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As I begin to prepare my projections and rankings for the 2017 season, I like to look back on the previous season’s attempt to not only assess my work, but also to learn how I can do better next time. Projecting statistics in any sport is a tedious and arduous task. The variables, formulas and algorithms are constantly changing and if you don’t adapt with them, your results will lose their precision and accuracy. However, I’d like to make one point blatantly clear, projections are nothing more than calculated guesses. Some are better than the next, but none are even close to perfect.

Let’s see how I fared with my 2016 efforts. For all positions I will provide the following six numbers: projected points, actual points, projected rank, actual rank, projected points per plate appearance and actual points per plate appearance. I am including points per plate appearance because it helps put a player’s projections vs performance into perspective when they’ve missing time due to injury. For pitchers I’ve replaced points per plate appearance with points per start. I’ve also included a column showing the percentage by which my points projections were off. Any player with an “n/a” listed in this column is because that player spent at least 30 days on the disabled list.

Lastly, a quick note about the rankings listed in this post. These rankings are based purely on points. This season I plan to provide additional rankings that allow me to adjust them based on three important factors: intuition, gut and my sporadic conversations with Nostradumass.

Catchers

Player Projected Points Points Projected Rank Rank Projected PPPA PPPA %
Buster Posey 397.56 400 1 1 0.691 0.651 0.61
Kyle Schwarber 303.24 -1 2 100 0.618 -0.200 n/a
Jonathan Lucroy 299.16 347 3 2 0.588 0.638 13.79
Brian McCann 293.61 254 4 9 0.607 0.516 15.59
Salvador Perez 285 255 5 7 0.542 0.467 11.76
Russell Martin 259.05 244 6 10 0.564 0.457 6.17
Stephen Vogt 252.85 266 7 6 0.545 0.500 4.94
Travis d’Arnaud 241.51 95 8 36 0.589 0.347 154
Yadier Molina 233.97 325 9 4 0.513 0.559 28
J.T. Realmuto 224.63 271 10 5 0.499 0.497 17.11
Derek Norris 223.44 136 11 21 0.463 0.297 64.29
Yasmani Grandal 223.21 255 12 8 0.526 0.558 12.47

Starting with the backstop, here are the top twelve catchers based on my 2016 preseason projections. Buster Posey was a relatively easy pick as the top catcher, but I came within three points in my projections. If this were The Price Is Right, I think I’d get to reach my hand into Bob Barker’s jacket pocket a pull out a hundy. Beat it Drew Carey. Sadly Kyle Schwarber was lost for the season due to injury. My biggest swing and miss here was probably Travis d’Arnaud, but I don’t think I was the only one that overestimated his 2016 potential. I’d like to see what he can do with a healthy season. Derek Norris also seems to have under-performed, but at least I had him outside the top ten.

Here are the catchers that I did not have in my preseason top twelve that ended the season a top twelve catcher based on points.

Player Projected Points Points Projected Rank Rank Projected PPPA PPPA %
Wilson Ramos 210.91 335 13 3 0.501 0.641 37.04
Matt Wieters 204.53 240 15 11 0.509 0.518 14.79
Welington Castillo 184.69 203 20 12 0.471 0.444 9.06

No discussion about catchers would be complete if it neglected to mention Gary Sanchez. Playing in only 53 games he compiled 229 plate appearances and 178 points. The only reason he’s not in the top twelve list above is due to his limited playing time. His PPPA was 0.777, which was far better than even Buster Posey. In fact only seven hitters posted a better value. While I don’t expect he would have been maintained that level of production over a full season, he certainly belongs in the preseason discussion for top catcher.


