2020 Fantasy Baseball ADP Review: 12 of the most overrated at the start of draft prep season
If you're paying up for power bats, you're doing it wrong. Scott White reveals some of the players going too high in early drafts.
We all have a pretty good concept of what "overrated" means, right? Well, maybe not. Some people like to use at a substitute for "bad."
The majority of these players have many fine qualities that would make me eager to draft them at a certain point. But seeing where they're drafted on average, I don't expect them to reach that point.
Note that this list isn't the same as my bust list,. That exercise is more about identifying players who may be going at an appropriate point but whose downside should absolutely scare you. This exercise is more identifying some of the inefficiencies within a draft and adjusting for them.
So don't overrate what it means to be overrated. The point here isn't to bury anyone but to make you mindful of where you'd have to take these players and what you could take instead.
Pete Alonso 1B
NYM N.Y. Mets • #20 • Age: 25
Alonso led the majors with 53 home runs as a rookie, setting a record in the process, and given that he was touted as an 80-grade power bat, it's only natural to assume he'll do it again. Or, wait ... there's nothing natural about that at all! Historic performances aren't bankable from year to year, for reasons that should be obvious, and given that batting average and stolen bases are the higher priority in the early rounds, targeting generic power guy may not be a winning strategy. Even in points leagues, where all production goes into the same bin and there's no need to balance singular contributions, the 53-homer version of Alonso still ranked only 31st among hitters on a per-game basis. Maybe if his exit velocities stood out in the way of Aaron Judge or Miguel Sano, another league-leading home run total would be reasonable to predict, but his make him out to be more like a 40-homer guy. It's still great. He's a great player, but you have more pressing needs early in Round 3.
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #25 • Age: 23
It's not so much that Torres outperformed his .262 xBA and .497 xSLG last year. He did as a rookie, too, and given all that he managed to achieve before his 23rd birthday, I'm reluctant to put too many limits on the upside. But even if the skills improve -- harder contact, more walks, fewer strikeouts, whatever -- to the point that he deserves this same stat line this year, it was only good enough to make him the No. 6 second baseman in 5x5 scoring last year. So just how much are you counting on him to improve by making him the first second baseman off the board? It's sort of a Pete Alonso situation where he's basically just providing power at a point in the draft where more is expected from a player, but in points leagues, Torres profiles even worse, ranking eighth among second-base eligible players in per-game production. This ADP is simply divorced from reality.
Javier Baez SS
CHC Chi. Cubs • #9 • Age: 27
Presumably, people realize Baez is only eligible at shortstop now and not second base, but then, they must not have seen how shortstop stacks up this year. It's so star-studded that four of them go in the first round. One of last year's MVP finalists, Marcus Semien, goes 79th overall. Carlos Correa and Corey Seager, who are both in their mid-20s and still offer the sort of upside that made them Fantasy first-rounders once upon a time, go 93rd and 133rd. Baez must offer something spectacular to go so far ahead of them, and yet look at the numbers. He doesn't. Maybe in 2018 when he set a career high with 21 steals, there was a case, but he was 11 for 18 in stealing bases last year. His plate discipline is pitiful, requiring a bloated BABIP to keep him afloat in batting average, but I'm not even suggesting he'll decline. He's just not good enough. You need a real difference-maker at 38th overall, and you're more likely to get it from a hurler or a surefire base-stealer.
SD San Diego • #13 • Age: 27
It turns out Camden Yards was pretty kind to Machado. Over his career (again, most of it spent with the Orioles), he's a .273 hitter with a .778 OPS on the road, which looks a lot like his .261 batting average and .805 OPS in two stops since leaving Baltimore. The most recent of those stops is where he finds himself for the foreseeable future, and Petco Park is more on the opposite extreme. Maybe he won't always hit as poorly as .219 with a .703 OPS there -- he has said he worked to improve his barrel rate this offseason -- but over the years, he has consistently been a player who delivers line drives at a low rate and fly balls at a high rate. It's the sort of profile that condemns him to a low BABIP, which isn't so noticeable when enough of those fly balls are clearing the fence, but when they're falling short in bigger venues, the overall production is kind of ordinary. With third base and shortstop being the deepest positions in Fantasy, now isn't the time to stick your neck out for Machado.
KC Kansas City • #27 • Age: 24
The demand for stolen bases in a 5x5 league, which absurdly weighs them on the same level as the other four hitting categories, forces Fantasy players to do some pretty strange things, and Exhibit A is Mondesi at 50th overall. Sure, he's the odds-on favorite to lead the majors in the category, having nearly done so while playing only two-thirds of last season. But you know how that season ended, right? He had surgery on a torn labrum in his shoulder, which doesn't always have a straightforward recovery. Then there's the whole issue of him not being so good at, um, anything else. He looked like he was making strides as a hitter late in 2018, but then the strikeout rate blew up again and he went back to putting the ball on the ground more. As pedestrian as his batting numbers looked, the expected stats paint a much grimmer picture -- as in a .237 xBA and .380 xSLG -- and that sort of production from an early-rounder could bury you.
Eloy Jimenez LF
CHW Chi. White Sox • #74 • Age: 23
Come on ... 64th overall? I guess it's possible Jimenez performs at that level. He has the pedigree for it, and if he can sustain his performance from his final 39 games, when he hit .325 with 12 homers and a .992 OPS, that'd about do it. Of course, Josh Bell sustained a .323 batting average and 1.049 OPS for 69 games last year -- and with more convincing peripherals, I might add -- but a second-half slide has him going 14 picks after Jimenez now. He's a far more disciplined hitter who made even harder contact last year, but let's not just make this about Bell. The same could be said for Matt Olson, Eugenio Suarez, Jorge Soler and a bunch of other hitters going after Jimenez -- some well after him and some of whom finished the year just as hot. Drafting Jimenez so far ahead of them is asking him not just to meet them but overtake them, and it's based on a month-and-a-half sample.
