This week’s fantasy baseball analysis focuses on several players primed for big comebacks in 2017 and will most likely be undervalued on draft day. These players were big fantasy disappointments last year and a couple of them were owned by yours truly. However, I’m not going to let last year’s poor output get in the way of potential fantasy baseball value plays this year.

Our 4 focus players all underachieved in 2016 compared to their fantasy expectations. For this article, our analysis will center on large abnormal shifts in career BABIP numbers while their primary skills remained intact. This often provides an indicator that a bounce-back year is coming. Although, not always the case, large shifts in BABIP can result in bounce-backs and regression. For more information on BABIP, check out this great article on Fangraphs.

Ben Revere OF LAA (ADP: 343) – First, let’s have a look at last year and identify what went wrong. Revere missed the whole month of April due to a strained oblique and had a real slow go of it in May trying to get back on track. June looked much better, but 2nd half wasn’t at all kind to the speedy outfielder. Ultimately, he was sent down to the minors in October and opted for free agency at end of the season.

A deeper looks at his skills shows rock solid contact rate at 90% and totally in line with his career numbers. The biggest driver was an abnormal drop in his BABIP that isn’t in line with his career numbers. There’s also a pretty large drop in his line drive outside of his career rate. The chart and data provided give us a visual to these uncharacteristic drops and gives us reason for optimism for a fantasy rebound in 2017.

In addition, the move to the Angels should help his number one asset, which is speed. Mike Scioscia is committed to running the bases and this should help Revere in 2017. Combine this with an above average chance for his line drive rate and BABIP to normalize and you very well could have a good source of steals and 300 average in or around the end of your draft.

Ben Revere - Career BABIP Fantasy Baseball analysis

Joe Panik 2B SF (ADP: 322) – There might not be a large enough sample size here with just 3 seasons in the majors, but Panik has proven to be a solid contact hitter with a history for hitting for high average. Additionally, his patience at the plate has improved with each season in the majors and he’s only 25 entering the 2017 season.

The 2016 season wasn’t very kind to Panik as he lost 1 month to concussion like symptoms, making it 2 seasons in a row where he was unable to amass a full season of at bats. Like Revere, his season was hampered by an unusual drop in BABIP and line drive rates while he maintained top tier contact rates which gives us reason to believe that a comeback is very possible. We’re hoping that this year, he can stay healthy. Combining his skills, young age and overall team quality, his output could provide substantial value compared to his current ADP.

Joe Panik - Fantasy analysis - 2017 comeback review

Matt Holliday OF NYY (ADP: 261) – Lost a month and a half to a fractured thumb, hasn’t seen a full season of at bats since 2014 and he’s 36 years old. However, the skills are still there as evidenced by his 80% contact rate, continued power ratings, and decent overall 2016 output despite a dreary 246 BA, (20 hr’s in 382 AB).

Graphic shows a similar picture of uncharacteristic drop in BABIP coupled with 9% drop in LD rate. Thumb may have been a driver and the shift to DH in a power packed Yankee offense make for great bounce-back opportunity in 2017. With an ADP of 261 he provides some late round pop with a higher than average probability of getting back some of high average ways with plenty of opportunity to drive in runs.

Bryce Harper OF WAS (ADP: 10) – Now, you may be thinking what in the world is Bryce Harper doing here in our fantasy baseball analysis about bounce-back candidates? But the truth is, Harper did not meet the expectations of a top 2 ADP player. Sure, 24 HR, 84 R, 86 RBI and 21 SB is nothing to sneeze at when it comes to fantasy output.

His dismal 243 average proved to be an overall drain on the fantasy lineup for a first round top 5 pick. When we look at his graphic, again we see a contact rate that, although not elite, is right in line with career numbers. The BABIP however exhibits a large deviation from career norms coupled with a 5% drop in LD rate. This gives us hope for a comeback to top 5 form for the price of a near 2nd round player.

Bryce Harper - Fantasy review - Comeback analysis

So, as stated at the beginning of this fantasy baseball analysis, our identification of these players as bounce-back candidates stems from noticeable drops in their 2016 BABIP rates compared to their career norms. In addition I’ve supported this with additional insights derived from line drive rates that were also uncharacteristic when compared to their career numbers. We also want to point out that shifts in BABIP does not always indicate good or bad luck that may prompt a comeback or regression. That is why, we’ve done all we could to select the players I truly feel had less than expected fantasy output that can be related to a possible shift in their BABIP numbers.

Feel free to comment with your opinions and thoughts.

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Doug Lukas

A passionate fantasy baseball enthusiast with a love for statistics and data analysis.
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