First Basemen

Player Projected Points Points Projected Rank Rank Projected PPPA PPPA %
Paul Goldschmidt 469.58 479 1 6 0.742 0.680 1.97
Miguel Cabrera 449.88 498 2 5 0.773 0.733 9.66
Anthony Rizzo 448.94 499 3 4 0.700 0.738 10.03
Edwin Encarnacion 433.38 500 4 3 0.775 0.713 13.32
Albert Pujols 410.56 441 5 10 0.715 0.678 6.9
Joey Votto 410.49 504 6 2 0.684 0.744 18.55
Jose Abreu 408.71 395 7 13 0.651 0.568 3.47
Prince Fielder 403.26 159 8 46 0.672 0.430 n/a
Freddie Freeman 382.15 461 9 8 0.639 0.665 17.1
David Ortiz 376.56 537 10 1 0.711 0.858 29.88
Eric Hosmer 372.4 374 11 17 0.590 0.561 0.43
Adrian Gonzalez 367.1 346 12 19 0.620 0.547 6.1

Edging Mike Trout out by a few points, I actually had Paul Goldschmidt as my top ranked hitter coming into the 2016 season. Seems I was wrong on that call. It isn’t the first time and won’t be the last. I was pretty close on my Goldschmidt projections though, missing the mark by less than ten points. Unfortunately I under projected on a bunch of other first basemen. Or perhaps those players just over performed!

Even though David Ortiz was a DH last year, I am lumping him in here with the first basemen since he played one game at the position. And guess what, he finished as the top ranked player in this list. These projections weren’t too bad except for maybe Prince Fielder, but his season was so bad that he retired. So I’m giving myself a pass on that one. Joey Votto bested my projections by nearly 100 points finishing second right behind Ortiz. The truth is, projecting rankings for Miguel Cabrera, Anthony Rizzo, Edwin Encarnacion and Goldschmidt is like trying rank four equal objects. All fools task. It’s like putting Helen Keller in a round room and telling her to find the corner.

I was right on with Eric Hosmer, but it seems a bunch of other players beat out their projections, pushing ahead of him in the final rankings.

Here are the first basemen that I did not have in my preseason top twelve that ended the season a top twelve 1B based on points.

Player Projected Points Points Projected Rank Rank Projected PPPA PPPA %
Carlos Santana 356.58 471 14 7 0.596 0.685 24.29
Hanley Ramirez 305.91 422 16 11 0.641 0.681 27.5
Wil Myers 252.6 403 26 12 0.519 0.596 37.32


Second Basemen

Player Projected Points Points Projected Rank Rank Projected PPPA PPPA %
Jose Altuve 420.3 560 1 1 0.628 0.785 24.95
Robinson Cano 383.47 514 2 2 0.615 0.719 25.39
Ian Kinsler 376.95 450 3 7 0.601 0.663 16.23
Brian Dozier 354.94 486 4 4 0.557 0.705 26.97
Daniel Murphy 335.63 496 5 3 0.612 0.852 32.33
Ben Zobrist 333.17 424 6 9 0.610 0.676 21.42
Jason Kipnis 323.42 391 7 10 0.531 0.572 17.28
Anthony Rendon 323.23 391 8 10 0.579 0.604 17.33
Dustin Pedroia 323.1 454 9 6 0.593 0.651 28.83
Rougned Odor 323 376 10 12 0.579 0.594 14.1
Dee Gordon 321.1 156 11 30 0.514 0.452 n/a
Neil Walker 310.35 269 12 19 0.553 0.587 n/a

Well I had the right guy as the top second baseman, but my projections fell quite short. Jose Altuve scored 560 points. Only Mookie Betts and Nolan Arenado had more. My projection was 420.3 points. I was off by about 33 percent. Going down the list, except for Dee Gordon who served an 80-game suspension and Neil Walker who spent extended time on the disabled list, my projections were too low for everyone in this list. I guess I didn’t have high expectations for men patrolling second base. It seems I was off by that factor of about thirty percent for all of second basemen. Note to self.

Here are the second basemen that I did not have in my preseason top twelve that ended the season a top twelve 2B based on points.

Player Projected Points Points Projected Rank Rank Projected PPPA PPPA %
Jean Segura 255.13 458 20 5 0.462 0.664 44.29
DJ LeMahieu 287.65 436 15 8 0.488 0.695 34.17
Jonathan Schoop 254.24 334 21 12 0.550 0.516 23.88

Looks like I underestimated Mean Jean Segura.

