In this week’s Advanced Analytics we’re digging into Expected Weighted On-base Average, or xwOBA. Most of you are familiar with wOBA: Weighted On-base Average, a stat that places progressively weighted values on results. Expected wOBA removes some of the luck of where a ball was hit. Instead accounting for how well it was hit. We can look to see who has been unlucky despite quality contact in this early season. Baseball Savant has an easy to access Expected wOBA leaderboard. Keep in mind that xwOBA, and wOBA for that matter, measure past performance. They may be indicative of future production but are not written in pen.

The xwOBA leaderboard with a 50 PA minimum, sorted by wOBA-xwOBA.

  • Corey Seager has been tattooing the ball. It’s a shame his back just won’t cooperate. He’s always been one of the more powerful shortstops in the game.

  • The guys we’re looking for are the guys like Gio Urshela  of this board. Good, not great wOBA with untapped potential for a great xwOBA. If the plate appearances continue for him, which they should with the Yankees nursing injuries, he’s a cheaper option with nice upside.

  • Shin-Soo Choo has generated quality contact for years. He’s no stranger to this leaderboard. His age and propensity for injury often cause fantasy managers to overlook him. When he’s hot it’s a great time to ride his bat, though.

  • Teammates Salvador Perez and Jorge Soler both swing for the fences. Both have been able to produce results with that approach. Their wOBA’s are perfectly respectable. They both have the chance to continue producing at this level.

  • It took COVID postponements to cool off the red-hot Colin Moran . It isn’t surprising someone hitting the ball as hard as he has so far this season would have a higher xwOBA. A pull-happy approach is to thank, in part. We’ll see if pitchers can adjust as the Pirates resume their 2020 schedule.

We can also do the inverse and see some potential lucky hitters due to regress. Here’s the xwOBA leaderboard with a 50 PA minimum, sorted by xwOBA-wOBA.

  • Donovan Solano is shockingly not our generation’s Mickey Mantle. He may still turn in some useful production this season. Like many of his Giant teammates he’s coming back to earth, however.

  • We see the usual Rockies hitters on this list. Nothing to worry about as it’s likely the park factors playing tricks.

  • The list is dotted with softer hitting players like Starlin Castro and Ryan McMahon . These are guys focussed first on contact. The power will level out. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a place on your roster.

  • Jonathan Schoop’s appearance here worries me. He’s a one trick pony that’s had a pretty hard time putting his power stroke to use the past couple of seasons. Given the lineup he’s in you’re playing with fire here.