Steamer Says Bargain

With NFBC unofficially ushering in the start of the 2022 draft season last week, I think now is a good time to check in on a key piece of information your chosen fantasy platform provides. Site ranks, baby.

Uh-oh…Noob alert, am I right? I mean, how could a serious fantasy player pay attention to something so trite as site ranks? What am I going to do next; say something insane like ADP is important? Well, yes. But not today because we don’t yet have a significant sample. So, we’ll start by focusing on the ranks that sites include in their draft rooms and why paying attention to them should help inform your decisions.

Let’s clarify, though, for a minute, before the pitchforks get pulled out. I’m not saying that site ranks should inform what value you have placed on a player, whether it’s dollar values you’ve worked out in a spreadsheet or the headcanon values you’ve worked out in your brain.

No offense to NFBC (the site we’ll be looking at today but you can sub in the platform of your choice) but their ranks mean little to me because:

A. Platforms have their own projections, which aren’t going to be my projections.

B. Platforms have their own value-creation system to turn those projections into ranks and that system isn’t mine.

And not to set off the noob alert again but I love snake drafting. Maybe it’s just the gamble in me but I really enjoy the extra gamesmanship of trying to suss out which of the players you’re considering will still be there when your next pick comes around. Note that I’m not saying to just go all willy-nilly with guessing and passing on players you really want. I am forever on Team “go get your guys”. But by ignoring factors that might be informing your opponent’s decisions (even if they are external to your own valuing process), you are throwing away a valuable tool, while giving ceding the unrealized gains that might’ve been in your margins.

For example, if you were in a draft with Rudy Gamble, would having Razzball value projections be valuable? Sure, a little, I guess, but there is a limited value in knowing how just one of your opponents is valuing players. But what if half of your opponents were Gamble? Now would having Razzball values on hand be of a significant advantage? I say yes.

But Nicklaus, isn’t that thought experiment moot because you can’t just assume that your opponents are basing their decisions off of site ranks/ADP? You’re right, that would be silly. But here’s the thing (leaning in to whisper)…Whether in a casual home league or a high-stakes NFBC league, you’re probably giving your opponents too much credit. Or at least you are for some of them.

Many of your opponents will be heavily influenced by site ranks just like many will be influenced by site ADP. Because those things are going to be front-and-center in your draft room and many players simply can’t reign in the biases of what they’re seeing right in front of their faces every time they go to make a pick or research a future pick. Some players will be leaning on those site factors because they’re casual players who do minimal research. But even the more serious players might be influenced because doubt can be a powerful motivator.

Don’t assume that higher stakes always equals a higher quality of play. Ever sat down at a poker table with players who are willing to play stakes much higher than their level of skill? It’s like that. Repeat after me: Regardless of the game, buy-in does not necessarily equal skill.

With that in mind, let’s look at some of the hitters that the 2022 Steamer projections like a lot more than the current NFBC ranks and see what we can see.

*Steamer hitter ranks were generated with the Fangraphs auction calculator using the NFBC format. Positional adjustments were removed and catchers were removed from the ranks entirely, as not falsely inflate their values for those who aren’t playing in two-catcher leagues. And frankly, I believe catchers should always be kept separate when determining values, regardless of format.

2022 NFBC Rank (all) 2022 NFBC Rank (H) Player 2022 STM Rank (H) Rank +/- STM G STM PA STM HR STM R STM RBI STM SB STM AVG
41 29 Aaron Judge 9 20 150 674 41 108 106 5 .273
63 40 Pete Alonso 17 23 150 659 43 97 110 2 .258
86 53 Giancarlo Stanton 26 27 136 598 39 89 103 1 .268
87 54 Byron Buxton 28 26 130 581 31 86 86 15 .267
116 72 Jared Walsh 42 30 150 655 33 88 100 3 .260
127 78 Franmil Reyes 38 40 149 640 39 85 103 3 .250
147 90 C.J. Cron 62 28 134 574 30 77 91 1 .268
160 99 Gleyber Torres 67 32 144 597 22 74 76 13 .268
161 100 Eddie Rosario 70 30 136 573 25 71 83 9 .263
173 106 Joey Gallo 73 33 147 635 40 91 100 4 .208
175 108 Nelson Cruz 59 49 133 580 32 79 90 2 .266
183 112 Joey Votto 69 43 149 655 31 88 91 2 .248
193 118 Kolten Wong 93 25 136 628 14 83 56 16 .264
197 121 Josh Bell 58 63 150 644 31 84 98 1 .260
201 124 Jean Segura 80 44 143 649 15 83 62 9 .279
203 126 Avisaíl García 88 38 130 554 23 70 76 8 .265
207 128 Jonathan Schoop 102 26 143 631 23 74 82 2 .263
209 129 Jorge Soler 82 47 146 631 33 85 88 1 .238
215 133 Ian Happ 74 59 147 634 30 81 87 9 .240
217 135 Michael Conforto 107 28 143 607 25 79 79 3 .254
219 136 Josh Donaldson 78 58 138 599 30 83 87 1 .249
221 138 Frank Schwindel 66 72 135 607 28 83 78 3 .270
243 149 Brandon Belt 95 54 130 559 29 77 81 4 .246
265 161 Nathaniel Lowe 99 62 146 628 23 76 80 5 .257
266 162 Michael Brantley 111 51 125 561 15 75 66 2 .291
275 169 Enrique Hernández 96 73 149 680 25 95 75 4 .245
280 173 Tommy Pham 110 63 130 555 18 73 63 15 .257
328 198 Brandon Nimmo 87 111 144 663 18 95 61 10 .259
351 212 Luis Arraez 101 111 146 662 6 85 56 6 .298

