Jose Bautista batted just .226 (55-for-243) on fastballs in 2016. (MLB Rank: 200th of 203 full-time players; League Avg: .283)
Joey Bats had a down 2016 season by his lofty standards, with his park-and-league-adjusted OPS falling from 45% above the MLB average in 2015 to just 17% above average in 2016. A major source of that decline was Bautista’s performance versus fastballs. In 2015, he batted .267 and slugged .590 against heaters. Last year, his average dipped by about 40 points and his slugging percentage fell to .444 (below the .456 MLB average). The 36-year-old-old must convince GMs that he can still turn on inside heat:
Bautista vs. Fastballs Thrown Inside, 2015–16
Edwin Encarnacion’s Line Drive Pct was 27.6% (50/181) on non-fastballs in 2016. (MLB Rank: 4th highest of 203 full-time players; League Avg: 19.8%)
Everyone knows that Encarnacion can club fastballs, but he’ll land a big contract this winter in part because he scorches breaking and off-speed stuff, too. He’s very patient versus non-fastballs, chasing just 25.8% of those offerings out of the strike zone (36.3% MLB average), so he’s only taking cuts on hittable curves, sliders and changeups. Encarnacion’s line-drive rate off non-fastballs was actually higher than his rate against fastballs (19.3%).
Carlos Gomez’s OPS was just .368 (244 PA’s) with two strikes in 2016. (MLB Rank: 201st of 203 full-time players; League Avg: .533)
Released by the Astros after a wretched, injury-plagued start to the 2016 season (.594 OPS), Gomez seemingly re-discovered his All-Star form upon signing with the Rangers in August (.905 OPS). His two-strike approach, however, still left something to be desired (.452 OPS in such situations in Texas). There’s reason to think that could change, though. Even without his previously elite speed and defense, the 31-year-old could be a valuable contributor in 2017 and improve in two-strike counts if he maintains the more patient, power-oriented approach he displayed in Texas:
Gomez’s 2016 Hitting, by Team
Mark Trumbo had an OBP of only .223 (37/166) versus LHP in 2016. (MLB Rank: 199th of 202 full-time players; League Avg: .327)
As a hulking right-handed slugger, Trumbo seems like the sort of hitter who would maul lefty pitchers. That wasn’t the case in 2016. MLB’s leading home run hitter displayed a marked reverse platoon split (.608 OPS versus left-handers, compared to .932 off fellow righties). Trumbo’s biggest flaw as a hitter is his lack of plate discipline, and he was especially jumpy against lefty pitchers:
Trumbo’s Chase Rate by Pitcher Side, 2016
Justin Turner had 16 Extra-Base hits out of 31 total hits (51.6% Extra-Base Hit Pct) on pitches 94 mph or greater in 2016. (MLB Rank: 11th of 109 full-time players; League Avg: 32.2%)
Turner is well-equipped to handle the ever-growing stable of starters and relievers who pump premium gas. Most hitters can’t turn on 94+ MPH fastballs (.404 MLB slugging percentage, compared to .456 for fastballs overall). But Turner? he thrives with less reaction time (.525 slugging percentage off 94+ MPH fastballs in 2016, compared to his .495 overall average against fastballs).