Your Thoughts on Some of the Best and Worst Hitters

On Monday, I asked for your help in evaluating these five hitters who have gotten off to wonderful starts:

On Tuesday, I asked for your help in evaluating these five hitters who have gotten off to terrible starts:

The 10 polls accumulated thousands upon thousands of total votes. I was looking for you to select projected rest-of-season wRC+ marks, and you graciously participated in tremendous numbers. I don’t always follow up on my poll posts; sometimes I just want the polls to start a conversation, and sometimes I don’t think the data is worth a follow-up entry. But here I’d like to show you how the FanGraphs community voted. As a sneak preview, I’ll tell you now that apparently the community thinks Suarez is officially a better hitter today than Bautista is. Weird game!

As always, I used a little basic math to calculate, for each player, the average vote. I also calculated standard deviations, and that wasn’t so basic, but I thought it might be helpful. Now, before I actually get to the results, I’d like to acknowledge that the polling design wasn’t perfect — ideally the polls would’ve had more options covering a greater range, so as not to bias the voter in a particular direction. That’s my fault, and it probably had some kind of effect, but nevertheless, each of you was free to select what you thought would be the most suitable option. To kick things off, here’s a table. You see the community-projected rest-of-season wRC+, and the depth charts-projected rest-of-season wRC+, based on Steamer and ZiPS. All 10 players are included here together.

Community vs. Projections, Rest of Season
Player Community wRC+ StDev Projected wRC+ Difference
Bryce Harper 170 20 155 15
Eric Thames 142 22 128 14
Mitch Haniger 125 21 104 21
Aaron Judge 123 19 112 11
Eugenio Suarez 118 17 99 19
Jose Bautista 108 18 121 -13
Greg Bird 101 16 102 -1
Alex Gordon 91 14 92 -1
Dansby Swanson 90 15 82 8
Byron Buxton 80 19 85 -5

In case you’re more of a visual learner, here’s much of the same information, except expressed in plot form.

With all five of the so-called over-achievers, the community believes the projections have been too slow to respond. The community is higher on all of them by double-digit points, with Harper standing out as a statistical monster. On the other side, with the five under-achievers, the community is higher than the projections on Swanson, but lower on Buxton and especially Bautista. Compare some of those neighboring bars. According to our current projections — which can be thought of as trying to reflect present true talent — Bautista gets a higher rest-of-season wRC+ than Suarez, by 22 points. And yet, if you take the community at its collective word, it’s Suarez who’s better, by 10 points. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong. But, clearly, you readers have seen something in Bautista you really don’t like. Even though 78% of you still believe that Bautista is at least a league-average hitter, he’s supposed to be one of the elites. Those days might well be finished, as only Bautista’s discipline might remain intact.

The biggest positive difference is Haniger’s — the community is higher than the projections by 21 points. Of course, a couple days ago, Haniger strained his oblique and now we presumably won’t see him again for weeks, so that’s kind of a bummer. The community sees Harper as the best hitter here by 28 points, but then, the projections see Harper as the best hitter here by 27 points, so he and Thames get similar boosts. While the projections put Thames at a rest-of-season wRC+ of 128, three out of four voters have seen enough to think he’s better than that. I’m in the same boat, although I suppose when a player is going as well as Thames has been, it’s always almost impossible to imagine what a slump would look like. A slump of some form is inevitable, but the particular traits of the slump are a mystery.

I don’t want to go over every single player at length. I already discussed each one briefly in the original poll posts. I was especially interested in seeing what the community thinks about Buxton. Before the year started, those who participated in the Fan projections pegged Buxton for a 107 wRC+. Above-average hitter! Someone successfully building off a strong finish to 2016. Now here we have Buxton at an 80 wRC+, the lowest out of everyone by 10 points. Just 11% of voters see Buxton finishing out with a wRC+ in the triple digits, which speaks to a real crisis of confidence. If I could try to offer some feeble glimmer of hope: In Buxton’s first 10 games this year, he had three hits and 20 strikeouts. In his last 10 games this year, he’s had six hits and eight strikeouts. He’s also drawn six walks! Only one of the hits has gone for extra bases, and he’s still had trouble making consistent contact, but there’s something, at least. Some sign of life that Buxton isn’t toast. It’s still been more of a bad month than a good one.

I’ll stop here since there’s no need to continue. The projections, in general, are always the safest estimates, but sometimes the crowd thinks it sees something, and sometimes the crowd is correct. The crowd is buying Harper. To a lesser extent, it’s buying Thames. It’s buying all the over-achievers. It’s not buying Buxton, and it’s not buying Bautista. So far today, I see that Bautista is 2-for-2 with a walk. The hits were both singles, one the other way. Keep your eye on the Blue Jays’ most recognizable player. To this point there’s been nothing recognizable about his performance.





Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

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Solitaire
Member
Member
Solitaire

Would love to see a simple poll now: Do you think Eugenio Suarez will outhit Jose Bautista the rest of the season?

Hard to believe people would pick yes on that the way the above polls suggest. I’m thinking there’s some serious anchoring effect in the previous polls, no?

sadtrombone
Member
Member
sadtrombone

Since I’m already on record saying that Eugenio Suarez will lead the Reds in the playoff race and win the MVP* this year**, I would feel compelled to say yes.

*I didn’t say of what
**I’m making this prediction for the year you’re reading it, not when I posted it

Jetsy Extrano
Member
Jetsy Extrano

It might be fun to post polls with different framing around the same underlying question, and learn how much people’s answers vary depending on that.

Who doesn’t love a methodology post?

OTMHeartBBC
Member
Member

father time is undefeated

Ender
Member
Ender

I’d give that one a yes. Suarez is pretty underrated.