Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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Projection Review: Hitters

Friday, October 13, 2017


Here’s the first of two pieces looking at back at my hitting projections and how things ended up. I’ll be doing the top 10 for each position and other notables, starting with the catchers, first basemen, second basemen and third basemen today.

Catchers

1. Gary Sanchez - Yankees
Projection: .278/.342/.521, 33 HR, 81 R, 86 RBI, 5 SB in 532 AB
2017 stats: .278/.345/.531, 33 HR, 79 R, 90 RBI, 2 SB in 471 AB

OK, that wraps up this year’s projection reviews columns. See y’all next year.

2. Buster Posey - Giants
Projection: .298/.364/.450, 16 HR, 73 R, 79 RBI, 2 SB in 516 AB
2017 stats: .320/.400/.462, 12 HR, 68 R, 65 RBI, 8 SB in 494 AB

3. Jonathan Lucroy - Rangers/Rockies
Projection: .276/.338/.433, 14 HR, 62 R, 65 RBI, 3 SB in 467 AB
2017 stats: .265/.345/.371, 6 HR, 45 R, 40 RBI, 1 SB in 423 AB

You kept reading, eh?

4. J.T. Realmuto - Marlins
Projection: .276/.327/.417, 12 HR, 55 R, 56 RBI, 9 SB in 463 AB
2017 stats: .278/.332/.451, 17 HR, 68 R, 65 RBI, 8 SB in 532 AB

5. Willson Contreras - Cubs
Projection: .267/.346/.441, 16 HR, 56 R, 59 RBI, 3 SB in 424 AB
2017 stats: .276/.356/.499, 21 HR, 50 R, 74 RBI, 5 SB in 377 AB

There’s a good chance Contreras would have finished up as the year’s No. 2 fantasy catcher if not for the hamstring injury in August. I’m not positive yet, but I might put him ahead of Posey for the second spot in next year’s rankings.

6. Evan Gattis - Astros
Projection: .253/.313/.494, 22 HR, 46 R, 56 RBI, 1 SB in 356 AB
2017 stats: .263/.311/.457, 12 HR, 41 R, 55 RBI, 0 SB in 300 AB

7. Salvador Perez - Royals
Projection: .261/.293/.428, 19 HR, 51 R, 65 RBI, 0 SB in 498 AB
2017 stats: .268/.297/.495, 27 HR, 57 R, 80 RBI, 1 SB in 471 AB

8. Yasmani Grandal - Dodgers
Projection: .241/.350/.450, 20 HR, 52 R, 56 RBI, 1 SB in 378 AB
2017 stats: .247/.308/.459, 22 HR, 50 R, 58 RBI, 0 SB in 438 AB

Grandal’s K rates in his three years in Los Angeles: 22%, 25%, 27 %
Grandal’s BB rates in his three years in Los Angeles: 15%, 14%, 8%

I wonder what happens next, given Austin Barnes’ emergence. Grandal has those great pitch-framing numbers to fall back on, but Barnes is already the better hitter and the gap figures to grow wider.

9. Russell Martin - Blue Jays
Projection: .225/.327/.390, 17 HR, 56 R, 58 RBI, 3 SB in 431 AB
2017 stats: .221/.343/.388, 13 HR, 49 R, 35 RBI, 1 SB in 307 AB

10. Devin Mesoraco - Reds
Projection: .243/.323/.437, 16 HR, 39 R, 46 RBI, 2 SB in 325 AB
2017 stats: .213/.321/.390, 6 HR, 17 R, 14 RBI, 1 SB in 141 AB

Mesoraco will be a $13 million bench player for the Reds next year unless they can swap him for another bad contract. I do hope a deal materializes; it doesn’t seem likely that Mesoraco will ever be a regular catcher again, but if he can still play back there a couple of times per week, I would think he could help an AL team as a catcher/DH.

