2023 Projection Showdown — THE BAT X vs Steamer Hitter Projected $ Value, Part 2, A Review

Yesterday, I began my review of dollar values earned versus projected dollar values by THE BAT X and Steamer. It was THE BAT X’s turn first, so today we’ll review Steamer’s favorite fantasy targets.

Steamer’s Undervalued Hitters
Name THE BAT X $ Value* Steamer $ Value* Actual $ Value Closer System
Ty France 1.00 11.66 1.00 THE BAT X
Vinnie Pasquantino 4.86 13.37 -14.71 THE BAT X
Nathaniel Lowe 8.34 16.28 10.91 THE BAT X
Anthony Rizzo 5.65 13.56 -8.10 THE BAT X
Joey Meneses 4.40 11.62 7.22 THE BAT X
Josh Naylor 3.66 10.83 15.48 Steamer
*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.

Wowzers, it’s a near perfect score for THE BAT X this time! If you recall yesterday, Steamer’s projected dollar values proved closer on all of the hitter’s THE BAT X was more bullish on, so the tides have turned. It’s pretty clear what’s happening here. When a system is significantly more bullish than every other one, it’s more likely that it’s failing to account for something that the rest of the systems are, or it’s simply a reminder that it’s hard for players to hit their top level projections.

So THE BAT X perfectly nailed Ty France being essentially replacement level. It was low on France’s home runs, RBI, runs scored, and BABIP/batting average, and were proven exactly right. Without any speed to speak of, at replacement level power needs to be there for him to earn positive value at a corner spot. But his HR/FB rate plummeted to single digits for the first time, nearly half his mark in 2022. Oddly, his maxEV hit a career high, while his Barrel% matched the second highest mark of his career. So it’s not very obvious why his HR/FB rate slipped. His xSLG was significantly higher than his actual, so this looks to be a season of bad luck. Thanks to his huge hit by pitch total, he has run decent OBP marks despite low walk rates, so he’ll be a nice rebound target in formats that count OBP, in my opinion.

Injury cut Vinnie Pasquantino’s season short, but even in half a season, he disappointed. THE BAT X was bearish on his power compared to Steamer, but while his HR/FB rate dropped slightly, his ISO surged, so the system wasn’t exactly right about that. His BABIP plunged though, bringing down his batting average and completely offsetting his excellent strikeout rate. With little speed, he’s going to need to show better home run power, but I’m optimistic that’ll come eventually. However, there’s added risk now coming back from shoulder surgery.

After a strong 2022, Nathaniel Lowe’s overall power reverted back to his 2021 level, while his HR/FB hit a career worst. Hitting in the middle of the order for the majority of the season allowed him to still post career bests in runs scored and RBI, but he didn’t help anywhere else. I really like this skill set though and his maxEV remains healthy, so it was just a matter of his Barrel% declining, which could reverse next season. I’d be buying cheaply here, especially in OBP formats.

Anthony Rizzo is another who missed time to injury, but probably would have finished closer to THE BAT X’s projected dollar value even if he hadn’t. Both his HR/FB rate and ISO hit career lows, while he was caught on all three of his steal attempts. His BABIP did surge to it highest since 2019, but that still only led to a .244 batting average, which was lower than even his 2021 mark. With his walk and strikeout rates both taking a hit and his age climbing into the mid-30s, he’s not the type I’d want to gamble on rebounding.

Joey Meneses came out of nowhere in 2022 to enjoy a strong half a season, knocking 13 homers and posting a .395 wOBA. Obviously, we all knew regression was coming, but how much was the question. The projection systems disagreed on Meneses’ power and ultimately THE BAT X proved closer here. Despite posting ISO marks of around .200+ at each minor league stop in 2018, 2021, and 2022, his ISO dropped to just .126, resulting in the same home run total over 611 at-bats as he hit in just 222 at-bats in 2022. While his maxEV was the same, his Barrel% was nearly cut in half. I think he’ll be better than that in 2024, but without any speed, and on a weak offense, it’s not going to lead to a whole lot of fantasy value.

The only projection Steamer proved closer on was Josh Naylor. Interestingly, his HR/FB rate actually dropped from 2022 and he hit three fewer home runs in about the same number of PAs. What drove his value was the career best 97 RBI, 10 steals, and .308 batting average. That average was driven by a career best .326 BABIP after three straight marks well below .300. An improved strikeout rate helped here as well. Overall, I think there’s more power potential here, and it would be cool if he was able to maintain that strikeout rate while also enjoying a power surge.

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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3 months ago

I love these reviews that you’re doing, Mike! When we see that the players BATX was highest on did better in Steamer, but the opposite is true as well…does this lead you to think that aggregating projections is truly the best path forward? As in, does an averaged BATX/Steamer projection do a better job than either one individually?

3 months ago
Reply to  Mike Podhorzer

Yes, ATC does a great job of aggregating projectins. And I believe to deal with the not identifying breakouts/busts, Ariel uses his skew metrics to identify players who have a wider range of projections that may include some of these types of players.

And while aggregation might not find these breakout/bust types, it seems like (at least for THEBAT and Steamer) the players that each system is the highest also tend to be less accurate than the other one. In other words, the players THEBAT was highest on performed closer to Steamer’s projections and vice versa. Which, to me, would indicate that the biggest projected “breakouts” by each system are not actually their most accurate projections. And therefore, maybe an aggregation is better than either one separately. Even not properly weighted and including a wide variety like Ariel’s ATC