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2013 Pod Hitter Projections: Wil Myers

Welcome to the first edition of the Pod hitter projections for the 2013 season! If you are unfamiliar with my process, you can read the introduction I published last January. As a reminder, these are not computer generated where I input the data and a spreadsheet spits out a projected batted line. I manually project every category that has fantasy relevance.

The first projection I’ll make is for Wil Myers, the top ex-Royals prospect who was recently shipped to Tampa Bay for James Shields.

At-Bats: 450
This is really a shot in the dark this early. Whether Myers opens the season in Tampa after a big spring training, or kept at Triple-A for a month or two to dominate opposing pitchers for a little longer, I don’t know. So I’ll hedge for the time being and project that Myers plays at the MLB level for most of the season, but not all of it.

Contact Rate: 73%
As a reminder, the contact rate formula I use in my projections differs from that on FanGraphs. Since I don’t project walks or sacrifices that are used in the plate appearance formula included in K%, I use (At-Bats – Strikeouts) / At-Bats. This season, Myers posted a contact rate of 73%, which includes his time at both Double-A and Triple-A. The good news is that he made better contact at Triple-A, but that wasn’t really difficult since his Double-A rate was just 69%. He also made contact at a 75% clip in Double-A in 2011. It’s of course possible he improves his contact rate upon his promotion to the Majors, but the more likely scenario as a rookie is a rate that sits in the low-70% range.

GB%/LD%/FB%: 41%/19%/40%
He was a fly ball hitter this season, but a ground ball hitter in 2011. I’ll split the difference and project that he hits both types of batted balls at a relatively even rate.

BABIP: .320
Amazingly, Myers has posted a BABIP above .400 four times at various minor league stops! In his time at Triple-A, it was a more reasonable .349, but that’s still a mark that is way above what I would ever project for a rookie. My two xBABIP formulas are pretty much in agreement, calculating .312 and .315 expected marks. Given his minor league dominance in turning balls in play into hits, I bumped up the expected mark to arrive at a .320 projection.

HR/FB Ratio: 13%
This season at Triple-A, his HR/FB ratio was 19% after sitting at 29% during his time at Double-A. Tropicana Field suppresses right-handed home run power, while the parks Myers played in during his time in the minors this year both inflated long ball totals.

RBI and Runs: 65 and 60
I have no idea where Myers would bat in the Rays order, but looking at their current lineup, the sixth slot looks like the place he could soon settle into. The 65 runs batted in would prorate to about 88 over 600 at-bats. Myers has good plate patience and has boasted solid walk rates in the minors, but a potentially mediocre batting average means that his OBP will only be good, rather than excellent. With a pretty weak bottom of the Rays order, 60 runs is the projection, which prorates to 80 over 600 at-bats.

SBs: 5
He stole just 6 bases this year and 10 over the previous season. He seemingly has average speed so could bounce around in the high single digits.

Below is my final projected batting line, which includes both batting average and home runs calculated from the above projections:

System AB AVG HR RBI R SB CT% BABIP HR/FB GB%/LD%/FB%
Pod 450 0.259 17 65 60 5 73% 0.320 13% 41%/19%/40%
RotoChamp 420 0.248 21 59 54 4 66% 0.325 ? ?
Cairo 464 0.273 19 66 57 6 73% 0.335 ? ?

The RotoChamp and Cairo projections seem to be the only set published at this point. It’s actually pretty cool to see us relatively close to each other, especially considering I didn’t look at the other systems until after my projection was complete.

The bottom line on Myers is that given his contact issues, it will be difficult for him to justify the hype he’s going to receive on draft day. He’s likely to hurt a fantasy team’s batting average and his stolen base contributions will probably fall short of earning positive value in standard 12-team mixed leagues. So drafting Myers means that you’re banking on a rookie to fully translate his power to the Majors and that just doesn’t happen often.