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Finding Under and Overvalued OF Using Expected Draft Values

We've been rolling out our Expected Draft Values series, starting with Nick Mariano's look into some undervalued players and overvalued players. As draft season winds down today, we're going to give you some undervalued and overvalued players who qualify at outfield.

As a quick primer, Expected Draft Value is the value you would historically expect, on average, from a given draft slot. In other words, Expected Draft Value lets you put a stat line next to every pick in the draft... if the player you draft performs better than expected, you get positive value. If the player you draft performs worse than expected, that's negative value. As we all know, a fantasy draft is all about maximizing the potential positive value from every pick.

For example, we can say that "if you draft a power + average hitter 97th overall, your Expected Draft Value should be a line of 285-26-76-75-4. That's your 'break even point'. If you draft a player at 97 who performs better than that, you win, or at least put yourself one player closer to winning.  For a full explanation of our Expected Draft Value research, see Nick's article's from yesterday, linked above. With the introduction out of the way, let’s dive into some undervalued and overvalued outfielders!

 

Undervalued Outfielders to Target

Kevin Kiermaier - OF, TB

NFBC ADP: 363
Expected Return for a Power+Speed Hitter Drafted 363rd: .241-14-50-60-14
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: .244-14-53-68-18

Kevin Kiermaier is currently being drafted 363rd overall, pretty much an afterthought even in slightly deeper leagues. His fantasy numbers have never fully come to fruition, mostly because he has often been hurt in his MLB career. However, his ATC/The Bat projections have him returning value of the 270-to-290 pick range, based on production. Nothing really stands out in terms of his advanced batting statistics, but he has been known to provide speed and pop in chunks in the past. He plays the game hard, which, if it doesn’t lead to him getting hurt, could benefit fantasy owners.

The case for Kiermaier really boils down to if he can stay healthy and put together a full season. If he can, then he has the potential to get fantasy owners 20 HR and 20 steals. Even if you were to “reach” on him and take him at pick 290 instead of 363, the risk is very low compared to the potential reward.

 

Kevin Pillar - OF, TOR

NFBC ADP: 360
Expected Return for a Power+Speed Hitter Drafted 360th: .241-14-50-60-14
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: .261-16-61-67-14

Analysis: Our other undervalued outfielder presents a similar profile to Kiermaier but has a little more stability to offer. Kevin Pillar is currently being drafted just before Kiermaier at pick 360, but his ATC/The Bat projections value him between pick mid-180s to pick 200, which means he is being seriously undervalued.

Pillar offers the pop and speed of Kiermaier but with a solid batting average floor (career .261 average). He doesn’t walk much (career 4.2% walk rate) but also doesn’t strike out much (16.2% career strikeout rate), so realistically he can serve as a late round pick that can help fantasy owners in two categories without dragging them down in any of the other three categories. His profile isn’t exciting, but based on the expected value of his projection, Pillar could be a steal in 2019.

 

Overvalued Outfielders

Christian Yelich - OF, MIL

NFBC ADP: 7
Expected Return for a Power+Speed+Average Hitter Drafted 7th: .316-28-97-100-25
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: .299-28-90-100-16

Christian Yelich is a guy who deservedly is going very early in drafts. The 27-year-old had an immense breakout season in 2018, taking home all kinds of accolades, including NL MVP, and narrowly missing out on a triple crown. There is no question here that he should be going early in drafts, but based on our research and his 2018 batted-ball profile, there is good reason to think that Yelich is being overvalued with the seventh overall pick.

Yelich’s ATC/The Bat projections fall significantly short of the expected return for the seventh-overall historical power+speed+average player pick. Based on his projections, Yelich’s output would place him in the production range of the 13 to 15 overall pick. This is not so much a case of Yelich being projected to put up lackluster numbers but more of an unlikelihood that he will replicate his stellar stat line in 2018. Negative regression is certainly expected after taking a look at his batted-ball profile.

A few things stand out in Yelich’s batted-ball profile for 2018. In terms of power, he has always hit the ball hard, and 2018 was no different (his 92.3 MPH average exit velocity was in the top 6% of players). However, he also posted an inflated 35% HR/FB rate, which was the highest among qualified hitters and was much higher than his 20.3% career mark. Yelich was able to hit the ball out of the park despite being a historical ground ball hitter. His 51.8% GB rate in 2018 was tied for 11th-highest among qualified hitters, and his 4.7-degree launch angle was one of the lowest in baseball. Again, Yelich is a great player and an immense fantasy asset, but he likely won’t be as great as he was in 2018. He's worth passing on in the first round for players who are more of a sure thing to return 1st round value. If you can get him at the beginning or middle of the second round instead of the middle of the first, you’ve gotten yourself a more fair value.

