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In last week’s Perception Versus Reality post, Dr. Easy and I took our first look back to the beginning of the 2017, to compare the top 12 players on the Razzball Pre-Season Player Rater (PS PR) versus the top 12 as of right now per the Razzball Season-to-Date Player Rater (STD PR). We thought we’d look at how things have changed (or not!) 5 months on, with a view to trying to learn some lessons for next season: Who’s appeared out of nowhere; who’s done pretty much what we expected; who’s been a disappointment? Last week, we looked at Trout, Betts, Kershaw, Turner, Machado, Altuve, Scherzer, Goldschmidt and Arenado. This is the second installment, in which we look at the rest of the preseason top 12 and those players who have sneaked into the current top 12.

Here were the top 12 players according to the Pre-Season Player Rater, at the start of the season in April:

And here are the top 12 at time of writing, week of 11 September:

(The sharp-eyed among you will note that this list has changed even since we started looking at it last week. It’s actually changed since yesterday. <tears hair out some more>)

Bryce Harper: This is really just an in-passing mention. Obviously he’s not in the top 12 anymore because he’s been out with his injury, but he was so good before going on the DL that he’s kept his high $ ranking: 20th overall. When ranked by $/G (a good measure to use for players who have missed playing time due to injury or riding the majors-minors bus), he’s 20th as well. He’s outperformed the predictions and he’s a no-brainer for next year.

Miguel Cabrera: Oh, Miggy (whom I drafted in the first round in 2 leagues…sigh). Your poor, lost season. Ranked 10th by the PS PR, Miggy is now 425th of all players. (That’s lower than Melky and Asdrubal, fact fans. And he’s 91% owned, which is actually up from when we looked at this last week: last week, he was 86% owned. I, VictoriaB, will confess that I also own him. I can’t seem to make myself drop my first-round pick. Lame, I know.) And if we account for his absences due to injury or suspension and sort by $/G, he’s 492nd. So he’s actually hurting us by being in our lineups. Was this an anomaly—has he just been injured all season, and he’ll bounce back next year? Either way, I for one can’t trust him for next year. There are concerns with injuries for the rest of his career.

Kris Bryant:  Oof. We didn’t realize he’s doing as badly as he is (perception versus reality alert!). Ranked 12th in the pre-season, Bryant has tumbled all the way to 51st on the STD PR (that’s even worse than when I looked at him last week: he was 45th back in those hazy days). Although his $R places him 9 of all players (5 spots above Nolan Arenado, for instance), his $RBI is dragging him down — he’s 138th when ranked by $RBI. His numbers look more like his 2015 ones, so which is the real Kris Bryant? The guy who hit 39 home runs last year or the one who hit 26 in 2015 and 25 so far this year?

Charlie Blackmon: Ranked a still-not-too-shabby 19th overall on the PS PR, Blackmon is currently riding high as the number 1 player overall, beating number 2 Giancarlo Stanton by a full $4.8. He’s dominating in $R, 2nd in $AVG, 10th in $HR, 24th in $RBI and 46th in steals (the beard is not wind-resistant, what can we say). He’s just good and I’m a-grab him as soon as I can next year. One caveat: he hits when playing away (.293 and 12 home runs away), but not at the torrid pace he does at home (.388 and 22 home runs at home). So, a possible worry with him is that if Colorado doesn’t do so well next year, he might get traded midseason and may lose some value in the process.

Giancarlo Stanton: Another (tall) dark (and handsome) horse out of nowhere. Well, nowhere-ish: a ranking of 17th in the pre-season isn’t nowhere, I guess. But who’d have thunk it that he’d be currently 2nd overall? Obviously, home runs are where he’s provided the most value: no surprise there, as he was projected 1st overall in HR$ pre-season and is, lo and behold, currently 1st overall. But he’s also pretty good for RBIs. As in, 2nd overall in $RBI. And 2nd overall in $R. And all this in the pitcher-friendly Marlins Park (really, he doesn’t care: 27, exactly half, of his home runs have been at home). This is the year he finally put it all together and avoided injury, and if he can do it again next year, he’ll be fearsome. Set aside your reservations; he rightfully belongs in the first round — top 5?

Chris Sale: Sale was ranked 16th in the pre-season and currently sits 7th overall. His WHIP has been excellent (he’s 3rd by $WHIP; projected 5th in the pre-season) and he’s roundly 1st in $K: $K 11.9, with Scherzer next at $K 9. Pre-season, his projected $K was 9, so he’s done better than anticipated. He’s also been better than expected in $ERA: $ERA 6.3 (rank of 5th); projected: $ERA 3.9. Can he keep it up into next year? We say yes: this year, he’s tracking toward his lowest BB/9 (1.75) and HR/9 (0.83) and highest K/9 (12.79) of his career in the majors. Kudos and snaps to the Pre-Season Player Rater for pretty accurately predicting his $W at 7.9, with his new team — he’s currently on $W 7.1 and may still reach that number.

