As we have concluded between our consensus rankings and the First Base Bargains edition of this series, First Base isn’t great this year. There is a strong consensus at the top, but it drops off quickly. In this edition of Projections vs. ADP, we’re going to be taking a look at a few First Basemen who the projections say are being over-drafted. We’ll analyze the player and the projection and determine whether their ADP is indeed inflated or if it is justified. You can sort by Score in your own Fantrax league to see the projection rankings for yourself.
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First Basemen Overvalued According To Projections
Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
Fantrax Projection: 612 PA, 86 R, 27 HR, 95 RBI, 4 SB, .279/.388/.498
One thing the projections can’t account for compared to the ADP is consistency. There is something to be said for Rizzo’s consistent production year in and year out. It gives you the warm and fuzzies to see him on your team. Rizzo is still just 30 years old and had between 31-32 HR every year from 2014-2017. He has just 25 and 27 HR in his past two seasons though, suppressing the power projection for 2020. It also makes his projection score less valuable because the other high-end options at the position are projected for 29-44 HR.
That said, Rizzo could easily get back to his 30+ HR days. He is going to hit in the heart of the Cubs lineup every day, making 200 R+RBI very likely, which would also beat the projection. Despite having a career .273 average, Rizzo has hit .283 and .293 over the past two seasons, with a .291 and .300 XBA, respectively. Batting average can obviously vary wildly year over year, but Rizzo has every chance to hit 10-15 points higher than his projected .279 mark.
One final perk Rizzo has over a lot of his counterparts is the “not-nothing” stolen bases. The projected stolen base total is four, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he stole 5-10 as he has for most years. With all this in mind, I am very much on the side of the ADP. Rizzo is the fourth First Baseman off the board at ADP 61, and even at that point, I think he is a bargain.
Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates
Fantrax Projection: 622 PA, 86 R, 32 HR, 93 RBI, 0 SB, .271/.362/.522
Josh Bell only had his true breakout last year, so it makes sense that the projections would be skeptical of a repeat. Bell hit 37 HR with 94 R and 116 RBI in 2019 as he used an increased launch angle and pull rate to hit for a career-high .292 ISO. Bell’s R+RBI totals are expected to drop way off in the projections, and it’s hard to argue with that. The Pirates lineup could be one of the worst in the league, making 116 RBI an extremely lofty number to achieve. Bell has always drawn a lot of walks, however, making 85+ runs a safe bet.
Additionally, our projection has him netting a career-high 622 plate appearances. Bell has played just 148 and 143 games in the last two seasons due to some injuries. He will need to stay healthy (and hopefully improve upon his career .238/.318/.423 slash against lefties) to not only justify but give you positive ROI (return on investment) from his 76 ADP. Bell is the eighth First Baseman off the board but is the 12th rated First Baseman according to the projections. I’m leaning more towards the projections being right on this one. I would prefer the likes of Max Muncy and Jose Abreu, who are cheaper and also projected for better seasons.
Danny Santana, Texas Rangers
Fantrax Projection: 479 PA, 67 R, 19 HR, 61 RBI, 17 SB, .234/.278/.432
Danny Santana was arguably fantasy baseball’s biggest “out-of-nowhere” player of 2019. He finished with 28 HR, 21 SB, 81 R, 81 RBI, and a .283 average. This was particularly impressive considering he hadn’t contributed more than 100 games to an MLB team in a single season since 2014. Taking into account how difficult stolen bases are to find this year, how can Santana be considered an overdraft?
Part of the projection process comes down to a player’s recent body of work. Santana doesn’t have much to contribute in that regard, with just 97 games combined between 2017-18. Perhaps the most important part of this projection then is the playing time. 479 PA’s would be a step back from his 511 PA’s in 2019. Considering the Rangers’ propensity to move Santana all around the field, this projection could be a bit low. However, if Santana turns back into a proverbial pumpkin and isn’t cutting it at the plate, his playing time will dry up in a hurry. This projection is a bit of a hedge between those two outcomes, considering the plausibility of the latter.
The likelihood of Santana enjoying a repeat of his 2019 performance looks slim. His contact rate was actually a career-low 71.6% in 2019, leading to a 29.5% K% that was bottom 7% in the entire league. He is also far from judicious at the plate, with an ugly 38.3% chase rate leading to an ugly 4.9% BB%. The 126 ADP really isn’t bad if you believe he can BABIP his way into another .283 average, but the projected .234 average is very much on the table. Santana is a nice mid-round source of speed, but there is a lot of risks here and I would lean more towards the projections and draft risk-averse.
Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers
Fantrax Projection: 526 PA, 76 R, 33 HR, 73 RBI, 1 SB, .249/.335/.525
Coming off a career year, the projections for Joc Pederson aren’t actually far removed from his 83/36/74/.249 line. Even that isn’t enough to justify his 192 ADP though, according to the projections. While Pederson is deployed on the strong side of a platoon, he sits against nearly all lefties, limiting his plate appearances. The projected 526 PA’s would actually be the highest of Pederson’s career since his 2015 rookie season.
It’s more likely that he comes in under the projected R/HR/RBI than exceeds it, given the playing time concerns. He gets a bump in OBP formats, but a career .233 average is pretty gross for standard roto. Pederson is the 18th First Base-eligible player off the board but is just the 27th-best option by projected score. Even the projected score might be more than I expect in 2020.
Nate Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays
Fantrax Projection: 409 PA, 55 R, 19 RBI, 52 RBI, 0 SB, .258/.330/.470
This one breaks down pretty easily to pure playing time opportunity. Nate Lowe is a terrific offensive prospect, but he is blocked hard at the major league level. As if it wasn’t going to be hard enough for Lowe to find PA’s over Ji-Man Choi, the Rays have now traded for Jose Martinez to DH and signed Yoshi Tsutsugo to play, well, wherever the Rays find room for him. The production per plate appearance is nice and well justified. However, the projection has to drop as well as the ADP now that Tsutsugo and Martinez are en tow. There simply isn’t an opportunity for him to open the season. Both the ADP and projections are too excited here.
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