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

Name Team ZIPS HR On Pace HR +/- HR ZIPS Runs On Pace Runs +/- Runs ZIPS RBI On Pace RBI +/- RBI ZIPS SB On Pace SB +/- SB ZIPS Ave On Pace Ave +/- AVG ZIPS PA ACT PA +/- PA
Justin Turner Dodgers 15 15 0 56 70 14 64 61 -3 4 2 0 .278 .380 .102 461 488 27
Aaron Judge Yankees 30 58 28 71 145 74 83 127 44 4 6 8 .229 .330 .101 522 689 167
Ryan Zimmerman Nationals 13 36 23 48 96 48 57 117 60 2 1 0 .238 .334 .096 413 593 180
Alex Avila Tigers 8 21 13 29 51 22 24 55 31 0 0 0 .217 .306 .089 303 415 112
Ben Gamel Mariners 10 7 -3 63 77 14 56 52 -4 11 2 -7 .242 .328 .086 580 506 -74
Eric Sogard Brewers 1 5 4 23 44 21 11 25 14 4 3 1 .247 .331 .084 216 295 79
Jean Segura Mariners 13 11 -2 76 74 -2 55 52 -3 30 9 -13 .269 .352 .083 657 488 -169
Howie Kendrick Phillies 8 4 -4 63 29 -34 48 27 -21 8 8 7 .267 .349 .082 528 265 -263
Zack Cozart Reds 11 17 6 54 77 23 46 64 18 4 2 0 .248 .317 .069 443 526 83
Tyler Flowers Braves 10 11 1 29 57 28 40 53 13 0 0 0 .243 .312 .069 356 419 63
Freddie Freeman Braves 26 29 3 94 71 -23 86 57 -29 4 4 4 .281 .349 .068 639 349 -290
Justin Smoak Blue Jays 16 43 27 44 89 45 54 104 50 0 0 0 .230 .295 .065 387 612 225
Corey Dickerson Rays 19 31 12 51 110 59 55 75 20 3 2 1 .251 .315 .064 460 666 206
Jedd Gyorko Cardinals 22 24 2 55 66 11 70 83 13 1 5 8 .246 .308 .062 477 559 82
Daniel Nava Phillies 5 6 1 30 32 2 26 29 3 2 1 0 .243 .301 .058 305 299 -6
Aaron Hicks Yankees 10 19 9 47 77 30 43 71 28 7 7 7 .233 .290 .057 438 467 29
Kevan Smith White Sox 8 2 -6 36 23 -13 32 25 -7 0 0 0 .232 .289 .057 327 259 -68
George Springer Astros 26 50 24 89 138 49 76 112 36 12 2 -8 .251 .307 .056 590 689 99
Avisail Garcia White Sox 13 21 8 62 76 14 58 97 39 5 2 -1 .257 .313 .056 475 604 129
Leury Garcia White Sox 5 11 6 39 53 14 27 42 15 16 6 -5 .243 .298 .055 352 381 29
Bradley Zimmer Indians 15 10 -5 57 32 -25 54 46 -8 22 9 -5 .227 .282 .055 524 297 -227
Caleb Joseph Orioles 9 6 -3 30 24 -6 30 26 -4 0 0 0 .227 .282 .055 324 281 -43
Aaron Altherr Phillies 13 25 12 55 71 16 57 82 25 11 4 -3 .227 .279 .052 462 558 96
Michael Taylor Nationals 13 23 10 50 75 25 47 66 19 22 10 -3 .226 .278 .052 470 490 20
Trey Mancini Orioles 21 26 5 73 57 -16 78 83 5 3 1 -1 .263 .315 .052 612 510 -102
Martin Maldonado Angels 5 16 11 18 43 25 22 47 25 0 0 0 .200 .251 .051 219 477 258
Marwin Gonzalez Astros 11 28 17 49 69 20 42 95 53 7 4 0 .262 .313 .051 434 462 28
Travis Shaw Brewers 20 33 13 59 87 28 64 111 47 4 7 9 .246 .296 .050 542 588 46
Marcell Ozuna Marlins 20 44 24 73 97 24 74 128 54 2 0 -2 .265 .314 .049 602 690 88
Jesus Aguilar Brewers 26 16 -10 66 47 -19 78 62 -16 0 0 0 .250 .299 .049 568 331 -237
