2016 Fantasy Baseball: Sleepers and Busts From the Oddsmakers
With the 2016 MLB season fast approaching, many owners will be holding their fantasy draft in the upcoming week. Although football continues to rule the fantasy kingdom, a new wave of advanced statistics and system building has allowed baseball to compete as a close second.
Almost everywhere you look there are lists of potential sleepers and busts. Wave after wave of players to avoid and players to target can be difficult to sift through, and fantasy managers have to question which analysts they can trust. However, over the past few years we have been using player props from offshore sportsbooks to determine underrated and overrated fantasy football players.
By comparing a player’s consensus ESPN ranking with player prop futures at 5Dimes, we have been able to determine the players who sportsbooks believe are primed for a breakthrough season. Conversely, we can establish which players are being overhyped.
At the time of publication, 5Dimes was only offering over/under props for three categories: home runs, hits and wins. These three stats offer limited insight, but it’s very valuable to see how oddsmakers expectations compare with projections from the fantasy experts. For more information, bettors can view the latest MVP odds, Cy Young odds, and Home Run Leader odds.
Home Runs (HR)
According to this analysis, ESPN is overly optimistic about almost every player. This is largely due to the assumption that every player will remain healthy all season, while oddsmakers are typically better about accounting for risk.
It’s interesting to see that the ESPN fantasy gurus are vastly overrating David Ortiz (ranked 46) and Miguel Sano (ranked 33) — both of whom are only eligible as a utility player and therefore have limited upside. These two sluggers are being overdrafted in standard leagues, but there are three young sluggers offering value according to oddsmakers.
Even though Carlos Correa is the 11th ranked player according to ESPN experts, the second-year player may still be undervalued. The shortstop position is fairly thin, and oddsmakers are anticipating that Correa will finish the season with 27.5 home runs. That figure is 4.5 home runs higher than the ESPN projections.
We should also point out that there’s a significant difference on the power projections for two Cubs sluggers: Anthony Rizzo (ranked 19) and Kyle Schwarber (ranked 67). In an earlier post I mentioned Rizzo as an MVP sleeper, and believe that he’s a better value than higher-ranked players like Miguel Cabrera. Schwarber is another sneaky value since there is very little depth at catcher.
Although hits aren’t a category for ESPN standard scoring, many leagues will utilize additional stats. It’s also interesting to see that ESPN projections are higher than the over/under for all fourteen players listed.
The one thing that we can extrapolate is that Ian Kinsler (ranked 68) and Manny Machado (ranked 10) are the most overvalued of the bunch while Anthony Rizzo (ranked 19), Mike Trout (ranked 1), Josh Donaldson (ranked 5) and Mookie Betts (ranked 23) have the smallest disparities.
Based on these comparisons, oddsmakers believe that Johnny Cueto (ranked 81), Jacob deGrom (ranked 42), Sonny Gray (ranked 73) and Chris Archer (ranked 57) are being overvalued. Although ERA and strikeouts are probably the most important categories for pitchers, these types of variances are significant.
On the other hand, there are three deep sleepers of whom managers should be aware: Lance McCullers (ranked 214), Yordano Ventura (ranked 180) and Collin McHugh (ranked 226). In general I think it’s preferable to spend early picks on hitting, so these are three interesting targets for later in the draft.
Do you agree with our selections? Which players do you think are being undervalued? Please leave your thoughts in the section below.
David Solar is the Content Manager and can be reached via email at David@sportsinsights.com.