By The Numbers: J.T. Realmuto, Manny Machado, Justin Verlander (2022 Fantasy Baseball)
This will be the final “By The Numbers” article for the regular season. Thank you to those that have read this column throughout the season. Hopefully it has helped you in some way and given you some insight into the world of fantasy baseball data.
Since this is the last column of the regular season, here is a look at each position’s fantasy baseball MVP based on average ADP according to FantasyPros and Rotowire’s earned value calculator.
J.T. Realmuto (C – PHI): $21, 67 ADP
It is likely no surprise to see Realmuto atop the earned value calculator considering his performance this season.
He has already reached a season-high in stolen bases with 17. He also has 14 home runs, and his 12% HR/FB rate is nearly identical to his career average. His batted ball data also looks excellent, with a 9.4% barrel rate and a 46.5% hard-hit rate (the same as Paul Goldschmidt).
The catcher has brought his batting average back up over .270 for the first time since 2019. He has done this by improving his contact rate, swinging strike rate, and strikeout rate.
In comparison to others taken in Realmuto’s round, he has earned more than five players (Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios, Adalberto Mondesi, Luis Castillo, and Brandon Lowe) and earned a dollar less than Corey Seager and Jose Altuve.
It seems like Round Six is a good “sweet spot” for Realmuto in future drafts.
Paul Goldschmidt (1B – STL): $48, 50 ADP
Paul Goldschmidt has been incredible and is having a career year in his age-34 season. As of writing this article, he has a .333 batting average with 33 home runs and 105 RBI. It is possible he could win the National League Triple Crown if he can surpass Kyle Schwarber in home runs and break his tie with Pete Alonso in RBI.
Goldschmidt has maintained his batted ball improvements from last season, barreling the ball at a 12.5% rate to go along with a 46.5% hard-hit rate. His HR/FB rate of 23% is not much higher than his career average of 19.9%, meaning that the home run total should not be a surprise this season, nor should fantasy managers worry about his power numbers heading into next season.
The veteran first baseman has the second highest earned value in the MLB, according to Rotowire, making him the prime candidate for fantasy first baseman MVP.
Although his performance has been amazing this year, fantasy managers should expect regression to his batting average either this season or next. His BABIP is sky high, while his line drive rate is lower than usual.
Brandon Drury (2B – SD) $23, undrafted
Brandon Drury may just be the overall fantasy MVP with the season he is having. Yes, he has started to tail off, but those that have rostered him the last few months have been reaping the rewards.
He has a career-high 24 home runs, 74 runs, and 77 RBI to go along with a .259 batting average.
A major reason for his success has been his continued improvements in barreling the ball. His barrel rate increased 1.2% between 2020-2021, and increased 4.1% up to a 10.6% rate this season. He also has a 42.1% hard-hit rate, which is 16% higher than his 2020 rate.
Drury also made improvements to his walk rate, strikeout rate, chase rate, contact rate, and swinging strike rate.
He returned the same dollar value as Semien, who was drafted in the third round.
This is not a fluke season for Drury. He has made tangible improvements to his swing and to his approach at the plate in the past two seasons and should be regarded as a mid-late round target in drafts next year.
Manny Machado (3B – SD): $34, 25 ADP
An obvious pick for the third base fantasy MVP would be Jose Ramirez, but Manny Machado arguably has done better for where he was drafted.
Machado returned five dollars less than Ramirez but was drafted 21 spots, or two rounds, later.
As of writing this article, Machado has matched his career high in batting average at .304 while also hitting 24 home runs. His 16% HR/FB rate matches what he has done in previous seasons, and with about 100 plate appearances left, he should be able to get close to the home run marks he hit in those seasons – around 30-35.
The third baseman has done well in terms of hard contact. He has a nearly elite 9.8% barrel rate and the second highest hard-hit rate of his career at 49.5%.
One thing that has helped him return so much value is his .300-plus batting average. It is unlikely he sustains in through the rest of the season or next year because of a .342 BABIP (vs. a .300 career BABIP). It would end up being the highest BABIP of his career.
If he had higher than a 20.5% line drive rate, it would be easier to buy a boosted BABIP, but fantasy managers should count on some batting average regression going forward.
Dansby Swanson (SS – ATL): $32, 127 ADP
Swanson returned more value than all of them. The closest in value to him was Zac Gallen and Framber Valdez at $20.
He earned the same amount as Atlanta teammate Austin Riley, who was picked eight rounds ahead. The fantasy community largely whiffed on Dansby Swanson this season, and many will wonder if the numbers he is putting up this season are legitimate and repeatable.
One number that jumps out right away is a .370 BABIP, which would be the highest of his career and is 54 points higher than his career average. With a line drive rate lower than his career average, regression is likely coming for Swanson in terms of his batting average.
Another sign that batting average regression is on the horizon is that his strikeout rate, chase rate, contact rate, and swinging strike rate have all worsened since last season when he had a .248 AVG.
He has seemed to make tangible changes to his hard contact over the past two seasons, though, and those have maintained into this year. Swanson’s barrel rate of 10.6% and hard-hit rate of 45.4% are elite for all batters, not just shortstops.
Fantasy managers should expect Swanson to continue to sit in the 20-plus home run range going forward (as long as he continues to hit the ball hard). Still, they should expect a batting average closer to his .256 career average next year.
In addition, he should probably be drafted a bit higher than the 12th round next year.
Aaron Judge (OF – NYY): $61, 35 ADP
Aaron Judge may win the American League MVP award, let alone a fantasy MVP award.
His average ADP across various outlets this season was in the third round, at pick 35. It has turned out that Judge has earned $13 more than the batter in second place (Goldschmidt) and $22 more than the players tied for third (Ramirez and Trea Turner).
Judge leads baseball in home runs, runs, RBI, SLG, ISO, wOBA, xwOBA, wRC+, and barrel rate. He is top-5 in OBP, hard-hit rate, and xBA. He is top-10 in walk rate.
A major offseason worry for Judge in the eyes of fantasy managers was his injury history. Savvy managers would have noted that many of his injuries were “freak” injuries rather than soft tissue problems that plague other players.
This season should alleviate the durability concerns, and Judge should be considered a top-5 overall fantasy player heading into next season.
Justin Verlander (SP – HOU): $32, 120 ADP
In addition to leading the league in wins, he also leads in ERA. Verlander is one of two qualified pitchers in the top-15 of most wins, fewest losses (3rd), K/9, BB/9 (5th), LOB% (7th), average fastball velocity, ERA, xERA (4th), xFIP, and fWAR (5th). The only other pitcher that fits the same parameters is Shane McClanahan, who is also top 15 in GB%, but he was drafted 19 picks before Verlander in average ADP.
The veteran righty has continued to perform at an elite level in his late thirties and shows little to no signs of slowing down.
His 95.1 MPH average fastball velocity is .2 MPH faster than his career average and .1 MPH faster than last season.
Unfortunately for Verlander and fantasy managers, his incredible, bounce-back season may be cut short due to a calf injury.
If he chooses to return for another season, he will likely be an impact arm again. Even if his workhorse days are behind him, Verlander should be in consideration for a much higher ADP in next year’s drafts and should be viewed as a top 15-20 pitcher heading into next season.
Honorable Mention: Shane McClanahan ($27, 101), Tony Gonsolin (25, 295)
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy baseball, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you navigate your season. From our Lineup Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball season.