2014 Pod Projections: Nolan Arenado

After a far too long three week break from publishing my first Pod Projection, it’s time to get back on the saddle. Today I’ll take you through my projection for the young Rockies third baseman, Nolan Arenado. He’s a man who is sure to be considered a sleeper by many, which of course immediately jacks up his price and no longer qualifies him as a sleeper.

2014 Pod Projection Index:

Masahiro Tanaka

Like I discussed when sharing my Tanaka projection, I’m doing things differently this year with hitters as well, following my methods from Projecting X more closely. The specific changes will be mentioned in each stat capsule below.

Plate Appearances: 640

This is the first change you will notice. I used to project just the fantasy stats and so at-bats is all I cared about. However, for a full statistical line, a plate appearance projection is required and at-bats are calculated from there. Arenado’s plate appearance total is tough to project. It’s possible that he hits second in the lineup, as the team hasn’t settled on an order yet and has bandied about batting Michael Cuddyer there, while the winner of the second base competition would be a consideration as well. My projection kind of takes the middle ground. If he hits second, it will jump higher. If he hits toward the bottom, then lower.

K%: 13.2%

While Arenado’s Contact% and SwStk% were slightly above average and below average, respectively, he swings a heck of a lot and doesn’t walk, so he has fewer opportunities to strike out because he simply gets to two-strike counts less frequently. That’s actually an assumption, as I don’t have the data to back it up! I am projecting a slightly improved strikeout rate just given his better minor league marks and now a year of Major League experience.

GB%/LD%/FB%: 44%/21%/35%

I tend to regress young hitters’ line drive rates back toward the league average until they prove to possess such line drive skills. He also wasn’t much of a line drive hitter in the minors and hit a slightly higher rate of fly balls than he did as a Major League rookie.

BABIP: .300

Arenado’s batted ball mix seemingly looks good and suggests a better than average BABIP. But he hasn’t posted high BABIP marks in the minors and as I have said many times before, there is a meaningful correlation between minor league and Major League BABIP. That said, I think there’s more upside here than downside, especially given that he calls Coors Field home.

HR/FB Ratio: 9%

This year I am incorporating my xHR/FB rate metric as just another data point to project HR/FB rate. At High-A in 2011, Arenado posted a 9.7% HR/FB rate and then followed that up with a 6.2% mark the in 2012 at Double-A. He then posted a 7.1% mark at the MLB level, but his xHR/FB was a more palatable 12.3%, as his batted ball distance was just above the league average. So, I am projecting a bump in home run rate.

RBI and Runs: 67 and 75

These are two more stats I am treating differently this year. In an effort to make my life easier, I wanted to turn everything into a rate stat so if I wanted to change a player’s projected plate appearances, all of his other stats would automatically adjust. Previously, most of them did, except for RBI, runs scored and stolen bases. Now that has changed. For RBI, I now look at a hitter’s last three years of RBI per PA. For runs scored, I look at his runs per times on base, excluding home runs, and then adding homers back into the calculation.

These projections may also change depending on where Arenado ends up in the batting order. If hitting toward the bottom, he would score fewer runs and knock in a couple more. If he remained in the two hole, his runs scored projection would rise as he would accumulate more plate appearances.

SB: 1

Not much to discuss here. Historically he has been a rather poor base stealer, so I am also projecting a caught stealing. The other projection systems seem to think he is going to run a little more often than I do. He has only attempted more than four steals in a season once, and that was back in 2009 in the Rookie league. Yet, both Steamer and the Fans are projecting five and six attempts, respectively.

Below is my final projected fantasy batting line, along with the other systems for comparison.

System AB AVG HR RBI R SB K% BABIP
Pod 594 0.279 16 67 75 1 13.2% 0.300
Steamer 564 0.277 17 75 67 3 11.8% 0.290
Oliver 562 0.279 13 73 67 2 14.0% 0.307
Fans (19) 576 0.280 17 73 66 4 13.5% 0.297

As I’ve worked through my projections, I’ve been amazed at how close a lot of mine end up being to the other systems. I don’t typically look at the projections to formulate my own, and there aren’t even any batted ball type or HR/FB rate projections to peek at. Yet, they are often surprisingly close and even the young players who you would think there is a larger disparity of opinions on ends up being no different.





Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Brandon
Guest
Brandon

Nice work Pod. Are you taking requests this year?

Also, do you know if Zips, Bill James, and Rotochamp projections will be added to Fangraphs?

MustBunique
Member
Member

I’ll give you the Bill James system projection formula:
Take Steamer, add 20% to every number, publish.

Matthew Tobin
Member

Unless it it for a young top prospect. Then double the Steamer projections.