Sunday, March 23, 2014

14 Players to Avoid in 2014

As great as Puig was last year, I'm pessimistic about his 2014 outlook (Fox)
Last week I identified 14 players to shoot for in fantasy baseball drafts, so today I'll discuss 14 that I'm almost guaranteed to pass over. Once again I've included each player's average draft position in parentheses (courtesy of ESPN).

Jacoby Ellsbury (11.7)
I wouldn't spend my first round pick on Ellsbury, who has never exceeded nine home runs or 60 RBI outside of his fluke 2011. He'll score lots of runs, steal tons of bases and bat close to .300 when healthy, but his lack of power prevents him from meriting first round status in my opinion.

Yasiel Puig (29.1)
Several warning signs indicate Puig is likely to fall victim to the dreaded sophomore slump that has plagued Jason Heyward, Eric Hosmer, Austin Jackson and Will Middlebrooks in recent seasons. For one, his .383 average on balls in play last year is unlikely to be repeated. He also exhibited a hyper-aggressive approach at the plate that resulted in him striking out almost three times for every walk. And to top it all off, the 2013 NL Rookie of the Year runner-up had a miserable spring training, batting .122/.136/.195 without a home run in 44 plate appearances. I predict similar struggles in his near future.

Ian Kinsler (36.8)
Kinsler's production has dropped off precipitously over the past two seasons, falling from 32 home runs and 30 steals in 2011 to just 13 and 15, respectively, in 2013. The combination of age (he turns 32 this year), diminishing skills and leaving Texas (where his OPS was almost 200 points higher than it was everywhere else) will likely accelerate his decline and prevent him from rebounding.

Eric Hosmer (52.7)
Hosmer's going much too high for a first baseman who's averaged 17 home runs and 72 runs/RBI per year. He doesn't do enough in batting average (.277 career) or steals (13 per season) to justify getting drafted alongside Adrian Gonzalez.

Jean Segura (72.6)
Segura fell apart after a sizzling start last year, batting a lowly .241 with just one home run and 13 RBI in the second half. He seems unlikely to replicate his power numbers given that he socked only 26 home runs in his 399 minor league games.

Aramis Ramirez (87.2)
Still a productive hitter but his age (36 in June) and injury history (has topped 150 games once in the past ten seasons) are scaring me off.

Josh Hamilton (95.7)
Hamilton has been terrible for a year and a half now, and that's not changing anytime soon so long as he continues to hack away. It also doesn't help that he plays half his games in a pitcher's park, turns 33 two months from now and is prone to injury. Let him be someone else's headache.

Brett Lawrie (123.6)
Lawrie's accrued over 1,000 big league at-bats and has been a major disappointment thus far. His numbers have gotten worse, not better. It looks like the Ryan Braun comparisons made during his rookie season were premature.

Billy Hamilton (125.8)
We know Hamilton can run like the wind, but can he hit? His .280/.350/.378 minor league batting line isn't very promising, so he probably isn't going to be the next Rickey Henderson.

Jonathan Papelbon (138.8)
Age (33) and diminishing velocity mean Papelbon no longer resides among the game's elite closers. His WHIP has risen in each of the past two years. In 2013 alone, his ERA jumped up nearly half a run from his 2012 mark and his K/9 dropped by 3.5 batters per nine.

R.A. Dickey (142.7)
The 2012 NL Cy Young winner suffered major regression in his first season with the Blue Jays as he adjusted to baseball's toughest division and a home park that favors sluggers. Now 39, he figures to be not much better than a league average pitcher from here on out.

Curtis Granderson (143.9)
I'm expecting Granderson to be a huge bust Jason Bay-style. It's bad enough that he's a 33 year-old all-or-nothing slugger, which means he's susceptible to falling off a cliff at any moment. Throw in last year's injury problems and the move from Yankee Stadium to Citi Field, and I'll be looking elsewhere in the middle rounds.

Carl Crawford (169.0)
No reason Crawford should be ranked this high. He's had trouble staying healthy lately and his numbers have suffered. Over the past three years, he's averaged just 50 runs, seven home runs, 35 RBI, 13 steals and a .269 batting average. Crawford was great once, but he's not anymore.

Dan Haren (188.8)
I like his rebound chances as much as anyone, but one has to acknowledge that his 4.50 ERA over the past two seasons hasn't been very good. Late picks should be used for guys with upside, and there's not much upside for a 33 year-old former workhorse who's been well below average in each of the last two years.

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