Projections vs. ADP: Second Base Busts and Overdrafts
Last time out, we looked into some second basemen the projections found to be undervalued. Overall, the second base position is a pretty lackluster group this year. That has led to a lot of pretty bland projections. There are still some discrepancies between the projections and the ADP’s, however. We’ll take a look at a few of those right here and try to identify the busts or just overdrafted.
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2020 Second Base Busts
Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks
Fantrax Projection: 638 PA, 89 R, 21 HR, 80 RBI, 9 SB, .277/.351/.473
Ketel “One” Marte may be moving to center field primarily for 2020, but he still qualifies at second base heading into the season. He found his way onto sleeper lists year in and year out, finally enjoying his true breakout in 2019. He batted .329 with 32 HR and 10 SB over 144 games, posting career-highs in every category except steals (11 SB in 2016). The projections are calling for a ton of regression, but the drafters are more optimistic.
The projections are inherently skeptical of a single season’s performance which sticks out from a prior body of work. For instance, Marte delivered an elite .329 average in 2019 with an XBA of .299. Even the .299 XBA was a jump from his career average coming into the season of .263. Therefore, the projections lean more toward the rest of his career. He didn’t have any sort of contact breakout, but he did nearly double his 2018 launch angle to 11.5 degrees. He was also able to post the highest hard contact rate of his career. Even though the .329 average wasn’t quite deserved, he should be able to beat a .277 average. It was peculiar to begin with that his 2017-18 BABIP was sub-.300. A .290+ average is well within his range of outcomes when you also factor in his plus spring speed.
It’s a shame that Marte doesn’t utilize his speed more on the bases. At this point, we can’t expect a sudden stolen base explosion, so the 9 SB projection is fair. Furthermore, you won’t find anyone to argue that Marte’s home run output will regress in 2020. Marte’s .370 xwOBA lagged far behind his .405 wOBA. He did everything right, with the aforementioned increased launch angle and hard contact rate. He also pulled the ball more. Regressing him from 32 to 21 HR seems harsh, and maybe it is. He could hit another 25 HR, which would further put the projection to shame. His projected 638 PA’s would actually be a career-high, making the R+RBI projection relatively safe.
Since Marte has only had the one true season of studly production, we can see why the projections would be conservative. If he can maintain a lot of the gains he made in 2019, he can beat a lot of his projections. The ADP on Marte might be a bit high, but it is reasonable.
Eduardo Escobar, Arizona Diamondbacks
Fantrax Projection: 583 PA, 76 R, 26 HR, 80 RBI, 3 SB, .268/.328/.492
With Eduardo Escobar, we have a little bit of the same scenario as Marte. Escobar has always been a consistent player but had never come close to his 2019 production. His .269 average wasn’t a career-high, but his 699 PA, 94 R, 35 HR, 118 RBI, and 5 SB were. It’s natural to expect regression from a career year as a 30-year old. That said, does this projection go too far?
Escobar has played 150+ games and amassed 630+ PAs in each of the past two seasons. Immediately, it looks like he should beat his projected plate appearance total. If you factor that into the likelihood that he will also be their three-hitter, and he should easily meet his R+RBI projection. The stolen base and home run regression make sense, though. He beat his previous career-high in home runs by a dozen in 2019, overperforming his peripheral metrics. There’s no reason to think he can’t push 25 HR, but exceeding 30 again seems like a stretch. This is another instance where I side with the ADP.
Gavin Lux, Los Angeles Dodgers
Fantrax Projection: 200 PA, 26 R, 8 HR, 23 RBI, 2 SB, .251/.326/.447
It’s pretty clear where the difference lies between Gavin Lux’s projections and his ADP. Lux isn’t guaranteed a job out of Spring Training, and the projections very conservatively confirm that. All he has to do to earn a full season of plate appearances is win the second base gig out of camp. That would turn 200 PAs into 550 or more. Even if he doesn’t break camp with the team, it’s hard to imagine he stays down beyond April. Lux’s power/speed blend along with his strong plate discipline and hit tool all make for a very high upside fantasy option at pick 133. The closer we get to April, the more we will be able to tell if this ADP is a bargain or a huge reach. For the time being, I am again siding with the ADP.
Tommy Edman, St. Louis Cardinals
Fantrax Projection: 507 PA, 68 R, 14 HR, 56 RBI, 14 SB, .272/.326/.437
Tommy Edman was one of the biggest hitting surprises of 2019. It’s a little bit of a surprise, then, that the projections are even more conservative than the drafters. Edman hit 11 HR with 15 SB and a .304 average over 349 PAs as a rookie. He has a very strong hit tool, making 82.6% contact and earning a .287 XBA. He could easily outproduce his projected batting average, but what about the rest?
Edman stole 24 bases between Triple-A and the Cardinals in 2019, so the stolen base projection is also pretty conservative. He could push 20 over a full season of at-bats, which is expected at this point. He spent time at second, third, and in the outfield in 2019, which could repeat in 2020. The PA total could easily exceed the projection, but his R+RBI count will depend on whether he is hitting towards the top or bottom of the lineup. His inability to draw a walk could lead to him hitting towards the bottom of the order, although the Cardinals not signing an impact bat helps his case. In any case, his lack of plus power and on-base ability limits his run-scored ceiling.
Edman was also undeserving of his .196 ISO in 2019. His .330 xwOBA was well below his actual .356 wOBA, and his 87.1 MPH exit velocity doesn’t offer much hope of a 2020 power breakout. 14 homers over a full season might even be a little on the optimistic side. Any regular on your roster who can’t offer you 20 HR over a full season is a detriment, which immediately makes Edman a bit of a risky proposition. He would need to bat leadoff, steal 20+ bases, and exceed his .287 XBA to earn a profit from his 162 ADP. I’ll side more with the projection on this one.
Garrett Hampson, Colorado Rockies
Fantrax Projection: 338 PA, 46 R, 8 HR, 32 RBI, 14 SB, .261/.321/.414
On the flip side of a player like Tommy Edman was Garrett Hampson, who was one of 2019’s biggest busts. Billed as a high-average second baseman capable of 30+ steals, Hampson hit just .247 with 15 SB over 327 PA. He was downright awful to open the season and was eventually demoted. However, he came back with a huge September, batting .318 with 5 HR and 9 SB in just 95 PAs, sucking the fantasy community right back in.
Hampson’s .809 second-half OPS and improved 35.3% hard contact rate are very promising compared to his hideous first half. He also eliminated his pop-up problem, which will help him tap into that sweet, sweet Coors Field BABIP bump. If he can maintain these adjustments over a full season, he would obliterate this projection. However, he may not even get that full season.
The Rockies are infuriating with their treatment of their young bats. Hampson will have to contend with Ryan McMahon once again at second base as they each jockey for playing time. Not only is Hampson far from guaranteed a job out of camp, but he may also have to squeeze into a utility role to soak up anything close to daily at-bats.
At least you aren’t spending a top 150 pick on Hampson, but even at 168, he is a big risk. If you have a lack of stolen bases on your roster at that point in the draft, he is a calculated risk who could provide you a cheap 25-30 steals if he can get anything close to 550 PAs. As hard as steals are to come by this year, I would lean more towards buying the ADP than the conservative projection. You could be paying for a repeat of the migraine headache he caused in 2019, of course.
Are these guys busts as the projections indicate or is the current ADP on the mark? Share your take in the comments below.
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