Third Basemen

Player Projected Points Points Projected Rank Rank Projected PPPA PPPA %
Josh Donaldson 447.22 543 1 2 0.695 0.778 17.64
Manny Machado 443.81 470 2 5 0.698 0.675 5.57
Nolan Arenado 426.53 566 3 1 0.694 0.813 24.64
Matt Carpenter 381.97 364 4 13 0.598 0.647 4.94
Kyle Seager 373.94 457 5 6 0.594 0.676 18.18
Adrian Beltre 371.17 485 6 4 0.658 0.758 23.47
Kris Bryant 360.56 501 7 3 0.589 0.717 28.03
Todd Frazier 349.24 376 8 13 0.568 0.565 7.12
Evan Longoria 336.94 411 9 8 0.540 0.600 18.02
Mike Moustakas 326.98 72 10 49 0.571 0.637 n/a
Maikel Franco 320.52 342 11 16 0.605 0.543 6.28
Matt Duffy 307 -2 12 71 0.518 0.453 n/a

It seems that my trend of low projections carried into my 3B projections as I was off by about twenty percent on average. Matt Carpenter was my most accurate projection here, but with so many other third basemen beating my projections, I was off by a fair amount with his positional ranking.

Here are the third basemen that I did not have in my preseason top twelve that ended the season a top twelve 3B based on points.

Player Projected Points Points Projected Rank Rank Projected PPPA PPPA %
Justin Turner 266.57 398 19 9 0.591 0.640 33.02
Anthony Rendon 323.23 391 11 12 0.579 0.604 17.33


Shortstops

Player Projected Points Points Projected Rank Rank Projected PPPA PPPA %
Carlos Correa 389.49 380 1 4 0.676 0.576 2.5
Xander Bogaerts 332.24 446 2 1 0.528 0.620 25.51
Francisco Lindor 321.18 428 3 2 0.533 0.628 24.96
Elvis Andrus 303.08 364 4 6 0.495 0.645 16.74
Troy Tulowitzki 301.62 300 5 14 0.591 0.551 0.54
Corey Seager 292.46 423 6 3 0.585 0.616 30.86
Andrelton Simmons 288.86 257 7 20 0.507 0.533 12.4
Erick Aybar 285.74 166 8 30 0.493 0.364 72.13
Jhonny Peralta 285.53 149 9 32 0.517 0.476 n/a
Starlin Castro 285.44 297 10 15 0.487 0.488 3.89
Alcides Escobar 283.66 282 11 16 0.457 0.420 0.59
Alexei Ramirez 282.42 207 12 26 0.496 0.410 36.43

Shortstop is the only position that didn’t have a player top 500 points. Xander Bogaerts led all with 446 points. I projected only 332. I predicted that Carlos Correa would take the top spot with 389 points. He ended the season with 380. Not too shabby. Too bad I wasn’t a bit more accurate with the rest of the shortstops. I pegged Troy Tulowitzki, but was off by 127 points for Francisco Lindor.

Here are the shortstops that I did not have in my preseason top twelve that ended the season a top twelve SS based on points.

Player Projected Points Points Projected Rank Rank Projected PPPA PPPA %
Jonathan Villar 147.94 375 37 5 0.427 0.556 60.54
Brandon Crawford 261.11 342 17 7 0.491 0.549 23.65
Didi Gregorius 264.67 337 15 8 0.491 0.569 21.46
Aledmys Diaz n/a 329 n/a 9 n/a 0.718 n/a
Asdrubal Cabrera 262.93 323 16 10 0.502 0.569 18.59
Brad Miller 245 321 20 11 0.479 0.534 23.67
Addison Russell 227.69 317 25 12 0.439 0.530 28.17

Totally missed to boat on Jonathan Villar! Heck, I missed most of the shortstops ranked between five and twelve.


