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Early Look at Overachievers and Sleepers in Fantasy Baseball


By Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Okay, so here we are strolling into the middle of Week 3 of the fantasy season and most everyday players are at least 50 at-bats into their season. Right about now is when we start wondering if we wasted early picks on duds, if our reaches were the byproduct of over-exuberant man-crushes, or if our late-round sleepers were simply ingenious.

I am going to profile some players who are either outproducing their ADP or failing to live up to it,  and occasionally, I'll compare one player with a high ADP to a cheaper alternative who is producing similarly or at a higher level currently. I will also provide a prediction as to whether or not the profiled player's current production will continue for better or worse, or if instead he'll regress back to career norms.

 

Playing with House Money: 2 ADP Overachievers

 

Angel Pagan, SF - OF

2014 ADP: 231

Current Rank: 42  

From 2010 -2012 between the Mets and Giants, Pagan swiped 98 bases, averaging 32.6 SB per season over that three-year span. A hamstring injury put a big damper on Pagan's 2013 campaign, during which he totaled a mere nine steals over 71 games. Now healthy, Pagan has come out of the gates scorching hot, hitting .383 with 10 RBI and 2 SB. More interesting tidbits on Pagan: his average with men on base is over .400, and even better yet, his average with RISP jumps up close to .450. Some caveats, though: he is slightly injury prone and is now 32 years of age.

Prediction: He will obviously come down to Earth, as his near .400 BA is not sustainable, however his K% and BB% are currently on par with career averages. He could easily surpass his 2014 ADP and be a great value pick if he can swipe 30+ bases leading off for the Gigantes.

 

Charlie Blackmon, COL - OF

2014 ADP: 363 

Current Rank: 17

Widely undrafted coming into 2014 due to a crowded Colorado outfield coming out of spring training, the 27-year-old Blackmon has started the season sporting a whopping .442 average with a homer, 9 RBI and 4 SB. After surprisingly amassing 258 plate appearances in 2013, during which he hit .309 with 6 bombs and 7 SB, Blackmon has separated himself from his centerfield platoon mates. Possessing minimal power with plus speed, Blackmon profiles as a poor man's Adam Eaton.

Prediction: Blackmon is playing over his head, however with nearly everyday at-bats, he has a chance to showcase his 15/15 power speed combo. His walk rate and strikeout rate both sit at 4% currently, and the BA is not sustainable. If he continues to see at-bats, though, he very well could be a valuable #4 or #5 OF in deep roto leagues.

 

You're killin me Smalls! Two ADP Underachievers, AKA Buy Lows, AKA Sleepers

 

Edwin Encarnacion, 3B - TOR

2014 ADP: 14

Current Rank: 762

E5 has been one of the top run producers in baseball since 2010, averaging 39 homers and and 107 RBI over the two-year span. Unfortunately, owners who spent a second-round pick on the slugger have been given little to show for their investment thus far. Encarnacion is currently sporting a .241 BA with a goose egg in the home run column and a dainty 3 RBI through 50 at bats. A wrist injury coming into 2014 may be partially to blame for his underwhelming start, and owners have to be concerned. He's striking out over 21.8% of the time, which is certainly worrisome, but his .120 ISO is bound to come up to around .200 where it belongs.

Prediction: The power will come for E5. His average is never a strong point, but you can bank on a rebound. Heck, if frustrated owners are willing to deal him on the cheap, you should jump all over it.

 

By Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsHomer Bailey, CIN - SP

2014 ADP: 102

Current Rank: 1228 ouch!

There's not much to say about Homer Bailey, except that he's living up to his first name in the early going. His HR/FB rate is sitting at a ridiculous 60.0%. Yeah, that's not made up. Some home run derby pitchers have posted better numbers. Of the 10 fly balls he's given up, 6 have left the yard. There is quite possibly a simple explanation to his early struggles. He got a late start in spring training and his out pitch, the curveball, is getting slaughtered. Professional hitters will exploit the weaknesses of a pitcher who is a few weeks behind. Through 14.1 IP, Bailey's ERA is enormous at 8.16 and his WHIP sits north of 2.0, but his K% is promisingly up at 10.67%.

Prediction: Bailey will find his groove and revert back to being a top performing starter. The only question is how long will owners have to wait? I would advise keeping him in your lineup, because he could flip the switch at any time. Once he finds the handle on his off-speed offerings, he will once again be a roto beast. Send offers to his owner and hope he or she has a moment of weakness.

 

Look what I can do! Cheap Copycats

 

Jose Abreu, CHW - 1B

ADP: 101

Current stats: ..217/..324/.500, 4 HR, 14 RBI

Abreu was a shot in the dark on draft day but he is outproducing the likes of Chris Davis, Prince Fielder, Joey Votto and aforementioned Edwin Encarnacion. If you were the owner who took the plunge and put fantasy dollars down on this Cuban crusher you are one happy hombre. He looks like a slugger primed to power up in his rookie campaign and his BA should rise in no time.

 

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