For those of you that have followed my team outlooks on each major league team, I might take some time to explain the idea behind AVH (average hit). Slugging percentage has been the standard for many years in baseball to show a player’s value in producing power. Last year the major-league average for slugging percentage was .409. This number doesn’t give a Fantasy owner a real feel for a player’s value or even possible growth or decline in this area. AVH = singles + doubles (X 2) + triples (X 3) + home runs (X 4) divided by hits or total bases divided by hits. Here’s a look at the final team totals for each team in major league baseball in 2018 sorted by AHV:
Every team in the majors averaged over 1.5 singles per hit in 2018. The Yankees led the majors with an AVH of 1.998 thanks to a league-high 267 home runs, which was almost a double per hit. The lowly Marlins finished with the lowest AVH of 1.591 while hitting only 128 home runs.
The Padres had the least number of hits (1,289), and the Red Sox led the majors with 1,509 hits.
In comparison, the top team in slugging percentage was the Red Sox (.453), and the team was Miami (.357).
From a visual aspect, it is easier to get a read of a player’s value in power by his average hit than slugging percentage.
Last year there were 30 players had a slugging percentage of over .500 with 400 at-bats or more. Here’s a look at those players ranked by AVH:
When looking at this data, you can easily see that six players averaged over a double per hit (2.000 AVH) each time they put the ball in play. (The minimum AVH a player could have is 1.00 if he had a single each time he had a hit. The maximum would be 4.00 – all home runs.) The trick here is using a player’s home run output with AVH.
Eric Hosmer has been a highly-touted prospect for the Royals in his career. When he hit 19 HRs in his rookie season, the Fantasy world pushed his draft value to the 2nd round in many drafts in 2012 thinking he had a much higher upside in power. His AVH was 1.588 that season, but he had a ground ball rate of 49.7 percent. His AVH was in an area where growth in power was expected, but his swing path suggested a huge jump in HRs wasn’t a high probably without a much stronger HR/FB rate or decline in ground balls.
Over the last seven seasons, Hosmer has an AVH of 1.548, 1.484, 1.471, 1.546, 1.627, 1.563, and 1.574. His AVH looks to be trending up in 2016, and he did hit a career high 25 HRs in 2016 and 2017, but his GB rate has remained in a weak area – 2012 (53.6), 2013 (52.7), 2014 (51.2), 2015 (52.0), 2016 (58.9), 2017 (55.6), and 2018 (60.4). His HR/FB rate has been strong in each of his last three seasons (21.4), 22.5, and 19.4), but Eric can’t offer a big jump in home runs without a much high fly rate (25.7 in his career, 24.7 in 2016, 22.2 in 2017, and 19.7 in 2018).
After matching his career high in HRs (25) in 2017, he had a weaker swing path supported by a slight fade in his AVH (2016 – 1.627 and 2017 – 1.563). His fade in AVH paired with his move to San Diego led to a drop back in power (18 HRs) in 2018. We know Hosmer has talent plus upside, but we should temper our expectation based on his swing path and high ground tendencies. He is averaging about a single and half in his major-league career.
In this case, AVH tells a pretty good story. In the ideal situation, we would like to see a player adding more length to his hits. Any player with an AVH of 1.75 or higher has 25+ HR power with 550+ at-bats. A Judy type player (all speed and no power) will have an AVH under 1.35.
The goal here is to be able to glance at a player’s AVH and HR total to get a feel of a player’s upside in power. It is also critical to understand each player’s ground ball and fly ball rate. A change in swing path could lead to a huge jump in home runs. In the case of Hosmer, if his groundball rate is trending down with a rising AVH, I would expect much more upside in power, which wasn’t the case for him in his first year with the Padres.
Slugging percentage doesn’t tell the same story for me when studying baseball players. If a player has a slugging percentage over .500, it doesn’t necessarily mean that player is a 30 home run hitter. Last year the difference between Khris Davis and Freddie Freeman was 0.44 percentage points in slugging (.549 to .505). Davis finished the year with 25 more home runs than Freeman. Khris posted the highest AVH (2.225) in 2018 while Freddie ranked 30th of the players with 400+ at-bats and a slugging percentage over .500.
Defining a player direction in Fantasy baseball is the key to a winning season. Ideally, a Fantasy owner needs to identify a player that has underlying metrics that points to a breakout season when added to a better opportunity in playing time or an improved slot in the batting order. AVH is an essential tool for me and one I hope you incorporate into your research plan going forward.