There are many ways to evaluate Major League Baseball players today, and even ways to determine what they will do in the future. Team’s have their own proprietary systems in order to figure out things such as this, but there are now many systems that are available to the public that are pretty good.
On just the site Fangraphs alone, there are 5 projection systems available for most players (some of the younger, more obscure players are not featured in all systems). Steamer is a newer system that can be learned about here. On the other hand, Bill James’ projections have been used for a while now, and people tend to view his projections as optimistic…check out the site. Another new projection system that I really know nothing about is called Oliver, but at a glance it seems to be in the median. Fans projection system is from fangraphs, and is a community based projection system, averaging their thoughts on what players will do to gain a consensus of that sabermetrically-inclined community. And last but not least, ZiPS is perhaps the most accurate system that was developed by Dan Szymborski.
Anyway, I won’t pretend to know the intricacies, nuances, and differences between those systems, but what I like to do is average them together to gain a consensus projection of the five systems. Sure, there are more systems out there, and it would probably be more interesting to include as many as possible, but for time’s sake I’ll use those 5.
So, last year there was some controversy surrounding Miguel Cabrera over Mike Trout as MVP. Sure, this is due to Trout’s defense, but just to start out, let’s see who is projected for a higher rate in 2013 (that and for us baseball fanatics, this could be useful for fantasy league purposes as they don’t have defense really). For this, I will use weighted on base average, or wOBA for short. It is a more accurate version of OPS, and for projections purposes, it’s important to be a little more accurate, as there is already plenty of uncertainty involved.
Cabrera is projected for a .410 wOBA and can play first or third base. Since he can play third, this makes him more valuable as there are not as many great hitting third basemen these days. Trout, on the other hand, is projected for .385 wOBA. But, he plays center field, which is a traditionally light-hitting position. So just as last year was difficult in determining the MVP, this year it is tough to decide which player should be the top pick in all of baseball for fantasy leagues.
Next, let’s compare Ryan Braun to Buster Posey. Braun is projected at .383 wOBA, but is not at a premium position. However, Posey is at catcher, and is projected .378. I think Buster is a clearcut #3 and Braun #4, although most systems are ranking Braun higher than that as far as fantasy league drafts go. This is because no other catcher comes close to Posey’s offensive pedigree.
Lastly, let’s compare Andrew McCutchen to Robinson Cano. Both are at positions you want to max out hitting at, center field and second base. McCutchen is average projected at .372 and Cano at .369. Another tough call, but Cutch brings forth some stolen base threat, so I’d argue he’s #5 overall.
Next post I’d like to outline the next 6 top players with the goal of an alternate ranking system to whatever fantasy league you are participating in, or just what to expect in 2013 as a fan.