How I Evaluate Fantasy Hitting Prospects
In today’s dynasty landscape it is important to constantly evaluate your roster and a big part of that involves how you treat hitting prospects, which is what separates the good managers from the great managers.
Evaluating prospects is imperative whether you are in a rebuild or are a legitimate contender in your league. Many managers are fine going and pick your list( I would recommend this one for FYPD stuff), and just following whatever a list says and that is totally fine but I want to help you become a smarter manager.
My goal over the next two articles is to help broaden and help point out some things that I value in prospects. Before we begin, the most important thing we touch on is rule number one in any fantasy sport, KNOW YOUR LEAGUE SETTINGS.
With that out of the way here is a way I believe you can be a better dynasty manager and that is how to evaluate hitting prospects.
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Understanding league settings is vital, you don’t want to plan on having Ohtani in a weekly moves league because then you have to make a decision for example. Also understanding your league mates and the trades they like to make as well as players they like to roster is imperative.
A tip if you’ve got the time or effort is keeping track of players they trade away and players they pick up on a separate spreadsheet because fantasy baseball like most things is something you can put as little or as much effort as you want into it.
Evaluating Hitting Prospects
Before we get too deep it is important to note that when you go to evaluate hitting prospects, number scouting is the least ideal way to go about things. Always try and find videos, you can Youtube or search on Twitter.
There are a few things I look for in a prospect and that usually starts with trying to get an understanding of what that player can provide. You can do that one of two ways, the first and what I believe is the best way is live-looks or videos, or you can go and look at what kinda stats they post. Let’s focus on the statistics side of things right now because fantasy baseball is just a statistics game.
In an FYPD setting, it may be hard to find data like walk-rates and stolen-base totals for many prep players and even then it’s not worth looking at. For college players, there are few resources you can look at there is what I use The Baseball Cube or you can search on Baseball-Reference or you can go to the specific college’s website.
While “numbers scouting” is less than ideal, it happens with many reading this, there are important things to note especially for hitters. One is the age of the hitter relative to the league they play in. It is important to not value a 24-year-old who is demolishing short-season A ball as much as the 19-year-old dominating in full-season A ball. Fangraphs has a good article on this, but note that the average age will tend to vary year to year. The chart they use is a great rule of thumb when you are evaluating hitting prospects.
With that all being said I guess we have gotten the resources out of the way and can begin to talk about what stats I believe you should value. You know not to value a guy who is dominating younger completion as highly. But one of the most important statistics I look at is walk-rate(BB%). Being able to draw a walk is so important, and I love to load up my farm system with guys who can walk upwards of 10% of the time.
Being able to draw a walk means they have an understanding of the strike zone as well as having some patience on knowing what pitches to swing at and not swing at. If the batter also doesn’t strikeout as much that is a big boom in value for me.
I tend to only play OBP leagues but it’s not even just that, getting on base puts them in line to score runs, and if they are on your team for stolen bases puts them in line for more stolen-base opportunities which is what we want with stolen bases being so scarce. a players walk-rate or OBP helps us establish a level of safety with a few of the counting categories.
I also highly value, and you should as well, guys who have shown high OBPs over multiple stops of their minor league journey I believe that makes it easier to evaluate. Also should mention that we should devalue guys who strike out a lot because that is a negative for your team and we could devalue the guys who don’t walk a lot but make contact consistently because without the walk rate one bad babip season could hurt their value.
Stolen bases are so important in today’s game but it is common to look at stolen base totals in the minor leagues and try and translate that, but that would be a fool’s errand. The reason that is so is because of a few things. the main thing is minor league defenders are not as good as major leaguers. So you can’t project how a prospect would do stealing bases at the major league level when in the minors there are catchers who struggle to get the ball to second base and the middle infielders are not there.
Also, baserunning, as we’ve seen this postseason with Nick Madrigal (who is fast)and Austin Riley(who is not fast) base running itself, is its own skill.
So we’ve talked about OBP and speed when it comes to numbers scouting which many will do but is important to also watch video to get a feel for prospects. Try and get a feel for what they do, how loose and athletic, or how stiff they are. How they generate their power. If the bat is slow, cough cough AJ Reed. There are plenty of great resources. If you want to optimize Twitter you can look up video of certain prospects and get quality video. Which will help you become a better evaluator of talent.
Power is another thing that is an important thing because every position needs power, people aren’t as interested in the Dee Gordon’s of the world. You can just look at home run totals if you want to just the bare minimum. I tend to look at extra-base hit percentage because I believe it is a better way to look at the numbers if that is the route you choose to go down.
Power is something that you need to gauge with your eyes. You can see the guys with light-tower power but you can also see the guys who have more power to come. The player that smashes the ball but is gap-to-gap line drives over the fly ball mashers is something you need to see with your eyes. Analyzing these guys helps you become a better evaluator of fantasy prospects and also helps you spot guys who with the right adjustment can breakout.
Ultimately what you choose to value is up to you, but I hope the tools I presented plus the thought process go to show what I value in the fantasy game. When available always get your eyes on someone, live looks are best but watching a Youtube video is gonna be what 99% of us can get and there are some great accounts out there.
I hope this article was able to help and I hope that I provided the necessary tools. If you need anything else always feel free to hit me up on Twitter @RhysBWhite and next week I plan to do this but with pitchers which is a bigger undertaking.
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