Joey Votto: Votto got no love in the pre-season, ranked an ignominious 39th overall. And here he is, currently sitting 9th on the STD PR. Us Canadians are sneaky like that. He’s done better than expected in home runs ($R4.1 projected, rank of 52nd; versus $R 8.2 actual, rank of 12 in $HR) and RBIs ($RBI 4.1 projected versus $RBI 7.9 actual, ranking him 14th by $RBI). He’s doing well in every category except steals, where he’s a lowly 135th: $SB 0.2. But then again, we weren’t expecting much from him in that category. Votto’s 20% increase in HRs (which obviously helped with his RBIs, too) catapults him from the pre-season HR ranking somewhere in the mid-40s into 12th place; because the PS PR underestimated his HRs, it underestimated his ranking. So like Kris Bryant, the question is which version will we see next year; which version is Player Rater going to predict? Somewhere in between, we think.

Aaron Judge: We went over Aaron Judge when we talked about rookies a few weeks ago. Obviously, no one expected him to do as well as he’s done: In the pre-season, he was ranked a horrifying 481st. Currently, he’s ranked 8th on the STD PR (which is obviously down from his dominance earlier this year). I, for some reason, drafted him in 1 league (I don’t even know why; I think I just liked the look of him last year. I guess I’m the Nelson Bighetti of fantasy baseball), and Judge carried that 1 team until he fell off a cliff after the All-Star Game. (More precisely, after the Home Run Derby.) And therein lies the conundrum of Aaron Judge for next year. Do we trust 1st-half Judge, or is 2nd-half Judge the real Judge? Did the Home Run Derby break him, so all he needs is a little rest in the offseason? Or have pitchers figured him out? Note that he’s picking it up again a little in September. After slashing .185/.353/.326, he’s nudged things up a little so far this month to .229/.391/.629.

Corey Kluber: Again, not much to say here. Currently ranked 6th on the STD PR, Kluber has been a pleasant surprise from his ranking of 25th pre-season. He’s been better than expected in ERA ($ERA 4.3 projected versus $ERA 6.8 actual, ranking him 4th by $ERA. Surprise Interjection alert: I had no idea Gio Gonzalez was 3rd in $ERA!) and in Ks ($ K 7.8 projected versus $K 8.7 actual, ranking him 3rd), WAY better in WHIP ($WHIP 5.8 projected versus $WHIP 10 actual, ranking him 2nd behind only Max Scherzer). I wonder if he sneaks up into the 1st-round tier next year according to the 2018 Pre-Season Player Rater—he’s a Cy Young candidate, after all.

Elvis Andrus:  Aaron Judge still takes the prize for the most significant climb to dizzying heights this season, but Elvis is pretty impressive, too. Ranked a lowly 131 by $ in the pre-season, he’s currently sitting at 10th overall. He’s been astonishingly better than projected in $HR (-3.8 projected versus 1.6 actual; sure, not a terrific ranking of 93rd by $HR, but he was projected to be 307th), having earned 20 home runs—before this year, he’d never hit more than 8. He was ranked low and went and had a big home-run explosion, which was hard to predict…and it’s also hard to know if it’s reproducible.

   
  1. Packers says:
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    Good read, I love this kind of stuff. I’m going to use the pre-season player rater more next year when I’m preparing my ranking of players.

    • VictoriaB

      VictoriaB says:
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      @Packers: Thanks! Yeah, definitely check out the pre-season Player Rater… And Grey’s and the other writers’ rankings too, of course… no shortage of advice :-)

  2. BootsyBaby says:
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    I am in four leagues but only have two players named in this article, both in one league – Miggy and Votto. Your writeup and analysis proves two of my favorite adages: “You don’t need to draft/act perfectly to win the league” – my $39 Miggy was pretty well neutralized by my $16 Votto to the tune of leading the league as of September 14. Second, “nobody knows anything” – the number of expected high performers doing poorly and expected low performers doing well confirms the fantasy game is, to a large degree, about probabilities, guessing, and getting lucky.

    • DrEasy says:
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      @BootsyBaby: To be fair to the Player Rater, many of the misses in its top 12 predictions were due to injury: Trout, Harper, Kershaw have actually done very well when healthy. But you’re absolutely right, a bad draft can be definitely be made up during the season. It just takes work. Ask the robot in my league: it just drafted Kershaw, Scherzer and a bunch of closers, and yet it is firmly at first (and top 5 in overall RCL rankings) with 2962 moves so far!

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