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03/17/09 12:00 PM ET
Roundtable: Don't believe the hype
Mauer, Holliday, Manny headline fantasy's preseason All-Overrated Team
Almost 37 years old, Manny Ramirez may not hit at an elite level for much longer. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)


Last week, the Roundtable guys cast their votes for the 2009 preseason All-Underrated Team. This time around, they go position by position to reveal a group of players primed to disappoint this year.


Joe Mauer, Twins
Roundtable votes:
2008 stats: .328 AVG, 9 HR, 85 RBIs, 1 SB

Calm down, Minnesota. No one is saying Mauer isn't an outstanding ballplayer -- he just happens to be overrated for fantasy purposes. The 26-year-old backstop's lofty draft position is driven almost entirely by his perennially high batting average, but cold hard math indicates his overall impact on that category will diminish as he receives fewer at-bats. Catchers routinely receive the fewest hacks of any position player; given Mauer's questionable health status, how many times can you realistically bank on seeing him at the plate this year? Four hundred? Three hundred? Once his ABs dip to that level, there's just no way he's worth picking in the first seven rounds.

-- Toby Mergler, Fantasy Correspondent

Also receiving consideration (votes):
Russell Martin, Dodgers (2); Ryan Doumit, Pirates (1); Mike Napoli, Angels (1); Bengie Molina, Giants (1); Pablo Sandoval, Giants (1); Brian McCann, Braves (1); Matt Wieters, Orioles (1)

First base

Carlos Delgado, Mets
Roundtable votes:
2008 stats: .271 AVG, 38 HR, 115 RBIs, 1 SB

It's tempting to envision a player carrying the momentum of one terrific campaign into the next, especially when that player enjoyed the sort of outstanding second half delivered by Delgado in '08 (.303-21-63). However, those with short memories would be wise to recall that the Mets first baseman was all but useless while stumbling to a .228 average over the season's first three months. Whatever the cause for his turnaround, the 36-year-old will have a tough time rediscovering his postbreak form as he fights off the bat-slowing effects of aging. Don't expect him to catch lightning in a bottle for the second straight year.

-- Tim Ott, Fantasy Reporter

Also receiving consideration (votes):
Ryan Howard, Phillies (2); Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox (2); Aubrey Huff, Orioles (2); Chris Davis, Rangers (1); Lance Berkman, Astros (1); Prince Fielder, Brewers (1); Ryan Garko, Indians (1)

Second base

Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
Roundtable votes:
2008 stats: .326 AVG, 17 HR, 83 RBIs, 20 SB

At draft time last year, Pedroia was a solid middle-round pick with upside; by season's end, he had emerged as a run-producing machine. That said, the diminutive 25-year-old doesn't project as the top fantasy contributor that many are assuming he's become. A scrappy two-hitter with contact-first instincts, Pedroia's game is about getting on base and not about power production. To that end, his '08 line is likely a close reflection of his statistical ceiling, meaning he doesn't quite have what it takes to surpass the likes of Chase Utley or Ian Kinsler at his position. Owners expecting the reigning AL MVP to be even more valuable than he was in '08 will be left disappointed.

-- Matt Chaprales, Fantasy Reporter

Also receiving consideration (votes): Alexei Ramirez, White Sox (3); Dan Uggla, Marlins (2); Howie Kendrick (1); Kelly Johnson, Braves (1); Robinson Cano, Yankees (1)


Mike Aviles, Royals
Roundtable votes:
2008 stats: .325 AVG, 10 HR, 51 RBIs, 8 SB

While Aviles helped out some lucky owners in '08, the level of excitement he's sparking in '09 drafts makes clear that seeing that people are drinking too much of the K.C. Kool-Aid. The 28-year-old doesn't possess great power or speed, so it's tough to believe he'll wind up as more than a 15/15 type of producer, especially given that he'll no longer take American League pitchers by surprise. While a young Royals lineup could turn some heads this season, Aviles' individual production won't justify the rather hefty price tag he's toting in mixed-league drafts.

-- Mike Siano, Co-Host, Fantasy 411

Also receiving consideration (votes): Rafael Furcal, Dodgers (3); Michael Young, Rangers (2); Miguel Tejada (1); Alexei Ramirez, White Sox (1)

Third base

Garrett Atkins, Rockies
Roundtable votes:
2008 stats: .286 AVG, 21 HR, 99 RBIs, 1 SB

Atkins is considered an upper-tier third baseman, but his statistical decline in consecutive seasons doesn't support his widespread popularity. Last year, the veteran's batting average dipped 43 points from his '06 clip, and his OPS fell 185 points. That decline has been felt across the board, from his home run dropoff to a rising strikeout percentage and a decreased walk rate. It seems clear, then, that Atkins' peak production is likely behind him. Don't get left behind as well by snagging him too early.

