For the first time this year, I decided to compare my Pod Projections to Steamer and discuss the players we disagreed on most. Of the hitters we both projected, it was clear I was much more optimistic than Steamer on the whole. However, for Giancarlo Stanton I was actually significantly more pessimistic.
In the review of this series, I will be including my original Pod Projection and Steamer counting stat projections extrapolated over the same number of plate appearances that I had projected. However, I included Steamer’s actual PA projection in that column. Also included are the player’s 2015 stats, plus the counting stats extrapolated over the number of PA I projected.
|2015 – 625 PA||625||24||2||53|
As is becoming far too common an occurrence, Stanton’s season was cut short by an injury, this time a broken hamate bone in his left hand. The recently turned 26-year-old has found himself on the disabled list quite frequently throughout his career and he has cleared the 500 at-bat barrier just twice in his five full seasons. It was unfortunate this year as he was on quite the power tear. Of course, Stanton and power go hand-in-hand, but he was enjoying career bests in all the important power-related metrics.
So let’s get back to the preseason forecasts. Of course, Steamer and I proved to be a little too optimistic about Stanton’s health, but we were relatively close on the plate appearance expectations. We were also rather similar on our doubles projections and not surprisingly both forecasted that Stanton would hit one whole triple. Beyond that, the difference in our projections become obvious.
Where Steamer and I differed most was in power. You could see that immediately from our difference in home run projections. Four homers isn’t all that much, but that difference equated to a reasonable gap in ISO projections. My .261 forecast was just a bit below Stanton’s career mark heading into the 2015 season. But that career rate included that monstrous 2012 performance in which he posted a .318 ISO. In the short-term, that looked to be the outlier as the other four years remained somewhere in the mid-.200 range. So it surprised me that a projection system like Steamer would forecast an ISO mark that would represent the second highest mark of a player’s career. But that’s exactly what the .287 projection would have been.
We all know now that even the .287 proved far too low! He easily led baseball in batted ball distance using any reasonable minimum number of flies plus homers and set a new personal career high at 323 feet. With the Marlins set to move the fences in next season, I could only imagine what effect this will have. No projection system could possibly forecast a repeat of that ISO or HR/FB rate mark, but at least he should have a better shot at coming close now.
Steamer and I essentially agreed on Stanton’s walk rate, but he actually disappointed there, as he posted his lowest mark since 2012. The issue stemmed from his SwStk% spiking back to his 2011-2012 levels, while his Zone% and F-Strike% all jumped. For some reason, pitchers threw him more strikes, which is going to lower a hitter’s walk rate, plus he missed a higher rate of those strikes.
On a related note, Stanton’s strikeout rate hit a new full season high. It was those pesky additional strikes thrown and additional whiffs that led to that near 30% mark. Shockingly, Steamer projected that Stanton would enjoy a career low strikeout rate, while I was more pessimistic, forecasting a mark near his career average. We were both wrong, though I got the direction right after his improved 2014 season.
Surprisingly, Steamer and I had near identical BABIP forecasts. Stanton had never posted a mark below .313, despite a batted ball profile that wouldn’t seem to support a better than league average mark. It probably has a lot to do with that always near 40% Hard% keeping his BABIP afloat, despite mediocre line drive rates, a high rate of pop-ups, lots of pulled balls and a low Oppo%. This year, Stanton became more fly ball happy than he ever had, so that certainly had something to do with his BABIP dropping below .300 for the first time.
Even though Steamer was closer on the power side of things, I virtually nailed Stanton’s batting average thanks to my higher strikeout rate projection, which meant I was closer (though still too high) on my OBP projection. Neither projection was high enough for the SLG part. Interestingly, Steamer forecasted a .945 OPS, while I was at just .894, and he actually posted a .952 mark. Yet, my wOBA forecast was actually closer than Steamer’s! This serves as a good example for how SLG is overvalued in OPS.
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.