 

Byron Buxton - OF, MIN

NFBC ADP: 152
Expected Return for a Power+Speed Hitter Drafted 152nd: .255-17-59-74-19
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: .241-15-50-63-21

This next guy is a former prospect who has yet to pan out, but it looks like fantasy managers still have hope in him given his current ADP. Byron Buxton is currently being drafted at pick 152. Yet as you can see, the expected return for a power+speed player at pick 152 is much greater than that of what Buxton is projected to produce in 2019, minus the steal totals. In fact, if you take the steals out of the equation for a moment, Buxton’s four remaining stat projections place him around the expected production of about pick 362. Of course, his steals potential is one of his most appealing fantasy aspects, but when you consider the total package, it seems that Buxton is being considerably overvalued.

Buxton’s overall profile is mainly a steals threat with a bit of pop. However, his steals upside is limited by the fact that he doesn’t get on base nearly enough. Buxton’s plate approach hinders his ability to get on base consistently: he doesn’t walk much (career walk rate 6.5%), he strikes out a ton (31.7% career K rate), and he doesn’t hit the ball all that hard (85.7 MPH average exit velocity). These factors lead to a below-average career batting average of .230 despite getting BABIP help (career .320) from his speed.

The one bit of hope about Buxton is that, while his 2018 was dreadful, it came with several asterisks. His shortened season was marred with injuries, including migraines, a fractured left big toe, and a sprained left wrist. Buxton now appears to be fully healthy, as he has been raking in spring training. That being said, one strong offseason does not offset a career of disappointment. There are plenty other sources of steals who also provide value in other areas, so don’t feel the need to reach on Buxton.

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Finding Under and Overvalued SS Using Expected Draft Values

We've been rolling out our Expected Draft Values series, starting with Nick Mariano's look into some undervalued players and overvalued players.As draft season winds down today, we're going to give you some undervalued and overvalued players who qualify at shortstop.

As a quick primer, Expected Draft Value is the value you would historically expect, on average, from a given draft slot. In other words, Expected Draft Value lets you put a stat line next to every pick in the draft... if the player you draft performs better than expected, you get positive value. If the player you draft performs worse than expected, that's negative value. As we all know, a fantasy draft is all about maximizing the potential positive value from every pick.

For example, we can say that "if you draft a power + average hitter 97th overall, your Expected Draft Value should be a line of 285-26-76-75-4. That's your 'break even point'. If you draft a player at 97 who performs better than that, you win, or at least put yourself one player closer to winning.  For a full explanation of our Expected Draft Value research, see Nick's article's from yesterday, linked above. With the introduction out of the way, let’s dive into some undervalued and overvalued shortstops!

 

Undervalued Shortstops to Target

Elvis Andrus - SS, TEX

NFBC ADP: 182
Expected Return for a Speed and Batting Average Hitter Drafted ~182nd: .287-7-69-46-20
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: .277-12.5-77-64-15.5

After a breakout 2017, Andrus’s 2018 was marred by a broken elbow that cost him two months and effectiveness even when he returned. The Bat and ATC average projections expects Andrus to return his draft value at a minimum. His moderate power and speed combination make him an odd fit for our cohorts (defined in more detail here), but his all-around production places him closer to a top-150 pick than his current 182.

Andrus’s second half gives managers plenty of reason to expect a full rebound. His hard-hit rate, fly-ball rate, and groundball rate all returned to his 2017 levels. His infield-fly rate dropped back to his career average. In the second half of 2018, he was clearly still struggling to generate ideal contact as well as he did in 2017, but there were plenty of signs that he can be a 17-17 player who provides 160 R+RBI this season.

 

Paul DeJong - SS, STL

NFBC ADP: 178
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted ~178th: .249-28-72-70-2
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: .253-27-71.5-79-2

Like Andrus, DeJong is another player whose promising 2018 was derailed by injury. Unlike Andrus, DeJong is just entering his prime, and he was able to make a full recovery after returning from injury. Last season, DeJong rushed back from a fractured left hand and slumped for a month as he made weak contact and struggled to find his rhythm. A month after returning from injury, DeJong got his groove back and finished strong.

Over the final two months of the season, DeJong improved his contact rate, batted-ball profile, and dropped his strikeout rate. In the projection, DeJong’s run and RBI contributions are his most questionable areas. Moreover, he’s likely to outperform the batting average projection. Currently, he’s slated to bat second in a Cardinals lineup that features Paul Goldschmidt in the three-hole. DeJong’s role with the Cardinals should make him one of those players whose modestly undervalued talent is augmented by an advantageous role. Reaching for him slightly ahead of his ADP could return a nice profit in 2019.

 

Overvalued Shortstops to Avoid

Jonathan Villar – SS, BAL

NFBC ADP: 81
Expected Return for a Speed and Batting Average Hitter Drafted 81st: .291-10-88-59-25
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: .251-15-67-49.5-37.5

Like Andrus, Villar is an interesting case in that he doesn’t fit many of the models for player roles and values. Villar projects better home run and stolen base totals than Andrus, but he’s a weaker asset in the other three categories. That’s especially true if the Orioles are as poor as they look. It’s not impossible that Villar could produce exactly 100 runs and RBI combined the way he did last year.

In Baltimore, Villar is a legitimate candidate to hit 15 home runs and steal 40 bases, but there could be a severe negative cost for those other three categories, and a low batting average floor creates more downside to his steals totals than we'd like for a near-one-trick pony like Villar. Paying for those steals when they could be recreated with an Andrus and Laureano combination much later in the draft seems like a poor strategy for roster construction, especially so early.

