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Finding Under and Overvalued 1B Using Expected Draft Values

We've been rolling out our Expected Draft Values series, starting with Nick Mariano's look yesterday into some undervalued players, and we followed it up this morning with Nick's look at overvalued playersThis afternoon, we're going to give you some undervalued and overvalued players at first base.

As a quick primer, Expected Draft Value is the value you would historically expect, on average, from a given draft slot. In other words, Expected Draft Value lets you put a stat line next to every pick in the draft... if the player you draft performs better than expected, you get positive value. If the player you draft performs worse than expected, that's negative value. As we all know, a fantasy draft is all about maximizing the potential positive value from every pick.

For example, we can say that "if you draft a power + average hitter 97th overall, your Expected Draft Value should be a line of .285-26-76-75-4. That's your 'break even point'. If you draft a player at 97 who performs better than that, you win, or at least put yourself one player closer to winning.  For a full explanation of our Expected Draft Value research, see Nick's article's from yesterday, linked above. With the introduction out of the way, let’s dive into some undervalued and overvalued first basemen!

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Undervalued First Basemen to Target

Joey Gallo - 1B/OF, TEX

Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 102nd: .245-31-89-78-5
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: .220-42-100-88-6

Analysis: Gallo is projected to obliterate the return we would expect from the 102nd overall player. If he reaches his projection, he would be fair value as early as the 65th pick in your draft, so there is potentially quite a wide margin of profit to be had. RotoBaller's rankers aren't as bullish on Gallo as ATC/The Bat, mostly because of his batting average downside.

Gallo has never hit above .209 in his big-league career and has a whopping 38% career strikeout rate; both of these stats limit Gallo’s potential to reach his projected counting stats. Despite the apparent flaws in his game, Gallo is still worth reaching for several rounds ahead of his ADP given his projected value. If he can manage to cut down on his strikeout rate, even a little, then Gallo will help you dominate in three categories, which will more than offset his overall low batting average.


Justin Smoak - 1B, TOR

Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 230th: .250-29-73-58-1
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: .245-29-80-76-1

Analysis: Talk about value! Based on the projections, Smoak is projected to be a steal at pick 230. His projections value him at around pick 150, which would be significantly better than both his NFBC ADP and RotoBaller rank. Smoak’s 2018 strikeout rate of 26.1% jumped above his career mark of 23.7%, which raises concern, especially as he enters 2019 at age 32.

This concern, coupled with the current state of the Blue Jays lineup make RotoBaller slightly lower on Smoak compared to ATC/The Bat. That being said, fantasy players can feel comfortable taking Smoak as much as five rounds earlier than his ADP depending on their team needs. His profile isn’t exciting, but he is slated to provide great relative value in 2019.  


Overvalued First Basemen

Ian Desmond - 1B/OF, COL

Expected Return for a Power+Speed Hitter Drafted 142nd: .256-18-61-75-20
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: .258-17-64-70-17

Analysis: Desmond isn’t projected to underperform his draft position by all that much, but the stats he is projected to underperform in are important ones. His batting average, RBI, and run projections place his value at around the 150 pick range for power + speed guys, but his HR and steal projections place him roughly in the pick 180 to 190 range.

Desmond has always been a decent source of steals, but he will be 33 years old entering the 2019 season. At some point, his wheels will start to slow down, so there is no guarantee he will significantly help you in this category. As for the power, Desmond is a notorious ground ball hitter (52.6% career rate), limiting his potential HR value even in Coors Field. What’s more, Desmond did hit 22 HR last season but did so at an inflated 24.7% HR/FB rate compared to a career 14.7% clip.

Negative regression can be expected, which decreases the likelihood of him contributing as much in that category. Desmond is slated to be a power and speed dual fantasy threat, but his underlying batted-ball profile coupled with his age make him overvalued in 2019. Look to take him a few rounds later than his ADP to protect yourself from getting burned.


Max Muncy - 1B/2B/3B, LAD

Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 118th: .254-32-84-74-3
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: .247-28-79-77-4

Analysis: Nick talked about Muncy yesterday, but I'm going to dive a little deeper since he's a sexy name. Max Muncy came out of nowhere in 2018 and was a fantasy All-Star, and his 2019 ADP certainly reflects that. His projections, however, slate him to finish slightly lower than his ADP, and there are some questions surrounding whether he can hit his projections. His projections place him around pick 126 to 130, which is only about a round lower than his current ADP. Let’s take a closer look at Muncy’s 2018 stats to see how likely he is to meet his 2019 expectations.

A few stats stand out from Muncy’s 2018 campaign. First, he posted an excellent walk rate (16.4%) and a lackluster strikeout rate (27.2%). Both of these stats are in line with Muncy’s career numbers (14.9% and 25.6%) and last season was his first successful one. The walk rate is great, but a high strikeout rate is always a cause for concern. Two other stats that stand out are Muncy’s HR/FB rate and average exit velocity.

His HR/FB rate was a massive 29.4%, which was third highest amongst hitters with at least 450 AB and was significantly higher than his career mark of 21.7%. He also hit the ball hard throughout the season (average exit velocity 90.1 MPH) and barrelled up the ball 16.9% of the time, which was in the top one percent in the league. Muncy excelled out of his mind in 2018, and, while he could do it again, fantasy players could protect themselves from him not meeting his projections by waiting at least a round before drafting him.

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