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.

 



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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

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Shauncore
Member
Shauncore

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.

soamx
Member
soamx

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

Cliff
Guest
Cliff

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.

Tomcat
Guest
Tomcat

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

Cliff
Guest
Cliff

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.

Matthew Murphy
Member

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.

James
Guest
James

Part of Holliday’s value is his consistency.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

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

Cliff
Guest
Cliff

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