Contact rate hints at fantasy value

J.D. Martinez revamped his swing over the winter, and it's led to a higher contact rate in 2014. Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Many fantasy owners pay attention only to the offensive statistics that directly affect them, from home runs to stolen bases, but analytical folks look at far more items that matter, one of them being contact rate. When a hitter makes contact, good things tend to happen. Big seasons occur. Not all the time, but a high contact rate can tell us quite a bit about what a player is doing and how sustainable his performance is, and it works the other way as well. We're nearly four months into the season. If a guy isn't making contact, surely compared to previous rates, it's often not a good idea to invest.

There are multiple services that provide hard-hit data to teams, and ESPN colleague Mark Simon from the Stats & Information group keeps a careful eye on the information and regularly tweets about it. It's not information available to all, but I'm certainly paying attention, and he's sharing the goods here. Mark contributes to a variety of areas at ESPN and ESPN.com as well as our Fantasy Focus podcast (listen Friday as he co-hosts with me!), and fantasy owners should give heed. Click here for his recent list of players with the biggest increase in contact rate from last season and click here for the list of largest decliners. Pretty telling, I'd say.