Opening Day is less than 3 weeks away and if you are like me, you have a continuous string of slow and live drafts running each day. What a glorious time of year!
Here at at Razzball, we have the RazzSlam drafts going strong all this week at NFBC, along with the Razzball Commenter Leagues (RCL) drafting almost every night at Fantrax. On Tuesday, my buddy @MattTruss penned an article looking at ADP trends from the first week of RCL drafts (Read Matt’s Article HERE). Follow along as he continuously builds the RCL ADP sheet over the coming weeks.
(Editor’s Note: Speaking of RCLs, we have several drafting this weekend, a $10 one tonight at 8 ET where you can face off against MattTruss, a free one tonight at 10 PM ET, and another $10 league tomorrow at 8 ET. Let’s get these FILLED!)
Matt breaks up his analysis between the “kids” that he jonesing for (my word, not his) and the “old” guys that tend to make up the backbone of most rosters. Since I’m currently participating in both NFBC and RCL drafts, one of the RCL drafts Matt included in his analysis in fact, it made me wonder just how much of a disparity we’re seeing between the two platforms. So, I took Matt’s data and ran the NFBC ADP trends over the same period (2/27 – 3/6). The results are certainly interesting, have a look for yourself.
For the majority of players in this list, the % Difference between RCL and NFBC ADPs is greater than 10%. Note also that there’s clearly not a bias as Bobby Witt Jr’s ADP increased in RCL drafts by a whopping 80% while the same RCL drafters snapped up fellow “kid” Gunnar Henderson 33% sooner than their NFBC counterparts. It doesn’t appear to have any general rhyme or reason.
On the other hand, drafters in both platforms are going after these “old guys” much more predictably. Only two players, Jose Altuve and J.D. Martinez saw slightly greater than a 10% difference in ADP, one in each direction.
So, what is the cause of these inconsistencies, especially with the young’uns? More importantly, are the trends we’re seeing justified? Remember, this is an analytics article so how about we dive in on a couple of these players and see if we can answer those questions with data.
We need to start this analysis with Bobby Witt Jr. whose ADP is dropping from pick 1.9 in NFBC drafts to pick 2.7 in the RCL drafts. The feedback I’m getting from others throughout the industry is between “he’s elite now” to “one more year away from being a top 5 pick.” I think @rudygamble said it best for those picking Witt Jr. in the first round, “you are paying for the best outcome rather than the middle outcome.”
Before I get to the analysis of Witt Jr., I want to give huge props to the Royals for starting him at the MLB level last year. Hopefully, all teams follow your lead. Secondly, it also gives us a good full season of data to look at for 2023 projections and surmise on that dreaded “sophomore slump” we’ve seen too many times. To me, the best indicator of the latter is looking at 2nd half data.
For Bobby Witt Jr., his second half is kind of a mixed bag. Over virtually the same number of plate appearances on each side of the All-Star Break, he saw increases in SB and BA but decreases in HR, R, and RBI. I note though that the increases were statistically significant (i.e., 3.7% SB/PA rate pre-break to 5.8% post-break) and the decreases were very minor (i.e., less than 1% decrease in R/PA and RBI/PA).
Looking at his advanced stats, his 2nd half BA of .272 vastly overperformed his xBA (expected BA) of .234. So, 2023 projections with a .260+ BA may be a bit optimistic. Keep an eye on his EYE (yes, pun intended!). The EYE (Batting Eye) analytic is measured as BB/K. Hitters near .300 will have an EYE close to 1.00. Ratios less than 0.30 tend to have much lower BAs. Witt Jr. had a 0.22 EYE in 2022.
On the power side, he slightly overperformed his xHR (expected HR) early on and slightly underperformed during the summer months. His HR/FB (HR per Fly Ball) of 7% dipped well below the MLB average (11%) during the 2nd half despite his BRL% (Barrels per Batted Ball Events) being over the MLB average throughout the 2022 campaign. He should offer clues to his 2023 output early on through his OBP and SLG. He maintained an above-average SLG but never quite reached the “top hitters” benchmark of .450. Likewise, his OBP hovered right around the league average throughout the season.
