Steamer isn’t entirely to blame. I doubt he hurt them on purpose. I’m sure he’s a nice guy. He’s smart. He knows a lot about buckets of baseball players and learns more about them every year. I apologize, in fact, because I shouldn’t assume that Steamer is male. Based on Steamer’s intelligence and propensity to learn, it’s likelier to be a dudette.
Steamer projections are good and can save you a ton of time. What they can’t be is perfect, or even close to it. That’s good, because if they or other projections systems could be, then fantasy baseball leagues would probably be very boring. As a result, though, especially if you use Steamer projections for your rankings, you have to figure out which players about whom Steamer isn’t closer to 100% informed.
(In the podcast, Eno has pointed out that – I believe – Jeff Zimmerman’s research indicates that Steamer doesn’t know when players played through injuries. We have glazed over these particular players. Based on initial inspection, I really like them at their preliminary prices, as suggested by early ADPs.)
1B/OF Brandon Moss, Cleveland Indians
I recapped Moss’ 2014 a couple of months ago and was cautious about how to view him for 2015. Fantasy owners and fans who have projected him to this point aren’t on him, however, so I’d be pretty interested.
Moss’ recovery has reportedly gone well. From what I’ve read, and based on his timetable, it’s possible that he’ll start a slowly. Steamer, however, is kind of on Moss, especially now that it has factored in the move from Oakland to Cleveland. The left-handed slugger will benefit from one of the largest improvements in HR park factors by handedness for any player this offseason.
The projection is encouraging because Moss’ injured 2014 kind of inadvertently accounts for his potentially slow start to 2015. Based on Steamer’s projection for him (.248/.332/.485, 28 HR), he’s significantly undervalued – by roughly 75 picks – in my relative-pricing spreadsheet. He may avoid the slow start, and even if he doesn’t, he could hit 30-plus homers easily, I think, with a bit better batting average.
Moss could bust, but he might also be one of the bigger steals of draft day. The crowd has annihilated the risk, and there’s even room to profit versus Steamer. Can’t recall for sure, but I believe that Eno is high on Moss as well. I also noticed that, in the early RG mock, my boy Podhorzer drafted the new Tribesman well ahead of the player’s ADP (and yet still a couple of rounds after where Steamer’s projection slots him). My homey Dr. Roto plucked Moss at a similar time in the FSTA draft, which took place on Jan. 15.
3B David Wright, New York Mets
Wright was 30-plus runs above average in each of the two campaigns prior to last. (He missed about 45 games in 2013, and he was still an $11 player in shallow mixed leagues.) A shoulder injury clearly hampered him in 2014, although he repeatedly refused to acknowledge that fact. Fast-forward (and squint through the fluff) to where rest and rehab have him nearly at full strength, according to him and his support team.
Wright still has a little time to rebuild strength in his left shoulder. Of greater concern is the likelihood of another complication arising because of the potentially tenuous nature of the joint. Jeff expressed his concerns in November about how this could play out, and I understand them. From what I’ve read about this type of injury, nonsurgical treatment isn’t unusual and is often successful with appropriate training. Based on the type of injury the player had, my guess is that it would have been an arthroscopic procedure and, therefore, highly unlikely to affect his availability this coming season. If the Mets and Wright felt that surgery was a smarter option, then it’d seem that they had no reason not to choose it, but instead, they opted to forgo it.
Yes, Wright is 32 and has a checkered injury history, but in the past, despite the risk, you often had to pay pretty close to a premium price if you wanted a share. So far this year, Steamer (.275/.347/.432, 16 HR, 9 SB) and fantasy owners have the third baseman pegged at similar rates, barely a top-100 player. I’ll side with the fans’ projection (.292/.365/.459, 17 HR, 11 SB) to this point, which bumps up his projected earnings by a handful of bucks, because Steamer forgets that poor health played a major role in his outcomes last season.
I’d reach a bit for Wright. If he disappoints, then it’s not a major loss, and he could just as well exceed the fans’ numbers. I’m not sure if Eno is also high on Wright, but I saw that, in the early RG mock, the scribe selected the player at about when I think is a good time to target him. Wright went a tad earlier in the FSTA draft to RotoExperts’ Mike Cardano, whom I don’t know but whose style I kind of like.
Nicholas Minnix oversaw baseball content for six years at KFFL, where he held the loose title of Managing Editor for seven and a half before he joined FanGraphs. He played in both Tout Wars and LABR from 2010 through 2014. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasMinnix.