Why Allen Craig?

Every year we develop fantasy crushes. We are all susceptible to them and no one can fault you for latching onto a player whom you think is going to have a breakout season. Usually it’s some highly-touted rookie ready to burst onto the scene who becomes everyone’s darling and sometimes it’s a third or fourth-year player whom you’ve watched as he learned the MLB ropes and things are, in your opinion, about to click. And then there’s Allen Craig.

I’m sorry to those who find themselves riding shotgun on the Craig bandwagon, but I just don’t get it. I know that we’re not throwing a whole lot of stock into ADP right now, but just as a starting point here, allow me to mention that his ADP on Mock Draft Central is currently 40.43 while according to NFBC data, it’s at 53.53. I’ve done a dozen or so mock drafts now, mostly industry ones to be used for draft kits, and I’ve seen him go as high as the late second/early third round and as low as the fifth. Have I seen him fall farther than that? Not yet.

So what is it about him? What is it about this soon-to-be 29-year old, career-minor leaguer whom they lovingly call The Wrench, that everyone is freaking out about? I’ve looked at the minor league numbers and while they all seem pretty solid, there’s nothing there that has me jumping out of my seat screaming, “you gotta have this guy no matter what!” He’s shown good power, moderate plate discipline, and excellent contact rates with strong on-base skills. Good stuff indeed, but great stuff? Meh.

He looked pretty good when he got some regular playing time late in the 2010 season, but since then he’s been on and off thanks to a slew of of injuries. Over the last two seasons, he’s made four trips to the DL — a strained groin in April of 2011 cost him 13 games, a bruised right knee late that season cost him another 54 over roughly a two month span, surgery on that same knee prior to the 2012 season started his year on the DL and then he went back on again in May with a hamstring problem. And that doesn’t even cover the minor dings and dents like the wrist or chest problems that caused him to miss a few games here and there.

Yes, when he’s in the lineup, he’s been great — He finished top ten among first basemen in home runs (ninth with 22), runs scored (tied for seventh with 76), and runs batted in (seventh with 92) despite logging just 514 plate appearances.  He was also second among qualified first basemen with a .307 batting average and fifth with a .354 on-base percentage. But the fact that you need to add in the cliched “when healthy” tag when discussing him is a bit of an issue.

Now believe me, I’m not here to dog Craig at all. What I am dogging is where he is being taken in drafts. The guy can obviously hit and yes, with a full season’s worth of at-bats, he could conceivably put up rock solid numbers. But does “could conceivably” warrant a third, fourth or fifth round pick? How do we really know that he can sustain his level of play during a full season? We’ve never seen it. There’s no track record. We can adjust all the numbers we want to equate what he’s done to a full season, but the bottom line is that he hasn’t.

Upside? Sure. He’s obviously got some upside. But at 29-years old with a beaten and tattered body, he’s also got some downside. Could he possibly heal better and faster than a 22-year old with the same injury? Possibly. Personally I would bet against it, but hey, that’s just my opinion. I’m not a doctor and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so my medical credentials are lacking. But you give me two guys eight to ten years apart in age with the exact same injury and  I’m guessing the youngster heals both better and faster.

And let’s not forget the position at which he plays/qualifies. Sure, he’s got dual-eligibility at first base and the outfield, but those are pretty deep positions, both loaded with plenty of power. There are a ton of names who hit at his power level who have either great upside or a clean-health track record. Is the hope/possibility of Craig playing a full season worth that much more than the potential of a Paul Goldschmidt or Anthony Rizzo? What about the track records of Nick Swisher or even a Hunter Pence? Or how about Mike Napoli who also has dual eligibility but at a much thinner position? Both injury risks, really, but Napoli goes an average of more than 50 picks later.

Again, I’m not trying to run down Craig as a player. If I thought I could get him in a draft between the seventh and tenth round, I would probably take the risk and do it. But to invest such a high pick on someone who is already past their prime and shown a limited ability to stay healthy, to me, is just bad business.

