I absolutely love it when prospects get called up. LOVE IT. There’s nothing more exciting than infinite possibility. It’s what makes the first day of the regular season so special, and the first day of the playoffs, and, I dunno, it helped make Star Wars pretty cool.
It can also make your fantasy teams complete disasters.
I’m as guilty of it as anyone — oftentimes I’ll run a team of highly-touted prospects out there when creating a fantasy squad, and when they invariably take their lumps, I cringe, see my team fall in the standings, and really wish I had drafted Aramis Ramirez instead of, say, Brett Lawrie last year.
While daily baseball is different, it’s not that different. Not only can rookie performances be volatile from game to game, their playing time is never a sure thing with managers who sometimes favor veteran players over a team’s new additions. And despite all the tools in the world, sometimes it takes a hitter a while to figure things out … just look at Domonic Brown. While Brown was a highly-touted prospect for years, he didn’t really emerge until this season. In both 2011 and 2012 I was burned badly in fantasy by betting on Brown cracking the Philles’ lineup … and even when he did play he didn’t impress much.
This season, more than a few hitters who look like they should be in great situations are still struggling. Nolan Arenado of the Rockies has the benefit of hitting in Coors Field, but still is posting a .221 batting average and a .277 wOBA. Aaron Hicks was predicted by many to be a Rookie of the Year candidate, and a fantasy factor with his speed, and he’s having a terrible start to the year, and only 4 stolen bases. And the less we talk about Marlins “shortstop of the future” Adeiny Hechavarria, he of the 42 wRC+, the better.
While pitchers can be very different (as seeing a hurler for the first time can seriously mess with some hitters), they’re not immune to cratering early despite massive hype. Just this season, look at Kevin Gausman, Trevor Bauer and Brandon Maurer. If you would’ve told me that they’d fail as rookies while Justin Grimm and Nick Tepesch thrive, I’d have looked at you very funny.
If I could leave you with just one thing, at the end of this part of the article, it’s this: don’t rely on rookies too much. Messrs. Harper and Trout and Machado notwithstanding, they are more than likely to disappoint you and your lofty expectations. Remember that hype is sometimes just that.
The Daily Five
Yasiel Puig – $6,522
So yeah, remember all that stuff I just said? It’s not that it doesn’t apply to the Dodgers’ Cuban import — it’s just that there are other factors that are more important. Like Puig’s low cost today. And the fact that he’s facing a lefty (at home) in Clayton Richard. And the fact that Richard has been basically the worst pitcher in baseball this season. And the fact that while Puig swings a ton, Richard doesn’t have swing-and-miss stuff … which means that he has swing-and-hit stuff. Buy today. Manage expectations for Puig on the season, but buy for today.
Felix Hernandez – $18,911
A pitcher posting the highest K% (26.6%) and lowest BB% (4.9%) of his career usually puts fantasy owners on fluke watch, but we’re talking about the King of Seattle here. And we’re talking about the woeful White Sox offense. The price is worth it. Now would be a great time to imagine (or watch) John Malkovich saying “Pay that man his money” in a terrible faux-Russian accent.
Michael Wacha – $11,712
This is a lot to pay for a guy making his second major-league start, but I have a good feeling about Wacha. He gets the benefit of pitching at home, he gets the platoon advantage against the opposing team’s best hitter (right-handed hitting Paul Goldschmidt), and Arizona overall is a below-league-average team in terms of hitting (95 wRC+). Honestly, a lot of the other pitching options today look like worse gambles, including his opposite number in this game, talented lefty Tyler Skaggs.
Kyle Seager – $6,639
The Mariners’ third baseman hasn’t exactly been hitting the cover off the ball recently, but he has reached base in each of his last nine games. Facing Jake Peavy, who hasn’t exactly been stellar over his last three games, at home, makes Seager an interesting low-cost option today.
Ike Davis – $3,491
Sometimes, if you spend big on other areas on your team, you need to take a hit somewhere to defray your costs. Davis has hit well enough in his last four games (5-for-15), and homered on Sunday. He might not kill you, even against Jordan Zimmerman today, and you can spend your money elsewhere.
One Day FREE Fantasy Contest – $300 in cash prizes
Daily Fantasy is easy — you pick a lineup that’s good for one night only, and then you’re eligible to win cash. FanGraphs readers are hereby invited to enter a FREE one-day fantasy league with $300 in prizes.
This free contest will be Pick ‘em style drafting. The way Pick ‘Em leagues work is you have eight tiers of players and each tier will have players to choose from. You select one player from each tier. Nothing to lose and it takes five minutes to build a team. You can adjust your roster up until the contest starts on this Friday, at which time your rosters will lock and the Live Scoreboard will be available.
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