NFBC ADP vs Steamer Projections – Outfielders Part 2
Continuing on from part one of our outfielders review of projections vs ADPs, we are heading back to the American League Central and looking at the Minnesota Twins duo of Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler. Just a reminder, we are looking at where players are currently being drafted using their NFBC ADP, then comparing their Steamer projections and identifying where you can find value in similarly projected players.
Firstly, those of you who read part one will notice a trend forming here. There’s a somewhat significant disparity between the two players projected batting averages of .022 (it was 0.064 last season) but Kepler is actually projected for a higher OBP so becomes even more useful in leagues scoring walks. Immediately, that 168 place difference is dramatically reduced in such leagues.
Looking at their 2018 stats, it’s hard to pick holes in the projections. But in Kepler’s case, it’s not too difficult to see where he can make some improvements on them. Having hit .203 and .152 against left handed pitching in his first two seasons, Kepler hit .245 against them last year. His walk rate of 11.6 BB% was a career high also, all the while his BABIP was just .236 indicating he had a pretty unlucky season. That bad luck is most likely why his batting average is expected to head north, so couple that with his gains in hard hit and flyball rates and the outcome could easily be 25 home runs, if not a few more.
Rosario is a bit more difficult to gauge as he suffered a shoulder injury in June and while he avoided the newly named injured list at the time, further injury ended his season early which could explain his second half slump after a red-hot start. There isn’t anything to suggest Rosario won’t match his projections and he did hit 27 homers in 2017 as well as steal 11 bases in 2015. Reaching those numbers again in 2019 wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility.
If both players do manage to avoid missing time this year, it won’t take much for Kepler to match or exceed Rosario’s numbers. But to justify a 12+ round difference would mean Rosario outperforming his projection by quite a bit or Kepler having a somewhat miserable season. While either or both are possible, there’s plenty more routes for that 168-place difference in ADP to have been far too big come season’s end.
The fourth and final outfield duo we’re looking at is the Tampa Bay Rays pair of Austin Meadows and Kevin Kiermaier.
Remember that theme of the OBP difference being much more minimal that the batting average? Well it continues here. Although harder to really predict due to Meadows’ limited Major League experience (59 games), Meadows did have a .325 OBP in those 59 games and has posted around a .300-.310 OBP in the minors previously so .315 seems about right albeit if it was nearer .300 it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Kiermaier on the other hand has a career .313 OBP so it will more than likely be very close by season’s end between them. Kiermaier also has a career .254 batting average so it’s reasonable to expect them to be pretty close there too.
What isn’t reasonable to expect is Kiermaier staying healthy all season. Missing 8, 10 then 9 weeks in the last three seasons through various injuries, Kiermaier has a high of 105 games played in a season since 2015. Despite averaging just 97 games in the last three seasons, he’s also averaged 11 homers and 16 stolen bases. Even with a modicum of better health and 120-130 games played, a 15/20 season cannot be ruled out.
Meadows is also only projected to play 124 games and given the Rays also have Tommy Pham and Avisail Garcia, that could be a factor. I’m a fan of his and given every projection I’ve seen has him going 15/15 (give or take a homer and stolen base), Meadows has a realistic chance of going 20/20 with more regular playing time. Who knows what a full Spring with the knowledge he’s got a spot in the lineup will do but it should at least help Meadows to start the year.
If you look at the projections without the names or ADP attached, would you think one was being drafted 11 rounds before the other? Same runs and RBIs combined, one more stolen base and home run combined and a .027 batting average deficit doesn’t sound like a 131-place difference. In fact, in OBP leagues, would could make a case for them to go in the same round.
We’ll continue this journey looking at the infield positions next so stay tuned for that.