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Hitter Bargains at Every Position - Comparing ATC Projections vs. ADP for Fantasy Baseball

Vaughn Grissom - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, MLB Prospects, Draft Sleepers

We're officially in the full swing of the 2023 fantasy baseball season, with all of the projections you know and love finally being released into the wild.

With those projections come the award-winning ATC projections from our own Ariel Cohen. Since coming on the scene, the smart-aggregated ATC has been one of the highest-rated systems, year in and year out.

That's where we'll start to find some bargain hitters in 2023, turning the ATC projections into values and comparing those to where players are going according to current ADP.

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Ground Rules

ATC is a conservative projection system by nature and, in-turn, we'll be using the most vanilla of valuation systems, calculating simple z-scores for a 12-team league. But there are a few quirks, for simplicity's sake.

  1. This is a catcher-free zone. With catchers must come positional adjustments and I'm more in the camp of thinking we do not necessarily need them for non-catchers. I calculate catchers in their own little world and don't mix them with the others (except for Dalton Varsho) to keep them from muddying my water.
  2. The ADP is from NFBC, which is another reason to keep catchers out of here as they're pushed way up relative to most leagues because they're two-catcher leagues.

We really only need to keep the above in mind because of how we'll be talking about how hitters rank in ATC compared to ADP because when I say hitters, it actually means non-catcher hitters. For example, Tyler O'Neill is the #44 hitter (non-catcher) according to calculated ATC values but is the #58 hitter (non-catcher) according to ADP. See? Easy-peasy.

Catchers deserve a space to their own but as a broad statement (by putting ATC projections into the FanGraphs auction calculator), ATC doesn't seem many bargains. Salvador Perez (#2 ATC vs #5 ADP), Willson Contreras (#5 ATC vs #8 ADP), and Sean Murphy (#7 ATC vs #10 ADP) are the biggest within the top 300 of ADP.

Okay, no more rules. Let's go position by position and see who ATC thinks is a big value compared to their current draft cost.


First Base Draft Bargains

Josh Naylor, CLE, 224 ADP (#87 ATC vs #122 ADP)

2023 ATC: 526 PA - 21 HR - 61 R - 72 RBI - 3 SB - .265 AVG

Josh Naylor earns his bargain label with a projection that lacks flash but is balanced, with only the four SB weighing any one category down. And I tend to agree; Naylor may not have a categorical contribution that sticks out but I do like the balance on a Cleveland lineup on the come-up.

His playing time (and ceiling) may suffer given a lack of success vs. LHP (.241 wOBA/.261 xwOBA in 2022) but Naylor is also the type of player likely to get a big batting average boost from the new rules on shifting. Facing the full shift that's now illegal 78% of the time in 2022, Naylor posted a .236 AVG and .250 BABIP, compared to a .327 AVG and .329 BABIP the rest of the time. He may not have a carrying tool and lacks speed but 20+ HR potential and a high batting average will play, with a spot in the middle of Cleveland's lineup likely to be a boon for compiling R+RBI.

However, you must keep in mind how limited his exposure to left-handed pitchers will be, capping a ceiling on his PAs, and ultimate value. Naylor posted a .241 wOBA, .261 xwOBA, and .512 OPS vs LHP in 2022, with a .173 AVG. That's platoon city, baby - and that's what makes me question his ADP, even if I do believe he'll be an eventual bargain. I'm really just trying to avoid, as much as I can, guys whose playing time will often be subject to the whims of their upcoming schedule. It can be mitigated, somewhat, through diligent wire work but that's a week-to-week headache I don't want to mess with.

Other ATC Bargains at First Base

Christian Walker, ARI (#64 ATC vs #94 ADP)
Josh Bell, CLE (#82 ATC vs #98 ADP)


Second Base Draft Bargains

Vaughn Grissom, ATL, 2B/SS*, 170 ADP (#76 ATC vs #95 ADP)

2023 ATC: 488 PA - 14 HR - 59 R - 51 RBI - 16 SB - .276 AVG

ATC is projecting Vaughn Grissom as a top 10 2B, which already speaks to the optimism but should rise even more when you consider it's coming in with under 500 PA. It's no surprise to see that ATC is the most bullish of the major projections, at least in regards to his 14 HR and 16 SB - Steamer and The BAT have him at 9-11 in both categories.

But they all, as I do, like his R+RBI upside, even batting near the bottom of Atlanta's order. When the nine-hole is followed by Ronald Acuna Jr., Michael Harris/Ozzie Albies, and Matt Olson, it's hard not to dream of runs scored even from down low.