-- Kyle Stack, Fantasy Reporter

Also receiving consideration (votes): Aubrey Huff, Orioles (2); Chone Figgins, Angels (2); Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox (1); Hank Blalock, Rangers (1); Evan Longoria, Rays (1); Chipper Jones, Braves (1)


Matt Holliday, Athletics
Roundtable votes:
2008 stats: .321 AVG, 25 HR, 88 RBIs, 28 SB

To say that Holliday's power will be entirely sapped by his move from Coors Field to McAfee Coliseum is a bit of an overstatement; a good hitter is a good hitter, no matter where he's playing. The 29-year-old's splits, though, are legitimately alarming: While with the Rockies, Holliday slugged nearly 200 points higher at home than he did on the road, finishing with a 77-point differential in batting average that eliminates any possibility of a fluke. Coupled with Oakland's less aggressive approach on the basepaths, those glaring discrepancies are evidence enough to predict an across-the-board decline in Holliday's numbers. Still think he's worth that first-round pick?

-- Corey Gottlieb, Fantasy Reporter

Josh Hamilton, Rangers
Roundtable votes:
2008 stats: .304 AVG, 32 HR, 130 RBIs, 9 SB

If feel-good stories were a fantasy category, Hamilton would be the game's top-ranked player. In reality, though, it's not worth risking what it will take to get him. Keep in mind that the 27-year-old slugger's comeback effort was cut short in 2006 by arthroscopic knee surgery and that assorted bumps and bruises restricted him to 101 combined games in 2007. On top of his shaky injury history, Hamilton is also a performance risk, as he does not have a track record of sustained success. And given that much of his production is dependent on Ian Kinsler and Michael Young -- neither of whom is a sure thing -- the potential for a letdown seems imminent.

-- Todd Zola, Fantasy Correspondent

Manny Ramirez, Dodgers
Roundtable votes:
2008 stats: .331 AVG, 37 HR, 121 RBIs, 3 SB

Are you willing to spend a late second- or early third-round pick to find out which Manny we'll see this year? Will it be the one who hit .396-17-53 in 53 games last season after being acquired by the Dodgers, or the one who hit .299-20-68 in 100 contests with the Red Sox? Will he play in 153 games as he did last year, or in the 132 he averaged in the previous two seasons? Ramirez will turn 37 this season, and even the best hitters eventually slow with age. Are you willing to gamble this won't be the year?

-- Cory Schwartz, Co-Host, Fantasy 411

Also receiving consideration (votes): Jay Bruce, Reds (2); Vladimir Guerrero (2); Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox (2); Shane Victorino, Phillies (2); Alfonso Soriano, Cubs (2); Jason Bay, Red Sox (1); Denard Span (1); Andre Ethier, Dodgers (1); Nelson Cruz, Rangers (1); Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners (1); B.J. Upton, Rays (1); Vernon Wells, Blue Jays (1); Xavier Nady, Yankees (1); Milton Bradley, Cubs (1); Nate McLouth, Pirates (1); Corey Hart, Brewers (1); Pat Burrell, Rays (1); Carlos Quentin, White Sox (1); Hunter Pence, Astros (1); Carlos Gomez, Twins (1); Carl Crawford, Rays (1)


Cliff Lee, Indians
Roundtable votes:
2008 stats: 22-3, 2.54 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 170 Ks

Little went wrong for Lee last year. From reclaiming a spot in Cleveland's rotation to winning 22 of his first 24 decisions -- the fourth pitcher in big league history to do so -- en route to American League Cy Young honors, it was a comeback for the history books. Of course, if you're expecting last year's magic to spill over into 2009, you've got another thing coming. Sure, remaining one of the AL's top starters should be a piece of cake for Lee, but the road back from fairytale seasons is often a bumpy one. Just ask 2005 AL Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon.

-- Alex Cushing, Fantasy Reporter

Also receiving consideration (votes): A.J. Burnett, Yankees (2); Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox (1); Brett Myers, Phillies (1); Scott Kazmir, Rays (1); Scott Baker, Twins (1); Carlos Zambrano, Cubs (1); Jon Lester, Red Sox (1); Joba Chamberlain, Yankees (1)


Francisco Rodriguez, Mets
Roundtable votes:
2008 stats: 62/69 SVO, 2.24 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 77 Ks

K-Rod won't save 62 games again. Everybody knows this. But more importantly, he's slipping in the efficiency departments. The Mets new fireman saw his strikeout rate drop from 12.03 in 2007 to 10.14 in '08, resulting in a career-low 77 strikeouts. Tack on the fact that former elite closer J.J. Putz will pilfer the occasional save, and you'd probably be better off letting someone else burn a high pick on Rodriguez.

-- Dave Feldman, Fantasy Reporter

Also receiving consideration (votes): Kerry Wood, Indians (3); Brad Lidge, Phillies (2); Bobby Jenks, White Sox (1); Matt Lindstrom, Marlins (1); B.J. Ryan, Blue Jays (1)

2009 Preseason All-Overrated Team
C: Joe Mauer, MIN
1B: Carlos Delgado, NYM
2B: Dustin Pedroia, BOS
SS: Mike Aviles, KC
3B: Garrett Atkins, COL
OF: Matt Holliday, OAK
OF: Josh Hamilton, TEX
OF: Manny Ramirez, LAD
SP: Cliff Lee, CLE
RP: Francisco Rodriguez, NYM

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.