The Death of the Contact Hitter
Examining the fate of contact hitters in OOTP19.

Study Design
I looked at all current players with a contact rating above 70 and a power rating below 55, and removed any player with fewer than 450 plate appearances in 2033 (only one player had between 450-600 plate appearances). I then compared their stats in 2033 to what they've done so far in 2034.

2033 2034 Net Gain/Loss
Batting Average 0.316 0.289 -0.027
Players Hitting Above .300 16 7 -9

Largest Differential if Positive 0.037
Largest Differential if Negative -0.11
Average Change if Positive 0.0155
Average Change if Negative -0.058

So far, players with a 70+ contact rating can be expected to hit 30 points lower than they did in 2033. I noticed some of the top contact hitters in the league were struggling early on. We know for a fact that power will be rewarded more in OOTP19, but that’s because pitchers’ movement ratings dropped. Lower movement ratings should not affect contact ratings, so maybe the algorithm has changed?

During the OOTP18 seasons, it felt like a 70-contact hitter was a lock to bat above .300. Enrique Osorio, Ruben Duarte, and almost every hitter in Philly demonstrated that high contact players could really reward a GM. Some of the drop-offs are staggering (Duarte and Manny Ospina especially), and although these players should return to form somewhat, the overall trend is negative. I think we should watch out for this going forward.

One limitation of this study is that I did not take into account any changes in contact rating from year to year. This is a big one, as a fall in contact rating could be behind the drop in average. However, I would mitigate this by pointing to the ages of the players studied. The oldest is 34, and most of these players are in their late 20s. Since most of the players are in their prime, I don’t think we would see that much of a contact rating drop. Also, what ranges would I do to compare contact? I could average the contact ratings shown in a dev report for a season, but that would take some time.

Another limitation is that we are not very far along in the current season. By the end of the season we will have more data; however, the overall trend this early in the season is negative, which is strange because more hot starts would be expected.

The study should probably be expanded to include players with at least a 65 contact rating.