With the fantasy baseball season underway, it’s a good time to take a look at players that are usually overvalued. Last week, Stephen Strasburg and Billy Hamilton were profiled as the two most overrated players in all of baseball. Today, we dive deeper and profile seven more players who are overvalued.
1. Joey Votto, 1st Base, Cincinnati Reds – Joey Votto is an incredibly talented hitter with an elite batting eye. That statement might lead some to wonder “Well, than why is he being mentioned in this article?” The short answer is in the second half of that first sentence: His elite batting eye. Every year you find Votto’s name at or near the top of the walks category. That’s great and all, but it doesn’t help fantasy owners unless you play in a league with walks or on-base percentage as categories. Unless the bases are loaded, a walk is just a walk in fantasy. It doesn’t raise your batting average or score you a run.
Over the last two seasons no player has taken a walk as much as Votto has. His 251 walks easily leads the majors over that span. All those walks have kept his power numbers in check however. First base is a position of power. Votto does have plus power which is evident when you see his career .535 slugging percentage. However, due to all the walks, he has only hit over 30 home runs once in his career way back in 2010. In fantasy, Votto gets valued like an elite first baseman, which he’s not. He’s a step below the elite power 1st base options like Miguel Cabrera, Anthony Rizzo, etc.2. Hanley Ramirez, 1st Base, Boston Red Sox – One of the most frustrating players to own in fantasy year in and year out has to be Hanley Ramirez. He’s one of the most talented hitters that we’ve seen over the past decade, but he just can’t stay on the field for a full season. If his middle name isn’t fragile, it should be. It just so happens that 2016 was Ramirez’s first season of more than 500 at bats since way back in 2010. Another issue for him has been between the ears. Ramirez has always been difficult to put it nicely and it seemed like good pal David Ortiz had a huge influence on Hanley last season. Sadly, Ortiz is now retired and Hanley no longer has his good buddy keeping him in line
A slow start in the power department left him with only four homers at the end of May. The last four months of the season, however, became the Hanley show and he ended up finishing with 30 bombs for the first time since 2008. A lot of things went right for Ramirez last season which led to his value rising significantly this season. Unless a lot goes right again this year, he’s going to have a hard time matching his 2016 value.
3. Trea Turner, Short Stop, Washington Nationals – The hot name entering 2016 was Carlos Correa. After an impressive debut, he was being taken in the back end of the first round of drafts last year. White Correa put up a solid season, it wasn’t as good as many had hoped. Fast forward a year and that’s exactly what’s happening to Turner. He burst onto the scene last year mid-season and dazzled the rest of the way. His .342 average, 13 steals, and 33 steals vaulted him into the first round of drafts this season.
Everybody wanted a piece of this kid, expecting him to be the next superstar in this league. He probably will be a superstar and first round talent for many years to come, but slow down for just a second. Turner is still only 23 and has a total of 347 major league at bats under his belt. The speed should continue to show regularly but don’t expect him to start mashing homers. He never was a big power hitter in college or in the minors where his highest HR total was a mere eight. Turner is going to be a special player, just keep expectations in check for this year.
4. Byron Buxton, Outfield, Minnesota Twins – After quickly ascending through the minor leagues, Buxton has struggled mightily in the majors. The immense raw talent he possesses has only shown itself last September when he hit .287 with 9 homers over 101 at bats. That was just enough to get fantasy owners salivating about what he could possibly do over a full season. All it took was that one month to make people forget that Buxton is still a long ways away from being the player he has the potential of being.
The strikeouts are a big concern. Through his first 461 career at bats he struck out 181 times. Extrapolate that over a full 600 at bat season and he would set a new record with 235. Striking out at that high of a rate is a sure way to keep your average incredibly low. An area of strength for Buxton is his blazing speed. In a little more than two seasons worth of minor league at bats he swiped 101 bases and profiles to steal 40+ per year in his prime. It’s pretty hard to steal a lot of bases though if you’re only getting on base around a quarter of your at bats. Buxton will continue to struggle until he can improve his plate discipline. Don’t let his big September fool you.5. Justin Verlander, Starting Pitcher, Detroit Tigers – Welcome back from the dead Mr. Verlander. In 2011 and 2012 Verlander was arguably the best pitcher in the game outside of Clayton Kershaw and even pulled off the rare feat of winning the MVP award as a pitcher. Over the 2013 and 2014 seasons everything seemed to start heading the other way. His velocity dipped a full two miles per hour and that sterling mid-2’s ERA rose to the mid-4’s. It seemed that all those innings (1,553 2/3) over his first seven seasons had caught up to him. An injury-riddled 2015 supported that as well.
In 2016, Verlander came roaring back with 16 wins, a 3.04 ERA, and a 10.0 K/9, which was his highest in six seasons. Many fantasy owners thought he was back to the Verlander of old. Not so fast. All those innings haven’t gone away. We routinely see these types of workhorses decline in their mid-30’s. C.C. Sabathia is a prime example of this. Expect solid numbers but the MVP caliber Verlander isn’t walking through that door.
6. Kyle Hendricks, Starting Pitcher, Chicago Cubs – What a difference a year can make. Entering the 2016 season, Kyle Hendricks was barely even on the fantasy radar. 16 wins and a 2.13 ERA later and Hendricks value has skyrocketed to that of a top 20 starting pitcher. There’s no denying he had an incredible season last year but when you look more closely at the numbers you start to see that he’s become overvalued this year.When you think of fantasy aces, you think of big strikeout numbers. With all his success last year, Hendricks only struck out 170 batters. A respectable amount, sure, but not what you expect out of your top 1 or 2 pitchers, which is where he is being valued this year. His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitcher) was also over a run higher than his ERA, which is a solid indication that his ERA should rise back up over 3 this season. Hendricks is a great pitcher to have, just not as one of your top two guys.
7. The Entire Catcher Position – All catchers can be grouped together as being overvalued in fantasy. It’s rare in today’s game for a catcher to make a serious impact offensively. Gone are the days of slugging catchers like Mike Piazza, Carlton Fisk, and Ivan Rodriguez. The current day catcher has relied on more for their defense, pitch calling, and rocket arm than they are for their offense. Since there aren’t that many top options at the position they routinely get valued too high. Take Buster Posey for instance. He’s routinely valued as a top 50-75 player but rarely produces enough to justify being valued like that.
Catchers rarely bring more than one asset to the table. There are high average guys like Yadier Molina and J.T. Realmuto who don’t bring much power to the table, and then there’s the Evan Gattis and Yasmani Grandal type mashers who bring solid power but usually kill your average. Catchers will always be one of the most valuable players on a major league roster. Just don’t kid yourself in thinking they’ll be a top option on your fantasy squad.