Two days ago, Dave Cameron wrote about the players Steamer and Zips disagree on the most, showing that Steamer is a little down on Jurickson Profar, Bryce Harper and a few others. In the comments, mattybobo pointed out that Steamer has atypically low BABIP projections for players with no MLB experience and that this looked like a mistake.
Well, I did some checking and, um, he’s right.
More specifically, Steamer was adjusting down the rate at which hitters get singles too aggressively when forming Major League Equivalencies (using what should be the adjustment factor for *all hits* rather than the adjustment factor for singles). Anyway, after making some adjustments, I checked our year to year MLE BABIPs for batters who moved up a level, batters who repeated a level and batters who made the jump the majors and can now feel comfortable standing behind our projections.
Players whose projections were based largely on minor league stats, of course, see the most benefit. Profar jumps up from .232/.301/.370 to .247/.315/.386. Bryce Harper’s move is less drastic, from .257/.329/.450 to .263/.335/.457. Both projections are still notably pessimistic compared to the other forecasters on Fangraphs (ZiPS, Oliver, James and the Fans), and this is always cause to be wary, but the gap has narrowed somewhat.
One last note, our adjusted system will still, to some extent, under-project players who go from the minors to a full MLB season. Historically, players who had more than 300 MLB PA following a season with 300 minor league PA’s over performed their Steamer BABIP MLEs. I’m okay with that. A Jurickson Profar who gets close to a full season’s worth of PA is more likely to be a Profar who has exceeded expectations than one who has fallen short. This gets tricky though and it’s something we’ll need to revisit in the future with a little more data on hand.