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February 8, 2011

Fantasy Beat

PECOTA Projected Bargains

by Jason Collette

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As you very well know by now, PECOTA is out. If you were like me, you first sorted the list to show your favorite team and then started combing through the player comps and the projections for each player. The Rays fan in me enjoyed seeing what PECOTA thinks about Dan Johnson and James Shields, but died a little inside when I saw that Jeremy Hermida was the first player comp for Matt Joyce.

After you were done looking through your favorite team, you either started filtering the results to show your keepers in your most competitive league or you sorted the players to show which players have projections that jump off the page. After a quick initial pass through the hitters and pitchers, here are six names that really leapt off the page for me.

John Bowker (OF, PIT): PECOTA has him at a 53 percent improvement rate and projects a slash line of .268/.342/.457 with a .282 TAv. On the surface, that seems like quite an aggressive projection for a guy that owns a .237/.288/.393 slash line in 590 major league plate appearances, but he did have a very strong year in AAA last year between Fresno and Indianapolis. His slash line was .313/.382/.587 in the minor leagues in 2010, which mostly came from the hitting friendly PCL, though he also had 13 extra base hits in just 98 plate appearances while playing with the Pirates’ Triple-A ballclub. The outfield situation in Pittsburgh is quite crowded with Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata all but locking up two of the spots while Garrett Jones, Ryan Doumit, and Matt Diaz fight for playing time. This makes it unlikely Bowker gets a chance to reach the 483 plate appearances PECOTA has him down for in 2011, as most of the former Giants' prospects time will come from yet another year in Triple-A.

Dan Johnson (1B, TBA): When PECOTA projects a guy to have the same home run total as Evan Longoria and a .297 TAv after hitting all of .199 the previous season, you take notice. Johnson projects for a .244/.368/.465 slash line in 438 at-bats with 67 runs and 71 runners driven in. Pundits have tried to replace Johnson on the roster most of the off-season with names such as Edwin Encarnacion and Russell Branyan, but if Johnson puts up that slash line, fans will quickly forget Carlos Pena . Fantasy owners who roster Johnson in the late rounds of a draft or for $5 in an auction will be quite happy as well.  Johnson is also coming off a season in cozy Durham Athletic Park in which he had a .303/.430/.624 slash line in 340 at bats–not too shabby for a guy that has been twice released and once sent over to Japan where he managed just a .215 batting average.

Russell Martin (C, NYA): Martin killed a lot of fantasy seasons in 2010 with his .248/.343/.332 slash line and just six stolen bases. Honestly, his 2009 numbers killed a lot of fantasy seasons as well. He is coming off a hip injury that prematurely ended his 2010 season and is moving out of the spacious Dodger Stadium into the cozier Yankee Stadium. PECOTA has him at a very strong .264/.361/.382 slash line with 11 home runs, 67 runs, and 13 stolen bases which is a step back toward his fantasy glory days of 2006-2008. The risks of Martin are that the Yankees could have a short fuse with him (uber-prospect Jesus Montero waits in the wings) but I would be willing to take a chance on a Martin rebound, rather than bank on, say, a John Buck repeat of 2010.

Erik Bedard (SP, SEA): Just the very phrase makes you a little sick to your stomach, I know. The fact he has thrown just 164 innings over the past three seasons, combined, makes you feel queasy. That said, it is hard to ignore his efforts in 2007 and 2009 when he put up excellent ERA, WHIP, and strikeout rates before breaking down. I am by no means suggesting you spend anything more than a handful of dollars or a late round pick on Bedard, but if Livan Hernandez and Bruce Chen can come back from the statistical abyss, why can’t Bedard? PECOTA shows a 9.1 K/9, a 1.22 WHIP, and 3.09 ERA in 114 innings.  If he breaks down quickly, you can easily find another pitcher to plug in his place as long as you draft him like a sixth starter.

