Here’s what I know about projections, they’re guaranteed to be mostly wrong with a handful of unpredictable close calls. That’s probably the most accurate projection I’m about to make, which is not quite the ringing self-endorsement one my expect to read in the introduction paragraph for a 2017 fantasy baseball projections post. Let’s be honest with ourselves, projections are bullshit. They’re little more than slightly educated guesses. This is not meant to take anything away from the hard work and resulting labors of love bestowed upon us by very smart statisticians and baseball analysts, but at the end of the day, I almost feel like the projections-hungry fantasy baseball population would be better off without them. Having just written that sentence I find it extremely ironic considering I am about to release my projections in just a few moments. I think they call that the pot calling the kettle black. Maybe the pot is just racist. Did anyone ever consider that the kettle might have started the name calling? Was it Tim Lincecum’s pot?
Before we dive into the numbers, allow myself to tell you a little bit about my projections process. I considered taking 2016 stats and multiplying each individual stat by a random value between 0.85 and 1.15 and calling it a day. However, after some serious contemplation I thought you all deserved at least a little better than that. But how much better? Would some other variance of a random number generator and previous season’s statistics suffice? The real answer is absolutely, but I would have felt very dirty doing so.
Instead of resorting to gimmicks and trickery, I took a different approach. Using complex formulas, advanced algorithms and a magic eight ball, I compiled my own personal set of estimations (aka projections). Did I stop there? No I did not. And here’s why. I’d be a fool to believe that my computer generated projections were any better (or worse) than the next. Even if I did have a really ingenious approach to calculating projections, there are still far too many variables and moving parts to the process that would certainly normalize the results and relinquish much of the advantage.
In order to deal with this I decided to level the playing field myself. To do this I took my projections, along with ten other sets of projections (from trusted sources) and averaged them all together. Then I took those averaged projections and averaged them again with my original projections, giving my work a bit more weight. After a little hocus pocus and an alakazam, I had my final 2017 player estimates.
Before I explain how to use my estimates, I’d like to point out a few highlights from within.
Nolan Arenado will lead the league with 38 home runs, falling two short of his third consecutive 40 homer season. I actually believe this projection for Arenado except I think someone will hit more than 40. As a matter of fact I am quite certain of it. The last time there wasn’t a hitter with at least 40 home runs was back in 1982, when Reggie Jackson and Gorman Thomas led the league with 39.
Jose Altuve will lead the league with 198 hits and secure his forth consecutive American League hits title. He will still be three short of Ichiro Suzuki’s seven (not consecutive). Throw in 32 stolen bases, 17 home runs and 96 runs scored and Altuve is looking at another MVP caliber season.
As for pitching, Clayton Kershaw will lead all pitchers with 237 punch outs. Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, Madison Bumgarner and Corey Kluber will be right behind him. In general, expect Kershaw to be the best pitcher once again this season.
You will find the aforementioned estimates by clicking the link at the end of this post. This will download an Excel spreadsheet containing said estimates. Within the spreadsheet you will find five worksheets. The “Hitters” and “Pitchers” worksheets contain the actual player projections. The “Players” sheet combines both hitters and pitchers, but only displays player name, projected points and eligible positions.
As in years past, the spreadsheet is customizable to match your league’s scoring system. Since nearly every points league has a different points distribution across statistical categories, a spreadsheet that did not allow such flexibility would be practically useless.
The last two worksheets “Points System” and “Scoring Systems” are responsible for this functionality. The spreadsheet comes preconfigured with the default scoring systems for all of the major sites. These include CBS, ESPN, Yahoo, Fantrax and Fox. I have also included the scoring system developed by me (malamoneyball). There is even a proposed hybrid version which factors in all of these systems. Lastly, users are able to define three separate custom scoring systems. This is where you would enter you league’s specific values. This can all be found in the “Scoring Systems” sheet. The “Points System” provides a dropdown (cell A23) allowing the user to select a scoring system. It will also display the current point values for each category based on the current selection. When you select a scoring system, the estimated points for every player will automagically update. The only thing you will have to do is re-sort the FPTS column in descending order. That’s it.
Please note that most of the fields within the “Scoring Systems” and “Points Systems” worksheets have been locked to prevent users from changing them. This is for your own good as they do not need to be changed. You can set up to three custom scoring systems and you can change the selected scoring system. That’s all you should need to do.
Projections can be dangerous, so tread lightly. And remember, pimpin’ ain’t easy.
“A good forecaster is not smarter than everyone else, he merely has his ignorance better organised.” -Anonymous
Follow me on Twitter at @malamoney as I plan to be more engaged in social media this season.