Franmil Reyes, UT, CLE
Steamer Says: 39 HR – 85 R – 103 RBI – 3 SB – .250 AVG

Steamer is projecting the Franimal for only 568 AB (640 PA) but while Reyes only played in 115 games in 2021 (466 PA, 418 AB) after suffering the dreaded oblique injury on May 22, he played 59 games (out of 60) in 2020 and 150 games in 2019.

Putting playing time aside, here are Reyes’ numbers since becoming a full-time player in 2019, with 2021 being split into pre- and post-injury:

Year PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA xwOBA wobacon xwobacon HR/PA R/PA RBI/PA
2019 548 37 69 81 0 .249 .310 .512 .338 .359 .444 .477 .068 .126 .148
2020 241 9 27 34 0 .275 .344 .450 .341 .336 .440 .432 .037 .112 .141
PRE 158 11 21 29 1 .257 .324 .576 .369 .362 .511 .500 .070 .133 .184
POST 308 19 36 56 3 .252 .328 .493 .347 .344 .488 .483 .062 .117 .182
STM 640 39 85 103 3 .250 .326 .500 .390 .061 .133 .161

After spending seven weeks on the IL, Reyes was still powerful, though his numbers did take a dip. But don’t we kind of know what Reyes is at this point? And while it might feel like he’s older, keep in mind that he won’t turn 27 until next July. IE. Prime-time, baby.

While playing for Cleveland isn’t ideal for runs and RBI, Reyes will still bat behind Jose Ramirez, and new-ish leadoff man Myles Straw should get on base enough to stay there. And given Reyes’ age and previous performance, I find zero reasons to think his power is going anywhere. He posted a 52.2% Air% (100+ mph) in 2019 (99th percentile), 49.2% in 2020 (96th), 55.8% (98th) before his injury in 2021 and 56.0% (99th) following.

Boom-stick Reminder:

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Reyes has done enough previously for me to believe that Steamer’s production rates aren’t out of line. While I won’t go as far as assuming 640 PA, even at 550 PA Steamer would project him for: 34 HR – 73 R – 89 RBI – .250 AVG (and maybe a stolen base, or two). That’ll play for me if his ADP stays anywhere near the 130-140 range that NFBC has him projected for, with room for upside if he gets closer to 600 PA.

Gleyber Torres, SS, NYY
Steamer Says: 22 HR – 74 R – 76 RBI – 13 SB – .268 AVG

Can I interest anyone in a Gleyber reclamation? It seems like it’s been longer than the two years it’s actually been since Torres was an up-and-coming fantasy star, slashing .275/.338/.511 over his first 1088 PA from 2018-19, hitting 62 HR and posting a .354 wOBA.

But those who took him around his 29 ADP in 2020 and 65 ADP in 2021 got burned in a bad way, with Torres hitting a total of just 12 HR over his 676 PA from 2020-21. So, this year’s site rankings shouldn’t come as much surprise but is this a buy-low or keep staying away?

For anyone betting on the former, there is hope to be found in Torres’ second-half numbers:

Gleyber Torres 2018-2021
Year PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA xwOBA wobacon xwobacon HR/PA R/PA RBI/PA SB/PA
2018 484 24 54 77 6 .271 .340 .480 .349 .337 .437 .419 .050 .112 .159 .012
2019 604 38 96 90 5 .278 .337 .535 .358 .337 .430 .399 .063 .159 .149 .008
2020 160 3 17 16 1 .243 .356 .368 .326 .332 .326 .337 .019 .106 .100 .006
2021 1st 317 3 26 29 6 .240 .326 .308 .287 .319 .304 .350 .009 .082 .091 .019
2021 2nd 199 6 24 22 8 .289 .338 .456 .338 .347 .400 .412 .030 .121 .111 .040

One half of good baseball isn’t enough to wipe out two years of bad but Torres in the second half was a lot closer to what we saw from him in 2018-19. And if site rankings are any indication of his cost in 2022, you won’t have to reach too far inside of the top-150 to find out if those second-half improvements will continue into 2022.

That makes him a good buy in my eyes and I suspect my rosters will end up with more than a couple parts of Gleyber.

