StrategyMarch 19, 2011

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Draft Him, Not Him! Rounds 3-4 - 7 comments

By Drew Szczerba

In the first installment of this column, we established two truths, the first being that I have no qualms about borrowing an idea from a popular diet book despite the largely unproven correlation between diet and fantasy baseball. The second truth is that safety is paramount in the early stages of any draft. It’s this second truth that makes these rounds – Rounds 3 and 4 – so crucial. It’s easy to find reliable players in the top 20. However, from 20 to 50 there are a lot more question marks. At this point in the draft, safety is still the primary goal – it’s just not as easily achieved. With that in mind, let’s get to “Draft Him, Not Him!” for Rounds 3 and 4.

Round 3

Draft Him – Ryan Zimmerman. I recently read an article that contemplated which players being selected in the third round have the potential to provide first round production. The implication, of course, was that those players would be the ones to target with your third pick. I disagree. Zimmerman’s name wasn’t to be found in the aforementioned article and that’s why I like him. This is not to say he doesn’t have upside. At age 26, he’s certainly capable of taking a step forward in 2011. More importantly, however, he’s unlikely to take a step back. Zimmerman has averaged 29 home runs, over 95 RBIs and runs, and a .300 batting average over the last two seasons. In fact, he’s never really disappointed his owners in any of his five seasons. Even in 2008, when he missed 56 games, he still hit .308. Could 2011 be the first year he truly burns fantasy owners? Anything is possible, but I’d happily burn a third round pick to find out.

Not Him – Jose Bautista. In the stock market, news can drive up prices in a hurry. It’s said that when such news breaks, those who get in on the first day make a lot of money, those who get in on the second day make a little money, and those who get in on the third day are losers. The point being that by Day 3 the price has risen well beyond the point at which a profit can be made. Well, if you drafted Bautista last year, you got in on Day 1. And if you traded for him during the season, you got in on Day 2. And if you draft him this year, you’re buying on Day 3 … and you know the rest.

Round 4

Draft Him – Andrew McCutchen. If I said a player had the potential hit 15 home runs and steal 30 bases, you’d be interested. That’s essentially McCutchen’s baseline. As the saying goes, “One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.” In this case, McCutchen’s floor is a ceiling most players would love to have. Moreover, at age 24, he has room to improve. He battled through a knee injury for part of last season, but is reportedly healthy to start 2011. Put it all together and McCutchen is a combination of high upside and limited downside that is rarely available after the second round. Perhaps that’s due to the team he plays for. Either way, I wouldn’t let him fall past Pick 35 in most formats.

Not Him – Adrian Beltre. Here’s a timeline. From 1999–2003, Beltre was a 20-HR guy with a .260 average. Then, in 2004, he hit 48 home runs. Then he got paid. Then he never hit 30 home runs again. Last year, however, Beltre did hit 28 home runs, representing his highest total since his magical 2004 season. He also hit .321, which is 45 points higher than any year other than 2004. Then, just a month ago, Beltre signed a six-year deal with Texas worth up to $96 million. In summary, he’s completed the cycle from mediocre player to great player to rich player for the second time. Listen, I don’t know what happened in 2004 and 2010. I don’t how he performed infinitely better in those two years. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. Maybe he’s all about the Benjamins. Maybe he did enough steroids to kill a police horse. It’s anybody’s guess. What I do know is the Rangers didn’t learn from history. Don’t make the same mistake.

Drew is a born Yankees fan who, not surprisingly, doesn’t particularly care for the Red Sox or Mets. He does, however, have a soft spot in his heart for most small market franchises. He gets an uneasy feeling every time the Yankees overpay for latest big name, and fears they may someday begin to acquire whole teams. Drew has been playing both fantasy baseball and football for 10 years. You can catch up with Drew in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name Case Ace.
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7 Responses to “Draft Him, Not Him! Rounds 3-4”

  1. The Beltre only hitting well when he’s up for a new deal is analysis not backed up by anything factual. If he’s healthy, he will rake in Texas, he didn’t leave Boston for San Diego. It’s amazing what happens when you leave a hitter’s hell for basically a paradise by comparison.

  2. Is it just me or is this article next to useless. Take a guy usually going in round two and a guy normally going mid to late 4th and put them as your third round examples, and a guy who usually goes in the third as your 4th round draft example. I mean it’s a useful premise of an article to write, but the examples are brutally self explanatory, use examples of where players are actually going in drafts on average.

  3. I realize Jose Bautista is a polemic figure in evaluating how he’ll fare this year, but your basis for not drafting Bautista is a truism (erm, no pun intended at all targeted at Beltre). He might not present the best value for a 3rd rounder, but it’s not a stretch to expect 35-40 HR from him with a decent enough average on the side (.260). It’s apparent that his swing mechanics have improved and Rogers Centre tends to be a favorable ballpark for pull hitters like Bautista.

    As for Beltre, I don’t really buy the contract year-only theory with him either.

  4. Ive come around on bautista, believing he can give 30-35hrs w/260-265ba. And with his ability to play 3b/of in some leagues he has good value. After longoria wright zimmerman ill take my chances with bautista, considering how shallow 3rd base is. Regarding beltre, i do find it interesting beltre hits better in contract yrs however he is playing in dangerous lineup in hitters park. Numbers should be fine.

  5. User avatar MaudDib says:

    No one seems to mention that Beltre spent 5 years in Seattle where he hit 25+ HR in three of those years. Now he probably isn’t a .320 guy and you should expect something more around .260 – .270 but 25-30 HR with close to 100 RBI is not an unreasonable expectation. Another thing that seems to be lost in all of this, is his new home ball park compared to his old home ball park. Seattle is a pitchers park, Texas is a big time hitters park. Plus he should have a nice lineup to help support him and help his overall numbers. Paying for last years numbers isn’t the way to go but acting like he only plays before he gets payed is just giving incomplete information. And wasn’t he a free agent last season and had to sign a 1 year deal because he couldn’t get anything better?

  6. vinnieg123 says:


    I have been looking for awhile for the article of 3rd round players who could payoff as first rounders. What was the article? Or what should I google search to find it? (I dont know if your allowed to cite other articles on this site) But you could lead me in the right direction. Great article, cant wait to see the next few rounds. I want to see how many of your players and Keith Law 2011 breakout players match up.


  7. User avatar Kimbos Beard says:

    I like the idea behind this but round three doesn’t make sense. I am not sure in what league Zimmerman and Bautista are going to be taken near each other in the draft. In fact, in a standard 12 team league, Zimmerman isn’t making it to the third round.

    As far as Bautista, I think he is valued just about right. I think most people are drafting him with the realization that if he is 3B eligible in your league and you can get .260 and 35 Hrs thats a pretty good get at a somewhat shallow position.


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