Others

13. Mike Zunino - Mariners
Projection: .221/.306/.429, 21 HR, 48 R, 55 RBI, 1 SB in 394 AB
2017 stats: .251/.331/.509, 25 HR, 52 R, 64 RBI, 1 SB in 387 AB

14. Brian McCann - Astros
Projection: .233/.314/.406, 19 HR, 49 R, 54 RBI, 0 SB in 421 AB
2017 stats: .241/.323/.436, 18 HR, 47 R, 62 RBI, 1 SB in 349 AB

15. Travis d’Arnaud - Mets
Projection: .259/.333/.435, 12 HR, 37 R, 42 RBI, 0 SB in 313 AB
2017 stats: .244/.293/.443, 16 HR, 39 R, 57 RBI, 0 SB in 348 AB

D’Arnaud hit .297 with six homers and 19 RBI in September to finish with somewhat respectable numbers. The Mets probably won’t upgrade behind the plate this winter, leaving them with d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki battling for time next spring.

16. Yan Gomes - Indians
Projection: .249/.287/.416, 14 HR, 41 R, 49 RBI, 0 SB in 382 AB
2017 stats: .232/.309/.399, 14 HR, 43 R, 56 RBI, 0 SB in 341 AB

17. Matt Wieters - Nationals
Projection: .252/.317/.405, 13 HR, 43 R, 50 RBI, 0 SB in 393 AB
2017 stats: .225/.288/.344, 10 HR, 43 R, 52 RBI, 1 SB in 422 AB

19. Yadier Molina - Cardinals
Projection: .266/.317/.354, 6 HR, 45 R, 49 RBI, 2 SB in 463 AB
2017 stats: .273/.312/.439, 18 HR, 60 R, 82 RBI, 9 SB in 501 AB

21. Wilson Ramos - Rays
Projection: .257/.297/.410, 10 HR, 28 R, 34 RBI, 0 SB in 268 AB
2017 stats: .260/.290/.447, 11 HR, 19 R, 35 RBI, 0 SB in 208 AB

27. Austin Barnes - Dodgers
Projection: .256/.341/.394, 4 HR, 22 R, 19 RBI, 3 SB in 160 AB
2017 stats: .289/.408/.486, 8 HR, 35 R, 38 RBI, 4 SB in 218 AB

I doubt it’s happening, but if the Dodgers were to make Barnes their second baseman next year, I’d probably rank him as the No. 4 catcher. He can contribute in every category.

41. Bruce Maxwell - Athletics
Projection: .240/.306/.349, 4 HR, 24 R, 23 RBI, 0 SB in 229 AB
2017 stats: .237/.329/.333, 3 HR, 21 R, 22 RBI, 0 SB in 219 AB

48. Kurt Suzuki - Braves
Projection: .243/.306/.329, 3 HR, 20 R, 21 RBI, 0 SB in 210 AB
2017 stats: .283/.351/.536, 19 HR, 38 R, 50 RBI, 0 SB in 276 AB

Maybe the most bizarre season in a year of bizarre seasons. Suzuki hit more homers in 276 at-bats this year than in 1,230 at-bats the previous three years. His .536 slugging percentage was 115 points better than he had done in any of his previous 10 seasons.

First basemen/Designated hitters

1. Paul Goldschmidt - Diamondbacks
Projection: .291/.405/.518, 30 HR, 103 R, 98 RBI, 20 SB in 570 AB
2017 stats: .297/.404/.563, 36 HR, 117 R, 120 RBI, 18 SB in 558 AB

It’s worth noting that Goldschmidt didn’t do much running after the first two months; after 32 steals in 2016 and 12 in April and May of this year, he was just 6-for-9 the last four months. That’s a significant chunk of his value gone if it’s the start of a trend.

2. Freddie Freeman - Braves
Projection: .296/.388/.536, 31 HR, 98 R, 103 RBI, 3 SB in 577 AB
2017 stats: .307/.403/.586, 28 HR, 84 R, 71 RBI, 8 SB in 440 AB

3. Miguel Cabrera - Tigers
Projection: .306/.389/.534, 32 HR, 89 R, 102 RBI, 0 SB in 566 AB
2017 stats: .249/.329/.399, 16 HR, 50 R, 60 RBI, 0 SB in 469 AB

4. Anthony Rizzo - Cubs
Projection: .283/.383/.511, 30 HR, 98 R, 101 RBI, 9 SB in 579 AB
2017 stats: .273/.392/.507, 32 HR, 99 R, 109 RBI, 10 SB in 572 AB

Rizzo has finished with 31 or 32 homers and OPSs in the .899-.928 range each of the last four years. It seems like remarkable consistency and it is, but with offense on the way up, he’s losing ground; his OPS+ peaked at 152 in 2014 and has tumbled each subsequent year: 146 in 2015, 143 in 2016 and 132 in 2017. I don’t think the trend is irreversible -- he’s just going into his age-28 season -- but he usually seems to be overdrafted and that probably isn’t changing.

