Tyler Leahy is a frequent commenter and a Red Sox fan from Newport, RI. He has been an avid fantasy baseball fan since 2009. He can do about 30 pushups and has a great haircut. Much like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster, there is no visual evidence so you’ll just have to roll with it.
In response to Matt’s post about the 10 most underrated players in fantasy baseball, it’s time to take a look at those who are overrated. It’s still early in mock draft season, but here are a few players that I’ve noticed are being overpaid for, when you could draft a player with a similar statistical profile a few rounds later. Each player is labeled with their current Yahoo! ADP; I am drafting for 12-team H2H leagues although this should work for any format.
10. Nelson Cruz (105.3)
Cruz’s draft price has fallen over the past few years, but he’s still over-ranked at his current ADP. Instead of reaching for the oft-injured OF, go with the more durable Nick Swisher (158.7), who has put up very similar numbers to Cruz over the past few seasons and should still have plenty of RBI opportunities this year hitting in the middle of the Indians’ lineup.
9. Joe Mauer (60.4)
Though he’ll likely never approach the 28 HR he belted in his MVP season in 2009, Mauer still offers a lot of value in providing what many other catchers don’t; hitting for a high average, scoring and driving in 80-90 runs, and perhaps most importantly, simply getting plenty of at-bats. Victor Martinez (88.6) offers all of that as well, and can be had a couple of rounds later.
8. Brandon Phillips (69.2)
Phillips is a solid option at a thin position this year, but at his current ADP you’re clearly overpaying for a player who isn’t quite the power/speed threat he once was. Rickie Weeks (128.9) will hit for a lower average, but should end up with the same or more HR+SB as Phillips and score around the same amount of runs.
7. Melky Cabrera (117.7)
Cabrera is an example of a much more useful player in real life than in fantasy, hitting for a high average, but not offering too much in power and speed. True, he could approach 100 runs in that loaded Toronto lineup, but there’s no need to reach when you could grab a player with a similar statistical profile later on, such as Nick Markakis (148.1) or Torii Hunter (212.4).
6. Edwin Encarnacion (30.8)
The Blue Jays’ first baseman broke out in a big way last year, putting together one of the best fantasy seasons of 2012. But using a third-round pick on Encarnacion would be a classic case of overpaying for a career year, compounded by the risk of drafting a player who is notorious for getting injured. I’d say it’s safe to assume he comes down to earth this year — in a .270-33-100 kind of way — and there are plenty of options who will give you something similar at a lower price, such as Mark Teixeira (59.5), David Ortiz (78.1), and Adam LaRoche (147.8).
5. Austin Jackson (97.4)
As the leadoff hitter in the dangerous Detroit lineup, A-Jax should once again be among the league leaders in runs scored, but the young OF simply doesn’t offer much else to fantasy owners. With all his speed, Jim Leyland’s apparent reluctance to steal (just 81 attempts in his three years with the Tigers) limits Jackson’s value in the SB department. Alejandro De Aza (158.0) is coming off a breakout year in which he scored 81 runs and stole 26 bases. Slated atop the White Sox lineup once again this year, he is the better draft day bargain.
4. Hanley Ramirez (29.3)
It’s hard to forget the batting title contending, 30/30 threat Han-Ram once was, but given the way he’s performed over the past two seasons can you really justify taking him at his current ADP? Ian Desmond (71.4) may have overachieved last year by hitting .292 with 25 HR, but, as Bryan pointed out in Desmond’s profile, last year’s power surge isn’t as fluky as you might think. He’s a solid bet for another 20/20 season and is a more valuable pick than Ramirez.
3. Michael Bourn (87.6)
Bourn is as safe a bet as there is for 40+ steals and 90+ runs, but the career .272 hitter really doesn’t bring much else to the table. Brett Gardner (211.6) is an absolute steal at his current ADP after missing most of the 2012 season with an elbow injury. I expect him to compete with Bourn for the AL stolen bases title in 2013, and with the ages of Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki, he may get a lot of at-bats at the top of the Yankees’ lineup.
2. Paul Goldschmidt (53.5)
Goldschmidt is a rare case in that he went from a sleeper pick to overrated in the span of a year, without really breaking out. A power monster in the minors, he’s going to have to do more to show that his bat can translate to the majors before I’d consider him this early. And yes, the stolen bases are nice, but I wouldn’t count on more than 15. Spend this pick on a nasty pitcher like Madison Bumgarner (50.6) or Gio Gonzalez (55.3) and grab Freddie Freeman (80.3) a few rounds later — all you’ll likely miss out on is a handful of steals.
1. Giancarlo Stanton (15.7)
There’s no doubt that Stanton has lived up to the hype as a power-hitting prodigy, blasting 93 long balls in his first 373 major league games — all before his 23rd birthday. But before drafting him this early, take a look at the Marlins’ projected opening day lineup and ask yourself why any opposing pitcher would give him anything to hit. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Stanton again top 35 HR, but in that lineup what other counting stats is he going to be able to accumulate? I can’t see him topping 80 runs or 90 RBI and he doesn’t offer much in SB or enough in average to really make a difference in H2H leagues. Jay Bruce (42.2) is also one of the game’s top young power hitters and is clearly in a better situation to produce more R and RBI.
Are there any other players you think are being over-ranked and drafted too early? If so, who would you be able to draft later on that should put up comparable numbers? Use the comment section to let me know, and feel free to tell me how much of a genius (or moron) you think I am.