The GNUru realizes that just about every fantasy sports publication has some magic formula to predict this year’s crop of breakout players. For some it’s the 27-year old benchmark, 3rd year of MLB experience, or even the number of games played or innings pitched. At first glance these ‘trends’ may appear to hold some weight, however, many of the players that fall within those categories, fail miserably. While there are always a handful of players that do break out and fill their fantasy team owner with glutinous pride, the majority of players become prime candidates for the plague known as Sexy Pick Syndrome (SPS). So what’s to make of all the hype? Nothing. Predicting a pitcher’s success has little to do with arbitrary age class or magic innings pitched. It is all about talent. Talent includes both stuff (the ability to make hitters look silly at times) and guile (the pitchers craftiness). As such, the GNUru will attempt to breakdown the fantasy baseball hype machine in a 2 part series of both pitching and hitting breakout trends. Today, the GNUru will take a look at pitching trends and how it will affect player values this spring. First let’s have a look at last years cream of the breakout crop: Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Erik Bedard, and Aaron Cook. While those pitchers had respectable seasons, their success is not enough to compensate the major whiffs- Noah Lowry, Rich Harden, Jorge Sosa, Daniel Cabrera, and Zach Greinke. In fact, if you targeted 3rd year pitchers, you success rate is no different than if you ignored MLB service time all together. The GNUru is not going to claim the ability to predict who will breakout and who won’t (no one should), but knowing how players are valued (relative to draft position) among other owners can help you put together a winning combination. So without further adieu, here is the GNUru’s Top 10 over-hyped breakout candidate pitchers heading into the 2007 season.
1. Felix Hernandez, 20, Mariners
King Felix was probably the most hyped young pitcher since Mark Prior. While his stuff is certainly promising, many owners are still suffering from over-valuing the young pitcher last year. That means many owners will be trying to redeem themselves by sticking with King Felix in the hopes that he will figure it all out and prove them right. The GNUru will gladly take Felix as a 3rd or 4th starting pitching but let the other owners in the league make the heavy investment.
2. Scott Kazmir, 23, Devil Rays
Kazmir normally wouldn’t fall on this list as the GNUru is a believer in his ability but Kaz is getting almost too much attention. KLaz is being drafted as a #1 starter when he should ideally be a #2 or #3 on a good team. No one should have a #1 starter from a bad team like the Devil Rays.
3. Ervin Santana, 24, Angels
Mr. Santana always seems to be a sexy pick despite having no relation to Johan. Santana should not be expected to produce at a top of a fantasy rotation level. He makes a great 4th or 5th starter but don’t duke it out with fellow owners and invest too heavily in him.
4. Chien-Ming Wang, 27, Yankees
One can argue that Wang is more under-valued than over-valued but that just means he becomes a sexier pick and thus is over-valued. Is your head spinning yet? Wang is a nice 3rd or 4th starter and should not be drafted any higher as his scoring is driven by wins alone.
5. Chris R. Young, 27, Padres
Young is another guy you can potentially get on the cheap come draft day However, the fantasy veterans all have him pegged as a sexy pick and many will end up overpaying for his services. Young is dependable and reliable but he is still a back of the fantasy rotation guy.
6. Jeff Francis, 26, Rockies
Francis had a pretty darn good year for a Rockies pitcher. But keep in mind the fate of the humidor is still in question. If the humidor is gone, so too is Francis’s value. Don’t over think yourself on Jeff, avoiding Rockies pitchers is never bad advice.
7. Dave Bush, 27, Brewers
Although Mr. Bush was more of a sleeper pick last year, those that paid a hefty price for him last year will be clamoring to be proved they were right all along. Bush will make a nice 5th starter and should be drafted accordingly.
8. Joe Blanton, 26, Athletics
Ok, so the GNUru really likes Blanton but keep in mind the GNUru is known to occasionally suffer from sexy pick syndrome. Blanton was a hot pick a few years back and has fallen under the radar of many. So go ahead and target Blanton if you can get him on the cheap… the key is to stay within your slotted budget.
9. Zach Duke, 23, Pirates
Zach Duke is a poor man’s Scott Kazmir. Both are extremely talent but play on bad teams. These situations leave little margin for error. While Duke’s upside is worth some risk, he can’t be relied upon to anchor a staff.
10. Gustavo Chacin, 26, Blue Jays
Many are predicting big things for the Blue Jays this year and Chacin seems to be getting quite a bit of attention as a result. However, Chacin is no more than a 5th starter in a mixed league.
Honarable Mention: Phil Hughes, John Lackey, Rich Hill,
As the GNUru has stated in previous articles, the most important thing heading into any draft is recognizing the difference in perceived value vs. actual value. Picking a breakout player from a lineup does you no good if you draft him at the level he performs. Kudos to you if you can draft a player at the level they actually perform though that will not necessarily put you in a position to win but what happens to the players that don’t pan out? If you end up missing on a few breakout picks your screwed! To win the ultimate prize you will need to get players who outperform their draft position. Taking caution in overpaying for this years crop of sexy picks and a well thought out draft strategy will swing the advantage your way.
Comment by GUEST on 2007-03-16 09:56:04
How are Kazmir and Wang still consdiered breakout candidates?
Comment by garygnus on 2007-03-16 10:00:05
Look at all the Fantasy Baseball publications....ESPN, FOX, Yahoo, and CBS Sportsline all have them listed as Top 2007 Breakouts, age 27 breakouts, 3rd year breakout etc. They make my list because they are potentially being overvalued based on these ill conceived notions.
Comment by GUEST on 2007-03-16 13:30:17
So who would you place above a Kazmir and Wang in terms of fantasy value if they are such bad picks?
Comment by garygnus on 2007-03-16 13:47:50
They aren't bad picks, they are just being over valued. Many drafts have Kaz and Wang going ahead of more established guys like Smoltz and Mussina.
Comment by GUEST on 2007-03-17 20:50:49
How is Felix overrated? Maybe last year but he is slipping big time!
Comment by GUEST on 2007-03-17 20:51:53
Joe Blanton?? Who is giving him any credit?