When prospect hunting, be careful not to draft the next Albert Belle.
Today marks 10 years since the Yankees threw Darryl Strawberry a second life preserver, rescuing him from Indy ball and bringing him back for another chance as a major leaguer. We all know his sad, self-destructive story, and wonder what could have been, what should have been.
This is a guy that had 252 homers, 191 steals, a ROY award and a World Series title by the age of 28. The Hall of Fame beckoned down the road, as Strawberry was one of the best all-around players in the game. In time, he traded in his Pinstripes for an orange jumpsuit, and the only halls he graces these days tend to be adorned with bars.
The lesson of Strawberry gives pause to the Fantasy owner who thinks he’s got the next big thing on his hands. You’re playing in a keeper league and you’ve drafted that talented superstar in the making, but your decision, as most of ours tend to be in this case, was solely based on statistics.
But how do we measure character? How do we weed the Strawberrys and Albert Belles of the world from the Cal Ripkens and the Dale Murphys?
Obviously there’s no accurate way to predict whether that stud prospect you’re grooming is a ticking time bomb or not, but maybe we should look behind the numbers when making selections like this. Consider a prospect’s makeup before making the investment.
Did we have any reason to suspect that this was Brett Myers’ shirt of choice? Probably not.
But then we see something like what Delmon Young did earlier this year, throwing a bat at an ump, and the warning bells have to go off. This 20-year-old kid oozes talent. He has the potential to be a 40-40 man and enjoy a Hall of Fame career. But he’s clearly a loose wire, perhaps just as likely to pull a Strawberry as he is to become the next Alex Rodriguez.
Regardless of how talented a player is, there’s only so many chances that will be offered. Young’s troubles may be behind him. Or this could be just the beginning.
It’s a crapshoot. So you’ve got to ask yourself, punk: do you feel lucky?