This article is part of our The Z Files series.
We're just past the one-quarter mark, the perfect time to assess players whose expectations have changed significantly since their initial projections. Twenty batters will be reviewed, 10 who are playing better than expected, 10 underperforming.
The filter for the first set is batters in my original Top 150 whose rest-of-season projected earnings are the greatest. The second set are hitters with the highest increase. Projected earnings are used in lieu of ranking to assure the top players make the list. Remember, a $10 difference for a first-round player can be five or six spots, while it can be 10 rounds for lower ranked players. Injured players were excluded.
Better than expectations
Paul DeJong, St, Louis Cardinals: Some may identify DeJong's BABIP as lucky, and they are likely right. However, other than last season, he's exhibited the ability to maintain an above average hit rate. In fact, based on Statcast data, DeJong incurred more bad luck in 2018 than he's enjoyed so far this campaign. Even if the BABIP regresses, DeJong's improved approach portends a soft landing. He's fanning around 10 percent less than his career level while walking five percent more. He's even swiped three bags, tripling last year's total.
Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers: Bellinger's power has waned the past couple of weeks, but he continues to pound the ball with regularity. Of course, a BABIP around .400 is due for a downturn, but like DeJong, Bellinger is fanning significantly less than normal along with walking a