Steamer vs NFBC ADP – RBI Bargains

Previously in this series, I uncovered potential undervalued speedsters, power bats and batting average hitters – by comparing the Steamer projections to the current NFBC ADP. Now the focus turns to run production counting statistics, in the form of runs batted in.

In 2018, there were 40 players with least 85 RBI. There were 21 players above the 95 mark, and 10 with 105 runs batted in. World Series champion J.D. Martinez led all of baseball with 130 RBI. Khris Davis of Oakland came in second with 123.

Prospective projections though, are typically more conservative. Steamer projects the top RBI accumulator, Giancarlo Stanton, for 114 RBI. Only 5 players are projected to knock in 100 or more runs. For today’s analysis, I will focus on all players with a Steamer projection of 84 RBI or more. [I was going to choose 85 – however setting the threshold at 84 added a few interesting names.] This should give us a group of players who can greatly help your team’s RBI totals for the upcoming fantasy season.

As always, for these draft value comparisons, I look at:

  • The player ranks as computed by the FanGraphs Auction Calculator with Steamer projections (standard NFBC 15 team roto league settings).
  • The current NFBC ADP (of Draft Championship leagues from January 31 to present).

Below are the players selected within the top 30 ADP, who also have a Steamer projection of at least 84 RBI:

1st & 2nd Round High Runs Batted In Contributors
Giancarlo Stanton 533 45 96 114 3 0.267 24
Nolan Arenado 586 37 98 109 3 0.286 10
J.D. Martinez 529 36 93 109 4 0.297 5
Manny Machado 573 34 92 99 9 0.288 15
Jose Ramirez 572 28 98 99 24 0.284 3
Mike Trout 476 36 109 98 19 0.300 1
Trevor Story 550 30 85 97 18 0.271 18
Javier Baez 586 29 81 96 17 0.269 16
Mookie Betts 584 29 115 95 26 0.302 2
Bryce Harper 503 34 93 93 10 0.267 20
Freddie Freeman 562 27 91 93 8 0.286 21
Aaron Judge 522 36 96 93 7 0.251 19
Alex Bregman 568 26 98 92 11 0.280 14
Francisco Lindor 586 30 101 89 20 0.286 7
Paul Goldschmidt 551 27 92 89 11 0.277 17
Christian Yelich 563 27 97 87 15 0.297 8

These 16 players are projected to provide an excellent run producing base for your draft. Once again, Juan Soto, the Nationals sophomore standout, just missed this list at an ADP of 31.

Below are all of the remaining players in the draft pool with a Steamer projection of at least 84 RBI:

The players above are once again ordered by their difference in Steamer Hitter Rank versus ADP Hitter Rank. Differences highlighted in GREEN are the players who are going later than their Steamer values indicate that they should; differences in RED show the overvalued players.

What jumps out to me is the rightmost column. We have been accustomed (particularly for the stolen base bargains) to seeing more RED than GREEN. That is, we are used to the select scoring categories being drafted at a premium. This isn’t the case for Runs Batted In – many of these premier sluggers are available at a discount, anywhere from 1-3 rounds earlier than Steamer values where they should be drafted.

What also stands out, is that the largest overall ADP shown is Randal Grichuk at ADP 234. Only three other players have ADPs of over 150 (Carlos Santana 196, Nomar Mazara 159, Mike Moustakas 154). Unlike stolen bases or home runs, in order to draft a player that will knock in a considerable number of runs, you need to acquire them in the first fifteen rounds – most of them in the first seven or eight rounds. One of my themes this year is “The Case for An Ace” – that you need to draft ace starting pitchers within your first few picks. On the hitting side, it is these early to middle rounds that you need to acquire most of your bats – many of whom are undervalued.

Nelson Cruz shows up on yet another undervalued player list. He is the 15th best hitter according to Steamer, yet he is going off the boards as the 60th overall hitter. He is severely undervalued and can help your team in HR, BA & RBI. He sits at #2 on this list. Take note.

Randal Grichuk, Jose Abreu and Joey Gallo were all previously covered in this series, but here are a few other players from above that I would like to highlight:

Nomar Mazara (Steamer Hitter Rank: 61, ADP Hitter Rank: 100, Overall ADP: 159)

Let’s take a quick look at some of Nomar Mazara’s power and run production output for the past three seasons:

Nomar Mazara 2016-2018
Season HR R RBI
2016 20 59 64
2017 20 64 101
2018 20 61 77
AVG 20 61 81

On the surface, it seems that Mazara is a steady 20 homer players, with low 60s Runs and low 80s RBIs. Let’s see if there are any issues with his batted ball profile:

Nomar Mazara – Assorted Batted Ball Metrics
Season LD% GB% FB% HR/FB
2016 21% 49% 30% 16%
2017 19% 47% 34% 14%
2018 18% 55% 27% 20%

The 2018 GB% rate of 55% seems somewhat worrisome, and his K% rate has been ticking up year over year from 20% in 2016 to 21% in 2017 to 22% in 2018.