My own projections (505 PA: 13 HR - 72 R - 59 RBI - 19 SB - .275) have Grissom as an even bigger bargain, with the stolen bases being my biggest disagreement with the others. But Grissom has plus speed, has stolen a lot at every level, and will get a boost from the new rules (pitch clock, max number of throw-overs, bigger bases). And while I'm also relatively bullish on his R+RBI production, a lot of that is the lineup around him. I like Atlanta a lot and am keen to get a lot of different pieces of it.

Other ATC Bargains at Second Base

Thairo Estrada, SF, 2B/SS (#75 ATC vs #96 ADP)
Jean Segura, MIA, 2B/3B* (#104 ATC vs #133 ADP)


Third Base Draft Bargains

Alec Bohm, PHI, 180 ADP (#69 ATC vs #104 ADP)

2023 ATC: 605 PA - 16 HR - 69 R - 69 RBI - 5 SB - .277 AVG

ATC has Alec Bohm projected as the #8 3B, though he's been drafted as the #12 3B. But don't get too excited - there is a massive cliff once you get past the top six guys at the position, and everyone over it comes with massive question marks.

Bohm is unexciting, with roto rates that make his profile more of a compiling one, with no standout contribution. The home park is obviously a hitter's haven but I'm not sure he has the air EVs to fully take advantage of it. His Air% average EV was in the 46th percentile and his Brl% was in the 41st.

He's fine...I guess. But there is no way I'd trust him to be my starter and first base is deep enough that they'll probably be occupying most of my corners. You can do better than Bohm, I promise.

Other ATC Bargains at Third Base

Ryan McMahon, COL (#91 ATC vs #117 ADP)
Yandy Diaz, TB (#99 ATC vs #148 ADP)


Shortstop Draft Bargains

Ezequiel Tovar, COL, 250 ADP (#111 ATC vs #139 ADP)

2023 ATC: 485 PA - 14 HR - 56 R - 53 RBI - 10 SB - .273 AVG

The fantasy potential of Ezequiel Tovar can basically be summed up by power + speed + Coors ='s goodness, with a remainder full of increasing hype.

ATC already projects him as a big value but is also being pretty conservative on playing time, projecting less than 500 PA. And given Colorado's playing of top prospects in the past, this might be wise, as the Rockies have been known for giving young players inconsistent playing time.

But wait! There is this:

He’s gonna have to earn the job. We’ll give him every opportunity to earn it in Spring Training and see where it goes from there.

That's Rockies GM Bill Schmidt talking about his thoughts on Tovar making the big club from the jump. That's a nice change from the old regime and makes it easier to be bullish on Tovar's playing time. With something closer to 600 PA, ATC would put him in the range of 17 HR, 140 R+RBI, and 12 SB, driving his bargain potential even higher. Plus, for me, ATC is too conservative on his SB potential - Tovar had 17 SB in 295 PA at Double-A last season and combined for 24 SB in less than 500 PA at two levels in 2021.

Considering his price, I'll have plenty of exposure to Tovar, as I am a believer he'll make the club out of spring. Colorado could sign a cagey vet at any time, but for the moment, the only other shortstop on their roster is Alan Trejo. But even with the Coors's potential, I'm not going overboard - remember that Tovar is just 21-years-old, and basically skipped Triple-A (five games, 23 PA). Patience might be needed for consistent fantasy production.

Other ATC Bargains at Shortstop

Tim Anderson, CHW (#31 ATC vs #48 ADP)
Amed Rosario, CLE (#48 ATC vs #70 ADP)


Outfield Draft Bargains

Starling Marte, NYM, 80 ADP (#30 ATC vs #45 ADP)

2023 ATC: 563 PA - 16 HR - 76 R - 63 RBI - 25 SB - .274 AVG

ACT is projecting Marte to be a top 30 hitter, not the easiest feat with less than 600 PA. But even at age 34, Marte's production continues to be consistently excellent, providing five-category goodness, and plus stolen bases.

If you could promise me 550 PA, I'd draft Marte on every team. A little pop, a lot of speed and batting average, plus plenty of R+RBI possibilities in what is expected to be a very good Mets offense. Sign me up! But you can't promise me 550 PA, can you? It's hard for me to trust an already brittle body being another year deeper into his 30s and coming off of core muscle surgery.

I'm a believer in the New York Mets offense and want plenty of exposure. So, even with the risks, I'm willing to bet on the health of a fantasy stud whose currently sandwiched between OBP machine Brandon Nimmo and King Dong Pete Alonso. But it will need to come in drafts where Marte falls closer to his 100 ADP max than his 55 ADP minimum.

Other ATC Bargains at Outfielder

Jake McCarthy, ARI (#42 ATC vs #67 ADP)
Alex Verdugo, BOS (#65 ATC vs #110 ADP)
Austin Hays, BAL (#118 ATC vs #153 ADP)
Randal Grichuk, COL (#110 ATC vs #136 ADP)

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