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3 Vastly Overvalued Hitters To Avoid In 2018

overvalued hitters
Photo Credit: Keith Allison

We all get a little ahead of ourselves from time to time – to get irrationally excited without just cause is to be human. Throw in some monetary stakes or bragging rights among friends; a seemingly endless list of players; and an expiring clock, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for irrational.

You’ve got a setting ripe to overvalue some players. Here are a few gentlemen I would suggest taking an extra second to consider on draft day…

3 Overvalued Hitters to Avoid

Gary Sanchez, C, NYY (NFBC ADP: 19.6)

Before you throw your laptop out the window in disgust, I’m not here to say that Gary Sanchez is bad. In fact, I’m not even here to say he shouldn’t be the consensus first catcher off the board. What am I here to discuss is where he’s being drafted and why that might be.

We are all aware that catcher is not exactly flush with top-end, consistent, offensive talent. That creates a buying vortex with the pull of your biggest black holes for those few catchers we can all safely use the “T-Word” when breaking down: “Trust”. Sanchez is trustworthy. Sanchez isn’t a good hitter positionally, he’s just straight up a good hitter.

Yet, a Top-20 pick on any catcher still feels a little risky and it also seems like a byproduct of his NFBC ADP specifically. This might seem simplistic to those in the know, but NFBC drafts have skyrocketed in their prominence over the last few years. The fact that FanGraphs now hosts NFBC draft info is huge. However, is every person looking at those average draft positions aware that NFBC leagues are of the two-catcher variety? Not for a second – and that bit of broken telephone is an important miscommunication.

Past the narrative, there are actually a few areas of concern with Sanchez’s game. To worry about the projected plate appearance totals of a catcher might seem like an exercise in futility, only four catchers even registered 500-plus PAs in 2017, but when you’re this far clear of the rest of the pack, its the little things that keep you there.

Last season, Sanchez started 18 games at DH. He had 75 plate appearances in those contests. While that might not seem like much, that group of games accounted for 14.3% of Sanchez’s total number of PAs – literally one of every seven. Considering the Yankees now employ two right fielders who could challenge for the home run title in Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, I would wager Sanchez’s name isn’t often scrawled into the DH-slot in the lineup card this coming campaign. That means more games behind the plate. That means more wear and tear on the body.

Sanchez also profiles like a “boom or bust” type player at the plate. Among guys with 500-plus PAs last year, Sanchez was one of 12 to post a double-digit infield fly ball rate with at least a 12% swinging strike rate – putting him with not-so-surprising names like Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor, Trevor Story, Mark Reynolds, and Byron Buxton. Now, it’s not like this is the kiss of death or anything. Many of the aforementioned are solid fantasy contributors and the group also includes Stanton – proving some are just talented enough to overcome any flaw. Honestly, Sanchez might be that good, but its an inefficient and inconsistent batted ball profile nonetheless.

Again, I’m not disputing that Gary Sanchez is the best catcher available in fantasy baseball in 2018. His power and counting stat potential in that lineup in that ballpark is overwhelming. However, if someone is willing to jump up into the second round in a one-catcher league to take the 25-year-old, sit back and recalibrate your plan of attack at the position.

Domingo Santana, OF, MIL (NFBC ADP: 91.1)

I’ve already written about the reasons I don’t love Domingo Santana this season. I highly recommend you go back and read it, its truly riveting stuff from one of the best fantasy minds in the business. …Anyway, that was February 8th. Five whole weeks ago. Back then, aside from the BABIP concerns and the HR/FB ratio concerns, I was mainly hung up on the fact that Santana would be traded and that leaving Miller Park is rarely a good thing. Flashback to the present and Santana is still a member of the Brewers. So what does that mean?

Well, from first glance we can already see that Santana’s NFBC ADP has fallen roughly 15 spots in that time frame – not a small feat by any means and one probably not necessitated by Santana striking out in 17 of his first 30 spring at-bats. No, this is still all about playing time and the fact we have almost no assurances as to where and how much Santana will play.

Ryan Braun, who has been splitting time in camp in both left field and first base, admitted recently that he’s “not remotely comfortable” playing first as of yet. That would be quite the knock on what most view as the most straightforward solution to this glut of capable OFs: move Braun to 1B and play Santana, Lorenzo Cain, and Christian Yelich in the outfield.

There’s also the thought that Braun will just get hurt anyway. This might actually be the most realistic argument, as Braun hasn’t had 600-plus plate appearances since 2012 – when he was 28 years-old, but that’s still quite the leap of faith when taking a player with one of your first six or seven selections.