Jose Abreu 1B
CHW Chi. White Sox • #79 • Age: 33
Jose Abreu is a perfectly fine first base option -- one who'll deliver the requisite number of home runs without hurting your batting average -- and that's fine if "fine" is all you're aiming for. But a price tag of 72nd overall suggests it's not. It means he's going ahead of the No. 2 catcher (Gary Sanchez), two up-and-comers with five-category potential (Bo Bichette and Yoan Moncada), the best starting pitcher inning for inning last year (Tyler Glasnow), a surefire base-stealer with untapped potential as a hitter (Victor Robles), a guy who gave Mike Trout a run for AL MVP (Marcus Semien), a guy with the capacity to hit 50 home runs (Joey Gallo), a guy who has averaged 41 homers over the past six years (Nelson Cruz), a guy who actually hit 48 home runs last year (Jorge Soler) and on and on and on. Abreu may be perfectly fine, but he's not any of that. Could it be the AL-leading RBI total that you're paying up for? Unless you think Abreu is uniquely skilled at driving in runs, which is a laughably outdated concept, it ain't happening again.
BOS Boston • #57 • Age: 27
My loose standard for an "ace" is a pitcher with the capacity for 200 innings and 200 strikeouts, and Rodriguez achieved both of those benchmarks last year. Of course, the ERA and particularly the WHIP didn't measure up, and nothing in his profile would suggest either has the potential to improve. In fact, inning for inning, he was the same pitcher last year that he had always been. He just happened to throw more innings -- far more, as a matter of fact. His previous high was only 137 1/3, and it's fitting that he's already battling knee troubles this spring since they're what have always held him back. More than anything, it's the 19 wins that I think have inflated people's concept of how much he's worth, and there are just too many reasons why he won't sniff that total again, not the least of which is Mookie Betts' departure. Lance Lynn is clearly a better source of strikeouts. Frankie Montas is clearly a better source of ERA. Both are a much better source of WHIP. Both go later.
CLE Cleveland • #35 • Age: 25
Mercado didn't became a major-league starter until about a quarter of the way through last season, so if you project his numbers over a full season, it comes out to about 20 homers and 20 steals. Pretty good, right? Yeah, in this environment where everybody who contributes stolen bases is valuable and the ones who contribute something more are golden, Mercado seems like the perfect darling pick. Problem is that he really needs to meet those benchmarks to justify the spot where's going, and the batted-ball profile makes it far from a foregone conclusion. Dude makes some weak contact -- the kind that leads to a .403 xSLG and .308 xwOBA, which really calls into question his power potential. Any slippage there, and his on-base skills aren't good enough to keep him in the lineup, probably. He presents more downside than upside at a point in the draft when there's still ample upside in the form of Miguel Sano, Corey Seager, Zac Gallen and Jesus Luzardo.
CIN Cincinnati • #26 • Age: 30
The K/9 rate probably catches your eye, and it was good enough to place Iglesias among the top 25 relievers with at least 50 innings. But it wasn't out of character for a closer, really. Among those with a better rate were Brandon Workman and Jose Leclerc, who are both going later than Iglesias -- in Leclerc's case, much later. So why the upcharge for Iglesias? Well, he's been at it for longer, which I guess makes him more secure in the eyes of many. But there is no security among closers, really, and Iglesias in particular has had stretches over the past couple years when he was barely hanging onto the role. During that time, he has shown a real vulnerability to the long ball, which can make for an unbearable situation for a manager. He managed a 2.38 ERA in 2018 in spite of it, but his FIP that year (4.23) was actually worse than this past year's (3.92). Saves can be had too cheaply for you to pay up for that kind of "security."
Amed Rosario SS
NYM N.Y. Mets • #1 • Age: 24
Sure, he's only 24 and still has some residual prospect shine, and yes, I'll even grant that Rosario is improving little by little. But it's too little to justify the enthusiasm for him every year. You know what really saved his season last year? A .319 batting average in the second half. You know how he came about it? By putting the ball on the ground at a rate that would rival the league leaders, which is exactly the kind of approach that will impede a player's chances of measuring up in a power-laden environment. But what of the stolen bases? Well, his 19 came on 29 attempts, which is the sort of failure rate that will earn a player a red light going forward. Rosario is trending toward becoming just a hollow source of batting average, and at a position of studs, that's not going to cut it. You know how much upside is still out there at Pick 155? Kyle Tucker? Willie Calhoun? Hello?
Caleb Smith SP
MIA Miami • #31 • Age: 28
I understand that in the range where Smith is going, you're grasping for straws no matter where you turn at starting pitcher, which is why you want to grab as many high-end types as possible. Smith was a revelation last April and has at least proven himself as a bat-misser, but he's consistently falling short in those other areas that tend to make or break a pitcher. He doesn't have great control, and he puts the ball in the air too often to withstand today's home run barrage. It's certainly possible that a midseason hip injury contributed to his downfall, but even before the injury in May, the walks and home runs were beginning to normalize. His 5.05 xFIP suggests he deserves everything he got and then some, and for his career, that xFIP is 4.87. There comes a point when we have to accept that a guy is just a guy, and at 28, Smith is about to that point. Why not gamble on the upside of a Griffin Canning, Jose Uruidy or even Adrian Houser instead?
So which sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which undervalued first baseman can help you win a championship? Visit SportsLine now to get rankings for every single position, all from the model that called Kenta Maeda's huge breakout last season, and find out.
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