Hit or Myth? Big Names Who Don’t Live Up to Their Reputation

Image of Justin Morneau taken from Zimbio




When it comes to scanning potential draft lists before the season or watching the waiver wire looking for help, we can’t help but be tempted by a big name. We’ve all seen them… a player whose name alone carries with it the promise of great things. Usually due to past success, these names literally jump off the page at us and beg us to add them to our rosters. Before we jump right in and put our faith in such “name” players, let’s consider a few names and what they may still have left to offer a fantasy roster.

Grady Sizemore (CLE)

Grady Sizemore signing autographs

Image via Wikipedia

The trendy sleeper pick entering 2011 was coming off 2 poor campaigns including a sub-par season (2009) and a horrific season (2010). He has always carried with him the alluring power/speed combo so sought after in fantasy. Surgery on his right knee coupled with a recent left knee injury all but guarantee his stolen base days are well behind him. Sure, he’s hitting for power this year again but that alone is not what the name “Grady” evokes.
Justin Morneau (MIN)
Winning the AL MVP in 2006, Home Run Derby in 2008 and finishing 2nd in the AL MVP race in 2008 is the kind of pedigree that will land you on most fantasy wish lists. However, a concussion suffered in June 2010 has drastically changed Morneau. As we have seen in the NHL, concussions are a strange injury that we still don’t fully understand. The days of Morneau raking his way through the Junior Circuit may be behind him.
Jim Thome (MIN)
Boy, talk about a great career. Only 9 HR shy of 600, Thome is bound for Cooperstown but probably not your fantasy roster. Although he did manage to slug .627 in 2010 at the age of 39, minor injuries and a lack of playing time make him a shadow of his former self.
Derek Jeter (NYY)
When you talk about name recognition, Jeter is the poster boy. Playing in New York certainly helped his cause over the years but there is no doubt that he is a bona fide big leaguer bound for the Hall. However, we have started to see the chinks in the armour all season long and it may finally be time to admit there are much better options available elsewhere. His name alone offers you trade value.
Jake Peavy (CWS)
Peavy led the league twice in ERA (2004, 2007), finished 1st in Ks twice (2005, 2007) finished 2nd in Ks once (2006) and won the NL Cy Young Award in 2007. That kind of track record will put you on the radar of any fantasy owner. However, injuries have made his switch to the AL a disaster and even when healthy, pitching in homer-friendly U.S. Cellular Field is not an ideal situation. He gave up 4 runs in 6 IP in his 2011 debut and claims to be pitching at “about 80%”. Not encouraging.
Brandon Webb (TEX)
Due to his past success, Webb never seems to find a lack of suitors, either in fantasy or on the field (see: Texas Rangers). There is little doubt that from 2006-2008, Webb was one of the best pitchers in the NL. He won the 2006 NL Cy Young Award, in 2007 had a stretch of 3 straight complete game shutouts and opened the 2008 season with 9 wins in 9 games. Talk about name recognition. However, since 2009 he has pitched exactly 4 innings and seems to encounter setbacks at every turn in his attempts to return to the mound.
Vernon Wells (LAA)
What is it about California teams and their propensity for bad contracts? Ask the Dodgers how things worked out with Andruw Jones, Jason Schmidt or Darren Dreifort for that matter. Real teams overpay for name recognition all the time. Make sure you don’t follow suit. Monster seasons in 2003 and 2006 branded Wells as a big time player. However, he offers more with his glove than his bat and in fantasy terms, that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans (especially 126 million of them in Wells’ case).
Sure, there will always be those players in baseball that warrant an early pick or large auction bid, but try to remember that names aren’t everything. After all, it was Shakespeare who once said “A Pete Rose by any other name would swing as sweet”. Or was that Yogi Berra?



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