Outfielders

Player Projected Points Points Projected Rank Rank Projected PPPA PPPA %
Mike Trout 467.39 538 1 2 0.718 0.790 13.12
Bryce Harper 452.39 401 2 10 0.743 0.640 12.82
Jose Bautista 445.38 315 3 33 0.768 0.609 41.39
Mookie Betts 432.62 589 4 1 0.675 0.807 26.55
Andrew McCutchen 428.64 347 5 26 0.673 0.514 23.53
A.J. Pollock 387.3 30 6 162 0.645 0.652 n/a
Giancarlo Stanton 380.65 246 7 55 0.728 0.525 54.74
Jason Heyward 374.03 255 8 50 0.602 0.431 46.68
Adam Jones 369.12 370 9 20 0.604 0.551 0.24
Michael Brantley 368.77 21 10 174 0.689 0.488 n/a
Charlie Blackmon 367.68 474 11 3 0.581 0.743 22.43
Ryan Braun 359.97 412 12 7 0.651 0.730 12.63
Justin Upton 359.14 312 13 35 0.593 0.498 15.11
Yoenis Cespedes 358.53 366 14 22 0.593 0.674 2.04
Nelson Cruz 351.42 443 15 4 0.594 0.664 20.67
J.D. Martinez 347.28 306 16 38 0.574 0.592 13.49
Melky Cabrera 335.36 405 17 9 0.560 0.630 17.2
Starling Marte 335.22 311 18 36 0.550 0.589 7.79
Josh Reddick 334.73 239 19 59 0.616 0.546 n/a
Carlos Gonzalez 328.93 400 20 11 0.629 0.633 17.77
Lorenzo Cain 325.13 233 21 62 0.574 0.537 n/a
Adam Eaton 323.73 386 22 15 0.543 0.552 16.13
Shin-Soo Choo 320.51 104 23 109 0.552 0.495 n/a
Nick Markakis 319.4 368 24 21 0.516 0.538 13.21
Yasiel Puig 316.42 189 25 73 0.593 0.514 67.42
Ben Revere 315.12 168 26 81 0.533 0.450 n/a
Gregory Polanco 313.47 355 27 24 0.519 0.606 11.7
David Peralta 311.96 83 28 121 0.567 0.454 n/a
Kole Calhoun 310.66 381 29 16 0.524 0.567 18.46
Matt Kemp 310.37 392 30 13 0.535 0.583 20.82
Jacoby Ellsbury 309.03 317 31 32 0.550 0.520 2.51
Curtis Granderson 308.22 356 32 24 0.537 0.562 13.42
Matt Holliday 307.85 258 33 47 0.641 0.606 19.32
Christian Yelich 306.34 398 34 12 0.521 0.604 20.03
Brett Gardner 306 303 35 40 0.530 0.481 0.99
Hunter Pence 305.92 242 36 56 0.588 0.548 26.41
Hanley Ramirez 305.91 422 37 5 0.641 0.681 27.51
Alex Gordon 303.43 189 38 75 0.548 0.374 n/a
Carlos Gomez 302.52 172 39 79 0.557 0.382 75.88
George Springer 300.86 412 40 7 0.564 0.554 26.98

You can never go wrong with putting Mike Trout at the top of your outfield projections. Looks I was wrong. Mookie Betts earned the top spot scoring a whopping 589 points and leading all hitters. Unfortunately I projected him to score only 432 points. Some outfielders that I did well on include Yoenis Cespedes, Adam Jones and Jacoby Ellsbury. One guy I really undervalued was George Springer. I had him at 40 and he finished seventh.

Here are the outfielders that I did not have in my preseason top twelve that ended the season a top 40 OF based on points.

Player Projected Points Points Projected Rank Rank Projected PPPA PPPA %
Mark Trumbo 263.91 415 59 6 0.525 0.622 36.41
Jackie Bradley Jr. 217.25 389 77 14 0.502 0.612 44.15
Ian Desmond 247.07 376 65 17 0.431 0.555 34.29
Stephen Piscotty 278.95 371 53 18 0.564 0.573 24.81
Khris Davis 270.43 362 54 23 0.583 0.593 25.30

It looks like Mark Trumbo dropped a few more Trumbombs than I was expecting.


