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Matthew Pouliot

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Projection Review: Hitters

Thursday, October 18, 2018


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: .285/.353/.545, 34 HR, 82 R, 92 RBI, 2 SB in 488 AB
2018 stats: .186/.291/.406, 18 HR, 51 R, 53 RBI, 1 SB in 323 AB

Sanchez was one of my best projections last year -- I had him hitting .278 with 33 homers and he hit .278 with 33 homers -- but not so much this year. I’m not worried about him, though. He was hitting the ball about as hard as anyone, and while his strikeout rate went up some this year, his contact numbers weren’t much different than last season. He should bounce all of the way back, with the obvious caveat that he’s a catcher and catchers do tend to get hurt.

2. Willson Contreras - Cubs
Projection: .274/.351/.489, 23 HR, 63 R, 82 RBI, 4 SB in 442 AB
2018 stats: .249/.339/.390, 10 HR, 50 R, 54 RBI, 4 SB in 474 AB

Contreras’s decline was a little more worrisome, given that the power wasn’t as expected even when he was playing well and the total collapse that followed in the second half. He’ll still be in the top five here next year, but that’s hardly a very high standard at this point.

3. Buster Posey - Giants
Projection: .294/.371/.440, 14 HR, 70 R, 73 RBI, 3 SB in 496 AB
2018 stats: .284/.359/.382, 5 HR, 47 R, 41 RBI, 3 SB in 398 AB

4. J.T. Realmuto - Marlins
Projection: .280/.335/.444, 15 HR, 65 R, 57 RBI, 7 SB in 478 AB
2018 stats: .277/.340/.484, 21 HR, 74 R, 74 RBI, 3 SB in 477 AB

5. Austin Barnes - Dodgers
Projection: .282/.377/.452, 10 HR, 51 R, 45 RBI, 7 SB in 312 AB
2018 stats: .205/.329/.290, 4 HR, 32 R, 14 RBI, 4 SB in 200 AB

At least Barnes hit those three homers in just 25 at-bats in September. It seemed likely that Barnes would play well enough in a job share this year to let the Dodgers allow Yasmani Grandal to depart in free agency this winter. That’s very much up in the air now, though Grandal has hurt his case in October. I still think Barnes is a starting catcher and probably a pretty good one with his on-base skills and pitch-framing ability, but the Dodgers aren’t a team to settle. I imagine there’s a good chance Barnes ends up with 200 at-bats again.

6. Wilson Ramos - Rays/Phillies
Projection: .257/.294/.450, 23 HR, 44 R, 66 RBI, 0 SB in 444 AB
2018 stats: .306/.358/.487, 15 HR, 39 R, 70 RBI, 0 SB in 382 AB

7. Evan Gattis - Astros
Projection: .249/.309/.465, 19 HR, 47 R, 57 RBI, 1 SB in 353 AB
2018 stats: .226/.284/.452, 25 HR, 49 R, 78 RBI, 1 SB in 407 AB

8. Mike Zunino - Mariners
Projection: .220/.306/.457, 26 HR, 52 R, 62 RBI, 1 SB in 418 AB
2018 stats: .201/.259/.410, 20 HR, 37 R, 44 RBI, 0 SB in 373 AB

Not only did Zunino post his highest strikeout rate to date, but his isolated slugging percentage went from .258 in 2017 to .209 this year. It was a disaster of a season, and he provided little reason to think he’ll be much better next year.

9. Yadier Molina - Cardinals
Projection: .265/.315/.386, 11 HR, 55 R, 59 RBI, 3 SB in 487 AB
2018 stats: .261/.314/.436, 20 HR, 55 R, 74 RBI, 4 SB in 459 AB

10. Salvador Perez - Royals
Projection: .258/.289/.447, 18 HR, 40 R, 55 RBI, 0 SB in 396 AB
2018 stats: .235/.274/.439, 27 HR, 52 R, 80 RBI, 1 SB in 510 AB

One day before Opening Day on March 28, Perez suffered a sprained MCL that was supposed to cost him 4-6 weeks. Incredibly, he ended up with 544 plate appearances anyway, tying Contreras for the major league lead among catchers. It helped that the Royals gave him 30 starts at DH (and two at first base). He tied his career highs in homers and RBI, though he did hit for his lowest average ever.

15. Jonathan Lucroy - Athletics
Projection: .260/.332/.364, 6 HR, 58 R, 47 RBI, 2 SB in 439 AB
2018 stats: .241/.291/.325, 4 HR, 41 R, 51 RBI, 0 SB in 415 AB

Lucroy hit 24 homers in 2016. He’s hit 10 in 838 at-bats since.

