2021 Unlucky Dodgers

One of the most exciting aspects of statcast is its ability to give expected statistics based on how batters are hitting the ball compared to its massive data history. Aka, a ball hit so hard, at such an angle and direction is a hit blank percent of the time.

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A recent example would be Mookie’s game winning catch agains the Padres. A 10% catch probability means that 90% of the time, that ball is a hit. Or in other terms, the expected batting average on a hit exactly like that is .900.

So using these expected stats, we were able to see 5 Dodgers who may be off to hotter starts than their actual stats let on.

  • Will Smith
    • Actual: .211/.380/.447
    • Expected: .290/.442/.607

Will Smith once again begins the year as possibly the unluckiest Dodger at the plate. His actual OPS of .827 still easily places him among the top 10 offensive catchers in baseball currently, but his expected OPS of 1.049 would place him at the top of the power rankings and just a tick ahead of his 2020 performance of .289/.401/.579. (Another year where his actual stats trailed his expected stats at the beginning of the year.

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And we have to think that Smith moves more towards his expected stats as the season moves on. The Fresh Prince still has one of the best eyes on the team and has walked 9 times compared to 8 strikeouts so far. His barrel % ranks 3rd on the team so far at 16.1% and his average exit velocity ranks 4th at 90.6 MPH. His launch angle is also a fly ball producing 16.4 degrees. At some point, the ball is going to start leaving the park with numbers like that.

  • Edwin Rios
    • Actual: .138/.286/.241
    • Expected: .201/.356/.497

If you follow this site, you know we believe Rios can be special. Unfortunately, Rios just can’t seem to catch a break despite hitting the ball hard 47.6% of the time. Again, last night was the perfect example as Rios hit two homer capable balls to the deepest part of the Mariners stadium. His expected line isn’t fantastic, but he should easily be filling the Joc void but with more defensive versatility.

His barrel % leads the entire team at 19% and sits at an 89.5 Mph average exit velocity. His launch angle is also fly ball prone at 15.8 degrees, but Rios is the epitome of a home run specialist. His 5 walks to 8 strikeouts is an encouraging sight for the big man with the long swing as well. We’re still betting on Rios to improve dramatically from his current OPS of .527. He could even double it if he gets hot.

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  • Luke Raley
    • Actual: .235/.278/.471
    • Expected: .287/.439/.758

Riley got the call to see if he can be the left handed power bat the Dodgers are missing with Bellinger, and so far he’s exceeding him. (Granted Bellinger was slashing a measly .211/.286/.368 to start the year)

It’s only a sample size of 18 plate appearances, but Raley is scorching the ball. His average exit velocity of 94.8 MPH actually leads the team, and his launch angle of 9.2 screams line drives for days. Riley should’ve been trail blazing the league since his callup, but the question is can he keep this going at the MLB level.

  • Corey Seager
    • Actual: .286/.392/.524
    • Expected: .330/.429/.598

Somehow Corey Seager has started another year as possibly the most underrated superstar in baseball. When he’s healthy, Seager has been consistently one of the best hitters in the game. He not only leads the team, but ranks in the top 10% of hitters with a 54.9% hard hit rate. His expected stats also rank within the top 10% of the league.

The kid just hits absolutely everyone. He’s walking as much as he’s striking out. He’s hitting doubles and homers practically every other day. We could honestly see Seager making a run at MVP this year. He’s already been building up big moments.

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  • Chris Taylor
    • Actual: .235/.381/.471
    • Expected: .261/.400/.531

Perhaps no one has been as unlucky as Taylor this year. He leads the team with an 18.8% barrel rate and his hitting the ball hard exactly half of the time. His average exit velocity is sitting at 93.3 MPH to start the year. His launch angle of 10.8 is right in the money zone, yet his expected OPS is almost 100 points higher than his actual performance so far.

Yes Taylor is still probably the most strikeout prone in this lineup, but his quality of contact is possibly the best on the team. His whiff %, albeit not great, is actually better than usual for Taylor. He’s being more selective on pitches than ever, and is actually making more contact than he usually does. All signs are showing that Taylor is bound to move up towards his expected stats, if not shoot past them at some point this year. You could very easily be looking at the most underrated bat on the entire team.

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