A couple weeks ago, we introduced our Expected Draft Values and explained how they would help us identify both over and undervalued players of all types. Power, speed, power+speed, batting average+power, and so on, with pitchers as well.
Today, we'll look at four "power" hitters, as identified by our site projections. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we bring you a deeper look at undervalued and overvalued players from each position using Expected Draft Values.
Generally, what we'll do in this series is identify players who will return positive or negative value, based on their NFBC ADP in Online Contests (Feb 1-March 9, 74 drafts), their Expected Draft Value (i.e. the average stat line typically produced at that ADP), and the player's projection.Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off. Get access to our exclusive articles, rankings, projections, prospects coverage, 15 in-season lineup tools, daily expert DFS research, powerful Research Station, Lineup Optimizer and much more! Sign Up Now!
How Expected Draft Values Help You Win Your League
It may be clear by this point already, but if you know the expected break-even stat-line of every draft slot, you can identify which of your draft picks are projected to return positive or negative value. Below, we look at five power bats that are either over or undervalued based on their recent NFBC Online ADP, our RotoBaller projections, and Expected Draft Values.
Without further ado, here are some players that stand out at their current cost in 2020 drafts.
Gleyber Torres - 2B, NYY
NFBC Online ADP: 32
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 32nd*: .284 BA, 33 HR, 91 runs, 98 RBI, 8 SB
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .271-34-88-95-6
Analysis: Mixing young talent with a strong season in the Bronx spotlight makes for quite the inflation in draft price! This is not to bash Torres, remember that. But his projected production falls short in average and R+RBI without big speed to fall back onto. This doesn’t have much of the Aaron Judge injury baked in, but we can’t ignore that Judge missing from the top of that lineup hurts the heart’s production.
Torres’ 7.1% Barrels/PA rate checks in at 61st out of 250 qualified hitters from 2019, but the percentage of batted balls of 95+ MPH was merely 35.8%. Only three others in the top-100 were below 36%, but I realize Yankee Stadium (and terrorizing Baltimore) goes a long way. His exit velocity and expected batting average reside around the league-average mark, with a 33rd-percentile hard-hit rate. He destroys fastballs, hitting .301 with 24 homers off of them. If pitchers ramp up the secondaries, we may be in trouble.
*And then there’s the issue with our HR cohort data only going as high as pick 34. The average “power-only pick” rarely returns production worthy of this pick. The ones that did were either topping 40 homers per season, chipping in nearly 10 steals, or clearing the 100-R/RBI marks by a healthy margin.
Verdict: Pass, Torres is overvalued at his current draft slot
Ozzie Albies - 2B, ATL
NFBC Online ADP: 33
Expected Return for a Power+Speed+Average Hitter Drafted 33rd .292-25-98-83-19
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .284-25-98-84-15
Analysis: When the ADP is this high, the smaller differences matter. I realize there’s price inflation when a player heads into their age-23 season with two stellar campaigns already on the books, but his price tag carries lofty expectations. Even if he replicated 2019’s .295-25-102-86-15 line, you’re breaking even thanks to the speed lag. And that came on 702 PAs -- a mark that’s tough to meet or exceed.
I hate making these about splitting hairs, the currency exchange of a stolen base to a homer or BA points, but Albies projects to fall short on the average and speed fronts while "simply" meeting power expectations. Perhaps the .291 xBA from last season holds up and maybe he muscles up, adding ticks to the 22nd-percentile hard-hit rate, but the projections can’t go full send just yet.
I wholeheartedly understand the excitement, just be mindful of the helium. His NFBC Online ADP has gone from 36 from January 1-February 8, and that’s up to 33 from February 9 to March 9. Perhaps Torres and Albies simply signal that young players are forever misunderstood by projections, but the risk/return tightrope is thin in the 30s!
Verdict: Pass, Albies is overvalued at his current draft slot
Kevin Newman - 2B/SS, PIT
NFBC Online ADP: 191
Expected Return for a Speed+Average Hitter Drafted 191st: .297-10-65-51-15
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .289-14-70-72-19
Analysis: Aside from the slight average give, Newman offers fantastic profits across the board. And we just saw Newman hit .308 so we know he can exceed that. Pittsburgh is reportedly ready to “run wild” and I’m in for a dollar to see how far that can take Newman as their everyday shortstop.
After looking overmatched in a small-sample 2018, Newman posted said .308 AVG backed by a .291 xBA (top 10%). He doesn’t muscle up the ball, but does a great job at putting it in play. That 11.7% strikeout rate was fifth-lowest among qualified hitters, where the top-10 all hit .275 or better:
Let’s gloss over how Houston has four names on that list and hone in on Newman as the speedster. It wouldn’t shock me to see the power dwindle a bit, you must be ready for 8-10 homers. But the average and plus speed, which recently produced 28 steals across 109 Triple-A games in 2018, should provide draft profits in 2020.
He’s worth taking around pick 109 per the BA+SB chart, so flip that “0” and “9” around.
Verdict: Target, Newman is seriously undervalued at his current draft slot
Jose Altuve - 2B, HOU
NFBC Online ADP: 40
Expected Return for a Power+Speed+Average Hitter Drafted 40th: .292-24-93-83-20
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .300-25-98-81-11
Altuve is covered in scandal stench and stopped running last season. Is he selling out some of the average for power swings? Is he trustworthy in that department to cover all five categories here? Methinks not, though it isn’t some horrible play either. I understand going safe early and taking the floor, but Dusty Baker has also set out a veteran mandate that he’ll rest them here and there. With the aim being roughly 150 games played for each, the chances at 700 PAs and a huge ceiling dwindle.
When Dusty Baker was the manager in Washington, he only had runners steal second at a 6.8% and 7.8% clip. Altuve held an impressive 3.81 ft/sec split time to first base, tied for 25th in the MLB and down only 0.02 ft/sec from 2018. But only 11 steal attempts across ‘19 is discouraging.
And does 2019’s power the new norm? His HR/FB rate soared from the 10-15% range in 2016-18 up to 23.3%. His zone-contact rate dropped from 91% to 86.9% though his overall fly-ball rate held steady around 32%. He “only” hit .298, but many still think of Altuve as the automatic .300s hitter with a chance at sniffing .350. He’s a better hitter than David Peralta, but I’m worried this could be a 2018-Peralta spike where the 12.2% HR/FB rate from 2017 rose to 23.4% before tumbling back to 14.6% in ‘19.
Verdict: Pass, Altuve is overvalued at his current draft slot