NFBC ADP vs. Player Rater: Finding Undervalued Hitters
by Mac Squibb
March 13, 2019
The last couple of weeks, I’ve been talking about ESPN’s Player Rater, how it’s calculated, and why it’s a valuable tool for fantasy baseball. I’ve already used the Player Rater to help show that drafting two lower ranked catchers can often be more advantageous than drafting an elite catcher. In this article we’ll be using the Player Rater to uncover some undervalued hitters based on their NFBC ADP.
In order to do this, I’ve compared every hitter’s NFBC ADP after 2/1 with their Player Rater rank. A player will be considered undervalued any time that their ADP is higher than their Player Rater rank as we will be able to draft them later than what their projections dictate. I will be listing the players who have the largest gaps between ADP and rank within the top 50, 100, 250, and 400 overall players. The entire list of players will be available at the end of the article.
Starling Marte | Player Rater Rank: 12 | NFBC ADP: 37.68 | Difference: +25.68
Starling Marte has averaged 14 HR, 33 SB, 71 R, 58 RBI, and a .288 average over the last 4 years. Those averages could be even higher had he not lost time in 2016 and 2017 due to injury and suspension. He is one of just seven players projected by each system to have at least 30 stolen bases in 2019. Read more about him here.
Adalberto Mondesi | Player Rater Rank: 18 | NFBC ADP: 42.08 | Difference: +24.08
Adalberto Mondesi is nothing short of an enigma. The projection systems see someone that can finish within the top five in stolen bases while also having 20+ HR power, which would make him an elite fantasy option. The underlying stats actually support his power production given his above average exit velocity of fly balls and line drives of 94.5 mph and fly ball percentage of 37.6%. However, a lot of his value is tied to him getting on-base, which could be an issue given his high strikeout rate and inability to take a walk. His lack of on-base skills is likely a large factor as to why he’s being drafted where he is.
Jose Peraza | Player Rater Rank: 36 | NFBC ADP: 97.8 | Difference: +61.8
Jose Peraza falls into the group of players who hit for a relatively high average with double digit home runs and stolen bases. For whatever reason, this class of players as a whole is undervalued. He might not hit 14 home runs again given his low exit velocity on fly balls and line drives, 87.1 mph, but he does play in one of the best parks for hitters. Even with slightly fewer home runs, Peraza’s high average and stolen base total make him a valuable asset.
Nelson Cruz | Player Rater Rank: 47 | NFBC ADP: 97.33 | Difference: +50.33
Nelson Cruz is fighting the losing battle against father time, but has remained an elite hitter despite his age. In 2018, Cruz finished 14th in exit velocity on fly balls and line drives (97.2 mph) and 20th in Barrel% (13.8%). His combination of age and DH-only positional eligibility is likely why he’s being undervalued. Take solace in the fact that his elite exit velocities have shown no signs of deteriorating.
Eddie Rosario | Player Rater Rank: 48 | NFBC ADP: 86.58 | Difference: +38.58
Eddie Rosario has been an all around contributor for fantasy owners over the last two seasons. Only 5 people have averaged at least 25 HR, 5 SB, 150 R+RBI, and a .275 average since 2017: Charlie Blackmon, Paul Goldschmidt, Aaron Judge, Mike Trout, and Eddie Rosario. Read more about him here.
Yasiel Puig | Player Rater Rank: 35 | NFBC ADP: 72.93 | Difference: +37.93
Joey Gallo | Player Rater Rank: 63 | NFBC ADP: 98.54 | Difference: +35.54
Jorge Polanco | Player Rater Rank: 100 | NFBC ADP: 215.95 | Difference: +115.95
Like Jose Peraza, Jorge Polanco is a player that has double digit home run and stolen base potential with an above average batting average that is being undervalued. Polanco lost much of last season to a suspension, but is projected to be the Twins everyday shortstop and leadoff hitter.
Andrelton Simmons | Player Rater Rank: 116 | NFBC ADP: 220.6 | Difference: +104.6
I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but Andrelton Simmons is yet another undervalued player that has average power and speed with a high batting average. Since joining the Angels in 2016, Simmons has had a .284 BA and a .274 xBA according to Baseball Savant. He will be the Angels everyday shortstop and hit somewhere between 5th and 7th in the lineup on most days. Read more about him here.