5. Edwin Encarnacion - Indians
Projection: .272/.368/.526, 34 HR, 87 R, 108 RBI, 1 SB in 529 AB
2017 stats: .258/.377/.504, 38 HR, 96 R, 107 RBI, 2 SB in 554 AB

6. Joey Votto - Reds
Projection: .296/.434/.498, 25 HR, 96 R, 84 RBI, 5 SB in 530 AB
2017 stats: .320/.454/.578, 36 HR, 106 R, 100 RBI, 5 SB in 559 AB

It didn’t seem so crazy to think some decline would set in at age 33. Instead, Votto had his best home run season since 2010 and his best RBI season since 2011.

7. Jose Abreu - White Sox
Projection: .287/.351/.498, 31 HR, 85 R, 98 RBI, 1 SB in 600 AB
2017 stats: .304/.354/.552, 33 HR, 95 R, 102 RBI, 3 SB in 621 AB

8. Hanley Ramirez - Red Sox
Projection: .279/.351/.495, 27 HR, 82 R, 92 RBI, 7 SB in 527 AB
2017 stats: .242/.320/.429, 23 HR, 58 R, 62 RBI, 1 SB in 496 AB

He looked really good in the ALDS, though.

9. Chris Davis - Orioles
Projection: .241/.345/.508, 40 HR, 89 R, 99 RBI, 1 SB in 547 AB
2017 stats: .215/.309/.423, 26 HR, 65 R, 61 RBI, 1 SB in 456 AB

Davis would have crushed the strikeout record if he hadn’t been limited to 128 games. He still nearly got to 200. His 195 put him on pace for 236 in 155 games. The record is 223, established by Mark Reynolds in 2009. Davis had 219 in 157 games last year.

10. Wil Myers - Padres
Projection: .267/.349/.458, 24 HR, 85 R, 77 RBI, 18 SB in 554 AB
2017 stats: .243/.328/.464, 30 HR, 80 R, 74 RBI, 20 SB in 567 AB

Others

11. Eric Hosmer - Royals
Projection: .286/.344/.453, 21 HR, 84 R, 93 RBI, 4 SB in 594 AB
2017 stats: .318/.385/.498, 25 HR, 98 R, 94 RBI, 6 SB in 603 AB

12. Eric Thames - Brewers
Projection: .254/.330/.471, 28 HR, 80 R, 85 RBI, 11 SB in 539 AB
2017 stats: .247/.359/.518, 31 HR, 83 R, 63 RBI, 4 SB in 469 AB

Such a weird season. After 11 homers in 20 games, Thames hit just .226/.337/.446 after April 26. Still, injuries seemed to play a role in May, and he did stabilize towards the end of the year, putting up a .900 OPS in the final seven weeks. His defense was bad and his terrible numbers with RISP meant he was worth less than his OPS suggests. 63 RBI with 31 homers is a rather incredible figure. I expect that he’ll have some value next season, but probably not a whole lot as a likely platoon guy.

13. Carlos Santana - Indians
Projection: .247/.364/.460, 29 HR, 92 R, 75 RBI, 4 SB in 554 AB
2017 stats: .259/.363/.455, 23 HR, 90 R, 79 RBI, 5 SB in 571 AB

14. Albert Pujols - Angels
Projection: .260/.323/.445, 27 HR, 71 R, 92 RBI, 2 SB in 557 AB
2017 stats: .241/.286/.386, 23 HR, 53 R, 101 RBI, 3 SB in 593 AB

Pujols jumped from 10th to seventh on the home run list and 20th to 10th on the RBI list this year. He fell about 30 spots on the OBP list to 124th and five or six spots on the OPS list to 22nd.