Gerardo Parra Rockies 10 11 1 61 44 -17 47 53 6 9 0 -9 .278 .327 .049 503 297 -206
Domingo Santana Brewers 19 25 6 59 96 37 60 86 26 4 9 12 .243 .291 .048 466 613 147
Manny Pina Brewers 6 11 5 30 49 19 36 51 15 2 0 -2 .241 .289 .048 304 366 62
Jose Ramirez Indians 10 30 20 76 116 40 63 88 25 24 9 -7 .285 .332 .047 616 673 57
Josh Reddick Astros 17 17 0 60 102 42 59 76 17 7 7 6 .267 .314 .047 477 549 72
Scooter Gennett Reds 13 26 13 62 75 13 57 87 30 6 2 -2 .270 .317 .047 540 411 -129
Adam Lind Nationals 13 11 -2 49 38 -11 59 53 -6 0 0 0 .264 .310 .046 429 251 -178
Mike Trout Angels 35 29 -6 115 65 -50 104 65 -39 24 10 -6 .292 .337 .045 680 371 -309
Orlando Arcia Brewers 13 15 2 70 62 -8 66 55 -11 19 5 -10 .245 .290 .045 635 564 -71
Kolten Wong Cardinals 11 2 -9 59 43 -16 46 36 -10 13 3 -7 .256 .301 .045 495 337 -158
Tommy Pham Cardinals 11 19 8 44 73 29 36 60 24 9 9 8 .244 .288 .044 347 431 84
Miguel Sano Twins 26 38 12 63 100 37 72 115 43 3 0 -3 .235 .276 .041 509 633 124
Mitch Haniger Mariners 18 13 -5 57 64 7 61 42 -19 7 3 -1 .237 .278 .041 517 366 -151
Matt Davidson White Sox 16 34 18 53 59 6 51 80 29 0 0 0 .205 .246 .041 472 488 16
Bryce Harper Nationals 29 38 9 88 126 38 86 121 35 14 2 -10 .280 .321 .041 600 669 69
Starlin Castro Yankees 18 23 5 64 100 36 78 87 9 5 1 -3 .272 .313 .041 624 604 -20
Yulieski Gurriel Astros 21 19 -2 70 69 -1 75 80 5 3 1 -1 .254 .295 .041 525 557 32
Chris Taylor Dodgers 5 18 13 58 79 21 44 70 26 14 11 6 .253 .294 .041 492 495 3
Lonnie Chisenhall Indians 11 23 12 52 53 1 63 97 34 5 2 -1 .265 .306 .041 494 402 -92
Jon Jay Cubs 3 4 1 45 53 8 30 34 4 4 1 -2 .264 .305 .041 388 360 -28
Carlos Correa Astros 27 34 7 85 110 25 115 112 -3 20 0 -20 .280 .320 .040 682 657 -25
Delino DeShields Rangers 7 4 -3 65 73 8 36 24 -12 27 18 7 .244 .284 .040 494 420 -74
Ezequiel Carrera Blue Jays 6 11 5 46 38 -8 33 30 -3 15 5 -6 .249 .289 .040 381 382 1
Adam Duvall Reds 28 38 10 74 87 13 87 115 28 4 5 5 .244 .283 .039 549 652 103
Tim Beckham Rays 6 20 14 29 53 24 25 61 36 3 5 6 .236 .274 .038 264 554 290
Didi Gregorius Yankees 15 19 4 64 62 -2 63 73 10 5 2 -1 .262 .300 .038 586 496 -90
Daniel Murphy Nationals 16 26 10 78 105 27 84 117 33 9 1 -7 .304 .341 .037 586 656 70
Yasmani Grandal Dodgers 19 20 1 46 53 7 62 63 1 1 0 -1 .230 .267 .037 406 510 104
Jake Lamb Diamondbacks 19 37 18 61 101 40 66 125 59 4 4 3 .246 .282 .036 517 668 151
Brian Goodwin Nationals 10 13 3 48 34 -14 47 38 -9 10 1 -8 .229 .264 .035 469 273 -196
Eric Hosmer Royals 19 21 2 79 91 12 91 76 -15 6 3 0 .277 .312 .035 648 680 32
Michael Conforto Mets 24 27 3 77 91 14 80 79 -1 2 2 2 .251 .285 .034 558 519 -39
