2018 FreezeStats Hitter Projections Revisited

(Cover image courtesy of Star Tribune)

This past season was the second time I did my own full projections covering over 300 players. In total, that came out to approximately 225 hitters and 100 pitchers. I wanted to get an idea of the overall accuracy of my projections, which of course is difficult if I don’t compare them to other project systems. The problem is, I didn’t project enough players to accurately compare them to the major projection systems. What I did do, is run my projections against each player’s final statistics and calculate the z-Scores for each statistic. For hitters that’s Runs, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, OBP, & Plate Appearances; for pitchers, it’s IP, W, K, ERA, and WHIP. I also eliminated any player that had under 300 PA or pitcher with less than 90 IP.  For this article, I’ll only touch on the hitters. I’ll follow up with pitchers in a day or two.

The link to each projection spreadsheet is below.  I’ve used conditional formatting for the Z-Scores where Dark RED is very poor accuracy (high Z-Score), white is an average projection, and dark green is very accurate. I’ll highlight a few from both ends of the spectrum below, but make sure to take a look at the link to see the results of the rest of the projections. In the meantime, I’ve already started my projections for 2019 and plan on doing well over 400.

2018 Hitter Projections vs Actual

A few players I basically projected to a “T” were:

Andrelton Simmons (SS – LAA)

Actual 68 11 75 10 0.292 0.337 600
Proj 65 12 72 12 0.278 0.332 612

Simmons hit for a higher average than I projected thanks to yet another improvement in contact rate. Simmons rarely swings and misses, but he’s more of a compiler than anything else. If Simmons hit my 612 PA, he may have gone 12-12 as I projected.

Nelson Cruz (DH – SEA)

Actual 70 37 97 1 0.256 0.342 591
Proj 87 35 104 1 0.264 0.345 635

Not surprising that I hit on Nelson Cruz. The elder statesman has been a model of consistency for the better part of the last decade. I projected a decrease in power and batting average due to natural age-progression, and that’s exactly what happened. Going into 2019, Cruz will turn 39 during the season, so it’s difficult to project better than .250-34-90 this coming year as he hits free agency.

Eddie Rosario (OF – MIN)

Actual 87 24 77 8 0.288 0.323 592
Proj 74 24 84 8 0.273 0.316 592

Rosario had a nice breakout in 2017 at age-26, so naturally, he should continue to improve, right? Instead, he basically finished with the same results he had in 2017. My projection for plate appearances (592), home runs (24), and steals (8) all were a direct hit! I liked Rosario’s value coming into 2018 but didn’t expect a skills bump. For 2019, I see regression for Rosario due to a decrease in plate discipline and I’m staying away.

Rhys Hoskins (1B/OF – PHI)

Actual 89 34 96 5 0.246 0.354 660
Proj 81 37 95 3 0.256 0.345 609

Talk about projections that were all over the map for Hoskins. After bashing 18 homers in 50 games at the conclusion of 2017, I saw anything from mid/upper 20 homers to 40+ homers from Hoskins. There was also talk of a higher batting average given his elite plate skills. The problem was, he hits far too many fly balls and doesn’t run well, limiting his BA upside. I had Hoskins at .256 which turned out to be HIGH and almost nailed his HR projection with 37 but he had 50 more PA than my projection. I’ll be cautious with Rhys for 2019 and don’t think he’s a lock to be a top 50 player.

Jean Segura (SS – SEA)

Actual 91 10 63 20 0.304 0.341 632
Proj 86 11 64 20 0.282 0.328 622

Jean proved me wrong with a .300+ batting average, but everything else worked out pretty nice. Whether it seems like it or not, Jean is becoming more consistent but his upside is relatively limited at this point. Still, a solid player giving you speed which continues to decrease league-wide without complete lack of power. Segura should hold some value for 2019 as flashier players begin to move ahead of him.

Justin Upton (LAA – OF)

Actual 80 30 85 8 0.257 0.344 613
Proj 83 30 95 11 0.254 0.336 625

After blasting a career high in home runs and RBI in 2017, I figured Upton was due for some regression. Well, duh. Even getting to play a full season hitting behind Mike Trout, Upton’s rate stars were a bit out over their skis in 2017. In addition to the HR/RBI regression, I knew that Upton could maintain another .270+ batting average given his high-20s K rate. Going forward, Upton’s speed s dwindling and he is looking more like a .250-28-90-7 guy which is useful but could be overvalued in drafts for 2019.

Now for the projections that were so far off, it’s hard to fathom how I got there. I’ll give it a shot to figure this out as I recap.

Carlos Correa (SS – HOU)

Actual 60 15 65 3 0.239 0.323 468
Proj 94 29 103 10 0.295 0.378 637

Injuries. It’s not just that he missed time due to his injured back, he also recently had offseason surgery to repair a deviated septum. In other words, he couldn’t breathe. OK, he could breathe, but not well. So, Correa went from hitting .315 in 2017 to a meager .239 in 2018. I think one thing I’m going to do with Correa’s 2019 projection is to limit his plate appearances to around 550-575. I see a big bounce-back in average and power but the speed isn’t coming back friends.

