Fantasy Baseball 2011: Ranking Each Team's Most Overrated Fantasy Player
Fantasy drafts boil down to one of four things: sleepers, value plays, studs and over-hyped players, the latter of course being the worst. There is nothing more detrimental than reaching for a player too early just because BBTN (Baseball Tonight) talked about a player until they were red in the face.
We also have the players who break out one year, only to fall flat on their face the next—yes, I'm talking to you, Mark Reynolds.
Knowing which players to avoid is key to having a successful draft day, and it is my honor to guide you down the right path.
Atlanta Braves: Jason Heyward
Jason Heyward is going to be star. He is a beast of a man at 6'5" and 240 lbs. and took the majors by storm when he homered in his first at-bat in the bigs. What scares me about Heyward is the infamous sophomore slump.
Gordon Beckham fell victim to it, and I would be far from shocked if Heyward wasn't next in line. He might be the better athlete of the two, but there is still a possibility.
Currently, Heyward is being drafted before the likes of Jay Bruce, Hunter Pence and Chris Young. For a guy coming off his rookie season and a thumb injury, this is a reach. Pence and Young are each 20/20 candidates and Bruce mashed 30 HR last season in a deadly Reds lineup.
Heyward has potential oozing out of his ears, but I won't be drafting him until after his sophomore season.
Florida Marlins: Mike Stanton
MIke Stanton has the potential to be the next home run king. He makes his living launching pitches over the fence. In a mere 100 games in 2010, Stanton finished the season with 22 HR.
Stanton is over-hyped because people are expecting 45 HR from the 21-year-old. It is possible, but not probable. He strikes out a bit too much—123 times in 359 at-bats, so his BA will be less than desirable. This makes him only good from a home run perspective. If you need pop, though, he could be your man.
I am far from saying steer clear of Stanton, just tamper your expectations, at least for this season.
New York Mets: Angel Pagan
Pagan had a fantastic 2010 campaign. He filled in seamlessly for Carlos Beltran and was quite a waiver wire steal. 2011 will be far from the same from Pagan.
Until last season, Pagan failed to play in more that 88 games in a season during his time with the Cubs and the Mets. He has already dealt with back problems this season and, as Brian Roberts knows, back problems should not be overlooked.
With Beltran willingly moving over to right field, there is no longer anyone nipping at Pagan's heels. The position is his to lose, and he most likely will once the injury bug comes and bites him once again.
Proceed with caution. Pagan won't duplicate his 2010 season.
Philadelphia Phillies: Ryan Howard
Ryan Howard is still a top-notch fantasy option at first base, but there are a handful of players whom I would pick before him. In most drafts, Howard is going ahead of Prince Fielder and Kevin Youkilis. Yes, Youk will be moving over to third base, but he will retain his first base candidacy.
Fielder is in a contract year and coming off a season he would like to put in the past. There are two big-name players entering into contract seasons—Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. That is a scary, scary thought.
Youkilis is coming off a season-ending injury, but he was in line for a career season before going down.
So why are these two players going after Ryan Howard? Howard's stats are on the decline—he only hit 31 HR last season after belting 45 the year before and he posted a career low in OPS (.859). Something just isn't right. Also, he lost some of his protection in the lineup as Jayson Werth jumped ship and signed a mega-deal with the Nationals.
There are better options out there than Ryan Howard.
Washington Nationals: Jayson Werth
Speaking of Jayson Werth, he is next on our list of over-hyped players.
Werth sure picked a good time to have a fantastic season in 2010, as it earned him a major payday to the tune of seven years and $126 million dollars.
His .296 BA was a career high for a full season (he hit .298 in '07, but only in 96 games) and he slugged 27 HR and 85 RBI.
He now finds himself on an up-and-coming Nationals team, but one that is far away from becoming a contender. He no longer has the luxury of hitting amongst Ryan Howard and Chase Utely. Yes, Ryan Zimmerman is good, but he can only do so much on his own.
Werth is on the wrong side of 30 and has peaked. He might be smiling after signing his blockbuster deal, but if you draft him, you won't be as fortunate.
Chicago Cubs: Alfonso Soriano
As a Yankee fan, I remember the good ol' days of Soriano in pinstripes. He was a stud in 2002 and 2003, hitting near .300 with 30-plus home runs and over 40 stolen bases. He was the man that brought A-Rod to New York.
Now, three teams later and at 35 years old, Soriano is a shadow of the man he used to be. He still has power, but Tyler Colvin is breathing down his neck. Colvin is younger and more than capable of taking over left field duties.
Soriano is one injury away from being only a bench option and an afterthought on the Cubs roster.
Don't get all nostalgic and draft Soriano on draft day.
Cincinnati Reds: Francisco Cordero
Francisco Cordero has the second-highest saves total amongst active relievers. He has neared or eclipsed 40 saves in the last four seasons, and with the amount of wins the Red are bound to pile up this season, why shouldn't we expect Cordero to do the same?
His WHIP has been on the rise over the last four seasons and reached 1.43 in 2010. He also doesn't tally up the K's like he used to. His K/9 was 7.31 last season.
Oh yeah, he also has Aroldis Chapman behind him. Chapman throws 100-plus and has the stuff to be a lights-out closer.
One slip-up and the job is no longer Cordero. There are plenty more safer and sexier picks out there at the closer position.
St. Louis Cardinals: Chris Carpenter
Chris Carpenter has been a beast for the Cardinals. In seven seasons with the team, he has posted a 2.98 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. With Wainwright gone for the season, the burden on Carpenter's shoulders is at an all-time high. Can he carry the weight?
I would love to say yes, but I am not sold. Carpenter has been handed the "injury-prone" tag, and even though he has made it through the last two seasons virtually unscathed, the 35-year-old is wearing down. As much as the Cardinals attempt to keep his pitch counts low and preserve their ace, the odds are stacked against them.
Carpenter has been selected in drafts before Max Scherzer, Roy Oswalt and Shaun Marcum, who are all safer picks than Carpenter. Each of these players can produce Carpenter-esqe numbers, without the same risk.
Houston Astros: Brett Myers
Brett Myers seemed to have a chip on his shoulder all season after being let go by the Phillies. He was a man on a mission and did not disappoint. His 3.14 ERA was a career best, but his workload of 223.2 innings was a career-high.
Pitching in Houston seemed to help Myers as the spotlight is not so bright, but the pressure of putting up another career year might be.
At 30 years old, Myers can still handle another year of 200-plus innings, but replicating his success is far from a sure thing. He is being drafted in all drafts, but is not worth the middle-round selection.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Neil Walker
In only 110 games, Neil Walker was impressive. He hit showed promise with the bat—.296 and 12 HR. He didn't slow down after the All-Star break either, hitting .306. At 25 years old, he is looking to be a nice complement to Andrew McCutchen.
The fact that he only hit .259 at Triple-A raises a flag for me, and if his BA does creep back down, he really isn't worth much from a fantasy perspective unless he keeps his home run totals up. Could Walker's success in 2010 just be a flash in the pan?
I would have to say most likely. A statistical regression is in the works for Walker. A drop in BA is in the cards, unless he shows discipline at the plate.
Milwaukee Brewers: Rickie Weeks
Rickie Weeks has found himself on the DL for a total of 243 days in his major league career. I think you have to try to get injured to spend that much time on the pine.
In 2010, he somehow miraculously stayed off the DL and went nuts. He hit 29 HR and scored 112 runs. He has the potential to be one of the best power-hitting second basemen in the game. That will hold true if he could find a way to stay clear of adding to his total days on the DL.
Weeks hits in a potent Brewer lineup, which means the opportunities will be there for him to score and rack up the RBI. On the downside, he doesn't hit for average—.269 in 2010—and doesn't steal bases.
So when he ends up with another stint on the DL, don't say I didn't warn you.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Kelly Johnson
Kelly Johnson worries me. Yes, he has found more playing time in Arizona, which has allowed him to flourish, but 26 HR? After hitting that many in 2007 and 2008 combined, I would take his 2010 with a grain of salt.
He has hit his prime at 29 years old, but I do not believe he will come close to his 2010 numbers. He was a nice waiver-wire steal as he started out the season hot with nine home runs in April, but cooled off significantly after that until picking it up again in September.
There are better options out there other than Johnson.
Colorado Rockies: Troy Tulowitzki
Troy Tulowitzki is a phenomenal athlete and baseball player. He had a September for the ages, hitting 15 HR and posting a .322 BA. He has the potential to be the MVP of the National League.
Tulo, though, is injury-prone. He tore his quad is 2008, causing him to miss 43 games, and in 2010 he missed 33 games after an errant pitch broke a bone in his hand.
He is a classic high-risk, high-reward type of player. When healthy, no one can hold a finger to Tulowitzki, but what you want out of a first-round pick is consistency, a rock-solid foundation. Tulo is anything but that.
Shortstop is scarce on elite talent and Troy is the creme of the crop, but are you willing to take the chance?
San Francisco Giants: Jonathan Sanchez
Jonathan Sanchez had a fantastic 2010 campaign that ended with the hoisting of a championship trophy. The same might have been the case for you if you owned Sanchez last season. His 3.07 ERA and 205 K's was a thing of beauty, but can he duplicate it?
Highly doubtful. His career WHIP and ERA make you think that 2010 was an outlier. His career averages are 1.38 and 4.26 respectively. He will pile up the K's again this season, but his inability to consistently find the strike zone will be his downfall.
The Giants had a magical season last year, as did Sanchez, and neither will repeat.
San Diego Padres: Chase Headley
Headley had his best season in the bigs last year and is looking to once again have a strong summer with the Padres. He has done just that this spring by hitting near .400 as of late and bulking up this offseason in an effort to increase his power and withstand another full season.
As much promise as this 26-year-old has, I don't see too much coming from him this year. He hits for a low average—.264 last season—and has shown some power, but not enough to make much of a splash.
The Padres lack in the offensive department after the departure of Adrian Gonzalez, so the opportunities to drive in runs will be even smaller this season for Headley.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Jonathan Broxton
Broxton was at the top of his game in 2009, striking out 114 and closing the door on 36 games. It seemed as if Joe Torre had once again had an elite closer at his fingertips.
2010 was the complete opposite. Broxton's ERA ballooned as much as his weight. During the second half of the season, it was an unbelievable 7.13 and he walked more batters than he struck out (21:18). He was an utter wreck and lost his closer job to Hong-Chih Kuo.
The Dodgers have a solid team that will likely have plenty of opportunities for saves. It just might not be Broxton closing the game out for Mattingly's squad this season.
New York Yankees: Brett Gardner
Brett Gardner could be the leadoff man for one of the most potent lineups in baseball. He will have plenty of opportunities to score runs. He also boasts elite speed, as he stole 47 bases in 2010. But that is really all that he can bring to the table.
"Do not overpay for steals" is one of the cardinal rules of fantasy baseball and drafting Gardner would be doing just that. He only hit .232 after the break in 2010, which is not a good way to end the season. He is having a productive spring, but there is no guarantee this will carry over into the regular season.
If Gardner can produce in more than just two categories, he will be a fantasy gem. Until then, he's overrated.
Boston Red Sox: Jonathan Papelbon
Papelbon can burn a hole in your helmet as he glares down on you from the rubber. There are few pitchers that bring as much intensity to the game as he does, and before last season, there were few better than him at shutting the door on the opposition.
He seemed to lose his touch in 2010 as he finished with a 3.90 ERA, but still managed to save 37 games. With Daniel Bard in the ranks, Papelbon is on a short leash, and with the Sox looking to win games in bunches this season, having a shaky closer is not part of their plan.
With so much uncertainty surrounding him and a more than capable closer chomping at the bit, taking a shot on Papelbon is just too much of a gamble.
Tampa Bay Rays: Jeremy Hellickson
The hype surrounding this guy is through the roof. He made his debut last season and went 4-0 in four starts. He can locate his pitches with the best of them and has a nasty curve and changeup. He has the repertoire of a seasoned veteran at the ripe age of 23. Hell, they even traded away Matt Garza this offseason because they knew they had a more than capable replacement.
So why is he on the over-hyped list?
