Overvalued fantasy baseball players - AL

by Tim Heaney on March 30, 2010 @ 11:00:00 PDT

 


AL: Fantasy baseball sleepers | undervalued | busts | overvalued | saves | stolen bases

NL: Fantasy baseball sleepers | undervalued | busts | overvalued | saves | stolen bases

Name recognition and surprise performances produce overvalued fantasy baseball players. Drafting players without much room for growth can sacrifice profit potential and keep your fantasy baseball team from maximizing value. Properly positioning peaked and downward-moving assets will minimize your risk.

Batters

Brian Roberts, 2B, Baltimore Orioles

Age makes his stats a bit shakier, especially with his big drop last season. How much can he change? He traded some speed for an uptick in power, which if kept remains valuable from his position.

However, back issues this spring show just how risky he might become. Stealing 30 bases is nothing to scoff at, but will he avoid running even more if he keeps his flyball jump? Don't let a steals need blindly lead you to pick him; assess the remaining second-base class in your draft and determine if further steals drop-off from Roberts is acceptable.

Billy Butler, 1B, Kansas City Royals

Baltimore Orioles 2B Brian Roberts
Confident B-Rob keeps doing this?

Butler's second-half growth is exciting; some predict many of his 55 doubles will transfer into home runs in 2010. However, he'd probably sacrifice some of his clip. What if his average tanks and the power only improves minimally? Butler still doesn't hit that many flyballs; his second-half improvement only brought him up to decent levels.

Hype will probably prompt reaches. Avoid relying on him as your first baseman in mixed. A rising hitter who hasn't yet hit 25 homers in a MLB season shouldn't be a power cornerstone. Don't ignore more solid poppers. Of course, if you can make him a CI, go for it.

Gordon Beckham, 3B, Chicago White Sox

His impending eligibility at second base is increasing his draft price. His hot MLB debut showed his 20-homer power potential and his increased patience, which is enticing at either infield position. The positional scarcity game sometimes clouds the actual return of a player, though.

His minimal farm time increases the odds of slumps; it's hard to expect a similarly torrid pace when MLB pitchers now have more time to figure him out. You'll have to wait until he earns second base eligibility in most leagues, too. There's definite upside to Beckham, especially in the midrange portion of these position classes, but don't assume he'll grow exponentially. Temper your bid or snake pick until options are thin at either spot.

Jason Bartlett, SS, Tampa Bay Rays

A large gap in the shortstop tier following Derek Jeter usually starts with Bartlett. Options with more upside are often taken after Bartlett, who himself is no source of stability. His line-drive rate jumped to 26.0 percent last year, which inflated his typically sound but underwhelming clip.

His flyball rate and HR/FB percentage were far above his career norms, which swelled his power. The vet's contact and stolen base skills are steady but not worth reaching for. Bartlett, 30, will have to repeat high, unforeseen levels of power to match his price of somewhere around the top 100 mixed picks. In most cases, you can wait on a shortstop that presents more upside than Bartlett, who boasts a bigger risk of falling below his '09 production.

Michael Cuddyer, 1B/OF, Minnesota Twins

A 32-homer season will inflate your worth, especially if you topped 20 just once otherwise in your career. Sure, his other productive homer year was in '06 and was followed by a not-so-bad correction and an injury season.

Check out last year's 17.1 percent HR/FB, though. He has shown an affinity for the long ball, but that's probably going to come down a bit, even if that spike in flyballs is real. Cuddyer has a stable skill set and is a steady source of acceptable run production, but you can't logically draft him expecting an improvement on last year.

Miguel Tejada, 3B/SS, Baltimore Orioles

Drop-offs at shortstop and third base might prompt many to stretch a bit for this veteran. Tejada proved he's still fantasy-relevant when he took a more contact-oriented approach last year, ditching a big portion of his power. A return to Camden Yards should help get some of that back, right?

Seattle Mariners SP Felix Hernandez
Worth a King's ransom?

It might, but how much do you really want to pay to find out? He often goes ahead of more promising options at the position that you're able to wait on. If you're looking for uninspiring stability with maybe a few extra homers, that's OK. If you can target more upside, don't bother with sticking blah in your shortstop spot.

Nick Markakis, OF, Baltimore Orioles

Markakis' power remains a labyrinth. His flyballs climbed significantly last year, but his homer percentage on flyballs dropped substantially. His stolen base totals also have tumbled since his 18-swipe 2007, and he failed to even come close to repeating what looks like a flukish '08 walk rate. Southpaws still give him trouble.

The 27-year-old's value is buoyed by his batting average and run production; the latter has relatively safe harbor in Baltimore's lineup heart, but his clip indicators, including his batting eye and liner percentage, are volatile.

His top-50 mixed value is a desperate plea for phantom homers. You can acquire similar stat lines with more power later on or for more reasonable auction prices. Outfield production is deep, after all. Let someone else take him there.

Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas Rangers

Hamilton saw a flyball increase in 2009 but struggled almost everywhere else. Injuries weren't frequent for him before last year, but though he's only 28, the abuse he put on his body off the field jeopardizes his recovery of on-field medical issues.

