While we were all preparing for the 2013 fantasy baseball season, I did a lot of work examining ADP rankings and many of the trends that were developing in both mock and real drafts right up until Opening Day. What I noticed was that a number of players who were receiving a lot of sleeper hype from the fantasy experts were climbing up draft boards at a fairly rapid rate and were, in my opinion, losing a lot of their value due to the unexpected increase in price you were paying for their services. They were the guys most of us coveted somewhere around the 18th round but were suddenly going as high as the eighth or ninth because the players went from unknown sleeper to mainstream selection. I called them the trendy picks and it’s now time to check in with some of them and see how their respective seasons are going.
Josh Rutledge, 2B/SS COL – It was his demotion to Triple-A on Wednesday that inspired this article actually which tells you exactly where he is at on the fantasy scale these days. Given the starting second base gig after a sweet half-year covering shortstop for the injured Troy Tulowitzki in 2012, Rutledge was supposed to be a solid source of both power and average in the middle infield. From a fantasy perspective, his numbers weren’t completely awful and he was actually on pace for a 15-15 season as many predicted. But a .298 OBP and defensive lapses in the field outweighed the positives for former infielder and current manager Walt Weiss and Rutledge is now humping it in the bus leagues trying to work his issues out.
Allen Craig, 1B STL – After a few injury-plagued seasons and part-time roles, this was the year Craig was supposed to break out. He was handed the full-time job at first base and was touted as having 30-home run power with the potential to bat .300 for the season. Despite a lack of a proven track record and an injury history longer than my…arm, Craig was going as high as the fifth round. I scoffed at those making that pick. Today, Craig is actually batting .304 thanks to a red-hot May, but while he has 32 RBI, putting him on pace for 112 this season, he has just two home runs which puts him on pace for….seven. Yes, seven home runs. If my fifth round pick finished the year with seven home runs, he either should have 40-plus stolen bases to go with them or have 15 wins and a 3.00 ERA.
Marco Estrada, SP MIL – With a 2012 strikeout rate of 25.4 percent that had been on the rise for a couple of seasons, Estrada was being touted as an outstanding late-round pick who would give you a significant boost in Ks for a fairly low cost. But once his name started circulating in fantasy magazines and radio shows, he climbed as high as the 12th round in a number of leagues. Today, he’s sitting on a 5.44 ERA with a 20.4-percent strikeout rate and peripherals that don’t exactly scream turnaround. While he’s performed admirably at times, consistency has not been his strong suit.
Salvador Perez, C KC – A backstop with a high contact rate who is capable of hitting for average, Perez enjoyed a fantastic half-season in 2012 that saw him not only hit for average, but for power too. He was probably a solid pick in the middle rounds of your draft, but once a few sleeper articles were published, he was being treated like a top-10 catcher in most drafts. Though his OBP could stand to see an increase, Perez is currently batting .308 which is right on target. However, he also has just one home run this year and because of such a slow start, has spent most of his time batting eighth in the lineup which has left him with just 14 RBI on the year. Maybe if that was my second catcher from the 20th round, but as an eighth round, number one guy? Hardly. Oh yeah, and a bum hip can’t be helping either.
And do I even need to talk about where Jurickson Profar, Billy Hamilton and Adam Eaton are right now? Sure Profar is up in the bigs but that’s a temporary fix for now. He’s headed back down once Ian Kinsler returns.
So what’s the lesson learned? Don’t listen to the experts? No. Listen to them. But really listen to them. If they tell you someone is a late-round sleeper, don’t get so anxious that you start reaching too high for them. Let them fall to where they should go. If someone else wants to make the mistake of reaching, let them and don’t sweat it. You probably landed the better player in that round anyway and their selection has now also let some other well-proven talent drop down the board. If you luck out and grab him too, then you’re way ahead of the game.
Now let’s take a quick look at some of Wednesday’s highlights…
Fantasy Beast of the Day
|Cliff Lee, PHI||9.0||0||3||0||0||2||5||0.00||0.56|
|Jose Bautista, OF TOR||4-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, SB|
Yup, that’s right….co-beasts! I just couldn’t decide what was better to have right now – a big power day from Jose Bautista or a complete-game shutout victory from Cliff Lee. Both tasty treats, if I may say so. Like with many of the other superstars in the game, there isn’t much to say here as both are must-starts in all formats. We hope you’re enjoying the ride.
|Chris Davis, 1B BAL||4-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI|
|Joey Votto, 1B CIN||2-3, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB|
|Curtis Granderson, OF NYY||3-3, 2 R, 2B, HR, RBI, BB|
|Francisco Liriano, SP PIT||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP, 7 K|
|C.J. Wilson, SP LAA||W, 1.13 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 10 K|
It’s nice when I don’t have to detail too much about the top performers. It means everyone is doing the job they’re supposed to be doing and there aren’t as many flukes happening all around MLB as there usually can be. The hitters are all must-starts, C.J. Wilson seems to have gotten back on-track with his second consecutive outstanding start, and Francisco Liriano continues to impress in his return from injury. They all deserve a little fantasy hug from you.
|Anthony Rizzo, 1B CHC||0-4, 3 K|
|Jason Kipnis, 2B CLE||0-5, 3 K|
|Justin Smoak, 1B SEA||0-4, 3 K|
|Hiroki Kuroda, SP NYY||L, 22.50 ERA, 4.00 WHIP|
|Fernando Rodney, RP TB||BS, 27.00 ERA, 6.00 WHIP|
Down here, it might not be so simple. Both Anthony Rizzo and Jason Kipnis will have days like this which you should simply shrug off, but Justin Smoak has gone right back down the crapper after playing the best five games of his season…possibly even his career. Hiroki Kuroda never got a chance to fix his totals as a calf injury knocked him out after just two innings only to watch the bullpen allow the inherited runners to score. He is questionable for his next start. Meanwhile if you’re a Fernando Rodney owner, you can go check in with Ray Flowers for the “I told you so.”
Sean Marshall, RP CIN – shoulder (day to day)
Rafael Betancourt, RP COL – groin (day to day – clean MRI; no DL necessary)
Ronny Cedeno, SS HOU – illness (day to day)
Matt Dominguez, 3B HOU – quadriceps (day to day)
Bud Norris, SP HOU – back (day to day)
Salvador Perez, C KC – hip (day to day)
Luis Cruz, 3B LAD – elbow (day to day)
Kevin Slowey, SP MIA – lat (day to day)
Kyle Lohse, SP MIL – elbow (out for May 25th start)
Trevor Plouffe, 3B MIN – concussion (7-day DL)
Hiroki Kuroda, SP NYY – calf (day to day)
Chris Stewart, C NYY – groin (day to day)
Jed Lowrie, SS OAK – foot (day to day)
Carlos Quentin, OF SD – knee (day to day)
David Freese, 3B STL – thumb (day to day)
Jaime Garcia, SP STL – shoulder (likely out for season)
Matt Joyce, OF TB – hamstring (day to day)
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. You can find his personal musings on RotobuzzGuy.com and for questions, thoughts or comments, you can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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