Starting Pitchers

Player Projected Points Points Projected Rank Rank Projected PPS PPS %
Clayton Kershaw 703.8 523 1 16 22.077 22.739 n/a
Max Scherzer 631.7 738 2 1 19.588 21.706 14.4
Chris Sale 602.65 627 3 5 19.675 19.594 3.88
Madison Bumgarner 586.53 659 4 3 18.255 18.306 11
Jake Arrieta 580.99 550 5 12 18.082 17.742 5.63
David Price 580.56 579 6 9 18.501 16.543 0.27
Corey Kluber 563.93 610 7 8 17.903 19.063 7.55
Stephen Strasburg 547.96 459 8 24 18.734 19.125 19.38
Zack Greinke 542.97 361 9 58 17.237 13.370 50.41
Felix Hernandez 533.68 329 10 72 16.873 13.172 62.21
Dallas Keuchel 522.63 330 11 71 16.655 12.692 58.37
Jacob deGrom 516.84 354 12 63 16.808 13.111 46
Jon Lester 510.15 614 13 7 16.129 18.606 16.91
Gerrit Cole 508.53 214 14 118 16.468 10.190 n/a
Chris Archer 507.74 447 15 31 15.561 13.545 13.59
Carlos Carrasco 503.54 382 16 49 16.451 15.280 31.82
Matt Harvey 501.54 138 17 148 17.518 8.118 n/a
Johnny Cueto 499.44 614 18 6 16.306 19.188 18.66
Cole Hamels 486.39 516 19 18 15.377 16.125 5.74
Sonny Gray 477.42 166 20 139 15.214 7.545 n/a
Danny Salazar 463.46 355 21 63 15.195 14.200 30.55
Noah Syndergaard 456.83 530 22 15 15.890 17.097 13.81
Jose Quintana 455.24 492 23 21 14.169 15.394 7.47
Jeff Samardzija 449.58 452 24 27 14.442 13.294 0.54
Garrett Richards 447.69 73 25 177 14.923 12.167 n/a
James Shields 447.03 207 26 120 14.080 6.273 116
Tyson Ross 441.57 -1 27 232 14.360 -1.000 n/a
Francisco Liriano 440.07 305 28 83 14.548 9.242 44.29
Jordan Zimmermann 431.4 191 29 131 13.427 10.053 n/a
Collin McHugh 428.62 397 30 40 14.345 12.030 7.96

For the last two plus seasons I have been touting Clayton Kershaw as the top overall player in points leagues. I said it last year and even though he fell short, I was still correct. The only reason he fell short was due to the fact that he spent 74 days on the disabled list.

Here are the starting pitchers that I did not have in my preseason top thirty that ended the season a top 30 SP based on points.

Player Projected Points Points Projected Rank Rank Projected PPPA PPPA %
Justin Verlander 392 666 44 2 13.81 19.58 41.14
Rick Porcello 376.14 645 48 4 12.538 19.54545455 41.68
Kyle Hendricks 373.79 551 50 11 13.23150442 17.21875 32.16
J.A. Happ 332.46 531 75 13 11.76849558 16.59375 37.38
Masahiro Tanaka 415.87 530 34 14 15.616 17.09677419 21.53
Tanner Roark 269.62 520 117 18 12.92521572 15.29411765 48.15
Aaron Sanchez n/a 512 n/a 20 n/a 17.06666667 n/a

It seems Justin Verlander found his flux capacitor and went back to 2011. Ok, well maybe not that good. It was more like a cross between 2012 and 2013. Either way he made my projections look silly. How could I not have the second best finisher in my preseason top 30? Simple. He has been pretty shitty the previous two seasons and there was no glaring reason to think he’d radically change course. He fooled me, my software and many other so-called experts.

I had Rick Porcello in the top fifty. Does that count? I was only off by about 269 points and 44 ranking spots. Cut a guy some slack. This year’s gut influenced rankings are going to help me identify some diamonds in the rough.

