In 2019 the baseball has some extra juice to it. Eventually Major League Baseball finally admitted to it, too. And then there’s the whole issue where now that the playoffs have started the ball isn’t doing at all what it did during the regular season, and Major League Baseball is denying that it’s different despite physical evidence that it probably is.
Late last week at Fangraphs, Mike Podhorzer took a look at his preseason prediction’s on which players would likely see increases in their home run per fly ball rate from 2018 to 2019. As he notes, with the way the baseball played this year, his results were probably going to look good since the league as a whole jumped up from 12.7% to 15.3%. And he was right – his results showed a majority of his predictions did show improvement, and the group as a whole beat the league jump.
That got me to wondering how the Cincinnati Reds hitters performed by comparison to 2018 here. I only looked at hitters who had at least 200 plate appearances for the Reds in 2019 – so not everyone was included.
|2018 Minor League Rates | Above League Average (2019 only)|
There’s a lot to digest here. First, let’s be sure to note that the average increase at the Major League level was +2.6%. Five players did that or better among the guys who were in the Major Leagues both seasons. Only three players saw their home runs per fly ball rate go backwards. That Yasiel Puig, the guy the Reds hoped would be the addition to the offense they needed, had the worst difference among all players on the team tells you how the season went. That said, Puig’s 17.1% was still better than the league average – just not nearly what you’d expect given that he came to the National League Central, Great American Ballpark, and got to hit an even more juiced baseball in 2019.
What is interesting is that Jesse Winker had a HUGE uptick. It was negated a little bit by the fact that he didn’t hit the ball in the air nearly as much as he did in 2018, though. Derek Dietrich was also a big gain hitter. And he hit the ball in the air more than he had in 2018, too.
Aristides Aquino saw a big jump, too. But his numbers in 2018 were from Double-A. That said, his numbers this year in Triple-A were very similar to the ones in the Majors – he had a 36.7% ground ball rate and a 30.1% home run per fly ball rate with the Louisville Bats. Josh VanMeter had similar ground ball rates at both levels, but his home runs per fly ball rate was half of what it was in Triple-A when he was in the Majors – 22.6% to 11.3%.
Curt Casali, Nick Senzel, Joey Votto, Phillip Ervin, and Jose Peraza along with Yasiel Puig saw their home run per fly ball rate fail to match the uptick that the league as a whole saw (+2.6%).