Overrated/Underrated Picks for 2011
Mike’s Overrated Team
C Carlos Santana *Just not sure a guy with 150 at bats is a top 100 player. I think he’ll be good this year but maybe all the chatter makes me think he’s being drafted to be great.
1B Billy Butler *Said it on the show, I just don’t see a bunch of those doubles becoming homers. he’s not a guy I’d want at 1B, rather he was my CI or UT.
2B Chase Utley *One of my favorite players but I don’t trust his health.
3B Jose Bautista *Draft for 30-35 not the 54. Love the pos flex but there are other OF and 3B I’d rather have.
SS Elvis Andrus *He has to steal a ton to be valuable. Could be empty in three cats. I think he is a better real baseball player than fantasy. I’d rather have Alexi, Ian Desmond and others.
OF Matt Kemp *Cory thinks he is now potentially underrated or fair value but I still think the expectations on him are too high in the mainstream fantasy world. A tweep wanted to trade Carlos Santana and an early 7th rounder for him. I’d rather have Santana and Jay Bruce than Kemp.
OF Jayson Werth *I don’t think he will be happy watching the Phillies win while Washington still develops even though I think they got better. His comment about doing it for the union and leaving that park and lineup worry me plus the drop in HR, RBI and SB.
OF Alex Rios *Addressed it on the show. he should be good but not great.last year was his first 20-20 season ever all of a sudden eh goes on a roll of them?
SP Trevor Cahill *Great 2010 but no K’s and he’ll have a hard time besting those very nice wins and rate stats.
SP CJ Wilson *I think the league will be ready for him this year. like the guy a ton but I don’t trust him to take the next step. that was a magical year in Arlington.
CL Neftali Feliz *The main reason I picked him for this is the looming chatter about him going into the rotation and his year was outstanding can he repeat or best? Made an enormous jump in ADP.
Cory’s Overrated Team (see below)
C Buster Posey
1B Billy Butler
2B Brandon Phillips
3B Casey McGehee
SS Elvis Andrus
OF Josh Hamilton
OF Austin Jackson
OF Alex Rios
SP Clay Buchholz
SP Dallas Braden
CL Ryan Franklin
C Matt Wieters *Classic post hype. I like what he did in September and think this could be last chance to get him at a discount. Jump on it.
1B Kendry Morales *The news that he has alittle ways to go for Scioscia to let him play makes me even more high on him. He plays 1B for God’s sake once he gets back he will do what he’s done since taking over and that is rake and mash.
2B Chone Figgins *He was atrocious last year and still stole 42 bags. I’ll take my chances he can’t be that bad again so everything comes up.
3B Alex Rodriguez *Scratching your head? He could end season as #1 3B. Doesn’t that make him undervalued if he is going 3rd or 4th at the position?
SS Asdrubal Cabrera *Man crush city. Would have had a solid year if not for the injury which he only got because he plays hard. Huge value for 2011.
OF Carlos Beltran *The power of the walk year, move to right and he’s a world class talent. Hopefully the knee cooperates but his ADP is 221 so where is the risk?
OF Nate McLouth *Super sleeper for this year. No risk and 20-20 reward. I believe.
OF Grady Sizemore *If I think Beltran can bounce back I think Grady can too. he’d be a trailblazer for coming back so quick from the surgery, putting some eggs in his basket based on age.ADP is 94 so I’m not the only believer.
SP Dan Hudson *Some guys are so talked about they lose sleeper value. Looks like that happened to me on the new Danny Boy in MLB (sorry Haren). Knew Cory was picking Marcum so I went with next guy in line.I expect a very good year. Rank among SP is 35 according to ADP.
SP Jorge De La Rosa *It’s a battle over who loves him more me or Joe Sheehan. ADP is 186 his strikeouts should top that number.
CL Jonathan Broxton *Needs to get off to a fast start but if he does I think he regains close to form and never at a lower price. Closer rank is 15th. Draft as a # 2 CL and enjoy the ride.
Cory’s Underrated Team (see below)
C Chris Iannetta
1B Gaby Sanchez
2B Sean Rodriguez
3B Edwin Encarnacion
SS Alcides Escobar
OF Carlos Beltran
OF Carlos Quentin
OF Seth Smith
SP Shaun Marcum
SP James Shields
CL Chris Perez
Finding overrated and underrated players is by definition a zero-sum game: for every overrated player there must be an underrated player. For me, finding them is easiest done by finding two players who appear comparable, with the exception of maybe one category and/or degrees of risk, and then comparing their likely draft position or auction value. So rather than going through my teams one at a time, let’s compare my selections at each position, including their expected production and current ADP in recent mock drafts:
Catcher: Buster Posey plays in a tough hitters park in an average lineup, and has neither the fly ball rate nor the minor league track record to suggest big-time power numbers. Chris Iannetta, on the other hand, has the job to himself this year and both the fly-ball rate and home ballpark to easily top 20 homers given everyday playing time, and his rate stats have remained stable the past two seasons despite his struggles. Certainly Posey will hit for a much higher average and Iannetta has much greater risk given his flops of the past two seasons, but is Posey worth a 3rd or 4th round pick compared to Iannetta’s near-reserve status?