Tim Collins (RP, KCA): If the Royals ever do trade The Mexicutioner, the closer role is wide open. Hard throwing/hard-smoking Jeremy Jeffress could fill that role, but so could the diminutive Tim Collins. The five-foot-seven southpaw pitched for three different minor league affiliates last season and struck out 108 batters while walking just 27 over 71 1/3 innings: that equates to a 13.6 K/9 and a strikeout to walk ratio of four. He has yet to throw a major league pitch in his career and has twice been traded, but PECOTA projects an 11.4 K/9 and just two home runs allowed in 53 2/3 IP. It also lists Byung-Hyun Kim as one of his comps, and he had some successful flashes in the pan as a reliever (World Series appearances notwithstanding).  Dayton Moore has insisted that Soria is not on the trade market, but Collins is still a guy I want to roster based on his upside as a middle reliever.

Frank Francisco (RP, TOR): Yes, the Jays have signed a bevy of relievers this off-season as they traded for Francisco while signing Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch to add to Jason Frasor. Francisco has the best chance to emerge from that group as the closer this season. Francisco was either an effective middle reliever or closer for the Rangers over the past three seasons, but a slow start out of the gate cost Francisco his closer role early in 2010 and he never got it back. He comes with less risk than the other new additions: Dotel cannot get lefties out effectively and Rauch is rather fly-ball friendly in a division that does not do any favors for flyball pitchers.  PECOTA has Francisco with a 3.44 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP, and a 9.9 K/9 in 54 innings pitched; those look like solid numbers for a closer you can probably grab at a discount on draft day, and hope he takes over the role as quickly as he lost it in 2010 in Texas. 

Jason Collette is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

11 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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In regards to Bedard, PECOTA is projecting that Stephen Strasbug will throw 122 innings this year and have the best WHIP among SPs. I don't say this to critisize PECOTA, just to point out that it isn't designed to predict whether a player will stay healthy or not, just what his performance will look like if he does. I'm concerned that Bedard's shoulder is shredded and am not sure I can afford to waste a roster spot on him.

Feb 08, 2011 03:57 AM
rating: 0

IIRC it has just not been adjusted for expected playing time (this comes when they do player cards, etc i think)

...i may be wrong but that is my understanding...for ex, it projects jp howell to pitchin 103 games (and 121ish IP)

Feb 08, 2011 10:04 AM
rating: 0

Love this article, but I disagree with Collins. Not only would Soria need to be moved, but Jeffress would have to fail before Collins could get a shot. Between groupthink (Jeffress is bigger, throws harder and is a righty) and the desire to justify the Greinke trade to fans, I just can't see Jeffress not getting the first crack if Soria were dealt.

Feb 08, 2011 04:15 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Collette
BP staff

Fair points, but I'm going on a stuff argument with Collins. His whiff rates last year at 3 levels were 33% (AA), 42%(AA), and 20% (AAA). Jeffress has yet to throw a AAA pitch but his highest whiff rate in AA has been just 19%.

That's why I think the job is wide open rather than a slam dunk case for Jeffress.

Feb 08, 2011 08:44 AM

And, as you pointed out his K/9 and K:BB rates alone (making the assumption he maintains it) are worth a roster spot as an RP flier who may end up with some saves for gravy.

Feb 09, 2011 09:56 AM
rating: 0

Any thought given to bring bact Pecota Takes On the Prospects? I remember Nate flagging some rule 5 guy named Victorino a few years ago.

Feb 08, 2011 05:22 AM
rating: 3
dREaDS Fan

ditto that request ... please

(and as part of that, perhaps a review on how PECOTA does relative other systems in projecting prospects? ... i know the Oliver system prides itself on its prospect projections)

Feb 08, 2011 06:50 AM
rating: 0

When will Player Forecast Manager be updated with the new PECOTA data?

Feb 09, 2011 15:58 PM
rating: 0

The Promise was for Monday, or sooner if they are able to get it pulled together quickly enough...

Feb 09, 2011 17:01 PM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Collette
BP staff

As far as I know, 2/14 is still the target date for that as I have not been told anything different.

Feb 10, 2011 11:36 AM

What about Minnesota's Tsuyoshi Nishioka ? He appears to be MIA.

Feb 14, 2011 10:17 AM
rating: 0
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Overthinking It: PECOT... (02/08)
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