2023 Projection Showdown — THE BAT X vs Steamer wOBA Forecasts, Sleepers Part 1

Let’s shift our 2023 projection showdown, pitting THE BAT X and Steamer projection systems against each other, to sleepers! We’re going to stick with comparing wOBA, but I’m now filtering only for hitters with an ADP of 300+. Today will be THE BAT X sleepers, so in addition to the ADP filter, I’m also filtering for hitters who aren’t teamless and those forecasted for at least 300 PAs. Any fewer and you’re reaaaaaaaaaally speculating on that playing time. So let’s find out which hitters THE BAT X likes more for wOBA compared to Steamer that you could draft late or for cheap, depending on your league format.

THE BAT X wOBA Sleepers
Name THE BAT X wOBA Steamer wOBA wOBA Projection Diff
Brian Anderson 0.321 0.300 0.021
Joey Votto 0.333 0.318 0.015
Avisaíl García 0.318 0.303 0.015
Mike Zunino 0.301 0.286 0.015
Andrew McCutchen 0.330 0.315 0.015

Coming off another disappointing and injury-riddled season, Brian Anderson moves to one of the better right-handed home run parks in baseball after signing with the Brewers. THE BAT X is more bullish on his strikeout rate than Steamer, as he’s been up and down through his years, making it difficult to pinpoint where he may land in any given season. Similarly, THE BAT X is also most bullish on his BABIP, while Steamer is most bearish. The two systems disagree on his ISO as well, with THE BAT X forecasting the second highest mark among systems, while Steamer is lowest. Anderson’s power has plummeted over the last two seasons, finishing under .130, though his maxEV bounced back over 110 last year, while he posted a career best Barrel%. It doesn’t match at all with his actual power output, as it would seem he’s capable of better. Interestingly, he has actually delivered a bit more power at home than away, even though Marlins Park suppresses right-handed home runs and doubles. I’m going to bet on a sort of rebound here given his history and new park and lean toward THE BAT X’s wOBA forecast proving closer.

Always fun to see Joey Votto’s name on a list, but surprising to find such disagreement for the 39-year-old veteran. Coming off shoulder surgery, it’s impossible to be sure how he’ll recover and how his performance might be affected. THE BAT X’s strikeout rate projection is meaningfully lower than Steamer’s, as the former is expecting Votto to reverse his trend of increasing strikeout rates, while the latter is forecasting the trend to continue. The two also really disagree about his power. Votto’s ISO has been all over the place in recent years, but his maxEV has remained over 110 the last three seasons, while his Barrel% has sat in double digits the last two. I’m not confident his ISO rebounds to the .194 mark THE BAT X projects, but I think he should finish closer to that mark than Steamer’s. That said, we’re all just guessing because we have no idea how he’ll recover from the surgery. Still, I’m going with THE BAT X on this one.

It was a forgettable season last year for Avisaíl García, but THE BAT X is projecting a significantly stronger rebound than every other system. The disagreements begin with his BABIP. Historically, his BABIP has been all over the place, rising as high as .392 over a full season, to as low as .271 over a partial season. THE BAT X is most bullish, with a mark just below his career average, while Steamer is more in line with the rest of the systems. I would definitely lean toward Steamer’s more realistic projection, as he hasn’t posted the mark THE BAT X is projecting since 2019. THE BAT X is also up on the mountain by itself with its ISO forecast, well above the rest. He did underperform his xSLG last year, but has also done so every single season of his career! What’s bizarre is that his maxEV is elite, while his Barrel% has bounced up and down. I’d guess most of his high EV balls end up as grounders, as he has rarely turned that high maxEV into a high HR/FB rate. He’s a tough call due to his inconsistency, and while I’m going to say he finishes with a wOBA in between the two, I’ll lean slightly to Steamer’s more pessimistic mark as proving closer.

After hitting a career high 33 homers in 2021, Mike Zunino suddenly looked acceptable to draft, despite the low average. Then he got hurt and batted just .148 last year to remind us that maybe he’s not worth speculating on. THE BAT X is most bullish on his BABIP, projecting his highest mark since 2018! Of course, all the other systems are projecting the exact same thing, as it’s difficult for a system not to given his low marks in the metric the past four seasons. As an extreme fly ball hitter who also hits a high percentage of those flies as pop-ups, and also fails to hit anywhere close to a league average rate of line drives, Zunino is the poster child for a low BABIP batted ball profile. I can’t see forecasting a mark just above his career average like THE BAT X is, so I’m definitely siding with Steamer on the BABIP. The ISO projections are all over the map, with Steamer the low man on the totem pole and THE BAT X somewhat in the middle. Zunino still crushes it when he hits it squarely, but it’s pretty clear that 2021 was the outlier. He moves to a much better park for right-handed home runs, so overall, I think THE BAT X will prove closer given the higher ISO forecast.

It’s a return to Pittsburgh for Andrew McCutchen, who has played in hitter friendly parks for the last four seasons. Once again, BABIP begins the disagreement, as THE BAT X is far and away the most bullish among all systems. PNC Park is neutral for singles, so moving there shouldn’t affect his BABIP too dramatically. He did underperform his xBA last year, but he’s also done so for three straight seasons. I would actually likely project a BABIP mark in between the two systems, but probably closer to THE BAT X. Moving to ISO, THE BAT X is also most bullish among the systems, which is interesting given that PNC sports the second lowest right-handed home run park factor in baseball, while it’s a bit positive for doubles. I don’t think his power actually declined as much as his ISO suggests last year, but I think it’ll be tough to rebound as meaningfully given the park switch. Overall, I’m going to lean toward Steamer’s more bearish wOBA projection.

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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20 days ago

Brian Anderson is right-handed.