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Weird 2017 baseball stats

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You’re not having fun until you’re very confused.

Detroit Tigers v Kansas City Royals
Eric Hosmer celebrates getting the ball in the air.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

In any sort of statistical analysis you’re going to see some weird things. Sometimes that means things you don’t expect and sometimes it means numbers matching some sort of arbitrary pattern. Here are just some of the random oddities I’ve found while digging around on FanGraphs.com - all of them are as of Sunday morning.

Eric Hosmer isn’t alone

Eric Hosmer hits a lot of ground balls but is still finding success. He is not, however, even close to the only major league ball player with an MLB-top-20 groundball rate and an MLB-top-40 home run per flyball rate. He is joined by five others: Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers, Trey Mancini of the Orioles, Willson Contreras of the Cubs, Josh Bell of the Pirates, and Avisail Garcia of the White Sox.

Hosmer does set himself a bit a part from this crowd in other ways: he is the only full-time left-handed hitter out of the group - as Bell is a switch hitter and the rest hit right-handed. He also has the lowest HR/FB% in the group along with the lowest flyball rate. That’s probably unsurprising given he has by far the lowest pull rate among them; he pulls almost 13% fewer balls than the next lowest member of the club. He does have the highest line drive percentage and is second in wOBA and wRC+ to different players.

On the other side Rangers’ third-baseman Joey Gallo has a whopping 60.8 FB% and still has a higher HR/FB% than any of the guys on that list which is how he offers similar productivity despite striking out a fair bit more than any of these other guys. Here’s a link if you want to look for yourself.

Nick Castellanos and Corey Seager have some similarities, too

There are two qualified batters in MLB who achieve hard contact more than 48% of the time. One of those is Corey Seager of the Dodgers who is having a monster season with the help of those insane exit velocities. The other is the Tigers’ Nick Castellanos who has seen his offensive production fall off a fair bit from his break out 2016 season.

Castellanos actually has the lowest soft hit rate among qualified hitters to go with his second highest hard%. He’s hitting more line drives and fly balls than last year, has a slightly smaller strike out rate, and a noticeably higher HR/FB% which seems likely to allow him to hit a new career high in home runs. The biggest difference between Castellanos and Seager seems to be that Seager has a dazzling .365 BABIP while Castellanos has been quite a bit more unlucky with only a .305 BABIP. Last year Castellanos hit for a .345 BABIP so it’s entirely possible he’s going to set the world on fire any day now. Link for comparison.

Pitching oddities

Jeff Samardzija has the sixteenth highest fWAR among MLB starting pitchers despite lugging around a 5.05 ERA. This is in large part to his exceptionally good strike out and walk rates. But he has a 5.05 ERA, how much winning can be helping his team do while allowing that many runs no matter how man he strikes out?

Tommy Kahnle, despite being the second reliever in the David Robertson deal, is actually tied with, among others, former White Sox teammate Anthony Swarzak for the seventh most valuable reliever in all of baseball and he’s still on his rookie deal. Robertson comes in tied at number 38 on the list.

David Hernandez of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is the only qualified reliever to not yet give up a home run, this season.

Sean Manaea, second among qualified starting pitchers in home runs allowed, has struck out more batters in fewer innings than the starting pitcher with the fewest home runs allowed, Michael Fulmer. Fulmer is still worth a full win more than Manaea, though.

The narrative on Cleveland is that their rotation has struggled this year, but Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer, and Josh Tomlin all rank in the top 50 fWAR of MLB starting pitchers. Kluber is fifth and Carrasco is eleventh so they’re not all grouped at the bottom, either.

The last 30 days for the Royals

Over the last 30 days Brandon Moss has a higher ISO than any other Royals hitter except Mike Moustakas.

Whit Merrifield has stolen more bases - 9 - than the rest of the Royals put together - despite getting to include Salvador Perez swiping one on Thursday night. Alex Gordon is tied for second with Lorenzo Cain at 2 a piece after Saturday night’s display.

If it seems like the Royals are hitting a lot of popups, they are. Salvy, Moose, and LoCain are all hitting more than 20% of their batted balls as infield flies.

Two-hit Whit has contributed double the amount of Win Probability to this team as the next closest batter, Alex Gordon, at 130% WPA to 65%. In third place? Brandon Moss with 56%.

Peter Moylan, Al Alburquerque, and Kevin McCarthy have been the best Royals relievers by ERA in that order. Joakim Soria somehow carries a 3.00 ERA despite only allowing a 0.750 WHIP.

Danny Duffy has been worth more fWAR than any of the other starters despite pitching in fewer innings than any of them except Travis Wood.

Jason Vargas has been the least valuable pitcher on the staff with -0.4 fWAR thanks to 3 straight sub-par performances. That ties him for fifth worst in baseball with Mike Pelfrey, among others, and slightly better than old friend James Shields who has -0.5 fWAR. Shields is tied for worst with, among others, Saturday’s “hero” White Sox reliever David Holmberg.

So what do you think? Which stat was the least expected? Have you seen any stats that boggled your mind a bit?