Each of the baseball projection systems have their own unique quirks which result in valuing certain players a bit differently than each other and a bit differently than the public too. Those differences in value sometimes end up highlighting players that are undervalued and perhaps worth a closer look (if you trust those damn computers and their mysterious projections).
In a comparison between current ADP and projected value based off each projection source, the most undervalued players at each position are listed below:
|OF||K. Davis||T. Huner||Bourn||Bourn||Bruce|
|DH||Gyorko||A. Hill||Gyorko||D. Murphy||Hosmer|
|SP||C. Lee||C. Lee||C. Lee||C. Lee||Bumgarner|
Depending on which projection methodology that you prefer, this is a helpful list of players to target on draft day. What I find most interesting is when multiple projection sources agree upon the potential sleepers of each position.
As a disclaimer about projections, they are usually inherently conservative because of relying heavily (or solely) on past performance to form their projections for the future. The Fangraphs projections step away from that a bit as they are done by humans and are not computer-generated projections. Regardless, you’re not going to see many “breakout” players on lists such as these.
Wilin Rosario‘s ADP has been hovering around 100 in most drafts but he’s coming out projected as possibly a top three catcher based off Steamer and my Special Blend projections. With a decent AVG and 25-30 HR’s a distinct possibility, he is one of the few catchers who would likely be a starter on most teams even if he wasn’t at such an offensively devoid position.
I used to go to Phillies games in Veteran’s Stadium back in high school and Bobby Abreu was the best player on a really bad stretch of Phillies teams. The entire upper deck at the stadium would usually be empty and we’d sit up there alone and entertain ourselves by having our friend go to the complete other side of the stadium and shout “ABREUUUUUUUUU” as loud as he could and we’d give him a thumbs up if we could hear him, which we always could because he was ridiculously loud. I tell that story just because I’m very happy that there’s another relevant Abreu in fantasy baseball thanks to Jose Abreu and I’ll forever want to shout “ABREUUUUUUUUU” whenever I see his name.
Anyway, yeah, despite being an relatively unknown product from Cuba, the projection systems tend to really favor Jose Abreu and see him having good power potential this year. With the recent success of other similar unknown products like Yasiel Puig, I would have thought the public would overvalue Abreu but he’s still got a relatively cheap price tag.
Jose Altuve is the player that is projected to take a step forward by multiple projections. He’s a good source of stolen bases with a high AVG but also isn’t completely devoid of power like most speedsters so that’s a definite bonus. Aside from Altuve, two other systems still favor Brandon Phillips. Everyone knows what they’ll get out of Phillips by now since he’s been playing for 100 years now but the public doesn’t appreciate those skills as much as they used to. He’s a nice value play as a result.
Adrian Beltre is a second round pick so… how is he undervalued, you might ask? Well, two of the systems are saying that he’s still ridiculously awesome and should really be a first round pick. Getting first round value in the second round is pretty awesome so jump on board with that if you trust those projections.
Yeah, Troy Tulowitzki is also hard to undervalue considering he’s the top SS but two of the systems are saying he should really be a top five pick. The public is likely scared off by his run of injury-plagued seasons but Steamer and Fangraphs say that he’s worth the investment. Meanwhile, two of the other systems are saying that Elvis Andrus is being undervalued. His numbers actually project very similarly to Jose Altuve except with a little less power and AVG but he’s still a valuable player across the board according to those systems and should be drafted earlier than he is.
The outfielders that appear multiple times here are familiar names that aren’t predicted to breakout but predicted to do what they normally do. Torii Hunter may be a million years old but he consistently produces value. Ryan Braun is still freakin’ Ryan Braun but the public is letting him slip in drafts. It may be due to his ridiculous clothing line or because they’re mad that he lied to them but, come on, draft him. Michael Bourn had a down season but the projection systems don’t think you should give up hope yet and you should cash in on him being undervalued as a result of his down season.
Cliff Lee is a freakin’ machine who is programmed to not walk any batters. The projection systems like machines because they can relate to that and Lee is thus given high projections by them. If you trust machines then you should draft Cliff Lee. Aside from that, a couple of the projections are actually fairly high on Danny Salazar which kinda surprised me a bit because I have him a secret, sneaky breakout prospect as opposed to being someone that is projected to be valuable. Another undervalued player according to multiple projections is Hisashi Iwakuma. With all of the hype surrounding many other Japanese imports, Iwakuma has quietly put together a nice resume without many people noticing.
The projections usually aren’t in the habit of valuing relievers too high because Saves are such a big part of their value and they are so hard to project. Regardless, one reliever that is projected to continue to put up good peripheral numbers across the board is Koji Uehara. Snatch him up and thank those computers for their nice projections at the end of the season.