Players I love for 2012

First off, I hope everyone out there in reader-land had a safe and happy holiday season. Hopefully, you are using some of your rest and relaxation time to kick your 2012 fantasy preparation into high gear. I, for one, was very excited to find my 2012 Ron Shandler Forecaster under the Christmas tree.

I have written at length about different strategies and theories regarding draft, team construction and in-season management. All of these are incredibly useful tools and will help prepare you to dominate on draft day.

However, some of you may disagree with my methods. Maybe you don’t want to start your preparation in October or carefully construct your draft plan with contingencies for every possible scenario that could come up. And maybe you don’t want to dedicate long and arduous hours to construct your own personal projections for every MLB player, as well as an elaborate statistical value system for ranking said players. That’s fine, too.

But if you listen to one lesson, make it this one: Draft the players you love.

Forget about “value,” as the term is relative and will have different meanings to every drafter. Don’t think that you are the smartest man at the draft table and can game the system. You can’t. For example: I think I can pass on Elvis Andrus in the 4th round and take Dan Haren instead, because I know that my shortstop Andrus will be there for me in the 5th. Seems like a good plan, until Andrus is snaked out from under me before I have a chance. Now you’re stuck with Haren, who’s all well and good, but wasn’t a staple of your draft strategy, and you have to settle for Jimmy Rollins whose .250 average over 600+ at-bats makes you queasy.

Or maybe you think that because you have the latest and greatest Average Draft Position (ADP) data heading into your draft, that you can simply choose the guys you want a round before they are “supposed” to go off the board, and everything will work out beautifully. The problem with that scenario is that 14 other drafters are armed with the exact same data and are planning the same thing.

Having to go through the grind of the fantasy baseball season with a losing team can be a brutally painful experience. Having to do so with guys that you really didn’t want in the first place can be unbearable.

If you believe strongly in a player and want him on your team, do what it takes to get him. There is no worse feeling than being right about a player’s potential breakout but not getting to realize that breakthrough because you didn’t pull the trigger soon enough.

That said, here are a few of the players who I love and will make every effort to acquire this draft season. (Note: With draft rounds, I refer to 15 team NFBC style leagues.)

Adam Wainwright – Heading into 2011, Wainwright was the #3 overall pitcher on my board, behind only Roy Halladay and Clayton Kershaw. Unfortunately, he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the entire year. If completely healthy, he’d be a fine anchor for any fantasy rotation, but is being drafted in the 7th or 8th round as more of an SP2. I expect that as we get closer to March, and he looks healthy in Spring Training games, his value will increase. Still, I’ll pay whatever it takes to acquire him.

Michael Young – Maybe I just have a soft spot in my heart for him because he helped lead me to a league title last year. But coming off of a monster year where he hit .338 and drove home 106 runs, he’s still being drafted in the 6th round, still qualifying at the ever shallow third base position, and still hitting in that high-powered Texas offense. I see no reason Young should continue to be so undervalued. These are the type of underrated players who win you championships.

Lorenzo Cain – I was extremely high on him heading into last season, and a solid year at AAA helped sustain my love. He’s slated to be the everyday centerfielder for the Royals this year, and may even be given a chance to supplant Alex Gordon atop the lineup. He’ll be a solid source of steals and runs while not killing your average or power numbers.

Howie Kendrick – He’s a guy whose value is hard to gauge as he appears to be a sleeper on many player’s lists this early draft season. He’s always possessed the potential for a high average bat and complimented that nicely with a dose of power in 2011. Heading into his age-28 season, he’ll have the luxury of hitting in front of Albert Pujols in the Angel lineup. I expect a career year from Kendrick in 2011.

Rafael Betancourt – Someone who’s always had the talent to close, but was never given the opportunity. With Huston Street out of the picture, I think Betancourt could run away with the job in Colorado and be a cheap source of 30+ saves.

Salvador Perez – Last, but certainly not least, is Salvador Perez. He’s another guy who helped lead me to a title with a strong finish to 2011, and someone I will strive to own in multiple leagues in 2012. He’s perfect for two-catcher leagues, as he should hit for a high average while most catchers are a huge drain there. He also has the full confidence of his manager and should play nearly every day. Finally, he’s still growing into his frame and the power should develop. He’s fun to watch and will hopefully be a staple of my teams this year.

I expect all of these players to help me win in 2012, but the important thing is it’s much more fun to go into battle with players you love.

May I Have Your Autograph, Please?
The payoff of being polite.

As always, questions and comments are encouraged and appreciated!


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guy
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guy

ha.  I’d like to introduce you to the concept of BABIP and regression.  All of your hitters are guys who hit for average, but that average last year was fueled by unsustainably high BABIPs – especially with Young, Cain, and Perez.  My money is on none of them having near as high as batting averages as you expect – which is the only thing any of them is good for (save Cain’s steals).