He got a late start to spring action due to a bruised shoulder and might take longer than his mates to get back into form. This comes on the heels of a pinched nerve in his back in '09. His mediocre batting eye makes it harder for him to replicate his 2008 BA success. Reaching for Hamilton to make him part of your core prevents you from taking more stabilized offensive production. You shouldn't put yourself in that position during the first five mixed rounds, which is where Hamilton is often going.

Pitchers

Felix Hernandez, SP, Seattle Mariners

Hernandez's high groundball levels, his decreasing homer allotment and his home park will help keep him in the position's upper echelon, but his top-five mixed starter status is blind worship.

The monarch has worked like a serf: 190-plus innings in each of his last four seasons, including a 38-inning jump from 2008 to 2009. His dominance went up but still isn't elite. If the location on his sinking heat is off, he has more to lose than more dominant arms. If his skills stumble, will he still be able to carry a mediocre-at-best offense to 19 wins?

Tampa Bay Rays RP J.P Howell
Not a closer. Not healthy, either.

The wear and tear on his talented but MLB-old 24-year-old arm removes some luster from his single-year value. He's a low-end fantasy ace who'll come at an inflated price with ample crash potential; it's often best to avoid throwing the crown's treasure at someone who hasn't shown more than one year of elite production.

Cliff Lee, SP, Seattle Mariners

A mature arm moves to a much better park with an elite defense - a value ace, right? Hang on. Counting the '09 postseason, Lee has hurled 272 frames in the last two years, with a 126-inning jump coming from '07 to '08. He'll probably start the year on the DL because of an abdominal strain.

The mildly dominant Lee relies heavily on control, a prime target for failure with a tired arm. Will his surgically repaired foot bother him? If you're forced into drafting him as your mixed No. 1, be sure to bolster the rest of your staff quickly.

Max Scherzer, SP, Detroit Tigers

Potential for 200 strikeouts in a full season as a starter fuels Scherzer's value. The Arizona Diamondbacks shut him down after 30 starts to protect his arm last season. His jump of 114 1/3 MLB innings from his '08 workload to '09 brings up concern of him holding up.

Other reasons to temper the love for his K's: He moves to the American League, where you more often than not need a consistent third pitch to survive. Scherzer doesn't have one yet. Comerica Park is turning into a hitter-friendly environment.

There's a ton of upside here to make him a No. 3 or No. 4 pitcher - in fact, this writer has taken him as his No. 3 on occasion. However, you must mitigate the risk that comes with that boom potential and recognize his fall-off possibility. Grabbing Scherzer before or without backing yourself up with safer options leaves you exposed if he can't handle another full season as a starter.

Joba Chamberlain, SP, New York Yankees

Most of his success has come in the bullpen. He'll probably start the 2010 season there. This is a plus for his stuff; his fastball velocity dropped as a starter.

In the 'pen, Chamberlain has already proven he can offer what many hope Neftali Feliz will: a difference-making fantasy tweener. It's risky drafting pitching talent without a direct path to wins or saves, even with Joba's strikeout talent. You must assess your fantasy rotation's depth - and your need in wins and saves - before considering him.

He often goes within the first 200 mixed picks, which is too soon in most cases. Decide: Will his relief numbers benefit you more than a risky or boring starter? Are there more promising starters that offer similar skills that will you help you for more innings? You're probably better off taking him before dipping into the pool of relievers in waiting for saves or unsettled closer pictures - at least you're getting valuable bullpen skills from Chamberlain.

His value is more pronounced in AL leagues, where middle and setup relievers often are more pivotal; he's worth a selection in the middle rounds there if all closers are off the board and the starting pitching pool has little upside remaining.

Fernando Rodney, RP, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

We're not arguing that there's instability in Angels closer Brian Fuentes. Why would you draft a non-closer before a few options that already have the job? ADP figures say that's happening.

Save totals often inflate a pitcher's value; Rodney is Exhibit A, or in his case, Exhibit BB. Rodney's peripherals suggest he doesn't provide comfort outside of the closer role. After all set stoppers leave the board, go ahead and speculate on him. Don't jump the gun and pass up relievers who already are lined up to close.

J.P. Howell, RP, Tampa Bay Rays

See: Fernando Rodney. Rafael Soriano is the entrenched closer, but many continue to pass up other established closers either. They probably think Howell has a hand in the job or are banking on a Soriano injury. Manager Joe Maddon is returning his former cavalcade of relievers to specialized roles. Plus, shoulder issues could keep Howell sidelined for as long as the first month of the season.

An increase in flyball percentage forewarns more homer problems, and Howell's bloated '09 strand rate is primed for a correction. His control isn't LIMA-friendly, either, despite his increasing dominance. Without save chances, he's no better at base level than pitchers you'd find on the waiver wire - and that refers to his deceivingly good '09. Howell remains the best speculative option from Tampa's 'pen, but that doesn't warrant him to be taken above the bottom tier of known closers.

AL: Fantasy baseball sleepers | undervalued | busts | overvalued | saves | stolen bases

NL: Fantasy baseball sleepers | undervalued | busts | overvalued | saves | stolen bases

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.


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