There is no getting around it, but to this point in his career, Clay Buchholz has been a massive disappointment. It pains me to pen those words, but it’s true. He was once on track to be a fantasy baseball stud but grim reality set in. Few players in Major League Baseball have shown so much promise while still breaking the hearts of the Boston Red Sox nation.
Promise is a word that gets me. I will admit that I am sucker for stuff, but more often than not, talent rewards patience. I have a saying that you may want to remember that certainly applies in the case of Mr. Buchholz. “Top prospects eventually produce top results.”
Is it foolproof that all top prospects eventually become fantasy studs? Absolutely not, but for a player to be ranked highly as a prospect, there are one or more areas in which they stand out significantly. Very infrequently is a safe and solid prospect ranked inside anyone’s top ten.
Though many touted prospects go through rough patches before they break through, give me the guy that has more tools than everyone else. Give me the player who was deemed more talented that everyone else in his age bracket. I am an upside freak, and there is no player that I love more than Clay Buchholz heading into the 2013 MLB season.
In 2008, Baseball America listed Buchholz as their number four prospect in baseball for the season. He was ranked higher than Clayton Kershaw, David Price, and Gio Gonzalez in addition to Andrew McCutchen, Jason Heyward, and Carlos Gonzalez. Let those names sink in a little. This was a mere five years ago that the top-scouting site in the game ranked Buchholz as a better prospect than those guys.
While many would argue that Buchholz is not the same player that he was when those rankings came out, I would argue that his supposed transformation will be a good thing in the end.
Obviously, Buchholz has suffered from a litany of injuries over the past several seasons. While the list goes on and on, you will notice than he has yet to suffer a major arm injury. It has always been to other areas of the body.
Despite the fact that Buchholz is 28-years-old, he has surprisingly few miles on the tires, and should be able to get more innings out of the later part of his career, presumably when he is wiser. Clay has never made 30 starts in a season and has yet to top 200 innings.
Buchholz still has the unreal stuff that got him elevated to the bigs at a young age and allowed him to throw a no hitter. He is still that talented, and I think that it is going to show in 2013.
2012 was a lost year in many ways for the Red Sox as a whole, but also for Clay. The situation and atmosphere was toxic, as you could see it from miles away. Things seem to have calmed down in Beantown, and this should be Clay’s chance. The rotation is wide open at the top. Jon Lester had a miserable season in 2012 and Ryan Dempster was brought on to aid the front half of the rotation. The role of ace is up for grabs and I would be shocked if Buchholz didn’t grab onto it.
From a fantasy perspective, I see Buchholz nestling himself right inside the top 15. I would project 17 wins to go along with 194 strikeouts. I also think that he will correct the WHIP and ERA issues to a manageable level. Buchholz may or may not be a guy that can win you your league on his own, but regardless, he will be a draft day value if you give him the chance.