One of the most enjoyable parts of fantasy sports is prediction time. My favorite part of this process is digging up the overrated players. Sometimes I hit, sometimes I don’t but there’s always a reason for making this list.
Some of the players here are going to be good to fantasy owners this year, but putting together a winning team is about getting value at every pick. The following five players are not going to be worth the pick you’ll have to waste or the auction money you’ll have to spend to get them in 2009.
Matt Wieters, C, Orioles
|Key 2008 stats||AB: 308||HR: 14||RBI: 50||OPS: .811|
The rookie backstop is coming in too highly touted. One projection I saw had Wieters among the top 10 in the American League in home runs. Everyone’s going to jump on him far earlier than they should. While he may end up being a great player, what are the chances of him being that guy out of the gate? Catcher is a demanding position, especially for young players who haven’t had to endure the rigors of a 162-game major league season. There are lots of catchers out there this year. Don’t reach for an untested rookie.
Matt Holliday, OF, Athletics
|Key ’08 stats||+20 Rs/home||+30 RBIs/home||+.100 SLG/home|
A big deal is being made about Holliday moving from Coors Field, and rightly so. But, while I have highlighted how much of a home-field advantage he had with the statistics above, I feel there is another factor at play, and it’s a pretty big one — lineup protection. The Rockies have always had run producers. Todd Helton has really slowed down, but when grouped with Brad Hawpe, Troy Tulowitzki and Garrett Atkins he adds to a formidable lineup. Holliday’s going to have to rely on washed-up (Eric Chavez), de-roided (Jason Giambi) and unproven (pick any member of the A’s outfield besides Holliday) players to make sure he sees fastballs. He’ll be solid, but he’s not the Top-10 outfielder some are predicting.
Garret Atkins, 3B, Rockies
|Key ’08 stats||3-year lows in HRs, RBIs, Hs, 2Bs, SBs, AVG, OBP, SLG|
Don’t think Holliday’s the only one that will suffer from the move. Taking Holliday out of the lineup is going to remove protection and hurt the run production from Rockies hitters. Atkins is going to take the biggest hit. His numbers have declined in each of the three years since his breakout in 2006. 30 less runs, eight less homers, 20 less RBIs, 30 less runs, his OPS has dropped nearly 200 points and he’s lost more than 40 points in batting average. Meanwhile, his at-bats have increased slightly every year from 602 to 611. Now, the best bat in the lineup is gone to Oakland. Expect at least his runs and RBIs to decrease again and for him to drop out of the first and second tiers of the third base ranks. Do not overpay based on that reputation he made in 2006.
David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox
|Key ’08 stats||109 games||.264 AVG||.507 SLG||.876 OPS|
Like Derek Jeter and Atkins above, when you pay for Ortiz you’re paying for what he did in the past. Ortiz is 33 and his numbers have declined incrementally in each of the last two years. The one sure thing with Ortiz in recent season were his sterling percentages, but his batting average and OPS numbers were both 3-year lows last year. He hit just .264 with a .507 slugging. From 2004 to 2007 he had a .600+ Slugging percentage and hit over .300 in three of the four years. You could blame some of his other numbers on missing 50 games, but not the percentages. I look for his numbers to be solid — 20+ homers, 100+ RBIs, .290 average — but because of his name and team you’ll have to overpay. And don’t forget, he is only a DH, so in most leagues he can only play at the UTIL spot.
Carlos Zambrano, SP, Cubs
|Key ’08 stats/Post AS Game||5.80 ERA||1.40 WHIP||4-3 record|
Zambrano’s stats are deceiving. He had half as many innings after the All-Star break as he did before, but gave up more runs, earned runs and homers and had 34 of his 72 walks in the second half. He started 7-1, but finished 14-6. But what makes this situation even more bleak, and you more likely to reach for him, is that no-hitter he threw toward the end of the year that improved those second-half stats. He had good moments, but his injuries are going to continue and get worse. “He’s only 27,” you’ll say. I’ll answer, “yes, but his arm is 137.” He’s a fastball pitcher from the steroid era who threw more than 200 innings in five consecutive seasons and has started 30 games or more in seven consecutive seasons and he’s beginning to break down. I see him ranked among the top 20 pitchers on some lists. Don’t buy it. He’s a power pitcher who doesn’t rack up power-pitcher strikeouts anymore. Instead, remind your opponents about his no-hitter and his fast start last year. Tell them he’s only 27, then pick somebody else.
Think I’m wrong about Zambrano? How about Wieters? Who do you think is going to be overvalued this year? Let us know in the comments.