Fantasy Baseball Fives: Overrated Players

Ryan HallamAnalyst IApril 8, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 04:  Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees against the Chicago Cubs during their game on April 4, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Hey, it's Jesse Schwarz, the Fantasy Whiz Kid back with the Overrated Players.  I got plenty of great feedback with the Underrated guys, now here are the players who were drafted too high, or just won't live up to your expectations.

Derek Jeter, SS, NYY

Derek Jeter is one of the most beloved players in baseball. He is charismatic, he’s made some memorable plays, and he’s a Yankee. 

But none of these things are going to help your fantasy team win your league. Jeter was getting drafted around the 50th pick of most drafts which is WAY too early considering the numbers he’s going to put up. 

He almost definitely will hit .300, which used to lead to scoring 100-plus runs, but the first month of the season without A-Rod means his runs production will surely take a hit. The power and speed is definitely not going to be there for the aging Jeter. 

In fact, last season he had fewer homers than Ben Zobrist and fewer steals than Maicer Izturis, two guys who didn’t get drafted in your keeper league and only played a combined 200 games last season.

If you have Jeter on your fantasy team, trade him now and try to get one of the up and comers like Stephen Drew, Jhonny Peralta, or Mike Aviles. I predict all three of these guys are going to out-produce Jeter this year and right now you might be able to trade Jeter for one of them straight up, or be able to get something extra. 

Look for a Yankee fan. 

Jhonny Peralta, at age 26, hit a respectable .276 last year. On top of that, he lead all shortstops in RBI (89) and was third in both homers (23) and runs (104). Yet Peralta might have been drafted 80 picks after Jeter.


Derrek Lee, 1B, CHC

Lee is the epitome of overrated. He is not only overrated by fantasy owners but also by his manager Lou Pinella, who still hits the aging first baseman third in the Cubs’ order.

Similar to Jeter, Lee is going around the 50th pick in drafts, despite his declining numbers. Lee hit 20 home runs and tied for 22nd among first baseman with Kevin Millar. He was also tied for 16th among first baseman in RBI (90), with Ryan Garko and James Loney.

Lee was unbelievable in 2005 when he hit 46 home runs, 100-plus runs and RBI, and he even recorded 18 steals. But since then, Lee has been on a major decline with only 50 home runs in three years. 

Only once in his career has Lee had more than 100 RBI or 100 runs, both in his career-best of 2005. Take advantage of his overrated status if you own him and try to deal Lee for an up-and-comer like Adrian Gonzalez or Chris Davis who might have been drafted after Lee.


Nate McLouth, OF, PIT

Nate McLouth was un-freaking-believable last season, coming out of nowhere to hit 26 homers, steal 23 stolen bases, knock in 94 RBI, and score 113 runs, all for the lowly Pirates. 

But if you dig deeper, his career numbers lead me to believe 2008 was a fluke and McLouth will return to fantasy irrelevance by the end of the year. Last season was McLouth’s fourth in the majors, and in his previous three he was as bad as it gets.

In the previous two seasons, McLouth averaged 10 homers, 27 RBI, 56 runs, and a .245 batting average. These numbers are almost as ugly as his minor league numbers.  In five years in the Minors, McLouth averaged eight homers, 49 RBI, 72 runs, and hit .292.

I still think McLouth is a decent player, just not nearly as good as the All-Star numbers he put up last year. The stats speak for themselves. If I were you I would try to let 2008’s numbers do the talking with your buddy who knows nothing about McLouth’s minor league mediocrity and trade him for a proven OF stud.


A.J. Burnett, SP, NYY

A.J. Burnett has been all over the map in his 10 years in the majors. Interestingly enough his most impressive campaigns have come when he needed it most—contract years. 

Last year he pitched 221 innings with 231 strikeouts and 18 wins, and it all PAID off when the Yankees signed him to a big deal this offseason. But this year his arm will be a little fatigued and he will have a lot less to work hard for since he is locked into a five-year, $82.5 million deal. 

His last contract year was back in 2005, and Burnett put up similar numbers with 209 innings, 198 Ks, and 12 wins. But in 2006, he came back to pitch only 135 innings with only 118 Ks and 10 wins. 

Back in 2002, he pitched 204 innings with 203 Ks and 12 wins, even though it wasn’t a contract year. But the next year he pitched just 23 innings before shutting it down with Tommy John Surgery.

I have a feeling history repeats itself this season when Burnett fails to pitch more than 150 innings because he has no motivation, and is still burnt out from his 221 innings of work in 2008. 

So let him pitch a game or two and then deal him before he gets placed on the 60-day DL, ending his season.


Felix Hernandez, SP, SEA

So young. So talented. So overrated. Felix Hernandez has disappointed fantasy owners for two years in a row now. He has failed to live up to his potential as the King, because he is still just a 22-year-old prince. 

Felix had unbelievable minor league statistics, never finishing with an ERA higher than 3.00. In his rookie season, he started 12 games and had a tremendous 2.67 ERA. But since then, Felix has not been the dominant force everyone thought he would be. 

In 2006, his ERA was a dreadful 4.52, 3.93 in '07, and 3.43 last season. Yes, he is steadily improving and I’m not saying he is never going to be a force but it’s not going to be 2009. I see him improving his ERA to around 3.35 this season, and his strikeouts will be somewhere in the 170 range, but he won’t win more than 12 games on a dismal Seattle team. 

On Opening Day he was very solid vs. Minnesota, going eight innings and only allowing one run. He will have plenty of good games like this, and be a decent pitcher, but it will come with inconsistency and disappointment if your expectations are too high. 

He also tweaked his ankle in his first start, an injury that caused him a lot of trouble in 2008, so keep an eye out for that. So, my analysis on Felix is he is unbelievably talented but still a year or two away from reaching his full potential.

If you’re in a keeper league, hold on tight to him and it will pay off beautifully, otherwise try to deal him for a more proven young stud like James Shields or Jon Lester who you know will help you this season.

Tune in every week during the regular season to see my buy-low/sell-high guys who can help you improve your struggling team.