St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha should be a fantasy baseball sleeper in 2014 drafts if only the hoopla surrounding his stats would allow it. The 21-year-old righty only has 14 career starts under his belt, yet it seems the fantasy crowd wants to anoint him as the next NL CY Young recipient before the season begins.
Is he worthy of such high praise with limited experience? The numbers say yes. In nine regular season starts in 2013, Wacha had a 4-1 record boasting a 2.78 ERA, 1.098 WHIP and a 65-19 strikeout to walk ratio in 64.2 innings.
Of course the true buzz was a product of his postseason performance. Wacha started five games, winning four and losing one, with a 2.64 ERA, .91 WHIP and a 33 to 12 strikeout to walk ratio in 30.2 innings.
Wacha finished his spring training season Thursday, throwing five innings against the Miami Marlins and allowing just one earned run on four hits with six Ks. His ERA through spring training – 1.77.
Wacha is now slated to be the No. 2 starter in a deadly Cardinals rotation. The proverbial stars are lined up, and without intentionally dating myself I must admit the musical lyrics “the future’s so bright I gotta wear shades” reverberates through my noggin as I write about Wacha.
So what’s the problem you may ask? Wacha is no longer a guy you can wait on in fantasy drafts. Depending on your league size and the number of Wacha “bro-mances” your draft mates have, you may need to start thinking Wacha as early as round eight.
Personally, round eight is a value pick as Wacha has borderline top ten ability; I was just hoping he would fall much further.
Stats, trends and buzzwords can work in your favor on draft day, if they fly under the radar. Unfortunately there is little about Wacha that misses the 2014 draft radar. The challenge will be determining where in your league he will be drafted and deciding if you trust his stats enough to pull the trigger earlier than you had anticipated.
Regardless, Wacha still has value — just not as much as before his name became fantasy draft day banter. It all comes down to just how good you believe he will inevitably be and at what price do you want to pay for him.