 




Print This Post

Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com


51 Responses to “Why Allen Craig?”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Shauncore says:

    Totally agree.

    One draft I was in Craig went in the 5th round before:

    Andrus
    Minor
    Scherzer
    Gallardo
    Greinke
    Pedroia
    Kinsler
    Mauer
    Holliday

    It’s unbelievable. Granted we used real life salaries and it was a keeper league, but I’d have to imagine I’d rather pay the premium for those guys than be cheap and get minimum wage Craig.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • soamx says:

      I’d probably take him over Andrus, Minor, Gallardo but it depends on the scoring/player pricing of the league.
      Definitely wouldn’t take him over Mauer, Holliday, Pedroia, Greinke and that’s the problem I have with Craig. Doesn’t belong in the tier he’s currently going

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Cliff says:

        Player A: 469 ABs, .307 avg, 76 runs, 35 2B, 22 HR, 91 RBI, 2 SB

        Player B: 599 ABs, .295 avg, 95 runs, 36 3B, 27 HR, 102 RBI, 4 SB

        Player A with 599 ABs: .307, 97 runs, 45 2B, 28 HR, 116 RBI, 3 SB

        thats why id take Craig over Holliday

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Kevin says:

        You’re assuming he gets to 599 ABs huh….that’s a pretty big assumption

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • James says:

        Part of Holliday’s value is his consistency.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • murphym45 says:

        Think Cliff’s point was that even if Craig has a full season of at bats, he’s basically Matt Holliday, so why not take the actual Holliday who has been more healthy and consistent than Craig.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Cliff says:

        why is that a pretty big assumption? i think one thing this article fails to take into consideration(most likely on purpose because it wouldnt support his argument) is that Craig was never really given the opportunity to get a full compliment of everyday ABs prior to last season. Last year was the first season that he was in the lineup day in and day out. you can bring up his injury history prior to that, but thats not why he didnt amass high AB totals…i understand Holliday is consistent, but hes also consistently seen his numbers decline, and at 33, id prefer to take the guy 5 years younger with positional flexibility rather than the guy in the wanning year of his career.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Tomcat says:

        Matt Holliday on August 1 Pace .325/.408/.561 719PA 113R 45-2B 34hr 121RBI 7SB .360BABIP Aug2-Sep31 pace .243/.326/.383 719PA 73R 29-2B 18HR 79RBI 0SB .290BABIP Holliday has a career .345BABIP and through August 1 he was on pace to match his 07 MVP level season maybe he and Beltran are done but I wouldn’t bet on it. Craig is a nice player and may keep up this tear but I am not betting a 3-4 round pick on it

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Cliff says:

        Sorry, but that doesnt make much sense to me. Holliday played in 157 games last year, so how exactly was he “on pace” for certain numbers, but then didnt achieve them? Unless you are saying he just started sucking…August and September werent his best months ever, but thats what happens when you are 33 and have played a lot of games the way he has in his career.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. soamx says:

    I’m in total agreement here.
    He’s being way overvalued right now.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. David says:

    Craig is indeed awesome, but 40th pick would seem to be an overpay. He’s not super young and all those doubles might not turn in to HRs. And I say this as the guy in my league who’s drooled over him for two years as a waiver wire pick. I’m not all THAT worried about the injury thing, but taking him before … I dunno … 8 or 9 rounds in, is putting too much stock in the man.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. astrosfanatic says:

    i said the same thing last year about Hosmer going so early in leagues. Every year one guy gains traction as a sleeper or a can’t miss sleeper because he will stay healthy this year. Then people reach earlier and earlier because they are hooked on what they think he will do instead of what he has shown he will do. I completely agree with the premise of this article, and i would love it if most people in my leagues wouldn’t read it.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Shauncore says:

      I think Allen Craig and Eric Hosmer are two very different players.

      Maybe you could make the comparison of Craig and Bautista as they both bloomed lately and have health problems. Or Craig and Encarnacion maybe.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • astrosfanatic says:

        i wasn’t comparing their attributes as fantasy players, but instead their propensity to be drafted earlier than their track records would justify.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Jimbo says:

    I’m totally fine with him stretching out the talent in rounds 3-5. The more people reach for guys like him, the more I like the available players come my turn.

