Every season there are a handful of guys on the board early in drafts that can make or break your teams.
If healthy and performing well these guys are among the best in the league at their respective positions. However if they aren’t, they become very frustrating to deal with.
For me, no player fits this billing more than Boston Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz.
It’s always a big if when dealing with Buccholz. When he’s healthy he has shown the ability to become a fantasy ace. But when he’s not Buchholz is a guy that can kill your team sitting on the disabled list or most of the season.
He has a current ADP of 209.5 this year so you wouldn’t be mortgaging the farm to get him.
But at the end of the day is the risk forth the reward?
For 108 innings pitched last season, Buchholz performed like a fantasy ace, posting a 1.74 ERA and 1.02 WHIP while winning 12 games and 96 batters.
But here’s where the problem lies.
Injuries again hurt Buchholz as he was limited to only those 108 innings pitched.
Should he be treated like a fantasy ace when healthy?
The numbers would suggest no.
Buchholz’s 23 percent K rate supports his status, but his 8.7 percent BB rate is below league average. On top of a fairly high walk rate, his ERA seems bound to regress from the 1.74 number in 2013. His FIP was 2.78 and his xFIP was 3.41 meaning his ERA was probably unrealistically low during 2013.
His cutter is outstanding and hitters are making weaker than typical contact against him, but his 4.5 HR/FB rate is off the charts and very likely to regress as well. He also posted a five year high in Line Drive percentage.
My advice would be to let someone else end up with Buchholz this year as the numbers suggest he is due for a big regression.
If shoulder issues aren’t enough to scare you away, the trends in his numbers should be enough to do the trick.
Add in the fact that in six major league seasons he has never broken 190 innings pitched and Buchholz is a guy you should be doing your best to stay clear from as your drafts near.
Don’t make the mistake in overvaluing him as you will likely be kicking yourself for doing so when it is all said and done.