2012 First Round Risks

ADP numbers from Mock Draft Central continue to roll in and the first round has churned out some interesting names. Interesting in the fact that just a year ago many of the players listed as first round picks were far from first round locks. Based on current ADP data, who represents a first round risk and, yes, this article is meant to drive you crazy with nitpicking some of baseball’s most talented players.

Matt Kemp, 1st overall – We get to start at the top with this one. I have been a proponent of Kemp’s for years and have always believed that his talent had always outmatched his mental approach to the game. Then, in 2011, he began to look like a player possessed with achieving what many knew he always could and someday would do. The talent is still glaringly present, but one has to wonder if Kemp will let up a little in the first year of a new comfy eight-year, $160M contract. I don’t talk about the mental game too often, but with Kemp I firmly believe it plays a significant role. Besides that aspect of risk, consider also that Kemp is an outfielder, which is a position of great depth in fantasy baseball.

Troy Tulowitzki (.297+/.370+/.540+ with at least 27 home runs and 90 RBI for three straight years), by the way, plays shortstop, a thin fantasy position.

Albert Pujols, 2nd overall – A big regression in walk rate in 2011 (about a five percent drop), a big spike in ground-ball rate (44.7 percent from last season was his career high) and a SLG that was the lowest of his career (.541). Wait a second, what am I saying? Pujols, in a down year, hit .299 with a .906 OPS and 37 home runs. The risk is that he’s changing leagues and teams for the first time in his career at the age of 32. Angel Stadium isn’t exactly a great hitter’s park. In fact, home runs during night games can be hard to come by due to that darn marine layer that makes living in SoCal so difficult (sarcasm, if you didn’t catch it). First base is a deep position and Pujols looks less like a lock that he ever has.

Troy Tulowitzki (.297+/.370+/.540+ with at least 27 home runs and 90 RBI for three straight years), by the way, plays shortstop, a thin fantasy position.

Justin Verlander, 6th overall – Taking nothing away from what Verlander did last season, but he won 24 games, which is a highly unpredictable stat, dropped his ERA about a full run from his career best in 2010 and did so with an extremely low .236 BABIP and a huge spike in LOB% to 80 percent (his career average is 73.3 percent). Given the large number of quality pitchers available on draft day, do you really want to invest your first round pick on a pitcher who has never come close to the success he had in 2011?

Troy Tulowitzki (.297+/.370+/.540+ with at least 27 home runs and 90 RBI for three straight years), by the way, plays shortstop, a thin fantasy position.

Jacoby Ellsbury, 9th overall – Speaking of players who had never come close to their 2011 performance before, Ellsbury might just take the cake in that category. He went from a career high of nine home runs to thirty freaking two and surpassed his career high RBI total by 45 (a highly unpredictable stat for a leadoff hitter). There are some legit skills to his game, but Carlos Gonzalez will be waiting there for you in the second round in if you have any doubts about a repeat from Ellsbury.

If you’re not one to embrace risk in the first round, and you happen to land a high pick on draft day, perhaps there is one player I can recommend…

Troy Tulowitzki (.297+/.370+/.540+ with at least 27 home runs and 90 RBI for three straight years) plays shortstop, a thin fantasy position.