Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
My parents are thoughtful. I know this because when they went on vacation without me last summer, they brought back something special.
This gift I speak of came in the form of a bobblehead from the Babe Ruth Museum in Baltimore. As a collector of bobbleheads I was thrilled to receive this, until I actually looked to see what was inside the box.
If I had to grade this particular bobblehead I'd give it an incomplete. Here's why. The bobblehead featured the Babe swinging a bat, except there was no bat to be found. The Bambino, in all his pudgy, cigar-puffing glory, was swinging at air.
This bobblehead still sits on my desk at home and I keep it there for two reasons. The first reason is that it makes me laugh every time I see it. And the second is because it's a metaphor for life. In life, you don't always get what you pay for, even if there's a picture right on the box. The same is true in fantasy baseball.
If you've ever been in an auction draft, I'm sure you've overpaid for a player. We've all done it. But for every fantasy bust, there are just as many bargains. And that's the beauty of fantasy isn't it? You just never know.
Below are six players who have exceeded expectations and six others who have failed to reach the high standards we set for them at the start of the year. We've also included the price you paid for each player on draft day (using ESPN 10-team rotisserie pricing) versus how much they're actually worth.
Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
Draft day price: $7
True value: $23
What are they feeding these guys down in Cuba? This is ridiculous. Abreu (.274, 22 HR, 60 RBI) has power for days and I have a feeling we haven't even scratched the surface yet. Abreu versus Giancarlo Stanton is the matchup we all want to see in the Home Run Derby. Make it happen, MLB.
Michael Brantley, OF, Cleveland Indians
Draft day price: $1
True value: $26
Talk about a wise investment. Brantley (.323, 11 HR, 49 RBI, 9 SB) was going for chump change three months ago. Now he's one of the most coveted outfielders in fantasy. June has been his best month yet with ten RBI and a .378 average in 74 trips to the plate. And he just turned 27. This guy has keeper written all over him.
Brian Dozier, 2B, Minnesota Twins
Draft day price: $5
True value: $23
A second baseman with power? Sign me up. Dozier (.252, 15 HR, 38 RBI) was a sleeper pick on draft day, as in we were all snoozing when someone took him for five bucks. Now he has as many home runs as Jose Altuve, Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia and Chase Utley ... combined. And he's done it while playing half of his games at home-run-deterrent Target Field. Imagine how many dingers Dozier would have if he played at Yankee Stadium. Did I mention he also steals bases (15-for-19)?
Victor Martinez, DH, Detroit Tigers
Draft day price: $7
True value: $29
Washed up? Nah, son. V-Mart's been cooking all season. The 35-year-old might reach his career-high in homers (25) by the All-Star break. Martinez (.329, 19 HR, 50 RBI) has been the best hitter on the Tigers this season. Miguel Cabrera plays for the Tigers. Think about that for a second. Turns out, he's also been quite the fantasy bargain.
Brandon Moss, 1B, Oakland Athletics
Draft day price: $9
True value: $17
Billy Beane, you son of a gun. Seriously, how does he keep finding these guys? The Tigers spent almost $300 million to keep Miguel Cabrera happy this offseason. Moss, on the other hand, will make $4.1 million in 2014. Guess who has more home runs? Not Miggy.
Masahiro Tanaka, SP, New York Yankees
Draft day price: $11
True value: $28
"Oh he's not going to be as good as Darvish." You're right. He's better than Darvish. In fact, an argument could be made that Tanaka (11-2, 2.11 ERA, 0.96 WHIP) is better than EVERYONE right now. Tanaka's splitter is legendary, his cutter is unhittable and his curve ball is a gift from the gods. Just wait 'till he gets that Eephus pitch working.
Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
Draft day price: $25
True value: $13
Sure, Braun missed a couple weeks with an oblique strain but he's still not performing like a $25 player (.279, 10 HR, 41 RBI in 247 at bats). I wonder if it's the ... okay we won't go there. Either way, if you paid more than $13 for Braun on draft day, you got ripped off.
Chris Davis, 1B, Baltimore Orioles
Draft day price: $34
True value: $6
I expected some regression from Davis after his absurd 2013 campaign (.286, 53 HR, 138 RBI) but even I wasn't prepared for this (.221 AVG, 80 K's in 221 at bats). Early in the year, it looked like Davis even forgot how to hit the long ball (just two homers in March and April). If we drafted again today would I be able to get Davis for only $6? Of course not. But to this point, he's hit like a $6 player.
Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals
Draft day price: $18
True value: $0
This is where it gets ugly. I never bought the hype with Hosmer but I guess a lot of you did. And that was your first mistake. But what's even crazier to me is how many of you have stood by the guy. Even with just four homers in 318 at bats (not to mention his dismal .252 batting average), Hosmer is still owned in almost 94 percent of leagues on ESPN. Come on guys. Give it up. Cheer for Hosmer all you want. Just know that he's worth zilch in fantasy.
Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Draft day price: $14
True value: $6
Kemp (.270, 7 HR, 28 RBI, 5 SB) has been perfectly average this year. But you didn't pay for average. You paid for an All-Star. By all accounts, the 29- year-old has peaked. Even if he ends up getting traded, there's no guarantee it will resurrect his fantasy value. And to think, you could have had Michael Brantley for four quarters.
Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston Red Sox
Draft day price: $22
True value: $4
We keep saying this is the month but it never is for The Laser Show. Pedroia's power abandoned him last season (just one homer after August 1st), which should have been the first red flag. But now he's not even hitting for average (.265 in 76 games). If it's any consolation, Pedroia has only made one error this season (.997 fielding percentage is second in the league among second baseman).
Max Scherzer, SP, Detroit Tigers
Draft day price: $19
True value: $12
To be fair, Scherzer's numbers are a little skewed after giving up ten runs to Kansas City last week. But even before that, he wasn't pitching like a Cy Young contender and that's what you should be getting when you fork over $19 for a starting pitcher. Scherzer (3.71 ERA, .251 BAA) turned down a six-year, $144 million contract extension this past offseason. Who's your agent, Max? Oh yeah, it's Scott Boras. Ouch.
If any of you come across a miniature bat, give me a shout. I think the Babe might be looking for it.