 

Jurickson Profar - SS/3B/1B, OAK

NFBC ADP: 123
Expected Return for a Power and Speed Hitter Drafted 125th: .260-17.5-83-62-20
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: .255-17.5-75.5-66-9.5

Profar is being drafted as a power-speed threat, but right now the numbers don’t add up for him. Unless he takes another huge step forward, there’s not enough power and average to carry him without more steals, and there doesn’t appear to be enough speed to make up for the middling batting average. It’s worth noting that ATC is higher on Profar and gives him numbers closer to his expected value based on his ADP.

With Profar, there are just so many causes for concern. Matt Olson’s injury helps guarantee playing time, but even if Profar reaches 600 plate appearances, he’s been so inconsistent that selecting him at 123 eats up all the profit. Profar may offer an interesting dynamic, but his peripherals show a player with mediocre power, speed, contact skills, and plate discipline. That's a strong potential for negative value and a strong pass!

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Finding Under and Overvalued 3B Using Expected Draft Values

We've been rolling out our Expected Draft Values series, starting with Nick Mariano's look into some undervalued players and overvalued players. Today, we're going to give you some undervalued and overvalued players who qualify at third base.

As a quick primer, Expected Draft Value is the value you would historically expect, on average, from a given draft slot. In other words, Expected Draft Value lets you put a stat line next to every pick in the draft... if the player you draft performs better than expected, you get positive value. If the player you draft performs worse than expected, that's negative value. As we all know, a fantasy draft is all about maximizing the potential positive value from every pick.

For example, we can say that "if you draft a power + average hitter 97th overall, your Expected Draft Value should be a line of 285-26-76-75-4. That's your 'break even point'. If you draft a player at 97 who performs better than that, you win, or at least put yourself one player closer to winning.  For a full explanation of our Expected Draft Value research, see Nick's article's from yesterday, linked above. >With the introduction out of the way, let’s dive into some undervalued and overvalued third basemen!

 

Undervalued Third Basemen to Target

Justin Turner - 3B, LAD

NFBC ADP: 109
Expected Return for a Power + Batting Average Hitter Drafted 109th: 286-26-75-75-3
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: 297-22-82-82-4

The value with Turner is mostly found within his batting average. As you see above a player who contributes in both batting average and power and it taken around the 109th pick usually contribute a .286 batting averge. However, Turner has the potential to get into the .300 region.

If you look at his Statcast xBA for each of the last two seasons, then his current batting average projection is actually his floor. Power wise he is a little below what we might expect at this level but those extra four or five home runs can be found later in the draft, batting average cannot.

Maikel Franco - 3B, PHI

NFBC ADP: 267.5
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 265th: 222-28-76-64-3
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: 258-25.5-80-64.5-1.5

2018 was a better season for Franco, as he hit 22 home runs with a .270 batting average in just 465 PA. Given his current ADP Franco can afford to regress a little in his batting average this season and still return value. Over the last three years, he averaged 23.7 home runs per season, and has not been below 20 in any of those years. The batting average is the bigger question mark as it has fluctuated from .230 to .280 over the last four seasons.

His xBA across those four season has been pretty much dead on his current projection at .256. If Franco reaches his projection then he is more than likely to find himself among the top-200 hitters for fantasy which means a substantial profit on his low ADP.

 

Overvalued Third Basemen to Target

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. - 3B TOR

NFBC ADP: 63
Expected Return for an Power + Batting Average Hitter Drafted 63rd: 302-28-86-80-4
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: 299-21.5-78-75.5-5

Guerrero's fantasy value has received a massive pump thanks to the success of recent prospects in the majors. Guerrero is an extremely talented hitter but his expectations are absolutely sky high. His value has gotten more realistic since his oblique injury. However as you can see from the numbers expected above, his current projection doesn't meet the break even point we would need to return value from a power and batting average hitter drafted 63rd.

The issue with the way Guerrero was being drafted earlier in draft season is that the majority of his upside was being negated by the high price. His current price is better but it is still a round or two higher than the value his current projections indicate.

Joey Wendle - 2B/3B TB

NFBC ADP: 225
Expected Return for a Power, Speed Hitter Drafted 225th: 242-15-60-68-16
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: 266-9.5-55.5-57.5-12

Wendle had a fascinating 2018 season, hitting .300 with seven home and 16 stolen bases. However, his current draft price is not only assuming he can do that again but that he can go one better. His batting average is the most interesting as his actual number last season (.300) was .039 higher than his xBA (.261). Therefore, it is reasonable to expect some regression this season. Even though regression down to his xBA from last season would still be an improvement on the batting average expected return for his ADP, the other numbers are a concern.

Wendle did manage to succeed in 80% of his stolen base attempts last season, thanks to ranking in the 81st percentile in sprint speed. However, repeating his 16 stolen bases is likely his upside. In terms of power, it s a major concern that Wendle had a barrel% of just 2.7 last season, leading to a exit velocity ranked in just the 47th percentile. It would be a surprise if Wendle finished with double digit home runs this season, and the lack of upside in either his power or speed is what makes him overvalued at this price.

