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.
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.
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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