Many players coming off a big season often wind up as fantasy baseball busts or overvalued players. Who should you avoid in your fantasy baseball drafts this season?
Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
He's the best closer in the history of the game. Fears of his demise became widespread after he registered a 3.15 ERA in 2007. Since, his velocity has continued to decline; his grounder rate, to decrease; his age, to rise (past 40!). And still, he's defied order. There wasn't anything alarming about the numbers he put up in 2012, before he tore his ACL while shagging fly balls. Doctors have proclaimed him to be unusually fit for his age.
The Ax facing real grind?
Why not choose Mo, then, despite the fact that the 43-year-old will be pitching on a reconstructed knee? It's simple, really. You wouldn't wager against Rivera. Who would? But - if the discount is negligible, as it appears to be - you certainly don't mind letting someone else bet on him. You don't have to prove a point about an ageless wonder in order to win a fantasy title. -NM
John Axford, Milwaukee Brewers
A strong September saved his job. However, have you considered how closely his skills base resembles Carlos Marmol's? The 20.26 pitches per inning Axford averaged last year was by far a career high; he frequently nibbled, and he'll need to keep punching out opponents to cover up that shaky control. Despite his penchant for inducing grounders, he surrendered many liners. More of his fly balls went to the outfield, so that 19.2 percent HR/FB - exaggerated, not outlandish.
Jim Henderson, Brandon Kintzler and Mike Gonzalez (plus Mark Rogers?) are unheralded threats. Ron Roenicke went back to Ax last year after a rough spell, but he has more 'pen depth this year. Unless he falls deep into the second-mixed-closer tier, you can't buy the Canadian as a steady option. -TH
Joel Hanrahan, Boston Red Sox
The BoSox traded for Hanrahan and installed him at the back end of their bullpen, ahead of oft-injured Andrew Bailey and semi-fragile setup man Koji Uehara. It makes perfect sense: The bullpen has been an obvious weakness for a couple of years. The organization may have been uncomfortable with the prospect of again being dependent upon Bailey, whom they acquired from the Oakland Athletics in the previous offseason.
Not so fast: Hanrahan, 31, posted a 1.83 ERA in 2011 and a 2.72 ERA in 2012, but those results aren't part of trend like his unstable 5.43 BB/9 from last season. His 2.10 BB/9, along with a grounder rate of 50-plus percent, from the previous year looks more and more like the outlier. Hanrahan's new home park and competition are likelier to make him pay for his frequent mistakes. Unless John Farrell finds the magic elixir, other relievers are going to net saves in Boston, too. -NM
Fantasy baseball sleepers, undervalued: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP
Fantasy baseball busts, overvalued: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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