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Finding Under and Overvalued 1B Using Expected Draft Values

We've been rolling out our Expected Draft Values series, starting with Nick Mariano's look yesterday into some undervalued players, and we followed it up this morning with Nick's look at overvalued playersThis afternoon, we're going to give you some undervalued and overvalued players at first base.

As a quick primer, Expected Draft Value is the value you would historically expect, on average, from a given draft slot. In other words, Expected Draft Value lets you put a stat line next to every pick in the draft... if the player you draft performs better than expected, you get positive value. If the player you draft performs worse than expected, that's negative value. As we all know, a fantasy draft is all about maximizing the potential positive value from every pick.

For example, we can say that "if you draft a power + average hitter 97th overall, your Expected Draft Value should be a line of .285-26-76-75-4. That's your 'break even point'. If you draft a player at 97 who performs better than that, you win, or at least put yourself one player closer to winning.  For a full explanation of our Expected Draft Value research, see Nick's article's from yesterday, linked above. With the introduction out of the way, let’s dive into some undervalued and overvalued first basemen!

 

Undervalued First Basemen to Target

Joey Gallo - 1B/OF, TEX

NFBC ADP: 102
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 102nd: .245-31-89-78-5
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: .220-42-100-88-6

Analysis: Gallo is projected to obliterate the return we would expect from the 102nd overall player. If he reaches his projection, he would be fair value as early as the 65th pick in your draft, so there is potentially quite a wide margin of profit to be had. RotoBaller's rankers aren't as bullish on Gallo as ATC/The Bat, mostly because of his batting average downside.

Gallo has never hit above .209 in his big-league career and has a whopping 38% career strikeout rate; both of these stats limit Gallo’s potential to reach his projected counting stats. Despite the apparent flaws in his game, Gallo is still worth reaching for several rounds ahead of his ADP given his projected value. If he can manage to cut down on his strikeout rate, even a little, then Gallo will help you dominate in three categories, which will more than offset his overall low batting average.

 

Justin Smoak - 1B, TOR

NFBC ADP: 230
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 230th: .250-29-73-58-1
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: .245-29-80-76-1

Analysis: Talk about value! Based on the projections, Smoak is projected to be a steal at pick 230. His projections value him at around pick 150, which would be significantly better than both his NFBC ADP and RotoBaller rank. Smoak’s 2018 strikeout rate of 26.1% jumped above his career mark of 23.7%, which raises concern, especially as he enters 2019 at age 32.

This concern, coupled with the current state of the Blue Jays lineup make RotoBaller slightly lower on Smoak compared to ATC/The Bat. That being said, fantasy players can feel comfortable taking Smoak as much as five rounds earlier than his ADP depending on their team needs. His profile isn’t exciting, but he is slated to provide great relative value in 2019.  

 

Overvalued First Basemen

Ian Desmond - 1B/OF, COL

NFBC ADP: 142
Expected Return for a Power+Speed Hitter Drafted 142nd: .256-18-61-75-20
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: .258-17-64-70-17

Analysis: Desmond isn’t projected to underperform his draft position by all that much, but the stats he is projected to underperform in are important ones. His batting average, RBI, and run projections place his value at around the 150 pick range for power + speed guys, but his HR and steal projections place him roughly in the pick 180 to 190 range.

Desmond has always been a decent source of steals, but he will be 33 years old entering the 2019 season. At some point, his wheels will start to slow down, so there is no guarantee he will significantly help you in this category. As for the power, Desmond is a notorious ground ball hitter (52.6% career rate), limiting his potential HR value even in Coors Field. What’s more, Desmond did hit 22 HR last season but did so at an inflated 24.7% HR/FB rate compared to a career 14.7% clip.

Negative regression can be expected, which decreases the likelihood of him contributing as much in that category. Desmond is slated to be a power and speed dual fantasy threat, but his underlying batted-ball profile coupled with his age make him overvalued in 2019. Look to take him a few rounds later than his ADP to protect yourself from getting burned.

 

Max Muncy - 1B/2B/3B, LAD

NFBC ADP: 118
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 118th: .254-32-84-74-3
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: .247-28-79-77-4

Analysis: Nick talked about Muncy yesterday, but I'm going to dive a little deeper since he's a sexy name. Max Muncy came out of nowhere in 2018 and was a fantasy All-Star, and his 2019 ADP certainly reflects that. His projections, however, slate him to finish slightly lower than his ADP, and there are some questions surrounding whether he can hit his projections. His projections place him around pick 126 to 130, which is only about a round lower than his current ADP. Let’s take a closer look at Muncy’s 2018 stats to see how likely he is to meet his 2019 expectations.

A few stats stand out from Muncy’s 2018 campaign. First, he posted an excellent walk rate (16.4%) and a lackluster strikeout rate (27.2%). Both of these stats are in line with Muncy’s career numbers (14.9% and 25.6%) and last season was his first successful one. The walk rate is great, but a high strikeout rate is always a cause for concern. Two other stats that stand out are Muncy’s HR/FB rate and average exit velocity.