MH
Guest
MH
My office is closed but I voluteered to answer the phones since I can use the dough and no one is here anyway, so get ready for a long one, lol: I just don’t get the appeal with Michael Young.  Yes, he had a great year last year, and I understand he’s a decent bet to give you solid batting average, good counting stats, and a healthy 650 PAs.  But he has only modest power and almost no speed, and is ADPing at #61 right now.  I probably wouldn’t even take him in that spot, let alone earlier.  3B, while… Read more »
guy
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guy
for the record.  My loves: Brandon Belt – he’s been jacked with quite a bit by his team, but he has way too good of a track record to be thrown away as quickly as he has been. Brandon Morrow and Ricky Nolasco – have been outperforming their periphials for years now and will eventually start to realize their skills Edinson Volquez – not in SD.  Enough said.  You have to be pretty bad to not at least be acceptable there. Billy Butler – sure thing to do what he’s done – .300/.360/.460 with 20 HRs, but better odds than… Read more »
mike allan
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mike allan

Well written MW

mike allan
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mike allan

Sorry, MH

Dave Shovein
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Dave Shovein
@ Guy: I am actually very familiar with both the concepts of BABIP and regression. Regarding Michael Young, yes his BABIP was high last year at .367, but his career is .338. While his average may regress some, I’m not expecting him to hit .338 again. He should have no problem hitting .310 though with damn near 100 RBI again, and close to 90 runs scored. As for Cain and Perez, it all depends on what you’re expecting from them. Do I expect Salvador Perez to replicate his late season success and hit .331 next year? Absolutely not. Do I… Read more »
guy
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guy
about Young – I don’t see how you can frame it as though you’re getting a discount on a guy coming off a career high BABIP year entering his age 36 season when you yourself don’t expect him to replicate it.  10 HRs from a corner IF in the 6th round (90th pick) even given his lineup is a reach in my opinion.  Perez – I can see that, but I don’t think he’s ownable in a 15 team one catcher league Cain – he better have a .330+ babip to be playable because with as little power as he’ll… Read more »
Dave Shovein
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Dave Shovein
@MW: Very well thought out and well written comment, much appreciated. I do have a few points of rebuttal however. First off, I’m extremely skeptical of trusting ADP data from Mock Draft Central, especially this early in the season. Their lists tend to greatly correlate with the standard rankings that they use, which skews the data horribly. The data I use has been coming from actual money league drafts run through the NFBC. Also, I am referring to 15 team leagues rather than 10 or 12 teamers. So when I say that Michael Young has been going in the 6th… Read more »
Joe
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Joe

What areyour thoughts on the value of M Young in leagues where he qualifies at 2B?

Dave Shovein
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Dave Shovein

@ Joe: That would obviously increase his value in my eyes. Probably makes him a late 4th, early 5th round pick easy. Comparable value to Zobrist or Brandon Phillips

Jack Thomas
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Jack Thomas

MH—It is amazing how you nailed most of the players that I am targeting for 2012. Other players that I like are Ike Davis, E Hosmer, M Cuddyer, E5, Choo, J Lester, C Sale, A Sanchez, Z Britton, M Minor & B McCarthy.

Dave Shovein
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Dave Shovein
@ Anthony I still like Nolasco to some extent, but after awhile some pitchers just appear to be guys whose peripherals don’t line up with their actual results. I still like the upside and would gamble on him as my SP4, but it’s hard to trust him for anything more than that. As far as some outside the box thinking, here are a few names that I think you should take a look at for 2012: Adam LaRoche – Constantly undervalued, and still a solid corner infield option. As long as the Nats don’t sign Prince, it wouldn’t surprise me… Read more »
anthony tesorio
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anthony tesorio

i love this thread & am very impressed at most comments but i had to knock a few of the guys on who they like this year i mean hosmer , j lester , bumgarner , brett lawrie , strasburg i mean yeah you AND every other guy who plays fantasy baseball. how about some outside the box thinking. last yr where was the logan morrison , ellsbury , berkman , axford.  i kept reading gordon beckham , billingsley , aroldis , nolasco , bj upton.

is nolasco finished as a sleeper ?  what do you guys think

Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson

I don’t necessarily share the same opinion on these players, but I completely agree with the sentiment and thinking you opened with.  Good article Dave. 

I’ll share one player I’m going to own in probably every league I play in:  Luke Hochevar.  He’s either going to make me look real good, or he’s going to make me look like a fool.  I’ve already written some flowery things about him this offseason, and will probably write some more.

godather
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godather
On the subject of drafting players you love, I second that (e)motion; life is easier to take when you’re around those you love (if they can tack on numbers).  Having said that, it’s good that I play the CDM style games and just back/support partners in NFBC, where, had I played, Jason Heyward would have been a prime target last seasson…ouch! The Moores and Strasburgs of the world are obvious; the Cains and Perezes far less, but every bit as interesting. The BABIP contemplation is always interesting, but it’s hard to argue that Young will suddenly stroke all his line… Read more »
Jimmy
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Jimmy

Nice article, Dave. One guy you left off your list but mentioned him in a later comment is Chris Sale. He’ll be in the rotation this coming season and looks like he could be a huge value pick later in drafts. I love his strikeout potential. The only knock will be his innings since he’s coming over from a relief role. Do you have any more detailed thoughts on him?

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