    I’ll take Trumbo over Craig in 2013. And for the price/opportunity cost is Swisher (also qualified for OF/1B) THAT huge a dropoff? Not like Craig is going to steal you 10-15 like Hoz or Goldy.

    Rich man’s Garrett Jones if you ask me.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. dutch says:

    His main appeal was 2B eligibility.

    +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • dougiejays says:

      Yeah that ^^^

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • supershredder says:

      Maybe the mock drafters don’t know that Craig will not have 2B eligibility this year…that’s the only way I could warrant picking him in round 3 or so. He’d be damn near elite if qualified at second.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Howard Bender says:

      That may have been his appeal in 2012 drafts, but we’re talking about this year. He didn’t make a single appearance at 2B last year and has no eligibility there for the upcoming season.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. The Theory says:

    I suspect that the ADP will stabilize as more rankings are released.

    Craig was a WW addition for me last season and I loved him when he was in the line-up. That said, I think the 8th or 9th round is just about as early as I would consider him. And even then there are lower-ranked players I’d take first. Mostly due to injury worries.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. I kinda feel the same about where Longoria gets drafted. He’s accumulated these numbers only twice (and not in the same season): 600 PAs, 30 Hrs, 289 BA, 100 RBIs. Might as well pass on him in the 1st Rd and get similar variance by selecting Allen Craig in the 3rd (kidding about that).

    Plus, Longoria’s in that category of guys that gets overhyped in fantasy because most of us consume real-baseball stuff, which justifiably adores Longo. But skills that titillate your real-baseball mind don’t matter in generic leagues- like the late Nick Johnson’s OBP, Longoria’s wOBA, David Freeseses’es post-season heroics, Chris Young’s centerfield, Bryce Harper’s age and promise, etc.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Ian says:

    Craig’s 2011 injury wasn’t a bruised knee. It was a fractured knee cap. Fluke injury suffered catching a foul pop-up. The “if he just stays healthy…” qualifier for Craig isn’t really that big of question. He’s as good of bet as anyone to post over 600 PA’s.

    Surprisingly, 1B isn’t as deep as it used to be.

    Here are 3 sets of ZiPS projections, normalized to the PA’s of Player A.

    Player A: 638 PA, 88 R, 31 HR, 94 RBI, 10 SB, .285 AVG, .359 OBP
    Player B: 638 PA, 74 R, 25 HR, 91 RBI, 1 SB, .286 AVG, .355 OBP
    Player C: 638 PA, 86 R, 25 HR, 107 RBI, 4 SB, .283 AVG, .333 OBP
    Player D: 638 PA, 77 R, 28 HR, 93 RBI, 2 SB, .245 AVG, .328 OBP

    Player A is a sure-fire 1st rounder (Pujols). Player B will likely go in the 2nd (A. Gonzalez). Player C is Craig. Player D is the type of 1B you might be left with if you pass on Craig and wait until rounds 5-10 (Ike Davis).

    Craig easily justifies a 3rd round selection, even if you are a bit skittish about health. If healthy, he will probably put up 2nd round production.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Shauncore says:

      But you’re comparing Pujols and Gonzalez, guys who have 10 years of production and good health vs a guy who has basically 2 years of production and has never played an entire season.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ian says:

        True, and that is why they get the nods as 1st and 2nd round picks, over Craig who’s going in rounds 3-5.

        When drafting, you have the option of spending high picks on consistency, and that is a fine strategy. But in that 3-5 round range that Craig is going in, almost every player has a question mark. Is he going to make the next step forward? Is he going to repeat last year’s breakout? Is he going to stay healthy? Do I pay for good production at a weak position?