His HR/FB rate was a massive 29.4%, which was third highest amongst hitters with at least 450 AB and was significantly higher than his career mark of 21.7%. He also hit the ball hard throughout the season (average exit velocity 90.1 MPH) and barrelled up the ball 16.9% of the time, which was in the top one percent in the league. Muncy excelled out of his mind in 2018, and, while he could do it again, fantasy players could protect themselves from him not meeting his projections by waiting at least a round before drafting him.

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Finding Under and Overvalued 2B Using Expected Draft Values

We've been rolling out our series on Expected Draft Values, an innovative new way to find under and overvalued players. Yesterday, we started with Nick Mariano's look into some undervalued players, we followed it up this morning with Nick's look at overvalued players and then Connelly Doan's look at some under and overvalued first basemenThis evening, we're going to keep things going and give you some undervalued and overvalued players at second base.

As a quick primer, Expected Draft Value is the value you would historically expect, on average, from a given draft slot. In other words, Expected Draft Value lets you put a stat line next to every pick in the draft... if the player you draft performs better than expected, you get positive value. If the player you draft performs worse than expected, that's negative value. As we all know, a fantasy draft is all about maximizing the potential positive value from every pick.

For example, we can say that "if you draft a power + average hitter 97th overall, your Expected Draft Value should be a line of 285-26-76-75-4. That's your 'break even point'. If you draft a player at 97 who performs better than that, you win, are at least put yourself one player closer to winning.  For a full explanation of our Expected Draft Value research, see Nick's article's from yesterday, linked above. With the introduction out of the way, let’s dive into some undervalued and overvalued first basemen!

 

Undervalued Second Basemen to Target

Daniel Murphy - 2B, COL

NFBC ADP: 72.4
Expected Return for a High Average Hitter Drafted 72nd: 320-17-80-75-3
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: 308-22-85-80.5-4

Murphy is another player who will be hoping for a late career boost in Colorado. 2018 was a tough year for Murphy as he struggled to stay on the field and managed to hit just 12 home runs in his 351 PA, but did put up a more than useful .299 batting average. Murphy is projected to outperform the numbers we might expect from a predominantly batting average contributor drafted 72nd overall. When you compare Murphy's projections to the expected values, he is projected to slightly outperform the expected values in home runs, runs and RBI, but will lose a little in batting average.

A good comparison for what Murphy could do in 2019 is to look at Scooter Gennett's 2018 season. Gennett put up a 308-23-92-86-4 last season and finished ranked 35th overall on the season. Murphy is more than capable of not only matching that but possibly exceeding it if he sees a boost in Coors. Murphy will need to reverse his drop in exit velocity on fly balls and line drives from last season to get back to around the 93 mph mark. If he can do that then the change in park factors could see Murphy top 25 home runs this season.

Batting average wise Murphy has returned an xBA around the .300 mark in each of the last four seasons, so penciling that in is a fairly safe floor to his value. Additionally, the move to Coors will also see a big increase in the park factor for batting average when it comes to left-handed hitters. If Murphy can stay healthy this year he has a legitimate chance to get back to the .320 batting average he posted in 2017 with the Nationals. As a final kicker, he is also projected to hit third between Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story, which could see him blow the projection of a combined 165.5 runs and RBI out of the water this season. If Murphy does benefit from the Coors effect then he could end up being one of the steals of draft season in 2019.

 

Travis Shaw - 2B/3B, MIL

NFBC ADP: 94.6
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 95th: 241-33-90-81-3
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: 255-32-91-81-5

Shaw is a hitter who very much divides opinions in 2019. However, you do not find many hitters who are eligible at second base and can give you more than 30 home runs. The biggest win when you are looking to draft Shaw is the return that his batting average offers. Shaw is currently projected to have a batting average .014 higher than what we would expect from a power hitter drafted 95th overall. To put that into context his numbers are closer to the return we would expect from a hitter who finishes in the mid-80s in fantasy rankings than the mid-90s.

The biggest concern with Shaw is the way his batting average has yo-yo'd the last four years. Twice he has hit for an average above .270 and twice he has been between .240 and .245. The slightly concerning thing is that his xBA has pretty much always been around the .245 mark throughout his four years in the majors. However, when you look at what we would expect from the 95th hitter off the board, even Shaw's worst return on average would simply present exact value for his draft position. Additionally, at this point Shaw feels almost locked in to hit around 31-32 home runs this season, having done that in each of the last two years. In both of those years, his Statcast numbers have been fairly similar, so it should be no shock to see him repeat those numbers.

However, given that 2019 is likely to see Shaw remain at third base for the majority of the season, that stability could mean we see a slight increase in performance at the plate. When playing third base last season, Shaw hit for a .255 batting average, as opposed to a .223 batting average when he was at second base. The upside here is not huge, but the eligibility at one of the weakest positions in fantasy baseball makes Shaw worth the reach a round earlier than his current ADP might suggest.

