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To not be recognized for quality, significance or value. To not hold in sufficiently high esteem. In the world of fantasy sports, it's to be undervalued based on a player's average draft position (ADP).
There are various reasons why a player could be undervalued and under-appreciated.
Many young players are undervalued, because fantasy owners are unaware of their abilities. They have not seen the player enough to know what he can do. Or they have seen him a few times, but are unconvinced that he can continue at a given level because his resume isn't long enough.
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Drew Stubbs would fit into this category. In his first full season at the major league level, Stubbs posted excellent fantasy numbers, giving fantasy owners 22 HR and 30 stolen bases. He was particularly good in the second half when he batted .281 with an OPS of .857, 148 points higher than before the All-Star break. His 2010 numbers are similar to those of Matt Kemp (ADP 19), Nelson Cruz (ADP 27) and Shin-Soo Choo (ADP 29), but Stubbs (ADP 59) can be selected two rounds later because fantasy owners are not confident in his ability to repeat those numbers.
Another under-appreciated youngster in this category is Florida first baseman Gaby Sanchez. In his first bit of full-time action, Sanchez hit .273 with 19 HR, 85 RBI and 72 runs scored yet his current ADP is 226. His numbers look most like veteran Derrek Lee's statistics who is being selected 36 picks early with his ADP of 190.
Veteran players can be unappreciated because they are on the downside of their career and fantasy owners believe the drop in production will be significant.
Vladimir Guerrero is a member of this category. Despite having his best season since 2006 (29 HR, 115 RBI, .300 batting average, .841 OPS), Guerrero isn't getting much respect in 2011. His ADP is a mediocre 142, meaning he is being selected in the 12th round. Delmon Young posted almost identical numbers in 2010 (.298, 21 HR, 112 RBI, .826 OPS) yet his ADP is 90 or 52 picks before Guerrero.
Bobby Abreu is a veteran of the "wars" and continues to put up solid numbers, yet isn't getting the respect he deserves in 2011 fantasy drafts. Sure, his batting average of .255 was the lowest its been since 1997, but he was still a 20-20 guy last season. Abreu has had 20-or-more steals in 12 consecutive seasons and 20-or-more homers in nine of the past 12 years. There were just seven 20-20 hitters last season and Abreu was one of them, but his ADP is lagging at 118 this draft season.
One of my favorite "sleepers" this season is new San Francisco Giants shortstop Miguel Tejada. Most fantasy owners have forgotten about Tejada because he was playing third base the last few seasons. His numbers are pedestrian for the "hot corner" but as a shortstop, his 2010 numbers of 15 HR, 71 RBI and 71 runs scored place him in the top half dozen at the position. Yet his ADP is a minuscule 271. If you don't use an early round selection on Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki, or Jose Reyes, I recommend picking up Tejada late in the draft and starting him every day.
Or a player can be coming off an injury, or starting the season off at less than 100%.
Justin Morneau was in the midst of a monster season in 2010 when he was sidelined by a long-lasting concussion. He's only just started to play ball again and his ADP of 54 reflects concern for his ability to play all season long. Through the first week of July, Morneau had already hit 18 homers and knocked in 56 and was headed for a 30-120 season when a slide into second base and a knee to the head ended his season. Assuming he looks healthy during the final week of spring training, Morneau is a bargain as a fifth-round pick.
A fourth reason is that the player could be coming off a year where he didn't live up to expectations and fantasy owners are overreacting in the opposite direction.
A perfect example here is Baltimore Orioles recently acquired third baseman Mark Reynolds. Just a year ago he was the talk of fantasy owners everywhere after posting a 44 HR, 102 RBI, 24 SB season. As a third-round pick in 2010, he was a major disappointment, batting below the "Mendoza Line" and stealing just seven bases. He did hit 32 homers and knock in 85 runs but an .067 batting average with zero home runs in September had him finishing the season watching from your bench. His ADP has fallen from 36 in 2010 to 89 in 2011 and he could be a nice bargain if he returns to form.
Pablo Sandoval, "Kung Fu Panda," was another disappointment from 2010 who isn't getting any appreciation in 2011. After making a big splash in 2009 with a .330 batting average, 25 HR, 90 RBI season, Sandoval stumbled in 2010 (.268, 13 HR, 63 RBI) and fantasy owners apparently haven't forgiven him. He's still got a sweet swing, but he's dropped to the 12th round (ADP 111) and that's simply too low for a third baseman of his ability. If Sandoval is still available in the 11th round, don't let him get past you. Even if you have one of the top third basemen already on your roster, he could be trading material because of the position scarcity at third base.
The moral of the story here is that just because other fantasy owners aren't "giving love" to a player, doesn't mean you follow the crowd. Independent thinking wins championship.
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