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Sleepers and Busts

Don’t Pay Too Much! Pt 1: Overvalued Infielders for 2015

HOU-Altuve, Overvalued Infielders, Keith Allison

Pitchers and catchers have reported and Spring Training is right around the corner, and we already shared a couple undervalued infielders, along with two undervalued outfielders and two more undervalued pitchers.

So now, let’s take a look at some overvalued infielders for 2015.

When I point out that certain players are overvalued, it does not mean that they will have bad years and that you should not pick them at any cost. Rather, I believe that these players are being drafted too high given my projections based on their underlying stats. It all comes down to value and associated price.

Over the next three articles I will focus on two infielders, two outfielders, and two pitchers who have inflated ADPs.

Overvalued Infielders for 2015

When you draft players in the early rounds, you want sure things. You do not want to take risks early on in the draft, save the risk taking for the back half.

With this in mind, all of the players I will identify as overvalued will fall in the top tiers of their respective positions. I will point out their risks and provide equivalent players who are being drafted much lower.

Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston

Season Team G PA R HR RBI SB AVG
2012 Astros 147 630 80 7 37 33 .290
2013 Astros 152 672 64 5 52 35 .283
2014 Astros 158 707 85 7 59 56 .341

Altuve had a great 2014, no doubt about that. By leading all of baseball in batting average and finishing tied for second in stolen bases, he caught the eye of Fantasy Baseball  players everywhere.

Altuve’s production, for the most part, came as a large surprise given where he was ranked going prior to last year. Let’s dig into the numbers and check for sustainability.

Season Team 1B 2B 3B BB% K% BABIP
2012 Astros 122 34 4 6.30% 11.70% .321
2013 Astros 139 31 2 4.80% 12.60% .316
2014 Astros 168 47 3 5.10% 7.50% .360

The red flag is Altuve’s BABIP. As we will see later, the material increase over previous years was not supported by a change in batted ball profile. Assuming a fall back to career norms, the result will be a lower batting average, lower on-base percentage, fewer stolen base opportunities and potentially fewer runs and RBI.

Season Team GB/FB LD% GB% FB% HR/FB
2012 Astros 1.94 20.20% 52.70% 27.10% 5.10%
2013 Astros 1.74 22.60% 49.20% 28.30% 3.20%
2014 Astros 1.60 22.80% 47.50% 29.70% 3.90%

As you can see Altuve’s batted ball profile is eerily similar to earlier seasons. I would have liked to see a material increase in LD% to support a sustained higher BABIP. The majority of Altuve’s 2014 production surprise came in the form of stolen bases and batting average. I believe a regression back closer to his 2012 and 2013 seasons is a major risk.

You know you are not going to get any power and very few RBI out of Altuve, so there is a lot of pressure on his speed and batting average to perform at an elite level to justify his price.

His early ADP according to www.fantasypros.com is the first 2B and 12th overall. The market has not priced in the risk that 2015 will look like 2013 and earlier for Altuve. As I previously said, I do not like risk this early in a draft. I would much rather take the safer Robinson Cano (ADP third 2B), Anthony Rendon (ADP second 2B), and Ian Kinsler (ADP fifth 2B) ahead of Altuve.

I forecast Altuve to finish out of the top three 2B with projections of 80 R, 7 HR, 55 RBI, 40 SB and a .295 batting average.

Danny Santana, SS, Minnesota

Season Team G PA R HR RBI SB AVG
2012 Twins (A+) 121 547 70 8 60 17 .286
2013 Twins (AA) 131 587 66 2 45 30 .297
2014 Twins 101 430 70 7 40 20 .319

Santana had a solid rookie season, especially considering that he was not on the Twins for the entire year. With middle infielders, you can live with a decent average, some speed and no power. Let’s examine the sustainability of his stats.

Season Team 1B 2B 3B BB% K% BABIP
2012 Twins (A+) 107 21 9 5.30% 14.10% .322
2013 Twins (AA) 126 22 10 4.10% 16.00% .353
2014 Twins 88 27 7 4.40% 22.80% .405

You can see a hitter that strikes out a lot, does not walk often, and one that got extremely lucky in 2014. This screams regression for 2015. The result will be a materially lower batting average and a corresponding fall in Santana’s counting stats.

Season Team GB/FB LD% GB% FB% HR/FB
2012 Twins (A+) 1.34 14.70% 45.60% 33.90% 5.41%
2013 Twins (AA) 1.52 13.90% 48.40% 31.80% 1.36%
2014 Twins 1.63 26.00% 45.90% 28.10% 8.50%

A very strong LD% tends to support the inflated BABIP. However, when compared to his minor-league figures, it appears to be an outlier. Also, the sample size is small, so randomness can have a larger impact, as stabilization has not yet occurred. Also, the HR/FB% feels like an outlier given his minor-league data.

His early ADP according to www.fantasypros.com is the eighth SS and 138th overall. I would much rather take the more established and known commodities of Erick Aybar (ADP 16th SS) or Asdrubal Cabrera (ADP 17th SS) ahead of Santana.

I forecast Santana to finish out of the top 15 shortstops with projections of 60 R, 5 HR, 45 RBI, 20 SB and a .265 batting average.

Both Altuve and Santana seem to be going too high in drafts given their risks and the power of regression. They both should be rostered, just make sure the price is right for these overvalued infielders.

Data contained in the charts courtesy of www.fangraphs.com and www.minorleaguecentral.com.

Jose Altuve Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Fabian Taylor
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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?
Fabian Taylor
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