March 19, 2012

Using the magic of computers and math, 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 to 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.

Aramis Ramirez (3B, Milwaukee Brewers)

Ramirez is currently going in the late seventh/early eighth round in most drafts, but after last year's performance he should be even higher. The former Cub finished with 80 runs scored, 26 bombs, and 93 RBIs after batting .306 on the season. That kind of production would put him in the same tier as Adrian Beltre, Pablo Sandoval, David Wright, Brandon Phillips and even Evan Longoria, who batted just .244 last year.

Ramirez's BABIP (batting average on balls in play), which can measure how lucky a hitter was on the season, was just .308, inside the standard range from .290 to .310, and thus, could be expected to put up similar numbers in 2012. He's playing in Milwaukee now, so he'll get to feast on the same weak NL Central pitching -- looking at you here, Astros -- while getting to bop with a newly reinstated Ryan Braun. He's started slow so far this spring, but don't pay that any mind; it may work to your advantage as he becomes available in later rounds.

If you draft in a league that gives big boppers some advantages and/or you're comfortable with giving up serious K or average in exchange for power, Mark Reynolds shows performance in the seventh round while going much later than that. He's not everyone's cup of tea but depending on how you draft around him, he has the potential to be a useful piece in your puzzle.

Ryan Zimmerman (3B, Washington Nationals)

Zimmerman struggled with injuries last year, playing only 101 games. He performed well despite his injuries, batting .289 with 12 HR and 49 RBIs. Many expect him to bounce back, but unless he can hit 30-plus HRs like he did in '09, he will not live up to current expectation.

He is being drafted No. 37 overall, ahead of Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Ben Zobrist, Kevin Youkilis and even Dan Uggla. It's much more likely that Zimmerman puts up average numbers for a 3B, something closer to 70 runs, 20 HR, and 80 RBIs, which is simply not consistent with a third round selection. Unlike Ramirez, Zimmerman has had an abnormally high BABIP over the last two seasons, which suggests he is more likely to regress toward the mean.

We're also very wary of Brett Lawrie -- inexperience and high strikeouts do not a dependable starter make, despite the great performance of last year.

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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