Tony Wolters Rockies 3 0 -3 27 49 22 26 25 -1 3 0 -3 .240 .273 .033 292 360 68
Jed Lowrie Athletics 6 17 11 40 95 55 36 60 24 0 0 0 .250 .283 .033 399 650 251
Jonathan Schoop Orioles 22 32 10 63 89 26 67 98 31 1 0 -1 .264 .297 .033 530 646 116
Mark Reynolds Rockies 20 35 15 45 87 42 53 111 58 2 1 0 .249 .282 .033 410 628 218
Mikie Mahtook Tigers 9 8 -1 49 25 -24 44 30 -14 9 1 -7 .239 .271 .032 461 261 -200
Ian Happ Cubs 14 23 9 54 49 -5 56 55 -1 10 3 -4 .232 .264 .032 487 365 -122
Rene Rivera Mets 6 12 6 21 23 2 33 39 6 0 0 0 .226 .258 .032 277 274 -3
Buster Posey Giants 14 18 4 63 64 1 71 64 -7 3 1 -1 .295 .326 .031 512 576 64
Andrew Knapp Phillies 10 6 -4 49 36 -13 44 21 -23 2 1 0 .225 .256 .031 432 263 -169
Matt Kemp Braves 22 23 1 77 61 -16 89 74 -15 6 0 -6 .263 .294 .031 601 583 -18
Jayson Werth Nationals 14 15 1 60 53 -7 54 34 -20 3 4 5 .232 .262 .030 466 369 -97
Anthony Rendon Nationals 17 30 13 80 83 3 70 98 28 10 4 -2 .270 .300 .030 587 622 35
Nelson Cruz Mariners 36 29 -7 77 75 -2 93 125 32 3 1 -1 .267 .297 .030 586 619 33
Yolmer Sanchez White Sox 9 8 -1 53 63 10 47 44 -3 9 4 -1 .235 .264 .029 514 516 2
Salvador Perez Royals 20 32 12 55 69 14 68 105 37 0 0 0 .259 .288 .029 561 591 30
J.T. Realmuto Marlins 10 15 5 58 71 13 52 63 11 11 4 -3 .274 .303 .029 513 568 55
Eddie Rosario Twins 13 19 6 69 70 1 58 49 -9 9 4 -1 .263 .292 .029 528 541 13
Guillermo Heredia Mariners 5 9 4 55 52 -3 41 24 -17 4 1 -2 .246 .274 .028 523 422 -101
Evan Gattis Astros 28 13 -15 60 52 -8 82 65 -17 1 0 -1 .253 .281 .028 508 384 -124
Christian Vazquez Red Sox 4 2 -2 34 28 -6 31 32 1 2 4 5 .245 .273 .028 357 318 -39
Gary Sanchez Yankees 27 25 -2 66 73 7 82 77 -5 5 2 -1 .255 .283 .028 499 449 -50
Eduardo Escobar Twins 8 15 7 43 49 6 45 53 8 2 2 2 .254 .282 .028 426 418 -8
Cody Bellinger Dodgers 26 44 18 69 88 19 78 103 25 6 5 3 .232 .259 .027 514 523 9
David Peralta Diamondbacks 12 15 3 47 91 44 51 50 -1 5 6 6 .286 .312 .026 413 560 147
Whit Merrifield Royals 6 13 7 63 59 -4 48 61 13 18 14 9 .257 .283 .026 580 534 -46
T.J. Rivera Mets 8 8 0 57 42 -15 53 41 -13 3 1 -1 .262 .288 .026 532 357 -175
Steven Souza Jr. Rays 17 31 14 58 85 27 48 103 55 11 4 -4 .242 .267 .025 442 650 208
Jackie Bradley Jr. Red Sox 18 22 4 71 63 -8 72 71 -1 8 4 -1 .255 .280 .025 564 536 -28
Elvis Andrus Rangers 7 21 14 73 96 23 62 94 32 27 20 11 .276 .301 .025 641 672 31
Chris Owings Diamondbacks 7 22 15 57 71 14 50 91 41 18 11 2 .263 .288 .025 523 605 82
Brandon Drury Diamondbacks 13 15 2 61 56 -5 60 74 14 2 1 0 .262 .287 .025 581 551 -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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