Well, since the last installment received so much attention — both positive and negative — I figured we should have another go-around here. Only this time, in an effort to create more dialogue and draw even more of your ire, I took the advice from some of you and looked more towards the upper rounds of the draft. Personally, I think telling you not to waste your time with a particular player in the lower rounds is a bit more helpful than this — sure, there’s less risk in the 19th round and you don’t care if you eventually drop the guy, but why waste the pick in the first place? But alas, this is what you asked for my dear RotoGraphs readers and this is what you get…
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF BOS — Am I really the only person who thinks Ellsbury’s power surge in 2011 was maybe a little too flukey to be vaulting him into the overall top 10? Have we not learned anything from Joe Mauer’s power surge in 2009? I’ve pored through the numbers and looked over his batted ball data, and while I can’t really find anything that says that Ellsbury’s power is unsustainable, I haven’t found anything that says that it is sustainable either. His K% and BB% were pretty consistent, he doesn’t appear to be getting too much help in the BABIP department, and he was actually hitting more line drives than he was fly balls. But the fact remains that Ellsbury has never…never…displayed this type of power on any level during his career. One theory is that he has finally learned to jump on the fastball better, something he seemed to struggle with previously in his career. But if that’s really the case, don’t you think we’d see less fastballs thrown his way? So due to the fact that there’s really nothing I can see pointing in either direction, I’m going to forgo taking the risk of him regressing back to his usual power numbers, especially in the first round. Yes, if he continues this power trend, then I’ve missed out on a high quality player, but if it doesn’t, then I still have a high quality first round selection and an eighth round Brett Gardner for steals while the guy who took Ellsbury with the 8th overall pick is banging his head against a wall
Carl Crawford, OF BOS — No, this isn’t an anti-Boston campaign. It’s just the way it goes. Plain and simple…between last season’s decline, offseason wrist surgery and his early season in 2012 in doubt, I can think of a ton of players I would rather take in the late third/early fourth round over Crawford. Aside from the usual questions about how he will hit once his wrist is fully healed, there are other things for which to be concerned. Where is he batting in the lineup — third? Sixth? If he’s hitting third, he’s not stealing like he did in the old Tampa days, especially with Adrian Gonzalez hitting behind him, is he? And if he hits sixth, what kind of lineup protection does he really have? As a pitcher I’d much rather give Crawford junk to hit and take my chances with a Cody Ross or Ryan Sweeney, wouldn’t you? Again, similarly to Ellsbury, he could turn out to be a solid player once again, but is the hope for that greater than the actual value you would receive taking someone like Starlin Castro at short or Ryan Zimmerman at third? How do we know he won’t stink again? Few people saw it coming last year, so how can anyone say that he’ll succeed this year with any sort of confidence?
Tim Lincecum, SP SF — How many of you would be happy to take a pitcher whose K/9 has steadily dropped for four straight seasons, has seen an increase in walk rate for the last three seasons, has seen his SIERA/xFIP increase over the last three years and was a sub-.500 pitcher in his most recent season? Well, duh. You take the chance if his name is Lincecum, right? Nope. Not in my book. Listen, the kid has skills, no question about it. He’s thrown over 200 innings with over 200 strikeouts for the last four years. He’s won two Cy Young awards. He helped lead his team to a World Series championship. But just as in life, all good things must come to an end, and seeing the steady rates of decline, I would rather take a chance on building a pitching staff with picks lower than the second round pick it would take to secure little Timmy. And if I really wanted a pitcher at that point in the draft, I’d rather take Felix Hernandez or CC Sabathia even just a few picks later. Atleast those guys aren’t exhibiting such downward trends. And while yes, he has remained relatively injury free, the workload could be wearing on him. Who’s to say that his unconventional delivery will continue to protect his arm through another grueling season? I see drafting Lincecum like a game of musical chairs right now. When the music stops, I don’t want to be the one left standing there.