Ranking MLB's 25 Most Overhyped Players 25 and Under Entering 2018
Sports fans always get excited about what's next.
That inevitably leads to young, up-and-coming players being overhyped and overrated before they've ever actually proven something at the highest level.
Baseball is no different, and ahead we'll take a look at the 25 most overhyped MLB players who are 25 years old or younger.
To be eligible for inclusion, a player must have already made his MLB debut.
Players were ranked based on the level of hype surrounding them relative to their production to date, so while stats and projections played a role, in the end, it was still largely speculative.
That's not to say these players can't still turn into the future stars they're often hyped to become. They're just not there yet, and they've earned the overhyped billing as a result.
25-21: Carson Fulmer-Sean Newcomb
25. SP Carson Fulmer, Chicago White Sox
The first-round pedigree and electric stuff keep him in the top prospect discussion.
However, he still hasn't taken the necessary steps in terms of his overall command, walking 78 batters across the minors and majors in 149.1 innings last season.
With his max-effort delivery and spotty control, he's going to wind up in the bullpen at some point.
24. SP Francis Martes, Houston Astros
The No. 15 prospect in baseball at the start of last season, according to Baseball America, Martes landed in the big leagues with a thud.
He posted a 5.80 ERA, 1.51 WHIP and 5.1 walks per nine innings in 54.1 innings in Houston.
The thing is, he wasn't much better at Triple-A, posting a 5.29 ERA with 28 walks in 32.1 innings prior to being promoted.
The additions of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole have pushed him out of the team's immediate plans, and now the 22-year-old will return to the minors, where he'll look to prove he can still play a significant role in the future.
23. C Jorge Alfaro, Philadelphia Phillies
Alfaro finally saw extended MLB action for the first time last year, and he responded by hitting .318/.360/.514 with six doubles and five home runs in 114 plate appearances.
He'll have Cameron Rupp and Andrew Knapp to compete with for playing time.
22. OF Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds
A lack of over-the-fence power could ultimately limit Winker's upside at the next level.
The 24-year-old has a .298/.398/.449 line in parts of six minor league seasons, and he batted .298/.375/.529 with seven doubles and seven home runs in 137 major league plate appearances last year.
He'll have to contend with Scott Schebler and Adam Duvall for playing time at the corner outfield spots, and while his smooth left-handed stroke brings batting average upside, it could be a relatively empty average.
21. SP Sean Newcomb, Atlanta Braves
Newcomb was one of the first young pitchers to arrive on the scene for a Braves organization that is loaded with high-ceiling arms.
The 24-year-old posted a 4.32 ERA with 108 strikeouts in 100 innings as a rookie last season, and he'll be in the mix for a rotation spot this spring.
His 5.1 walk rate in the majors was right in line with the 4.8 mark he had during his time in the minors, and his spotty command could ultimately see him overtaken by some of the club's other young pitchers.
20-16: Dominic Smith-David Dahl
20. 1B Dominic Smith, New York Mets
In his first taste of MLB action, Smith stumbled to the tune of a .198/.262/.395 line and a 26.8 percent strikeout rate over 183 plate appearances.
That was reason enough for the Mets to go out and sign Adrian Gonzalez this offseason, and now Smith enters spring training with a chip on his shoulder.
"I’m trying to open eyes and do stuff on the field they haven’t seen me do before," Smith told Matt Ehalt of NorthJersey.com. "This spring training is definitely different for me and should be fun one as well."
The 22-year-old certainly has something to prove.
19. OF Austin Hays, Baltimore Orioles
Hays has a wide-open path to the starting right field job.
The 22-year-old has been on the fast track since going in the third round of the 2016 draft, hitting .329/.366/.593 with 32 doubles and 32 home runs between High-A and Double-A before earning a promotion.
While he hit just .217 in 63 plate appearances, it's his 5.0 percent walk rate in the minors that is a bigger red flag. The bar has been set high, and without an improved approach, he won't scratch the surface of the production he showed in the minors.
18. SP Tyler Glasnow, Pittsburgh Pirates
With a towering 6'8" frame and electric stuff, Glasnow has all the physical tools to be a legitimate staff ace.
He also has little left to prove in the minors after going 9-2 with a 1.93 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 140 strikeouts in 93.1 innings at Triple-A in 2017.
The 24-year-old has scuffled to a 6.75 ERA in 85.1 innings at the MLB level, though, posting an 80-to-57 strikeout-to-walk ratio along the way.
It could be a case of him trying to be too fine and not trusting his stuff. To this point, though, the upside hasn't matched the production.
17. SP Robert Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds
Similar to Glasnow, control issues could keep Stephenson from reaching his tremendous ceiling.
