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January 24, 2014 posted by Patrick DiCaprio

2014 Fantasy Baseball Overrated Outlier Angle: Pitcher Edition

2014 Fantasy Baseball Overrated Outlier Angle: Pitcher Edition
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Last week we looked at hitters that are overrated based on one outlier year that fantasy owners cannot help but expect to be repeated. This week we turn our attention to pitchers.

Clay Buchholz – Buchholz clearly qualifies as overrated, but his inclusion here is questionable since it is not clear how the market will evaluate him. Fantasy GMs should better be safe than sorry, so he’s include anyway. It is very tempting to conclude that last years K/9 jump represents an improvement in skills, but he appears to be  due for a big fall given his expected metrics and the gaudy W-L record. In fact, his is a double whammy; this is the second time he has vastly out-pitched his skill level. He had a 2.33 ERA in 2010 and a 1.74 mark last year. The chances he makes it three are zero. Toss in health problems and he should be a prime name to throw out there early in your auction.

Trevor Cahill – After a stellar 18-8 2.97 season in 2010, Cahill looked like a possible ace. It wasn’t that long ago that Oakland considered him and Brett Anderson as equals and Cahill hoped to be Anderson with better health, but what we have here is a mediocre pitcher with a very consistent skill set, albeit a below average skill set. He’s an innings eater who will get drafted in many leagues, but he is a $2 pitcher in an NL-only league and that’s all he is.

Gio Gonzalez – Now we start to get into some meat here. He also showed up on my PPOBY list as a Proven Player Off A Bad Year, but is he? A look at his expected ERAs shows that he is a 3.60-3.80 ERA pitcher; not exactly fantasy gold in the current context and his dollar values generated the last four years are $15, $16, $28, $12. 2012’s 21 wins and a 2.89 ERA will add $5 to his 2014 auction price, but it isn’t happening again.

Zack Greinke – Hooboy. Now we are going to take some heat. Greinke is one of the more overrated roto commodities out there. He was a Cy Young guy; now he is a nice $15 guy who keeps getting drafted as an ace when he is not. Last year’s ERA was almost a run better than expected and his skill level over the past four years is a) consistent and b) says he is a mid 3’s ERA guy. Good luck getting him at the price he deserves.

Ubaldo Jimenez – Like Buchholz, Jimenez is overrated but the market may come close to valuing him correctly and we include him for completeness. Can you sense a theme here? Most of these guys have consistent skill sets and have a huge year because of nothing more than randomness. Since fantasy players simply cannot believe that things happen without explanation, they doctor up reasons to explain the results. Case in point: last year’s second half has many believing that Jimenez might revert to his 2010 form. Don’t believe it.

Max Scherzer – Get ready for five years of overrating Scherzer. Good pitcher? Check. $30 pitcher? Worth a 3-5 round pick? Not in my book. How many times do we have to see this story before we believe it? Look for 15 wins and a mid-3’s ERA while his owners flush extra money down the toilet.

Justin Verlander – Yes, he is overrated. Yes, he may also be a PPOBY. All we know for sure is that his skill set is very consistent and that last year’s so-called bad year is almost exactly what should be expected, wins aside. Verlander will keep being drafted among the top five pitchers, but his great two-year run was a fluke, just a longer one than normal. Fantasy GMs should target Cole Hamels instead.

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