Kicking Rocks: Premature Draftulation

There’s really no need to be embarrassed.  It’s a very common problem.  In fact, I hear that it happens to a lot of fantasy owners.  I, myself, have been known to experience it from time to time.  No, no…I’m not just saying it to make you feel better.  It happens to everyone.  Believe it or not, even to girls.

I’m talking about premature draftulation.  Say it with me, it’s ok.  It occurs when a fantasy owner spends tireless hours researching a player, analyzes the stats, watches film, reads all the scouting reports, drafts the rookie and then SPLAAAAT!  All the fun and all the excitement is lost.  The player is a huge bust and the best part about owning him was left on the table at the draft, part of the mess left to be cleaned up by the waitress, bartender, hotel maid, whomever.  You’re left with nothing.

Then, the following year, when you’re riddled with shame and can’t even look your fellow owners in the eye when said player’s name is even mentioned at your next draft, you flinch and let him go to another team.  The taste in your mouth is too bitter and you’ve lost as much hope as you did dignity from touting him as the next big thing the prior season.  Only this year, that player goes off.  He does everything you expected him to do the year before, but now he’s doing it for someone else.  On the surface, you maintain a stoic demeanor.  You tell the other owner that you knew it all along.  But inside you feel betrayed, maybe even a little shame.  You were right, but you were too early.  Premature draftulation.

Fellow FanGraphs writer Jason Catania confided in me that he has recently suffered through it.  Last season he was pretty jazzed up about drafting Alex Avila.  After a brief stint in 2009 that produced a slash line of .279/.375/.590 with 5 HR in just 72 plate appearances, Catania was eager to pounce on the Tigers’ backstop heading into 2010.  He was methodical in his approach, waited on a catcher and built up his team at the other positions, all the while having images of a late round theft of a power hitting backstop dancing in his head.  By the time April was over and Avila was hitting .097 with no home runs and no RBI, Catania was already using another catcher.  When the end of May rolled around Avila was only at .233 with two home runs and Gerald Laird was grabbing a good chunk of playing time, Catania let him go.

This season, when draft day rolled around, Catania’s feelings of disappointment were still fresh in his mind and he looked past Avila.  He found solace in the arms of a different backstop and today, he sits there looking at the stat sheets and wonders what may have been.  Avila is hitting .280 with 6 HR and 15 RBI as of today.  His BABIP is at .324, so luck doesn’t appear to be a factor, and the .377 wOBA and 1.2 WAR are like daggers being twisted in his back.  Catania was there.  He had him….just a year too early.

And as we all know, Catania is not alone out there.  There are MLB players all over that are putting former owners through the same feelings of loss and betrayal.  Michael Brantley seems to be in the process of breaking out this year after being hyped as a sleeper in 2010 and filling the season with disappointment.  What about Justin Smoak?  And how many people who  suffered through Jed Lowrie’s previous seasons, didn’t bother with him this year, only to watch him produce today?  It’s hurtful, isn’t it?

Currently, I am feeling such shame.  I have often been known to be a sucker for power hitting, rookie third basemen and this year, the Siren’s song lured me towards Pedro Alvarez.  Now, the .204 average, the 33.3 K%, the one measly home run, the quad injury, and the potential loss of playing time to super-bust Brandon Wood are all weighing on me right now.  I hate to give up so quickly, but the idea of taking another stab at it next year couldn’t be further from my mind.  Third base has been tough all around, but the concept of proven talent over rookie hype for next year is where I am leaning at this moment.  Problem is, I know once I bypass him, he’s going off and the clown next to me at the draft who uses a late pick on him and asks me what I think, is going to reap the benefits.  I’ll be left with nothing but a shameful memory and a stain on my draft record.

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site,, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at

12 Responses to “Kicking Rocks: Premature Draftulation”

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  1. DD says:

    I’m going through this with Mike Stanton now. And had this with Joey Votto the year he had depression issues.

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    • descender says:

      Stanton is SLG 200 points over his AVG, was there some other expectation you had for him?

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      • DD says:

        BA is down, he missed time with injury, and although his RBI rate was relatively low last year, it hasn’t improved this year. He’s also on pace for “only” 30 or so HRs, and I was hoping for more of a Ryan Howard breakout, around 40 or more. Remember this is a fantasy related discussion, so SLG doesn’t matter a lick if RBIs aren’t a result. For example, look at Jayson Werth or Prince Fielder last year, and compare their RBIs/HR.

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    • batpig says:

      Mike Stanton 2011 simply doesn’t fit the thesis of this article.

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  2. Random Guy says:

    I was pretty excited about James McDonald, then watched him rack up an ERA over 10 for me in his first few starts. And then I sold low in a trade where I got back fellow underachieving Pirate Pedro Alvarez — as I saw it, selling low but also buying low, so it was a wash. But McDonald has come back and Alvarez hasn’t. So I pretty much failed that one all around.

    There was also Tyler Colvin — a guy I targeted, knew he was going to have to fight for playing time, but thought “eventually they’ll get smart and play him.” Except that the way he’s been hitting, playing him now wouldn’t qualify as “getting smart.” I held onto him too long but have cut him now. Look for him to have a huge second half, of course.

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  3. Freddy T says:

    Keeper league — 3 yrs of Jay Bruce splattered on the sheets. Couldn’t justify keeping him this past season and was relieved by his slow start. Now he’s breaking out. Dammit!

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  4. Dexter Fowler says:

    Should I be dropped for Michael Brantley? More potential for 2011 and beyond?

    14 team, keeper league.

    R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, BB.

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    • batpig says:

      IMO yes, for sure. Fowler is super overrated, I never understand the hype coming into this season. He doesn’t steal enough bases to make up for the horrendous power numbers.

      BB being a category is a mitigating factor, as Fowler does walk more than Brantley, but I would take Brantley’s better AVR, SB, and probably even power numbers. ROS ZIPS has them pretty even in R, HR, RBI, but Brantley has a better AVG and will steal 10 more bags. That’s a pretty big gap for a “speed guy”.

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  5. sirvlciv says:

    Worse than this, for me, is pegging a guy as a sleeper, figuring out exactly how late you can draft him, and watching someone take him 3 picks before you.

    This year, it wasn’t a prospect for me, but James Shields. Just missed out on him. Blegh.

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  6. Jason Catania says:

    That’s right. I’m Jason Catania, and I suffer from occasional bouts of premature draftulation. Hold me. But only if your name is not Alex Avila.

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  7. Wayne says:

    “Avila is hitting .280 with 6 HR and 15 RBI as of today”…

    Ummm, he’s never held that stat line this year. I think you mean 6 HR, 15 Runs, 24 RBI. I know, I know……more salt in the wound.

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  8. cs3 says:

    im having that same problem with Starlin Castro this year.

    oh wait… no, this is the opposite problem.
    CONTINUOUS draftulation!

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