Shiny New Toy Syndrome (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

We all know the nostalgia we experience when unboxing a new toy. The feel of the plastic casing, the brute force used to rip it apart, and even that new toy smell all bring us back to simpler times.

Shiny toy syndrome is characterized by wanting to own the latest new toy and getting an intense, but temporary, sensation of happiness. Now, how does this syndrome not relate to the opportunity to draft this year’s Fernando Tatis Jr., Eloy Jimenez, Bo Bichette, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.? As we enter this year’s draft process, some drafters suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and tend to reach for these players just so they feel that euphoria of locking them into a roster spot.

With that said, one must preach caution when targeting certain players because of the “bust” risk associated with them.

Drafting these “new toys” comes with a lot of risks. Last year, Jarred Kelenic, Alex Kirilloff, and Vidal Brujan disappointed many investors. Others were frustrated by the manipulation of a player’s arbitration clock when they took Wander Franco with an early pick and had to wait until June 22 for his call-up.

Going into 2022 drafts, we’re wondering, “What are we to do with this guy?” Let’s look at some of the trendiest new players on the market.

Note: Average Draft Position (ADP) is courtesy of National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) leagues.

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Bobby Witt Jr. (SS – KC) – ADP: 91.9
Bobby Witt Jr. is the highest sought-after prospect heading into 2022 drafts. Compared to past seasons, his promotion feels a little more precarious because of the inclination that the Royals will start Witt on their Opening Day roster. At least, that is the hope.

After having a 30-30 season down in the minor leagues, Witt showed he is ready to make an impact. He has even drawn comparisons to Patrick Mahomes in the type of impact he can have once he debuts for the Royals. Yes, part-owner of the Kansas City Royals, Patrick Mahomes.

Fantasy managers are chomping at the bit to get him into their lineups, and it shows with an ADP inside the top-100 picks. His potential to produce in every counting stat has people enamored. However, who’s to say the Royals do not take the Franco approach and manipulate his service clock in 2022?

Adley Rutschman (C – BAL) – ADP: 174.5
Since anointed him the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball last year, fantasy managers instantly needed to have Rutschman on their roster this season. Whether it’s because he’s produced at every level or his rise speaks more to the position’s volatility and lack of top options, Rutschman is going off of the board as the No. 9 catcher in NFBC drafts.

For someone that could fall under the same manipulation as Witt, taking Rutschman in this area comes with immense risk. Drafters are nevertheless locking him up to avoid FOMO so others do not have the chance to reap Ruthschman’s potential.

ATC and THE BAT project Rutschman to play 106 games for Baltimore this year. Once he gets the call to the majors, he should see near everyday playing time in a lineup that does not currently roster any competition at the position. Are you ready to draft Adley in this spot when you could secure another player who will assure more counting stats from Day 1 of the 2022 MLB season, whenever that may come?

Shane Baz (SP – TB) – ADP: 146.4
One of baseball’s top prospects finally arrived on September 20. Shane Baz instantly dominated, allowing three runs with 18 strikeouts in 13.1 innings across three MLB starts.

Before his call-up, Baz posted a 2.06 ERA with 113 strikeouts, 13 walks, and 0.80 WHIP in 72.2 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Among 522 minor league pitchers with at least 70IP last season, Baz’s 8.7 K / BB ratio topped them all. He also finished second in WHIP, seventh in K rate (37.9%), and eighth in FIP (2.76).

His elite numbers translated over to the majors as soon as he took the mound. With all that said, we need to remember that he pitches for the Rays. As I stated in a previous article, the use of an opener is more prominent now than ever. The Rays are notorious for deploying openers and limiting innings for their starters, especially those just coming up to the majors. That is the risk with taking Baz near his ADP.

If he does get unleashed, Baz can be a top-flight starter. However, if his innings are limited throughout, what counting stats will he truly provide by the end of the season?

Oneil Cruz (SS – PIT) – ADP: 204
Oneil Cruz provided the first significant sign of life for Pittsburgh’s rebuild with hope during his short stint last September. He comes in as the organization’s No. 3 prospect in this organization and has shown potential to hit 30+ home runs each season. Oh, and he also stands at 6’7 ”.

There is a lot to be excited about when it comes to Pittsburgh’s young shortstop. Cruz, who hit a 118.2-mph single in his debut, ranks in the 99th percentile in max exit velocity. However, with no indication of being ready to compete in 2022, the Pirates could start Cruz in Triple-A, where he can work on cutting down a high strikeout rate that has some concerned as to how much contact he’ll make in MLB.

Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?

As we continue to work through mock drafts and prepare for baseball to ramp up, drafters must decide which players are worth taking a chance on in order to reap the rewards of a shiny new toy’s potential. What impact will they have once the season starts, and if they aren’t in the Opening Day lineup, how long can you afford to roster them before they become a waiver-wire casualty?

These are the decisions drafters must make before you go all-in and rip the packaging off these players.

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Cristian Crespo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Cristian, check out his archive and follow him @ CCres_26.


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