Jonathan Schoop, 1B/2B, DET
Steamer Says: 23 HR – 74 R – 82 RBI – 2 SB – .278 AVG

Easily the worst thing about joining the RotoGraphs staff is having to cede my Jonathan Schoop corner, as that spot has obviously been spoken for. But the Detroit Tiger was a mainstay on my teams the past few years, as he’s been my go-to for getting starter value at the backend of drafts.

The numbers aren’t flashy but Schoop certainly returned a good ROI, slashing .278/.320/.440 over 674 PA in 2021, with 22 HR, 85 R, and 84 RBI, finishing as a top-60 hitter. Not too shabby from a 321 ADP.

But at the risk of turning in my fan club card (or having this passage erased by a mischievous editor), there were some signs of trouble in Schoop’s second half. At least in regards to his exit velocities.

Jonathan Schoop 2021
2021 1st Half 2nd Half
Barrel% 6.8 9.4 3.9
Barrel% (100+ mph) 5.6 7.9 3.0
Air% Avg EV 91.7 93.4 89.8
Air% (100+ mph) 32.5 35.7 28.9

It’s not that I think Schoop is going to fall off of a cliff and as our own Paul Sporer has elucidated before, I’m sure a Schoopening will happen a few times this year where pitchers just won’t be able to get him out for a stretch, or two.

But Schoop’s appeal the past two seasons has been his combination of steady production at a basement-level price, so if the power drops off even some while his draft price comes way up (#207 preseason on NFBC, selected at #216 in the Draft Champions league I’m currently drafting in) then he’ll stop being a bargain. And a bargain Schoop is the only kind of Schoop for me.

Frank Schwindel, 1B, CHC
Steamer Says: 28 HR – 83 R – 78 RBI – 3 SB – .270 AVG

Let’s close things up with a quick word on the late-season home run machine that was Schwindel, who had 14 HR in 259 PA, including a stretch in late August when he went deep six times in seven games.

See? Frank:

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Wait…Wrong clip. Here we go:

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

See, Frank goes deep. And looking at Steamer, they think he’s going to keep going deep in 2021, projecting him for 28 HR in 607 PA over 135 games. That’s not anything too crazy but it projects him as a top-75 hitter and a bargain compared to NFBC’s ranking as the #115 hitter. And if Schwindel gets closer to 145-150 games, then 30+ HR would seemingly be on the table. Not bad for a 29-year-old entering his second year in the big leagues.

However, his .403 wOBA and .464 wOBA (on contact) in 2021 was backed by just a .326 xwOBA and a .365 xwOBA (on contact). Besmirch expected-stats if you will but 100-pt differentials don’t tend to work out for those hoping to avoid regression.

On a (likely) bad Chicago Cubs team, Schwindel should play most every day while providing decent pop. There is something to be said for getting that post-200 in drafts but while Schwindel was the late-season savior some of my teams needed in 2021, I suspect that price will be too rich for my blood.





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Rotoholicmember
1 year ago

NFBC doesn’t have projections, they just show last year’s stats. They also don’t have a value creation system.

Rotoholicmember
1 year ago
Reply to  Nicklaus Gaut

Well you kept calling them projections so just thought I’d clarify. And the ranks are just based on ADP for each contest type. They don’t actually do rankings.

But yes, people often rely on the default player list in draft rooms to decide who to pick. And some people time out and end up with the latest TJ victim who’s ADP was much higher pre-injury.

cartermember
1 year ago
Reply to  Nicklaus Gaut

Now I’m not certain, but there have been a couple drafts having happened already that were private, and even a super early draft champions on fantrax where data is uploaded to nfbc…maybe it is from there? Just adp?

Rotoholicmember
1 year ago
Reply to  Nicklaus Gaut

It’s dynamic and changes throughout the draft season. But it locks for each individual draft once it starts.

I don’t think it would have seemed so controversial if you hadn’t reacted so defensively about not realizing that they aren’t projections or rankings.

Rotoholicmember
1 year ago
Reply to  Nicklaus Gaut

Several NFBC leagues have finished drafting already, even before the site shifted over to 2022. You can ask one of the guys over there how they sort the players before there’s ADP data.

Trout went 17 overall in the first draft that was completed in early October, and 13/15/15 in three additional drafts. There have been many other drafts that haven’t had results made public yet, too.

And for Vlad, Bo, and Ohtani, their ranking that you listed isn’t far off the the 4 leagues that I’ve seen results from. Vlad has gone 5/4/4/12, Bo has gone 4/8/5/7, and Ohtani went 6/9/9/8. For the default list in each draft it will depend on the ADP at the time the draft started. It won’t change after that.

Creamymember
1 year ago
Reply to  Rotoholic

The article says that NFBC is “projecting” 418 At bats for Franmil next year but 418 is simply the listing of his ABs for 2021. I suspect the list of players is the average ADP of the handful of NFBC drafts that have been held so far . . .