Projected Ottoneu Risers and Fallers – Bats

With just over a month of the season complete, we’re starting to look at more current season data to make decisions on who to add and who to cut, who to target in trades and who to move on from. Before the season, projections are a great way to value players, set prices and find targets for auctions. And we don’t lose that tool once the season starts.

With the projection systems providing Rest of Season (ROS) projections, we are able to identify what players are projected to do moving forward, instead of simply relying on performance to-date. To identify potential sell-highs or buy-lows (or buy-highs or sell-lows), it can be useful to look at the comparison of the two – who has most over- or under-performed their ROS projections.

To do this, I took a list of 268 players with a) at least 50 PA in 2021, b) a ROS projection on Depth Charts, and c) at least 4 Ottoneu FanGraphs Points/G (P/G) in 2021 so far OR 4 P/G projected ROS. I then ranked them by how much greater their P/G to-date are than their projected P/G ROS. The table below shows the top and bottom 10:

P/G vs. Projected P/G Leaders and Laggards
Rank Name P/G To Date ROS P/G Diff
1 Buster Posey 9.07 4.69 -4.37
2 Byron Buxton 10.30 6.00 -4.31
3 Carson Kelly 8.15 4.86 -3.29
4 J.D. Martinez 9.58 6.29 -3.29
5 Jesse Winker 8.80 5.87 -2.93
6 Nick Castellanos 8.29 5.54 -2.75
7 Yadier Molina 6.79 4.06 -2.73
8 Kris Bryant 8.42 5.70 -2.73
9 Mike Trout 10.36 7.70 -2.67
10 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 8.81 6.28 -2.53
259 Tommy Pham 1.72 5.00 3.28
260 Yoshi Tsutsugo 1.20 4.49 3.29
261 Nick Ahmed 0.75 4.07 3.31
262 Wyatt Mathisen 0.93 4.28 3.35
263 Francisco Lindor 1.76 5.25 3.49
264 Miguel Cabrera 0.72 4.29 3.57
265 Franchy Cordero 0.48 4.13 3.65
266 Edwin Rios 0.31 4.17 3.86
267 Rowdy Tellez 1.43 5.34 3.90
268 Danny Jansen -0.56 4.22 4.78

The names on this list probably aren’t surprises to you – projections based off years of data won’t move quickly so anyone breaking out is going to be near the top and anyone stumbling badly will be near the bottom. But there is some useful data in here.

Many of the leaders here there is little action to be taken – Mike Trout is Mike Trout and he will continue to be Mike Trout for the foreseeable future. Anyone who rostered Vlad Guerrero, Jr., before the season did so because they hoped for a breakout and they are not selling now. If you can trade for either of those two, you should. If you are trading either away, make sure you get a haul in return.

Similarly, Nick Castellanos has been on an upward trajectory with his contact quality for a while and the only thing that held him back last year was an outlier season in terms of contact quantity. He seems to have fixed the latter and kept the former and I would not hesitate to buy.

Bryant and Martinez are both “former” stars who lost some lustre with a rough 2020, and I would have no issue assuming that both have put those problems behind them.

On the other hand, Buster Posey feels like a sell-high to me, though I do think he is better than that projection and better than he appeared before the season. The .412 BABIP and 38.9% HR/FB rate are not going to continue – he is not a player who has ever, even in his prime, shown numbers like that. He’s being more patient, but also whiffing on more pitches and running a basically-career-high strikeout rate. The plate discipline numbers suggest that will continue and may even get a little worse. The positive sign here is that he is making harder contact, and while Statcast numbers are up for everyone, his have jumped compared to his peers. Posey has a 75th percentile average exit velocity, 83rd percentile hard-hit rate, 95th percentile xSLG and 94th percentile xwOBA. Other than an 85th percentile hard-hit rate in 2016, those are the best numbers he has posted in the Statcast era (since 2015). If you can sell someone on Buster Posey: Top Five Catcher, sell him. If you can buy Buster Posey from a manager who expects Posey to fall back to his 2019 or even 2018 production, I would do it. NOTE: This assumes he is healthy and playing after being pulled Wednesday, which he appears to be.

On the other hand, I am out on Yadi. Yes, he is also showing better batted-ball quality in limited time, but he’s also a few years older, a few years further removed from offensive success, and he doesn’t have the raw offensive ability that Posey does. While Posey has excellent exit velocity and hard-hit rates, Molina’s are more middling. Molina is chasing more than ever before and his jump in strikeouts is much larger than Posey’s. Molina’s former heir apparent, however, I am interested in. His projected wOBA pre-season was .311 and the last month was enough to move it all the way to .324. Given his .339 in 2019, I don’t think he can come close to continuing his current pace, but I do think he can be a very good Ottoneu catcher. While his exit velocity isn’t great, he is barrelling the ball often and I am betting on his skills and age, if I am choosing one of these three catchers.

Winker and Buxton are both guys who have shown this talent before, at least in flashes. Winker more consistently, Buxton more explosively. I would buy them both, even though they’ll both come back to Earth a bit – I would take the over on both projections, with a big “can he stay on the field” caveat for Buxton.

At the bottom of the list, there are a handful of “nothing to see here” names – Ahmed, Mathison, and Jansen are not guys you want to buy low. There is a good chance they don’t return to their projections and even if they do, those numbers aren’t great. Miggy might return to his projection but that won’t play at 1B anyway. Tsutsugo is going on two years of coming in well-below expectations and maybe the expectations and projections are just wrong – it’s not easy figuring out what a guy will look like changing leagues and continents. The leaves us with five players in two groups.

Pham and Lindor are established stars, of varying degrees, both of whom struggled last year and have fallen off a cliff this year. Both will bounce back, but depending on cost, I think I would rather buy Pham. The problem with Lindor is expectations – the manager who bought or kept him this year still sees that 2018 season and is waiting for him to get back to that and, to be blunt, I don’t think he will. I suspect he will get back to where he was in 2017 or 2019, but you’ll have to be patient and that 2018 payoff isn’t coming. If Lindor’s current manager is looking to sell that 2018 season, you should pass. If he is ready to just dump Lindor, I would buy.

Pham, meanwhile, looks basically fine. Last year, too – no issues with his strikeouts, walks, exit velocity, barrels, hard-hit rates. 2017 and 2018 were a bit better, but his xwOBA’s dating back to 2017: .379, .380, .357, .351, .348. I would buy that 5.00 P/G projection and he could easily beat that by a point.

The other three – Rios, Tellez, and Cordero – were all popular breakout candidates who have very much not broken out. I am out on Cordero. At this point, he still needs a major change to fix that strikeout rate, and I don’t see any reason to expect it anytime soon. Rios has similar strikeout issues and may have a hard time getting regular plate appearances. His strikeout issues aren’t as bad, but he is a wait-and-see for me. I am not buying until he shows me something including a job.

Tellez, meanwhile, was a Statcast darling this off-season, and his batted ball quality is, if anything, better. Last year he had an 85th percentile hard-hit rate; this year it is 99th. Last year he had a 54th percentile barrel rate, this year it is 80th. However, he has stopped walking and started striking out a lot more. Tellez was sent down, and I would watch that walk rate – if he can get the walks back, he is still more than capable of punishing the ball and could be a nice buy low.

A long-time fantasy baseball veteran and one of the creators of ottoneu, Chad Young's writes for RotoGraphs and PitcherList, and can be heard on the ottobot podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 years ago

Crazy that Mike Trout can even make a list like this in the positive direction!