As I mentioned earlier in the spring, I have no problems taking stands on players and one player in particular that I’m taking a large stand on this year is Brandon Phillips. Everyone is gaga over Phillips 30-30 year (an accomplishment in which only 3 players achieved), but I think we’re staring a career year in the face and I think he’s WAY overvalued this season. Phillips peripherals aren’t that of an elite player. He has poor plate discipline posting a below average .30 EYE last season, which is in line with his career numbers. His power numbers are significantly aided by his home ballpark and were significantly aided by luck last season. Phillips HR/FB Ratio of 15% is abnormally high for a player that didn’t rack up 2B’s and 3B’s at the same rate as his HR’s. This suggests he was fortunate with a number of balls just getting over the fence. With some regression this year Phillips could be staring at a similar line to his 2006 season which would place him closer to a 20-20 player than his 30-30 status of a year ago. Add in the lack of plate discipline which makes him a potential batting average risk as well and I don’t see what the difference between Phillips and Ian Kinsler is… Phillips going consistently in the 2nd and 3rd rounds is a significant overdraft of a player without an established track record and is the type of pick that isn’t likely to hold its value come September.
Hudson showed up on my overvalued list of pre-season projections and then went out and tossed a gem in Sunday night’s season opener for the Braves. Hudson struggled through a tough first inning in which he threw 28 pitches and then cruised through the next 6 innings on just 50 pitches! He finished up allowing just 3 hits and 2 ER’s in his 7 innings of work while striking out 3. The efficient pitch count, while great news for the Braves, is one of the reasons I’m down on Hudson this season. He’s openly admitted he’s trying to strike fewer batters out and while it’s helping his performance as a pitcher, as a fantasy option he loses some value. Hudson’s not being terribly over-drafted but with his K total likely settling in around 120-130 this season, he needs to be paired with other high K Rate specialists to help keep your team competitive in the strikeout category. This makes Hudson a 3 category pitcher who has the potential to only be elite in really 2 of those categories (ERA and Wins).
Marmol checks in on my overrated list heading into the season for a couple of reasons. Firstly I don’t think the opportunity for Marmol to close is in the immediate future this season. Obviously Kerry Wood will start the season in the closer’s role and because of his past health concerns owners are betting on Marmol getting a chance down the line. I’ve been on the other side of this one for some time as I suggested all season I thought Bob Howry was the favorite for the closer’s role. While Howry didn’t win the role, I do think he’ll be the 8th inning option and the next in line for closing duties should Wood’s health come into question. Secondly I think Marmol’s ability to repeat his incredible 2007 season will be well tested. Statistically Marmol benefited from an incredible .89 Strand Rate as well as a miniscule 4.3% HR/FB Rate, despite posting a 68.7% FB Rate as a whole. As an extreme fly ball pitcher pitching in Wrigley this seems to be a significant anomaly. Finally Marmol’s K and BB Rates seem like they’d be in line for some regression as well. His incredible K Rate of 1.31 seems a bit unsustainable and while Marmol’s .51 BB Rate isn’t terribly out of line Marmol’s control throughout his career has been suspect. This spring Marmol walked 6 batters in his 7 2/3 innings.
Forgive me if I’m not buying into Kyle Kendrick’s success last season but Kyle Kendrick’s 2007 reminds me a lot of Aaron Small’s 2005 with the Yankees. If you remember Small went 10-0 with a 3.20 ERA in 76 innings despite horrendous peripherals for the 2005 Yankees and was a key cog in their run towards a division championship. Kendrick had similar success last season going 10-4 with a 3.87 ERA in 121 innings with similarly poor peripherals. Kendrick posted a miniscule .45 K Rate and benefited significantly from some good luck with his .74 Strand Rate and low .276 BHIP%. As Tom mentioned earlier in the week Kendrick’s 2007 screams regression, so if you’ve invested in Kendrick this year in deep mixed leagues or NL Only leagues be prepared. Kendrick’s minor league track record, career 4.28 ERA and 1.39 WHIP, also suggest last year was a bit above his head.
While the demotion of Juan Pierre to bench duties is certainly a significant boost to Matt Kemp’s value, the more important part (in my mind) of Joe Torre’s announcement Sunday was the fact that Matt Kemp will hit 3rd for the Dodgers on opening day. This shows the level of commitment the Dodgers have to Kemp and suggest he’s in line to eclipse 500 AB’s this season, a number that should allow Kemp to push for a 20-20 season.