The GMs: Single Season Hitter Projections

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.

Ketel Marte’s Results & Projections
Season Team PA HR SB BB% K% AVG OBP SLG
2018 Diamondbacks 580 14 6 9% 14% .260 .332 .437
2019 Diamondbacks 628 32 10 8% 14% .329 .389 .592
2020 THE BAT 651 23 9 8% 14% .294 .354 .488
2020 ATC 630 24 10 9% 14% .295 .358 .505
2020 Depth Charts 651 23 9 8% 14% .295 .357 .499
2020 Steamer 670 24 9 9% 14% .296 .360 .502
2020 ZiPS 635 22 10 8% 14% .293 .353 .497
2020 Savant Based 600 30 13 .304 .362 .511
2020 GM 600 31 6 8% 15% .285 .342 .528

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.

Lorenzo Cain’s Results & Projections
Season Team PA HR SB BB% K% AVG OBP SLG
2018 Brewers 620 10 30 12% 15% .308 .395 .417
2019 Brewers 623 11 18 8% 17% .260 .325 .372
2020 THE BAT 607 11 19 9% 17% .278 .348 .402
2020 ATC 596 12 19 9% 17% .279 .348 .403
2020 Depth Charts 602 13 18 9% 17% .277 .345 .402
2020 Steamer 631 15 18 9% 17% .277 .349 .415
2020 ZiPS 567 10 17 9% 17% .276 .342 .389
2020 Savant Based 600 15 11 .268 .336 .404
2020 GM 600 14 13 7% 18% .242 .296 .376

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).

Top-30 2020 GM Hitter Projection Ranked by OPS
Name PA AB H HR SB K% BB% AVG OBP SLG ISO OPS
Mike Trout 600 510 129 42 6 20.6% 13.4% .254 .365 .561 .307 .926
Alex Bregman 600 510 137 35 3 13.2% 14.2% .269 .378 .546 .277 .925
Cody Bellinger 600 535 144 41 9 17.0% 10.5% .270 .349 .570 .300 .919
Christian Yelich 600 536 145 42 16 20.9% 9.9% .271 .349 .569 .298 .918
Anthony Rendon 600 536 148 31 3 14.7% 9.5% .276 .353 .528 .252 .881
Ketel Marte 600 552 157 31 6 14.8% 7.6% .285 .342 .528 .243 .870
Yordan Alvarez 600 532 133 38 1 24.9% 10.9% .250 .336 .532 .282 .868
Juan Soto 600 515 131 32 7 20.0% 13.8% .254 .360 .507 .253 .866
Nolan Arenado 600 555 152 36 2 15.3% 7.2% .275 .330 .531 .256 .860
George Springer 600 537 136 38 4 21.1% 9.8% .253 .331 .520 .267 .851
Peter Alonso 600 536 126 42 1 26.1% 8.8% .234 .316 .529 .294 .845
Xander Bogaerts 600 543 146 29 3 18.2% 9.3% .269 .339 .505 .236 .844
Mitch Garver 600 540 128 42 1 24.4% 9.2% .237 .314 .526 .289 .840
Josh Bell 600 542 136 35 1 19.8% 9.1% .251 .323 .515 .264 .837
Rafael Devers 600 560 154 29 8 17.4% 6.3% .275 .323 .513 .238 .836
Freddie Freeman 600 540 140 32 4 19.2% 9.5% .260 .334 .502 .241 .836
Mookie Betts 600 532 141 26 9 15.3% 11.1% .265 .349 .486 .221 .835
Anthony Rizzo 600 529 139 27 4 15.4% 9.3% .264 .351 .483 .219 .834
Jeff McNeil 600 553 154 26 6 14.6% 5.7% .278 .335 .492 .214 .827
Nelson Cruz 600 552 137 40 1 26.1% 7.2% .248 .308 .519 .271 .827
Marcus Semien 600 541 142 27 8 14.8% 9.7% .262 .335 .487 .225 .822
Jorge Soler 600 540 127 39 2 26.2% 9.0% .235 .311 .508 .274 .819
Austin Meadows 600 549 140 33 10 22.3% 7.8% .255 .318 .500 .245 .819
Carlos Santana 600 530 135 29 2 17.2% 11.4% .254 .341 .478 .223 .818
Jose Altuve 600 558 148 32 7 16.3% 6.7% .265 .316 .501 .237 .817
Max Kepler 600 542 132 35 4 17.5% 8.8% .243 .316 .499 .256 .815
Eugenio Suarez 600 541 127 40 2 28.3% 8.8% .234 .309 .506 .272 .815
Charlie Blackmon 600 563 152 29 4 17.8% 5.4% .269 .315 .499 .230 .814
J.D. Martinez 600 548 142 31 1 21.8% 8.2% .259 .322 .491 .233 .814
Gleyber Torres 600 553 139 36 4 21.4% 7.4% .251 .309 .504 .254 .813

Notes:

  • 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.

newest oldest most voted
gja6722
Member
gja6722

How would you combine this with your projection busting research to potentially move a player up/down your draft board? I get that it’s by design, but some of the rate stats really don’t pass the smell test to me.