I’ve spent the last few articles releasing new projections. Today is no different and piggybacks off Monday’s article on single-season based pitcher projections or the GM’s. Today, it’s the hitters’ turn.
While the inspiration for these projections started with Giolito, I found I wanted the same dataset available for hitters. I took the players’ 2019 stats and regressed them to the league’s average rates and added in an aging factor. Finally, I prorated everyone to 600 PA.
While it’s a little harder from a hitter to remake themselves compared to pitchers, it can happen. For example, the projection’s namesake, Ketel Marte is about as good of an example as it gets. He hit the ball harder (36% to 42% HH%), pulled it more (37% to 44% Pull%) with fewer groundballs (51% to 43% GB%). The changes pushed his OPS from .768 in 2018 to .981 last season. Here is a look at his past few seasons and several 2020 projections.
The big difference between my two new projections and the rest is that they believe in the power spike. The GM values make sense because Marte was an elite hitter last season and those numbers will carry over. The Savant projections back up the power and it’s not because of how hard he hit the ball. It’s because he raised his average launch angle from six to 12 degrees and his Barrel% from 5% to 9%.
The projection is not just for hitters who made improvements, it can find those hitters who may be nearing the end of their usefulness. One such example would be Lorenzo Cain entering his age-34 season. While Cain is a career .288 AVG hitter, the GM’s see him declining from a .260 AVG to .242 AVG. Here are his historic and projected stats.
Any player over 30 should be expecting some decline, so the 2020 GM is reasonable. The StatCast based projections don’t have one single issue, but several. His Sprint Speed percentile is down for the third straight season (95% to 89% to 86% to 72%). He’s chasing more pitches out of the strike zone (24% to 26%) and missing more of them (68% to 64%). Also, it doesn’t help that he put over 50% of his batted balls on the ground for the second straight season. He needs to get more hits in the air or what is left of his power potential will disappear.
And here are the top-30 ranked by OPS (full list).
- I’m a little surprised that Alvarez is so high since his stats would be pulled more to the league average by regression due to his mid-season callup.
- But Pete Alonso is feeling some home run regression with his 53 2019 total dropping to a 42 HR projection.
- Damn Mitch Garver had a great season last year.
- Jeff McNeil (85 ADP) and Max Kepler (140 ADP) are being drafted after the rest who could provide good value if their changes stick.
These simple projections are not meant to replace more rigorous ones like ZIPs, Steamer, or The BAT. Instead, they provide another tool for owners to use when they are having a tough time evaluating a player changing for the better or for the worse.
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.