Stolen Topic: Three Players I Won’t Draft

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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Brad is a former collegiate player who writes for FanGraphs, MLB Trade Rumors, The Hardball Times, RotoWorld, and The Fake Baseball. He's also the lead MLB editor for RotoBaller. Follow him on Twitter @BaseballATeam or email him here.

31 Responses to “Stolen Topic: Three Players I Won’t Draft”

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  1. ebbies7 says:

    I like this, I’d like to see more writers posts about three players they wont be drafting.

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  2. Ben says:

    Machado (hype train + injury)

    Posey (depth at catcher + name hype)

    Matt Adams (unsafe playing time with Taveras if splits keep up + shift)

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  3. KrazyCeltic says:

    I won’t fool myself into thinking anyone really cares, so won’t write out explanations, but my three who are not necessarily obvious choices are: Adam Jones, Everth Cabrera, and Xander Bogaerts. If Bogaerts is too obvious, Justin Upton is a higher-round target that I’d avoid.

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  4. PWR says:

    re: Tanaka. Isn’t he basically Jordan Zimmermann with more K potential (see Zips)?

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    • beardcrabs says:

      most people are avoiding Tanaka due to the fact that Japanese League stats don’t usually translate in the majors (sorry if i’m stating the obvious)…

      Thus you’re statement cannot be said with confidence…

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      • Garrett says:

        When do Japanese stats usually not translate to the Majors?

        Not that I’m saying they don’t, but I don’t think I’ve seen anything anywhere that says they’re a worse indication of projections than MiLB stats, etc.

        Darvish, Dice-K (initially), Uehara, etc. have all succeeded when coming over stateside. Not sure why Tanaka wouldn’t.

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  5. Bill says:

    I can see Tanaka raising his K rate. From what I’ve read he chose to increase his GB% to go deeper into games. He may well decide to throw more of his strikeout stuff against MLB players. I don’t think there is a lot you can read into the lower K rates. You also should factor is his lack of injuries as well plus an amazing track record (in NPB yes, but still incredibly consistent). It depends on the league being keeper or not, but of those you mention I would only take Shields before him.

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  6. mauro1 says:

    Hey Brad,

    Where do you find the average prices players have been going for in auctions that you reference in the article? I’ve spent some time trying to find a reliable site that has those figures but to no avail.

    Agree about this being a cool topic. Good stuff

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  7. Shield Wall says:

    This was pretty funny:

    “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.”

    That’s kind of like when no one will offer you anything of value for a player, and then when you trade them to their rival they complain that you gave them away from next to nothing.

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  8. Atreyu Jones says:

    3 players I won’t draft: Ryan Dempster, Alex Rodriguez, and Jim Creighton

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  9. analyst says:

    I won’t draft M. Cabrera (see the flick Gravity for an explanation).

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  10. Johan Santa says:

    Oliver has Tanaka projected for 39 starts!? Awhaaaaaaa?

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  11. Ballpark Frank says:

    Tanaka is a dumpster fire waiting to happen. He is a pitch to contact guy playing with what might be the worst fielding infield in the league.

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    • Paul Sorrento says:

      Meh, that doesn’t make him a dumpster fire, that makes him Rick Porcello. Would still be the Yank’s ace.

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    • Skin Blues says:

      I can think of another pitch-to-contact Japanese import that did alright with the Yankees defense. They’ve since added Brendan Ryan who is maybe the best defensive infielder in baseball, as well as having Teix back who is one of the best defensive 1B in baseball. Tanaka has significantly better K-rates in Japan than Kuroda, too.

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  12. hernandez17 says:

    Have to disagree on the Wil Myers prediction. Probably in the minority here, but I think his upside for 2014 is .300 BA, 30 HR, 45 2B. I’m willing to pay up for that. I feel like there could be a big gap between Myers’ production and that of Werth, Gordon, or even Holliday. You could pay a few less $$ for Werth, and then watch him appear in 50 fewer games than Myers. I see Myers outplaying his auction value even with the hype premium he will carry.

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      You know exactly zero players hit 30 HR and 45 2B last season, regardless of batting average. Over the last five years, Albert Pujols did it once, Ellsbury did it once, and Cabrera did it once. That’s it. Three players in five years. You really should never project a player to accomplish something that almost never happens. That’s wishcasting, not projection.

      I mean you’re more than welcome to your difference in opinion, and I take your point even if the numbers you ran up there are ludicrous. Obviously, a lot of people are disagreeing about Myers. As I stated in the article. I like him, i’d like to own him, but at his price there are alternatives that I can better build around.

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      • Atreyu Jones says:

        Well, he did say “updside” not projection.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        Good reading comprehension :)

        Well then, I amend my point to say that you shouldn’t overvalue upside in the auction. Personally, I prefer players with very tight projections on their output unless I need to get really lucky to win the league.

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