ASK ROTOMAN: How Much Is Potential?

Dear Rotoman:

For several years i have been waiting for two players to become regulars, hit around .280, and become true value players. No. 1 is Joaquin Arias (SF Giants) and Luis Valbuena (Chicago Cubs). I still think both have good potential, but they are not so young as they were a while ago. Do they ever reach their potential as i envision it?

“Two Prospects (Past Due)”

Dear TPPD:

It seems like a long time ago I had a bit of a thing for Luis Valbuena. I look back now on his stats and I’m mystified. I paid money for this guy? He has always been terrible at the major league level.

But he wasn’t always playing at the major league level. In Triple-A his stats were pretty good, year after year.

So, first of all, don’t rely on Triple-A stats for major league projections. Good major league candidates often skip Triple-A. And plenty of players who are pretty good but not major league ready thrive in Triple-A. We call them Quad-A, FWIW.

Luis Valbuena is one of those guys. Get over him. The clock has ticked and you were wrong about him. He can’t hit or run or hit for power. Over.

I never much cared about Joaquin Arias. Nice name, but he hasn’t nicked my platinum prospect shine.

Maybe that’s because as an offensive player he’s been offensive. He has had some defensive value, if you like Fangraph’s WAR evaluations. But even if you don’t, there is no way you can possibly say that Joaquin Arias is a breakout offensive candidate this year or in the future.

Potential is the ability to outperform expectations, which tend to settle in the middle. Luis Valbuena and Joaquin Arias may have better times, they could play better or they could be used better, but so far they are near to the dregs. At their age and previous performance, it would be lunacy to think they have any future potential.

And I think they serve as a good cautionary tale about putting too much faith in Triple-A stats and defensive prowess.  A good fantasy strategy is to avoid losers. Luis and Joaquin are doing fine in the real world, but in the fantasy world they’re losers.