

Joey Votto, Mike Trout and Matt Kemp have the highest BABIP (.366) since 2011.

On Base Percentage (OBP)

Andrew McCutchen0.3640.4000.404
Billy Butler0.3610.3730.374
Giancarlo Stanton0.3560.3610.365
Carlos Santana0.3510.3650.377

You would think that getting on base 35% of the time would be an easy thing to do, but these are the only 4 guys to do so, and then improve the following seasons since 2011. 

A .400 OBP has only been reached 21 times since 2011.  Joey Votto (.438) since 2011 is the best at getting on base and the only player to eclipse .400 in each of the last 3 seasons.  Miguel Cabrera, Joe Mauer, Andrew McCutchen an Prince Fielder have each done it twice..

Make sure you read Lee's post: The Switch to OBP

Home Runs

Adam Jones253233
Alfonso Soriano263234
Brandon Phillips181818
Chase Utley111118
Desmond Jennings101314
Freddie Freeman212323
Hunter Pence222427
Jonathan Lucroy121218
Justin Smoak151920
Lucas Duda101515
Mark Trumbo293234
Miguel Cabrera304444
Neil Walker121416
Ryan Zimmerman122526

There have been 91 players in the MLB to hit 10+ home runs in each of the last 3 seasons.  The 13 above are the only guys to increase their home run total in each season.

Miguel Cabrera (118) is the only player to hit over 100 long balls since 2011.  Jay Bruce and Adrian Beltre are the only others to hit 30 in each season.

Runs Batted In (RBI)

Alberto Callaspo465358
Alcides Escobar465252
Allen Craig409297
Chase Utley444569
Daniel Murphy496578
Elvis Andrus606267
Freddie Freeman7694109
Ian Desmond497380
Jarrod Saltalamacchia565965
Jay Bruce9799109
Jonny Gomes434752
Mark Trumbo8795100
Martin Prado577082
Michael Brantley466073
Will Venable444553
Yadier Molina657680
Yunel Escobar485156

As we have already established, these are clearly not the best RBI men in the game.  However, they are the only players to have had at least 40 RBI in 2011 and each season since, increase their total.  Callaspo is a huge surprise to me, while Utley's low RBI totals are shocking to me.  Chase hasn't had 70 RBI since 2008!

Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez are the only players with back-back-back 100 RBI seasons.

Runs Scored

Alfonso Soriano506884
Daniel Murphy496292
Gerardo Parra555879
Hunter Pence848791
Ian Desmond657277
Jarrod Saltalamacchia525568
Jay Bruce848989
Jed Lowrie404380
Jon Jay567075
Jonathan Lucroy454659
Jonny Gomes414649
Mark Trumbo656685
Matt Holliday8395103
Michael Brantley636366
Torii Hunter808190
Will Venable496264
Yadier Molina556568

Scoring 40 run is not terribly difficult, but to keep playing time and continue to put yourself in  position to score a run is.  These are the only guys to score more runs in each of the last 3 seasons.

Miguel Cabrera is the only player with 3 straight 100 run seasons, but Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton join him as the only player with 300+ runs scored since 2011.

Stolen Bases

Alex Rios112342
Carlos Gomez163740
Carlos Gonzalez202021
David Wright131517
Dexter Fowler121219
Jarrod Dyson113034

Stolen bases come from those in all shapes and sizes. These guys have given us more and more each season.  Only 16 players have had 20 stolen bases in each of the past 3 seasons.

Michael Bourn stole 61 bases back in 2011, but has just 64 since. He leads all base stealers with 126 since 2011.  Rajai Davis is the only player with 3 straight 30 stolen base seasons.

Slugging Percentage (SLG%)

Brandon Belt0.4120.4210.481
Carlos Gomez0.4030.4630.506
Chase Utley0.4250.4290.475
Chris Davis0.4020.5010.634
David Wright0.4270.4920.514
Freddie Freeman0.4480.4560.501
Jarrod Saltalamacchia0.4500.4540.466
Michael Cuddyer0.4590.4890.530
Miguel Cabrera0.5860.6060.636
Paul Goldschmidt0.4740.4900.551
Raul Ibanez0.4190.4530.487
Torii Hunter0.4290.4510.465

SLG% is starting to take over the HR category in many 5x5 fantasy baseball leagues.  David Wright is one of those guys who benefits from this change as he was 18th in SLG% last season, but 62nd in HRs.  Slugging % is calculated by Total Bases (TB)/At Bats (AB). 

FanGraphs recently had a post about SLG and OPS in fantasy baseball

Isolated Power (ISO)

Carlos Gomez0.1770.2020.222
Chase Utley0.1660.1730.191
Colby Rasmus0.1660.1770.225
David Wright0.1720.1860.207
Domonic Brown0.1470.1600.222
Lonnie Chisenhall0.1600.1620.173
Miguel Cabrera0.2410.2770.288
Mitch Moreland0.1550.1930.206
Raul Ibanez0.1740.2140.244
Will Venable0.1490.1650.216

Fangraphs ISO Value Table: 

Above Average0.180
Below Average0.120

Iso is Slugging% - Batting Average. 

Over the last 3 seasons, just 4 players have finished with a .300 ISO or better.  Mike Napoli and Jose Bautista in 2011, Giancarlo Stanton in 2012 and Chris Davis last season.  Only Miguel Cabrera and David Ortiz have had 3 straight seasons of .240+ ISO.