The right-hander averaged 94.2 mph with his fastball and showed a terrific slider (.140 BAA, .070 ISO), and he continues to develop his changeup into a reliable third offering.
However, he also posted a 5.6 BB/9 rate and 1.58 WHIP, and rather than being the staff ace the team envisioned, his eventual place could be in the bullpen.
16. OF David Dahl, Colorado Rockies
Dahl exploded on the scene with a .315/.359/.500 line that included 23 extra-base hits in 237 plate appearances as a rookie during the 2016 season.
The 23-year-old suffered a stress reaction in his ribs last spring that wound up limiting him to 19 games in the minors for the entirety of the 2017 season.
Now he's in the mix for the starting right field job, but expecting him to duplicate his 2016 performance may be wishful thinking. Those numbers were bolstered by an unsustainable .404 BABIP, and a trip to Triple-A could be in his future.
15-11: Nick Williams-Zach Davies
15. OF Nick Williams, Philadelphia Phillies
Williams is already making noise this spring, hitting a 430-foot batting practice home run off the car of new manager Gabe Kapler.
The 24-year-old hit .288 with 14 doubles, 12 home runs and 55 RBI in 83 games last season to give some hope he can be a long-term piece for the rebuilding Phillies.
14. SS Raul Mondesi, Kansas City Royals
The No. 1 prospect in the Royals' system and a top-30 prospect leaguewide prior to the 2015 and 2016 seasons, per Baseball America, Mondesi has failed to seize an everyday role in the majors.
He's hit just .181/.226/.271 in 209 plate appearances in the majors, and the Royals opted to bring back veteran Alcides Escobar this offseason on a one-year deal rather than turning over the starting gig to Mondesi.
While he's still just 22 years old and coming off a solid .305/.340/.539 line with 20 doubles and 13 home runs at Triple-A in 2017, his stock has clearly taken a major hit in the past two years.
13. SP Jeff Hoffman, Colorado Rockies
Hoffman began the 2017 season as the No. 3 prospect in the Colorado system, behind only Brendan Rodgers and Riley Pint.
As the season progressed, he was overtaken by Kyle Freeland, German Marquez and Antonio Senzatela for spots in the starting rotation, and now he appears to be on the outside looking in for a roster spot this spring.
The 25-year-old has the prototypical frame and power stuff to be a top-tier starter, but so far it just hasn't clicked. He has a 5.65 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in 130.2 innings over the past two seasons.
12. SS Jose Peraza, Cincinnati Reds
Ideally, the speedy Peraza would slide into the shortstop job that was vacated by free agent Zack Cozart.
However, after a dreadful showing there defensively last season (-6 DRS, -8.7 UZR/150), the team might need to look elsewhere.
A complete disinterest in drawing walks (29 in 799 plate appearances) and an overall lack of power—coupled with the aforementioned defensive shortcomings—could ultimately keep him from being an everyday player.
11. SP Zach Davies, Milwaukee Brewers
Davies was a pleasant surprise for the Brewers last season, going 17-9 with a 3.90 ERA in a career-high 191.1 innings.
The peripheral numbers didn't paint quite as rosy a picture, though.
The 25-year-old saw his WHIP (1.25 to 1.35), FIP (3.89 to 4.22), walk rate (2.1 to 2.6 BB/9) and strikeout rate (7.4 to 5.8 K/9) all trend in the wrong direction.
Expecting him to be anything more than a No. 4 starter on a contending team might be asking too much.
10. Michael Fulmer-Maikel Franco
10. SP Michael Fulmer, Detroit Tigers
Fulmer is a very good young pitcher.
He's just not the budding ace he's often made out to be.
The 24-year-old won AL Rookie of the Year honors in 2016, then followed that up by going 10-12 with a 3.83 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 164.2 innings last season.
It's his inability to miss bats that limits his ceiling, as his 6.2 K/9 rate ranked 52nd among 58 qualified starters.
Again, he's a solid pitcher and a valuable asset given his team control through the 2022 season.
He just looks more like a second-tier starter than a future star going forward.
9. SP Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays
Snell is a former Minor League Player of the Year, and he has the stuff to emerge as another in a long line of terrific homegrown starters for the Rays.
That said, the 25-year-old has to find a way to pitch deeper into games if he's going to take the next step.
In 24 starts last season, he pitched beyond the sixth inning just eight times, going 5-7 with a 4.04 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 119 strikeouts in 129.1 innings.
Lowering his walk rate from 5.2 to 4.1 was a good start, but there's still a lot of work to do.
8. SP Carlos Rodon, Chicago White Sox
After a positive step forward in 2016, Rodon regressed in an injury-plagued campaign last year.
His walk rate spiked from 2.9 to 4.0, and he threw just 69.1 innings before undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder in September.