First Base: Everyone keeps waiting for Billy Butler to convert his 40+ doubles into big-time homer production, but that appears unlikely given that his groundball rate has remained consistently high. He’s an excellent contact hitter who will hit for high average, but if you cover up the batting average column, is he worth a 6th or 7th round pick compared to Gaby Sanchez, who’s going in the 15th or 16th round? Sanchez projects as the superior power hitter, and while he won’t approach Butler in average, he will also chip in a handful of steals that the slow-footed Butler won’t.
Second Base: Anyone else notice that Brandon Philips has gone from 30-30 to 20-20 to teen-teen over the past four seasons? Franchise has lost very little in terms of his underlying skills, but the power and speed are clearly in decline as he wears down from years of nagging injuries. Using a 3rd or 4th round pick on him seems very risky when you can get Sean Rodriguez in the very late rounds of 12-team mixed league drafts. S-Rod has contact issues and so won’t hit for much average, but has the power and speed to approach a 20-20 season, and may be eligible at three positions during the season.
Third Base: A big chunk of Casey McGehee‘s value is very heavily tied to RBI’s, which we know can fluctuate wildly without any relevance to the player’s skill. His ground ball rate is too high to support more than 20 or so HR’s, his underlying stats suggest .275-280 more than the .285-300 of the past two years, and he won’t steal. An 8th or 9th round pick is not terribly expensive for him, but I’d rather wait until the reserve rounds and take Edwin Encarnacion. E5’s trends in his contact and fly ball rates, combined with his presence in Toronto’s take-and-rate lineup and favorable home ballpark, and his release from the defensive burden of third base, make him my preseason pick for this year’s Jose Bautista Award.
Shortstop: Given that I hit as many homers last year as Elvis Andrus did, and that he’s not a big contributor in batting average, his value is tied entirely to runs and steals, neither of which qualify as elite. Alcides Escobar was unimpressive as a rookie last year, but his rate stats suggest he could approach Andrus’ production in those two categories this year, and while Andrus is going in the 5th or 6th round, Escobar is going in the 20’s. If you cover up the names they are very likely to be virtually identical players this season, so there is no reason to take one 15 rounds ahead of the other.
For the outfielders, I’ll try to pair them up in terms of who is most comparable…
Outfield: Josh Hamilton is a no-doubt superstar, but he’s not a .359 hitter, not that there’s nothing wrong with a .325 average. However, he is also a major injury risk, just like Carlos Quentin, who outside of batting average is a reasonably comparable player in terms of the other 5×5 categories. Given similar playing time they should put up similar numbers outside the batting average, and if either has a 40+ homer upside, I think it’s Quentin. Hamilton is going in the late first or early second round, but I’d rather gamble on Quentin in the 12th or 13th round.
Outfield: Alex Rios had a great May last year but otherwise performed at a very similar level to what he’d done in previous seasons. His rising ground ball rate points to fewer homers, not more, although he should continue to post solid steals thanks to the green light he enjoys from manager Ozzie Guillen. Carlos Beltran, on the other hand, is a former power/speed threat who will move to right field this year due to persistent knee problems. He’s no sure thing, but he had a huge September last year to demonstrate that the skills are still there. Figure on comparable stats across the board outside of
steals, where Rios should top 30 while Beltran will be lucky to reach double-digits, but Rios is going in the 5th or 6th round while Beltran is going
an average of 10 rounds later.
Outfield: OK, Austin Jackson and Seth Smith aren’t great comps, but these are my last two! Jackson’s huge rookie season was driven by an astonishingly high BABIP, which can’t be expected to be repeated, and his massive strikeout rate and high ground ball rate suggest his average could in fact collapse, leaving him as a one-category player in the 16th round. On the other hand, Smith is going undrafted despite the fact that he’ll be near everyday player in Coors Field, where his established power makes him a threat to approach 25 homers with a solid average and a handful of steals. While he’ll likely be platooned to some extent, he did show the ability to hit lefties during his minor league career.
Starter: Clay Buchholz was one of the luckiest pitchers in baseball last year, with his strikeout, hit and strand rates suggesting an ERA around 4.00, rather than 2.33. On the other hand, Shaun Marcum is getting out of the brutal AL East into the NL, where he has struck out nearly a batter per inning so far in his career while putting up “soft ace” rate stats. Buchholz is going a round or two ahead of Marcum in mock drafts so far, but it’s Marcum who is far more likely to put up superior value this season.
Starter: When considering late-round starters, stay away from Dallas Braden, who was extremely lucky last year, as his ERA should’ve been a run higher than it was, while his poor strikeout rates further limit his fantasy value. Take a closer look though at James Shields, who was as unlucky last year as Braden was lucky, with his rate stats suggesting an ERA more than a run lower than it actually was. Shields is going in the 16th round or later in mock drafts but has the skills to put up considerably more value than that cost.
Closer: Chris Perez is already going about two rounds ahead of Ryan Franklin in mock drafts, but it shouldn’t even be that close. While
Franklin has better command and arguably more job security, his mediocre strikeout rates limit his value, and he’s been consistently lucky with his
home-run rate, a trend that is likely to regress at some point. Perez on the other hand seized the job in the second half last year, improving both his
strikeout and walk rates, and giving up fewer fly balls. Perez is likely to move up in the closer ranks this year, while Franklin is one of the most likely to
lose the job.