Hellickson was something new last season, which helped his cause. No longer is he a surprise, as coaches have tape on him and know how to approach him. He is also young and hasn't had to deal with many bumps in the road during the course of his career. In six season in the minors, he accumulated a 49-16 record and a 2.71 ERA. How he will deal with failure has yet to be seen.
Hellickson could be the real deal and even take home the ROY award, but I am still hesitant to burn a pick on him until I see how he does during a full year in the majors.
Baltimore Orioles: Mark Reynolds
With Mark Reynolds, you know exactly what you are getting: a power hitter who will swing and miss at an exponential rate. Even with a change of scenery, he will stay true to his ways.
In 2009, it seemed as if he was becoming a complete hitter. He hit for a relatively high average, at least by his standards, at .260 and clubbed 44 HR. No complaints there. Cue in 2010 and you have a hitter who was hovering at .200 all season before eventually finishing below the Mendoza Line.
If your league totally ignores BA, Reynolds will provide pop to your roster and will knock in his fair share of runs in a revamped O's lineup. Other than that, Reynolds will be hurting your fantasy roster more than he is helping it.
Toronto Blue Jays: Jose Bautista
Bautista was a fantasy gem in 2010. He was just as much as a waiver-wire steal as Michael Vick was this fantasy football season. His 54 HR was a league high and nearly eclipsed his career totals in one season. Playing in the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre only ballooned his totals, as 33 of his HR came at home.
Bautista fundamentally changed his swing, which helped to harness his raw power, but another monster year is far from realistic. Outside of power, his BA is average to say the least—he only hit .260 last season, but he does take his walks, which will make pitchers pitch to him.
The Jays are on the rise and Bautista deserves a fair share of the credit, but don't expect another groundbreaking season from Jose.
Chicago White Sox: Alex Rios
Rios did some damage at the plate and on the basepaths in 2010. He swiped 34 bags and hit 21 HR. He seems to have found his niche on Ozzie Guillen's club and has rekindled some of that talent that he showed a few years back. The real question is, how long can this last?
This was the same player who the year before hit .247 and was let go by the Blue Jays. I believe 2010 was the best you will get from Rios, and he is a player on the decline.
Rios is coming off draft boards before stud players like Jay Bruce, B.J. Upton, Hunter Pence and Curtis Granderson.
Rios had a fantastic season in 2010, but he has peaked and will be a mid-draft blunder for whoever selects him.
Detroit Tigers: Austin Jackson
When the 2010 season opened up, Austin Jackson gave the Yankees some sellers' remorse as he outplayed Curtis Granderson. He hit .364, stole five bases and played a fantastic center field.
Granderson, on the other hand, came out the gate sluggish. As the season went on, Jackson came back to earth, but still played well and Granderson finished the year on the rise.
Hoping to start out the season in the same fashion, Jackson is looking to come out on fire once again, but a sophomore slump could be waiting. Jackson lacked the plate discipline he needs to be more than just an average leadoff hitter. Striking out 170 times is not going to get it done.
When he does get on, he can cause havoc on the basepaths, as he stole 27 bases in 31 attempts last season.
Jackson is a tempting pick this season, but he lacks the power and the patience to carve out a significant role on your fantasy roster. With a drop in BA, Jackson is not worth much of anything fantasy-wise.
Minnesota Twins: Carl Pavano
Pavano seemed to get his career back on the right track in 2010 with the Twins. Alongside Liriano, Pavano made a nice No. 2 in the rotation. He finished the season with a 3.75 ERA and 17 wins. He seemed to really benefit from pitching in the confines of Target Field.
Regardless of his 2010 numbers, Pavano cannot be trusted. Before these past two seasons, Pavano didn't come close to 200 innings. In fact, he didn't even amass 200 total innings in three years with the Yankees.
As much as we love a comeback, Pavano will not continue to be a force this season. An ERA in the mid-fours is a realistic expectation. Even the mustache can't save him.
Cleveland Indians: Chris Perez
I'm not sure what it is, but something about Chris Perez saving games doesn't sit right with me. It could be the fact that the Indians will rarely be able to utilize him since they will be lucky to win many games, or the fact that his ERA and WHIP were incredibly, almost unrealistically, low last season.
