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More-For-Your-Money Series Pt 1: Undervalued Infielders for 2015

2017 Rest-Of-The-Season Rankings

A new Fantasy Baseball season is upon us, and I would like to talk about a few hitters and pitchers who seem to be undervalued. Specifically, in this article, we’ll discuss undervalued infielders for 2015.

The volatility of projections of the top-end hitters is quite low. This makes them mostly safe and predictable. However, as the draft goes on, the volatility of the projections increases dramatically. This creates opportunity if you do your homework.

I find that young, unproven prospects, with no MLB experience, tend to be overvalued since they have not had the opportunity to disappoint yet. Also, they have not faced the top-end pitching that MLB offers.

I also find that established vets coming off down years tend to offer the best value. Their ceilings may not be as high, but their floors are much higher. We can use their historical performance to spot outliers and trends. Use the recency bias of Fantasy players to your advantage. People tend to focus on the most recent events, often times ignoring previous data.

Part 1: Undervalued Infielders in 2015

Over the next three articles I will focus on two infielders, two outfielders, and finally two pitchers that I feel should have fantasy seasons that exceed their current ADP. 

Ryan Zimmerman, 3B/OF, Washington

Season
Team
G
PA
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
2012
Nationals
145
641
93
25
95
5
.282
2013
Nationals
147
633
84
26
79
6
.275
2014
Nationals
61
240
26
5
38
0
.280

Zimmerman had an injury-plagued 2014. He was coming off two relatively healthy seasons, but missed significant time last year. Zimmerman will be moved to first base this year and this will add to his position eligibility. Therefore, he’ll receive a slight boost in value, plus it should decrease the strain on his throwing shoulder.

Season
Team
1B
2B
3B
BB%
K%
BABIP
2012
Nationals
101
36
1
8.90%
18.10%
.313
2013
Nationals
102
26
2
9.50%
21.00%
.316
2014
Nationals
35
19
1
9.20%
15.40%
.313

In the few games the he played healthy, Zimmerman was still fairly productive. Producing 19 doubles, while decreasing his K%, showing he still has something left in the tank.

Season
Team
GB/FB
LD%
GB%
FB%
HR/FB
2012
Nationals
1.44
18.50%
48.10%
33.50%
16.00%
2013
Nationals
1.32
21.50%
44.70%
33.80%
17.60%
2014
Nationals
1.23
21.00%
43.60%
35.40%
7.80%

I expect his power to return, as his HR/FB% seemed abnormally low at sub-8%. His improved health along with playing first base should allow him to regain his form of previous years.

His early ADP according to www.fantasypros.com is the 14th among third basemen, and 124th overall. I forecast a top-10 season among third basemen with projections of 80 R, 25 HR, 85 RBI, 3 SB and a .280 batting average.

Jedd Gyorko, 2B, San Diego

Season
Team
G
PA
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
2012
Padres (AA)
34
149
18
6
17
1
0.262
2012
Padres (AAA)
92
408
62
24
83
4
0.328
2013
Padres
125
525
62
23
63
1
0.249
2014 1H
Padres
56
221
13
5
24
2
0.16
2014 2H
Padres
55
222
24
5
27
1
0.260
2014
Padres
111
443
37
10
51
3
0.210

Gyorko’s 2014 season was a tale of two halves: pre-injury and post-injury.

[Tweet “Gyorko dramatically improved his AVG from .162 in 1st half to .260 in 2nd half – via @CanucksRule247”]

Let’s take a look at the explanation of the dramatic turnaround.

Season
Team
1B
2B
3B
BB%
K%
BABIP
2012
Padres (AA)
24
4
0
11.40%
18.10%
.289
2012
Padres (AAA)
73
24
0
8.30%
16.70%
.344
2013
Padres
72
26
0
6.30%
23.40%
.287
2014 1H
Padres
22
5
1
5.40%
25.30%
.192
2014 2H
Padres
34
12
0
10.80%
19.80%
.313
2014
Padres
56
17
1
8.10%
22.60%
.253

Gyorko’s much improved second half was supported by a K% falling from 25% to 20% and his BB% rising from 5% to 11%. His improved batting eye, along with a reversion of his BABIP from .192 to .313, all suggest rosier times ahead. For 2014 as a whole, the .253 BABIP seems quite low.

Season
Team
GB/FB
LD%
GB%
FB%
HR/FB
2013
Padres
0.94
22.50%
37.60%
39.80%
15.90%
2014 1H
Padres
1.14
16.60%
44.40%
39.10%
8.50%
2014 2H
Padres
1.41
27.00%
42.80%
30.30%
10.90%
2014
Padres
1.26
21.80%
43.60%
34.70%
9.50%

According to data from www.minorleaguecentral.com, Gyorko’s minor-league career suggests that his 2013 season in terms of both FB% and HR/FB% will be more indicative than his 2014 numbers. In the power starved era that we are currently in, Gyorko’s MI pop is a rare trait. He has a real shot at leading all MLB second basemen in HRs this year. The Padres lineup will be greatly improved compared to last year with all of their offseason acquisitions; this will further bolster Gyorko’s counting stats.

His early ADP according to www.fantasypros.com is the 23rd second basemen and 283rd overall. I forecast a top-15 season among second basemen, with projections of 70 R, 20 HR, 70 RBI, 2 SB and a .250 batting average.

Undervalued Infielders: Conclusion

Both Zimmerman and Gyorko are coming off injuries, so this adds to the risk. I think that their ADP more than discounts their disappointing 2014 seasons. Fantasy Baseball is all about value vs. cost and the resulting profit. Picking up Zimmerman and Gyorko is a great way to start your season in the black.

Data contained in the charts courtesy of www.fangraphs.com | Splits data courtesy of www.sports.yahoo.com

Ryan Zimmerman Photo Credit: Keith Allison

 

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Fabian Taylor

Fabian Taylor lives in Vancouver, BC. In his previous life, he traded natural gas for a couple firms in Calgary. He now trades stocks, bonds, and commodities out of a float home office. Family, finance and Fantasy Sports -- Is there anything else?
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