All too often on draft day we find ourselves settling for a certain player at a certain position rather than walk away with someone we covet. In auctions, sometimes the bidding just doesn’t go the way you expect and you have to bow out rather than overspend and in snake drafts, a run can come too early and before you know it, the top guys on your depth chart have been taken off the board. When that happens, some people tend to overreact and just grab a guy to fill the spot before they find themselves scraping the bottom of the barrel. It’s a panic move. Unfortunately though, that usually leads to grabbing a guy too early at the expense of a better overall player or overspending on someone who should have gone for a cheaper price. And in almost every case, the player is flawed and you end up having to convince yourself that you still made the right move.
We pay an awful lot of attention suggesting players to take in your drafts, but rarely do we point out the ones to avoid. Sometimes they are pretty obvious, but in some cases, depending on the situation, the decision to leave a player alone is a tough one. If you aren’t able to grab a catcher that you covet, regardless of your overall strategy, here are a few you should probably leave to your competition during various times in your draft.
Alex Avila, DET — After a spectacular sophomore campaign that saw the Tigers’ backstop hit 19 home runs with a slash line of .295/.389/.506, Avila is, according to recent ADP reports, coming off the board eighth amongst catchers, usually somewhere between the eighth and tenth rounds, depending on the size of the league. The problem is that if you were targeting one of the top catchers and missed, then it becomes too easy to reach for Avila and think that you’re still getting top flight production. Unfortunately, there is likely to be significant regression as much of his production last season was aided by a .366 BABIP and a major swing in ground ball and fly ball percentages. One might say that things finally clicked for the soon-to-be 25 year old but considering his below-average contact rates and 23.8% strikeout rate (with a 10.0% SwStr), it certainly appears that luck was on his side. He does have a decent batting eye and can draw a walk better than most, but with the probable regression, you may be better off waiting a little longer on a catcher rather than reach too high for production you’ll be able to find in rounds 15-20.
John Jaso, SEA — After catching most people’s eye in 2010 with a 14.6% walk rate, a .372 OBP, and Joe Maddon’s usage of him at the top of the lineup, Jaso was targeted by a lot of people expecting a breakout season or, at the least, similar production. The problem is, the guy really isn’t that good. Maybe he’s ok in real life, but in the fantasy world, he’s as useless as they come. He’s got minimal power, little or no speed, and as we saw last season, little chance of being any kind of a force in the majors. He regressed in virtually every offensive category, save for the five home runs he managed again, and it doesn’t look like he’s taking a step forward anytime soon. He’s sitting behind Miguel Olivo in Seattle right now, and even if you believe Olivo will be dealt here in he final year of his contract and Jaso will take over full time in the second half, you’re not doing yourself any favors by targeting him at all…even if it’s the last round of your draft in a two-catcher OBP league.
Jose Molina, TB — From Jaso to this??? At some point, the Rays are going to have to upgrade here.