Javier Baez (2B/SS – CHC)

Actual 101 34 111 21 0.29 0.326 645
Proj 62 21 67 9 0.251 0.299 465

On the other end of the poor projection spectrum, we have Javy Baez. One of my bust picks finished second in NL MVP voting. Yikes. Well, I discussed Baez’ awful plate discipline which he has embraced. I also factored in Manager Joe Maddon‘s decisions to move players around the field, in the lineup, etc. I figured Baez would see the bench during slumps and that Ian Happ would see more time at 2B. Whoops. The lesson for 2019, never bet heavily against power/speed talent.

Lewis Brinson (OF – MIA)

Actual 31 11 42 2 0.199 0.24 406
Proj 73 18 65 12 0.256 0.315 565

Speaking of players with the talent of power and speed… Well, I figured the move to Miami would allow Brinson to play every day without an OF roster crunch like there was in Milwaukee. As it turns out, if you hit .199 with an OBP that’s below Giancarlo’s weight, you don’t get to play every day. Oh well. My projections weren’t even that optimistic, Brinson was just straight BAD.

Logan Morrison (1B – MIN)

41 15 39 1 0.186 0.276 359
68 26 77 2 0.243 0.328 548

After a late breakout in 201, Logan Morrison was in the spotlight for less time than his great-uncle Jim. (That’s a Doors reference for those of you who aren’t 60 years old). Not much to say here. I knew that the 36 bombs he hit in 2017 wasn’t for real but come on Lo-Mo! 15 homers and a .186 batting average?!? Who are you, Chris Davis? It’s safe to keep Morrison out of my projections for 2019 and for everyone’s sake, hopefully, he retires. Thanks for reading! I’ll continue my projections for 2019 riiiiiiiiight now!

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First Base – The Choice Is Yours

As I continue my ADP analysis, we move from one side of the diamond to the other. Today I’m going to discuss four power hitting mystery first baseman. I suppose most first baseman are big-time power threats but that’s beside the point. There are some intriguing names and projections on this list and again I’ll be using ZIPS projections and NFBC ADP for all these players.

1BZIPS Projections    
Player A0.2649634121549
Player B0.2387633882125
Player C0.2407429757200
Player D0.2556225724290

Um, OK so Player A is basically a beast, right? Is it Edwin Encarnacion from 2016? No, but that’s what the projections say. This polarizing figure burst on the scene in August of last year belting 18 home runs in ONLY 50 games. You already know who this is based on ADP and the sentence prior; it’s Rhys Hoskins MFer! I love Rhys but this projection seems out of whack. It’s funny because I love his approach and patience, he’s going to draw walks and his strikeout rate should be at or below average, combine that with a ton of fly balls and hard contact and you’ve got a 40 home run hitter. I have him projected for 37 home runs but I can’t figure out where the 121 RBI are coming from. Cesar Hernandez should be leading off and Carlos Santana takes a lot of walks but it’s not like Mike Trout and Joey Votto are hitting in front of him. Maybe he can reach 100 RBI but I can’t go higher than that, is he worth a top 50 pick? Barely, so GET WITH THIS, but let him come to you.

Player B appears to have similar power numbers to Hoskins but appears to have a major average drain. However, that’s built into the price as his ADP is over 75 spots after Hoskins. I don’t think Player B has a great walk rate either based on the projected run total; that or he hits sixth in a sub-par lineup. Player B actually had a better HR/PA than Hoskins did in 2017. Player B is Oakland’s Matt Olson who blasted an amazing 24 home runs in only 216 plate appearances. Olson will take plenty of walks, hits 45+% fly balls and hits the ball hard. The only he doesn’t do as well as Hoskins is limit strikeouts, that’s where the batting average drop comes into play. He’s never hit for a good average, even in the minors and his park doesn’t play as well for power as Citizens Bank Park in Philly. However, if you miss out on Hoskins early or play in an OBP league, jump in on Olson at his current price and reap the benefits. GET WITH THIS.

Player C basically looks like Olson light, which makes him look like Hoskins extra light and fluffy like Fluffernutter. The good news is that he’s being taken around pick 200, so it’s not like you are spending much to get him. This NL first baseman is also OF eligible and came out like gangbusters early in 2017 looking like Babe Ruth! If that didn’t give this one away, I don’t know what will. Player C is Eric Thames. After killing it in Korea, Thames came back to the States and showed that he belonged. The power is legit evidenced by a 41.5% hard contact rate and a 24.6% HR/F rate last year. However, the strikeouts are high and the contact rate is poor, he also has playing time concerns with the additions of Cain and Yelich pushing Braun to play some first base. Including Broxton, there are six players to fill four positions (3 OF, 1B) and I think Broxton and Thames see the least playing time of the group. Between playing time issues, pitcher’s starting to figure him out, and similar players (like player D below) who are going even later in drafts, I’m out on Thames except maybe in OBP leagues. DON’T GET WITH THIS.

Player D has a pretty solid line considering his ADP is sitting all the way up at 290. Here’s another guy who had a massive breakout near the age of 30. Player D changed his approach like many others by increasing launch angle, hit the ball harder, but sacrificed average and struck out more. His current ADP is unfair because he only signed about two weeks ago. Player D is Logan Morrison. While his strikeout rate increased, it wasn’t a complete killer at 25%. Although when you combine it with a high fly ball rate and slow foot speed, you’re going to be low BABIPs and a low batting average. I’ll take the under on a .255 average but I will take the over on 25 home runs. He should sit firmly in the middle of the Twins lineup and drive in 80-85 runs. As long as the ADP stays below 240, I”m gonna GET WITH THIS.