Yesterday, I investigated our top 300 consensus rankings and discussed hitters in our top 100 with the most disagreement between us rankers. Today I jump outside that top 100 to identify those we disagree with most among the rest of the hitters.
Alvarez suffered through his worst offensive season as a big leaguer last year, if you exclude his half-season 2011. There are positive signs though that a rebound is in order. However, any optimism may be canceled out by the likelihood of a strict platoon situation and it’s hard to regain your value when you’re only starting in two-thirds of games. So without the plate appearances, his counting stats will be hurt. And since he’s a drain on batting average, the optimists are really crossing their fingers.
Lawrie has been quite a disappointment offensively and he just cannot stay on the field. Worse, he now moves out of a great hitting environment to a much more pitcher friendly home park. How much will the park switch hamper his power? And will the speed return? He stole about 15 bases per 600 plate appearances prior to 2014, and then suddenly failed to even attempt a steal this past year. His blend of power and speed was intriguing to fantasy owners, so if we can only hope for power now, he’s far less interesting.
Well his appearance is no surprise. Part of this is how much playing time you think Baez receives and if he’ll hit enough to remain a starter all season. He struck out a ridiculous 41.5% of the time during his rookie campaign and posted a crazy 19.1% SwStk%! Obviously, those rates need to improve or he’ll be spending most of the year back on the farm. He clearly has power, but fails to offset what should be a very, very low batting average with a willingness to walk. Yet, he also has some speed, so a full season could yield double digit homers and steals. The very definition of both enormous upside and downside.
Sure enough, Baez’s teammate and top prospect in baseball says hello. I’m projecting 400 at-bats and my ranking doesn’t reflect using another player to fill that slot until Bryant is called up. So this is both a 1)when will he get promoted and take over starting third base duties and 2)will his mammoth power potential compensate for what could be a high strikeout rate question. Since no one could know the answer to either question yet, we are obviously all over the map at this point.
Some eyebrows were raised when I drafted Betts in the LABR Mixed draft, though fewer than when I drafted Billy Hamilton in the second round, of course. I guess I’m higher on him than everyone else! I really wasn’t aware of this until these rankings were published. To me, it’s all about what kind of playing time you expect. The Red Sox have enough offensive depth to create two solid teams, so does Betts start all year given his broad skills base or does the team regularly rotate some of their respectable reserve players? Because Betts has power and speed, takes a walk and makes good contact. So it’s hard to question his offensive potential.
Not a name I was expecting to see. He’s a switch hitter, but was atrocious against lefties during his first taste of the Majors. Does he lose at-bats when a southpaw is on the mound and fall into a strict platoon? Then again, his weak performance came in just 101 plate appearances, a tiny sample for sure. And he didn’t show much of a handedness split during his minor league career, which provides optimism for an improvement this year. Can he sustain a .340 BABIP? Or will his strikeout rate improve, offsetting any regression he might see on the BABIP front?
Souza is your garden variety sleeper that isn’t, depending on your league. In casual leagues, he’s a sleeper alright, as he’ll probably be available cheap. In a league of pros, he’s not slipping through the cracks. And how many stolen base attempts will he make? His triples totals and Spd scores indicate only slightly above average speed, so will he come anywhere near his stolen base pace in the minor leagues? And that Rays lineup is pretty awful, so how much will that affect his runs batted in and scored totals?
Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.