There’s no question of his speed potential though. He overperformed his xSB numbers throughout the season. Remember my SBO (Stolen Base Opportunity) article from a few weeks ago? If not, go grab a refresher (HERE). I stated an SBO of 20% (0.20) or more is a common threshold for identifying players to target. Witt Jr’s SBO is > 20%. Add in the fact that the bases are even a little closer together and you have a recipe for vastly surpassing his 2022 SB total of 30. In fact, 40+ is a realistic number for me.
All told, Bobby Witt Jr. certainly offers a tantalizing combination of speed and power, along with positional flexibility. There’s no surprise why his ADP is so high this Spring. However, if I’m writing an assessment on a player and use words like “league average” multiple times, that player is probably not a 1st round draft pick for me. I think the RCL drafters have it right here. Middle second round is the correct spot for him this draft season. I also think this will be the last time I utter those words for many years to come.
From the elder statesman list, Jose Altuve is the biggest mover, falling 5 draft spots past the 2/3 turn in 15-teamers. In some circles, Altuve is still being drafted as the top pure second baseman on the board. Should he be?
By all fantasy measures, Altuve had an excellent year. All counting stats were either in line with or surpassing his 3-yr averages, aided by an OPS vs LHP of 1.086. This is a departure from the past couple seasons where his OPS vs RHP was greater than LHP.
His 28 HRs are in line with the past 2 full seasons (tossing out 2020). He continually maintains a SLG at or above the “top hitters” benchmark of .450 and an OBP greater than the league average. Hitting atop the potent Houston lineup resulted in > 100 R for the fourth time in his career. Also, he successfully swiped 18 bags with just one caught stealing.
There’s no question he’s been an excellent fantasy contributor across each category, but all is not rosy in ‘Tuve-land though. We’re starting to see some analytical regression in key areas.
His ’22 EYE doesn’t statistically support a continued .300+ BA. Studies of EYE have shown that .300 hitters have between an 20% – 32% of hitting that BA threshold with an EYE < 0.76 (Altuve’s 5-yr average is 0.62).
On the power side, he also outperformed his xHR, supported by a strong first half. His HR/FB trailed off during the second half of the season, dropping down to near 2018 levels where he hit only 13 HRs. His season-long BRL% has remained fairly stable between 6% – 8% for the past 5 seasons so the first half BRL% of 9% stands out as a slight outlier.
We already discussed his 95% success rate on the basepaths. Great right? Well, a closer look suggests caution. His Speed score (Spd), which considers things like SB efficiency, frequency, runs scored as a percentage of times on base, etc., was just above league average skill. For all you SBO fans out there, his 0.08 SBO is well below the “target” threshold discussed above. With the rule changes and general bump in SB expected this season (until we see differently), we really should not project for much more than the 18-20 bags he’s maxed out at the past few seasons.
All in all, Altuve should remain one of, if not the first 2B off the board on draft day. I’m not suggesting you begin fading him and support anyone taking him anywhere near either NFBC or RCL ADPs in the table above. All I’m saying is just don’t set your expectations too high for surpassing his 2022 totals. We very well may have seen Jose Altuve’s best season.
Draft season is so much fun. Be sure to get into one of these RCLs for your chance at competing against me and many of our Razzball writers. Here is the link again (RCL Registration Here). Who knows, you can win some of Grey’s hard-earned $$ at the same time.
Special thanks to Matt Truss (@MattTruss) and Grey (@Razzball) for putting this competition together and sponsoring the prizes.
Also, don’t forget to visit the Razzball rankings page (https://razzball.com/2023-fantasy-baseball-rankings/) for everything you need to prepare for upcoming fantasy baseball drafts.
Whether you agree with me or not, I always enjoy your comments. Don’t be shy!
Lastly, you can follow me on Twitter: @Derek_Favret.
Until next time, my friends!