This time around we are going to combine a couple of different features into one article. We had started a variation of the three to keep, add, and drop when I shifted gears to fun with PECOTA. So, we will combine those here. We are taking a look at three outfielders that typically went undrafted (drafted by less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues), but are somehow rated highly by PECOTA. We will add in the Steamer and Rotowire projections to offer a basis of comparison.
PECOTA comes from Baseball Prospectus and is one of the few things I look forward to every Spring. Unfortunately, supply chains and delivery delays brought this series a little later than I normally would like. Fortunately, we have plenty of time until the season actually begins. All projections are based on a 162 game schedule. As we know, that is highly unlikely. The current estimates are a 100 game season. Numbers can be adjsted there, but we will keep to 162 game projections to keep things easier to comprehend.
Rankings for outfielders for Baseball Prospectus are based on two points. First, we use Value Over Replacement Player (VORP). That compares all outfielders with the typical AAA outfielder. Secondly, we took the top 75 outfielders that will primarily play in the outfield. There will be players that are eligible in the outfield than will be used elsewhere because that is where they will play most of the time this year.
Three to Add
Brandon Nimmo–New York Mets
VORP: 25.5 (26th)
Yahoo Owned: 10%
Yahoo 5: 66th
Yahoo 6: 64th
PECOTA: .238/15 HR/59 Runs/58 RBI/6 SB/71 BB
Rotowire: .249/16 HR/70 Runs/51 RBI/4 SB/83 BB
Steamer: .232/14 HR/61 Runs/49 RBI/7 SB/72 BB
Admittedly, there is a significant gap between where PECOTA has him in terms of value and where most fantasy projections have him. If we assume most fantasy owners will draft five outfielders (with three of them starting) then the Yahoo rankings make sense. The simply calculus in a six category league is that he walks far too often to go undrafted. Of course, playing time has been an issue in the past and could be again with Jake Marisnick possibly sharing time. He still should be a decent bench option in standard mixed formats.
Ryan Braun–Milwaukee Brewers
VORP: 18.0 (43rd)
Yahoo Owned: 40%
Yahoo 5: 50th
Yahoo 6: 62nd
PECOTA: .262/24 HR/64 Runs/73 RBI/13 SB/38 BB
Rotowire: .273/20 HR/64 Runs/67 RBI/9 SB/32 BB
Steamer: .269/21 HR/59 Runs/68 RBI/8 SB/34 BB
There are so many questions that have no ready answers. How many games will be in the shortened season? Will there be a lot double headers? Will there be a radical realignment? Will there be a universal DH? The last one is huge for someone like Braun. The Brewers have three other regular outfielders with the addition of Avisail Garcia. Braun could play some first base, but if there is a universal DH then Braun suddenly becomes an everyday player with little risk of injury.
Teoscar Hernandez–Toronto Blue Jays
VORP: 16.6 (46th)
Yahoo Owned: 6%
Yahoo 5: 62nd
Yahoo 6: 71st
PECOTA: .235/33 HR/77 Runs/91 RBI/16 SB/49 BB
Rotowire: .236/26 HR/65 Runs/66 RBI/5 SB/45 BB
Steamer: .230/25 HR/67 Runs/71 RBI/8 SB/48 BB
We see guys like Hernandez on bad teams all the time. They are good enough to put up decent numbers while they are cheap, but they aren’t good enough to make a ton of money. Hernandez is good enough to play most of the time in the Blue Jays’ outfield now. That’s all you really need to know. He’s also good enough to sit on your fantasy bench until he goes through one of those hot streaks. The overall numbers don’t look tremendous, but you don’t expect that out of a OF5 or OF6.
Three to Avoid
Oscar Mercado–Cleveland Indians
VORP: 3.5 (75th)
Yahoo Owned: 90%
Yahoo 5: 28th
Yahoo 6: 41st
PECOTA: .241/15 HR/59 Runs/61 RBI/29 SB/37 BB
Rotowire: .276/16 HR/88 Runs/60 RBI/22 SB/40 BB
Steamer: .256/15 HR/73 Runs/65 RBI/22 SB/40 BB
There are conventional concerns and sabermetric concerns. In pure sabermetrics, I would rather have a Nimmo would produce similar power numbers and walk 30 more times and steal maybe 15 fewer bases. First base is more important to steal than second. In conventional terms, there are playing time concerns with Delino Deshields Jr. also in tow. Francona is smart enough to play the guy that gets on base more often and that might end up being Deshields. They will at least split some time.
Mallex Smith–Seattle Mariners
VORP: 6.2 (73rd)
Yahoo Owned: 79%
Yahoo 5: 71st
Yahoo 6: 72nd
PECOTA: .243/5 HR/40 Runs/36 RBI/27 SB/33 BB
Rotowire: .255/2 HR/62 Runs/34 RBI/39 SB/41 BB
Steamer: .249/7 HR/66 Runs/48 RBI/39 BB/48 BB
In 2018, Smith managed to produce a .296/.367/.406 slash line with 40 steals. It’s not hard to figure on what Jerry Dipoto was thinking when he traded Mike Zunino for him. He led the league in 2019 with 46 stolen bases. For that effort he gave fantasy owners no power, a .227 batting average, and moderate run scoring abilities on a bad team. Sure, he will give you steals, but how much are you willing to sacrifice in the other four categories? If he gives you 2018 numbers he absolutely should play. He hasn’t come remotely close to that in his other three seasons.
Kyle Tucker–Houston Astros
VORP: 8.8 (69th)
Yahoo Owned: 77%
Yahoo 5: 46th
Yahoo 6: 56th
PECOTA: .236/24 HR/54 Runs/64 RBI/11 SB/32 BB
Rotowire: .274/19 HR/69 Runs/64 RBI/13 SB/39 BB
Steamer: .247/20 HR/56 Runs/59 RBI/14 SB/34 BB
I suppose this largely depends on what you are expecting. If you took Tucker at the end of your draft as an OF5 or OF6 with the possibility of a break out then you might be rewarded. If you took him as an OF3 or OF4 you are taking a huge risk. He is blocked by Josh Reddick and the Astros are in no position to be patient with a young hitter. There is a possibility he could go off like Yordan Alvarez did, but most rookies don’t do that. On another team, he could play everyday and grow into himself. That won’t happen in Houston. At least not this year.
Author’s Note: The Hall of Fame Index Part II is available for order on Amazon.com. Digital copies can he had for $5.99 and paperback copies can be had for $14.99. If you love baseball and love good old-fashioned debates with a modern flare you will love this book.