We’re continuing with our NFBC ADP vs Steamer projections analysis with corner infielders. Those of you who haven’t read the outfielders articles, go back and do so! But as an FYI, we’re just looking at players who have very differing ADPs in live NFBC drafts but not significant differences in their Steamer projections, therefore finding potential value in your drafts.
Starting off at the first base position and a reminder, the above are their Steamer projections heading into Spring. The first thing you may wonder about is Aguilar only being projected for 28 homers when he hit 35 last year. Well don’t forget, Smoak hit 38 in 2017 before only mustering 25 last year so regression is a very real thing.
I actually think Aguilar hits 30 again this year, but at the same time I think Smoak touches 30. Even if Smoak only reaches his projection and Aguilar makes it to 30, do you think is justifies 157 spots between them in drafts?
Near identical batting averages may also raise an eyebrow. Smoak’s breakout 2017 may well be an outlier as his .270 batting average that year was also a career high by some margin (.238 was his previous high). Last year did see him hit .242 which although nothing to brag about, still was better than his career average and his second-best season long average to date. The 25 homers were his second most in any year too. So, 2017 doesn’t seem to be the new norm for Smoak but 2018 may well be a safe baseline to project from.
Aguilar is a little bit more difficult to work out as 2018 was his first full season with regular playing time (even if he had to wait a couple of weeks to win the role). In 2017, Aguilar did have 311 plate appearances and hit .265 so last year’s .274 average wasn’t much of a stretch to believe in. For this year, Aguilar will likely see some regression there. Maybe not all the way down to .242, but his career minor league average was .267 and even in 2016 when he found his power swing and hit 30 homers, his average was only .247.
Both should hit in the heart of their respective team’s lineups and although the Brewers should be more fantasy friendly than the Blue Jays’, they only scored 45 more runs than Toronto last year. If you believe Agular will be closer to his 2018 version than his Steamer projections, then you can tag on a few more runs and RBIs. But the fact they are projected for similar profiles yet are so far apart in drafts merely emphasises that missing out on one of the top options means waiting a little longer to draft one isn’t such a crazy idea.
Next up we look at third basemen and as a bonus treat, we’ll be looking at three.
First thing to address is we don’t know where Moustakas will end up nor what role he’ll fulfil. My best guess is someone will end up having their third (or first) baseman get hurt in Spring and snap him up to fill the void. I also think he’ll sign shortly after Machado does and if the White Sox miss out on Machado, they will end up being the best fit for the lefty slugger. For now, we’ll sit on the fence and suggest his projections of being nearer last year’s numbers than 2018’s will be spot on.
Suarez enjoyed a breakout last year with career highs across the hitting categories. His 2018 was so good it’s forced the Reds to change their approach to top prospect Nick Senzel’s role and move him from third base to possibly centre field. Its rare players repeat such a breakout out but at the same time, nothing suggests he’s heading back to 2016 Suarez.
Suarez has the edge on Moustakas for runs and RBIs, which as mentioned is mainly due to the fact he has a defined role on a team. It’s very difficult to see how Suarez can be taken 99 spots before Moustakas in drafts. Perhaps people are a bit scared off by the lack of a team and the possibility of not starting the season on a Major League roster. But unless Moustakas gets the perfect role on the perfect team, it’s hard to see him closing that gap to Suarez in drafts by much, offering a perfect value for money option at third base.
Miguel Sano is as close to the ultimate crapshoot as you will likely find on draft day. You’ll be using nothing more than an 18th-22nd round pick (depending on league size) to draft him so a repeat of 2018 isn’t too damaging as you simply move on. But if he can get back to his 2017 (or even 2016) self, then you have a real bargain on your hands.
Although MLB have confirmed Sano won’t face a suspension for his off-field “infractions”, there’s always the possibility of new evidence coming to light or fresh allegations (something the NFL seems to have to deal with annually). Sano will also need to play the field full-time to stay in the Twins’ lineup given Nelson Cruz will be their everyday DH. Given he’s projected to play 13-21 games fewer than Suarez and Moustakas, if he does get to be a regular starter for the Twins and performs well enough to stay that way, he should match (or even better) the other two third basemen apart from batting average.
Are you willing to wait an extra 170 or 71 picks and only lose a .020 batting average as a result? I think I would on draft day.