        Maybe I’m biased. I’m a Cardinal fan, so I’ve seen a lot of Craig, and I know his bat is legit. So for me it boils down to getting 600+ PA’s, and if his bat continues to be excellent or regresses to “very good”. That is worth a 3-5 round pick for me, if I miss out on one of the elite guys. Because once you get past the Craig/Goldschmidt/Rizzo/Freeman level of 1B’s, it thins out quick.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ian says:

        Goldschmidt provides a decent comp.

        * Younger, and better SB potential
        * Counting stats look to be similar
        * Craig likely to have slightly better BA
        * Neither have a very established track record to date

        Goldschmidt is generally going 1-2 rounds before Craig. His speed potential and age make him a better pick, but I don’t think many people would argue that he’s being over-valued right now. Should Craig be taken several rounds later?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Cliff says:

        i actually disagree to some extent on the Goldy comparison. his plate discipline doesnt approach that of Craig, and his splits against righties is a bit concerning…i def like him a lot and think he can be great, and have been following him since his 2nd year in the minors, but i would rather have Craig…and given that Craig is going in rounds 3-5, where have you seen GOldy going 1-2 rounds earlier? That would put him in the 2nd round? i dont see that at all. I also dont see AGon as a 2nd round pick either. id rather have Craig. ill always take the guy who has potential to get better rather than the guy whose power numbers have fallen faster than Sarah Palin’s popularity

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • The Theory says:

        Cliff-Goldschmidt’s been going absurdly early in MDC drafts. He’s currently 22 over all, and I’m pretty sure there was an impressive streak where he was 19 over all.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • TexasGusCC says:

        Ian, being a Cardinals fan, what about Matt Adams’ role? Surely, Craig’s ABs will suffer, or will Adams again be in AAA?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Darius A says:

        Aren’t MDC’s ADPs skewed by their default rankings and the fact that at this point in the year, there are either a lot of bots or people autodrafting? I’ve been in a couple where several slots have not been actively picking, so players like Goldschmidt (who is at 18 on their default rankings) are automatically getting taken really early. I’m not sure how the ADPs are calculated and whether it takes drafts into account if there aren’t many active participants, but if they are included, a lot of ADPs are irrelevant right now.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ian says:

        Texas-
        Adams is likely a bench bat and trade bait for 2013. If Beltran breaks down, you might see a bit of a 3 man rotation with Tavaras, Craig, and Adams between RF and 1B, with Tavaras also getting some starts in CF. Craig isn’t a bad defender at the corner OF spots.

        Matheny consistently bats Craig 4th when he’s healthy, so I don’t think he’ll be looking to take him out of the lineup just to insert Adams. I’m fairly confident he’ll reach 600 PA’s if he avoids a major injury.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. jj says:

    I think it has something to do with RBI potential. I can’t think of any other reason people would ranking him so high. Also I think OF is not as deep as many people initially think and when the top tier is gone that is when people start to worry so they may reach for a guy and this is mock draft so why not see what reaching can give you?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Mark anderson says:

    In the pay league I just joined points are awarded as follows. 1Bx1,2Bx2,3Bx3,HRx4,RBIx1,BBx1,SBx2,CSx-1,SOx-.5. I took all the players and I dived their numbers from last year by AB+BB to get a score that equals points per plate appearance (not counting SF,S, and HBP)

    Craig scored .806 or 8/10ish a point per PA.

    To compare.
    Pujols .807
    Fielder .815
    Votto .822
    Kemp .817
    (All slated to be very high picks)

    Trout, Braun, and Miguel Cabrera by far led the pack with .986, .950, and .937.

    You can’t really value a player until you crunch the number. For example the league I was in last year didn’t give any points for BB’s. Well, if a guy walked 100 times that was basically like going 0 for 100 in that league with a slight bonus of maybe scoring some additional runs.

    So again the arguement is in the numbers. So if you haven’t crunched them to tailor your league then you don’t really have an arguement.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Howard Bender says:

      Respectfully, that’s for a points-based league. Most standard roto and H2H leagues are based solely on the stats. There are no other numbers to crunch but what he’s done to date.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Jimmy D says:

    I never felt bad about trading Craig for Gerrit Cole in a keeper league last year

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Cliff says:

      and i never trade proven major league hitters with multi-positional eligibility for unproven minor league pitching prospects. and i certainly feel pretty darn good about that given attrition rates these days.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Patrick says:

    pass on Craig and Holliday and get someone younger with more upside..