Truth be told I’m not exactly sure what the best methods are for evaluating projections. There’s a lot of mathematically mumbo jumbo out there that I’m still absorbing. The purpose of this post was really just to give you a little insight into my results. I have yet to discern the relevance, but out of the 130 players highlighted in the positional data tables above (excluding the players that missed the cut), here is a breakdown of how far off I was with their points-based projections. Actually it’s out of 112 players since 18 of them received an “n/a” due to extended time on the DL.

Less than 5 percent off: 17 players
Less than 10 percent off: 30 players
Less than 15 percent off: 48 players
Less than 20 percent off: 68 players
Less than 25 percent off: 78 players
Less than 30 percent off: 89 players
Less than 50 percent off: 98 players
More than 50 percent off: 14 players

Good luck making sense out of that. Either way, I’ve learned a bit from this exercise and intend to apply my newly acquired knowledge to my 2017 projections and rankings.

 
  1. Akash says:
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    Great work! Do you know when the 2017 rankings will be ready?

    • malamoney says:
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      @Akash: Thanks!

      Some time in the beginning of March. Probably the first or second week. I need to work on projections (already started) first. My goal is always to have my customizable projections and rankings available shortly before the official start of draft season. I think drafts should not be held anymore than 3 weeks prior to opening day. Personally I make sure all of my drafts are during the week before, but sometimes due to schedules they are forced into the week before.

      With all of the rambling complete, I’d look for them to be published between March 1 and 12th.

      Does that work for your needs?

      • Akash says:
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        @malamoney: Sounds great! Thanks Malamoney!

        • malamoney says:
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          @Akash: No problem!

  2. Shivdaddy says:
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    I am glad you are back Malamoney. I like your new logo. I was actually just thinking about you today (no homo) as I am starting to think about this years fantasy baseball season. Thank you for the focus on h2h points!

    It may have only been able to go with this article but I think it would of been cool to compare your rankings to maybe say fantasy pros aggregate rankings to see how you compared to the “normal rankings.”

    I ended up winning my league last year and want to say thank you for your help. I wanted to see which players in the draft I could say I got because of your spreadsheet, but I could not find the file. I was #1 in hitting (Drafted Hanley, Santana, KSeager, Bogaerts, kins, Jones, trout, freeman) and #5 in pitching (Drafted Sale, DeGrom, Archer, Kimbrell, Iglesias , Rondon, Gausman, Hammel , Fiers, Bauer, Cashner)

    I would say 90% of my draft prep is razzball between you, Grey, and JB. Your spreadsheet is the easiest resource to use I would say. I dont have to decipher roto –> H2H.

    Thanks for all you do to your body,
    Shivdaddy

    • malamoney says:
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      @Shivdaddy: Shivdaddy!!! Thanks for the kind words. I’m definitely back and ready to throw down this season.

  3. Blake says:
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    thx for your help so far! Still perplexed on your view of top pitchers and Grey’s view of not drafting top starts – instead then wait to draft till you hit verlander, darvish, carrasoo, etc

    since my pts league top point producers are hitters which way do I go?

    • malamoney says:
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      @Blake: Every points league is different and it all depends on your league scoring system. I am in favor of taking the ace pitchers early only when the league’s scoring system lends itself to making those pitchers have higher point totals than most batters.

      In the coming weeks I will be posting my projections and rankings spreadsheets which will allow you to enter you league’s scoring system and it will adjust based on your league. That will help you determine who and when to pick.

      Out of curiosity, what is your league’s scoring system?

  4. Blake says:
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    Batting

    1B Singles 1 point
    2B Doubles 2 points
    3B Triples 3 points
    BB Walks (Batters) 1 point
    CYC Hitting for the Cycle 10 points
    HR Home Runs 4 points
    R Runs 1 point
    RBI Runs Batted In 1 point
    SB Stolen Bases 1 point

    Pitching

    CG Complete Games 5 points
    K Strikeouts (Pitcher) 1 point
    NH No-Hitters 10 points
    S Saves 7 points
    W Wins 15 points

    Can start 7 pitchers (relief or starting) and batting lineup is normal with a Utility slot. also, one Caveat – there are only 12 adds total for the year

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