2018 Pod’s Picks — Hitters — A Review

Every pre-season, I compare my rankings to the RotoGraphs consensus (which excludes my ranking of course) to discover which players I’m apparently more bullish or bearish on than the others. I was strapped for time this year and so only published a bullish piece for hitters, dubbed Pod’s Picks. Let’s see how these hitters ended up performing and ultimately ranking. Remember that the rankings are positional and not overall, which makes this exercise a bit more difficult. I’ll be using the FanGraphs auction calculator to compare values.

2018 Pod’s Picks Results
Player Pod Consensus Actual Winner
Randal Grichuk 40 72 58 Consensus
Kevin Pillar 47 75 53 Pod
Jay Bruce 35 57 126 Consensus
Greg Bird 14 24 61 Consensus
Tim Beckham* 13 22 46 Consensus
Joey Gallo** 9 17 10 Pod
Chris Taylor*** 9 17 16 Consensus
Ian Kinsler 9 16 26 Consensus
Rhys Hoskins**** 4 8 6 Tie
*Valued at SS
**Valued at 1B
***Valued at SS
****Valued at 1B

A weak showing for Pod. This is likely largely due to the same realization I came to when reviewing previous bullish and bearish lists — far more could go wrong than right, so the bearish list will almost always be far more successful than a bullish list.

I came close to winning Randal Grichuk’s rank, but he got off to a brutal start and then hurt himself, which cost him a month of playing time. Is overall numbers were right as expected though, so if he remained healthy, I would have nailed this ranking. His skill set will likely continue resulting in volatility as a low walk frequent whiffer.

Hmmm, I almost hit Kevin Pillar’s ranking, even though he performed almost identically to 2017. I’m not sure why the rankers were down on him this year, especially considering my projection was virtually the same as the public systems. He would have ranked even better if he hadn’t missed nearly three weeks with injury.

Wow, talk about a disastrous and forgettable season for Jay Bruce! But when you analyze his various metrics, you realize that his entire disappointing performance was driven solely by the disappearance of his power. Literally everything else was right in line, if not better, than expectations. He missed a couple of days with a sore back and then over two months with a hip injury, so you wonder how much health played a role. Seems like a reasonable buy low for next year.

Ughhhh, don’t remind me about Greg Bird. I bet my life on him and I lost. Sad face. Unfortunately, heading into his age 26 season and with Luke Voit’s unbelievable play after being acquired, Bird might not get another chance at a starting job, at least with the Yankees.

Tim Beckham was one of 2017’s breakouts that were hard to project. Was this a former top prospect finally living up to the potential he supposedly had? Or was this just a fluky aberration never to be repeated again? We’ll have to wait until at least 2019 to answer those questions, because he missed two months with a groin injury and it’s hard to accumulate value over just 400 plate appearances. While his BABIP and HR/FB rate did regress, a vastly improved strikeout rate was a positive sign.

Joey Gallo missed basically all my projections, and yet he still finished just about where I ranked him, as his 40 homers were much more valuable than his 41 in 2017. That’s because the leaguewide home run total declined, finishing below 2017’s historical high and even the 2016 total. It’s a reminder that a player’s value must also reflect the stats/projections of the rest of the player pool, not just his own.

I certainly didn’t expect to like Chris Taylor, but his HR/FB rate appeared mostly validated and his stolen base prowess would put a floor under his value. While his new found power did remain, albeit at a marginally lower level, he swung and missed far more often, raising his strikeout rate, and he attempted six fewer steals in 36 more plate appearances. So the reason for his disappointment was most likely different than any of his bears likely expected.

It was fairly easy to be down on Ian Kinsler heading into the season, as 36-year-old middle infielders don’t usually age well. I expected more of a rebound in his BABIP, while his HR/FB rate declined, and worst of all, he recorded his fewest plate appearances since 2010. Obviously the loss in playing time hurt all his counting stats.

Rhys Hoskins is the only player we split the difference on and tied. Though his BABIP did rise, I expected an even greater jump, and his HR/FB rate also slipped well below 20%, which was unexpected. Despite some disappointing aspects of his performance, he still outperformed the consensus. I’m still buying in 2019.

We hoped you liked reading 2018 Pod’s Picks — Hitters — A Review by Mike Podhorzer!

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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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Mario Mendoza
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Mario Mendoza

You’re not doing a good job of selling your projections next spring. 😛

Let me help. I relied primarily on your projections for player evaluations last spring, and I won both my very competitive leagues, so there!