 

Overvalued Second Basemen to Avoid

Whit Merrifield - 2B KC

NFBC ADP: 30.20
Expected Return for a Speed & High Batting Average Hitter Drafted 30th: 302-7-54-95-47
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: 282-13-66-79.5-32

The desperation for steals in fantasy baseball has led to what appears to be an extreme overvaluing of Merrifield. In 2018, Merrifield stole 45 bases, while hitting 12 home runs at a .304 batting average. In order for Merrifield to return his current draft day value, based on our draft valuation numbers, he would essentially need to repeat the numbers he put up in 2018. However, the majority of projection systems do not believe that Merrifield will repeat either his batting average or steals prowess in 2019.

In terms of stolen bases, it simply comes down to opportunities. Last season, Merrifield was successful on 45 of his 55 stolen base attempts, while in 2017, it was 34 of 42. Merrifield ranked 51st in sprint speed in 2018 (92nd percentile), a number which suggests that if they let him run 55 times again, then he should steal 40 or more bases. However, just stealing the bases is not enough, as Merrifield needs the batting average to go with it, because 13 home runs is not a significant enough number to boost any value lost through batting average.

The entirety of the value question comes down to whether Merrifield can repeat his batting average numbers from last year, which most projection systems do not believe. The Statcast data backs up the projection systems, as Merrifield has never had an xBA above .278 in three-year major league career. His speed does mean that he should be able to outperform that xBA once again in 2019, but to do it by the same extent that he did in 2018 is a stretch to expect. In 2017, Merrifield had a batting average of .288 with an xBA of .277, which is closer to the difference between the two values that you would expect to see. Hypothetically, if Merrifield stole 40 bases, hit around 13 home runs and hit for a .280 batting average, then his comparative value would be to Jose Reyes in 2012 and Starling Marte in 2013. Both of those hitters finished outside the top-50 overall in fantasy value, suggesting that Merrifield is going a round or two too earlier in 2019 fantasy drafts.

 

Ozzie Albies - 2B ATL

NFBC ADP: 59.15
Expected Return for an All-Around Hitter Drafted 59th: 285-20-72-85-21.5
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: 274-20-76.5-88-16.5

Albies is one of the hottest names in baseball right now. The young Atlanta hitter broke out last season with 24 home runs, 16 stolen bases and a .261 batting average. Those numbers have seen Albies become a hot commodity in drafts this year, but his price has now reached a point where there is no value left, and if anything drafters are overvaluing him. At a 59 ADP, you need a studly 5-category line to justify the cost.  Of the five categories above, arguably the two most important for Albies to not fall below are batting average and steals. Unfortunately, he does not make the grade at either of those.

Albies hit just .261 last season, but his Statcast xBA was just .247. That presents a big reason for concern. Now the positive is that Albies is likely to return expected numbers at R, RBI, and HR, but BA and SB will be a struggle.It is the combination of the power, average and speed that makes Albies worth drafting, along with solid R+RBI totals he should see in a good Atlanta lineup. However, you don't want to just break even at 59th overall, you want to have some room for profit. It's a shame his ADP isn't closer to 90, because that's about the point where he would represent solid value.

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2020 Fantasy Baseball Advice 2020 Fantasy Baseball Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy & Tips Editor Note MLB Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Intro: Finding Overvalued Players Using Expected Draft Values

Yesterday we introduced the concept of Expected Draft Values and looked at four undervalued players that are prime targets in 2019.

Today, we'll look at four overvalued players. Stay tuned the next few days as we bring you a deeper look at undervalued and overvalued players from each position using Expected Draft Values.

Generally, what we are trying to do here is identify players who will return negative value, based on their ADP, the average stat line typically produced at that ADP, and the player's projection. Here's how it works.

 

Our Methodology

First, let's explain what Expected Draft Value is. It is the value you would historically expect, on average, from a given draft slot. In other words, Expected Draft Value lets you put a stat line next to every pick in the draft... if the player you draft performs better than expected, you get positive value. If the player you draft performs worse than expected, that's negative value. As we all know, a fantasy draft is all about maximizing the potential positive value from every pick. Expected Draft Values help us do that.

As you'll note, this analysis only pertains to hitters and will focus around batting average, home runs and stolen bases. Runs and RBI do enter the equation, but they are more products of circumstance and of HR and BA.

We took every player-season from the past 10 years and classified them into one of seven cohorts: 1) BA+HR+SB, 2) BA+HR, 3) HR+SB, 4) BA+SB, 5) BA, 6) HR, 7) SB. The minimum bar for entry into each cohort is:

1) BA+HR+SB: .270, 15 HR, 12 SB
2) BA+HR: .275, 25 HR
3) BA+SB: .270, 15 SB
4) HR+SB: 12 HR, 12 SB
5) BA: .300
6) HR: 27 HR
7) SB: 15 SB

The cohorts were defined to have roughly the same amount of players (150-170 each), and we chose these cohorts to reflect the types of players we frequently target in drafts, i.e. 5-category guys (cohort 1), pure power guys (cohort 6), speedsters (cohort 7), etc.

