Time for another installment of 2011 Fantasy Baseball OVERRATED/UNDERRATED and today we take a look at the very shallow shortstop position. No doubt with exception of maybe catcher, the shortstop position in fantasy baseball is extremely top heavy with Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki and the bottom falls out quickly after those two are drafted. Thus oftentimes you see this position filled with guys who are way overdrafted due to the scarcity and so someone like a Stephen Drew gets drafted during the middle of a draft when he likely would go completely unpicked if he played in the outfield lets say. Flat out, shortstop is full of guys like this and that leads us to out OVERRATED/UNDERRATED segment. Now as a reminder, this feature looks at two guys who have close enough stats that they should be selected around the same time in drafts but who in reality are going more than a few rounds away from each other based on some sort of bias or public familiarity or unfamiliarity with one guy or another. Two guys who fit this criteria are the Texas Rangers’ Elvis Andrus and the Oakland A’s Cliff Pennington. First lets take a look at their 2010 stats to see why I choose these two to talk about today.
Andrus: .265 88 R 0 HR 35 RBI 32 SB in 588 at-bats
Pennington: .250 64 R 6 HR 46 RBI 29 SB in 508 at-bats
Looking at the stats, we see that Andrus has the advantage in average and runs along with a very slight advantage in stolen bases. Pennington meanwhile has Andrus beat in home runs and RBI and he did it all with 80 less at-bats which means he would have passed Andrus in steals and this had the advantage in a majority of the categories. Despite the seemingly closeness of their overall stats, Andrus is likely to be selected around the sixth round in drafts this season while Pennington is either going to be a last round selection or not drafted at all. How can there be such a disparity between the two when their stats are so similar? Interesting huh?
Really the reason for this is obvious as Andrus is the much more well-known commodity who plays in a big hitter’s ballpark in Texas while Pennington really just made his first splash in the fantasy baseball world last season and is still in the show me what you can do phase of his career. No doubt that Andrus should be picked higher than Pennington as he is four years younger and has been profiled as someone who can someday be a top end guy while Pennington has projected to be a serviceable player but the stats tell the story here. I completely feel that Andrus is one of the more overrated guys in fantasy baseball this season as he has zero power to speak (having no home runs in that ballpark is beyond a joke), has a shaky average, and is a RBI liability. Thus he really is only a two category contributor who is being drafted like he is much more. Also word is that manager Ron Washington is not a fan of Andrus and will bat 2B Ian Kinsler leadoff this season with Andrus moving down to the ninth spot in the order due to the fact he doesn’t walk enough to be a true tablesetter. So there goes a bunch of the steals if he is not hitting first. And all this for a guy being chosen in the sixth round? Now Pennington is no star by any means but he will hit a few home runs and he was on the better stolen base rate that was Andrus last season. He also did all right in the RBI department which was another solid aspect to his game. Pennington thus makes the better overall value based on the numbers as tough as that is to digest. You can use that sixth round pick to select someone for another position that yields high end numbers and wait on shortstop toward the end of the draft when guys like Pennington, Sean Rodriguez, and Mike Aviles could give you nice value for the draft pick. This clearly is the way to go in my book once the big guys are off the board.
So there you have it. I know some may think this is a crazy comparison but my only point here is that Andrus is severely overrated and that someone like Pennington (or the other guys I mentioned) are actually a better value for your team’s overall strength in drafts this season.
Good luck as always and would love to hear some respectful opinions.