Fantasy

The Two Most Overrated Players in Fantasy Baseball

In every single fantasy draft, there are a few players that get drafted way earlier than they should be. It could be because that player is on the drafter’s favorite MLB team, or because one too many sleeper/hype articles have been read in the late hours of the night. Most of the time, however, players get drafted on namesake alone without the manager really knowing their true value. Being successful in fantasy comes down to knowing the value of each player on your roster. The two players below often get valued too high. If you own one of these guys, you should try to find them a new home before it’s too late.

Billy Hamilton, Outfield, Cincinnati Reds

Billy Hamilton is an enigma. Most people you talk to either think very highly of him or very poorly. There’s not much middle ground. Hamilton only brings speed to your team, and speed can be found in a lot of places for a much cheaper price. If we were drafting players for an MLB player track meet, Hamilton would be one of the first taken. But in terms of fantasy baseball, Hamilton’s value is greatly overstated. While it’s true, stolen bases on the decline across baseball and speed is becoming more valuable, but there are plenty of speed-only guys you get for cheaper than Hamilton.

Hamilton brings basically nothing to the table in the power categories. His career highs in home runs and RBIs (both set in his 2014 rookie campaign) are 6 and 48 respectively. In his other two full seasons, he’s basically combined for those statistics (7 HR and 45 RBI combined in 2015-2016). It’s not all that uncommon for a speedy leadoff hitter to not bring much power. These types of players can still bring a lot to the table in terms of runs scored and batting average. Hamilton is sub par in these areas too with little growth in his numbers over his career. Let’s look at what Hamilton has done in the fantasy categories that lead off hitters usually excel in:

  • 2014 (563 AB): 72 runs, .250 average, 56 steals.
  • 2015 (412 AB): 56 runs, .226 average, 57 steals.
  • 2016 (411 AB): 69 runs, .260 average, 58 steals.

Now let’s compare Hamilton’s 2016 stats to another pair of speedsters:

  • Hamilton (411 AB): 69 runs, .260 average, 58 steals, 3 HR, 17 RBI.
  • Player A (454 AB): 74 runs, .249 average, 43 steals, 12 HR, 48 RBI.
  • Player B (404 AB): 50 runs, .272 average, 34 steals, 13 HR, 56 RBI.

Player A is Rajai Davis and player B is Hernan Perez. Two names that are never mentioned anywhere near Hamilton on draft day. There’s even a chance these guys are still on your waiver wire.

When you put all the stats together, there are a lot of players that will give you the same amount of fantasy value as Hamilton. The benefit of going after these other guys is that you can get them at a much lower cost. Speed might be down overall in baseball, but there are plenty of players you can grab off the waiver wire that can help your team be competitive in steals. Speedsters such as Mallex Smith on Tampa Bay and Jarrod Dyson from Seattle are two names often found on the waiver wire this year. Jump ship on Hamilton if you have him and try to find another manager that will give you something you need for him.

Stephen Strasburg, Starting Pitcher, Washington Nationals

Anyone that has watched Stephen Strasburg pitch can immediately see that he has an electric arsenal. Who can forget his 2010 Major League debut against the Pirates when he allowed only 2 runs over 7 innings while striking out 14 batters? His stuff has never been questioned. His combines a mid-90’s heater that can touch triple digits with three above average secondary offerings (Curve, Slider, and Change-Up). Having two plus pitches will usually get you to the majors as long as you can control them. Strasburg has the luxury of having four.

The problem with having him on your team is that you have no idea how many starts he’s going to give you over the course of the season. Yes, you can say that about every pitcher, but with Strasburg, there’s much more uncertainty than most based on his injury history. After just 9 starts in his rookie year Strasburg was forced to the DL for the first time with right shoulder inflammation. He returned to the Nationals in a few weeks, but only to make three starts before requiring Tommy John surgery which sidelined him a full calendar year. He recovered in time to make five starts at the end of the 2011 season. So right off the bat he only made 17 starts in approximately the first year and a half of his career.

The magic number for pitchers when it comes to innings pitched in a season is 200. That is a number Strasburg has only eclipsed once in his career back in 2014. During that season he compiled a 14-11 record, 3.14 ERA, and led the National League with 242 strikeouts. Put all those numbers together and you get the type of numbers a fantasy owner should expect from their ace pitcher. The problem isn’t that Strasburg can’t put ace caliber numbers year in and year out. It’s that he can’t stay healthy enough to put up those numbers over 30+ starts. He’s only eclipsed 25 starts or 150 innings pitched three times in his career and hasn’t done it since his career year in 2014.

Strasburg made two trips to the disabled list in 2015 (Neck and Oblique) and two more in 2016 (Upper back strain and Strained Flexor Muscle in pitching arm). These injuries limited him to only a total of 47 starts over the two-year span. His flexor strain last September also put him out for the majority of September, which is playoff time for most fantasy leagues.

Again, you cannot doubt the potential and the talent. If you look at Strasburg’s numbers below they were solid. Solid enough that the Nationals made a hefty long-term investment in him last May. His ERAs were a little higher than his career norm, but overall, as a fantasy owner, you should be pleased with these numbers.

  • 2015 (23 starts): 11 wins, 3.46/1.11 ERA/WHIP, 155 SO in 127 1/3 innings (10.95 K/9)
  • 2016 (24 Starts): 15 wins, 3.60/1.10 ERA/WHIP, 183 SO in 147 2/3 innings (11.15 K/9)

Strasburg was being taken in the top 40 picks of most drafts, but with his consistently low amount of innings pitched, shouldn’t have been happening. In most drafts, he was being taken ahead of pitchers such as Chris Archer, and Jon Lester. Strasburg has a higher fantasy ceiling than both of those names but it’s not worth it when you attach the injury risk. He will surely have another full healthy season or two in his future, but it’s just not worth the risk to gamble on which year that will be. If you took Strasburg this year and he gets out to a hot start, look to sell high and move him before he finds his way to the disabled list.

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