Buy Low, Sell High: Draft stars destined to perform otherwise
There's a name for people who don't make trades during the year, but it's not fit to print on a family-friendly column. A healthy league is one with many trades, and all season long you can come here to get the kind of edge you need to get ahead ...
It's still too early in 2011 for the traditional stock report, so it's a good time to look at what players are being misvalued coming into the year. Last week, we took a look at the
Part of this is just the pessimistic Orioles fan in me, but it's time we as a fantasy baseball nation scale back our expectations on Wieters. Maybe he'll be a perennial All-Star one day, but he's done nothing in a season and a half in the majors to suggest that day is coming any time soon. He did more harm than good to fantasy teams a year ago, hitting just 11 homers with 37 runs and 55 RBIs, none of which offset his .249 average. Considering he had just 34 total extra-base hits a year ago, there's no real reason to expect a power surge in '11.
Howard going in the top 20 isn't absurd, and his fast start has to be making owners giddy. But I'm just not buying that he'll keep it up for one big reason: Why would anyone on the planet pitch to this guy? He's being protected by the likes of a 53-year-old Raul Ibanez against righties and perennial fourth outfielder Ben Francisco against lefties. Jayson Werth is gone, and who knows when Chase Utley will get back into the lineup. Not that Howard sees a lot of hittable pitches to begin with, but as the season wears on, opponents will be tempted to stick the hand out early and often against Howard.
His spot as a top 50 pick in many drafts seems to be the residual effect of his 30-30 season during the George W. administration. Right now, he's a 29-year old coming off a good, but certainly not spectacular, '10 campaign that included a .275 average, 18 homers and 16 steals. Outside of a career-high 33 doubles, there wasn't much to be excited about, especially with his line drive rate dropping to a career-low 15.3 percent. Phillips isn't going to hurt you, but seems like you'd have a pretty good chance of matching his production with Gordon Beckham, who was coming off the board an average of 100-plus picks later.
As good of a player he is, there's just so much wrong with Wright's situation. There's the cavernous sinkhole of a ballpark (a crime the way that place was built with so much young positional talent in that organization) and the fact that their lineup is bordering on atrocious if Carlos Beltran doesn't find his way soon. They have Willie Harris in the 2-hole right now. And they're protecting Wright with Beltran and Ike Davis. There was hope that the inexplicable spike in his strikeout rate two seasons ago was a fluke, but it actually went up from 26.2 percent to 27.4 percent last year (for comparison's sake, it was 18.8 percent in '08). Small sample size, but he's already struck out seven times in 31 plate appearances this year. He looks like a guy who either hits for average (as he did in '09) or for power (as he did in '10), but not both. And that's why he shouldn't be the No. 2 third baseman off the board.
Who else? Look, Jeter's a first-ballot Hall of Famer and certainly has earned his place in Yankee lore. But he'll be 37 in June and is coming off a career-worst year (.270, 10 homers, 18 steals). That's a borderline top 100 pick, and yet his Yahoo ADP was 48.9.
It's more of a personal taste, but after last season Upton became a show-me player. Between the shoulder problems, the high strikeout rate (30.7 percent last year) and the fact that he's hit 20-plus homers only twice in five professional seasons, I need to see him put together that huge season before I draft him like a superstar. Right now he has a 40.5 ADP in Yahoo, which fits his '11 upside but is too rich for his track record.
The 31 homers of a year ago were great, but he's a soon-to-be 29-year old who didn't top .200 in IsoP in '08 or '09. To me, the power was a fluke last year, and he doesn't run anymore (seven steals -- and six caught stealing -- a year ago). He's hurt now, so you can't deal him yet. But once he's set to return from his oblique injury (probably late April), move him as soon as you can.
There's no argument about the 25-year old's talent, but Price won 19 games with a 2.72 ERA and a lot of help from his friends last year. His FIP sat at 3.42. Going from Carl Crawford to Johnny Damon in left, and Carlos Pena to Dan Johnson at first, are a couple of serious defensive downgrades. And, as we've seen already in '11, the Rays are going to struggle to score runs. Maybe Price can catch a break and post an ERA around 3, but even 15 wins might be a stretch. That's dicey for a guy coming off the board in the first 60 picks.
Like Hart, his injury will prevent you from dealing him for now. And, like Price, his talent is rather absurd. While I'm not a big fan of first half/second half splits, it seems like a lot of owners forgot that this was a guy who went 4-7 with a 3.80 ERA and 1.30 WHIP after last year's All-Star break. He's 27 and has plenty of room to improve, but he also walked 92 batters last year and still has to make half his starts at Coors Field. He had a top 50 ADP in Yahoo leagues, but he really should have been going among the second-tier starters.
Last week, I touched on why there's no good reason to spend a high pick on a closer -- the separation in fantasy value between the elite and the good just isn't there. Bell is indeed elite, but he also carries significant risk that many owners seemed to ignore. The good news is that the Padres' wins will pretty much all be close games. The bad news is that, after dealing Adrian Gonzalez, there aren't going to be very many of them. But the real worry is that Bell will be a set-up man by August. The Padres keep insisting they won't trade him, but they once said the same thing about Gonzalez. They're in full-fledged rebuilding mode, and there's no reason for a rebuilding team to be heavily invested in a closer. Bell's Yahoo ADP (79.8) is a good 50 spots too high.