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Fantasy owners often face tough choices when it comes to starting pitching.
While there are clear-cut aces usually taken toward the top of drafts, the need for impact arms in the rotation can sometimes lead to forced decisions.
Relief pitchers are often more volatile in terms of year-over-year statistical fluctuation. Yet plenty of owners like to take a chance on pitchers they feel might be in line for a bounce-back season, or make their selections based on “stuff.”
For example, Zack Greinke has been of the most consistently effective starting pitchers in baseball over the course of the past three years. Despite that, Greinke ranks below the likes of Aaron Nola and Blake Snell in terms of average draft position (ADP), per Fantasy Pros.
Let’s take a look at the most overrated pitchers in fantasy baseball based on ADP, starting with Cincinnati Reds right-hander Trevor Bauer.
Ranking Most Overrated Pitchers Based on ADP
1. Trevor Bauer, Cincinnati Reds (Pos. ADP 22, Ovr. ADP 78)
2. Jesus Luzardo, Oakland Athletics (Pos. ADP 29, Ovr. ADP 113)
3. Dinelson Lamet, San Diego Padres (Pos. ADP 33, Ovr. ADP 122)
4. Tyler Glasnow, Tampa Bay Rays (Pos. ADP 20, Ovr. ADP 67)
5. Luis Castillo, Cincinnati Reds (Pos. ADP 13, Ovr. ADP 43)
6. Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians (Pos. ADP 35, Ovr. ADP 125)
7. Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays (Pos. ADP 12, Ovr. ADP 39)
8. Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels (Pos. ADP 36, Ovr. ADP 127)
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Is Bauer’s charisma and visibility helping his draft position?
Bauer is a Twitter All-Star and never afraid to speak his mind on the modern issues the game faces, but he is vastly overrated from a fantasy perspective.
The 29-year-old has just one season with a sub-4.00 ERA, when he posted a 2.21 ERA and finished sixth in the American League Cy Young Award voting in 2018. However, that season is an outlier, especially considering Bauer’s ineffectiveness in 2019.
Bauer had a ton of success in 2018 because he led the AL in homers per nine innings (0.5). But with balls flying out of the yard in 2019, Bauer struggled. He gave up 1.3 homers per nine innings with the Indians before he was traded to Cincinnati, where he promptly allowed 12 homers in 10 starts.
There is no denying Bauer boasts tremendous strikeout stuff. He has posted at least 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings in each of the last three seasons, and his breaking ball is one of the best in the game.
However, Bauer might not be the most suitable guy to pitch in Cincinnati. Great American Ball Park ranked as the 11th best run-scoring environment last season and was eighth-friendliest for the home run, per ESPN’s Park Factor.
Bauer is a guy who needs to get to his secondary pitches to have success. But given his walk rate increased last year and he will no longer be making half his starts in Cleveland, there is absolutely no reason he should be getting drafted above the likes of Mike Soroka, Zack Wheeler or Lance Lynn.
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Jesus Luzardo has thrown just 12 innings in the bigs. He has not made a single start in the majors. Yet the rookie is being drafted ahead of steadier starters like Lynn, Madison Bumgarner and Kyle Hendricks. Why?
Look, there is no denying Luzardo has immense potential. He struck out 16 in just 12 innings of work with the Athletics last season, and he also threw three scoreless innings during the team’s loss to the Rays in the AL Wild Card.
Luzardo has a dominant curve, which recorded a 68.4 percent whiff rate (albeit with a limited sample size) last season, per Baseball Savant. Luzardo also mixes in a combination of sinkers and four-seamers in the upper 90s, and he showed an excellent change of pace with a changeup that drops off the table.
There is every chance in the world Luzardo could be this year’s version of Soroka or Chris Paddack. But should he really be ranked above more sure bets like Bumgarner and Hendricks?
Tons of risk-reward is at play when drafting rookies. Guys who are “sure things,” like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., sometimes struggle in their rookie seasons, because that’s baseball.
Luzardo has all the talent in the world, but owners run the risk of ruining their fantasy seasons by reaching too high for the A’s prospect.