Hitters with Zeile Projections Worse than ADP (2019 Fantasy Baseball)
The final article of this series where I compare FantasyPros Zeile Projections to overall ADP comes to a conclusion today. As the regular season for the Mariners and the Athletics begins overseas next week, fantasy owners need to put their final preparations in to gain an edge over their competitors. I’m here to help you do that. While Zeile Projections have proven to be extremely accurate, I will point out some players who might not have as much value as you would think given their ADPs. Then again, I’m looking at any possible edge I can find, so I will also critique the projections one way or the other. I’ll be focusing on hitters in the middle rounds for this article. Let’s get to it!
Note: The statistics listed under each player’s name are their Zeile Projections.
The projections on Corey Seager are pretty unexciting. It’s understandable given the fact that he is returning from Tommy John surgery that occurred in May of last year. By recent accounts, Seager is on track to be ready Opening Day. However, I’m a little bit skeptical. He’s missed time this spring due to an illness and the Dodgers are taking it slow with him.
Given the depth of the Dodgers’ ball club, I’d expect Seager to be eased back into regular season action. What does that mean? Well, I don’t expect to see him in the lineup three days in a row to start the season. I’m also concerned about his strength given the long recovery period. I want to see some high exit velocities off his bat before I buy back in.
Even a healthy Seager has limited upside. He doesn’t have good speed and doesn’t provide enough batted balls at ideal launch angles. Seager hits the ball hard, but often on the ground and in the form of line drives.
His batted ball profile combined with his ability to hit to all sides of the field is one that produces a high batting average. Hitting home runs is a skill that I think Seager can develop, but he’s not there yet. Let’s look at his profile in terms of power in the form of fly balls over the course of his career.
|Fly Ball Batted Ball Direction||Hard Hit%||Percentage of Fly Balls Hit||HR/FB|
Just like all hitters, Seager provides much better power to the pull side. He does have solid power to center field, but almost nothing the other way. Nearly half of his fly balls are hit to left field limiting his home run upside. Batting average and runs are where his value lies.
He’s averaged only 23 home runs per year in his two healthy seasons. Given his potentially sluggish start, I’m going to pass on Seager this year. The Zeile Projection looks a lot like Scooter Gennett, Nick Castellanos, or Justin Turner, who are all going one to two rounds later.
Mallex Smith is essentially Dee Gordon with a better walk rate and without the 60-stolen base upside. Looking at this projection makes me cringe a little bit. Smith is going around pick 112 on most draft sites and will miss next week’s opening series in Japan against the Athletics. However, his contact rate is slightly above league-average and his walk rate has sat right at league-average the last few seasons. He did carry a .366 BABIP last year, but has a career .349 BABIP over 1,000 career plate appearances (PA), thanks in large part to his speed.
His sprint speed is in the 98th percentile of Major League Baseball at just a hair under 30.0 MPH. Check this out, with a minimum of 25 sprint opportunities, Smith was the fastest player from zero to 75 feet, via BaseballSavant. Yeah, the dude is fast! 75 feet is just about the sprint distance a base runner needs to steal a base.
We’ve established that Smith is extremely fast and has decent plate skills. He doesn’t have any power and won’t drive in many runs. He’s projected for 38 stolen bases, which are two fewer than last year. He only had 544 PAs last season. While I do expect him to miss the first couple series, he’s likely to compile more appearances than last season if he occupies the leadoff spot.
Owners can likely expect closer to 600 PAs in 2019. Given that many opportunities, I believe the projections are more of a floor for Smith. He’s not likely to repeat a .296 batting average, but something closer to .275 seems more accurate. I’d boost his run total closer to 80 and put his stolen base total at 40. Given this information, I think his ADP at 112 seems fair and I wonder if the projections are expecting additional time missed due to his elbow injury.
Inciarte is nothing if not moderately productive for fantasy purposes. He provides well above-average speed with a little bit of pop and solid batting average. He’s not going to drive in many runs and his run total will be dependant on where he hits in the lineup. Since the Braves added Josh Donaldson and have come out saying he will be batting second, it limits Inciarte’s options from a run production standpoint. Clearly, Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna will be batting third and fourth, respectively, but it’s possible Acuna could see at-bats from the leadoff spot.
Suddenly, the outlook for Inciarte seems very murky. As of right now, his ADP sits around 135 overall around fellow outfielders David Peralta, Andrew McCutchen, and Nomar Mazara. Given Inciarte’s uncertain lineup spot, I’d likely take all three over him. They all have different skill sets, but have more upside and will be hitting in the top halves of their respective lineups.
Consider for a minute Inciarte’s production from the top two spots on the lineup in 2018. He stole 19 bases and scored 48 runs in 357 plate appearances (PA) compared to nine stolen bases and 35 runs in 303 PAs batting elsewhere. There’s an obvious dip in runs scored, but his stolen base rate was cut in half. 10 home runs and 23 stolen bases seem fair as a projection for him.
If he is stuck in the bottom third of the lineup all year, I think 78 runs is quite an overestimate. Then again, Josh Donaldson is far from the pillar of health. If Inciarte is able to move up in the order early in the season, we may be looking at 85+ runs again with 25+ steals and a bargain at pick 135. Otherwise, he’s just too pricey given the talent and upside around him in drafts.
Winker is a popular sleeper this year and even I was on board early evidenced by this player profile written back in December. However, the projections are not all that appealing. In recent drafts, he’s going off the board at pick 190 overall, per FantasyPros Consensus ADP. The Reds added Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp late in December and have tried stud prospect Nick Senzel out in center field. Senzel will start the year in the minors, but should be up in a matter of weeks. Puig will likely start in right field leaving left field for Winker, Kemp, and Schebler (assuming Senzel starts in center).
However, Winker’s plate and contact skills are off the charts. He walked 49 times against just 46 strikeouts last year. The problem is, he only hit seven home runs in 89 games and has no speed to speak of. The power is developing, though, I promise. Just look at his hard contact in the second half.
If I didn’t know better, I’d think we were looking at J.D. Martinez’s profile from game 65 on. Yes, it’s a small sample…an extremely small sample. He’s also limiting his home run upside with a 33% fly ball rate.
OK, so he isn’t J.D. Martinez, but not many hitters are. The projection of 14 home runs basically is doubling his home run total from last year. It seems a bit lazy. Given the fact that Winker had shoulder surgery towards the end of 2018, it does not provide much confidence in terms of power. Plus, he struggled against lefties last year.
However, this home run off Madison Bumgarner this spring (opposite field no less) at least shows us that Winker’s shoulder may be feeling better. Winker doesn’t possess speed, but his high-contact, high-walk approach may give him an opportunity in the leadoff spot against right-handed pitchers.
There’s some risk with Winker and my projection from December of 22 home runs is given a full 600+ PA. With the depth in the outfield and Winker’s questionable performance against lefties, I’d knock that down to 18. Still, Winker should provide a high batting average with moderate power and run production. The projection feels low, but his ADP seems right.