Fantasy Baseball Overrated and Underrated
Welcome back to RotoAce as we unveil our 2018 fantasy baseball projections and rankings. We will be updating these throughout spring training and the draft season, taking into account job battles, free-agent signings, trades and even changes of heart as we work to deliver the best and most updated list in the industry.
As you look over our position-by-position rankings, we’ll start by pointing out who we are finding to be misgauged by the experts. Here we are contrasting where players sit in FantasyPros’ expert consensus rankings compared to our rankings.
Later we will make this comparison based on average draft position, but this early in the game the ADPs haven’t been fleshed out enough and thus we find the experts consensus more informative.
So without further adieu, here are our picks for most overrated and underrated at each position with FantasyPros and our rankings in parentheses:
Overrated: Matt Wieters (FantasyPros #19, RotoAce #29) was so bad last year (.225 BA, .288 OBP, 10 HR, 465 PA) that the Nationals have been rumored to be going after the Marlins’ J.T. Realmuto, which would flatline the already shaky value of the 31-year-old switch hitter.
Underrated: Bruce Maxwell (FP #42, RA #26) is expected to be the A’s starter after posting some interesting numbers over the last two seasons at Triple-A (combined .310 BA with 12 HR in 85 games) and with Oakland (combined .251 BA, .331 OBP, 4 HR in 109 games). The patient backstop (11.0 BB% in MLB) could be a serviceable second catcher in a 12-team mixed league with some upside.
Overrated: Buster Posey (FP #12, RA #25) should only be drafted as a catcher – sure he qualifies at first base, but our ranking illustrates where he fits in as a first baseman. This is the position with the least discrepancy between our rankings, so we went with a technicality.
Underrated: Brandon Belt (FP #36, RA #22) was on his way to his best power season (18 HR in 104 games) when he was derailed by a concussion, so he could be a bargain as a late-round CI in mixed or a starter in NL-only.
Overrated: Eduardo Nunez (FP #18, RA #34) finally signed to return to Boston to serve as insurance against Dustin Pedroia coming back from knee surgery and Rafael Devers starting at third base as a 21-year-old, but the utilityman (also qualifies at SS, 3B and OF) is being treated like a starter by the experts instead of the cheap speed deep on the bench that he should be.
Underrated: Joe Panik (FP #43, RA #27) is perennially overlooked and undervalued in deep leagues as he hits for average, has some pop and is penciled into the leadoff spot in the Giants lineup.
Overrated: Marwin Gonzalez (FP #12, RA #22) is coming off a career season as the Astros super utilityman (.303 BA, 23 HR, 90 RBIs after previous career-highs of .279, 13, 51 in those categories) and could approach the 515 and 518 PAs of the past two seasons if he’s the everyday left fielder or injuries crop up in the Houston infield, but we’re not completely sold yet on the playing time or the performance.
Underrated: Jorge Polanco (FP #21, RA #13) enjoyed an under-the-radar breakout last season, especially in the second half (.293 BA, 10 HR, 7 SB in 257 PAs), and the Twins’ 24-year-old is poised to build from there while not costing much in drafts.
Overrated: Adrian Beltre (FP #10, RA #16) is just old enough (turns 39 in early April) and enough of an injury risk (two DL stints last season) to be better suited as a late-round CI instead of an elite starting 3B any more.
Underrated: Cheslor Cuthbert (FP #46, RA #24) is penciled in as the starter in Kansas City, replacing free agent Mike Moustakas, so his projected 16 HR in 572 PAs makes him a starter in AL-only and a deep sleeper for mixed while the experts have the 25-year-old as a mere afterthought.
Overrated: Adam Duvall (FP #33, RA #60) is being challenged for playing time in Cincinnati by rookie Jesse Winker and even if he holds onto a starting job, our projected line (.239 BA, 26 HR, 78 RBIs) makes him better suited to be a sixth OF in mixed leagues while experts are still being swayed by the 32 HR and 101 RBIs he has averaged over the last two seasons.
Underrated: Shin-Soo Choo (FP #55, RA #29) has always been better suited to OBP and points leagues, but we have him basically repeating last season’s stat-stuffing line of .261-96-22-78-12, which would make him a sold third OF in mixed leagues while the experts seem to be getting fooled by the lack of one standout category or the age of the 35-year-old in the fifth season of his seven-year, $130M contract with the Rangers.
Overrated: Cole Hamels (FP #47, RA #91) saw his strikeout rate plummet from 9.0 K/9 to 6.4 over the past two seasons and his once impeccable control has fallen off to a 3.2 BB/9, so unless there was an underlying health reason that has suddenly gotten better, the Rangers’ $144M lefty is being ranked on name value alone.
Underrated: Jeff Samardzija (FP #41, RP #24) put up some of the best peripherals around with an 8.9 K/9, 1.4 BB/9 and 3.60 xFIP in the best pitching park in MLB, yet he finished with just a 4.42 ERA, so he’s being overlooked as a likely top-25 starter.
Overrated: Wade Davis (FP #8, RA #18) already had some warning signs on him as his walk rate has gone from 2.7 to 3.3 to 4.3 BB/9 over the past three seasons while his average fastball has dropped 1.6 mph, and now he’s headed to the Rockies to deal with Coors Field – buyer beware!
Underrated: Brandon Morrow (FP #21, RA #7) was a revelation in the Dodgers’ bullpen last year as his average fastball shot up to 97.7 mph and now he has the closer job for a World Series contender in the Cubs, so he’s a threat to move all the way up to the top tier in Chicago.