Stephen Strasburg Wake-Up Call?

Last season the fantasy baseball world was abuzz over Matt Wieters and the potential impact he could make.  Of course, all the hype caused his value on draft day to rise exponentially, costing owners who gambled on him dearly.  In 2010, we could see a similar situation developing with phenom Stephen Strasburg.

Strasburg, the first overall selection in the 2009 entry draft is already very well known.  Many have projected him to be a must start fantasy option right from Opening Day and while I will look at him closer as the offseason progresses and give a projection for him, his performance in the Arizona Fall League, his first true professional experience, is something that needs to be noted.

While he threw 3.1 innings of two-hit baseball in his first start, he got rocked in his second outing just a few days ago.  He allowed eight runs (seven earned), including three home runs, over just 2.2 innings.

Among the hitters to take him deep were:

  • Russ Mitchell, a Los Angeles Dodgers 1B prospect who hit just 13 HR over 456 AB in Double-A in 2009
  • C.J. Retherford, a Chicago White Sox 2B prospect who hit 10 HR over 478 AB in Double-A in 2009
  • Casper Wells, a Detroit Tigers OF prospect who hit 15 HR over 311 AB in Double-A in 2009

While this was just one start and should not be given too much credence in what too expect from Strasburg moving forward, facing off against prospects who are far from elite, you would want to see better results.  Obviously, people are going to have bad days.  It happens to everyone.  It’s to be expected.

Still, I hope this type of performance gives fantasy owners a bit of a wake-up call.  If the struggles of Wieters early in 2009, not even debuting until late May and then not really producing much until September, was not enough this hopefully gives a bit more reason for owners to be cautious.

It is just one start.  He could go out there for the next few weeks and strikeout the ballpark, posting impressive rates across the board.  Still, let the lessons of our past as well as this start serve as a bit of a wake-up call.

Outside of those in dynasty formats, do not get too caught up in the hype of a player who has never stepped foot on a major league diamond.  There will be owners in your leagues who are ready to pounce on him well before many pitchers who we have already ranked in to Top 35 (click here to view).

Don’t let them force your hand into drafting him earlier than you are comfortable.  It’s too big of a risk, and while it is one that could bring tremendous rewards, it could also sink your season.

We’ll get a better idea in a few months as to where he’s going in drafts, but I can already tell you it is likely too early.  We’ll soon see, but do not throw caution to the wind when analyzing where to draft him.  He is still a rookie.  He is still no guarantee to start the season in the majors (like Wieters or David Price) and he certainly is no guarantee to perform up to expectations.

What are your thoughts on him?  Is he a pitcher you are willing to reach for or will you let someone else take on the risk?

To read the previous article, click here.

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

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