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 third basemen and our site projections for them. 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. We'll adjust for any coronavirus-related season changes once they're announced, but let's assume 162 games for now.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 four players at the hot corner 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.
Anthony Rendon - 3B, LAA
NFBC Online ADP: 23
Expected Return for a Power+Average Hitter Drafted 23rd: .304 BA, 30 HR, 100 runs, 93 RBI, 10 SB
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .303-28-100-104-4
Analysis: Rendon is a premier hitter in the middle of a potent Angels order, but the venue is not power-friendly and his days of swiping enough bags to move the needle are gone. Per Baseball Prospectus’ Handedness Park Factors chart, right-handed hitters in Washington enjoyed the 14th-best HR Factor (of 60) while right-handed Halos were 32nd. It was also 32nd for overall runs factor, with Washington at 25th. Is it splitting hairs or seeking out edges?
Allow me to reiterate that the point of this series is not to bash or praise certain as must-have or must-avoid. I'm simply providing a tool that provides context against historical results, and your projection of Rendon may meet the EDV.
Hopefully, you put stock in our stats-y science, though. For us, you’re giving in both the power and speed departments for some RBI against the EDV. I can’t agree with major projection systems calling for an average between .280-.290 given his topping .300 for three consecutive years, but adjusting to new threads can cause volatility. But do be aware that most systems (Steamer: .284, THE BAT: .286) would have you believe his stock is far lower than the expected return here.
Verdict: Pass, Rendon is overvalued at his current draft slot
Josh Donaldson - 3B, MIN
NFBC Online ADP: 94
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 94th: .252-32-79-87-6
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .261-36-96-102-3
Analysis: Donaldson is ready to feast within a monstrous Minnesota offense, with greater power numbers than Rendon. Of course, you trade roughly 50 points of batting average for the 70-pick discount, but the added pop really helps. If you think the R+RBI projection is optimistic, Steamer calls for 199 R+RBI. The injury risk remains after shortened 2017 and 2018 campaigns, but a 155-game 2019 without the DH to hide away in is encouraging.
We aren’t here for on-base percentage leagues, but his average walk rate of 15% over the last four seasons could yield well over 100 runs in such a potent offense. Hitting in the heart of the order usually leaves you leaning on the 5-8 hitters to drive you in, but Minnesota has Eddie Rosario, Mitch Garver and Miguel Sano there. That could be several teams’ 3-5 in the order! Donaldson gets the best of both worlds at the cleanup slot. Draft a decent backup in case injury strikes, but the upside is enormous and the median makes him a strong buy.
Verdict: Target, Donaldson is undervalued at his current draft slot
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. - 3B, TOR
NFBC Online ADP: 58
Expected Return for a Power+Average Drafted 58th: .299-26-83-86-8
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .284-23-83-93-1
Analysis: Guerrero Jr. has a great shot at superstardom, but his price has barely shifted from 2019’s rookie hype despite disappointing fantasy owners last season. Toronto is growing and the top of the lineup is stout, but Vlad won’t chip in steals and his 24 HR+SB falls well short of the 32 expected. He needs to be a .300 hitter to boot, and it’s too early to crown him with that. His R+RBI tally should be healthy at the heart of the order, but his projected line better suits the 100th pick.
I love targeting Bo Bichette given his many paths to success, and Cavan Biggio is a solid mid-round pick if you have a safe average foundation. But Vlad coming out hitting .300 with 30-plus homers is asking a lot as your median projection. If I’m aiming for young upside this early in drafts, it’ll be someone that could contribute both power and speed. He’ll only be 21 years old this season, he’s got plenty of time to grow into the incredible stud we all project him to become.
Verdict: Pass, Guerrero Jr. is overvalued at his current draft slot
Scott Kingery - 3B/OF, PHI
NFBC Online ADP: 160
Expected Return for a Power+Speed Hitter Drafted 160th: .258-23-69-69-13
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .252-22-68-71-16
Analysis: Kingery popped 19 homers with 15 steals and a painless .258 average over 500 PAs (126 games) after looking overmatched as a rookie in 2018. His overall average exit velocity is 88.2 MPH, but the split between his 93.5 MPH mark on flies and liners and the 83 MPH rate on grounders is stark. Starling Marte had a similar profile (93.8, 83.0) in 2019. Kingery’s FB/LD velo was tied with Anthony Rendon, Ketel Marte and Carlos Santana last season, with an 8% Barrel/BBE rate next to Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado.
Not only that, but check out his exit velo broken down by pitch type:
But I’m not trying to frame him as a star, his Barrels/PA rate was only 5%, while Arenado was 6%, which matters over 500-600 PAs. And obviously, non-barreled balls can do better at Coors. Anyway, Kingery’s metrics suggest more confidence and aggression, even if it meant more K’s. His first-pitch swing rate went from 21.9% to 33.8%, with a Meatball Swing% up to 83.2% from 66.5%. His chase rate dropped five percentage points while his zone-swing rate rose eight percentage points.
On top of the bat improvements, he had a sprint speed in the 93rd percentile and a 90-foot split time in the 88th percentile (despite the disadvantage as a right-handed batter there). While coronavirus has pushed the season back, Kingery was a candidate to leadoff with Andrew McCutchen recovering from ACL surgery. The opportunity may not be there, but the confidence in Kingery to have the conversation is a green light to me.
Verdict: Target, Kingery is undervalued at his current draft slot