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

Yesterday, I continued my 2023 projection showdown, pitting THE BAT/THE BAT X forecasts against Steamer projections in the various fantasy categories, by comparing fantasy value projections and identifying the hitters THE BAT X valued more highly. Let’s now turn to the hitters that Steamer values significantly more than THE BAT X.

Steamer’s Undervalued Hitters
Name THE BAT X $ Value* Steamer $ Value* $ Value Diff
Ty France 1.00 11.66 10.66
Vinnie Pasquantino 4.86 13.37 8.50
Nathaniel Lowe 8.34 16.28 7.94
Anthony Rizzo 5.65 13.56 7.91
Joey Meneses 4.40 11.62 7.22
Josh Naylor 3.66 10.83 7.17
*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.

So THE BAT X thinks Ty France is essentially replacement level, while Steamer is projecting him to be in low-teens value. That’s quite the difference! France has been pretty consistent since 2020, showing limited overall growth, but has reduced his strikeout rate, which has been offset by a rapidly declining BABIP. Steamer is projecting the most home runs of the systems, while THE BAT X is projecting the fewest. Perhaps the fact he overperformed his xSLG last year is driving THE BAT X’s pessimistic forecast here. As a result of the higher homer forecast, Steamer is also projecting more RBI + R than THE BAT X, which is the lowest among the systems. Finally, THE BAT X’s BABIP projection is the lowest among systems by far, resulting in the only batting average projection below .270. I’m not entirely sure why THE BAT X is so bearish and I think Steamer’s forecast is actually quite reasonable, not even representing much upside from where he currently stands.

Gosh, Vinnie Pasquantino’s skill set makes me drool. Steamer is projecting six more home runs than THE BAT X with a significantly higher ISO. That’s very surprising, especially because he actually slightly underperformed his xSLG last year during his half season debut. The gap also results in higher RBI + R projections by Steamer. So basically, are you bullish on Pasquantino’s power? Then go with Steamer. If you’re bearish, THE BAT X’s forecast is for you. Personally, I’m on the Steamer train and I think there’s far more upside from there as well.

We saw some growth from Nathaniel Lowe last season, though his walk rate plunged and part of the increased wOBA was due to a spike in BABIP, which no one expects to last. Steamer projects Lowe to hold onto the majority of his power rebound with five more home runs forecasted, while THE BAT X thinks last year was mostly a fluke. I can’t see THE BAT X’s point of view here, especially given his his history and former top prospect status.

Anthony Rizzo and is already dealing with back issues. He turned a career high FB% until his highest home run total since 2017. Needless to say, he’s an excellent candidate to disappoint his fantasy owners. There aren’t stark differences between the projections, but Steamer is forecasting a couple of extra homers and higher RBI + R totals. His home run total will heavily depend on his FB%, so that’s difficult to pick a side. Steamer is also projecting the highest BABIP among systems as the only one above .260, resulting in the only batting average over .250. With the new shifting rules, you would think his BABIP should rebound some, but it’s anyone’s guess how much. I think I want to kind of split the difference here and project his homers and RBI + R to finish closer to THE BAT X, while his batting average finishes closer to Steamer’s forecast. That might make him a $10 or so hitter, right in the middle of the two forecasts.

Where, oh where, did you come from Joey Meneses?! The 30-year-old made his MLB debut and in less than half a season, posted an elite .395 wOBA, along with a .239 ISO. WHAAAAAAAAT?! No one is buying it, but Steamer is a bit more optimistic here than THE BAT X, which is projecting a complete collapse. It’s really all about the power expectation, which is tough to gauge as Meneses’ ISO has been up and down throughout his minor league career. Importantly, his xSLG was significantly below his actual mark, just over 100 lower. That’s big, and suggests there’s serious downside potential. I still don’t think I’d be as bearish as THE BAT X, as he’s shown the ability to post .200+ ISO marks in the minors, but maybe Steamer proves a tad optimistic. If you decide to invest here, remember he’s not some young hotshot prospect and could just as easily be back in the minors as he could earn some positive value.

After an ankle injury ended Josh Naylor’s 2021 season early and delayed the start of his 2022 campaign, he actually performed admirably in a full-time role. Steamer is slightly more optimistic about his home runs and RBI + R totals, but not by much. It’s also projecting two more steals than THE BAT X, which seems risky as he’s not exactly fast. But he’s gone 9/11 stealing bases throughout his career, so maybe he’s good at picking his spots. Steamer is also projecting a batting average highest among systems, a full 10 points above THE BAT X. That comes despite a higher projected strikeout rate, as it forecasts a higher BABIP as well. With similar xBA marks to actual throughout his short career, it’s surprising to see Steamer projecting a BABIP that would be his second highest, and highest since his 2019 debut. I’m actually going to lean toward THE BAT X on Naylor as he should be right on the border of replacement level.

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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