Fantasy Baseball Round Table: Bryce Harper's 2013 value

by Todd Zola, on February 6, 2013 @ 09:33:14 PDT


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Nick Minnix: First, I'd be pretty surprised if Davey Johnson batted Harper third or fourth for any significant stretch of the season, and certainly not from the beginning of it. I could picture that coming about as a matter of circumstance, or after the break, if Harper has another incredible growth stretch like we saw from Aug. 1 on but the lineup overall isn't producing as the skipper expects.

Second, I'll take the over on home runs and stolen bases, but I'll leave the average be. I agree with Todd that the line-drive rate is likely to come down, but I think this lasts for only a relatively short period (a couple of months, or something like that). He drove the ball hard throughout the minors, too.

I think what is most incredible about Harper is the rate at which he processes and applies information. He's all-in on every plate appearance, and I believe this is where his brashness or whatever you want to call it serves him extremely well. He has the courage "to fail" in one at-bat or a series of them, so there are almost certainly going to be difficult stretches in 2013. But I don't think those kinds of failures phase him like they do others because he already assumes them - not failures, but trials and errors. I wouldn't take the over on BA, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if it hit.

Zach Steinhorn: Though I wouldn't be shocked if Harper bats .275 with 25 homers and 25 steals, I'm of the same opinion as Don in that I'm not planning on owning him this year just because I won't be willing to spend $25 or more for the possibility that he puts up those numbers. When it comes to "upside" guys, I prefer to pick among players in the $10-15 range and hope they can return me $20 value. As talented as Harper might be, I need to see more before I can feel comfortable making such a costly investment. The room for profit will be too tight.

TZ: Anyone else with me or do I need to re-evaluate my projection?

NM: I like the over on both HR and SB, but not by much. Perhaps you crowd-source some minor tweaks, at most - ultimately you determine whether any of us has convinced you, not whether any of us is calling you a coward, haha, and I wouldn't blame you one bit for sticking with what you have. I think 35 HR or SB would be a ludicrous projection. One or the other, or both, might happen, of course, but it would be silly to project and recommend to pay for it because of the very good possibility that he falls well short. Year 2 doesn't automatically get better for any prospect, and they're probably worse more often than that of the player pool as a whole, although there's usually at least one bidder in every draft who seems to think some of them are on a schedule. I just think his learning curve is shorter than that of most prospects, perhaps any other before him, so, for my money, I do believe he's a fairly safe investment, as far as young players go. I would consider taking him in the second half of an NFBC-style second round, but he wouldn't be my only target. I could see myself paying $20-$25 for him in Mixed Tout, but I'm not putting that or his name on my roster in pen or anything.

CS: Whether or not I agree with the projection is irrelevant Todd, it's your projection so you should have conviction and stand by it! Good to be contrarian sometimes.

Lord Zola's Wrap-Up: I honestly feel we are applying some subjective bias and ignoring the history of the game.

There is no way I am taking a guy like this in the third round, let alone the second. I realize you need players to perform better than their draft spot to win, and I may be overall too conservative, but I'll still throw my speculative darts elsewhere.

It comes down to this for me. I'm willing to be wrong and am sticking to my contention that Harper has endless potential but needs demonstrate it's more than potential, just like any other prospect, regardless of the pedigree. For every time I'm wrong, I'm right at least ten times - I'll take those odds. I perfectly understand why others would want to find the needle in the haystack; it's just not my style.

The thing we have not even mentioned yet is if Harper can meet the playing time portion of the projection. The ability to stay healthy and pace oneself is a skill. Harper may have it, but he has not proven it yet.

I may rethink the power, but I'm not at all convinced Harper will match, let alone beat last season's .270 average. This will be fun to follow as the 2013 season plays itself out.

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About Todd Zola,

Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.

Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at and, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums. Fantasy Baseball

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