We then took each cohort and created rolling averages of the stat lines and player rankigs to smooth things out from the top to the bottom of each cohort.  The end result was a smooth dataset that allowed us to set Expected Draft Values for any draft pick. This allowed us to say "If you draft a power + average hitter 97th overall, your Expected Draft Value should be a line of 285-26-76-75-4. That's your 'break even point'. If you draft a player at 97 who performs better than that, you win, are at least put yourself one player closer to winning. 

 

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 point of every draft slot, you can identify which players are projected to return positive or negative value. Below, we look at four overvalued based on their NFBC ADP, ATC + THE BAT projection averages, and Expected Draft Values.

Without further ado, here are some players that stand to return negative value at their current cost in 2019 drafts. 

 

Jonathan Villar - 2B/SS, BAL

NFBC ADP: 78
Expected Return for a Power+Speed Hitter Drafted 78th: 89-18-73-23-.261
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: 67-15-50-38-.251

Analysis: Villar won championships in 2016 and caused great pain in 2017 as a first-round flop. His 2018 started without much fanfare but he received a much-needed change of scenery in July after being dealt to Baltimore. Even though the Orioles offense is a big step down from the Brew Crew, he was allowed to run and mustered enough pop to be useful. Was that two-month spurt for real? Or will he revert closer to the 1.5 years’ worth of hitting from 2017 to the deadline in ‘18? The projection systems that strip emotion away aren’t forgetting the bad times so easily, which is a good lesson for us all. If Villar reaches his projection, he'll be returning significantly less value than you would need to justify at 78 ADP.

 

Carlos Correa - SS, HOU

NFBC ADP: 49
Expected Return for a Power+Average Hitter Drafted 49th: 83-29-91-5-.292
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: 87-25-90-5-.276

Analysis: Correa enters his fifth Major League season at the ripe age of 24, though he’s failed to eclipse 500 PAs in the last two seasons. These projections aren’t splitting hairs over playing time, though it’s worth mentioning. After stealing 27 bases in his first 252 games, Correa has only attempted six steals in his last 219 games. It’s possible that returns but impossible to bank on it. Mix in a strikeout rate that jumped nearly five percentage points in ‘18 and the weaker contact (13.9% HR/FB rate compared to a 19% career mark) and it’s hard to push the power projections up. However, Correa would need to do just that, and raise his batting average back towards the .315 mark from ‘17, in order to meet expectations here. If you're relying on the projections, there are better options with less risk at an ADP of 49.

 

Max Muncy - 1B/2B/3B, LAD

NFBC ADP: 117
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 117th: 74-32-84-3-.254
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: 77-28-79-4-.247

Analysis: Muncy swings a powerful stick, but is still at risk of not being an everyday player when all are healthy. Now that Chris Taylor got designated as the utility player, Muncy has a better lock on PAs, but Dave Roberts still likes to mix his lineups up frequently. That said, Muncy should still top last year’s 481 plate appearances after he rode the bench for most of April, which should help offset regression sucking down the 29.4% HR/FB rate. While the expected return at Muncy's ADP is pretty close to his projection, it doesn't offer a ton of room for profit, and if he doesn’t top 30 homers or a .250 average, you might be left needing profits elsewhere to break even.

 

Billy Hamilton - OF, KC

NFBC ADP: 154
Expected Return for a Speed Hitter Drafted 154th: 69-9-53-32-.260
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: 68-4-34-42-.242

Analysis: Hamilton, much like Dee Gordon before him, is also returning poor value on his one-category contribution. We said how Gordon’s barrel rate was the lowest, but Hamilton is in the bottom-five (he had two on 376 BBEs) alongside a 79.3 MPH average exit velocity -- the worst out of all qualified hitters. Maybe a move to Kauffman Stadium’s power-suppressing park will help dissuade him from that ugly 35.2% fly-ball rate that he posted in ‘18. His value comes on the grounders that he can beat out and not much else. His RBI count will continue to stink at the bottom of KC’s order and you’ll need him to swipe 50 bags in order to turn any sort of profit, and still love yourself come October.

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Intro: Finding Undervalued Players Using Expected Draft Values

At RotoBaller, we are all about bringing you the best analysis in the fantasy sports universe. We’re proud to unveil a draft-season project that looks at the past 10 years of draft data to find undervalued and overvalued players based on Expected Draft Values. 

This series introduction will briefly break down our methodology and then present four players that this exercise has painted as undervalued targets. 

Using recent history, we should be able to identify players presenting positive expected value (+EV) and negative alike.Tomorrow will bring a general overvalued piece, before each individual position (sans catcher) is analyzed.

 

Our Methodology

First, let's explain what Expected Draft Value is. It is the value you would historically expect, on average, from a given draft slot. In other words, Expected Draft Value lets you put a stat line next to every pick in the draft... if the player you draft performs better than expected, you get positive value. If the player you draft performs worse than expected, that's negative value. As we all know, a fantasy draft is all about maximizing the potential positive value from every pick. Expected Draft Values help us do that.

As you'll note, this analysis only pertains to hitters and will focus around batting average, home runs and stolen bases. Runs and RBI do enter the equation, but they are more products of circumstance and of HR and BA.

