Over the last few days, Howard Bender, Chad Young, and Ben Duronio have been writing about three players they will each avoid this season (parts one, two, three, and four), and now I’m going to join in on the fun.
Alex Avila | C | Tigers
Avila, 25, looked completely out of gas in the playoffs last fall after starting 130 of the Tigers’ 162 games behind the plate. He’s always shown the willingness to take a walk (12.5 BB% in the minors) and make consistent contact (18.7 K%), but I worry about his ability to sustain a .366 BABIP with his batted ball profile…
Non-ground balls are conducive to homers and extra-base hits, but also routine outs. The only other qualified hitters to post a sub-40% ground ball rate and a .330+ BABIP last year were Matt Kemp (36.3% and .380), Joey Votto (39.1% and .349), and Alex Gordon (39.5% and .358). I don’t believe Avila is in the class of those three guys as a hitter, plus he’ll have to deal with the wear-and-tear of catching. I expect a .250-ish batting average with 15 or so homers this year, not the .295 and 19 he put up in 2011. That’s still a really good fantasy catcher, obviously. Just not a clear-cut top three at the position.
Craig Kimbrel | RP | Braves
I’m very concerned about the workload. The 23-year-old Kimbrel appeared in 79 games (second most in MLB) and threw 77 relief innings (ninth most) last summer*, so it’s not a surprise that six of the 18 earned runs he allowed came in his final eight appearances (7.1 IP). The guy was simply gassed, but you can take solace in the fact that any fatigue he was feeling did not show up in his fastball velocity…
Kimbrel is also a pretty heavy slider guy, throwing his top breaking ball 30.3% of the time last season. I don’t expect the kid to break down or anything, but I do think he’s at risk of seeing his performance take a significant step back. Given his less than stellar walk rate (3.74 BB/9 and 10.5 BB%), Kimbrel will have to maintain a high strikeout rate (14.84 K/9 and 41.5 K% in 2011) going forward to remain an elite fantasy reliever. Closers are risky as it is, and I feel Kimbrel is riskier than just about every other elite option (specifically John Axford, Mariano Rivera, and Jonathan Papelbon).
* That doesn’t include all the times he warmed up and didn’t get into the game, which I assume you totals more than zero.
Giancarlo Stanton | OF | Marlins
The slugger formerly know as Mike has hit some of the most mammoth and majestic blasts I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately that’s pretty much his only fantasy tool, and they don’t give bonus points for homer distance. Stanton will need some serious BABIP love to raise his batting average north of the .250-.260 range, and he’s not going to steal any bases either. He should top 100 RBI and maybe even 100 runs scored given the improved lineup around him, most notably the addition of Jose Reyes and a full season of non-demoted Logan Morrison.
Stanton’s ZiPS projection (.267 AVG, 37 HR, 97 RBI, 87 R) isn’t substantially better than Mark Reynolds‘ (.218/35/88/85) or Paul Goldschmidt‘s (.250/30/92/77), and yet their ADP tells a different story. Mock Draft Central has Stanton at 26, Reynolds at 116, and Goldschmidt at 144. Banking on potential is one thing, but you can easily do the same for Goldschmidt while Reynolds has the longer track record (one of only seven players with 30+ HR in each of the last three years). I love me some Giancarlo, but be careful not to overrate the massive dingers. The lingering knee issue is just one more reason to pump the brakes.