So far this preseason we have taken a look at various “angle-shooting” methods, including the PPOBY (Proven Player Off a Bad Year) and the Brad Radke Rule.
These ideas are not meant to substitute for a complete analysis; full analysis is always better. However, as we often discuss, there are always big limitations in the analytical process and most fantasy owners do not recognize just how large these limitations are. Discussing these limitations is a topic for another day. The point we are making is that these “angle-shooting” rules can often be a scale-tipper when it comes to comparing two players after a full analysis. It is often said in the roto industry that once a player shows a skill they own it and it can resurface at any time. This is true in theory and there are quite a few examples, but this next “angle” begs to differ.
While these so-called skills may resurface at any time, fantasy GMs should look at them as “outliers” that are not only unlikely to be repeated, but end up overrating that player. The hope of regaining past glory is what causes players to be overrated and colors the perception that they are better than they really are.
As the great Frankie Frisch said “Once you have a good year you get five more from people hoping you will repeat it.” That is the ethos behind the “Overrated Outlier Angle” and here are some examples among hitters:
Jose Bautista — He is the epitome of this angle. After his 43 HR .302 BA season ins 2011 he was a clear first-rounder, but there were two outliers that said his BA was suspect. His BABIP that year was almost 30 points higher than it had ever been and his BB/K ratio was a robust 1.19, but he had never walked more than he had struck out before. The next two years brought disappointment and ruin to his owners.
Matt Carpenter – Carpenter is going to be overrated this year. He has logged almost 900 AB with a BABIP in the .360 range. Some may think that his line drive percentage of almost 26% supports a potential continuation of the high BABIP. Don’t bet on it. This is a guy who had a .723 OPS at AA at age 26.
Nelson Cruz – It is no wonder he has had difficulty landing a big contract. He is a below average, old OF who is consistently overrated by roto players. Now age 34, his one really big season was based on a .350 BABIP in 2010. Owners are still waiting for him to rebound, and they will continue to wait. He is a .260 hitter that roto owners keep hoping will be a .290 hitter.
Josh Donaldson – If you draft Donaldson you deserve what you get, be it another good year or, as this fantasy baseball analyst thinks, a terrible, soul-sucking season that bobsleds your team to fifth place. Donaldson struggled to get his BABIP in the .280 range for most of his career. Last year he got into the.340 range. Let’s not forget he hit .199 at AAA in 444 AB in 2011.
Dexter Fowler — Ah the siren-like allure of the power-speed-average triple threat. Fantasy owners better tie themselves to the mast when Fowler’s name comes up. Fowler hit .300 in 2012 while putting up a BABIP close to .400. Like Cruz, he is a .260 hitter at best. Fowler has the double whammy of a 27 SB season in 2009, leading people to think he is a bigger SB threat than he really is.
Adrian Gonzalez – Circle yours truly as falling into his trap. Gonzalez hit 40 HR in San Diego in 2009. 40 homers in San Diego was almost a super-human feat that led many to think he might hit 50 when he went to Boston. Gonzalez is a good player, but even 30 HR is a huge stretch at this point and at age 32 it is all downhill from here.
Jose Reyes – Another trap that this writer fell into. Reyes put up a .337 BA in 2011, and given his speed, health and BB/K ratio he looked like a perennial BA Title contender. Again, one BABIP outlier tells the whole story. He is overrated, but still very good…if he’s in one piece
Chase Headley – 31 HR is not happening ever again.
Ryan Howard – Check out his last two years. He is undraftable.
Chris Johnson – Another .400 BABIP guy.
Desmond Jennings – He hasn’t been great since AA.
Brett Lawrie – His entire reputation is one hot streak.
Evan Longoria – First round dreams, seventh round production.
Hanley Ramirez — You don’t believe it? 2011 and 2012 are much more likely than his BABIP aided 2013.