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The Most Accurate Fantasy Baseball Projections

Mar 18, 2016

In case you missed it, we recently revealed which experts provided the most accurate fantasy baseball rankings in 2015. While rankings are incredibly important for fantasy research, they’re not the end-all, be-all for everyone. An equal companion to fantasy baseball success is a great source of projections. After all, projections offer the best way to get advice tailored to specific league formats.

With this in mind, we’re excited to unveil the results of our latest projections accuracy study. Before we dive into the results, here are a few notes about the analysis.

  • The projections of 15 sources were evaluated for our study. We used each source’s full season projections as of the first pitch on Opening Day (2015).
  • ZiPS projections were analyzed but we ultimately did not include them in the evaluation because they do not project Saves.
  • The methodology for the analysis is available here. In a nutshell, we evaluated every projection source at each 5×5 category to determine how close their projections were to the actual stats for 300 relevant players. The closer each projection was to the actual performance, the better the score earned.

So whose projections rated #1? Here are the accuracy results…

Baseball Projections Accuracy Standings

 Rank  Source  Hitters  Pitchers
 1  Sean Koerner (STATS)  2  1
 2  RotoChamp  1  2
 3  Razzball  4  3
 4  Steamer (FanGraphs)  3  6
 5  Inside Edge  6  7
 6  numberFire  7  4
 7  Clay Davenport  5  9
 8  Rotoworld  8  5
 9  ESPN  12  8
 10  TG Fantasy Baseball  11  10
 11  Grey Albright (Razzball)  10  14
 12  CBS Sports  13  11
 13  AccuScore  9  15
 14  FanGraphs Fans*  14  12
 15  RotoExperts  15  13

*Note: FanGraphs Fans projections are crowdsourced from FanGraphs’ readers.

Hitter Category Rankings

 Rank  Source  Runs  HR  RBI  SB  AVG
 1  RotoChamp  1  1  1  6  9
 2  Sean Koerner (STATS)  5  2  2  4  3
 3  Steamer (FanGraphs)  3  9  4  1  2
 4  Razzball  2  11  3  3  1
 5  Clay Davenport  6  5  6  2  5
 6  Inside Edge  7  4  8  5  4
 7  numberFire  8  3  4  8  7
 8  Rotoworld  4  10  10  7  6
 9  AccuScore  11  6  7  10  13
 10  Grey Albright (Razzball)  9  8  11  9  12
 11  TG Fantasy Baseball  10  7  13  12  11
 12  ESPN  12  12  9  15  8
 13  CBS Sports  14  15  14  11  10
 14  FanGraphs Fans*  15  13  15  13  14
 15  RotoExperts  13  14  12  14  15

Pitcher Category Rankings

 Rank  Source  Wins  K  SV  ERA  WHIP
 1  Sean Koerner (STATS)  4  4  3  2  1
 2  RotoChamp  6  3  1  5  7
 3  Razzball  2  1  4  8  8
 4  numberFire  7  7  6  1  5
 5  Rotoworld  9  5  2  4  3
 6  Steamer (FanGraphs)  3  2  6  7  12
 7  Inside Edge  5  9  10  6  4
 8  ESPN  8  8  13  3  2
 9  Clay Davenport  1  6  9  12  10
 10  TG Fantasy Baseball  11  11  5  13  9
 11  CBS Sports  12  13  11  11  11
 12  FanGraphs Fans*  12  14  12  10  13
 13  RotoExperts  14  15  15  9  6
 14  Grey Albright (Razzball)  10  12  8  14  14
 15  AccuScore  15  10  14  15  15

% of Predictions Better Than the Average Projection

 Source  Hitters  Pitchers  Total
 Sean Koerner (STATS)  75%  72%  74%
 Inside Edge  56%  70%  68%
 Steamer (FanGraphs)  58%  68%  62%
 Razzball  58%  67%  61%
 numberFire  63%  57%  61%
 RotoChamp  62%  55%  59%
 Rotoworld  64%  58%  56%
 Clay Davenport  53%  56%  54%
 ESPN  44%  57%  49%
 TG Fantasy Baseball  49%  38%  45%
 FanGraphs Fans*  42%  44%  43%
 Grey Albright (Razzball)  47%  37%  43%
 RotoExperts  45%  38%  42%
 CBS Sports  39%  46%  42%
 AccuScore  47%  30%  40%

