2022 Pod vs Steamer — SB Upside — A Review

Today, I continue on reviewing my Pod vs Steamer series, pitting my Pod Projections against the Steamer projections. Let’s now shift to stolen bases. This season saw the lowest PA/SB (the lower the ratio, the higher the frequency of stolen bases) since 2016, as the rate has jumped up and down beginning in 2018. If the trend continues, steals will be down next year! Of course, that’s not how it works. Anyhow, the increase in steals means my upside guys have a slight advantage, and my downside list might look a little worse than it would had steals been stable year to year. So let’s review the eight hitters who I projected for the biggest positive difference in PA/SB, resulting in a higher stolen base projection over 650 PAs.

SB Upside
Name Pod PA/SB Steamer PA/SB Pod SB – 650 PA Steamer SB – 650 PA Diff Actual PA/SB Actual SB – 650 PA Winner
Jorge Mateo 23.3 30.4 27.9 21.4 6.5 15.2 42.7 Pod
Luis Robert 31.4 45.4 20.7 14.3 6.4 36.5 17.8 Pod
Adalberto Mondesi 12.0 13.4 54.3 48.5 5.8 10.8 60.2 Pod
Myles Straw 20.4 24.7 31.8 26.3 5.5 28.4 22.9 Steamer
Oscar Mercado 28.3 37.0 23.0 17.6 5.4 64.0 10.2 Steamer
Dylan Moore 19.7 23.1 33.0 28.1 4.9 12.1 53.5 Pod
Nick Madrigal 35.0 44.9 18.5 14.5 4.1 76.0 8.6 Steamer
Dylan Carlson 70.2 124.2 9.3 5.2 4.0 97.6 6.7 Steamer

It’s another tie, with both Pod and Steamer coming closer on four players. However, getting the top three upside guys right is a nice win, so I like the distribution of my wins. Let’s dive into the specific players.

Not only did Jorge Mateo make this post, but he was my bold AL stolen base leader as well. That turned out to be a great call, but it’s too bad I didn’t follow my own advice and own him anywhere! Mateo wasn’t actually any good at the plate, posting just a .281 wOBA and only getting on base at a .267 clip. That’s awful. So it’s not like he enjoyed a breakout and/or upped his walk rate or cut down on his strikeout rate to get on base more often to give him additonal stolen base opportunities. Instead, he just ran wild, outperforming both our forecasts. Since he stinks offensively, he’s a risky bet in fantasy leagues next year as he could easily lose his starting job.

Luis Robert has slowed down his running game and ended up finishing in between the two forecasts, but closer to mine. Overall, with a dip in BABIP and HR/FB rate, he was pretty disappointing, especially combined with the missed time to injury. The good news is he improved his strikeout rate again, giving us hope that this is his new level and his rookie year over 30% is in the rear view mirror, never to be seen again. It’s amazing though given his high SwStk% that he has maintained a lower than average strikeout rate, but that’s because he’s a free swinger who swings at everything. There have been hitters that have succeeded with this plate discipline, but it’s not often that it happens! Figure he’ll rebound some, especially in his power, next year, so I’m still interested given his wide swath of skills.

LOL, the win on Adalberto Mondesi was over just 54 PAs, because surprise, surprise, he got hurt again. I don’t know why I even bother including him in my posts at all, let alone continue to draft him. It’s too bad he’ll probably cost even less next year, which totally means that once again, it’ll be very difficult for me to pass him up!

Well gosh, Myles Straw was quite the disappointment, missing both our forecasts. It’s pretty obvious why — his BABIP plunged from .336 to just .261, taking his OBP down from .349 to just .291. Fewer times on base resulted in fewer stolen base opportunities and successes. What’s amazing is that he was so strong defensively, he still earned 2.0 WAR, even with a .257 wOBA! It’ll be interesting to see how long he could hold a starting job solely from his defense, though he should rebound somewhat at the plate.

Oscar Mercado was an odd addition to this list because he was the only one without a guaranteed starting job. Appearing here could have made him a sleeper, but instead he recorded just 128 PAs and continued to make us forget how good he has been in the minors. He may have run out of chances.

Dylan Moore blew the projections out of the water, swiping the same number of bases this season in 122 fewer PAs compared to 2021. That’s not totally surprising though, as his OBP skyrocketed from .276 to .368, as he walked more often, raised his BABIP, and got hit by a pitch a whopping 13 times. He has now been hit by a pitch 34 times over about a season and a half. Ouch.

I really thought that Nick Madrigal would be an undervalued fantasy commodity, consistently delivering a strong batting average and stealing 20+ bases. Instead, he became a zero-category contributor this year, which is always difficult to do. His strikeout rate rose into double digits, while his BABIP dropped below .300, causing his OBP to drop. But that’s barely an excuse. He simply just hasn’t run at the MLB level, attempting just 10 steals over a bit less than a full season. This is the same guy who stole 35 bases in the minors in 2019! I have no idea why he has completely stopped running, but it has made him worthless in fantasy leagues.

Dylan Carlson was another that finished in between the two projections, but was slightly closer to Steamer’s forecast. Carlson stole 20 bases in 28 attempts in the minors in 2019, but has swiped just eight in 12 attempts over two full seasons worth of PAs in the Majors so far. He’s another example of a minor league basestealer who has essentially stopped running in the Majors. With no power this year either and a BABIP that crashed below .300, he was an under the radar disappointment. I rostered him in my home league hoping for a nice breakout and some five category production, but reluctantly dropped him mid-season and luckily didn’t end up regretting it. I would take a chance in 2023 in a deeper league, but I doubt I’m interested now in a 12-team mixed format.

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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29 days ago

Although Mateo could stink even worse, I don’t see Baltimore turning over a Gold-glove worthy SS for more hitting just yet. Baltimore needs one and a half seasons before Holliday is likely to take over. Thi leaves Mateo up against Westburg and Henderson, both are better suited for the second and third.