Bust Candidates According to Steamer

I ran the 2015 Steamer projections through Zach Sanders’ Fantasy Value Above Replacement system and compared the results to early ADP data. Below I’ve got a player at each position that the Steamer projections think are unlikely to live up to their draft day price.

Devin Mesoraco, C, Cincinnati Reds

I wrote about Mesoraco at length last week for another publication, which you can read here. But the short story is that Mesoraco adopted a swing-for-the-fences type approach last year, and it worked to the extent that he did clear the fences more than any other catcher. However, the approach led to him making significantly less contact. His strikeout rate rose significantly yet his batting average also spiked thanks to some luck on balls in play. Early drafters are buying the breakout, drafting Mesoraco third among catchers, which is exactly where he finished at the position last year. But Steamer has him outside the top ten. You can read the other post for my full thoughts, but I lean toward the Steamer side here.

Chris Davis, 1B, Baltimore Orioles

It’s a bit weird to list Davis as a bust when he was such a bust last year. After being drafted top 20 overall last year, Davis barely cracked the top 20 among first basemen. But early drafters are hoping for a bounce back as he’s the 10th first baseman being selected on average. Steamer is expecting a bounce back as well, just not one that makes him a starting first baseman in 12-team mixed leagues as he ranks 14th at the position per Steamer. The big reasons for Davis disappointing were his ISO falling over 100 points, thanks to fewer fly balls and not hitting his fly balls as far, and his average being below .200 thanks to less contact and some rough luck against the shift, which Podhorzer discussed recently. I think the case for Davis at 10 as opposed to 14 is that no one else in that range has his upside, save maybe Joey Votto. But Steamer isn’t super optimistic.

Kolten Wong, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals

Wong finished 2014 as the 13th ranked fantasy second baseman and drafters are expecting the sophomore to take a step forward while Steamer expects him to take a step back. He’s going eighth among second basemen, but Steamer has him ranked 15th at the position. I find it hard to go with Steamer on this one as Steamer is projecting 85 more plate appearances for Wong but one fewer and home run and three fewer steals. As for the power, Wong basically had a .165 ISO in AAA and a .139 ISO in his debut last year. I find it hard to believe he regresses to a .125 ISO as Steamer projects. And as for the speed, Scott Strandberg noted this offseason that Wong is 51-for-56 in steal attempts between AAA and the majors. With the extra plate appearances and a projected uptick in OBP, it makes no sense to me that Wong is going to fail to get to 20 steals again. As Strandberg also noted, the OBP is a concern as Wong’s walk rate post All-Star break was just 3.9%. But it doesn’t have to improve too much for Wong to be able to steal 25. The real problem with Wong is not really Steamer’s pessimism but that Wong’s ADP takes away any value he could have potentially had if he were being drafted in the position in which he finished 2014.

Todd Frazier, 3B, Cincinnati Reds

Frazier seems like an obvious regression candidate, but drafters think he can repeat his top five third baseman performance. Steamer isn’t seeing it and has him 12th at the position. There were some signs that Frazier could improve off his 2013 season. His BABIP has swung from one end of the spectrum of the other, and it was on the bad end in 2013.  And his HR/FB rate was lower than his career average. So it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to expect him to hit .255 with 23-24 home runs. But his BABIP swung all the way back to the good end of the spectrum, and his HR/FB rate was well above his career average, so he hit .273 with 29 home runs. His average home run and fly ball distance did improve by a decent margin, but it’s risky to think that rate and his BABIP stay on the high end of things. That doesn’t mean he’s going to crater, it just means we should probably expect him to land in the middle of the range he has established, even though he’s avoided the middle of that range. But even if his fortune continues, surely he won’t steal 20 bags again after stealing just 10 in the first three years of his career. Again, he shouldn’t collapse, but paying a top five 3B price for him seems risky.

Jean Segura, SS, Milwaukee Brewers

Like Davis, it’s weird to list Segura here since he bombed pretty hard last year, but drafters are taking him eighth among shortstops. Meanwhile, Steamer has him 15th at the position after he finished 16th last year. As mentioned when discussing Davis, I can understand why drafters are taking Davis earlier than the projections would suggest because Davis has at least some chance of turning back into one of the top options at his position. But Segura does not have that upside. The league average wOBA over the last two years is .316, and in the 12 months of his career Segura has topped that mark in just three months. Two of those months were his incredibly hot start to the 2013 season. In those two months his ISO was basically .200, and it’s easily under .100 in the other ten months of his career. The other month where his wOBA topped .316 was September of 2014 when his BABIP was .373. He could improve a bit in average and thus steals with more turns on base, but unless that random power from the start of 2013 comes back, he really has no chance of being the eighth best fantasy shortstop or better.

Justin Upton, OF, San Diego Padres

Upton finished last year just outside the top ten outfielders and drafters have him just inside the top ten this year, but Steamer has Upton 32nd among outfielders. Presumably the move to Petco is driving the negative projection. Here is Upton’s projected triple slash line along with what he did last year and his career averages.

Season AVG OBP SLG
Career 0.274 0.354 0.476
2014 0.27 0.342 0.491
2015 0.253 0.337 0.442

Whether you think that’s too pessimistic or not, it’s hard to argue that no decline should be expected. As a result, it’s hard to make a case for paying a top 10 price for Upton.

We hoped you liked reading Bust Candidates According to Steamer by Brett Talley!