16 Yasmani Grandal - Dodgers
Projection: .239/.339/.442, 15 HR, 40 R, 41 RBI, 1 SB in 301 AB
2018 stats: .241/.349/.466, 24 HR, 65 R, 68 RBI, 2 SB in 440 AB

21. Matt Wieters - Nationals
Projection: .237/.306/.377, 12 HR, 43 R, 45 RBI, 1 SB in 379 AB
2018 stats: .238/.330/.374, 8 HR, 24 R, 30 RBI, 0 SB in 235 AB

22. Austin Hedges - Padres
Projection: .227/.280/.405, 17 HR, 41 R, 49 RBI, 2 SB in 405 AB
2018 stats: .231/.282/.429, 14 HR, 29 R, 37 RBI, 3 SB in 303 AB

28. Yan Gomes - Indians
Projection: .233/.287/.396, 12 HR, 35 R, 41 RBI, 0 SB in 313 AB
2018 stats: .266/.313/.449, 16 HR, 52 R, 48 RBI, 0 SB in 403 AB

30. Manny Pina - Brewers
Projection: .252/.306/.377, 8 HR, 35 R, 35 RBI, 1 SB in 318 AB
2018 stats: .252/.307/.395, 9 HR, 39 R, 28 RBI, 2 SB in 306 AB

32. Tucker Barnhart - Reds
Projection: .249/.320/.372, 8 HR, 35 R, 37 RBI, 2 SB in 366 AB
2018 stats: .248/.328/.372, 10 HR, 50 R, 46 RBI, 0 SB in 460 AB

39. Jorge Alfaro - Phillies
Projection: .223/.312/.373, 10 HR, 23 R, 28 RBI, 1 SB in 251 AB
2018 stats: .262/.324/.407, 10 HR, 35 R, 37 RBI, 3 SB in 344 AB

Alfaro showed an awful lot of growth defensively in his first full season, which is great news for his future. The offense was a mixed bag. He hits the ball really hard, and .262/.324/.407 line is solid enough. On the other hand, his swinging-strike rate was an outrageous 23.8%. No one else in the majors with at least 200 plate appearances came in over 19%. It took a .406 BABIP to get Alfaro his .262 average, and for all of his apparent power, his isolated slugging percentage was just .145. I’ll have him as a top-15 fantasy catcher next year, but I won’t project a breakout.

First basemen/DH

1. Freddie Freeman - Braves
Projection: .305/.403/.564, 34 HR, 102 R, 102 RBI, 4 SB in 555 AB
2018 stats: .309/.388/.505, 23 HR, 94 R, 98 RBI, 10 SB in 618 AB

2. Paul Goldschmidt - Diamondbacks
Projection: .288/.401/.513, 30 HR, 103 R, 96 RBI, 16 SB in 563 AB
2018 stats: .290/.389/.533, 33 HR, 95 R, 83 RBI, 7 SB in 593 AB

Who would have thought Freeman would have more steals than Goldschmidt this year? Freeman entered with 27 in seven seasons, which is five less than Goldschmidt had in 2016 alone.

3. Cody Bellinger - Dodgers
Projection: .264/.342/.534, 38 HR, 90 R, 106 RBI, 14 SB in 549 AB
2018 stats: .260/.343/.470, 25 HR, 84 R, 76 RBI, 14 SB in 557 AB

Bellinger homered on 25.2% of his flyballs as a rookie. This year, he came in at 15.2%, which isn’t all that much better than the league average of 12.7%. He also hit fewer flyballs than as a rookie. On the plus side, his exit velocity was quite good, if a little short of elite. His strikeout rate also dropped some. I suspect he’ll get back to at least 30 homers next year.

4. Anthony Rizzo - Cubs
Projection: .279/.382/.507, 31 HR, 97 R, 101 RBI, 8 SB in 578 AB
2018 stats: .283/.376/.470, 25 HR, 74 R, 101 RBI, 6 SB in 566 AB

5. Joey Votto - Reds
Projection: .302/.439/.524, 29 HR, 97 R, 89 RBI, 4 SB in 540 AB
2018 stats: .284/.417/.419, 12 HR, 67 R, 67 RBI, 2 SB in 503 AB

6. Jose Abreu - White Sox
Projection: .288/.349/.512, 33 HR, 87 R, 101 RBI, 1 SB in 607 AB
2018 stats: .265/.325/.473, 22 HR, 68 R, 78 RBI, 2 SB in 499 AB

7. Edwin Encarnacion - Indians
Projection: .257/.359/.505, 36 HR, 88 R, 107 RBI, 1 SB in 549 AB
2018 stats: .246/.336/.474, 32 HR, 74 R, 107 RBI, 3 SB in 500 AB

The steadily increasing strikeout rate (15.7 to 19.7 to 19.9 to 22.8 the last four years) hasn’t cost Encarnacion much fantasy value yet, but I think I might finally start to fade him next year.

