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Sunday, April 3, 2016

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: POST-HYPE TAG MAY APPLY TO CHRIS OWINGS

Almost anyone who takes part in fantasy baseball just can't help but be seduced by the almighty draft "sleeper" or the hitter/pitcher who is not anywhere near proven but whose pedigree suggests eventual stardom.  Often we grossly overpay for these players and the bust rate is extremely high here.  Still we continually go back to the well on such players season after season with little sign of change in our habits.  However the fallout from those sleeper busts is that many often fall into another bin called the "post-hype sleeper" where eventually the talent starts to emerge but this time with no one paying much attention.  We have talked endlessly on this subject for years in terms of how some of the very best fantasy baseball values come out of this grouping.  The talent that made us all drool in the first place sometimes takes a few seasons to reveal itself and then the draft value can go through the roof.  It certainly looks like this is taking place (at least in the just completed spring training) when it comes to Arizona Diamondbacks 2B/SS Chris Owings who has been of the hottest players in the game with a bat in his hand during the exhibition campaign.  Putting a nice bow on his Cactus League performance, Owings cracked his third spring home run on Saturday with an insane 8 stolen bases and a monster .368 average.  Thus Owings looked nothing like the guy who was overmatched at the dish in 2015 as he hit a listless .227 with 4 home runs and 16 steals in 515 at-bats.  However 2015 was the first occasion where Owings got a clear chance to be a starter and while he did no doubt struggle, he also was dinged up quite a bit and was just 23-years-old.  We don't need to tell you how many young pitchers and hitters have struggled initially during an extended MLB look and Owings won't be the last.  Now 24 and with a better idea of what he needed to do to succeed, Owings looks like a different player this spring.  There has been no letup from the ropes Owings has hit all over the diamond this spring which adds some legitimacy to his numbers and at the very least he is remaining very aggressive on the base paths.  Now as far as the issues Owings has to try and put in the rearview mirror, the 26.1 K rate and tiny 4.7 walk rate last season is a big no-no combination.  But in 2014 with the D-Backs, Owings stuck out in a decent enough 20.2 percent of his at-bats which is encouraging.  If Owings can be in that K rate area code, then things could proceed nicely. 

Remember that shortstops who can both hit for power and run like Owings are incredibly tough to find and the big spring performance should have him off the wire in all formats in order to see if this can carry over into the regular season.  We could be seeing the beginning of a classic post-hype sleeper run by Owings and the payoff could be immense. 

 

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