2019 Pod vs Steamer — SB Upside, A Review

Since I publish my own projections, I like to compare the completed set to Steamer to see which players and stat categories we disagree on the most. So in mid-March, I compared my stolen base projection over 650 plate appearances, using an implied PA/SB forecast, to Steamer’s and then discussed the five hitters I was most bullish on. Let’s find out how those hitters actually performed and which projection system was closer.

Pod vs Steamer – SB Upside
Player Pod PA/SB Steamer PA/SB Actual PA/SB Pod SB – 650 PA* Steamer SB – 650 PA* Actual – 650 PA*
Dee Gordon 14.1 18.0 19.1 46 36 34
Billy Hamilton 12.6 15.1 16.0 52 43 41
Byron Buxton 21.0 27.6 21.1 31 24 31
Jose Altuve 26.4 36.2 91.3 25 18 7
Jonathan Villar 16.3 18.8 17.9 40 35 36
*Steals extrapolated to 650 plate appearances to smooth out differences in projected and actual playing time

So heading into the season, a commenter noted that Dee Gordon’s toe injury in 2018 clearly looked to have curbed his willingness to run. Though I don’t often update my projections, I definitely do when learning, or being reminded of, information that wasn’t reflected in my forecast. I therefore improved Gordon’s stolen base projection, and of course, that decision bit me in the butt, as even Steamer proved slightly too optimistic. Gordon essentially performed as expected, so the miss here was mostly due to my last second projection increase.

Ughhh, why does Billy Hamilton always manage to pull me in? Can I go just one season without drafting him in a league? Finally, I think 2020 might be that year. Though Hamilton finally lost his starting job, he still was on a 40+ steal pace if he racked up 650 plate appearances. But I expected better on a Royals team that loves to run and is in a pitcher friendly park that needs to manufacture runs. That just didn’t make any difference for Hamilton’s willingness to run apparently.

Luckily, I did get right almost exactly right in Byron Buxton, who once again missed time to injury. In my original blurb, I wondered why Steamer was so down on Buxton’s stolen base potential. We’ll never know, but the question remains when and if we’ll get a full healthy season from Buxton.

I thought I was being conservative on Jose Altuve’s stolen base projection, but I did expect a rebound after injuries clearly hampered his stolen base total in 2018. Instead, he almost completely stopped running, as he became a bonafide power hitter, posting his first HR/FB rate above 20%. I guess at this point you shouldn’t pay for more than 10 or so steals.

Though Jonathan Villar finished in between our projections, he was a bit closer to Steamer. Even though he upped his OBP, he actually stole just five more bases in about 200 more plate appearances. So he just ran less. I’m pretty sure fantasy owners were fine with it, as he also bopped 20 homers for the first time.

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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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I’m curious if Pod (and Steamer) overestimated SBs across the league, since I believe they were down again this year.