Last week I covered the players who went undrafted and finished as some of the top offensive players of the year, as well as those players who were drafted, but who were unable to provide the type of value their owners expected.
The last piece of the puzzle is, of course, the players who added value. Obviously it’s important to get good value out of your top few pick, but these are the players who take a team from good to stacked. The only player in this set who was consistently drafted before pick 100 was Curtis Granderson, who was typically the 91st or 92nd pick, meaning it would absolutely have been possible in a 10-team to draft Miguel Cabrera and Matt Kemp early, then supplement them later with Granderson, Carlos Beltran, and David Ortiz, while using the middle rounds to stock up on pitching.
Obviously we can all construct an ideal draft after the season’s over; hindsight is a harsh mistress that way. If you weren’t able to draft perfectly, these are the players who helped soften the blow of a mistake like Carl Crawford, Joe Mauer, or Kendrys Morales in the early rounds. The number in parentheses is their ADP minus their oRank.
Gone are the halcyon days of Sandoval having catcher eligibility, but he can still hold his own at 3B. While Buster Posey’s injury was obviously the biggest blow to the Giants’ offense, Sandoval missed a quarter of the year as well. I doubt that his health would have changed things in the NL West, but he put up strong numbers despite missing so much time. Granderson showed flashes of his offense prowess in the 2010 postseason when he put up a 1.121 OPS over nine games, though it would have been easy to write that off as a small sample fluke. It wasn’t.
Montero fulfilled some of the promise he had before the 2010 season when he was popular sleeper pick before a knee injury derailed his season. He’ll go higher than 161 next year, but I don’t get the sense that he’s being properly valued, so he could still be a good value bet next year, even if you have to grab him in the 9th round. If you’re in a league that uses batting average, Reynolds and Pena probably wouldn’t make this list. Both are reasonably valuable in normal categories, but both also possess OBP 100 points higher than their batting average, which inflates their batting runs in a way that may not quite translate in some leagues.
It’s odd to see Span make this list given how much of the season he missed with concussion and vestibular neuritis issues, but he was having a solid year before his injury, and was typically drafted in the 190s, so it’s not too hard to add value from that position. Looking ahead to next year, I don’t envy early drafters, who will need to pay close attention to whether or not he is still struggling with dizziness before drafting him. Wieters had the season that many people hoped Geovany Soto would have. He still isn’t quite the expected “Joe Mauer with power,” but like Montero, he gave owners good value from a low draft slot at a position known for headaches. I like him to continue to improve both his position and his performance next season.
Though he hit fewer home runs than last year, 2011 was a great year for Ortiz. He posted his best wRC+ since 2007 and even stole a base for the first time since 2008, what more do you want? Cuddyer could hardly have picked a better time to have a near-best season given his upcoming free agency. In this context, the best thing going for Cuddyer is his versatility, as while an .805 OPS is playable in the outfield, it’s even better coming from someone with 2B eligibility. Napoli set a career high in home runs despite playing his fewest games since 2008. Had he been healthy all year, he would have been even more Reagins’ Bane — which ought to be Napoli’s new nickname going forward.
01. Carlos Beltran (186)
His fielding metrics slipped this year, but Beltran was every bit his old self offensively, and that’s what really matters here. In fact, his wRC+ was a career best 153, making him one of the top offensive players this season. Despite an ADP of 197, I can’t blame owners for passing on him too much. He hadn’t reached even 100 games played since 2008, and while he seemed healthy, the risk averse looked elsewhere. He’ll be an interesting player to watch in free agency, especially if he lands in hitter-friendly park, but no matter where he lands, he’ll be a solid option next season.
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