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ADP Cost Analysis - Gleyber Torres vs. Corey Seager

Fantasy baseball players acquire draft position through osmosis. The more drafts that take place, the larger sample we gain of how owners of all experience levels feel about someone.

Granted, inexperienced players often rely on rankings from experts, which goes to form ADP into something resembling common rankings, but the outcome is unimpeachable, collected data nevertheless.

When two players at a position vary greatly in ADP despite similar profiles, it's natural to question why that is the case. That brings us to another one of our Cost Analysis series articles, this time profiling a pair of shortstops in big markets.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

Torres' Story

Near the top of ADP resides second baseman/shortstop Gleyber Torres. It is no exaggeration to say that Torres had a simply stellar 2019. He collected 38 home runs, 96 runs, 90 RBI, and an .871 OPS. He's not much of a runner, but few are these days. That entire line made Torres one of the best middle infield fantasy options in the league.

Despite the premiere line, the underlying numbers don't paint as pretty of a picture for the third-year man, though. From year one to year two, there was the obvious uptick in standard fantasy production. However, Torres saw his line-drive rate drop and his ground-ball rate rise. He relied heavily on his grand HR/FB rate. Torres finished the year with the 30th-best HR/FB rate in baseball, and of the 29 players ahead of him, only three had lower hard-contact rates.

Besides leaning on home runs for production, Torres' home runs relied on facing the Baltimore Orioles, to a historic degree. He hit 13 bombs against Baltimore alone, setting the single-season record for any player against any opponent in the divisional era. Torres and the Yankees will play Baltimore the same amount this season, but one would expect a certain amount of regression.

With an ADP in the top 30, we are to infer that Torres will repeat his elite production and anchor a fantasy lineup. Torres could be that, but it feels like a slight stretch considering the peripherals. Meanwhile, there is another shortstop hiding in plain sight, way down the ADP list, who could offer similar production.

 

Seager's Rebuttal

Corey Seager has entered his full, post-hype faze. Seager used to be the belle of the ball as the young SS primed to take off. He lost most of 2018 due to injury, and his 2019 suffered because of it. With few remaining believers, Seager's ADP is outside the top 150, the 18th SS off the board. But according to Baseball Savant, there actually wasn't all that much in the batted ball data that separates Seager from Torres. These names shouldn't be two extremes at the position.

In 2019, both players performed a little better than average in exit velocity, hard-hit percentage, and expected wOBA. The difference is those numbers seem to tell a specific tale about Torres, whereas they differ from a Seager we have seen in the past.

Torres in his rookie year was a similar player to last season's breakout (according to the batted ball data): good but not great. Meanwhile, before a lost '18 due to Tommy John surgery, Seager was absolutely elite in 2017 and 2016.

'17 Seager had one of the best batted-ball profiles in the game: 87th percentile in exit velocity, 91st percentile in hard-hit percentage, 91st percentile in xwOBA, and 95th percentile in expected batting average. That followed up a '16 much the same: 87th exit velo, 86th hard-hit, 92nd xwOBA, and 97th percentile in xBA.

Sure, 2019 Seager was not a premiere fantasy player, but 2020 Seager very well could be. Last season, Seager saw his batted-ball profile suffer, but some other data suggests a bounce back. His plate discipline actually trumped what he did in those two elite seasons. His zone contact percentage was higher than in '17, and his whiff rate lower. His chase rate was lower than it was in '16. And Seager saw lower groundball rates and weak-percentage contact than in either of those previous seasons.

 

Conclusion

Though the fantasy counting stats don't match up because of changes in the league environment, there is no question that 2016 and 2017 Corey Seager was a better and more reliable hitter than anything we've seen from Gleyber Torres thus far. There are even signs that last year's version of each player are more similar than the 5x5 numbers indicate. So why the more than 100-spot difference in ADP?

Owners are overreacting to two factors: Torres' gaudy home run total that likely regresses and Seager's missed time. Seager has a reputation as a man who can't stay in the lineup even though he's played in more than 130 games in three of his four big-league seasons. Those two factors are causing Torres to be drafted too early and Seager too late. The players could perform awfully similarly in 2020, in which case everyone who drafted Torres possibly 10 rounds earlier will be stewing with envy.

More 2020 Fantasy Baseball Advice




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