Stats make the fantasy baseball world go ’round.

It’s the numbers that ultimately decide the champions in our leagues, but they’re also what provide us the valuable insights as to what might come next from individual players. I’m constantly sifting through the stats, seeking hidden nuggets that might help guide my own (as well as yours) future roster decisions.

This week, let’s take a stroll through the stats, presenting some of 2023’s more unusual statistical findings. Some are mere “how about that” facts, while others provide valuable insights on the individuals in question.

image Ronald Acuna Jr. has an MLB-leading 16 Barrels — this is Statcast’s measure for a batted ball struck with optimal exit velocity and launch angle — that have ultimately resulted in outs. This might not seem like much, considering bad-luck outcomes happen all the time, but to put the number into perspective, last year’s leader, Aaron Judge, had 25, and the 2021 leaders, Pete Alonso and Paul Goldschmidt, had 21 apiece for the full season.

Imagine what Acuna’s stat line might look like if even a couple more of those fell in (or cleared the fence)? Plus, the guy’s on pace for a .328 batting average, 32 home runs, 98 RBIs, 69 stolen bases and 137 runs scored as is.

image Francisco Alvarez, a right-handed batter, has made 169 career trips to the plate, 46 of them against left-handed pitchers. Against lefties, he has only one extra-base hit — a home run at Colorado’s Coors Field off Austin Gomber. In fact, Alvarez has generated hard contact off a lefty in only 9 of 30 batted balls (30%), which is unusual for a hitter who batted .335/.444/.682 against lefties in the minors in 2021-22 combined.

It’s a righty/lefty split that should narrow in time but, considering these numbers, it’s good to see the Mets still granting Alvarez near-everyday at-bats despite the recent return of Omar Narvaez, having started Alvarez in 15 of their past 18 games (13 at catcher, 2 at DH) — including all four against a left-handed starter. Alvarez’s 49 fantasy points during this span, incidentally, lead all catchers, and he is available in 74% of ESPN leagues.

image Kendall Graveman has allowed a left-handed hitter only one hit all season — an opposite-field, ground ball single by Andres Gimenez that would have certainly been an out in a traditional defensive alignment. Although it hasn’t specifically helped in that regard against lefties (as he has thrown the pitch only 20 times to them all year), Graveman’s continued reliance upon his slider has been a help to his overall performance. He’s due for some regression against lefties, but he’s talented enough to be a decent source of saves for however long Liam Hendriks is sidelined.

image Since the 2022 All-Star break, Marcus Stroman is tied with Shane Bieber for the most quality starts with 21. Additionally, during that time, Stroman ranks third in ERA (2.56) and 12th among starting pitchers in fantasy points (374). Throw out his clunker against Minnesota back in May and his ERA for the season would be just 1.84 and tops in all of baseball among qualified pitchers.

image In his first 22 appearances this season, Emmanuel Clase‘s cutter averaged 98.0 mph, a noticeable drop from the 99.5 he averaged with the pitch in 2022. In the 11 games since, however, Clase has averaged 99.4 mph with his cutter, and gone 5-of-5 converting his saves with a 1.00 ERA and a 42.4% strikeout rate. Perhaps the Clase of old — one widely regarded the RP1 after Edwin Diaz‘s injury during the preseason — is back.

image I’ve had quite the tumultuous relationship with Blake Snell on my fantasy teams over the years, but the left-hander is one of only three starting pitchers with three pitches that he uses at least 10% of the time which have generated at least a 35% whiff rate (percentage of hitters’ swings in which they flat-out miss). Snell does have his moments, such as his 2022 second half, when he had a 2.19 ERA and fourth-best-in-baseball 105 strikeouts. He just tossed a gem at Coors, so this seems like the time to have him in your lineup regularly, especially with a good share of games upcoming against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Detroit Tigers and Washington Nationals over the next month.

Incidentally, the other two qualifiers on Snell’s list are Luis Castillo and J.P. France. France’s fastball and cutter have been nothing special, but his curveball and changeup have confounded left-handed batters thus far (.191/.260/.279 rates), and he’s got the slider to be a K-generating matchups play. Tuck the name away if you’re looking for deep-league streamers.

image One season after he hit .313/.413/.563 with runners in scoring position, Taylor Ward is now hitting only .170/.200/.234 with a second-worst-among-qualifiers .188 wOBA in those situations. As with Alvarez, that’s something that should even out over time — and perhaps it’s already happening, as he’s hitting .313 with four home runs in his last 12 games overall.

image The Tampa Bay Rays have attempted a major-league-low 26 pickoff attempts, 47 fewer than the next-closest team, and have surrendered league-leading totals of 107 stolen base attempts and 89 successful steals. That comes despite the team enjoying the league’s 10th-best Forecaster grade as far as catchers reining in the running game, not to mention a pair of catchers that are at least league-average in doing so per Statcast. Holding on baserunners has been particularly problematic for fill-in closer Jason Adam, who has surrendered 20 attempts, all successful, since the beginning of last season.

image A .191/.244/.304 hitter in his first 33 games of the season, Josh Naylor has since hit .407/.446/.659 with five home runs and 29 RBIs over his past 25 contests. His 104 fantasy points scored during that time span is tied for eighth-best among hitters. Naylor, by the way, remains available in 35% of ESPN leagues.

image Mike Trout has a 12% swinging-strike rate and .358 wOBA against fastballs, his worst single-season rates outside of his 75-plate appearance 2011 debut. Trout’s struggles against fastballs have contributed to a mere 67.5% contact rate, his second-worst single year number behind only the 65.0% he had in 36 games in 2021. This helps explain how he ranks only 57th in fantasy points among hitters, and what they hint about his now “closer to earth” skills rationalizes how he slipped to only 64th overall in my most-recent rankings update.

image An average batted ball struck by Jack Suwinski this season has traveled 219 feet, second-farthest among qualifiers behind only Aaron Judge (231 feet). Suwinski has been one of this year’s best sneaky-good power sources — his 133 fantasy points are only 16 shy of Trout’s total!