These Five Hitters Have Had the Most Bad Luck This Season

These hitters have had mixed results in 2024, but the underlying metrics suggest they've simply had bad luck so far.

Vinnie Pasquantino #9 of the Kansas City Royals bats against the Seattle Mariners at Kauffman Stadium.
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - SEPTEMBER 25: Vinnie Pasquantino #9 of the Kansas City Royals bats against the Seattle Mariners at Kauffman Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

What’s luck got to do with it?

In baseball, luck is everything. And that’s especially true when it comes to hitting.

A softly hit grounder that skirts through the outstretched gloves of the second baseman and shortstop. A pop fly that the outfielder misreads on a dive. Or vice versa, when a hard line drive turns into a spectacular catch or when a fielder is simply in the right place at the right time.

But luck in baseball isn’t just a concept: It’s quantifiable. You can actually do a pretty good job of measuring a batter’s fortune thanks to a statistic known as Weighted On-Base Average, or wOBA, as well as its companion, Expected Weighted On-Base Average (xwOBA).

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Here’s MLB’s official glossary entry for wOBA: “wOBA is a version of on-base percentage (OBP) that accounts for how a player reached base — instead of simply considering whether a player reached base.”

xwOBA is similar to wOBA, except that the former removes defense from its calculation. The only inputs on batted balls are exit velocity, launch angle, and sometimes sprint speed. The methodology makes sense when you consider that hitters can’t control what happens once the ball is put in play. Above all, it’s quality of the contact that matters most; hard contact is almost always better than soft contact.

So, now that you have context, let’s look at five of the unluckiest hitters in MLB so far this season, according to the difference between their wOBA and xwOBA.

Christopher Morel

  • 2024 wOBA: .293
  • 2024 xwOBA: .374
  • Difference: -0.081

Christopher Morel is the unluckiest hitter in baseball, at least according to wOBA and xwOBA. That’s both a blessing and a curse.

Few players are as dynamic as the Cubs’ third baseman/DH. Unfortunately, the metrics haven’t been terribly kind to him in 2024.

On the one hand, Morel’s .192 batting average and .661 OPS indicate a player who is struggling. But the advanced metrics tell a different story, especially his Baseball Savant page, which is painted in red. That is to say, there is a silver lining in all of this: No one stays this unlucky all season. And especially not players like this talented 24-year-old.

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The Cubs are at their best when Morel is thriving at the dish and bringing his infectious energy with him. And an 81-point difference between his wOBA and xwOBA will undoubtedly even out over the course of the season.

Jesús Sánchez

  • 2024 wOBA: .269
  • 2024 xwOBA: .349
  • Difference: -0.080

The Marlins outfielder has struggled in 2024, but the numbers clearly reflect that this isn’t due to a lack of ability. In fact, Jesús Sánchez’s Baseball Savant page is filled with red bars in key metrics such as average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage. That means he’s squaring up the baseball pretty well, which is something his .230 batting average and .594 OPS don’t suggest at first glance.

It would be easy to say Sánchez isn’t having a good season – and on the surface, you’d be correct – but it’s better to say he’s simply been unlucky, and positive regression is likely coming as the season plays on. At the very least, the Marlins could certainly stand to benefit if Sánchez does turn it around.

Vinnie Pasquantino

  • 2024 wOBA: .305
  • 2024 xwOBA: .365
  • Difference: -0.060

The Kansas City Royals are having a great 2024 season, and it’s hard to believe they’re having so much success offensively without much help from slugger Vinnie Pasquantino.

Pasquantino, 26, is hitting a paltry .224 with five home runs and a .695 OPS thus far. It’s been rough sailing for “Pasquatch,” to say the least.

Fortunately for Pasquantino and the Royals, though, better times appear to be on the horizon. While a .305 wOBA is pretty average, his .365 xwOBA looks much more promising. And it doesn’t hurt to have a Savant page draped in red bars, either.

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In other words? Don’t expect that 60-point gap between his .305 wOBA and .365 xwOBA to last all season. Pasquantino can’t stay unlucky forever – particularly if he keeps hitting the ball hard. And when the 26-year-old breaks out of his slump, the Royals will be that much better for it.

Brandon Nimmo

  • 2024 wOBA: .334
  • 2024 xwOBA: .393
  • Difference: -0.059

If the New York Mets still intend to compete in 2024, they’ll need a lot of help doing so. And it starts with Brandon Nimmo, one of their most important players.

It’s not exactly surprising that Nimmo is having a bad season; New York is struggling mightily, and negative vibes can reverberate just as much as positive ones. Nonetheless, the Mets need their $162 million man to bust out of his slumping ways sooner rather than later. And Statcast likes his chances of doing just that.

Let’s not dismiss Nimmo’s .334 wOBA off the bat (pun intended); that figure isn’t bad on its own. However, it’s lower than his career wOBA of .360 and it’s 59 points lower than his xwOBA of .393 in 2024. That means the 31-year-old, whose hard-hit rate this season is near 50%, has truly been unlucky. Hitting the ball hard almost half the time and having nothing to show for it is certainly an anomaly.

Nimmo and the Mets can only hope better luck is on the way in 2024. And at least for the former, that seems likely to be the case.

Francisco Lindor

  • 2024 wOBA: .289
  • 2024 xwOBA: .340
  • Difference: -0.051

Much of what was said about Nimmo can be said of Francisco Lindor: The Mets are down in the doldrums, and their star players largely underperforming is a major culprit behind those circumstances.

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But, if you think Nimmo has expectations saddled to him given his contract parameters, Lindor’s 10-year, $341 million contract only adds even more pressure on him to produce. And his output has arguably been even worse than Nimmo’s to date.

Will it get better for Lindor? Fortunately, his xwOBA of .340 signals better days ahead, particularly when compared to his current .289 wOBA (a 51-point difference). And to be frank, the 30-year-old’s .211 batting average and .652 OPS are downright unacceptable for a player who’s paid like a superstar. The eight home runs are fine, but that’s been most of his offensive production to this point.

Unlike the other players on this list, however, Lindor’s Savant page has a lot less red. That doesn’t bode quite as well for positive regression down the line. Still, Lindor has been unlucky in 2024, and it stands to reason that with his talent, his game will inevitably catch up. After all, there is plenty more season left to play.