2011 Potential First Round Busts and Second Round Values

Spring training is almost here, which means two things: 1) Baseball is almost back (!) and 2) mock drafts have shifted into high gear. According to mockdraftcentral.com, Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez once again sit at the top of fantasy GM’s depth charts. While these two are more than solid top-of-the-chart picks, there may be some first round names that could fall short of expectations in 2011 and some second round names that could provide first round type of numbers.

Mock Draft Central top 24 ADP as of 2/8/11
1. Albert Pujols – 1B
2. Hanley Ramirez – SS
3. Miguel Cabrera – 1B
4. Troy Tulowitzki – SS
5. Evan Longoria – 3B
6. Joey Votto – 1B
7. Carlos Gonzalez – OF
8. Adrian Gonzalez – 1B
9. Robinson Cano – 2B
10. Ryan Braun – OF
11. David Wright – 3B
12. Josh Hamilton – OF

13. Carl Crawford – OF
14. Mark Teixeira – 1B
15. Roy Halladay – SP
16. Ryan Howard – 1B
17. Chase Utley – 2B
18. Alex Rodriguez – 3B
19. Joe Mauer – C
20. Ryan Zimmerman – 3B
21. Prince Fielder – 1B
22. Matt Holiday – OF
23. Tim Lincecum – SP
24. Matt Kemp – OF

First Round Risks

Carlos Gonzalez – OF- COL
Back in October, I took a look at Car-Go’s home/road splits, noting that as long as he plays his home games in Coors, he should put up some big numbers there. To me, it’s less about his splits and more about a regression in general. The main reason I expect a regression from Car-Go in 2011 is the fact that he isn’t a very patient hitter and his .384 BABIP in 2010 looks completely unsustainable. Car-Go hit .369 over the season’s final three months with BABIP’s of .441, .353 and 440 in July, August and September/October. That’s one heck of a hot streak and not something that is a common occurrence. If you take an outfielder in the middle of the first round, he had better be a roto monster. While I still think Gar-Go will put up more than solid numbers in 2011, they may leave GMs that take him in the first round a bit disappointed.

Josh Hamilton – OF – TEX
There is no denying Josh Hamilton’s pure talent. What he did last season in only 133 games is astounding, but there’s the problem. His numbers were so good, that a repeat seems very unlikely. Add on top of that the fact that he missed 27 games and has a history of getting injured in-season.

When Hamilton makes contact, more often than not he hits the ball square, as evident in his consistently high line drive rates, but he does tend to chase pitches outside the strike-zone (34.5 percent career chase rate). His .390 BABIP in 2010 was the second highest in baseball to Austin Jackson’s .396 BABIP, so that number should regress dramatically. Can he still hit .300? Sure. Can he still hit 30 home runs? Sure. But are you willing to put first round risk on an outfielder that could easily miss significant time with injury and fail to reach 30 home runs in 2011?

Second Round Values

Mark Teixeira – 1B – NYY
Current ADP shows four first basemen coming off the board in the first round. Mark Teixeira could rival any of those 1B’s production.

2010 was a down year for Tex, yet he still blasted 33 home runs, drove in 108 and scored 113 runs. All indicators point to some bad luck in BABIP last season. Tex hit .256 with a career low .268 BABIP depsite holding a good line drive rate (19 percent), holding an above average contact rate (83.8 percent) and displaying plenty of patience at the plate (13 percent walk rate). The only issue I see is his three-year increase in infield pop-up rate, which had gone from 7.9 percent in 2008 to 13.6 percent in 2010.

He may not hit .300, but there is a very good chance Tex bounces back and hits .280 or better in 2011 to go along with 30-35 bombs and 100/100 R/RBI.

Chase Utley – 2B – PHI
It took a monster year from Robinson Cano to displace Chase Utley as the number one second baseman in 2011, at least according to ADP (I actually have Utley still ranked #1). Utley’s miserable 2010 season was in part due to a bad thumb injury. Despite a mediocre .275 AVG, Utley still showed very solid peripherals, especially in his BB/K rate, contact rate and line drive rate.

He’s not in his 20’s anymore, but 32 isn’t exactly over the hill. Don’t forget that Utley was coming off of back-to-back 30 home runs seasons heading into 2010. Even if he falls a bit short of 30 home runs in 2011, he should put up five category value with AVG, runs, RBI and 15-plus stolen bases.

Ryan Zimmerman – 3B – WAS
In every season that Ryan Zimmerman has played in over 140 games, he has hit 20 or more home runs. Two years ago, he stayed healthy and reached the 33 home run mark. At age 26 in 2011, he’s primed for his best year yet. A .300/30/90/100 season at a thin position would put him into first round consideration for 2012.

Matt Kemp – OF – LAD
It’s all mental with Kemp, because he certainly isn’t lacking in raw talent. On draft day 2010, he was viewed by many as a first round option. Because of a swing that generates plenty of whiffs and a tendency to chase too many bad pitches, his AVG may fluctuate from year-to-year, but the potential for a 30/30 season at a prime age of 26 makes him a nice target late in round two or early-to-mid round three.