2020 Pod vs Steamer — SB Downside

Yesterday, I compared my Pod Projections to Steamer in the stolen base category and identified and discussed five hitters with upside. Today, I’ll flip to the hitters I have forecasted for a lower rate of stolen bases than Steamer. I’ll stick to only including players projected for a reasonable number of plate appearances.

SB Downside
Player Pod PA/SB Steamer PA/SB Pod SB – 650 PA Steamer SB – 650 PA 650 PA Diff
Bo Bichette 36.8 27.6 17 24 -6
Jake Fraley 48.4 33.4 13 19 -6
Sam Hilliard 45.0 32.2 14 20 -6
Luis Robert 30.9 24.6 21 26 -5
Shogo Akiyama 98.6 56.9 7 11 -5

*Note that the stolen base totals are rounded, which is why 11 minus 7 equals 5 and not 4.

So it’s clear that Steamer is assuming a much greater willingness to attempt a steal for Bo Bichette given his minor league history. Over about a third of a season in plate appearances during his debut, Bichette didn’t still nearly as often as expected. I’m projecting a bit more willingness this season, but nowhere near Steamer. In the minors, hitters can run wild as the wins and losses don’t matter all that much. But in MLB, it does matter, so I weigh his small MLB sample much more heavily.

With Mitch Haniger expected to miss a chunk of time, Jake Fraley has a golden opportunity for strong side platoon at-bats early on. We don’t have an HP to 1B time, but Statcast does give us a Sprint Speed of 27.5 ft/sec, which is only marginally better than the league average. He strikes me as a guy who looks speedy from his minor league stolen base totals, but will attempt a steal significantly less frequently in the Majors.

It’s pretty crazy that I’m projecting a significantly higher OBP for Sam Hilliard than every projection system, and yet am still bearish on his steals total. I think that I’m generally conservative for Rockies hitter because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for guys to be attempting steals in that ballpark. Hilliard did show excellent HP to 1B time, though, so he certainly has the speed to swipe 20+ bags over 650 plate appearances. If the Rockies didn’t also still have Ian Desmond and were an organization we could have faith in playing the right players, Hilliard would be a prime sleeper. But I fear that owners will grow frustrated about his usage.

Luis Robert’s stolen base attempts fell off significantly upon moving up to Triple-A, and that’s what’s leading to my more bearish projection. Oh, and my OBP projection is well below the rest of the systems, except THE BAT. This is especially important because Steamer’s OBP forecast is easily the highest of any system. There are quite a few red flags in Robert’s skill set, so I should probably post an article highlighting those.

We’re all really just taking a wild guess on Shogo Akiyama’s stolen bases, right? Somehow, my OBP projection is right in the middle of the pack, though a bit lower than Steamer. I say somehow because it continues to amaze me how close these systems can be using totally different algorithms, and this is even more true for a Japanese league player in which we have absolutely no Major League or minor league history for. All we’re doing is trying our best to translate his foreign league stats, which isn’t going to be anywhere near as accurate as for players with minor league experience.

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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