Winning fantasy baseball championships is quite simple. Draft all the right players, make all the right pickups, make sure half of your pitching staff doesn’t go down with Tommy John, don’t make dumb trades, and don’t forget to set your lineup… Okay, maybe not so easy.
A lot of fantasy is luck. There is so much unknown that comes after assembling a team. If you are lucky enough to have drafted a good team, making it to the end of season with everyone and everything intact is never a guarantee. You will never win a championship on draft day.
With that being said, getting the draft right is of the utmost importance. If you miss here, it is an uphill climb to the top. The main thing on draft day is avoiding paying too high of a pick for a player who just isn’t worth it. Finding good value it of the utmost importance. The infield is littered with pitfalls that can derail the construction of your team before it even starts.
2017 Fantasy Baseball Overvalued Infielders
Average Draft Position shown in parentheses via FantasyPros.com
Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees (56.5)
As soon as Gary Sanchez went on his tear upon being called up, I knew he would eventually be part of a list like this one. The hype train has long since left the station, and that is driving the ADP for Sanchez up and up as the season draws closer. The dearth of production at the catcher position only intensifies the perceived need to overpay.
The near .300 batting average, 20 home runs, 42 RBI, and 34 runs scored in just 201 at bats is definitely a cause for excitement. However, when we take a closer look at the small sample size from Sanchez, there is cause for concern. After a red hot August, Sanchez took a step back in September. His average that month came out to .222 with 34 strikeouts as the icing on the cake. I have no doubt that Sanchez will eventually find his groove and be a perennial All-Star. I would just rather be late to that party than early.
Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves (27.3)
As a life long Braves fan, this one hurts. Last season, Freeman became the player I always argued that he was in those heated baseball debates with friends. “He’s better than Rizzo!”, I would exclaim. Hyperbole aside, it was good to see Freeman finally take that next step and turn into an undoubtedly elite player. However, I feel that regression is inevitable.
Last season was Freddie Freeman’s sixth full season as the Braves’ first baseman. Before 2016, Freeman never amassed more than 23 home runs. It is not too often that a player will find the next level and stay there that far into their career. I think the standout season Freeman had was the exception, not the rule. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros (4.0)
Jose Altuve is a bonafide stud. There is no arguing that. Altuve had career highs in average, home runs, RBI, and walks in 2016. So why fade him?
If I am drafting in the top five of a redraft league, I am looking for a sure thing. Altuve played way above his career averages in 2016. Meanwhile, there are 40 home run, 100 RBI candidates available such as Kris Bryant, Paul Goldschmidt, and Nolan Arenado available. Altuve’s steadily declining steal totals, which is what would set him apart, don’t help his case either. While thirty steals is great, it is the second consecutive season of regression.
In a time where 2nd base is so deep, I just can not suggest using a top five pick on one. There are plenty to go around, so it makes no sense to be the first one to draft at the position.
Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox (27.5)
Shortstop is another position that is deeper than it has been in a long time. Xander Bogaerts is one of the rising stars at the position, and will be integral in what is going to be a season of high expectations for the Sox. His impressive .294 average, 21 home run, 89 RBI, and 115 runs scored is probably a sign of things to come.
But is this worth a 3rd round pick? I don’t think so. As with 2nd base, there is plenty of talent and depth at the position. Players of comparable stature can be found rounds later. You might draft Bogaerts here, but you are drafting potential. Personally, I prefer more established commodities when building a team in the first few rounds, but to each his own.
Be sure to check out our Rankings, Position Preview and much more in the 2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit.