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?
Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
H to the Rizzo, value to the no way?
It doesn't take long when watching him swing to envision his upside, which many claim rests at 40 homers. A 30-tater season is a more realistic 2013 goal.
In fairness, Kirk Gibson gives his guys the green on first base often, so swipes should pad his value. But Goldschmidt must continue dominating southpaws to keep a helpful batting average; his plate discipline peripherals say it's possible, but expect his contact rate to remain below-average, despite his cut in swinging strikes last year. Plus, if he doesn't run a ton, for whatever reason, the difference between him and others outside the position's top three dwindles.
His BA future is hardly bleak for someone with his power, but many will pay for his 2014 or '15 numbers a bit early in single-year formats. -TH
Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays
E5 owners enjoyed his legit, Jose Bautista-like breakthrough in 2012 because Toronto molded Encarnacion in Bautista's image, so to speak. Interested investors must consider the likelihood that Encarnacion, 30, won't duplicate his heroic efforts from last season, but most already do. Even the expenditure of a top-25 pick on him accounts for a little regression, automatically.
But does it account for a somewhat spotty health record? Does it factor in a mediocre BA profile? This isn't a generic pan of Encarnacion, just because he's coming off what's obviously a career year. I believe. You believe. A number of people believe. That's part of the problem. A great statistical season from a talented hitter wasn't a shock; it was just difficult to project. He's not without faults just because he finally put it all together, so instead of reaching, why not wait for a round or two? -NM
Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
Wrigley Field makes the 23-year-old forget PETCO Park, and his run-producing leash under Theo Epstein's rebuild remains long. The modifications that shortened his swing helped him produce more ropes. His opposite-field thump hints at more homers soon.
But how many in the immediate future? Left-handers still know his weaknesses, despite his overall steps forward in that split. Small-sample-size streaks rarely extrapolate into a full-season replication - the ups and downs of a young hitter don't get as much air time in stretches of 337 at-bats.
In mixed leagues, he's a fine option just outside the top 10 among first sackers - someone you wait on while building up elsewhere. But in a deceptively acceptable single-universe pool, there's a widespread feeling he's more valuable than some more experienced assets. Be careful. -TH
Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox
Back to 41 home runs - that's more like it. Dunn's rebound following a highly uncharacteristic 2011 (.159 batting average, 11 home runs and 42 RBIs in 496 plate appearances) has fantasy owners back on the bandwagon. Even if they're letting their legs hang off the back instead of crowding to the front of it. That .204 batting average was the only major negative.
So why didn't Dunn bring it back into the .240s? It's probably because of his
ugly uglier plate-discipline marks from the past three seasons. There are reasons why projection models aren't kind to his BA. Last year's home run total resulted in personal lifetime highs for the statistic in rates (per AB, per fly ball). When just a little regression hits there, it could hurt a lot, and his playing time may once again become vulnerable. -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 Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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