Brewers: What Impact Will Banning The Shift Have On These 3 Hitters In 2023?
2. 1B Rowdy Tellez
Rowdy Tellez led the Milwaukee Brewers with the highest percent of plate appearances with the shift applied in 2022 (78.4%). When analyzing his quality of contact numbers and his expected stats from last season, I believe Rowdy could have been a culprit of some bad luck due to the shift and could see improved results next season.
Rowdy posted impressive quality of contact numbers in 2022. According to Baseball Savant, he ranked in the 86th percentile in average exit velocity and the 88th percentile in barrel rate. Tellez also finished the year with an impressive hard hit rate of 46%. Yet, Tellez only hit for a subpar .219 batting average and a wOBA of .327. This is where his expected stats (xBA, xSLG, and xWOBA) can help paint a better picture.
Expected Batting Average is a metric that measures the likelihood that a batted ball will become a hit by analyzing the batted ball data - in terms of exit velocity, launch angle, and the batter's sprint speed - and assigns it a value based on comparable batted balls in the past. xSLG and xwOBA are calculated using similar logic, and together these can provide much needed context for some players.
Rowdy finished last season with an xBA of .252, which was significantly better than his actual batting average of .219. Similar stories can be told when looking at his xSLG and xwOBA. Tellez had an xwOBA of .349 (84th percentile) and an xSLG of .479 (90th percentile) which were both considerably better than his actual slugging percentage and wOBA.
Even though Tellez had great quality of contact metrics, he may have fell victim to hitting quality baseballs right into the defensive shift. Rowdy had a 37.7% pull rate in 2022, and for a player that faced the defensive shift 78.4% of his plate appearances, producing hard hit balls that play into the shift could explain why his expected stats differ so much from his actual statistics.
The real statistics matter, for obvious reasons. However, the expected stats can be interesting and notable in situations like this. It leads me to believe that Rowdy Tellez could see a boost in his offensive numbers with the four-man outfield being banned in 2023.