Oddly enough, Santana is not the only high-strikeout, big-power outfielder currently being blocked for playing time by an injury-prone incumbent in the National League. You know who could also hit 30 home runs despite their low fly ball profile if given the opportunity? Yasmany Tomas. All he needs is an A.J. Pollock injury (not hard to imagine) and all of a sudden he’s got every day PAs in Arizona. His current ADP is well past pick 300. Why not just take him if you’re so set on mining for upside? Its obviously a more complex situation, but at least Tomas is basically free.

I do see the potential in Domingo Santana and I can understand that the opportunity for a five-category player is one we all have to at least consider. However, this is 2018, not 1997. Unless Milwaukee somehow re-inherits the ability to run out a DH every night, I just don’t see myself getting any shares of Santana this coming season. Even with the recent price drop, he’s still overvalued.

Avisail Garcia, OF, CWS (NFBC ADP: 199.6)

It’s easy to pinpoint Avisail Garcia as a regression candidate heading into 2018. Garcia had a .392 BABIP last season, a full 21 points clear of Charlie Blackmon for the highest mark in the league and the first time a qualified player had posted a figure above .390 since 2013. This particular case for normalization is troubling for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, it was so statistically outlandish, that the drop off will be more than just a little steep. Secondly, and most worrisome, when stripped of the .330 batting average, there’s not much left to like about Garcia’s 2017 season – a year that saw him finish as the 61st most valuable player overall in 5×5 formats.

In the two years leading up to 2017, Garcia, over the course of 1,054 plate appearances, hit .254 aided by a .315 BABIP. That’s pretty pedestrian, to say the least. Its also, more or less, my expectation for him going forward. Yes, Garcia does have the advantage of profiling like a player who could hit for a high average based on ground ball rate alone. With a career 25.8% groundball percentage, Garcia finds himself well inside the lowest 30 active groundball rates, a list that has only three members with a career BABIP below .300, but, unfortunately, that’s not the only “elite” company Garcia keeps.

The 26-year-old outfielder also sits among the Top-5 active players in both outside the zone swing rate and swinging strike rate – equating to an extra aggressive player who comes up empty more often than not. Not exactly the tendencies we’re used to seeing from a guy who, again, is expected to derive most of his Fantasy value from batting average.

Case and point, of the 25 qualified players to hit over .300 last season, only six did so with a SwStr% in the double-digits: Marcell Ozuna, Freddie Freeman, Nolan Arenado, Ryan Zimmerman, Jose Abreu, and Garcia. None of the other five had a rate above 13% (Garcia’s was at 16.3%) and they combined to average a home run once every 16.4 at-bats. Garcia, with his extreme groundball tendencies, clocked in at one for every 28.8. So, you know, not a lot of power to fall back on if and when (definitely when) the batting average well dries up.

Plus, in terms of the other counting stats, Chicago’s 2018 lineup isn’t quite a desired destination. Garcia managed 80 RBI on a team that ranked 23rd overall in runs scored the past season, yet FanGraphs doesn’t have them getting any better – with only Tampa Bay projected to score fewer runs per game. Now, this shouldn’t be an issue if Garcia can carry over his .435 BABIP with runners on base, but I’d like to believe that number, along with many from 2017, is just a baffling aberration.

It might seem rational that around the 200th pick, some chances can start being taken – especially with a player coming off a .330 season, but I’m here to dispel that notion. Avisail Garcia is a flawed player, with a flawed approach, hitting in a flawed lineup. There are still far more useful players to be had at that point in drafts.

 

Garion Thorne
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Garion Thorne

Garion Thorne grew up in Toronto in the mid-2000s as a Jays, Raptors, Dolphins fan, so you know the only championships he cares about are of the Fantasy persuasion. Garion was a Host/Senior Analyst at the FNTSY Sports Network, most of the time taking a specific focus on Fantasy Baseball and deep baseball analytics. You might have also stumbled across his work for the New York Daily News, the Associated Press, USA Today's HoopsHype, or NBA.com. Garion keeps a FanGraphs tab open in his browser at all times and he has never seen a bunt he agreed with.
Garion Thorne
Follow Me!

Garion Thorne grew up in Toronto in the mid-2000s as a Jays, Raptors, Dolphins fan, so you know the only championships he cares about are of the Fantasy persuasion. Garion was a Host/Senior Analyst at the FNTSY Sports Network, most of the time taking a specific focus on Fantasy Baseball and deep baseball analytics. You might have also stumbled across his work for the New York Daily News, the Associated Press, USA Today's HoopsHype, or NBA.com. Garion keeps a FanGraphs tab open in his browser at all times and he has never seen a bunt he agreed with.

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