The Most Accurate Fantasy Baseball Projections
Last month, we released our most accurate expert rankings for the 2016 season. While everyone values a good set of rankings, it is also important to know the accuracy of projection systems. After all, plenty of us play in odd league formats where projections can be tailored specifically to your league.
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 10 sources were evaluated for our study. We used each source’s full season projections as of the first pitch on Opening Day (2016).
- 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 398 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
|1||Sean Koerner & Corey Schwartz (STATS)||2||1|
Hitter Category Rankings
|2||Sean Koerner & Corey Schwartz (STATS)||1||6||2||4||3|
Pitcher Category Rankings
|1||Sean Koerner & Corey Schwartz (STATS)||2||3||1||3||3|
% of Predictions Better Than the Average Projection
|Sean Koerner & Corey Schwartz (STATS)||61%||65%||62%|
- Congrats to Sean Koerner (STATS) for rating best in our analysis. What Koerner has been doing in the world of sports projections and rankings is extraordinary. This is his third consecutive season finishing #1 in this study. He has also finished first in our football accuracy competition out of over 130 competitors back to back years as well. In other words, he appears to know what he’s talking about when it comes to player predictions.
- The team of Koerner and Schwartz continue to find his success in these competitions by being remarkably consistent. They never win by making 5 or 10 huge predictions that come true, but rather by significantly outpacing the rest of the field (as seen in the table above) in being closer on more players than the average projection. Both their hitters percentage and pitchers percentage were better than any other expert’s success rate for the second consecutive year. 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.
- When analyzing Koerner/Schwartz’s projections, you see that there were 8 categories where they finished in the top 3 out of 10 sources. Part of the reason they were able to accomplish that was by being the top source on a few players who either had surprising seasons or disappointing performances. Mike Napoli, for instance, wasn’t expected to accomplish much in 2016 or even be fantasy relevant, but the STATS team apparently knew better. Likewise, they believed Aaron Sanchez and Kris Bryant were polished youngsters ready to make major impacts and they were right. On the other side, they projected Zack Greinke, Buster Posey and Adam Wainwright to perform quite a bit worse than the consensus. As we know, Greinke struggled in his move to Arizona, Posey had his worst season of his career and Wainwright failed to find his command in the return from surgery.
- The player that contributed the highest individual score (more about scoring here) for a source was Kyle Hendricks for ESPN. He won 20 games with a sub 1.00 WHIP. ESPN projected 17 wins and a 0.96 WHIP which were both far better than consensus. They were screaming from the rooftops that we should draft Hendricks, knowing a breakout was in store for 2016. Another strong prediction was on Bryce Harper from Clay Davenport. He somehow anticipated major negative regression in all five categories including a 33 point drop in batting average from the season before.
Top Player Projections
Listed below is a sample of 2016’s peak fantasy baseball performers at each position. The best projection source (out of the 10 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 nearly 400 players so this is not meant to represent the full extent of players evaluated.
Salvador Perez (C, KC)
|1.||CBS Sports Projections||61||23||78||1||.255|
Anthony Rizzo (1B, CHC)
|1.||Clay Davenport Projections||95||32||108||8||.271|
Ian Kinsler (2B, DET)
Corey Seager (SS, LAD)
|1.||Clay Davenport (FanGraphs)||91||21||72||5||.275|
Kyle Seager (3B, SEA)
George Springer (OF, HOU)
|1.||Sean Koerner (STATS)||102||26||83||17||.257|
Khris Davis (OF, OAK)
|1.||CBS Sports Projections||82||34||93||7||.246|
Corey Kluber (SP, CLE)
Carlos Rodon (SP, CHW)
Jose Fernandez (SP, MIA)
Craig Kimbrel (RP, BOS)
That wraps up our look at the top projection sources from 2016. Congrats again to Sean Koerner & Corey Schwartz from STATS for taking home the crown as the highest rated prognosticators!