Everyone has their favorite fantasy hitters. Now that the 2009 regular season closed up shop, I’d like to look ahead to 2010 to help us all avoid drafting the next Carlos Beltran or Lance Berkman.
Catcher I Won’t Draft
Joe Mauer (MIN)
Now that the power has shown up, you will most certainly not be able to poach Mauer next spring. Even Brian McCann will look like a discount compared to Mauer’s future ADP. As I will repeatedly say, ad infinitum, don’t pay a premium for your catcher. Buy the toolsy outfielder, the power corner infielder, or even the power-heavy middle infielder. Season’s like Mauer’s don’t happen every year, so betting on catching lightning in a bottle like that is unwise.
Miguel Montero (ARI)
Despite ending the season as the 7th-best catcher in Yahoo rankings, I see Montero falling a bit in drafts. If you were to draft a pitcher early, here’s a fellow I can endorse. You won’t have to break your wallet to grab him, but you can expect better returns on your investment. The 26-year-old will have to prove he can do it over a whole season, but his OPS has increased every season since his debut, even while his BABIP remains an insanely high .320 for the past two seasons. If you can get him for the right price, don’t hesitate.
1B I Won’t Draft
Derrek Lee (CHC)
No one really predicted Chicago’s tall guy to break like he did this past season. Just think about the kind of season he could’ve had if Aramis Ramirez and Soriano had stayed healthy. Or if Soto hadn’t regressed to the mean. Oh yeah, he was on the Cubs. Never mind, business as usual in the self-sabotage capitol of Major League Baseball. Don’t draft him next year based on this season’s performance. Consider his previous two seasons and take the glass-half-empty approach.
Billy Butler (KAN)
Every year everyone tells you to draft Butler. “This is the year,” you hear. You know better, and draft someone like Adam LaRoche. Don’t do that. Butler’s walk-rate and extra base hits (50 doubles!!!) seem like an anomaly, but they ain’t. Granted, he’s never going to stuff the runs or RBI categories playing for the Royals, but his keen batting eye should keep his average up and strike outs down. Buy him with confidence, but don’t reach too hard.
2B I Won’t Draft
Ben Zobrist (TAM)
He technically qualifies at SS and OF as well, but you will find yourself salivating over Zobrist’s stats as a second baseman. It will be a character trait you will share with millions of fantasy managers everywhere, and that is not a good thing. You remember Chris Davis and the hype train that led to his inflated-ADP and sleeper-to-not-sleeper status? Zobrist has a great set of tools, and the position-eligibility make him an enticing addition to any team. However, you will be taking a chance on a guy who’s BABIP this season rose to a career-high of .326. His previous high? .252. One could argue that his numbers in the minors show a player who’s OPS has tracked upward over the past several years. I still say it’s an outlier of a season. Don’t pay like this is the norm for Ben.
Chris Coghlan (FLA)
This guy is a pure hitter and you will be picking up 100/12/65/12/.300 guaranteed. The best part is his discounted price tag, as he didn’t log a full season’s worth of stats. There’s still a small chance that preseason hype will up his value, but he’s a player I’d be willing to reach for in the middle rounds. It’s like drafting Placido Polanco six rounds later, only he’s got upside so he’s way less boring.
3B I Won’t Draft
Mark Reynolds (ARI)
An obvious choice. I don’t care if he replicates his numbers from this season, the risk attached to his all-or-nothing approach is not worth taking at the ADP he’ll go for. Let someone else overpay for a potential third-round Rob Deer.
Aramis Ramirez (CHC)
A lot of things were painful for my Cubs this season, but nothing was worse than watching Aramis pop his shoulder out. I cared very little that I didn’t own him in fantasy, but now I do. His injury puts him at a nice little discount for next season. I don’t believe his skill set has decreased whatsoever. Much like Lance Berkman, some owners will shy away and you should pounce a round later than you would normally get him. I would pursue Ramirez exactly as you did at the beginning of this season. He’s still an RBI machine.
SS I Won’t Draft
Jose Reyes (NYM)
I don’t care if he’s discounted. The guy stakes his career on his legs, and he spends the whole year trying his darnedest to rip every last muscle in them apart. The tearing of his hamstring at the end of this season was frankly embarrassing. Why was he even playing? Let someone else take a chance on steals and runs. You could always draft Michael Bourn five or six rounds later.
Elvis Andrus (TEX)
His defense makes him tough to sit, as we found out this season. His speed game should only improve, not that I’m complaining about 33 steals from the rookie. If he can improve his walk rate a little bit, you can look at 100 runs and 40 steals at our SS position in the middle-to-late rounds. SS will be thin again next year. Don’t get stuck with J.J. Hardy.
Outfielder I Won’t Draft
Carl Crawford (TAM)
Crawford is for some reason regarded as a top-10 talent going in to every season. “The steals!” your mind says. What your mind should be saying is that Crawford hasn’t finished in the top-10 in Yahoo scoring the past two seasons. You think I’m just picking nits here, right? What I’m actually saying is that Carl is a second-round talent. The steal accounts for one counting stat. The home run accounts for a run, a homer, and a collection of RBIs if you’re lucky. Yeah, I would draft for homers as well.
Shin-Soo Choo (CLE)
One of the quietest 20/20 seasons I’ve ever seen, Choo also managed to hit .300 with 64 XBH to boot. Add a healthy Grady Sizemore into the Indian’s decimated line-up, and you’re looking at a Corey Hart. Only it’s a Corey Hart who actually owns a batting eye and any level of consistency.
Residing in Chicago with my ever-patient wife, I live a quiet life of grad school, two jobs, and writing with a little music mixed in. I particularly enjoy when one of my pitchers gives up a homer to one of my hitters. Jones!
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