8. Wil Myers - Padres
Projection: .262/.346/.486, 29 HR, 78 R, 89 RBI, 16 SB in 541 AB
2018 stats: .253/.318/.446, 11 HR, 39 R, 39 RBI, 13 SB in 312 AB

In case you didn’t notice, offense was down this year to the tune of 23 points of OPS across the league. So, these projections do tend to skew towards the over even more than usual. Myers’ .763 OPS this year gave him a 109 OPS+ for the Padres. His .792 OPS in 2017 also gave him a 109 OPS+ then.

9. Eric Hosmer - Padres
Projection: .287/.351/.469, 25 HR, 83 R, 87 RBI, 6 SB in 588 AB
2018 stats: .253/.322/.398, 18 HR, 72 R, 69 RBI, 7 SB in 613 AB

10. Miguel Cabrera - Tigers
Projection: .291/.374/.496, 29 HR, 75 R, 88 RBI, 0 SB in 556 AB
2018 stats: .299/.395/.448, 3 HR, 17 R, 22 RBI, 0 SB in 134 AB

13. Ryan McMahon - Rockies
Projection: .280/.335/.483, 19 HR, 63 R, 76 RBI, 7 SB in 443 AB
2018 stats: .232/.307/.376, 5 HR, 17 R, 19 RBI, 1 SB in 181 AB

14. Logan Morrison - Twins
Projection: .259/.342/.467, 26 HR, 77 R, 86 RBI, 3 SB in 518 AB
2018 stats: .186/.276/.368, 15 HR, 41 R, 39 RBI, 1 SB in 318 AB

16. Matt Olson - Athletics
Projection: .237/.329/.481, 34 HR, 79 R, 86 RBI, 3 SB in 524 AB
2018 stats: .247/.335/.453, 29 HR, 85 R, 84 RBI, 2 SB in 580 AB

18. Chris Davis - Orioles
Projection: .231/.337/.468, 35 HR, 83 R, 82 RBI, 1 SB in 532 AB
2018 stats: .168/.243/.296, 16 HR, 40 R, 49 RBI, 2 SB in 470 AB

The only great comp for Davis’s train wreck of a season is Adam Dunn’s 2011, when he hit .159 with 11 homers in 122 games. Dunn bounced back somewhat afterwards, but never to his previous heights (he had OPS+s of 144 and 138 before the disaster and 114, 105 and 115 afterwards). Unlike Dunn, though, Davis was already trending badly before the cliff dive, and he didn’t have the excuse of playing his first year in a new league (Dunn spent eight years in the NL before joining the White Sox in 2011). I could see Davis getting back to .220-30 HR next year, but even that seems optimistic.

19. Yuli Gurriel - Astros
Projection: .283/.328/.443, 16 HR, 67 R, 73 RBI, 4 SB in 506 AB
2018 stats: .291/.323/.428, 13 HR, 70 R, 85 RBI, 5 SB in 537 AB

20. Matt Carpenter - Cardinals
Projection: .256/.369/.455, 21 HR, 82 R, 64 RBI, 2 SB in 481 AB
2018 stats: .257/.374/.523, 36 HR, 111 R, 81 RBI, 4 SB in 564 AB

22. C.J. Cron - Rays
Projection: .260/.311/.456, 25 HR, 66 R, 82 RBI, 4 SB in 551 AB
2018 stats: .253/.323/.493, 30 HR, 68 R, 74 RBI, 1 SB in 501 AB

26. Yonder Alonso - Indians
Projection: .253/.328/.441, 22 HR, 66 R, 71 RBI, 2 SB in 501 AB
2018 stats: .250/.317/.421, 23 HR, 64 R, 83 RBI, 0 SB in 516 AB

27. Colin Moran - Pirates
Projection: .265/.324/.427, 16 HR, 56 R, 58 RBI, 2 SB in 445 AB
2018 stats: .277/.340/.407, 11 HR, 49 R, 58 RBI, 0 SB in 415 AB

30. Joe Mauer - Twins
Projection: .273/.358/.388, 9 HR, 69 R, 58 RBI, 1 SB in 516 AB
2018 stats: .282/.351/.379, 6 HR, 64 R, 48 RBI, 0 SB in 486 AB

38. Jesus Aguilar - Brewers
Projection: .242/.313/.452, 9 HR, 24 R, 29 RBI, 1 SB in 186 AB
2018 stats: .274/.352/.539, 35 HR, 80 R, 108 RBI, 0 SB in 492 AB

63. Luke Voit - Cardinals/Yankees
Projection: .256/.330/.419, 3 HR, 11 R, 11 RBI, 0 SB in 86 AB
2018 stats: .322/.398/.671, 15 HR, 30 R, 36 RBI, 0 SB in 143 AB

No Max Muncy, I’m afraid. I didn’t even give him a projection.

 


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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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