Prospect Fatigue: A New Market Inefficiency?
I don’t want to sound like an alarmist doctor who is trying to frighten you into buying something I’m hocking, but Prospect Fatigue is a very real thing. Prospect Fatigue is when a prospect has been in the public consciousness for so long that they appear to have lost some of their luster, when in reality they contain the same potential we initially assessed. You see it all the time. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ve already experienced Prospect Fatigue in your past. If so, you’ve likely experienced some or all of the following symptoms:
involuntary slamming of one’s head into a desk
wistful staring at box scores
deep, soul crushing regret
There are others of course, as we’re only just beginning to understand this pervasive issue. What we do know is that it can create an environment in which the savvy fantasy owner can take advantage of those suffering from Prospect Fatigue. Sure, sometimes the lack of interest or lost value of a prospect is legitimate but we can often hold too much of a grudge against a prospect that we’ve seen struggle, despite the presence of adjustment to those struggles. Below, I’m going to discuss a few prospects I think have lost some of their shine due to struggles or possibly, for no reason whatsoever.
Mike Olt – 3B – TEX
Olt has been on the verge of mattering to fantasy owners for some time. That’s part of the issue. The other part is that he doesn’t really have anywhere to play. Oh, and yeah he was terrible to start the year but part of that was related to an vision issue. While that issue has been addressed and he’s returned to action, he still hasn’t been the stud we want him to be. He has been better though and I think that there is a buy low opportunity here. I know saying “buy low” is useless without providing some options, but drop some ideas in the comments and I’ll let you know. Suffice it to say, I still think he’s a top 100 prospect.
Taijuan Walker – SP – SEA
Maybe it’s just me but I feel like people aren’t “getting” Taijuan Walker. He was my second ranked pitching prospect for much of last year and into the offseason and it seems as though he’s been passed in many’s eyes by the likes of Zack Wheeler and Archie Bradley among others. All prodigious talents, no doubt. But I think what Walker is doing is getting lost in the shuffle. His numbers as a 20-year old at Double-A: 77.1 IP, 52 H, 22 ER, 30 BB, 84 K (!), 2.56 ERA, 1.06 WHIP. AS A TWENTY YEAR OLD. IN DOUBLE-A. Yes, it is his second go at Double-A, but he was incredibly young the first time and perhaps qualifies as merely super young this time. That you might not have to pay through the nose to get this kid means people aren’t paying enough attention.
Cheslor Cuthbert – 3B – KC
All the rage after a breakout 2011 (if you look up the numbers they were depressed by a weak finish to the season due to exhaustion), Cuthbert disappointed all his new fans and fantasy owners by showing some makeup issues and production issues in 2012. That lack of production and the subsequent hit to his value seems to be persisting despite an excellent start to his 2013 season, one in his he’s already received a promotion. Cuthbert earned the move to Double-A by hitting .280/.354/.418 in the Hi-A Carolina league, a vast improvement over his .240/.296/.322 effort in 2012 at the same level. Still only 20 years old and already in Double-A, it might be a good to time invest in Cuthbert. The Royals Double-A affiliate plays in Northwest Arkansas and their stadium is a luscious environment for hitters. If you can buy him now, he could explode in that hitters paradise as a 20-year old and the hype train will once again be moving full steam ahead.
These three players are just examples of the value that can be had when your fellow fantasy owners are beset by prospect fatigue. Be ever vigilant both in guarding yourself from this disease and in exploiting those who have fallen to it. Do so, and you’ll be rewarded with great value.