Ryan Braun | Player Rater Rank: 96 | NFBC ADP: 200.05 | Difference: +104.05
It might be surprising to see Braun on this list given that he’s averaged less than 450 plate appearances the last two season, but he actually had his best Statcast era season in 2018. Not only was Braun’s 2018 his best Statcast season, it was actually one of the best in all of baseball. You can read more about Braun’s 2018 season here. The systems project him to have an average of 529 plate appearances in 2018 which, along with his age, is a likely factor to him being undervalued.
Jake Bauers | Player Rater Rank: 131 | NFBC ADP: 233.81 | Difference: +102.81
Max Kepler | Player Rater Rank: 150 | NFBC ADP: 240.58 | Difference: +90.58
Jackie Bradley Jr. | Player Rater Rank: 141 | NFBC ADP: 224.31 | Difference: +83.31
Wilmer Flores | Player Rater Rank: 175 | NFBC ADP: 400.38 | Difference: +225.38
Wilmer Flores is arguably the most undervalued player of 2019. Until the recent signing of Adam Jones, it appeared that Flores would have a starting role all but guaranteed for his new team. Regardless, it’s not often that you are able to draft someone with Wilmer’s potential with one of your last selections. Read more about him here.
Brandon Belt | Player Rater Rank: 193 | NFBC ADP: 394.54 | Difference: +201.54
Brandon Belt has always been a venue change away from becoming a fantasy stud, but is sadly stuck in San Francisco for another season. Despite that, he’s been an incredibly consistent player over the last three seasons when playing. He has averaged, 73 R, 69 RBI, and 19 HR per 600 plate appearances during the last 3 years and had the 48th best OPS (.822) over that period. He is reportedly healthy and has guaranteed plate appearances with the rebuilding Giants. Read more about him here.
Adam Frazier | Player Rater Rank: 196 | NFBC ADP: 364.25 | Difference: +168.25
Adam Frazier is yet another example of a guy with a high batting average and double digit home runs and stolen bases that is getting undervalued. A major bump in Frazier’s value came when it was announced that he would be the Pirates leadoff hitter for 2019. Frazier also made an adjustment to his swing in the second half that yielded terrific results. Read more about him here.
Ryan Zimmerman | Player Rater Rank: 188 | NFBC ADP: 345.3 | Difference: +157.3
Kevin Pillar | Player Rater Rank: 152 | NFBC ADP: 307.95 | Difference: +155.95
Kevin Kiermaier | Player Rater Rank: 184 | NFBC ADP: 328.52 | Difference: +144.52
The point of this article was not only to point out the specific players that are being undervalued, but also the type of player. What I’ve found is that a lot fall into one of two groups; high batting average players with double digit home runs and stolen bases or players projected for more plate appearances in 2019 than they had in 2018. Based on my initial analysis, stolen bases and batting average appear to be undervalued in general. Players like, Jose Peraza, Andrelton Simmons, etc. are thus especially undervalued as they excel in both areas. Players that fit into the second category can be broken down into two subcategories.
(1) Players who had a shorted season due to injury or suspension
(2) Players who will be a starter in 2019 after being a platoon or bench bat in 2018.
Yasiel Puig, Wilmer Flores, and other players who have gained more playing time via trade are falling through the cracks as owners appear hesitant to extrapolate their previous numbers to a full season. Owners are also hesitant to credit players with their performances prior to 2018 and thus overlook injured or suspended players like Brandon Belt and Ryan Zimmerman. Being aware of both of these trends can not only make you aware of your own biases but also help you exploit the biases of others.
The Player Rater rankings are calculated based on the projections provided by ATC, THE BAT, and Depth Charts. The ranking should by no means be the sole resource for determining a players value, but merely a tool to help illuminate some of our shortcomings and biases. It’s important to still do your own research and determine to what extent you believe the numbers that the projection systems produce. The systems will never be perfect and thus the projections alone shouldn’t be enough to deter or incentivize you to draft a certain player.
Google Doc with NFBC ADP vs. Player Rater rank comparisons.
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