2022 Pod vs Steamer — SB Downside — A Review

Yesterday, I reviewed the list of hitters I had highlighted whose Pod Projections suggested stolen base upside compared with Steamer projections. Now, it’s time to review the list of stolen base downside guys, or those whose Pod Projections called for far fewer steals per 650 PA than Steamer.

SB Downside
Name Pod PA/SB Steamer PA/SB Pod SB – 650 PA Steamer SB – 650 PA Diff Actual PA/SB Actual SB – 650 PA Winner
Oneil Cruz 68.2 32.6 9.5 19.9 -10.4 32.8 19.8 Steamer
Gleyber Torres 106.4 45.1 6.1 14.4 -8.3 57.2 11.4 Steamer
Cam Gallagher #DIV/0! 90.0 0.0 7.2 -7.2 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! Pod
Luis Rengifo 68.7 40.0 9.5 16.3 -6.8 85.2 7.6 Pod
Jonah Heim 289.9 73.5 2.2 8.8 -6.6 225.0 2.9 Pod
Colton Welker 4946.4 102.0 0.1 6.4 -6.2 N/A N/A N/A
Cal Raleigh 399.5 82.7 1.6 7.9 -6.2 415.0 1.6 Pod
Julio Rodríguez 56.2 36.6 11.6 17.8 -6.2 22.4 29.0 Steamer
Nick Pratto 103.4 54.3 6.3 12.0 -5.7 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! Pod

This time, the Pod Projections were closer on five hitters, while Steamer only three. Colton Welker failed to make it to the Majors this season so he’s excluded from the final tally.

The difference in stolen base projections for Oneil Cruz was primarily due to our respective OBP forecasts. I had projected a significantly worse strikeout rate than Steamer, which I ended up being right about. Heck, he ended the season with just a .294 OBP! So I was right there. What I was wrong about was how often he would attempt a steal when he actually did get on base. If he could cut down on his strikeout rate while maintaining his power, he could become a nice all-around contributor.

Gleyber Torres suddenly swiped 14 bases in 2021 after stealing just 13 in his first two full seasons. I believed his newfound speed was less real than Steamer did. Torres ended up finishing in between both projections though, so Steamer ended up too optimistic, while I was too pessimistic. It’s always odd when a hitter suddenly decides to steal more bases. This time was especially surprising given that his OBP easily finished at a career worst mark.

Luis Rengifo missed both projections as the systems continue to factor in his minor league running, which still hasn’t translated to the Majors. I’m not sure at this point if he’ll ever suddenly start running again, but it would dramatically increase his value if he becomes a double digit steals guy.

I have no idea why Steamer forecasts a pace of 8.8 steals over 650 PAs for Jonah Heim. He actually posted the best OBP of his short career, albeit still a sub-.300 mark, and yet still only attempted two steals, putting him barely above my pessimistic forecast.

Cal Raleigh was yet another catcher that Steamer oddly projected for a decent number of steals. He only ended up attempting one steal, exactly matching my forecast. He became quite the extreme hitter this year, as his FB% skyrocketed to 55.7%. With that high a mark, his power blossomed, but it also resulted in an ugly .226 BABIP and .211 batting average. Is he the new Mike Zunino?!

Let’s talk Julio Rodríguez. He was by far the biggest outperformer on this list. While Steamer was closer, it still missed by a wide margin. I noted in my original write-up that I was projecting a slightly lower OBP than Steamer. So that may explain like one stolen base attempt. Aside from the OBP difference, it just came down to guessing how often he’ll run in the Majors, given how often he ran in the minors. Some hitters run just as often, most players run significantly less. It’s seemingly a crapshoot which group any particular player falls into. Heck, I thought Nick Madrigal would fall into the “run in the Majors” group and he hasn’t! Thanks to a .345 BABIP, Rodríguez posted a solid .345 OBP, which was a bit higher than my .330 forecast. Again, that doesn’t fully explain the outperformance.

So here, he just ran more frequently when he reached base, and yet was still below his rate that he posted at Double-A in 2021, when he stole 16 bases in 20 attempts over just 206 PAs. Given his short minor league history, his rookie season steals seems pretty sustainable. I’m pretty amazed at how well the 21-year-old top prospect performed during his rookie year. Everything looks to support his output, so it’s just a matter of whether pitchers adjust next year, as opposed to any sort of luck disappearing.

Despite swiping eight bases in 10 attempts over 374 PAs in the minors this year, Nick Pratto failed to attempt even one steal during his MLB debut over 182 PAs. See what I mean?! It’s very difficult to predict who’s going to continue running and how often they will. It’s not like the Royals don’t run often. Sure, Pratto only managed a .271 OBP with the Royals, but he still hit 12 singles, walked 19 times, and got hit by a pitch. That’s 32 times he reached first base, so it’s surprising that he never attempted a steal. Initially, I was projecting a worse OBP, which I ended up being closer on, and always question how often a pure power hitter will run in the Majors. Both concerns ended up driving his lack of stolen base attempts.

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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