On MockDraftCentral.com, there have been more than 450 drafts completed to date, while there is plenty of disagreement on who should get taken when, there is a clear break between the top five and everyone else. The five guys atop the list are the only five to have garnered a number one overall pick (other than an over-aggressive Robinson Cano selection) and the only five who haven’t fallen outside the top 10. All five have an average draft position (ADP) below 4.75 and no one else is below 8.5.
Matt Kemp, Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista, and Troy Tulowitzki have established themselves as the top options in the minds of the populace. I am not one to argue with the populace, and if I had a top five pick, I would use it one of these five – but I do think the masses have drafted these five in the wrong order.
Before diving in to each player, here is the data on the ADP of the fab five:
|Player||ADP||Latest Pick||Earliest Pick|
The agreement on the order is pretty strong – there is almost a full-draft-spot drop between each pair, other than Joey-Bats-to-Tulo, which is closer to have a spot. It seems that, on average, fantasy owners are excited by Kemp’s 50-50 guarantee and believe Prince Albert will adjust well to the AL. But what order do I think these five should go?
Here are their 5×5 roto stats, as provided by the Bill James projections on the FanGraphs player pages:
1) Troy Tulowitzki – Double digit stolen base potential, 30 HR, a high AVG (or OBP, if that’s your thing), in a lineup with a lot of speed up top and solid hitters behind him, and he plays the weakest position on the diamond. If you don’t get him as your SS, you are looking at Hanley Ramirez coming off a brutal season or Jose Reyes no longer in a contract year. And of course if you are picking #1 overall, you have no shot to get those guys coming back around. The fourth and fifth SS off the board? Starlin Castro and Elvis Andrus. The drop from Tulo is just too big to pass him up. If your choice for OF-SS is Kemp+Castro or Tulo+Andrew McCutchen or Mike Stanton? I’ll take Tulo every single time.
2) Matt Kemp – I really wanted to put Kemp lower. I am just not that big a believer. I don’t think he breaks 100 runs and 100 RBI in what will likely be a terrible lineup. As Eno Sarris taught us two weeks ago, HR-power begins to drop off earlier than other skills, suggesting that the 39 HR was less a sign of things to come and more a one-year peak. I actually think the projections are optimistic in almost all categories. I think the AVG is reasonable, but I would expect Kemp to put up a 25/25 season rather than a 30/30. But I am probably being overly pessimistic, and there just aren’t that many guys who stuff the stat sheet like Kemp. I wanted to drop him lower…but if I am picking second, and Tulo isn’t on the board, Kemp’s my guy.
3) Jose Bautista – He doesn’t provide the same average as the two guys behind him (or the two below him), but his counting stats are on par and, despite the projections, I expect him to out-homer Pujols, as well. You could argue that Cabrera and Bautista will both be best used at 3B, but, positional eligibility is a difference-maker again, and this time flexibility plays in. Neither OF nor 3B are particularly deep this year. You could argue that Cabrera and Bautista will both be best used at 3B, but taking Bautista allows you to wait and see what options come up for your picks later in the draft. Maybe you catch lightning in a bottle with a youngster who breaks out at 3B, and want to use your top pick in the OF. Maybe you grab Ja(y)sons Werth and Heyward and both bounce back in a big way, and need that top pick for 3B. Taking Bautista gives you top five production without committing you to a filled slot on your lineup card.
4) Miguel Cabrera – Assuming he gets 3B eligibility, Cabrera becomes an absolute monster, and I could see an argument for taking him before Bautista. But 1B/3B isn’t as valuable as 3B/OF, and there is always a chance he doesn’t get that 3B eligibility. He projects to hit for a higher average than Pujols, and while his rate stats aren’t quite as high, I think both the HR and R totals will be closer than the prediction suggests. On top of that, Cabrera is more than three years younger – and it is a big three years. Cabrera might be leaving his prime, but Pujols is definitely at the age where we should expect him to enter his decline phase. Do I think Prince Albert will fall off a cliff? Of course not. But the risk is there, and anticipating some regression is perfectly reasonable. I trust Cabrera’s projection more than I trust Pujols’s. If the Tigers move forward with Cabrera at 3B, taking him over Pujols is a no-brainer – the choice is more difficult if they back off that plan. But either way, I’ll take my chances with Miggy.
5) Albert Pujols – Before the commenters bring out the pitchforks (and I am sure it will happen), let’s remember that I am saying Pujols is a clear top-five pick. I am not saying he is done. I am not saying I would avoid him like the plague. If you take him #3 or #1 or #4, I do not think you need to seek psychiatric help. Albert is one of the five best players in the game. He will provide you terrific fantasy numbers, even stealing you a handful of bases. But he will do it all at the least valuable position for fantasy (unless you count the David Ortiz‘s of the world, I suppose). If you are picking above this slot, Mark Teixeira, Paul Konerko, and others will be available well after you come up to pick in the second round. Prince Fielder could even slip to you in some drafts. And if you can grab one of those guys, you are better off pairing him with Cabrera, Bautista, Kemp, or Tulowitzki than you are leaving the draft with Pujols at first and a late second round pick filling one of those slots.
I fully expect some argument on these picks – everyone has their own opinions on this stuff and that is what makes fantasy baseball great. So…have at it. Am I overvaluing positional eligibility? Am I undervaluing Kemp’s power-speed combination? Looking forward to the debate!
Print This Post