I’ve been partial to the phrase prospect fatigue as it applies to players who are on the radar for so long that we start to ding them for being (somewhat) known quantities as opposed to the younger players who let our minds run free, unencumbered by the shackles of previous performance. Well after the prospect fatigue guys come post-prospects. They live in stasis in our brains, some purgatory of youthful but not eligible for a minor league roster spot, yet still not useful enough for a major league keeper spot. Before this turns into the final season of LOST though, we should note that these players tend to be divisive, riding the line between being overvalued thanks to a perceived undervaluing or just straight up undervalued. Here’s a look at five in the NL:
Wily Peralta, P, Brewers
Peralta put together a nice second half of the season last year, making it two years in a row he’s put together small sample sizes of good performance that could lead one to hope for more the next year. The problem of course was his brutal first half, as he only struck out 14 percent of batters and got rocked to the tune of a 4.61 ERA. He was better, though not great, in the second half, with a 3.99 ERA, but the real improvement showed up in his ability to miss bats. Peralta saw his strikeout rate jump to 19% once he started incorporating his slider more consistently. In the first three months of the season he never used it more than 22.68 percent but starting in June (32.34 percent), Peralta never saw his slider usage dip below 24.38 percent and twice registered a number above 30 percent. The ability to miss bats to his exceptional ability to burn worms is a much needed addition, and one Peralta is poised to exploit in the upcoming season.
Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies
A .248 TAv is not exactly inspiring, but it’s what PECOTA projects for Arenado heading into 2014. It’s still a significant improvement over his .236 TAv of last year, and the fact that his worst attribute isn’t accounted for in standard leagues is a big boost to Arenado’s fantasy value. As a freshman he hit .267, nothing to write home about, certainly, but he showed a knack for putting the bat on the ball which is an obvious plus in the thin air of Coors field. While his slugging percentage was a meager .405, even with the aid of his home park, Arenado should be better in that category going forward. He’s always been able to make hard contact, and while his swing isn’t exactly geared for power, plenty of doubles should be on the way thanks to his knack for barreling the baseball. Originally billed as a bat-first prospect with a questionable glove, Arenado has worked hard to make himself into a plus defender at the hot corner, and it showed at the major-league level. That same work ethic should allow him to adjust to major league pitching and take a step forward in 2014. It’s not likely to be a first division bat immediately thanks to the lack of power but he could be a positive force when it comes to batting average as soon as this year.
Alex Wood, P, Braves
He’s not Chris Sale redux in terms of performance, but for years the first thing people have talked about when it comes to Wood is his delivery. The mechanics fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down but they work, if only for the present. The bottom line is that Wood gets really good results and he’s one of like two Braves pitchers who isn’t a) currently slated to be out for the year or b) Freddy Garcia. I still tend to believe he’s going to break (he’s already had Tommy John surgery once) but that’s not a big deal for redraft leagues, and his price at this point is worth the gamble that he holds up for the next year and a half or so. He didn’t show a significant platoon split so there’s not a ton to worry about there, the most important thing for Wood is to just make pitch.
Randall Delgado, P, Diamondbacks
Most of the time we highlight people in this space that are worth targeting but it’s just as worthwhile to highlight a player that is getting some buzz who should be avoided. Delgado might get a shot at the fifth spot in the Diamondbacks rotation, and was once upon a time a noteworthy prospect but his star has faded in recent years with good enough reason. It’s not that there’s no hope for the Panamanian but he’s not in an environment that’s very conducive to his skillset. His fastball can be a bit straight and in his home ballpark (not to mention Coors Field) that’s a legitimate problem. He gave up just shy of 2.0 HR/9 last year, and while that rate is hardly sustainable, he’s going to allow his fair share of home runs. That he was able to coerce a 4.26 ERA out of those peripherals is rather admirable, and due in part to his ability to limit free passes. He just doesn’t have the arsenal to miss bats though, and major league hitters are going to be able to take advantage of his inability to keep the ball in the park over the long haul. He might get the chance to start in Arizona, but there’s a good chance he does damage to your fantasy team if you afford him the same opportunity.
Khris Davis, OF, Brewers
I highlighted Davis as a deep sleeper at the dawn of last season, citing his impressive track record in the minor leagues, though still noting that it was unlikely he could perform up to those standards at the major league level. True to form, I was disproven as Davis slugged .596 in 153 plate appearances, walking less than he did in the minors but at a still acceptable 7.2 percent clip. He did strike out a bunch (22.2 percent) and should continue to do so as he employs a max effort swing, which jives with both his whiffs and his power. A slugging percentage around .600 is almost out of the question, but Davis doesn’t need that to be useful in fantasy leagues. PECOTA is optimistic on him with a .285 TAv to go with 20 home runs, but aside from the homers, it’s not an entirely fantasy-friendly line, with only six stolen bases and a .257 average. He’s a fine fourth outfielder in fantasy (third if you’re really optimistic) but anything more than that saps all value from the selection. He’s a player from whom you want any contributions to be gravy rather than someone to rely on heavily.