Examining Changes in Steamer Projections

In the preseason I used Zach Sanders’ method for deriving fantasy value from roto category statistics to see how the Steamer projections valued players from a fantasy perspective. The system essentially compares each payer’s production in each category and assigns standardized values for each player in each category. When you add those numbers up, you get a player’s fantasy value above average. After a quick adjustment for positional scarcity, you’ve got fantasy value above replacement (FVARz). In the preseason this was helpful to get an idea about who might be over or undervalued. Now I’ve taken the Steamer rest of season projections both to see whose value has changed the most in the month or so since the season started and to potentially help with making trades.

Today I want to highlight a few players that were not included in the original Steamer projections. Next week I’ll take a look at the players whose value has increased the most since the start of the season.

Name RoS FVARz Preseason FVAR Diff.
Jose Abreu 9.152945543 #N/A #N/A
George Springer 3.55336682 #N/A #N/A
Charlie Blackmon 2.541359565 #N/A #N/A

These are the only three players who were not in the subset of players I pulled from the original Steamer projections that are projected to be above fantasy replacement level from here on out.

Springer wasn’t in my original sample because he didn’t have enough projected PA to make the cut, but now that he’s up, Steamer likes him quite a bit. To put his RoS FVARz of 3.55 into a little context, that was the preseason FVARz for Justin Upton, which means Steamer thinks Springer is a top 50 fantasy hitter. That seems borderline insane to me. We’ve only got a 53 PA sample for Springer at this point, but he hasn’t flashed much, if any, of his power/speed combo yet. If you’re looking for a silver lining, take heart in his strikeout rate simply being bad and not historically awful. If he makes enough contact to hit .240 and the power/speed skills come to life, he’ll be valuable. Maybe not top 50 valuable, but valuable. If you’re in a redraft league, keep an eye out for him on the waiver wire if owners get impatient. He’s worth adding if available, and worth taking a shot on in a trade if you can acquire him for a safer player with less upside.

Abreu was included in later preseason versions of the Steamer projections, but he wasn’t in the original release. What’s more important is where he is in the latest RoS projections. His RoS FVARz of 9.15 ranks best among all first basemen and fourth overall among hitters. Again, this seems pretty insane to me, at least at first blush. But there are signs it might not be totally crazy. The biggest one is that he leads the league in average home run and fly ball distance. He’s at 327 feet right now, and the league leader last year finished at 313 feet. He’ll regress in that department, but he’s got plenty of room to regress and still be toward the top of that list. He’s also got strikeout and walk rates that are basically league average, and he’s got a respectable .270 batting average without the help of a high BABIP. Don’t sell high here. I would be hard pressed to name ten hitters for whom I’d deal Abreu straight up.

As for Blackmon, he’s the true out of nowhere guy on this list. If not out of complete nowhere, he’s certainly the most surprising name on this list. JP Breen did a nice job breaking down what’s going on with Blackmon last week. The short version is that Blackmon may have ridden some early season BABIP luck to the top of the Rockies order, which means he should score enough runs and get enough chances to steal bases to have  value in those categories. But his hot start hasn’t been all luck. He has cut his strikeout rate down dramatically early in the season. He’s done it by swinging less, but only on pitches outside the zone and not by just swinging less at all pitches. That’s a solid sign that his pitch recognition has improved. He’s also making a lot more contact. Some regression may be in order, but these types of things tend to stabilize quicker than others, so this improvement is likely here to stay to some degree.

His RoS FVARz would land him just outside the top 100 overall if we were redrafting today. If you’re selling high, make sure you get a legit commodity for him. Here are a few guys who were drafted inside the top 100 and who are off to slow starts that might be attainable in exchange for Blackmon: Brian McCann, Martin Prado, JJ Hardy, Carlos Santana. Whoever you offer a swap like that to might laugh at and/or be angered with you, but those wouldn’t be insane offers. And if no one is buying Blackmon, it might not be so bad if you’re just stuck with him.

We hoped you liked reading Examining Changes in Steamer Projections by Brett Talley!

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You can find more of Brett's work on TheFantasyFix.com or follow him on Twitter @TheRealTAL.

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Emcee Peepants
Emcee Peepants

Donald Sterling would probably be upset at seeing a Blackmon on Fangraphs so much.

Jackie T.
Jackie T.

Topical humour!