I follow @MLBHR on twitter and have it set to give me a notification when it tweets something (this account tweets every time there is a home run). I get a notification that says “Christian Villanueva – San Diego Padres (1) Solo”. But a lot of guys that aren’t household names hit home runs, so I brushed it off. Then another notification, and finally another. Villanueva ended the night with 3 HR 5 RBIs 4 Runs and 1 HBP. That equates to 69.3 Fan Duel points making him the highest scorer of the night as a minimum priced 3B. Freddie Freeman was over double his price and had an insane 44.6 Fan Duel point night. So that left me thinking, who the f*** is this guy?
Villanueva has been in the minor leagues since 2009 beginning with the Rangers from 2009-2012, the Cubs 2012-2015, and now the Padres. He made a brief appearance in the majors last year for San Diego playing 12 games and .344 with 4 home runs. But that isn’t why it isn’t outrageous that he sent 3 balls into orbit in a notoriously pitcher friendly ball park. That sample is too small, so to get a better idea lets take a look at his Triple A season for San Diego last year.
Christian played 109 games for AAA San Diego last year where he hit .296, slugged .528, and had an OBP of .344 with 20 home runs to go with it. Really nice stats, I see why he was called up. But lets put some of his deeper stats into context. Villanueva’s ISO (ISO stands for Isolated Power and is calculated by doing Extra Base Hits/ABs) was .231. Is that good? Well, the major league average is around .135. Had he done this in the majors, he would be right next to the likes of Anthony Rizzo, Anthony Rendon, and Francisco Lindor who all had ISOs of .232. Who did he beat? His ISO was great that Brian Dozier (.227), Yasiel Puig (.224), and Daniel Murphy (.221). So yeah, that is pretty good.
So what? A lot of his hits are extra base hits. We’ll take a look at a statistic that is considered a catch-all offensive statistic: wOBA. wOBA stands for weighted on base average and measures a hitter’s overall offensive value. The major league average wOBA is around .312. Villanueva’s, however, was .385. To put that in context again, if he did that in the majors he would be between the 18th and 19th best wOBA around the likes of Nelson Cruz and Daniel Murphy. Who was his wOBA better than? Justin Smoak, Anthony Rizzo, Justin Upton, George Springer, Eric Hosmer, Jose Abreu, and the list goes on and on. Granted, these are minor league numbers, but these are clearly elite statistics.
Some fun less meaningful statistics to look at were his fly-ball rate and his Pull % (what percentage of balls he hits are to the pull side). His fly-ball rate was 44% which puts him near some okay company: Nolan Arenado and Mike Trout. Interestingly enough, his Pull % was 54.4% which would have been highest in the majors by nearly 3%. While this doesn’t mean much, it is definitely something that is cool to look at.
What does all of this mean? This means Villanueva is going to hit 3 home runs every game. Just kidding, it doesn’t. But this shows that his day which I thought was pure luck is actually not as outrageous as it seemed on the surface. I by no means am guaranteeing he will be close to or better than any of the players I mentioned, I just needed some context to show what each stat mean’t. Keep an eye out for him, this could become a more common occurrence. I wish him the best of luck and hope he continues to produce.