This week’s fantasy baseball analysis finds us at the half-way point of the 2017 baseball season. We’ve now established a large enough sample size of data to make educated decisions about whether our favorite fantasy baseball players are living up to their pre-season projections.

Our data tables below provide us with on pace numbers for our basic 5X5 fantasy baseball league scoring format. For many players, it’s easy to see that their increased production is due to an increase in playing time. This is evident in counting stats like homeruns, runs, RBI’s and stolen bases.

However, if we want to see if a player is really performing better than what was originally projected, we look to the batting average and compare it to core skill metrics where we’re able to measure true improvement. The Fantasy Baseball Report has compiled data on all the hitters who are on-pace to get at least 250 plate appearances. We’ve separated batting average performance into 5 distinct categories:

  • Plus 25 or more points above projected.
  • Between 10 and 24 points above projected.
  • Within +/- 10 points of projected.
  • Between 10 and 24 points below projected.
  • Minus 25 or more points below projected.

Before going on, we should qualify a couple things when it comes to our original projection data. For our fantasy baseball analysis, we used ZIPS pre-season projections for the entire season as our baseline. Our calculations took the players’ actual performance to date and prorated the numbers into their on-pace values. Now this was necessary for counting stats but not so much for our baseline batting average.

For the record, I’m not impressed with ZIPS performance. Of the 314 batters on pace for at least 250 plate appearances, ZIPS projections accuracy is a dismal 25% for batting average. With that said, let’s move on to the actual fantasy baseball analysis part of the article.

This, our first in a series of 3 articles, focuses on categories 1 and the fantasy baseball players hitting well above their projected batting average. While we’re not able to analyze each hitter in this week’s fantasy baseball analysis, we will highlight the top skill improvement players along with a look at those who seem to have improved their luck over their skills. We’ll also take a brief look at a couple players where I feel ZIPS just missed the mark on as well.

Fantasy Baseball Hitters Exceeding Projected
Batting Average by More Than 25 Points

