25 & 25: 2014 Top Rookie and Sophomore Batters

Billy Hamilton, 2014 Fantasy Outfielder Rankings

Baseball season feels like a lifetime away, and as Fantasy Football season ends, and the cold winter months frost our hearts, the promise of another Fantasy Baseball season is left to warm our bodies with anticipation and hope. To help nurture that fire inside all of us, I thought it would be beneficial to look at the top rookie and sophomore batters for the 2014 season.

I took the most recent Steamer projections, filtered out all players that either got more than 150 plate appearances last year or were not rookies, and calculated their 2014 projections into Rotisserie Fantasy value.  (Note: These rankings have not been adjusted for position)

As more projection systems come out–Zips came out today–it becomes more insightful to average different systems together to get a better insight. On the pitchers edition of this post, I’ll plan to get as many projections as I can get a hold of.

Lets take a closer look at some sophomore batters:

[table id=22 /]

Avisail Garcia: White Sox

Steamer Projection: 16 HR, 67 R, 73 RBI, 12 SB, .278 AVG

The key chip for the White Sox in the Jake Peavy trade, Avisail Garcia will have a clear path to the majority of time in right field in 2014. While Garcia has shown poor plate discipline and contact numbers—3.5 BB% and 23 K% in 2013—there is reason to believe that he will be able to hit for a decent average, with a .283 AVG in 256 plate appearances in his age 21 season last year; owners in OBP leagues should stay away.

Jedd Gyorko can provide power that few other players can rival at the keystone. Photo by: Keith Allison

Jedd Gyorko can provide power that few other players can rival at the keystone. Photo by: Keith Allison

Jedd Gyorko: Padres

Steamer Projection: 24 HR, 70 R, 83 RBI, 4 SB, .263 AVG

Jedd Gyorko provides the out of position productivity, in the form of home runs and power, at the second base position that Fantasy owners salivate over. The keystone slugged his way to 23 HRs in 2013, while he only played in 125 games, of which half were played in the vapid power environment of Petco Park. Gyorko is ranked behind Wil Myers, but if you take position scarcity into consideration he would leap frog his way into the second spot among sophomore players.

Interesting insights about rookie hitters:

[table id=24 /]

Billy Hamilton: Reds

Steamer Projections: 6 HR, 55 R, 47 RBI, 69 SB, .249 AVG

Billy Hamilton’s projections require a look for two reasons. For one, Hamilton’s projections show how a player can be dominant fantasy player and not as good of a real life baseball player; Hamilton is projected to have a reputable 9.9 zSCR but a less desirable a .9 WAR. What’s more, Hamilton’s projections show that a fantasy player, at least in rotisserie formats, can be an elite talent if they are able to provide other worldly production in one category.

Mike Olt: Cubs

Steamer Projections: 14 HR, 46 R, 47 RBI, 4 SB, .217

Let this be a precautionary tale to AL only Fantasy owners who might be Cubs fans about the prospect of Mike Olt. In the same way that Billy Hamilton is a better Fantasy player than a real life player, Mike Olt is a better player in Fantasy leagues that use OBP than AVG: context matters. Olt is projected to have a .217 average, but a more respectable, but still below league average for the position, of .302 OBP. This may be another case where the name on the back of a player’s jersey leaves one with a desire for more.

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Devin Jordan is obsessed with statistical analysis, non-fiction literature, and electronic music. If you enjoyed reading him, follow him on Twitter @devinjjordan.

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