Single-Season & StatCast Projections

Last season, I introduced two independent projections to help fantasy managers evaluate players. One is based on just the hitter’s previous season production and the other is based entirely on StatCast data. It’s time to have them available for 2021 draft prep.

As I previously stated, this is the reason behind the projections:

I created the projections with inspiration from “The Model Thinker” by Scott Page.* The author states, “do not put too much faith in one model”. To further explain this stance, he states:

“The lesson should be clear: if we can construct multiple diverse, accurate models, then we can make very accurate predictions and valuations and choose good actions.

Keep in mind, these second and third models need not be better than the first model. They could be worse. If they are a little less accurate, but categorically (in the literal sense) different, they should be added to the mix. “

Several projection systems already exist. Other projections take many projections and combine them. The issue is that projections are exclusively based on the previous season’s results (e.g. stolen bases, home runs) while incorporating some various levels of regression, aging factors, and yearly weightings. My goal is to create projections that don’t follow this standard cookie-cutter formula. I expect the projections to not be the most accurate because “all models are wrong.” I’m wanting a unique perspective on a hitter’s talent.

They are just a couple more tools to use going into 2021.

Single-Season Projections

While the background and parameters are available in the previous article, I just want to remind everyone these values are regressed… a lot. The regression influences batting average because each hitter only has around 250 PA… at best. Strikeout rate will drive batting average way more than BABIP (see: Tim Anderson). So, here are top-20 hitters ranked by just OPS and prorated to 600 PA (full list).

Top-20 Projected Hitters Based on Only 2020 Results
Name PA AB HR SB AVG OBP SLG OPS
Juan Soto 600 528 35 10 .272 .359 .544 .903
Freddie Freeman 600 532 29 3 .270 .353 .508 .860
Jose Ramirez 600 539 34 15 .254 .330 .510 .840
Marcell Ozuna 600 539 33 1 .255 .330 .500 .831
DJ LeMahieu 600 554 27 4 .281 .336 .491 .826
Manny Machado 600 552 33 10 .261 .320 .504 .825
Trea Turner 600 552 28 17 .272 .330 .491 .821
Mookie Betts 600 549 33 14 .257 .321 .499 .820
Bryce Harper 600 524 30 11 .246 .341 .478 .819
Corey Seager 600 555 33 2 .260 .315 .503 .818
Will Smith 600 537 30 2 .252 .330 .484 .813
Fernando Tatis Jr. 600 540 34 16 .242 .318 .492 .809
Jared Walsh 600 558 34 3 .254 .306 .500 .805
Mike Trout 600 537 34 3 .238 .318 .487 .805
Luke Voit 600 556 41 1 .239 .296 .509 .805
Anthony Rendon 600 530 25 1 .256 .344 .460 .803
Anthony Santander 600 560 33 4 .251 .302 .498 .799
Ronald Acuña Jr. 600 520 33 12 .222 .325 .470 .795
George Springer 600 544 32 5 .245 .315 .477 .792
Rowdy Tellez 600 552 31 4 .251 .312 .478 .790

The top hitters don’t surprise me at all, but some of the small sample players start showing up like Jared Walsh and Anthony Santander. Both were lights out in the “sticky” stats (i.e. power and plate discipline). If I’m going to take a chance on a player based on 2020 results, it’ll be based on these projections.

StatCast Projections

The results of these projections are a little more controversial and are based on two or three-year weighted averages depending on the input (full explanation). One missing input is the effects of shifts. Many lumbering, pull-happy hitters (e.g. Kyle Schwarber) float to the top. Also, 2020 results won’t have much weight at all. So here is the top-20 (full list).

Top-20 Projected Hitters Based on StatCast Data
Name PA AB HR SB AVG OBP SLG OPS
Mike Trout 600 526 45 19 .304 .399 .585 .984
Juan Soto 600 527 33 9 .299 .393 .516 .909
Ronald Acuña Jr. 600 526 36 23 .275 .372 .521 .893
Gary Sanchez 600 548 43 3 .275 .345 .544 .889
Pete Alonso 600 550 39 6 .280 .347 .531 .878
Ketel Marte 600 549 29 12 .296 .364 .509 .873
Mookie Betts 600 533 30 13 .289 .375 .497 .872
Kyle Schwarber 600 533 32 8 .270 .359 .512 .871
Bryce Harper 600 536 35 12 .270 .354 .513 .867
Jose Ramirez 600 538 33 10 .285 .365 .501 .866
Austin Meadows 600 541 33 11 .276 .354 .511 .865
Matt Chapman 600 531 36 12 .268 .359 .500 .859
Giancarlo Stanton 600 537 32 5 .263 .347 .510 .857
Christian Yelich 600 537 31 14 .279 .362 .494 .856
Rafael Devers 600 558 31 8 .285 .342 .512 .854
Anthony Rendon 600 538 30 7 .289 .369 .484 .853
Marcell Ozuna 600 545 36 8 .274 .347 .505 .852
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 600 544 27 6 .280 .355 .495 .850
Fernando Tatis Jr. 600 538 33 23 .277 .358 .489 .847
Francisco Lindor 600 557 28 10 .293 .350 .497 .847

All stop. Even I want to know what is going on with Gary Sanchez’s projection. I know the previous seasons will have quite a bit of weight and I will dive in will an article later this week. The list is full of some hard-hitting dudes.

The knowledge for 2021 is starting to come together, but there is so much more to investigate. For the majority of drafters, we still have months to prepare.





Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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jwalkn37
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jwalkn37

I’m surprised that I didn’t see Yordan Alvarez.