Notes

  • The last table above makes it fairly clear where Koerner found his success. He was adept at consistently delivering projections that were better than the average projection source. Specifically, 75% of the time he outpaced the average hitter projection and 72% of the time his pitcher predictions were above average. To put that in perspective, no other source was above 60% for both hitters and pitchers. A key takeaway here is that being “accurate” isn’t a matter of nailing all of your projections. That’s fundamentally unrealistic. What is realistic is hitting your share of predictions and avoiding the misses that are notably worse than what others are predicting. Those are the types of errors that can lead fantasy owners astray. So, as you’ll note in the tables below, Koerner didn’t always have the single best projection for last year’s best players. However, he was frequently more accurate than most of his peers with his projections. That lean of being high or low on a player is often what can push fantasy owners in a specific direction when making a decision on who to target.
  • When analyzing Koerner’s projections, there were a few players that jumped out as benefiting his rating. For Hitters, his projection for Mookie Betts (check out the next section) was notably better that the other sources. This was especially the case when it came to being more bullish on Betts’ Runs and RBI potential. Koerner also displayed a knack for under-projecting pitchers that ultimately disappointed fantasy owners. Players like Jordan Zimmermann, Jeff Samardzija, Chris Tillman, and Rick Porcello (among others) all stood out on his hit list.
  • The player that contributed the highest individual score (more about scoring here) for a source was Sean Doolittle for Grey Albright (Razzball). Grey was the only prognosticator to give Doolittle a single digit save projection (8) and he also predicted an ERA (3.67) that was 1 full run worse than Doolittle’s average ERA projection. It was effectively a big “Do Not Draft or Pick This Guy Up” sign that everyone would have been wise to heed. Rotoworld also had a strong prediction that stood out for Yoenis Cespedes. They were the only site we monitored to predict that the Mets’ slugger would hit 30+ home runs and score 90+ runs. They also delivered his highest batting average projection (.278)

Top Player Projections

Listed below is a sample of 2015’s peak fantasy baseball performers. The best projection source (out of the 15 evaluated) for each player is displayed. We’ve also included the player’s actual stats and average projections as reference points. Note that our analysis was based on an evaluation of 300 players so this is not meant to represent the full extent of players evaluated.

Bryce Harper (OF, WAS)

 Rank  Source  Runs  HR  RBI  SB  AVG
 1.  RotoChamp Projections  85  27  84  10  .284
 –  Average Projections  81  24  78  10  .279
 –  Actual Stats  118  42  99  6  .330

Dee Gordon (2B, MIA)

 Rank  Source  Runs  HR  RBI  SB  AVG
 1.  CBS Sports Projections  86  2  30  57  .276
 –  Average Projections  76  2  35  54  .266
 –  Actual Stats  88  4  46  58  .333

Josh Donaldson (3B, TOR)

 Rank  Source  Runs  HR  RBI  SB  AVG
 1.  CBS Sports Projections  96  35  103  7  .272
 –  Average Projections  86  27  92  6  .266
 –  Actual Stats  122  41  123  6  .295

Mike Trout (OF, LAA)

 Rank  Source  Runs  HR  RBI  SB  AVG
 1.  Steamer (FanGraphs)  104  30  90  21  .297
 –  Average Projections  111  32  100  22  .299
 –  Actual Stats  104  41  90  11  .299

Nolan Arenado (3B, COL)

 Rank  Source  Runs  HR  RBI  SB  AVG
 1.  Grey Albright (Razzball)  84  27  98  10  .292
 –  Average Projections  72  20  78  10  .287
 –  Actual Stats  97  42  130  6  .287

Manny Machado (3B, BAL)

 Rank  Source  Runs  HR  RBI  SB  AVG
 1.  RotoExperts Projections  79  21  76  7  .281
 –  Average Projections  72  17  64  5  .280
 –  Actual Stats  102  35  86  20  .286

Kris Bryant (3B, CHC)

 Rank  Source  Runs  HR  RBI  SB  AVG
 1.  Clay Davenport Projections  73  28  94  10  .277
 –  Average Projections  54  21  62  6  .260
 –  Actual Stats  87  26  100  13  .274

Mookie Betts (OF, BOS)

 Rank  Source  Runs  HR  RBI  SB  AVG
 1.  Sean Koerner (STATS)  90  13  62  26  .289
 –  Average Projections  82  12  54  24  .286
 –  Actual Stats  92  18  77  21  .290

