2019 Pod vs Steamer — HR Downside

Yesterday, I began comparing my 2019 Pod Projections to Steamer projections. I kicked off this year’s series by comparing our home run per 600 at-bat forecasts, starting with the hitters my projections deemed as having significant upside. Today, I’ll check in on the hitters on the opposite end — those that Steamer is dramatically more bullish in the home run department.

Pod vs Steamer – HR Downside
Name Pod AB/HR Steamer AB/HR Pod HR – 600 AB Steamer HR – 600 AB Diff – 600 AB
Giancarlo Stanton 13.9 11.9 43.0 50.4 -7.4
Chris Davis 23.0 18.8 26.0 31.9 -5.9
Andrew McCutchen 24.2 19.6 24.8 30.6 -5.8
Joc Pederson 19.0 16.1 31.6 37.2 -5.6
Ryan Zimmerman 23.7 19.9 25.3 30.2 -4.9
Jonathan Lucroy 62.9 41.8 9.5 14.3 -4.8
Christin Stewart 24.1 20.3 24.9 29.5 -4.6
Miguel Cabrera 26.3 22.1 22.8 27.2 -4.3
Carlos Santana 24.5 21.0 24.5 28.6 -4.0

It seems like I’m often low man on the totem pole on Giancarlo Stanton’s home runs. This year, I’m slightly more bearish on his strikeout rate, instead matching the Depth Chart projection. However, I’m forecasting a rebound in fly ball rate, which I’m guessing Steamer is too. My HR/FB rate projection represents a bounce back from 2018 as well, and just above his career mark. I’m not sure why Steamer and I would be so far off, but perhaps it’s weighting his 2017 output far more heavily. That wasn’t real though, as his xHR/FB rate was below 30%.

LOL, I’m real curious what Chris Davis goes for in my AL Tout Wars league auction on Saturday. Looks like there’s at lease someone (or something) out there more optimistic than me. There’s a whole lot of room to rebound to previous levels, so it’s clear Steamer is expecting more of a dead cat bounce than I am.

Weird, I’ve drafted Andrew McCutchen in two of three leagues so far, and yet, I’m apparently more bearish on his power! This is even more baffling considering my strikeout rate projection is the lowest of all the systems, and the only one below 20% (excluding the Fans). It’s doubtful the fly ball rate is the explanation here, so it’s gotta be the HR/FB rate, yet my projection of 14% is above his career mark and the third highest of his career! It’s likely the park effects as outside of his days on the Yankees, he has always played in very pitcher friendly home digs.

I don’t understand why Joc Pederson seemingly has to prove himself every season when he owns a .360 career wOBA against right-handers. That said, it’s pretty clear I’m lower on his HR/FB rate than Steamer, though admittedly I may be overreacting to one season. Last year, his barrel rate plummeted to a four-year low, pushing his xHR/FB rate down to just 15.1%. I’m projecting better than that mark, but it would still represent the second lowest mark of his career.

Out of nowhere, Ryan Zimmerman posted the best HR/FB rate of his career in 2017, and then immediately reverted back toward previous levels. Is Steamer again weighing 2017 far higher than I am? To be fair, xHR/FB rate actually thinks Zimmerman deserved an almost identical HR/FB rate in both 2017 and 2018, suggesting he was a bit lucky in 2017 and very unlucky last year. At age 34, it’s hard for me to believe in the late career power surge being sustained. So I’m pretty much ignoring these high xHR/FB rates, which isn’t something I would normally do.

Do you still care about Jonathan Lucroy? Certainly you do in an AL-Only league! Lucroy’s power has completed disappeared over the last two years with no real explanation. His xHR/FB rate validates the sudden weakness. Steamer is projecting more of a dead cat bounce than I am, which is understandable, but his Statcast power skills simply don’t offer any hope of a rebound.

Funny that I’m down on Christin Stewart’s power when I own him in my AL-Only keeper league and should be positively biased. Since we only have 60 at-bats to work with, along with his minor league record, this is much more of a guess. The sample size isn’t big at 21 fly balls, but not meaningless either, and with those 21 fly balls, he only produced an 11.1% xHR/FB rate. That’s better than his actual mark, and I’m projecting a jump to 13% given his better minor league record. But Steamer must be even more bullish, and I’m not quite ready to step to that level.

Miguel Cabrera represents another shot in the dark. Can he bounce back from old age and a now fragile and broken down body? His xHR/FB rates have gone 26.3%, 16.9%, 11.5% from 2016 to 2018 and he has completely stopped pulling his fly balls. Clearly, there’s a degradation in power skills. My HR/FB rate projection seems reasonable, as it’s higher than his last two years and even 2014. Steamer isn’t aware of his injuries, though, just his plate appearance and at-bat totals.

Most of the Carlos Santana discrepancy is the strikeout rate, as I’m projecting his highest mark since 2015. That’s because he has significantly outperformed his xk% over the last three seasons and at age 33, I don’t know how much longer that could last. Father time alone could cause a strikeout rate spike, even ignoring the gap between his actual mark and xK%.

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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Travis L
Travis L

RE Stanton’s 2017 xFB/HR%, I’ve seen some initial studies about the y2y correlation between x% stats and real world stats. None have made me feel like we should treat these with the accuracy that xFIP has been shown to have. Is that accurate? Are we just using x-stats in fantasy because they exist and we’re data nerds?