With ongoing concerns about his overall command and now his arm issues, there's a legitimate question whether he'll ever live up to his front-line ceiling.
7. 2B Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers
Nothing like a 33-homer season from a 22-year-old second baseman to get the hype train rolling.
Hidden behind his stellar power numbers in 2016 was a .296 on-base percentage that left him with an only slightly above average 105 OPS+.
With a career-high 24.9 percent strikeout rate along with those brutal numbers, it's tough to be optimistic about his long-term outlook.
6. 3B Maikel Franco, Philadelphia Phillies
Things have not been trending in the right direction for Franco since his terrific rookie season:
- 2015: 335 PA, 130 OPS+, .280/.343/.497, 14 HR, 1.7 WAR
- 2016: 630 PA, 94 OPS+, .255/.306/.427, 25 HR, 1.2 WAR
- 2017: 623 PA, 81 OPS+, .230/.281/.409, 24 HR, -0.2 WAR
David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer summed it up well as the Phillies look ahead to the 2018 season:
"They can’t wait forever—maybe not even as long as another full season. With a stacked free-agent class looming next offseason and a slew of young hitters vying for at-bats on this year’s team, the Phillies are in the midst of a year that could prove pivotal to their future identity. It isn’t too late for Franco to make himself a piece of it. But it definitely isn’t early."
5. SS Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox
606 PA, 80 OPS+, .257/.276/.402, 47 XBH (17 HR), 56 RBI, 72 R, 15 SB
As the first perceived building block for the White Sox, there's a lot of pressure on Anderson to live up to expectations, but he took a step backward last year.
The 2018 season will be telling.
4. SS Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves
551 PA, 69 OPS+, .232/.312/.324, 31 XBH (6 HR), 51 RBI, 59 R, -0.3 WAR
The Atlanta Braves have every reason to be patient with Dansby Swanson.
The 24-year-old has the raw tools and the intangibles to be a cornerstone piece of their rebuilding efforts, and his track record prior to arriving in the majors was tough to ignore.
That said, his rookie season was an utter disappointment.
Hyped as a Rookie of the Year front-runner after hitting .302/.361/.442 with 11 extra-base hits in 145 plate appearances in 2016, he instead struggled to find his footing offensively.
Things finally seemed to click in the second half when he hit .309/.422/.426 with more walks (14) than strikeouts (13) in August.
However, that was followed by a .240/.311/.292 line and a 23-to-10 ratio of strikeouts to walks in September.
Which player will show up in 2018?
3. SS Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies
555 PA, 86 OPS+, .239/.308/.457, 59 XBH (24 HR), 82 RBI, 68 R, 2.6 WAR
A certain level of hype will inevitably accompany a player launching seven home runs in his first six big league games.
That set an awfully high bar for Trevor Story.
His rookie season ended prematurely with a torn UCL in his left thumb, and he fell flat in his second season as the Rockies' starting shortstop.
The biggest issue here is how much of his value is tied to his over-the-fence power.
A 34.4 percent strikeout rate last season is tough to ignore, and his hard-contact rate dropped significantly from 44.9 to 40.3 percent.
Throw in the fact that top prospect Brendan Rodgers is gunning for his job, and it wouldn't be all that surprising to see the Rockies moving in a different direction in the not-too-distant future.
2. SP Julio Urias, Los Angeles Dodgers
5 GS, 0-2, 5.40 ERA, 4.70 FIP, 1.59 WHIP, 14 BB, 11 K, 23.1 IP, -0.3 WAR
Julio Urias has been billed as a future ace since he was dominating opposing hitters as a 17-year-old at the High-A level.
What has he really proven as a big leaguer?
In 100.1 innings of work wearing Dodger blue, he has a 3.86 ERA and 1.49 WHIP with a 95-to-45 strike-to-walks ratio and 0.7 WAR overall.
That's plenty impressive for someone who just turned 21 in August.
Is it really enough to warrant all the hype, though?
Now he's also working his way back from left shoulder surgery, which will provide another obstacle in his efforts to live up to ridiculously lofty expectations.
All 30 teams would love to have him, and his ceiling is still as high as any young pitcher in baseball.
But he still has a ton to prove.
1. LF Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs
486 PA, 99 OPS+, .211/.315/.467, 47 XBH (30 HR), 59 RBI, 67 R, 0.0 WAR
Kyle Schwarber has posted 1.1 WAR since breaking into the big leagues.
Can you guess how many players have a higher WAR over that same three-year span?
And that's just position players.
The raw power is tantalizing, the plate discipline speaks to a hitter with a plan, and the makeup is there for him to put all the pieces together.
Yet, even for Cubs fans, it's not hard to slap the distinction of "most overhyped MLB player" on Schwarber until further notice.