Everyone loves chasing the next big thing in fantasy baseball. There’s nothing more satisfying than finding a bargain, after all. But experienced fantasy owners know that correctly identifying players whose draft-day prices are too high can be even more critical to their championship hopes. Here are a few players to steer clear of in 2017.
Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds (ADP: 50)
Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising given the handwringing in the fantasy community over the league-wide drop in stolen bases, but owners continue to draft Hamilton for his speed despite his complete uselessness everywhere else. “But he’s supposed to lead off this year!” they say. We’ve heard that one before, and the Hamburglar has always failed to hit well enough to stick atop the order despite his fleet feet. Consider that Hamilton has never hit above .260 or scored 75 runs. “He hit .293/.369/.333 in the second half last year!” True, but his batted ball profile remained virtually identical to a first half in which he hit .236/.283/.350. The Reds have turned over the starting job at second base to Jose Peraza, who’s almost as fast as Hamilton and might actually be able to hit at the MLB level. And then there’s the fact that Hamilton has missed significant time with injury in each of the last two seasons.
Carlos Martinez, SP, St. Louis Cardinals (ADP: 69)
Martinez turned in his second consecutive season with an ERA just above 3.00 and shaved a few points off his WHIP, but he really didn’t show much improvement over the previous season. His walk rate remained middling, his batted ball data didn’t budge much, and his K% actually fell by three points. Most importantly, he continued to have problems with left-handed hitters. Make no mistake – the current model is a good pitcher. This just feels a couple rounds early for him. You’re paying for a breakout that may not be coming.
Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals (ADP: 105)
Hosmer had the best season of his career in 2016, hitting .266 with career highs in home runs (25) and RBI (104) while scoring 80 runs and stealing five bases. So why is he a player to avoid in your draft? Before last season, he’d never hit more than 18 homers, and while he’s knocked in 197 runs the last two years, he had previously never cracked 80 in a season. Hosmer plays his home games in a pitcher-friendly park, but the big reason he hasn’t hit for more power is that he simply hits too many ground balls. You might think he reversed this trend last year based on the career high in homers, but you’d be wrong – Hosmer actually hit even more grounders than usual. He also posted the worst contact rate of his career. The surface stats and his age (27) feed a breakout narrative, but don’t be fooled.
Kyle Bishop is a lead MLB columnist at RotoBaller.com. His articles and Fantasy Baseball Rankings are your secret weapon for winning fantasy leagues.