We always suggest entering several mock drafts in anticipation of your real draft, if for no other reason than to familiarize yourself with the tenor of the rooms you draft in and to see who your fellow managers are avoiding and who they are snagging early or late in the drafts. After all, practice makes perfect, so take advantage of the mock drafts that are available where you regularly set up your leagues.
Even though the pre-season has not gotten underway yet, we have done enough of these drafts and have completed our research so that we are now able to offer you advice, suggestions, and options in two major categories: who to avoid drafting and who the sleepers might be this year. This post will deal with the hitters we suggest you avoid drafting or at best, ‘draft with caution’.
Stephen Drew-SS-Red Sox- Drew will start the season playing for his third team since April 2012. Boston signed Drew to a one-year $9.5 million contract in December while they wait for hot prospect Xander Bogaerts to become their SS of the future in 2014. Even when Drew is not injured, there’s a low upside as he has hit just 12 home runs and stolen 5 bases over his last 608 ABs (two seasons).
Alex Rodriguez-3B-Yankees- The biggest red flag for A-Rod has been his deteriorating health. His second left hip surgery in December will keep him off the field until the summer. He has averaged only 17 homers and 59 RBIs over the past two seasons and isn’t worth stashing until his return as his best years are behind him.
Danny Espinosa-2B-Nationals- We would label Espy as a “draft with caution” as his nearly 20/20 potential makes him an intriguing choice at a position that is lacking in those numbers. However, there’s two problems with Espinosa: He has a hard time hitting from the left side which could mean more ABs for Steve Lombardozzi, and his strikeouts (355 in the last two seasons) are out of control. Maybe an option solely for deeper formats.
Rafael Furcal-SS-Cardinals- The often injured Furcal put off having elbow surgery last season and that’s a concern for a player that has missed 60 or more games in four of the last five years. His stolen bases have dropped from 22 in 2010, to 9 in ’11, to 12 last year. He can still score runs but needs to play for that to happen and that’s a big question mark.
Brian Roberts-2B-Orioles- Talk about a walking *M*A*S*H unit, (for those old enough to remember the movie & TV show), Roberts has been a cash cow for the medical community in Baltimore with a recent concussion, hip, groin, back, shin, knee, and stomach problems. Injuries have limited his games played to just 115 over the past three seasons. Alexi Casilla who’s been brought in from the Twins might be a better option (if he gets the starting nod).
Yasmani Grandal-C-Padres- This former #1 pick showed that he could be an outstanding catcher for the future with his second half performance with San Diego. After a stellar Triple-A stint, the younster proved he can hit for average (.297) and still have some pop in his bat (8 HRs in 192 ABs). Think Victor Martinez… Unfortunately we’ll have to wait to see how he progresses as a 50-game suspension for high levels of testosterone will keep him off the field and undrafted in most leagues.
Trevor Plouffe-3B-Twins- One of the most added players in fantasy baseball last summer, Plouffe had a torrid month of June going .327-11-21 and finished the season with 24 dingers. Too bad he followed that up with one horrific last third of the season batting .196 with only 5 home runs. That latter half is a better indicator of what you’ll get with Plouffe.
James Loney-1B-Rays- With the departure of Carlos Pena, Loney was brought in to Tampa Bay in the off-season to fill their void at first base. Our guess is that just a few months into the season, the Rays will realize they still have a void at 1B! The Dodgers gave up on him, the Red Sox didn’t want him, and the Rays will be sorry they picked him up. Two words for fantasy owners: “Stay Away!”