42 days into the new year and 50 percent of you abandoned your new year’s resolution. Last year, according to sources that don’t exist, our attrition rate on things you shouldn’t need an arbitrary date to commit to, sat around 55 percent. I’m proud of you all for the improvement. Your reward is Grey’s fantastic videos which we’ve embedded into his positional rankings, enjoy!
My resolution was to exercise more. But instead, I’ve opted to toy with semantics and perform more exercises, like the one we’re about to coast through: comparing Razzball’s Player Rater ranked auction values for 15-team NFBC leagues, to NFBC’s average draft position (ADP).
Is this comparing apples to oranges? Kind of. I’d say it’s comparing opples to aranges, which are two fruits I just made up and am sure exist (confirmed). The value here is highlighting who the Player Rater is actually bullish or bearish on, and by how much compared to where they are going in the upper echelon of industry leagues. If our Player Rater has “Player A” – one of my sleepers this year – inside the top 50 in terms of production, but Player A is going outside of the top 100 in NFBC leagues, it might be valuable to look at the dissenting opinions.
Below, my “difference” is calculated by subtracting NFBC’s ADP from the Player Rater’s ranking of the same player based on their total dollar return. Players with positive values mean Razzball is expecting the player to produce more value than NFBC’s ADP is suggesting.
This edition features two outfielders – Christian Yelich and Byron Buxton – who have values that differ between our two sources of information. I plan on publishing multiple versions of this column with different players before the season starts, but if you just can’t wait for more value differentials, take a look at the aggregated list by following this link.
NFBC – 68th overall
Player Rater – 19th overall, $28
I’ve come to the realization that much of the aggressive projection around Yelich, might have to do with two things we’re not considering as much as a park and lineup alteration: a potential swing change and the standard hitter aging curve.
Because I’m skeptical a park and lineup change will have as big effect on his output, I’ve leaned towards a potential swing change and entrance of a prime window of youth, to buoy my hope and expectations for Yelly.
The swing change aspect is simple. Yelich’s launch angle is one of the lowest in baseball, on average. Misconceptions exist that this metric causes a negative effect on his production, but the effect itself isn’t particularly negative, it’s merely different. The 0-10 degree window of launch angle is hard to achieve because it’s caused by the near-perfect alignment of bat and ball. This window of launch angle, which results in a .472 average, is extremely productive, just not in the way we’re used to given the surge in home runs. Add in Yelich’s tendency to stay in between the gaps and my mind says in order for a substantial jump in home runs to occur, Yelich needs to alter his launch angle or batted ball tendency. This might occur if he re-allocates some pop to his pull side in order to fully take advantage of Miller Park, or if he stays gap-to-gap and lifts the ball more overall.
Given the success in his career with his stroke and skill set, I’m skeptical Miller Park alone will convince Yelich to change drastically. With that said, he can still be a wildly productive hitter, and I can’t count out an adjustment that helps his launch angle create more fantasy value.
Some of the aggregate curves considered viable across the industry actually suggest peak “runs above average” for players with Yelich’s skillset sit around 26 years old. As he just turned 26 in December of 2017, I don’t mind getting excited that this could be a peak season if you choose to look bigger picture with things matters like this. Even if the runs above average increase is marginal, also consider his intentions and motivation to produce on a club where he can prosper as opposed Miami, and the slew of compounding factors pile up.
Verdict? I’m intrigued to see if anything changes mechanically for Yelich. 19th overall feels aggressive, but a true five-category contributor is hard to pass up.
NFBC – 45th overall
Player Rater – 92nd overall, $16.1
Buxton is a great example of where I think stats and scouting can deviate when given a small sample to work with. In 2016 we convinced ourselves his number one prospect ranking was migrating towards justified, only to have the rug pulled out from under us. Those sticking with a high level of insight on Buxton, or simple discouragement due to letdown, might miss the change I’m most encouraged by: the simplification of Buxton’s stance. This seems to have helped him go the other way with pitches on the outer third (sample is still probably too small). It could also mean greater pitch recognition, commiting to balls deeper in the zone, and productivity versus breaking balls, something nearly all young hitters are continually trying to improve against.
With all this said, I still believe 45 overall might be a little bit too aggressive on the Twinkie, while 92nd overall might be baking in too much stats in lieu of the eye test. As you can tell, I am pretty terrible at taking sides.
The verdict? This gif to show what my brain is attached to in valuing Buxton…
#Buxton progressing through 2017. Interesting to me: success didn't IMMEDIATELY come with elimination of leg kick. Took further tweaking, shortening stride, dampening hand motion. 9/26 oppo-liner is beautiful #Twins #Minnesota @Twins #Molitor pic.twitter.com/3pQYaWwTKh
— Lance Brozdowski (@LanceBrozdow) January 2, 2018
Twitter, I can be found at @LanceBrozdow.