Fantasy Baseball: 10 Players Who Are Way Too Overhyped
Hype can be very dangerous. See, fantasy baseball is all about the value you can find in players, and hype makes us draft players too high, which strips that value away.
A player can have a very productive season, yet if owners drafted him with unreasonable expectations for his performance, they still made a mistake.
Let's take a look at 10 players who the fantasy community made it nearly impossible to garner value from in 2012.
Michael Bourn: OF, Atlanta Braves
Bourn is a very useful player in fantasy, as he absolutely dominates in the steals department. However, fantasy owners drafted him way too early.
On ESPN.com, Bourn's ESPN ADP was 36.9 this year—quite a change for someone who was generally regarded as cheap speed in years prior.
By selecting him so early, owners need Bourn to put up similar to the career-year numbers he posted in 2011. While he will give you 50 or so steals, it's unlikely Bourn (a .271 hitter) hits near .300 again, and given the Braves offense, he probably won't get you the 100 runs some fantasy sites predicted he would.
Still, Bourn should have a very good season in 2011. It's just Bourn is being hyped as someone is elite in multiple categories now, when it's still just one.
Brett Lawrie: 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
The hype on Lawrie went way overboard this March. The tantalizing 22-year-old's ESPN ADP was 50.9, yet there were many drafts when he snuck into the third or so round.
Lawrie proved he more than deserves a roster spot in the big leagues last season, as he hit .293 with nine home runs in only 151 at-bats after his August 4 call-up.
But drafting a guy with so little of a track record in the third round is ridiculous. I have been very impressed with Lawrie, but he's going to have to immediately be one of the best hitters in baseball to live up to that draft pick.
Hunter Pence: OF, Philadelphia Phillies
Fantasy owners were quick to snatch up Pence (42.4 ADP on ESPN) during draft season, and I'm little confused as to why.
I mean, I get why owners wanted Pence on their teams, as he is a very good player, and quite reliable. He is also coming off his best season, hitting 22 home runs with 97 RBI while batting .314 in 2011.
Those are helpful numbers, but Pence should not have been hyped as an elite fantasy outfielder, as similar production was available much later in drafts.
Carlos Beltran, who is off to a monster start in 2012, hit .300 last year with 22 home runs and posted 84 RBI. In a vacuum, I'd obviously rather have Pence, but Beltran's ADP was 113.9.
Sorry Pence owners, you made a mistake.
Jon Lester: SP, Boston Red Sox
While Lester is a very skilled pitcher, fantasy owners, maybe because of the Sox uniform, overvalued him during drafts (52.7 ADP on ESPN).
Lester usually puts up great win totals (that is actually because of the Sox uniform), but has never really put together a season where he was dominant in ERA and WHIP.
In 2011, he posted a 1.26 WHIP and 3.47 ERA, which are fine, but don't justify a pick around 50 or so. In fact, according to ESPN's Player Rater, Lester was the 30th-best SP last season, yet he was on average the 13th starting pitcher off the boards in drafts.
Maybe you can use some of that Red Sox magic to persuade another owner to take him off your hands for a top player.
Desmond Jennings: OF, Tampa Bay Rays
After being called up on July 23 of last season, Jennings immediately tortured opposing teams with his combination of power and speed. But he faltered down the stretch, batting .160 with two home runs in September.
That didn't stop fantasy owners from drafting him early this year, as his ADP was 48 this year in Yahoo! leagues.
I like Jennings to produce this year, but I have way too many concerns about him maintaining a high batting average to justify that early selection.
Jennings will probably earn around eighth-round value this season, but his young age and raw skills created way too much hype, so many owners won't be pleased with that production.
Rickie Weeks: 2B, Milwaukee Brewers
Weeks is a fairly talented ballplayer, but still, the fantasy community seems to always make him more than what he is.
He won't help you in batting average, and he'll maybe get you 10 steals. And his position in the order (leadoff), makes it difficult for him to rack up RBI. Yet his ESPN ADP for 2012 checks in at 82.9.
On top of his less than spectacular stats, the guy has major health concerns.
The Brewers second baseman has been in the majors since 2003, yet only has had more than 500 at-bats in a season once.
Think about that for a second.
Weeks has some nice pop and can be a helpful source of runs, but it's hard to produce value from the disabled list.
Matt Moore: SP, Tampa Bay Rays
Matt Moore only started one regular season game (and one playoff game) last season, yet his ESPN ADP was 76.3.
Look, I like Moore a good deal this year. Simply put, his stuff is nasty. I think he finishes as the top rookie pitcher this year, and could very well win AL Rookie of the Year. But, as his performance in his first two starts this season shows, fantasy owners paid too steep of a price for someone so unproven.
Even if Moore delivers on my lofty expectations, he's still unlikely to provide fantasy owners with anything but equal value, and that is best-case scenario.
James Shields: SP, Tampa Bay Rays
After how dominant Shields looked against the Red Sox in his last start, some may view including him on this list a mistake, but I still believe he was over-drafted this year.
Shields has incredible stuff and put together a great season in 2011, posting a 2.84 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and 225 strikeouts, so fantasy owners jumped at the opportunity to add him to their roster (63.6 ADP on ESPN).
Owners also have short memories, as Shields struggled during his first five major league seasons, highlighted by his 2010 performance, when he posted a 5.18 ERA and 1.46 WHIP in 33 starts.
Yet, people paid for Shields with the belief that 2010 James Shields doesn't exist anymore.
Look, Shields has the potential to be a great pitcher again this season, but his 2011 season created too much hype, so owners may (even though they should not) be surprised when everything doesn't go Shields' way in 2012.
Brett Gardner: OF, New York Yankees
Where Gardner was drafted (97 on ESPN) compared to other players who can produce just as well as he can is quite baffling.
Gardner had a fine 2011 campaign, hitting .259 while crossing the plate 87 times and stealing 49 bags. Although owners paid like as if he did, he won't help anywhere else, hitting seven homers and knocking in only 36 runs last season.
Similar numbers to Gardner's could be had from drafting SS- and OF-eligible Emilio Bonifacio (164.8), except the Marlin will actually likely provide better in steals.
Yu Darvish: SP, Texas Rangers
Do I even need to tell you that Darvish was overhyped?
Proclaimed the best Japanese pitcher to come to MLB ever, Darvish (83 ADP on Yahoo!) made many fantasy owners salivate this draft season.
Unfortunately for those people, Darvish hasn't looked like that type of player during his first two starts.
Look, I still like Darvish this season, especially in the early going before he has to deal with the blazing summer heat in Texas, but to spend an eighth- or a ninth-round pick on a guy we'd never seen pitch in the majors is a mistake.
With all this hype, its almost impossible for Darvish to be thought of as a fantasy success in 2012, regardless of how well he pitches.