Expected Weighted On-Base Average (xwOBA) tells the story of a hitter’s season based on quality of and amount of contact, not outcomes. The following players have big differences between results and expected results and make for good targets in fantasy leagues (whether through trade or via waiver wire).
Ronald Acuña Jr., OF, Atlanta Braves
Acuña has the third-most steals in MLB (17) despite returning from ACL surgery and missing 34 games this season. While his power has been much slower to return than his speed, the difference between Acuña’s slugging and expected slugging is one of the five biggest in baseball, so some bad luck can also help explain his drop in homers. He’s hitting more grounders than usual, but Acuña’s HR/FB% (14.0) is well below his career mark (23.2%). In other words, a bunch of homers could be coming to go along with all the bags.
Julio Rodríguez is going to have a strong argument, but Acuña will be tough to pass with the first pick in 2023 drafts.
Max Muncy, 1B/2B/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers
No surprise here, as Muncy has MLB’s lowest batting average on balls in play (.186) this season. A high K rate will always keep his BA down, but Muncy is due for more power over the second half of 2022, especially the further removed he gets from his elbow injury. Eligible at three infield positions while batting in a Dodgers lineup that’s scored the second-most runs in baseball and in a park that’s boosting hard hits this season, Muncy should be rostered in all fantasy leagues despite his anemic .161/.313/.309 line. He hit 36 homers in fewer than 500 ABs last year and has been one of the 10 unluckiest hitters this season, according to xwOBA.
Spencer Torkelson, 1B/3B, Detroit Tigers
While it shouldn’t be too surprising the 22-year-old has struggled during his rookie campaign, it’s nice to know the truly ugly start to his MLB career (68 wRC+) also features some poor luck; his expected slugging is 100+ points higher than his current mark. Torkelson was the No. 1 pick as one of college baseball’s better hitters in recent memory, and there remains plenty of reason for optimism in the majors moving forward.
Cristian Pache, OF, Oakland A’s
Pache was sent down to Triple-A at the end of June after posting a brutal 23 wRC+, but he deserved much better according to Statcast. In fact, the difference between his batting average (.159) and xBA (.243) is by far the most among all hitters this season. The key prospect in the Matt Olson trade, Pache has hit well since getting optioned to Triple-A and possesses 80-grade defense that will soon make him a staple in Oakland’s lineup. Pache is available in 99 percent of Yahoo leagues and is more of an option for keeper leaguers at this point, but don’t forget about him in the future (and maybe even later this season).
Bryan De La Cruz, OF, Miami Marlins
De La Cruz is slugging .387 but has an expected slugging of .527. The righty has posted a .380 OPS against left-handers after recording a .949 mark against them as a rookie last season. It sure seems like Da La Cruz has experienced some misfortune to open 2022, and he possesses some real nice power potential for deeper fantasy leaguers moving forward. De La Cruz is available in 99% of Yahoo leagues.