A.J. Pollock (OF, ARI)

 Rank  Source  Runs  HR  RBI  SB  AVG
 1.  Rotoworld Projections  80  13  58  21  .276
 –  Average Projections  68  11  48  19  .275
 –  Actual Stats  111  20  76  39  .315

Yoenis Cespedes (OF, NYM)

 Rank  Source  Runs  HR  RBI  SB  AVG
 1.  Rotoworld Projections  91  32  96  9  .278
 –  Average Projections  80  24  88  8  .265
 –  Actual Stats  101  35  105  7  .289

Jake Arrieta (SP, CHC)

 Rank  Source  Wins  K  SV  ERA  WHIP
 1.  AccuScore Projections  16  205  0  2.98  1.07
 –  Average Projections  12  179  0  3.30  1.17
 –  Actual Stats  22  236  0  1.77  0.86

Max Scherzer (SP, WAS)

 Rank  Source  Wins  K  SV  ERA  WHIP
 1.  Razzball Projections  15  240  0  2.95  1.07
 –  Average Projections  16  247  0  2.90  1.10
 –  Actual Stats  14  276  0  2.79  0.92

Clayton Kershaw (SP, LAD)

 Rank  Source  Wins  K  SV  ERA  WHIP
 1.  AccuScore Projections  18  262  0  2.09  0.88
 –  Average Projections  18  243  0  2.21  0.96
 –  Actual Stats  16  301  0  2.13  0.88

Gerrit Cole (SP, PIT)

 Rank  Source  Wins  K  SV  ERA  WHIP
 1.  CBS Sports Projections  14  202  0  3.23  1.14
 –  Average Projections  13  168  0  3.33  1.20
 –  Actual Stats  19  202  0  2.64  1.10

Sonny Gray (SP, OAK)

 Rank  Source  Wins  K  SV  ERA  WHIP
 1.  TG Fantasy Baseball  13  169  0  2.99  1.17
 –  Average Projections  13  177  0  3.32  1.23
 –  Actual Stats  14  169  0  2.73  1.08

David Price (SP, BOS)

 Rank  Source  Wins  K  SV  ERA  WHIP
 1.  RotoExperts Projections  18  235  0  2.92  1.08
 –  Average Projections  16  217  0  3.17  1.10
 –  Actual Stats  18  225  0  2.53  1.08

Chris Sale (SP, CWS)

 Rank  Source  Wins  K  SV  ERA  WHIP
 1.  Steamer (FanGraphs)  14  243  0  3.03  1.07
 –  Average Projections  13  220  0  2.76  1.04
 –  Actual Stats  14  274  0  3.41  1.09

Mark Melancon (RP, PIT)

 Rank  Source  Wins  K  SV  ERA  WHIP
 1.  numberFire Projections  3  64  35  2.20  0.94
 –  Average Projections  4  67  37  2.35  1.00
 –  Actual Stats  3  62  51  2.23  0.93

Andrew Miller (RP, NYY)

 Rank  Source  Wins  K  SV  ERA  WHIP
 1.  Steamer (FanGraphs)  3  88  18  2.25  0.98
 –  Average Projections  4  87  12  2.54  1.04
 –  Actual Stats  3  100  36  1.90  0.86

Zach Britton (RP, BAL)

 Rank  Source  Wins  K  SV  ERA  WHIP
 1.  CBS Sports Projections  3  61  43  3.03  1.01
 –  Average Projections  3  58  36  2.76  1.20
 –  Actual Stats  4  79  36  3.41  0.99

Trevor Rosenthal (RP, STL)

 Rank  Source  Wins  K  SV  ERA  WHIP
 1.  TG Fantasy Baseball  2  83  41  2.95  1.27
 –  Average Projections  4  84  37  2.83  1.18
 –  Actual Stats  2  83  48  2.10  1.27

Aroldis Chapman (RP, NYY)

 Rank  Source  Wins  K  SV  ERA  WHIP
 1.  Steamer (FanGraphs)  4  115  34  1.63  0.89
 –  Average Projections  4  107  37  1.92  0.95
 –  Actual Stats  4  116  36  1.63  1.15

That wraps up our look at the top projection sources from 2015. Congrats again to Sean Koerner for taking home the crown as the highest rated prognosticator!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay on top of our latest advice. We’ll have more analysis to offer leading up to and during the baseball season. Stay tuned!

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