Career OPS entering 2017: Pujols .965, Votto .961
Career OPS exiting 2017: Votto .969, Pujols .947

1 DH. Kendrys Morales - Blue Jays
Projection: .256/.322/.473, 30 HR, 71 R, 92 RBI, 0 SB in 539 AB
2017 stats: .250/.308/.445, 28 HR, 67 R, 85 RBI, 0 SB in 557 AB

16. C.J. Cron - Angels
Projection: .270/.316/.473, 25 HR, 66 R, 80 RBI, 5 SB in 537 AB
2017 stats: .248/.305/.437, 16 HR, 39 R, 56 RBI, 3 SB in 339 AB

.267/.326/.512 with 14 HR in 217 AB in the second half after the Angels stopped jerking him around and just let him play.

24. Ryan Zimmerman - Nationals
Projection: .265/.331/.451, 17 HR, 52 R, 60 RBI, 2 SB in 408 AB
2017 stats: .303/.358/.573, 36 HR, 90 R, 108 RBI, 1 SB in 524 AB

25. Joe Mauer - Twins
Projection: .277/.366/.397, 10 HR, 70 R, 63 RBI, 1 SB in 519 AB
2017 stats: .305/.384/.417, 7 HR, 69 R, 71 RBI, 2 SB in 525 AB

Mauer hit .305 while batting in the middle of a quality order, but without the homers, it’s just really difficult to put up solid run and RBI numbers.

26. Logan Morrison - Rays
Projection: .254/.331/.440, 18 HR, 57 R, 58 RBI, 4 SB in 425 AB
2017 stats: .246/.353/.516, 38 HR, 75 R, 85 RBI, 2 SB in 512 AB

Just something to consider if you’re thinking about giving a certain first baseman a $150 million contract this winter:

Hosmer: 132 OPS+ in 2017, 111 OPS+ career, will play next season at age 28
Morrison: 135 OPS+ in 2017, 109 OPS+ career, will play next season at age 30

27. Josh Bell - Pirates
Projection: .270/.340/.417, 12 HR, 62 R, 51 RBI, 3 SB in 429 AB
2017 stats: .255/.334/.466, 26 HR, 75 R, 90 RBI, 2 SB in 549 AB

My thinking with Bell was “solid average, not enough power to be much of a factor in mixed leagues.” However, he was a totally different player from what I thought he’d be.

34. Justin Smoak - Blue Jays
Projection: .239/.316/.463, 15 HR, 33 R, 38 RBI, 0 SB in 259 AB
2017 stats: .270/.355/.529, 38 HR, 85 R, 90 RBI, 0 SB in 560 AB

35. Mark Reynolds - Rockies
Projection: .257/.332/.448, 10 HR, 32 R, 35 RBI, 1 SB in 230 AB
2017 stats: .267/.352/.487, 30 HR, 82 R, 97 RBI, 2 SB in 520 AB

37. Yonder Alonso - Athletics/Mariners
Projection: .257/.324/.373, 6 HR, 39 R, 37 RBI, 2 SB in 335 AB
2017 stats: .266/.365/.501, 28 HR, 72 R, 67 RBI, 2 SB in 451 AB

This was not a good section of the rankings. Obviously, the home run spike did not affect all players equally. Smoak has always had the raw power, and it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility that he was going to have a career year at some point. Reynolds used to have the power, but he had tried to go in the other direction in order to survive as a part-timer. Alonso was strictly a doubles guy who seemed to give up on trying for homers years ago. I’m not betting on any big encores here, though I imagine Smoak will be ranked well ahead of the other two in the draft guide.

43. Cody Bellinger - Dodgers
Projection: .237/.308/.443, 7 HR, 16 R, 20 RBI, 2 SB in 131 AB
2017 stats: .267/.352/.581, 39 HR, 87 R, 97 RBI, 10 SB in 480 AB

And well behind Bellinger, who should have little difficulty cracking the top five, even if he did fade some in the second half.

5 DH. Trey Mancini - Orioles
Projection: .250/.303/.439, 8 HR, 22 R, 24 RBI, 1 SB in 180 AB
2017 stats: .293/.338/.488, 24 HR, 65 R, 78 RBI, 1 SB in 543 AB


continue story »
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Matthew Pouliot is the Executive Editor of RotoWorld.com and has been doing the site's baseball projections for the last 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @matthewpouliot.
Email :Matthew Pouliot



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