Bender wrote about three players he would not draft yesterday, and I thought I’d pitch in with three of my own. These kinds of posts convey a lot of information about where the writer thinks the marketplace really diverges from reality, so they can be among the most useful when preparing for a draft. I’m not saying that you should take what we say as gospel, but if your own expectations are substantially different than ours, it might be worth taking a second look.
Bender’s trio includes two obvious candidates in Yasiel Puig and B.J. Upton. Rather than rehashing, I’ll just point out that I agree with him. I do think we can expect a modest improvement in Puig’s peripherals like swinging strike rate even if his ridiculous BABIP regresses. For what it’s worth, I expect a stolen base total under 10, which might qualify as a Bold Prediction (they’re coming soon!). He’ll be a useful player, but he’s costing over $10 more than my projection. I’m seeing Upton go in the late mid-rounds or for more than $1, which is not where I like to buy my fliers. I would target him late if I really screwed up home runs AND stolen bases and had some batting average to burn. Now my trio.
Wil Myers, OF TB – It’s not that I don’t like Myers, it’s that my projection just isn’t worth the $20 he’s averaging in drafts. For that money, I’d rather pony up an extra dollar and spend $21 on Matt Holliday (which sounds criminally cheap to me). Myers is popular because his 2013 statistics flash five category value due to a BABIP-inflated .293 average. Pull those extra hits out and we’re talking fewer opportunities for runs, RBI, and stolen bases too. I am confident that the projection for 20-25 home runs is accurate and he should provide positive value in runs and RBI even if neither category eclipses the century mark. Ultimately, while I would like to own Myers and may even trade for him, I’m always going to opt to spend fewer dollars on Jayson Werth, Alex Gordon, or even address another position with Ian Desmond.
Mark Teixeira, 1B NYY – This is one of those weird picks where the player goes for $1-5 and then the entire draft room congratulates the winner on getting a fantastic value. I don’t buy it. Tex is coming back from a major wrist injury and expects to be uncomfortable in the early part of the season. He was already showing signs of precipitous decline before the injury. Injury, decline, and rust total up to a rough projection in my mind, with a batting average in the low .200’s and a handful of question marks on runs, home runs, and RBI. I’m not sure how long he’ll stick in the middle of the batting order.
If he hits the ground running, he could return $15 value on a cheap contract, but I think the most likely outcome is negative value. He’s a solid flier for the back end of the fantasy bench, just in case he does return to form, but I’ve largely seen him picked for a CI or UTIL role. With his recovery plan, owners are going to be forced to sit through what is likely to be a very sketchy early part of the season. If you insist on drafting him, I strongly recommend a contingency plan that let’s you keep him on your bench well into June.
Masahiro Tanaka, SP NYY – I’m usually pretty aggressive with unknown quantities like Tanaka because they usually have upside for double digit surplus value. A lot of owners build their lists from historical data, and a lack of MLB track record can mistakenly allow guys like Yu Darvish or Jose Abreu to go more cheaply than they should. With Tanaka, I’m chiefly concerned about two things – a strikeout rate that promises to be below fantasy average (for a standard 12-team league) and an adjustment period that could work for or against him. He’s currently being drafted for about $12, which smells reasonable enough. However, that puts him alongside James Shields, Gerrit Cole, Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, Julio Teheran, and Alex Cobb. That’s an impressive list of young players with high upside anchored by one rock steady veteran. For the same money, I would take ANY of them over Tanaka. If they cost $5 more than Tanaka, I would still be taking them. I would love to get Tanaka on the cheap and see what came of it, but that’s just not what’s happening. Statistically, I expect that a good season from Tanaka will look a lot like Huroki Kuroda, who’s currently going for $6. And I don’t say that because Kuroda is another Japanese import, his peripherals match my best guess for Tanaka almost to a T.
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