It’s easy to buy into hitters who go crazy in any given month, but we must weigh variance against skill to determine how sustainable these performances are. In this article, we dig deep on August’s hottest hitters to find out who to buy and who to sell going forward.
1) Frank Schwindel
August Slash Line: .344/.394/.635
August xSlash Line: .293/.343/.496
Schwindel has been one of the best stories of 2021, joining fellow Cubs teammate Patrick Wisdom in the ‘out of nowhere late-career breakout group. As the actual vs xStats tell you, Schwindel has been great in August, but he’s also experienced a significant amount of good fortune. Here are some of Schwindel’s key Statcast metrics for August — 89.9 MPH average exit velocity, 7.9% barrel rate, 43.4% hard-hit rate, and 16-degree average launch angle, all of which are better than average. With that being said, none of these metrics jump off the page, so it makes sense that Schwindel’s xSlash line is good, but not elite like his surface triple slash. Schwindel’s .386 August BABIP is lucky, but it’s actually not a massive outlier for a one-month sample size. Schwindel won’t keep popping off for an outrageous amount of extra-base hits going forward, but he’s likely to continue hitting for an excellent (.280+) batting average with at least modest power the rest of the way.
2) Randy Arozarena
August Slash Line: .362/.443/.638
August xSlash Line: .226/.307/.427
The statistical disparity here is pretty staggering, and it appears that Arozarena was quite possibly the luckiest player in the major leagues in August, but we can’t blindly trust xStats. Arozarena’s 8:28 BB/K ratio is fine, but it’s not outstanding by any means, so it doesn’t appear that he bettered his approach. Additionally, his .568 BABIP (1st in MLB in August) is so incredibly inflated that it’s hard to believe. The insane BABIP also partially explains why Arozarena’s .226 xBA for August is so much lower than his .362 BA. Let’s analyze some batted ball metrics to gain a better understanding of Arozarena’s performance in August. Randy’s metrics look like this — 88.9 MPH average exit velocity, 17.1% barrel rate, 41.5% hard-hit rate, and -1 degree average launch angle. These metrics are incredibly confounding. On one hand, the 17.1% barrel rate is outrageously good, but on the other hand, Arozarena’s other metrics are middling (avg exit velocity/hard-hit rate) or downright awful (launch angle). Elite barrel rates often result in outlier performances in spite of other flaws, but it’s not sustainable. Arozarena isn’t hitting the ball super hard, and he’s having major launch angle issues. There’s a reason that Arozarena doesn’t have a single other monthly performance close to this one. When the groundballs find a semi-normal amount of gloves next month the average will come crashing down hard.
3) Luis Robert
August Slash Line: .361/.403/.639
August xSlash Line: .308/.350/.555
Robert’s return to action following a serious hip injury has been a joy to watch, and he remains one of the brightest young stars in the sport. Robert has elite tools, but he’s struggled with Ks for most of his career. In August Robert surprisingly only stuck out 14 times while drawing just three walks. Clearly, Robert was prioritizing making contact, hence the healthy 62.1% swing rate. It worked, as even the regressed xStats tell you that he was elite in August. Robert is lightning quick, so the .391 BABIP for the month is hardly an outlier, even if it is a bit inflated. Additionally, the batted ball metrics look great — 93.8 MPH average exit velocity, 10.9% barrel rate, 43.6% hard-hit rate, and 17-degree average launch angle. Robert could be volatile with his swing-happy approach, but he’s making excellent contact, and his speed continually benefits him in the batting average department. Robert can be counted on going forward, and he’s a bonafide star in all non-OBP formats.
4) Odubel Herrera
August Slash Line: .341/.409/.634
August xSlash Line: .317/.385/.567
Herrera’s August performance definitely came out of nowhere, as he had been having a fairly pedestrian season before the explosion. Regardless, Herrera’s success in August is no coincidence, as his xStats for the month are excellent despite implying some regression. One excellent indicator that validates the hot month is a .333 August BABIP that is fairly normal for someone with above-average speed like Herrera. Herrera didn’t have the BABIP luck of others on this list, but he still made the cut because he crushed baseballs. Herrera’s August batted ball metrics look like this — 88.8 MPH average exit velocity, 11 percent barrel rate, 50.7% hard-hit rate, and 10-degree average launch angle. The barrel rate and the hard-hit rate really stand out here, with the latter being especially impressive. Herrera was seeing the ball at a high level (9:11 BB/K), and it absolutely played a role in his big month at the plate. When you’re hitting your pitch most of the time, good things happen. If Herrera continues to display a high-quality approach at the plate there’s no reason that his August performance should prove to be unsustainable. I’m really impressed with the gains here.
5) Ty France
August Slash Line: .348/.393/.554
August xSlash Line: .319/.364/.567
Ty France has been a pleasant surprise in 2021 with the Seattle Mariners now that he’s finally been given consistent playing time, but he was on another level in August. The xStats tell you that he slightly overperformed in terms of batting average and that he actually underperformed a bit in the power department despite a .554 SLG for the month. France isn’t even an average runner, so the .384 BABIP isn’t sustainable, and it explains the xBA being a bit lower than the actual BA. With that being said, Ty hit the ball well in August as these batted ball metrics show — 89 MPH average exit velocity, 8.7% barrel rate, 43.5% hard-hit rate, and 11-degree average launch angle. France doesn’t have the ceiling of a Luis Robert, but he’s a steady hitter who consistently makes quality contact. France also has good hand-eye coordination an aggressive plate approach (6:21 BB/K), which will help maintain quality batting averages, though it lowers his OBP potential. France isn’t quite as good as he showed in August, but he’s not far off, and he’s a solid .280 BA/20 HR bat who can be an asset in any fantasy format.