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The Big Board: 5 Undervalued Infielders

Javier Baez; Big Bat or Fantasy Bust?

We recently went live here at “So-Called Fantasy Experts” with the Big Board, a draft assist program that calculates player values and rankings for 2015.

You haven’t seen anything like it!

It supports a TON of different custom league types, but to show off its awesomeness, we set up a standard 5×5 board and dove in to identify some of the most undervalued players heading into 2015 Fantasy Baseball draft season.

Player values here are calculated using an unadjusted 50/50 combo of the Steamer/ZiPs projection with ESPN standard lineups, and are compared against the ADPs for the three major sites.

To make your own rankings/$ values and find more players like these for your specific league, check out the Big Board!

5 Undervalued Infielders

Check out this handful of players we think have a chance to bring more value than their current price suggests.

C – Brian McCann

ADP:     ESPN – 162     Yahoo – 145     CBS – 142
Big Board’s 105th best player, $12
2014 Stats: 538 PA, 23 HR, 57 R, 75 RBI, 0 SB, .232 AVG
Projection: 515 PA, 23 HR, 59 R, 74 RBI, 1 SB, .250 AVG

Brian McCann became the unwitting posterchild for hitting into the shift in 2014, but before that happened fantasy owners were salivating at the idea of him playing 150+ games as the Yankees C/1B/DH and launching shots onto the short porch in Yankee Stadium. The projections still see that player in there, and all he really needs is a slight rebound in BABIP to do it. When it comes to catchers, bet on the guys like McCann who can realistically put up 550 PA, because that alone will make them more useful than their counterparts.

 

1B – Steve Pearce

ADP:     ESPN – 218     Yahoo – 217     CBS – 197
Big Board’s 117th best player, $11

2014 Stats: 383 PA, 21 HR, 51 R, 49 RBI, 5 SB, .293 AVG
Projection: 516 PA, 22 HR, 64 R, 68 RBI, 5 SB, .267 AVG

  

Pearce sandwiched two hot streaks around a slump last year, but the resulting line was pretty, and after the O’s made relatively few offseason moves it seems he’ll have a solid role heading into 2015. Steamer’s and ZiPS’s regressions still puts him at giving positive value in batting average, while also kicking in above average power and non-zero speed. I have to assume the major sites are regressing him more heavily AND giving him less than 500 PA, but I think even a slightly platooned Pearce will find his way to 450 PA and around 20 HR. He’s always been a lefty-masher, so there is a risk that he ends up in a strict shortside platoon, but the upside and low cost tell me it’s well worth the risk.

 

2B – Rougned Odor

ADP:     ESPN – 208     Yahoo – 245     CBS – 244
Big Board’s 142nd best player, $9

2014 Stats: 417 PA, 9 HR, 39 R, 48 RBI, 4 SB .259 AVG
Projection: 545 PA, 14 HR, 59 R, 62 RBI, 14 SB, .262 AVG

    

Exit Jurickson Profar… enter, Rougned Odor. I liked Odor already as a deeper sleeper coming into the season, but now the Texas 2B job is all his. While I’m a little worried about the steals after he looked lost on the bases last year (4 SB, 7 CS), he was also just 20 years old. As long as he doesn’t turn into this year’s version of Brad Miller (just enough in every category for the projection systems to love him, but doesn’t quite pan out), he will be a sneaky value.

 

SS – Javier Baez

ADP:     ESPN – 198     Yahoo – 189     CBS – 163
Big Board’s 61st best player, $16

2014 Stats: 229 PA, 9 HR, 25 R, 20 RBI, 5 SB, .169 AVG
Projection: 585 PA, 28 HR, 76 R, 75 RBI, 15 SB, .228 AVG

    

Forget the average. You’re not drafting him for average. Just cross your fingers, hope he gets on base enough to not be demoted to AAA, and enjoy having the #2 homerun-hitting shortstop in 2015 after Tulo. It’s worth noting that Baez has had a significant adjustment period at every professional level, and it’s always been followed by absolute destruction of baseballs. Could it happen at the MLB level too? Even if it doesn’t, the 9 HR in just 229 PA proved the power will be real when he manages to make contact.

 

3B – Chase Headley

ADP:     ESPN – 254     Yahoo – 247     CBS – 294
Big Board’s 175th best player, $7

2014 Stats: 531 PA, 13 HR, 55 R, 49 RBI, 7 SB .243 AVG
Projection: 597 PA, 18 HR, 72 R, 72 RBI, 8 SB, .255 AVG

 

Headley’s stint with the Yankees last year showed off the power potential for a guy whose power has been suppressed by San Diego for so long. Apply that park factor change over a full season and we get a 20ish HR player currently being drafted around the 20th round – not too shabby! If you miss out on the elite 3B, you may want to pass on the meh-worthy options in the middle and shoot for Headley.

Photo Credit: Tyrone Mitchell, Flickr

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Harper Wallbanger

Creator of the Big Board, Stanford graduate student, and winner of the 2014 /r/SultansofStats league.

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