I’m an Arkansas native. I spent the younger years of my life there and went to the University of Arkansas for my degree. Why do I bring this up? Well, when I don’t shop local, I shop at one of the greatest ideas to come out of Arkansas – none other than Wal-Mart.
Because I am a stingy spender, I always enjoy getting the best bang for my buck. Wal-Mart provides this with the name brand options, but also offers their Great Value (GV) brands. These are basically the off-brand equivalent to the big corporation options for ~75% of the price. Sometimes the price deduction is justified, as the GV option does not live up to the product of the name brand. Sometimes, though, the Wal-Mart substitute rivals the name brand in quality and I don’t miss out on the opportunity to save money.
Let’s relate this to fantasy baseball outfielders. For the most part, the name brand players in the early rounds of a draft are worthy of their average draft position. These guys have unique skill sets that greatly benefit a fantasy roster. However, there are other times where a guy with name value gets bumped up in the draft room because of ‘crazy upside’ or ‘unseen potential’. Despite having knocks on their game, these players continually rank highly.
To avoid doing this, I like to do my projections of players and hide the ‘player name’ column at the end. Then, I find similar players and try to guess their draft day value. Usually, I find that the players are ranked pretty closely. However, there were a few players that I found to be overvalued based on inherent risk or non-unique skill sets.
Any time you can buy the GV brand in real life, you do it. Why, then, would you not practice the same technique in fantasy life? Here are the four cases where I would avoid overvalued outfielders.
2017 Fantasy Baseball Overvalued Outfielders
Note: Numbers in parentheses are average draft positions (ADP) from NFBC.
George Springer, Houston Astros (32)
This isn’t a huge knock on Springer as a player. The price is just way too high for me in the second or third round.
Yes, Springer’s total stats looked good last year, but he was a volume-dependent player. Asking for a league-leading 744 plate appearances from him in 2016 again this season is ill-advised. Furthermore, if you are expecting a step to some ‘next level’ for Springer, I’m not buying it. His plate discipline was really bad last season and that caps his batting average.
Now, if you are in an OBP league, I don’t mind the second or third round price. He’s still a leadoff guy with a great walk rate. However, I’m more inclined to grab a player I believe can produce the same power-speed combination with less volume.
Great Value: If Shin-Soo Choo can somehow stay healthy, he can certainly produce up to Springer’s standards. That’s a big ‘somehow’, but his ADP is basically flier status.
Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins (39)
What are the first two things that come to mind when you think of Stanton? For me (and most), it’s ‘incredible power’ and ‘injury risk’. It’s not even injury ‘risk’ as much as it is injury ‘certainty’. I stay away from Stanton every year and it works out because of that.
Let me back-track, it’s not that I’m staying away from Stanton. I feel like I rank him realistically and he just never falls to me because he is a name-brand guy. I rank him below guys like Mark Trumbo and everyone throws a fit. Go look at the numbers and tell me they aren’t the exact same guy. Subpar average and huge power are the games and I can trust Trumbo more to do it over a full season.
There are many more case by case guys that I can point to, but I would just be getting my blood level pumped up for nothing. Stanton should irk more fantasy players than he does currently, but everyone is looking for that 60 HR season. Don’t fall for it – instead take on risk later in drafts.
Great Value: If you really want to take on unnecessary risk, Eric Thames has large ‘boom-or-bust’ potential. However, his risk is integrated into his mid-round draft price unlike Stanton.
Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs (74)
As the great Yogi Berra would exclaim, “it’s deja vu all over again.” Schwarber is trending up draft boards in 2017 up to his catcher value back in 2016. His value right now would better suit him if he actually had catcher eligibility (if you are in a Yahoo! league, just ignore this). However, in most leagues where he is only outfield eligible, his draft price is way too high.
Many people point to his chance to lead off as a reason to buy. I say that his value is worse as a leadoff hitter than it would be as a five-hole guy. His homers mean less in the lead off spot and his RBI total will plummet in comparison to other power guys. On top of that, we have only seen 71 major league games from him and a 0.242 average. Assuming he leads off, that means he is a two category (homers and runs) in standard rotisserie formats. Hell, we don’t even know if he will play every day with the outfield as crowded as it is in Chicago.
Yes, there’s a time to buy the unknown player at his unknown value. However, the sixth round is not that time for me at a position as deep as outfield is. I would take my Great Value option at his current price.
Great Value: Just as with Schwarber, Greg Bird missed the entire 2016 season due to injury. Both have similar batting profiles. Bird has a safer route to playing time with solid 1B play and the DH spot.
Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals (123)
Cain was the one guy on this list to have his sheen wear off from 2016 to 2017 in fantasy drafts. I can’t be mad at folks trying to draft value here. In fact, I was all over Cain at his 5th round value in 2016. So why am I out now that he carries a 9th round value?
Yes, Cain’s high batting average does give him an edge over many players in the mid-rounds. However, he isn’t special in any other category besides steals. Speaking of, reminder that the dude is 30 years old and constantly battling injuries. What if he just stops stealing bases? You are talking about essentially drafting a Martin Prado-profile in the single digit rounds. Eww!
He’s a fine real-life player and fine as a 4th or 5th outfielder. However, his draft day value doesn’t reflect that and his skill-set minus batting average can be repeated by many players later in the draft.
Great Value: Ender Inciarte has more tools than Cain right now and could even build upon his power as he ages. I expect the two centerfielders to finish much closer in the end-of-season player rater than their ADP suggests.
Be sure to check out our Rankings, Position Preview and much more in the 2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit.