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In fantasy baseball, it’s imperative to trade away overrated players before they lose their luster and trade for underrated players. Then there’s simply the rated ones. If this reads vaguely familiar, it’s because I’m cribbing Chuck Klosterman, who I think is brilliant. Here’s the relevant quote to better understand what follows:

If you are the kind of person who talks about music too much, there are two words that undoubtedly play an integral role in your workaday lexicon: “overrated” and “underrated.” This is because those two sentiments pop up in 90 percent of all musical discussions.

He goes on to list bands that are overrated (Wilco, Sonic Youth) or underrated (Duran Duran, Tortoise), coming finally to bands that simply rated, which are no more or less than their reviews (The Beatles). Klosterman’s theory also applies for fantasy baseball. Let’s look at some overrated, underrated and rated players.

OVERRATED

Ryan Braun – As I said earlier today, “I had Braun 22 overall. It’s not like I had him between Hank Blalock and David Ross. I think his average is below .285 and he’s below 15 steals. He’s basically Carlos Lee with 3B eligibility and without the track record. Carlos Lee does Braun’s thing for 7 years and Braun does it for four months and Braun should go ten spots before him? I just don’t get it.” When you put a player twenty-two overall and people say you are unfairly down on him, that player is the definition of overrated. (BTW, I have a picture of Jesus in my office and it’s signed, “Grey, Thanks for steering me away from Ryan Braun. You are a Fantasy God. Love, Your Savior. P.S. What do you think about Lackey for Alex Gordon? I’m good on starters, but have Cust as my Utility.”)

Ryan Zimmerman – Before the Anti-Defamation League of Ryans contacts me, I swear I have no prejudice towards the name Ryan. I even just picked up Ryan Franklin in a league and I’ve eaten at Ryan Gosling’s Moroccan Restaurant — the couscous was overcooked, but the bastilla was good. Then again, who’s ever had a bad bastilla? Someone who puts catsup on egg noodles and calls it pasta, that’s who.

Dustin McGowan – He threw too many innings last year. If you like math — Pitcher who has a good season + overworked = overrated. (More math problems, MTV reality shows = mindless wonderfulness. Republicans = Democrats. Hispanics + peanut butter and jelly sandwiches = Unhappy Hispanics.)

Any AL Starter – Hater Bell covered this in this post. I don’t like trading apples for apples (starter for starter, third basemen for third basemen, etc.), but I can almost get behind a trade like Lackey and Cliff Lee for Wainwright and Maine. In fact, I likey. Hey, I just made a hypothetical trade with myself.

Any Closer – Think of them as a necessary evil and you’ll be better off. I love to do trades like Mariano Rivera for Josh Hamilton then turn around and trade Josh Hamilton for Trevor Hoffman and Matt Capps then turn around and trade Capps for Victorino. Closers are like girls. You will overvalue them at first, grow to despise them, wish you traded them for their sister, not understand how they can get over you so fast when you drunkenly call them at three in the morning. Finally, you find a replacement then get a sex tape in the mail of your ex with your best friend time dated to the afternoon of your one year anniversary. Or maybe that’s me. Anyway, don’t get too attached.

UNDERRATED

Any Setup Man – Rudy claims he taught me how to use middle men many years ago. I don’t remember it, but maybe. Or maybe that’s his consolation for losing to me last year. And three years ago. And four years ago.

Any Big-Bellied 1st Basemen that is Currently Struggling – These guys could go 100/40/100 in their sleep. Howard’s average might leave something to be desired, but he’s a .265 hitter. What, you wanted a fat Ichiro?

Any Padres Pitcher – I could have a 4.50 ERA in Petco and I throw like a girl.

Aaron Cook – He’s a ground ball pitcher. It’s hard to hit ground balls out of the yard.

Any NL Starter – See 5 3/4 inches above.

Me – I think I’m good for about seven to eight posts a week. Maybe 500 to 700 words per post. Everyone has off days, but I think at the end of the season, you’ll be better off with me than without. And I can beat you in checkers. (Union County Checker Champion grades 5 thru 7. That horn is twenty years old and I’m still tooting it.)

Shawn Hill – As someone who has tried to beat the drum about about this guy, I can tell his fan club is not well-attended. In one of my leagues, I tried to trade Hill for Stephen Drew when Tulo went down. That trade got shot down quicker than David Eckstein trying to get on a roller coaster.

Melky Cabrera – Considering the Yankees hype machine it’s weird to find any Yankee on this list, but somehow people ain’t feeling Melky. Even after being crowned the best name in baseball according to Larry King.

RATED

Eric Gagne – Backne isn’t on the juice anymore and it’s hurting him. Karma is your mother-in-law.

Nick Punto – Might even be unrated.

Carlos Lee – Everyone knows what you’re going to get.

Mike Cameron – 20/20/.250 for like forty years in a row. He was the only person who got caught sipping the cheating juice and no one lowered one single prediction.

Milton Bradley – Predictable, injury-prone loose cannon. I wonder if Cliff Floyd and him are buds. That’s one carpool I would not want to be party to. (“Milton, can you grab my Mary J. Blige CD from the backseat?” “Sure, Cliff, is it next to your diaphragm?” Car screeches to the side of the road, they jump out to fight only to simultaneously pull a hammy.)

  1. chris says:
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    The Closer to Girl comparison was one of the funnier things I have read recently, well done sir

    What do you think of Matt Garza? I’m thinking about dropping Richie Sexson for him in my 12 team deepish mixed league. Other intruiging guys on the WW are Scott Downs, Health Bell, Aaron Laffey, Shawn Hill, and Andrew Miller (I still belive in his K’s and ground balls).

  2. Ethan says:
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    Does Carlos Pena count in the Big-Bellied 1st Basemen that is Currently Struggling category? How about Konerko? I was thinking of using one of them and the overrated Joe Nathan to get the Big-Bellied Prince Fielder that is Currently Struggling or Big-Bellied Mark Texira (is he big-bellied) that is Currently Struggling, if those owners bite that is.

  3. Ben says:
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    Ryan Zimmerman’s doing pretty poorly right now; is it possible that he’s correctly rated now? Can we get some thoughts on exactly why he’s overrated?

    Also, I tend to think of San Diego’s pitching as being overrated because of Petco. They’re only good when they’re at home; everywhere else, they’re average.

  4. p0rk burn says:
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    @chris: I’d drop Sexson for Bell in a second, but then again I’m also in a league that scores holds. Plus I like Bell a lot.

    Grey/Rudy: Question about my league that I don’t currently suck in (see Acosta votes for democracy, comment #20). I see myself as being rich in 1st basemen and have been wanting to unload one for a while now. One of the leaguemates declared he needed a first baseman so I’m tempted to make a trade.

    h2h 10×10 league including holds and complete games.

    My team (in its lineup for today):
    c – G. Soto
    1 – Adrian Gonzalez (drafted him something like #120, dont know why he was still available there)
    2 – D. Uggla (yes, I know, but I have a rule for myself that I have to have him on my teams)
    3 – Garret Atkins
    ss – Yunel Escobar
    of – Alex Rios
    of – Carlos Lee
    of – Alfonso Soriano
    util – Ian Kinsler
    Carlos Guillen
    Teixeira
    Mclouth
    Longoria
    Hawpe

    Pitchers:
    Tim Hudson
    Harang
    Shields
    Billingsley
    Sabathia
    Joe Nathan
    Isringhausen (delusional for hoping he gets things together?)
    Huston Street
    Heath Bell

    His team:
    Doumit
    Conor Jackson
    Chase Utley
    Larry “Chipper” Jones
    E. Aybar
    Magglio
    Holliday
    Carlos Quentin
    Matt Kemp
    Carlos Pena
    Ryan Church
    Melvin Mora
    Stephen Drew
    Tulo

    Carmona
    Bedard
    Saito
    Franklin
    Kerry Wood
    Rafael Betancourt
    Brad Lidge
    Wainwright
    Peavy
    Dempster

    Any deals worth offering? Parenthetically, this time without the parentheses, I apologize for the long, formatted posts but 3 years of law school will ruin you as a normal writer. Thanks again for the advice, insight, and most importantly the laughs.

  5. @Grey: With Soriano starting to swing the bat with some sort of authority (as in, he’s actually pulling the ball again and his average is higher then a flatbread sammy at Quizno’s), is he a buy low kind of candidate based on past performance?

    Or do we still shy away from him with the leg issues?

  6. peter says:
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    Funny that you mention the “anti defamation league” and steering-Jesus-away from-Braun in the same post. Ryan “the Hebrew Hammer” Braun is, fittingly, Jewish. I don’t know about Zimmerman, but.. hmmm..

    Also, according to wikipedia (aka where Rudy and I are getting our GEDs), Ryan Braun’s grandfather lives in the former house of none other than (Jewish) HOFer Hank Greenberg. Awesome.

  7. Russ says:
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    i took Braun/Fielder as my first two picks (12, 13) so that would put me right in the … “rated” category.

    whew.

  8. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:
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    Ahh a band so good they couldn’t just sell themselves short and keep it to one Duran. “Hungry Like the Wolf” is as underrated as Celine Dion’s sex tape.

    Why the hell would Bill James rate Braun so high? http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=3410&position=OF

    I think that the CUBS are underrated on this blog. You’ve got more anti-Cubs bias on this site than Fox News.

  9. peter says:
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    @Russ: Owning Backne in 2 leagues also puts me firmly in the “rated” category. In both cases, he was one of the last closers on the draft board. So my feelings aren’t hurt nearly as much by his performance as that of, say, Rafael Soriano.

  10. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @chris: Depends what you need. Downs could get some saves, Bell is a strong middle reliever to help balance your ratios, Hill has a solid WHIP and ERA potential, but Ks have been low and wins are a lot to ask from a Nat starter. Not crazy about Garza, Miller is too much of a gamble at this stage, he can crush you with one bad outing. Sexson should not be on your team. I’d go Hill if you want a starter. Use caution when he goes interleague this week.

    @Ethan: Pena isn’t fat, but he was on my bust list for this year. He’s a .249 career average guy. Last season was the outlier.

    Konerko is not fat either. But he is struggling. Last year he hit 31/.259, as he gets older those may be his numbers. Konerko and Nathan for Fielder is solid. Rudy and I are also big believers in Tex.

    @Ben: Honestly, when I see Zimmerman with an ADP of 82 and 100% owned, I don’t think he’s rated correctly. Rudy even likes him, which I can’t figure out.

    re: Petco pitchers — good point.

    @p0rk burn: You are so first basemen rich that I would consider moving Gonzo for Lidge and Betancourt. Or Betancourt and Wainwright. If Betancourt loses the closer role (which I’m not sure is going to happen) and then you can get holds. Or Saito and Betancourt.

    @Chris: I wouldn’t invest too heavily in Soriano because of the leg issues, yeah.

    @peter: Actually I knew that Braun was Jewish and I know Zimmerman has a Jewish surname but no one knows if he is Jewish, so it wasn’t coincidental.

    Didn’t know about the Greenberg house, that’s interesting and a good bit of useless info for another post, thanks.

  11. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @IowaCubs: Click on Klosterman’s name up above and get Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, you won’t be disappointed. Don’t worry, you can finish Santo’s autobiography first. It’ll wait for you.

  12. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:
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    @Grey: My dream job is ghostwriting Santo’s autobiography. I would call it “GAMER: Baseball and Scrappy Gamers that Play Baseball for Ballclubs.” There would be lots of “GAHUL-LEE”s and pregnant pauses in it. The man’s a genius, but he can’t write a lick.

    I’ll check out the Klosterman book, though I doubt it’s something stocked in the educational section of the Des Moines library. Sounds like a Hunter S. disciple to me.

  13. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @IowaCubs: The Klosterman link in the post will take you to Amazon. They have mail in Iowa?

  14. Hank

    Hank says:
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    @Grey: I’m totally going to read that book, though I think I’m just on this side of Gen X chronologically. What the hell are the defining traits of Gen Y, and is there a Gen Z. Also, what happens when they run out of letters, are they going to start doubling them up: Gen AA, BB, etc? If so that could get confusing.

    As the late comic Mitch Hedberg said, “I did not learn my AA, BB, CCs.”

  15. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Hank: A) Hedberg was a genius. B) I’m probably on the same side of Gen X as you and I love the book. It’s not Guns, Germs and Steel, but it’s a great/entertaining (easy) read.

  16. Hank

    Hank says:
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    Look I’m answering my own questions. A defining trait of Gen Y or “Millennials” as per the scholarly stronghold of Wikipedia:

    Members of this generation are facing higher costs for higher education than previous generations.[9] [10]

    Damn, I was hoping for something more, umm, risque, sexy, or funny? Sorry for hijacking a fantasy baseball thread, but I find this stuff fascinating. However, maybe the traits of the newer gens are/should/will leak their way into the fantasy baseball realm. Fantasy Baseball 2.0, anyone?

  17. peter says:
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    @Grey: another interesting tidbit re: Braun in Jewish ballplayer folklore: Sandy Koufax wasn’t always Koufax. His mother remarried. His original last name? Braun.

  18. Chase says:
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    Adam Dunn batting 7th? Playing bad? Time to sell? Even though hes as consistent as Carlos Lee?

  19. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @peter: Don’t forget Braun plays for the Brew Crew and that rhymes with Carew.

    @Chase: You shouldn’t sell Dunn short.

  20. Darrin says:
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    Long time reader – First time poster!!

    You kill me with your random rants. I about lost it when I read the Milton Bradley comment!
    Do you think C. Pena needs to stop watching Ryan Howard swing videos??? that dude is killing me with his KO’s! Anywho, keep up random but classic comments!!!

  21. BSA says:
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    What’s your take on Vargus?

  22. Chase says:
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    Garrett Atkins and Carlos Quentin for A-Rod? Winner is?

  23. BSA says:
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    Well, I guess if it was football I would say, “On any given Sunday…” Beckett and Bedard give up 10 earned runs in two nights. I love this game!

  24. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Darrin: Pena looks like he needs a McGriff instructional video. Glad you’re enjoying and make sure to comment more.

    @BSA: He’s better than Figueroa and I picked him up earlier today in an NL-Only league. I think he’s a lock to stick with the Mets and he was actually better than Bush who stuck with the Brewers.

    @Chase: Arod

  25. Chase says:
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    QUentin and Dunn for Beltran?

  26. Baron Von Vulturewins says:
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    @Grey: Sometime you and Rudy should do a point-counterpoint post on the players you disagree most about.

  27. peter says:
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    @Grey: and he’s starting to get mad hits like he was rod, too.

  28. Andy says:
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    What do you think of Duchscherer? I know AL starters suck, but his career numbers are quite good, even if you adjust for him having been a reliever.

  29. @BSA: Vargas is NL-only material. I picked him up in our Razzball league – might start him next week…

    @Chase: Quentin and Dunn, no question.

    @Baron Von Vulturewins: Not sure there’s truly anyone one of us loves and the other hates. I’m not a huge Zimmerman fan right now b/c of the bad wrist and 3B is so deep.

    @Andy: Duchscherer isn’t looking bad right now. Ålways had a good arm when he pitched middle relief. I don’t care as much that he pitches in the AL…it’s just he pitches for one of the worst teams in the league. I’d keep him on the radar for a 12-team mixed league but he doesnt make the 10-team cut.

  30. Chase says:
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    alex rios buy low?

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