Could last year’s surface stats growth reversal from 2017 be injury related? Maybe. He had a thumb injury, which hampered him (and he might have played through) in the second half of 2018. Let’s look at the past season by halves:

Nomar Mazara – 2018 Stats by Half Season
1H 308 45 15 55 0.282
2H 181 16 5 22 0.215

Obviously, we can’t just assume that Mazara’s 1H production would continue for a full season – but his pace was a .282 BA, 30 HR, 110 RBI, 90 R clip. Wow!  Let’s look at his batted ball profile from half to half:

Nomar Mazara – 2018 Batted Ball Metrics by Half Season
Half LD% GB% FB% HR/FB
1H 22% 53% 24% 26%
2H 12% 58% 30% 12%

Although that groundball rate was still high in the first half, the other 1H metrics were more in line with his norm (albeit a few less flyballs, but a somewhat lucky HR/FB rate).

Overall, it is unclear whether Mazara will have any more growth in 2019 – but he’s only 24 years old. If healthy, he should easily ride the 20 HR threshold that he’s held. Batting in the heart of the Texas lineup should be the impetus to get him to 90+ RBI. He’s only 24 years old … the best is yet to come.

Give a strong consideration to the young outfielder for an 11th round selection, especially if you need to catch up in RBIs.

Rougned Odor (Steamer Hitter Rank: 51, ADP Hitter Rank: 81, Overall ADP: 129)

Sticking with Texas once again – we have the Texas second baseman Rougned Odor, brother of Texas minor league second baseman Rougned Odor (Yes, the two brothers have the same name, play the same position, and were in the same organization).

Odor has made great strides in plate patience recently. His walk rate rose from 3% in 2016 to 5% in 2017 to 8% in 2018! His hard contact rate went from 37% in ’17 to 45% last year. His line drive rate rose from 16% to 20% as well.

Although Odor seemingly had a down year last season, there is reason to believe his surface stats will rebound – and return close to the 30 HR levels in ’16-’17 once again. He should come close to doing so with a far better batting average to boot. Odor, like Mazara, is also still quite young – as this will only be his age 25 season.

The ATC projections do not share as much optimism as Steamer does for Odor’s RBI total. ATC has Odor projected for only 76 RBI [Steamer 84], but that’s still a solid total. According to Steamer, Odor should be the 51st hitter off of the boards, but he is being taken a number of rounds later as the 81st hitter.

Eddie Rosario (Steamer Hitter Rank: 36, ADP Hitter Rank: 57, Overall ADP: 92)

Eddie Rosario was one of my 2018 potential breakout candidates … and he was … in the first half. Rosario amassed 18 homers, 52 HRI, 6 SBs and a .315 BA in the first half alone, which is a first round type talent. Unfortunately, injuries derailed his breakout season – with shoulder and quad injuries in the second half. Instead of prolonged DL stints, Rosario played through the injuries, which made his final full season figures not as lofty.

Eddie Rosario – Assorted Batted Ball & Plate Metrics
Season K% LD% GB% FB%
2016 25.7% 19.3% 46.3% 34.4%
2017 18.0% 20.2% 42.4% 37.4%
2018 17.6% 20.3% 35.7% 44.1%

Rosario is trending in the right direction in many of his batted ball metrics and his plate discipline – Fewer strikeouts, more line drives, and fewer fly balls. His improvements will set a nice floor for his batting average. He is also hitting more balls in the air, which will ultimately aid his power metrics. Oh yes, and he also steals bases (close to double digits each year).

He is healthy now; his power should return in stride. Rosario is a player who has big upside. At the price he is currently being drafted at – he is a bargain even if he just repeats what he did last season. Batting in the heart of a revamped Minnesota lineup, Rosario is a player that will give you excellent run production metrics at a discount.

Yasiel Puig (Steamer Hitter Rank: 31, ADP Hitter Rank: 46, Overall ADP: 71)

Yasiel Puig traded in his Dodger blue this offseason for some Reds … Red. With that, he moves from a pitcher’s park to a hitter’s park. He will also move from a manager who took him out of games late for defense, to a better “playing time” situation. Puig only had 405 ABs last season [some injuries] – yet managed to earn mid-teens full-season auction value.

Puig has many paths to value. He steals bases – amassing 15 in each of the past two seasons. He hits for power – clubbing an average of 26 dingers over the past two years.

His ground balls have been turning into line drives over the past few seasons – giving him a solid batting average floor. Finally, he should bat somewhere in the middle of the Cincinnati lineup, which will afford him the opportunity to pile up the RBIs.

Puig is a five-tool player and is undervalued according to the Steamer projections. Other than health, he is at low risk for poor performance. He can be acquired on average in the middle of the fifth round.  A few weeks ago, he was being drafted at the end of the sixth round – so his stock is on the rise. Grab him now, while he is still going for a small discount.

We hoped you liked reading Steamer vs NFBC ADP – RBI Bargains by Ariel Cohen!

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Ariel is the 2019 FSWA Baseball Writer of the Year. He is the creator of the ATC (Average Total Cost) Projection System. Ariel was ranked by FantasyPros as the #1 fantasy baseball expert in 2019. His ATC Projections were ranked as the #1 most accurate projection system in 2019. Ariel also writes for CBS Sports, SportsLine, RotoBaller, and is the host of the Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational - Beat the Shift Podcast (@TGFBI). Ariel is a member of the inaugural Tout Wars Draft & Hold league, a member of the inaugural Mixed LABR Auction league and plays high stakes contests in the NFBC. Ariel Cohen is a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA). He is a Vice President of Risk Management for a large international insurance and reinsurance company. Follow Ariel on Twitter at @ATCNY.

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Have you checked with any of these lists whether the “value” players are guys who Steamer likes more than other projection systems? That could easily account for the different values, as many drafters go with different projection systems.