March 08, 2012

Using the magic of computers and math, we at numberFire have but a simple goal: to help you make smarter decisions. We're not experts in the traditional sense; we're experts in that we've built a bunch of mathematical prediction algorithms to be the expert. Yes, the hard work is now over for us -- we just kick back and push some buttons while the bits and bytes do the work. Progress!

In this column, we'll be looking at players who are undervalued and overvalued, relative to their draft position but also public consensus. Everyone knows how important the draft is, so it's our goal to help you find strong value beyond perception and deliver to you the most accurate projections around.

Lance Berkman (St. Louis Cardinals)

Berkman was a huge reason why the Cardinals won the World Series in 2011, but a lot of people are overlooking the aging slugger. Eligible for both the outfield and first base, Berkman was the No. 6 fantasy first baseman. Outside of stolen bases, he contributed positively across all categories, finishing with 31 home runs, 90 runs scored, 94 RBIs and a .301 average.

The loss of Albert "The Machine" Pujols certainly will not help Berkman's production, but he is used to less talent around him after ages in Houston. In fact, Berkman added 5.9 wins above replacement last year through his offense, his best yearly mark since 2004. Right now, he is the 16th 1B coming off the board in Yahoo! drafts, but we have him once again finishing in the top 10 among his position.

Our projection system also likes Freddie Freeman and Mike Morse, if you're comfortable taking a chance on some somewhat unproven commodities.

Eric Hosmer (Kansas City Royals)

A lot of people are jumping on the Hosmer bandwagon. The young Royals first baseman is drawing rightfully-warranted attention after batting .439/.525/.582 in Triple-A. He finished No. 14 at his position in '11 on only 563 plate appearances, but we need to see a little more improvement before going all in.

With the Royals, it will be hard to rack up impressive run and RBI totals. Hosmer needs to be more patient as he drew walks on only six percent of his plate appearances. While his power numbers are not likely to improve due to his home run to fly ball ratio (10.1 percent), Hosmer showed tremendous potential. Unfortunately, too many people are excited by this potential, and as a result, his value is too high for comfort. Hosmer is going as the No. 12 first baseman, ahead of the likes of Mike Morse, Michael Young and the aforementioned Berkman.

Unless you are completely sold on Hosmer's future, stay away for fear of paying too much.

Be careful with both Todd Helton and Ryan Howard. You don't need to buy the brand name to get good value.

Nik Bonaddio is the CEO of numberFire, a sports analytics platform that provides algorithmic modeling for sports. You can follow him @numberFire. Keith Goldner is the Chief Analyst at numberFire. You can follow him @drivebyfootball. Visit numberFire on Facebook by clicking numberFire.

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