Upside, Baseball’s Tempting Mistress



Mar 12, 2016; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves shortstop Ozzie Albies (87) loses his helmet while running to third base during the sixth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

If you manage a fantasy baseball team, you know what the term “upside” is. Upside is a thought or a feeling we have towards baseball players, typically young ones. We draft these players, not on what they have done, but what we think they will do. I’m not here to tell you that looking for upside is wrong, or why you shouldn’t chase it. However, neither am I here to tell you who to chase and why. I am merely here to examine the phenomena.

Let’s look at the 2018 season and some of the hyped players that came out of it. Most players first get their hype from being on a “ranked” list of prospects, typically in a top 100 list from a site. From there people realize their existence and begin to follow them on their track to the Big Leagues. When they get “the phone call” the fantasy community lights up. Is this a good thing? Well, that’s something I can’t answer. On one hand, you have players such as Ozzie Albies, who has had quite the start to 2018. As of writing this, he is batting .306 with 5 home runs and 16 runs scored. You are more than happy to have him in your fantasy franchise. This happens a lot with young exciting talent, they live up to the expectations that are given to them, except of course for when they don’t. Matt Harvey anyone? How about Amed Rosario?

Now you can explain away Harvey with the simple mention of his injury, but that is not the point I’m trying to make. Upside can be something we relentlessly chase after, like a casino patron winning some money, so he decides to keep on playing. The driving force behind this upside? As mentioned before, Prospect lists. Now I am not here to say every prospect list should be ignored or that they’re even wrong. It just depends on where you are getting your information. Amed Rosario was one of the top prospects to debut last year according to MLB Pipeline’s list. However, if you only use their list. You are missing out on one HUGE aspect. MLB Pipeline takes defense into account when ranking prospects. I don’t know too many leagues that are looking to defensive studs on the field.

Let’s take a look at another hyped player that burst onto the scene last year. Rhys Hoskins. Hoskins had 38 home runs in Double-A, yet never made the “list”, leading him to go under the fantasy radar if you will. He had great plate discipline, plus power, everything you could want in a fantasy stud. The only reason he was a surprise player on the scene in 2017, was because people hadn’t heard of him. (Ok so there was also that rookie home run record to….. but my point is people weren’t hyped when he first came up.

So you are probably asking yourself where is he going with this? Is there some sort of message to take away from this random guys thought he has written down? Well, yes of course. Otherwise, it would be just a random guy ranting on without a meaning. Prospects are exciting. Youth in baseball brings new fans to an age-old sport. Players like Albies, Hoskins and more bring excitement into the game I love, fantasy and real life. Likewise, there are Shelby Miller’s that potentially get me to overpay for the upside in fantasy without getting any benefits from it whatsoever. So when researching your prospects, know what the site is, how they determine their rankings, and how you should react as a result. If you feel inclined, you could even go digging past the “top 100” and find hidden gems before they emerge. Regardless of what stage of the fantasy baseball lifestyle you are in, remember that upside has a reward and a cost.

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