2023 Projection Showdown — THE BAT X vs Steamer Hitter Projected $ Value, Part 1

Over the last couple of weeks, I debuted and published the 2023 projection showdown, pitting THE BAT/THE BAT X forecasts against Steamer projections in the various fantasy categories. Now let’s combine everything we have reviewed and compare projected dollar value. Really, that’s all we care about as fantasy leaguers! Does THE BAT X think the player is more valuable than Steamer, or not?! So let’s now find out which hitters THE BAT X is projecting to earn a higher value than Steamer. These are the hitters THE BAT X believes to be undervalued, at least compared to someone using Steamer forecasts to draft.

THE BAT X’s Undervalued Hitters
Name THE BAT X $ Value* Steamer $ Value* $ Value Diff
Trea Turner 35.98 27.13 8.85
Matt Chapman 13.02 4.95 8.08
Willson Contreras 24.87 17.25 7.62
Kyle Schwarber 27.48 20.23 7.25
Miguel Vargas 7.41 1.00 6.41
José Ramírez 35.13 28.94 6.19
*Updates to the default FanGraphs auction calculator as follows: 2 C, 5 OF, 1 MI, 1 CI, 1 UT, 9 P

Any hitter projected for a dollar value below 0 was adjusted to 0. We don’t really care if a hitter is projected for -4 or -12 and it messes with the comparison.

Trea Turner! Who would have thought the projection systems would be so different for the 29-year-old veteran that they would result in a nearly $9 value gap?! There aren’t huge differences between the projections here, but THE BAT X is forecasting an additional six steals, which likely boosts his value a couple of bucks…though not $9. THE BAT X is also projecting a slightly higher batting average, compared to Steamer which is well below the rest of the systems. It’s possible too that Turner’s stolen base forecast is a higher percentage of the total THE BAT X forecasted pool, meaning each of his steals is worth more than when calculating his value using Steamer. Remember, fantasy values are all relative. 30 steals from Turner are worth more when there are only 1,000 total projected steals compared to if there are 10,000 total projected steals. Remember that THE BAT X’s 36 steal projection would actually be his highest since 2018, so it’s quite optimistic.

Ever since his strong 2018 and 2019 seasons, Matt Chapman has declined and leveled off, hitting for enough power, but frustrating us all with his weak batting average. THE BAT X projects him to return to the 30-homer plateau, while Steamer forecasts a third straight 27-homer season. The additional homers is driving higher RBI + R projections as well. Both systems think he’ll continue to stink up your batting average, so he’s a good target if you roster some strong batting average contributors early on, or…decide to just say the heck with batting average, it’s too difficult to predict anyway and not worth paying for!

Willson Contreras starts a new phase of his career as a member of the Cardinals. The two systems more or less agree on his home run total, RBI + R, and steals, with THE BAT X slightly more optimistic on all those counts. The big difference lies in his projected batting average, as THE BAT X is forecasting a mark above his career average and highest among all systems, while Steamer is right near the bottom, just above ZiPS. BABIP differences are driving the gap here as THE BAT X is forecasting a big rebound, while Steamer thinks he’ll only partially rebound from last year’s career low, but still post the second lowest mark of his career. I do worry about his new park and a low LD% could curb his ability to get his BABIP back above .300. So I lean toward Steamer’s pessimism here.

It’s hard to believe, but last year was Kyle Schwarber’s first 40-homer season. A career high PA helped, as did his first FB% over 50%. The projections agree on his home run total and the RBI + R are close, but they are reversed. That’s interesting to see because lineup slot has a dramatic impact on whether a hitter records more of one versus the other. He figures to bat second in the lineup, which typically would result in more runs scored, but not by the significant margin that a leadoff hitter would display. Schwarber isn’t a typical number two hitter though given his power. So it’s definitely possible that he records more RBI than R. Either way, the difference in totals aren’t significant, though THE BAT X is slightly higher. It’s also a bit higher on his batting average, but likely offset by a lower projected steal total. It’s hard to see how the differences here result in an over $7 value gap!

Introducing your first true THE BAT X sleeper, Miguel Vargas. The injury to Gavin Lux that knocked him out for the season has solidified Vargas’ playing time as he figures to open the year as the team’s starting second baseman. He looks to be a bit of a contributor everywhere, without standing out in any particular category. It’s usually an undervalued mix and you’ll have to remind yourself not to constantly look for an upgrade as the entire package is worth more than it seems. THE BAT X is projecting slightly higher home run and RBI + R totals, but the bigger difference comes from batting average. Once again, we find a situation where THE BAT X is most bullish among systems, while Steamer is most bearish. Vargas has enjoyed a history of high BABIP marks in the minors with nothing below .331 over a reasonable sample size. So it’s surprising to see Steamer’s BABIP projection all the way down at .294. However, his batted ball distribution will go a long way into determining where his BABIP settles as he was a significant fly ball hitter during his cup of coffee with the Dodgers last year. If that continues, Steamer will be right.

José Ramírez is another surprise name to find on this list, as you would assume projections for veterans would be very similar. With similar home run and RBI + R totals, we find the only difference stemming from his projected steals. THE BAT X is forecasting his highest mark since 2018, which would represent the second highest mark of his career. On the other hand, Steamer is projecting only a partial rebound off last year. THE BAT X’s high stolen base forecast, especially considering its OBP forecast is lower than Steamer’s, is head-scratching. I am definitely siding with Steamer here as I would rarely project a 30-year-old to suddenly record the second highest stolen base total of his career, especially after his HP to 1st speed fell to a career worst.

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.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
6 days ago

Not sure when you pulled these projections but Derek carty tweeted recently that he made sb rules adjustments to his projections resulting in a huge- I think about 20% increase in sb