Introducing A New Award, Sort of

This is the best rookie class for fantasy baseball nerds in a long time, possibly of all time. Between hitters like Miguel Sano, Joc Pederson, Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, Carlos Correa and pitchers ranging from Roberto Osuna to Lance McCullers, Noah Syndergaard and Raisel Iglesias et al. Rather than focus on the rookies that win roto-MVP awards or fantasy Cy Youngs, and since I’m a big fan of self-deprecation, I’ll be focusing on the rookies I gambled and whiffed on. I’m tentatively calling it the “Sigh, young” because sometimes I would see what my young players did and just audible sigh. Prospects can break your heart. If I were more clever, I’d think of a separate award for hitters and pitchers, but alas, I am not. Perhaps the comment section will help. I’ve limited the player pool by only including rookie hitters with a minimum of 100 plate appearances or rookie pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched.

Candidate No. 1: Michael Lorenzen
I was pretty high on Lorenzen coming into the season as a sleeper type pick. I loved (and still do love) his 94-95 mph fastball however his heater/slider combo failed to generate outs against opposite-handed hitters at an efficient rate. Lefties blasted him for a .439 wOBA this year as his changeup just didn’t develop the way I hoped. Factor in a .375 BABIP and a 32.4 percent Hard% off the barrel of left-handed hitter’s bats — with the latter ranking 26th highest in baseball (minimum 40 innings pitched) — as well as me underestimating his control issues and home park too much and you have yourself a disappointing starter. He’ll be playing his age-24 season next year, so Lorenzen has plenty of time, but it looks like I was a year or two early. According to ESPN’s player rater, Lorenzen’s -3.65 rating ranks him as the 672nd best pitcher. For context, only 696 pitchers generated a ranking, so yeah, he didn’t pan out for me.

Candidate No. 2: Steven Souza
I wasn’t just high on Souza as sleeper, I legitimately thought he’d be a very good player this year. I had him pegged as my preseason AL rookie of the year based on his power and speed upside (note: for additional high comedy, I had Gary Brown as a deep sleeper). Granted injuries derailed his season and limited Souza to just 366 plate appearances this year, yet his massive 35.5 percent strikeout rate cratered his rate stats. I guess I was right that his power and speed would translate to the big leagues fairly well as he’s currently sitting on 15 dingers and a dozen steals, but they come attached to a brutal .216/.304/.398 line. ESPN has Souza ranked as the 192nd best hitter with a 1.50 rating. Given that I drafted him rather than a mid-season pickup like Lorenzen, I’m thinking Souza has been the bigger disappointment.

Candidate No. 3: Addison Russell
While Bryant and Schwarber are flashing the bats in their rookie seasons, Russell’s .239/.297/.393 line has been a far cry from what I envisioned for him. The 13 home runs are about the only positive offensive attribute and I just didn’t see a 29.8 percent strikeout rate from him. Russell is still in his age-21 season so he has plenty of time to develop, but man, Russell was all sorts of bad for me. Again using the ESPN player rater, he posted a 1.02 rating and is the 207th ranked hitter. Russell was a mid-season pick up for me as well, however I gave him a ton of playing time. The kicker is I would occasionally sit him, so he hit just nine home runs for me according to my team log. And yes, his two home run game happened while he was on my bench. Lovely.

There are other “Sigh, young” candidates out there that I didn’t have rostered or ranked highly enough to warrant disappointment, namely Carlos RodonJorge SolerAustin Hedges, Byron Buxton, Mike Foltynewicz and Michael Montgomery among others, and I’m sure given the fact misery loves company I’ll get some additional candidates in the comments section. For my three candidates, it’s hard to penalize Souza for the injury as it wasn’t really his fault, and Lorenzen was a sleeper type pick that I hoped would pan out. So for me, my “Sigh, young” winner for most frustrating prospect who I overplayed this year is Addison Russell.

You can catch David spouting off about baseball, soccer, esports and other things by following him on twitter, @davidwiers.

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Javier Baez- saw him almost universally drafted, but did not hit the bigs until a few weeks ago since Russell and Castro were blocking him