We took every player-season from the past 10 years and classified them into one of seven cohorts: 1) BA+HR+SB, 2) BA+HR, 3) HR+SB, 4) BA+SB, 5) BA, 6) HR, 7) SB. The minimum bar for entry into each cohort is:

1) BA+HR+SB: .270, 15 HR, 12 SB
2) BA+HR: .275, 25 HR
3) BA+SB: .270, 15 SB
4) HR+SB: 12 HR, 12 SB
5) BA: .300
6) HR: 27 HR
7) SB: 15 SB

The cohorts were defined to have roughly the same amount of players (150-170 each), and we chose these cohorts to reflect the types of players we frequently target in drafts, i.e. 5-category guys (cohort 1), pure power guys (cohort 6), speedsters (cohort 7), etc.

We then took each cohort and created rolling averages of the stat lines and player rankigs to smooth things out from the top to the bottom of each cohort.  The end result was a smooth dataset that allowed us to set Expected Draft Values for any draft pick. This allowed us to say "If you draft a power + average hitter 97th overall, your Expected Draft Value should be a line of 285-26-76-75-4. That's your 'break even point'. If you draft a player at 97 who performs better than that, you win, are at least put yourself one player closer to winning. 

 

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 point of every draft slot, you can identify which players are projected to return positive or negative value. Below, I look at four players that are being undervalued in drafts based on their NFBC ADP, ATC + THE BAT projection averages, and Expected Draft Values. (Yes, THE BAT is part of ATC’s aggregate equation, but it was the most accurate non-aggregate projection system in ‘18 per FantasyPros and deserves the spotlight.)  

Without further ado, here are some players that stand to return substantial profits to fantasy owners at their current cost in 2019 drafts. 

 

Nelson Cruz - DH, MIN

NFBC ADP: 97
Expected Return for a Power+Average Hitter Drafted 97th: 75-26-76-4-.285
2019 The Bat + ATC Nelson Cruz Projection: 81-34-95-2-.275

Yeah, that’s quite the power gap. Cruz continues to produce as he ages gracefully whilst protected from playing the field, yet fantasy owners are shying away in ‘19 (unless they’re wise and using our ranks that have Cruz at 66). This likely has more to do with his DH/UTIL designation, but your roster’s flexibility can handle this crazy discount. Only Aaron Judge had a higher average exit velocity than Cruz’s 93.9 MPH mark in 2018 (min. 200 batted-ball events) while his average homer distance and Barrels/PA rate were both in the top-15. Minnesota’s ballpark is nothing to be afraid of, few things are for a man’s of Cruz’s caliber. If Cruz hits his projection, he would be fair value around 50th overall, so lean into this discount and enjoy your profits. 

 

Rougned Odor - 2B, TEX

NFBC ADP: 130
Expected Return for a Power+Speed Hitter Drafted 130th: 80-17-62-21-.259
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: 85-28-81-16-.254

Odor had hit 63 homers with 29 steals between 2016-17 before going 18 HR/12 SB over 535 PAs in ‘18. He started cold but wound up with a .253 average and career-best .326 OBP, though the optimism is shackled to a 50% success rate on the basepaths. Systems won’t over-penalize one rough year there, nor will it overweigh the sudden ability to take a walk, but Odor is just 25 and calls Arlington home. Baseball Prospectus has a handy Park Factors by Handedness stat, where Texas LHBs enjoyed the 10th-best HR Factor and fifth-best overall runs factor in ‘18. Odor's projection implies fair value around 75-80th overall, so there is substantial room to profit here.

 

Ryan Braun - 1B/OF, MIL

NFBC ADP: 199
Expected Return for a Power+Speed Hitter Drafted 199th: 73-19-62-15-.237
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: 69-21-69-13-.267

Braun has plenty of health questions, but one has to consider the possibilities here.  You’ll either get a guy knocking on five-category contribution in a plus hitter’s park and stacked lineup all season long, or you get that for a while and then combine his output with a waiver-wire pickup for an above-average composite. You can see that most power-speed hitters near this point of the draft will cost you in batting average, yet Braun won’t. No one, including the projections, are touting Braun as a 600-PA lock set to regain his superstar form, but his modest output across the board is worth much more than a pick near 200. In fact, his projection becomes profitable to draft anywhere below 125 overall. 

 

Mike Moustakas - 3B, MIL

NFBC ADP: 142
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 142nd: 68-29-80-3-.255
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: 74-32-90-3-.260

Like Braun, Moustakas gets to tee off at Miller Park while likely hitting around sixth in a crowded lineup. The PA limitations push his ceiling down, but he could easily outperform Travis Shaw or Jesus Aguilar and earn the cleanup spot. It makes little sense that his HR/FB rate dipped after coming from pitcher-friendly Kauffman Stadium, so look for regression to pay off in ‘19. His exit velocity rose two full ticks alongside a 1.3-degree gain in launch angle and six-percentage-point climb in hard-hit rate compared to 2017 per Statcast data, so consider me in.  Mous's projection becomes profitable anywhere after ~80th overall.

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