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Anton Sirius
Guest

The Upton Petco-related pessimism doesn’t seem rooted in anything other than “Oooh, Petco, scary!”

Exactly zero of his 2014 home runs would have stayed in his new home park: http://www.hittrackeronline.com/detail.php?id=2014_1214&type=hitter

David
Guest
David

You can’t use the hittracker like that. It accounts for distance, but not for other factors that cause the ball to not fly as far at Petco. It’s not as simple as how far away the fences are

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter

I thought Petco was difficult to hit HR because the air cuts down on fly balls, rather than the size of the park being the main factor. So while his HR distances might have cleared the fence based on the link, the main issue is that he wouldn’t hit the ball as far in San Diego.

John
Guest
John

This doesn’t account for the ball not carrying as well in San Diego. Petco suppresses homers because of the Pacific air, not because of its’ dimensions, which are actually about average for an MLB park.

Ray
Guest

apparently the Pacific air issue is only present from April-June…..not present July-September.

Ryan Brock
Member
Member

Luckily, projection systems don’t get scared.

CC AFC
Member
Member
CC AFC

Yup, pretty sure “ooo, Petco, scary” is not an input for a math based projection system.

Skin Blues
Member
Member
Skin Blues

Park Dimensions are only a small part of what makes a park factor. Weather, elevation, foul territory, hitter’s eye, etc.

For instance, Coors Field has much deeper fences than Petco, and the walls are higher as well. Which park would you rather have your hitters play in?

@MaineSkin
Member
Member
@MaineSkin

Exactly and also why park factors are for BA as well. RC is the stat in real baseball, but due to the depth of Col OFs, BA is a major plus as we all know. Redsox have a -30% for LHH power but +30% for RHH BA. LAA and Hou play more nuetral to RHH HR, but killer on lefties I believe. NYM have shortened the RC fence which is a power ally…like you said, park factors are real, but usually they are used in such a general manner. Camden as Eno states a lot is the hottest park in MLB while O.co is the coldest. Safeco dense air opposite of Coors.

stevenam
Guest
stevenam

The other side of this coin hasn’t been mentioned… Turner Field is the third-highest park in baseball, behind only Coors and Chase. That elevation has an impact, and Petco of course is at sea level.

ChrisG
Guest

I think the Petco/Upton decline is rooted in far more than “Oooh, Petco, scary!”

I don’t think you can overlay HRs hit by a player in multiple parks and assume they would fly the same in another park. Atmospheric conditions play into the distance a ball will travel.

Petco’s (more so than almost any park outside of Coors & Safeco) is effected by the atmosphere of the surrounding area. Feel free to read a bit here – http://blogs.thescore.com/mlb/2013/02/08/its-the-atmosphere-stupid/

And if you want to check it out for yourself, check out Upton’s HRs from 2014 overlaid in Coors. Two HRs wouldn’t have left the yard and three would have been close to staying in. Do you think we’d be concerned about Upton heading to Coors?

http://www.hittrackeronline.com/detail.php?id=2014_1214&type=hitter

Or for other fun, Robinson Cano hit 27 HRs in 2013. Then we overlay his 2013 HRs in Safeco and only one might of not gone out.

http://www.hittrackeronline.com/detail.php?id=2013_3304&type=hitter

Cano hit only 14 HRs in 2014 and had 4 “lucky” HRs as deemed by HitTracker.

The concern over Upton’s move to San Diego is based in the reality of the park effects in San Diego (and how we’ve seen them play out in places like Seattle and Colorado).

novaether
Member
novaether

Steamer’s pessimism is likely because of his high strike out totals the past couple of years, thus reducing his triple slash across the board. It projects him for a significantly lower BABIP than his career BABIP, so take that for what it’s worth. To your point, though, it also projects him for a few less homers than you’d think.

The real value-killer here, though, is a 28 RBI projected drop. Your Upton projection has to reflect your opinion on Preller’s moves this offseason and whether he’s put together a significantly better offense than last year.

Corey
Guest
Corey

I find this idea of overlaying interesting though actually. It seems to me like the relative effects of elevation, humidity, etc ought to be measurable (though maybe it requires more inputs than we have data on). But abstractly it seems to me like we could overlay home park home runs, add in the games that we expect to be played in the other parks in the league, and say “Petco should reduce ball distance by x%” I recognize that’s based on a lot of “projections” we know very little about, not the least of which being weather, but in general it seems to me like overlaying in a more sophisticated way than the original poster did ought to be doable and at least add something.

Skin Blues
Member
Member
Skin Blues

I don’t see any purpose at all to overlaying… there is so much information to take into account before it becomes useful. Empirical evidence (ie: park effects) are much better at capturing this kid of effect.

It’s like trying to look at a guy’s finger length, leg muscles hand grip, height, stride length, etc in order to determine how fast he can throw. A little bit of empirical evidence (using a radar gun) would get much more accurate data.

We know every single park Upton will pay in, and how many times each, and the RHH park factors for all of those parks. We don’t need overlays. All it will do is muddy the water. It’s not like Upton will repeat the exact same batted ball profile, either. I’d like to see a year over year correlation of fly ball landing spots to see how predictive it is (my guess: not very).

Grant
Guest
Grant

Corey, projecting ball flight is incredibly difficult to figure. You’re dealing with launch velo (direction and magnitude), spin rate, velocity, air density, gravity, wind field (direction and magnitude at each part of the stadium, which is constantly changing), temperature, etc. We simply don’t have some of that information available to us.