NameTeamZIPS HROn Pace HR+/- HRZIPS RunsOn Pace Runs+/- RunsZIPS RBIOn Pace RBI+/- RBIZIPS SBOn Pace SB+/- SBZIPS AveOn Pace Ave+/- AVGZIPS PAACT PA+/- PA
Justin TurnerDodgers151505670146461-3420.278.380.10246148827
Aaron JudgeYankees30582871145748312744468.229.330.101522689167
Ryan ZimmermanNationals1336234896485711760210.238.334.096413593180
Alex AvilaTigers82113295122245531000.217.306.089303415112
Ben GamelMariners107-36377145652-4112-7.242.328.086580506-74
Eric SogardBrewers154234421112514431.247.331.08421629579
Jean SeguraMariners1311-27674-25552-3309-13.269.352.083657488-169
Howie KendrickPhillies84-46329-344827-21887.267.349.082528265-263
Zack CozartReds11176547723466418420.248.317.06944352683
Tyler FlowersBraves10111295728405313000.243.312.06935641963
Freddie FreemanBraves262939471-238657-29444.281.349.068639349-290
Justin SmoakBlue Jays1643274489455410450000.230.295.065387612225
Corey DickersonRays1931125111059557520321.251.315.064460666206
Jedd GyorkoCardinals22242556611708313158.246.308.06247755982
Daniel NavaPhillies5613032226293210.243.301.058305299-6
Aaron HicksYankees10199477730437128777.233.290.05743846729
Kevan SmithWhite Sox82-63623-133225-7000.232.289.057327259-68
George SpringerAstros26502489138497611236122-8.251.307.05659068999
Avisail GarciaWhite Sox1321862761458973952-1.257.313.056475604129
Leury GarciaWhite Sox5116395314274215166-
Bradley ZimmerIndians1510-55732-255446-8229-
Caleb JosephOrioles96-33024-63026-4000.227.282.055324281-43
Aaron AltherrPhillies132512557116578225114-
Michael TaylorNationals1323105075254766192210-
Trey ManciniOrioles212657357-167883531-1.263.315.052612510-102
Martin MaldonadoAngels51611184325224725000.200.251.051219477258
Marwin GonzalezAstros112817496920429553740.262.313.05143446228
Travis ShawBrewers2033135987286411147479.246.296.05054258846
Marcell OzunaMarlins204424739724741285420-2.265.314.04960269088
Jesus AguilarBrewers2616-106647-197862-16000.250.299.049568331-237
Gerardo ParraRockies101116144-174753690-9.278.327.049503297-206
Domingo SantanaBrewers192565996376086264912.243.291.048466613147
Manny PinaBrewers611530491936511520-
Jose RamirezIndians1030207611640638825249-7.285.332.04761667357
Josh ReddickAstros171706010242597617776.267.314.04747754972
Scooter GennettReds13261362751357873062-2.270.317.047540411-129
Adam LindNationals1311-24938-115953-6000.264.310.046429251-178
Mike TroutAngels3529-611565-5010465-392410-6.292.337.045680371-309
Orlando ArciaBrewers131527062-86655-11195-
Kolten WongCardinals112-95943-164636-10133-7.256.301.045495337-158
Tommy PhamCardinals11198447329366024998.244.288.04434743184
Miguel SanoTwins2638126310037721154330-
Mitch HanigerMariners1813-5576476142-1973-
Matt DavidsonWhite Sox16341853596518029000.205.246.04147248816
Bryce HarperNationals2938988126388612135142-10.280.321.04160066969
Starlin CastroYankees1823564100367887951-3.272.313.041624604-20
Yulieski GurrielAstros2119-27069-17580531-
Chris TaylorDodgers5181358792144702614116.253.294.0414924953
Lonnie ChisenhallIndians1123125253163973452-1.265.306.041494402-92
Jon JayCubs341455383034441-2.264.305.041388360-28
Carlos CorreaAstros273478511025115112-3200-20.280.320.040682657-25
Delino DeShieldsRangers74-3657383624-1227187.244.284.040494420-74
Ezequiel CarreraBlue Jays61154638-83330-3155-
Adam DuvallReds2838107487138711528455.244.283.039549652103
Tim BeckhamRays62014295324256136356.236.274.038264554290
Didi GregoriusYankees151946462-263731052-1.262.300.038586496-90
Daniel MurphyNationals1626107810527841173391-7.304.341.03758665670
Yasmani GrandalDodgers19201465376263110-
Jake LambDiamondbacks19371861101406612559443.246.282.036517668151
Brian GoodwinNationals101334834-144738-9101-
Eric HosmerRoyals192127991129176-15630.277.312.03564868032
Michael ConfortoMets242737791148079-1222.251.285.034558519-39
Tony WoltersRockies30-32749222625-130-
Jed LowrieAthletics61711409555366024000.250.283.033399650251
Jonathan SchoopOrioles22321063892667983110-
Mark ReynoldsRockies2035154587425311158210.249.282.033410628218
Mikie MahtookTigers98-14925-244430-1491-
Ian HappCubs142395449-55655-1103-
Rene RiveraMets61262123233396000.226.258.032277274-3
Buster PoseyGiants14184636417164-731-1.295.326.03151257664
Andrew KnappPhillies106-44936-134421-23210.225.256.031432263-169
Matt KempBraves222317761-168974-1560-
Jayson WerthNationals141516053-75434-20345.232.262.030466369-97
Anthony RendonNationals17301380833709828104-2.270.300.03058762235
Nelson CruzMariners3629-77775-2931253231-
Yolmer SanchezWhite Sox98-15363104744-394-
Salvador PerezRoyals2032125569146810537000.259.288.02956159130
J.T. RealmutoMarlins10155587113526311114-3.274.303.02951356855
Eddie RosarioTwins13196697015849-994-
Guillermo HerediaMariners5945552-34124-1741-
Evan GattisAstros2813-156052-88265-1710-
Christian VazquezRed Sox42-23428-631321245.245.273.028357318-39
Gary SanchezYankees2725-2667378277-552-
Eduardo EscobarTwins81574349645538222.254.282.028426418-8
Cody BellingerDodgers2644186988197810325653.232.259.0275145239
David PeraltaDiamondbacks121534791445150-1566.286.312.026413560147
Whit MerrifieldRoyals61376359-448611318149.257.283.026580534-46
T.J. RiveraMets8805742-155341-1331-
Steven Souza Jr.Rays1731145885274810355114-
Jackie Bradley Jr.Red Sox182247163-87271-184-
Elvis AndrusRangers72114739623629432272011.276.301.02564167231
Chris OwingsDiamondbacks7221557711450914118112.263.288.02552360582
Brandon DruryDiamondbacks131526156-5607414210.262.287.025581551-30