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. Kinanik says:

    I have a friend who is convinced that his injury risk only existed because they were playing his out of position at 2B, and that now he is away from there, he’ll be healthy. Is there anything to that?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Howard Bender says:

      According to Baseball-Reference, Craig played a total of eight games at second base in the majors and just two in the minors. I don’t think that by not playing second anymore makes him less of an injury risk.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ian says:

        But to be fair, I’m pretty certain he was playing 2B when he fractured his knee cap–his major injury to date.

        Do we have any data to support that he *is* a big injury risk going forward?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • nate says:

        Im pretty sure he cracked his kneecap crashing into the outfield wall.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. jdbolick says:

    Count me among those who loves Craig. Of course you would prefer for your players to stay healthy, but player valuation often fails to take into account that you can actually play someone else during the main player’s injury unless you happen to be in a league with no bench (and why would you do that?). So let’s say that I have Allen Craig in my lineup and Tony Campana on my bench. Assuming Craig misses ~100 PAs, during that time I can still accumulate some countables by putting someone else into his spot.

    Meanwhile the reason to appreciate Craig is the perceived lack of downside, at least in terms of performance. He’s a very good bet to have positive value in batting average and to hit a considerable number of home runs, while also being an asset in runs and RBI while healthy. If you really want to get excited, compare Craig’s 2012 with Josh Hamilton’s 2011.

    A. Craig: 514 PA, .307 BAVG, 22 HR, 76 R, 92 RBI, 2 SB, 7.2 BB%, 17.3 K%, .215 ISO, .374 wOBA

    Hamilton: 538 PA, .298 BAVG, 25 HR, 80 R, 94 RBI, 8 SB, 7.2 BB%, 17.3 K%, .238 ISO, .369 wOBA

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • majnun says:

      Allen Craig = josh Hamilton, got it

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • JoeC says:

        Actually, he might be better than Hamilton. No, really! Hamilton was exposed in the second half of the season, I think, and, unlike Pujols, if he struggles in Anaheim, I don’t think he’ll be able to power through it.

        I see an assortment of injuries, a hostile home crowd and perhaps a relapse for ol’ Joshy. This season, at least, yeah, I’ll take Craig.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. scott says:

    its fair to question his ability to stay healthy but the numbers he can put up if he does are huge. his paces are actually comparable to vottos over the last 2 seasons.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JoeC says:

      Talent first. Always look at talent. Craig definitely is a talented hitter. If he does stay in the lineup, he will hit and he will hit better than most. I wouldn’t scoff at anyone taking him early.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. sboston says:

    He is a great hitter, but not a value. He will go earlier than what his stats have earned so far. Does he hit 25 hrs/ 100 rbis hitting in the #2 hole? There’s a good chance Beltran doesn’t keep the clean up slot all year, but how long will it take until Craig moves down in the order? Craig would be a guy I would let others buy high, and try to get on the cheap while he’s still batting second in the order.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. Joe says:

    Calling Allen Craig a career minor leaguer is a tad disingenuous; St. Louis had a pretty good first baseman blocking him from getting playing time in the big leagues.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. don says:

    craig will hit over 20 HRs Bat over .290 drive in 90 and score over 80. he won’t steal. his potential is even better. of course the injury proneness is a major factor. he comes as a risk. but his potential would be on par with the value of guys producing around comparable levels to a 40-50th pick in my eyes.

    we get 8 keepers in my league.

    i have 4 first baseman i am keeping. fielder, freeman, butler and craig

    fielder to “1b”, Freeman to “CI”. i am shifting craig to the OF and Butler to “utility”. i would say butler, craig, and freeman all have similar value.

    in 5X5 leagues, aside from SB, craig is an across the board solid performer.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>