Tampa Bay Rays: 3B – Steamer Projections and what to expect in 2020
By Seth Carter
Steamer Projections is one of the most well-known baseball statistic projection companies around. We take a look at what they foresee for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2020.
The Tampa Bay Rays have made several clever moves this off-season to keep them competitive with the high payrolls of the Yankees and the Red Sox. We’ll take a look at what one of the top projection companies has to say about our current roster construction.
Steamer Projections was developed by a high school science teacher named Jared Cross. He and two students developed a system using past performances and age-based trends to create a statistical projection for Major League Baseball players.
Steamer Projections can be found in all sorts of baseball publications including Fangraphs. Today, we take a look at how Steamer thinks our favorite Rays’ players will do in 2020.
Third Base – 3.1 WAR
Yandy Diaz: .274 AVG // .361 OBP // .410 SLG // 586 PA // 508 ABs // 139 H // 26 2B // 2 B // 13 HR // 69 R // 63 RBI // 68 BB // 112 K // 5 SB // 2 CS // 111 wRC+ // 2.3 WAR
Michael Brosseau: .253 AVG // .309 OBP // .416 SLG// 226 PAs // 206 ABs // 52 H // 11 2B // 0 3B // 7 HR // 25 R // 27 RBI // 14 BB // 50 K // 2 SB // 1 CS // 93 wRC+ // .6 WAR
Daniel Robertson: .236 AVG // .330 OBP // .358 SLG // 126 PAs // 109 ABs // 26 H // 5 2B // 0 3B // 2 HR // 13 R // 12 RBI // 13 BB // 30 K // 1 SB // 1 CS // 90 wRC+ // .2 WAR
Obsviously, we all want to immediately disagree Yandy’s projected slugging numbers. 13 homers in 508 at-bats sounds ludicrous to Rays’ fans. Keep in mind, these projections are heavily weighted by past performances and in Yandy’s career he has 15 homers in 572 ABs.
Prior to joining the Rays, Diaz had only one home run in 265 plate appearances.
Over five seasons in the minor leagues, Diaz played in 516 games, had 2,247 plate appearances, and 1,879 at-bats. During that time he hit only 26 home runs. That’s a home run approximately every 72 at-bats.
To expect him to instantly turn into a 30+ homer player is asking a lot. Even if Yandy only hit 13 homers, he hits the ball hard and gets on base with the best of them.
I expect Rays’ fans will not be happy with his Steamer projection but keep in mind, it’s still a 113 wRC+.
Rays Colored Glasses’ Take
Yandy has always been one of the hardest hitters in the game. Despite this, he hits over half of his balls on the ground. Now, he hits them so hard that he still has a good average. He’s got a great eye and takes plenty of walks.
Last season his 50.8% groundball rate was the lowest of his professional career. He increased his flyball rate to a whopping 32.0%. His career HR/FB rate is a lowly 12.1% and even with the adjustments last year he finished at 17.5%.
While Yandy saw his home runs go up last season, he also saw a decrease in average and on-base percentage. His line-drive rate plummeted from 23.3% with the Indians in 2018, to 17.2% with the Rays.
I think 20-25 homers is not out of the realm of possibility for Diaz this year. If you recall, it seemed like many of his homers came off of frozen rope line drives last season. He has an unbelievable ability to hit to the opposite field. He’s really a wonderful contact hitter and I’d hate to see him veer too far off the path of what brought him to the majors.
The minor adjustments he and the Rays made last season seemed to be a step in the right direction, but I think the Rays brought Yandy in for his on-base ability more than the potential for 35 homers.
You have to love the on-base and power combination Yandy Diaz brings to the table. The sky is the limit for the big third sacker in 2020. He has one of the smartest management teams in baseball to help him make the adjustments he needs to be the best hitter he’s capable of being.
I think he’s blowing the Steamer Projections out the window.
What are your expectations for the Rays’ 2020 production at third base?