Top Skill Improved Hitters

Justin Turner (3B LAD)

Hitting 102 points above projected Justin Turner tops my list of overall core skill improvements. Turner has cut his K% in half while doubling his BB%. This alone is huge when it comes to improving your batting average. Turner’s always been a high contact hitter, but when you improve your BB/K rate two-fold, an increased batting average usually follows suit.

PREDICTION: Expect more of the same for the rest of the season

Tyler Flowers (C ATL)

It took a little digging to uncover whether Flowers was the result of true improvement or just some added luck, but in the end, I’m concluding that there is some true improvement here. Most of which, is plate discipline improvement. Over the past 4 seasons, Flowers has cut his out-of-zone swing rate by 10% while improving his in-zone contact rate by 11%. Additionally, this added discipline has taken his overall swinging strike rate down from 17% in 2013 to 8.6% this season, with each year in-between showing improvement. While Flowers is by no means a superstar at age 31, his improved batting average and so-so pop, makes him more than a viable catcher. Particularly in deep, 2 catcher fantasy baseball leagues.

PREDICTION: Expect more playing time for Flowers which will make him a good pick in deeper leagues

Jedd Gyorko (2B STL)

Improvement? Yes. Significant improvement? Not really, but improvement in skill nonetheless. So, I’m always looking for fantasy baseball players that show core skill improvement and cutting your K% rate while improving your BB% rate counts for me. Gyorko is in only his fifth full season and plays one of the weaker positions in baseball. He exhibits fair power so if I’m seeing his core skills moving in a positive direction, he has at least a little of my interest.

PREDICTION: He’s on track for decent season. I’d look more at him in future fantasy baseball seasons to come.

Marwin Gonzalez (HOU)

Notice that I didn’t put a position down for Gonzalez. This is because he’s what I call a super-utility player which makes him even more valuable than his improving skills suggest. Gonzalez has cut his out-of-zone swing rate by almost 10% over the past couple seasons. This is good; However, he’s also improved his out-of-zone contact rate which means he’s becoming quite a smart selective hitter. Combine this with his near 90% in-zone contact rate and you get a pretty smart batter at the plate.

PREDICTION: More of the same good batting average with some good counting stats that come from his super-utility status.

Top Luck Based Hitters

Ryan Zimmerman (3B WAS)

Alex Avila (C DET)

Avisail Garcia (OF CHW)

Howie Kendrick (2B PHI)

Freddie Freeman (1B ATL)

I’ve decided to group all the luck based hitters into one summary to avoid simply repeating myself five times. Fact is, with all the above players, there is simply no statistical evidence that their increase performance is skill related. Their contact rates are fair to acceptable while their BB/K rates are less than good overall. When I see this, I tend to think negative regression as the season goes on.

PREDICTION: Sell High because my guess is that you probably won’t see them at the top of this list come end of season.

ZIPS Missed It Totally Hitters

Jean Segura (SS SEA)

Zack Cozart (SS CIN)

Although I don’t see any skill improvement, I think ZIPS overestimated previous season slumps to be a trend in the negative direction. As a result, the gaps here are bigger than they should be, but that’s only because they should have initially been higher.

PREDICTION: Not much to say here. I think both will regress backwards a bit, but overall, they’re both worth having on your fantasy baseball team.

As always, your comments and feedback is always welcome, so feel free to comment below or share this content with others. We will be featuring further fantasy baseball analysis on players who are beating, meeting and not living up to their projections in the coming days, so stay tuned.

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Doug Lukas

Dedicated baseball enthusiast with a serious passion for helping readers succeed in all areas of fantasy baseball.
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