As Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, teams are looking at fixes, big and small, depending on their needs. Some contenders are swimming in the deep end, calling on Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray. Some may not have the prospects for that kind of acquisition, but still need help.Here's a look
As Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, teams are looking at fixes, big and small, depending on their needs. Some contenders are swimming in the deep end, calling on Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray. Some may not have the prospects for that kind of acquisition, but still need help.
Here's a look at a few players whom Statcast™ suggests might be better pickups than their baseball-card numbers indicate.
It's the ballpark: Curtis Granderson
It's widely reported that the Mets would like to deal an outfielder. Conventional wisdom says that Jay Bruce will be the guy, simply because he has more value than Granderson. But Granderson has more value than it may appear, and a savvy club might get a bargain in trading for Granderson, not to mention someone who is, by acclimation, one of the game's good guys.
Citi Field has consistently been unkind to Granderson, who has been more effective on the road than at home in each of his four seasons with the Mets. But it's never been so pronounced as it is this season. The raw stats tell you plenty: Granderson has a .261/.367/.582 line on the road, but .182/.279/.322 in Queens.
Dig just a bit deeper and it's clear Granderson hasn't just struggled at home; he's been unlucky. By one quick-and-dirty measure of hitters' luck, Granderson has been among the most unlucky. Among 240 players with at least 100 at-bats at home this year, Granderson ranks eighth in xwOBA-wOBA, which is a measure of the difference between the expected results for a player, based on the quality of contact made, and the actual results.
It's worth noting that Granderson's expected weighted on-base average at home, .318, is still not great. But it's a whole lot better than his .270 actual mark. Give Granderson a friendlier home ballpark, and you'll likely have a more productive hitter.
It's the defense: Clayton Richard
If you're looking for a deep, deep sleeper, look to San Diego, where the match of pitcher and team is just not good. Richard has been one of baseball's most extreme ground-ball pitchers this year. But the Padres aren't turning those ground balls into outs.
Among pitchers with at least 200 batted balls allowed this year, Richard has the sixth-highest percentage of ground balls, at 59.07 percent. That's right behind guys like the Astros' Lance McCullers (second), the Blue Jays' Marcus Stroman (third) and the Dodgers' Alex Wood (fourth). But the batting average on ground balls against Richard is 12th highest in the Majors, at .298. For Stroman, it's .251; for McCullers, .231; for Wood, .229.
Now, it might seem natural to wonder if that means Richard is giving up hard-hit grounders, but he isn't. His average exit velocity on grounders is 82.1 mph, which ranks 76th among those 128 pitchers.
Get Richard in front of some guys who turn grounders into outs, and you might have a steal.
It might just be bad luck: Marco Estrada
Just when a lot of people started to believe that Estrada's late-career emergence was very real, the veteran right-hander has poured some cold water on that idea. Back-to-back excellent seasons have given way to an extended swoon for Estrada. With the Blue Jays scuffling, and any and all starting pitching always in demand, Estrada could be pitching his way out of Canada.
Estrada might be a shrewd pickup. While his game-level performance has certainly suffered this year, he's also been unlucky.
Estrada's average exit velocity allowed is up ever so slightly, from 87.5 mph last year to 87.8 mph this season. He's allowing more quality contact this year (14.2 percent of balls in play have been barrels or hard contact), but not nearly so much as to explain the massive jump in his ERA (3.48 in 2016 to 5.52 this season).
As a fly-ball pitcher, Estrada is seeing those fly balls leave the yard at an alarming rate. A year ago, he allowed a .634 slugging percentage on fly balls. This year, that's all the way up to 1.011. The average exit velocity is only up from 92.0 mph to 92.8 mph.
Estrada certainly needs to locate his changeup better, and he needs to get his walk rate back down to where it was the previous two years. But he also needs for those flies to stop flying.
Matthew Leach is an executive editor for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter and read his columns.