We continue the 2019 Pod vs Steamer series, moving onto stolen bases. I will use the same process as I did with home runs and identify the guys the Pod Projections (the best non-aggregate projections in 2018!) are forecasting upside for versus the Steamer projections.
However, instead of extrapolating the projections over 600 at-bats, I’ll go with 650 plate appearances, since a walk could lead to a stolen base, whereas it cannot lead to a home run.
Well gosh, this exercise certainly failed to produce any sleepers! We essentially have a list of the expected league leaders. Let’s discuss anyway.
As a projectionist who ultimately forecasts about 600 players, it’s very difficult to remember all the injuries from the previous season and how it may have affected the player’s performance, and then determine what kind of influence such injuries should have on my projection. So I’d like to thank commenter asuray who reminded me that Dee Gordon broke his toe last year and his pre- and post-injury splits prove it severely hampered his BABIP and willingness to run. As a result, I updated my projection, and now I am far more bullish than Steamer, which is completely unaware of the injury and its effects. This is one of the many advantages a human projection system has over a computer.
After never exceeding a 10.9 PA/SB, Billy Hamilton disappointed with a career worst 16.4 mark in 2018. It wasn’t a sudden inability to get on base either, as he always owned that flaw, and his OBP of .299 was identical to 2017 and actually tied for his second highest mark. So that means I’m projecting quite the rebound, but it would still represent his second worst PA/SB. Why such optimism? Because the Royals are not afraid to run, and heck, they have to given their weak offense.
Woah, hold your horses, I’m actually bullish on one aspect of Byron Buxton’s fantasy output?! I don’t believe it. I’m actually below Steamer’s OBP forecast, which makes this stolen base optimism quite surprising. I’m not sure why Steamer is so down on the PA/SB, as Buxton posted a 17.6 mark in 2017 and no one thought that was a fluke. Why? Because Buxton might very well be the fastest man in baseball, as he sits atop the Statcast Sprint Speed leaderboard.
Wow, Steamer is way down on Jose Altuve’s steals total and it’s a bit of a head-scratcher. This is yet another injury rebound situation, except that Steamer is projecting Altuve’s PA/SB mark to increase again this year to set another career worst. Prior to 2018, Altuve had never even posted a mark above 23.9. My conservative mark would still represent the second worst mark of his career.
Jonathan Villar ran wild after arriving in Baltimore and it’s a very Hamilton-on-the-Royals type situation. Why give him the red light? The offense stinks, so run Jonathan, run. He posted a 19.9 PA/SB mark on the Brewers, but an 11.2 mark with the Orioles. That’s a huge difference. My PA/SB projection is actually a bit worse than his career mark, while he’s only been in the Steamer projected PA/SB mark range once, at 19.0 in 2017.
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.