After three seasons with an ERA over four, Perez was able to finish 2010 with an ERA of 1.71. He had luck on his side last season, but I think his luck will run out.
Perez will get you K's, as he averages a strikeout per inning and has consistently throughout his three-year career. He also has absolutely no competition for the ninth inning, so the saves will be there, but just how often is the question.
If you can't rely on him for consistent saves, and his ERA and WHIP will come back to earth, what real value is there?
Kansas City Royals: Billy Butler
Billy Butler is quite the hitter. He hits for a high average and has a high OBP. He was able to hit 15 HR last season, but that was down from his 21 the year before.
As Eric Karabell of ESPN has pointed out, "Yes, he's been a big leaguer for only four seasons, but his career slugging percentage—which takes into account doubles, singles, all hits—is .457. Loney's is .436."
What Karabell is pointing out is that Butler is being taken early on draft day, while Loney is still around near Round 20, but there is little to no difference between the two from a power standpoint. First base is where we like to see some power.
Also, the Royals boast the best farm system in the majors, due to annual cellar dwelling, and have Eric Hosmer marinating. He could easily push Butler to the DH spot, which is occupied by the slugger Kila Ka'aihue, who has enough power for the whole Royals roster.
If Butler doesn't start to bring more to the table than a steady average, he won't be worth much on draft day.
Oakland Athletics: Trevor Cahill
Cahill had a fantastic 2010, going 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA and earning himself a trip to the All-Star Game. He deserved it since he was arguably one of the best pitchers in the AL West.
At 23 years old, Cahill still has plenty of room to improve, or in this case, regress. He is a sinker ball pitcher with a nasty changeup that he utilizes against lefties. The problem is, when his sinker is off, Cahill can be lit up.
This sometimes was the case last season, as he would have outings where he would only give up one run and then others when he would be torched for nine runs. In the end, the good outweighed the bad.
This most likely will not be the case this season. Cahill hardly rings up many hitters and relies heavily on batters getting themselves out by hitting the ball into the ground.
2010 was mighty kind to Cahill and 2011 could be a rude awakening.
Los Angeles Angels: Vernon Wells
After spending his entire career in Toronto, Wells was shipped to the Angels and now resides on the West Coast. It is a shame that this move won't benefit his statistics.
Wells found his power stroke last season and hit 31 HR with 20 of those long balls coming at the Rogers Centre. No longer does he call this launching pad his home, which will only hurt his totals in 2011.
Also, a regression in BA is not out of the question. He hit .271 last season, which was up from .260 the year before, but the latter seems more realistic this season.
The 32-year-old is looking to find more success with a change of scenery, but it is doubtful that this is the case. Don't waste a pick on Wells this season.
Seattle Mariners: Miguel Olivo
Olivo has been quite the journeyman in his nine-year career, calling six different cities his home during that span. In Colorado, Olivo showed pop in his bat and hit for a decent average, as he hit .269 with 14 HR, but going from Coors Field to Safeco Park could really put a damper on his stats.
Coors is one of the most hitter-friendly fields in the majors, while Safeco is one of the least, and his home and away splits from last season (.318 at home vs .211 on the road) do not do much to plead his case.
The catching job is his with the Mariners as long as he can stay healthy, so the opportunities will be there. It will just be up to Olivo to produce. Can he be trusted?
Texas Rangers: Adrian Beltre
Beltre has a knack for producing when there is money to be made. During his contract year with LA, he went nuts, hitting .334 with 48 HR. He then signed with the Mariners and failed to produce like the caliber of player he was paid to be. He hit .255 with 19 HR.
In 2010, another contract year for Beltre, he hit .321 with 28 HR and eclipsed 100 RBI for the second time—the only other time being his contract year with the Dodgers.
Let's be realistic here. Boston is a park much more suited for a right-handed power hitter like Beltre, and Safeco doesn't do hitters any favors. He now calls Texas his home, which once again is a hitter-friendly stadium.
At 31 years old, can Beltre keep it up? It is possible, but I am not sold. I am a firm believer that Beltre steps his game up when there is a paycheck to be earned, and he already signed his name on the dotted line.