Based on my analysis and current ADP data, these are the players that I feel are overvalued or too risky to take on draft day.
ADP in parenthesis.
Justin Verlander (9) – There’s nothing wrong with Justin Verlander the pitcher, his stuff and strikeout rate speaks for themselves, but I’m not going to spend a first round pick on a pitcher coming off of his best season, especially when said season came along with a career low .236 BABIP.
Jacoby Ellsbury (9) – I do believe that Ellsbury’s power spike was somewhat for real. He changed the plane of his swing, which resulted in less ground balls – he had been a predominant ground ball hitter in the past – and resulted in more line drives and fly balls. That being said, his swing is still more conducive to line-drives than it is home runs unlike, say, Jose Bautista, who tries to launch baseballs into the stands every chance he gets. My biggest concern is that Ellsbury ran less last season and had by far the worst stolen base success rate of his career. Does this mean the days of 50-70 stolen bases are over? Will his power regress? I’m not paying first round money to find out.
Curtis Granderson (19) – In what might end up being Curtis Granderson’s career year, he only hit for a .262 AVG. While I wholeheartedly believe that the mechanical adjustments he made late in the 2010 season make his 2011 breakout legit, there is still plenty of risk that a regression in power will also come with a regression in AVG. After all, 2011 was his best season against left-handed pitching and he still only hit .272 against them with a 27-percent strikeout rate.
Josh Hamilton (31) – His natural ability is unquestionable, but he has proven to be a rather frail baseball player, thus always being a risk to fantasy owners who use a high draft pick on his upside.
Starlin Castro (41) – There’s nothing I really hate about Castro, except for his ADP. Castro is still extremely young and still needs to improve his plate discipline. That being said, he’s hit .300 his first two big league seasons with around 10 home runs and 20 steals each year. While shortstop is a thin position, why would you pay top dollar for .300/10/20 when names like Asdrubal Cabrera and Derek Jeter can be had over 30 picks later?
Elvis Andrus (43) – Stolen bases might be the only category guaranteed when drafting Andrus. Why pay top dollar for those steals when Dee Gordon is available about 100 pick later?
Eric Hosmer (55) – Don’t get me wrong, I loooooooooooove Hosmer’s long-term value. However, having to pay fourth or fifth round value for a 22-year-old is risky. That’s not to say I don’t think he can hit .290 with 25-30 bombs this season, but I just wish it didn’t cost so much to find out.
Craig Kimbrel (57) – I highly touted Kimbrel last season and I still love his pure nastiness on the mound. But now his stock has risen so much that I just can’t bring myself to invest. He has logged a lot of innings as a reliever in his young career – remember how he wore down last September – and let’s not forget that he isn’t exactly a control freak (3.7 BB/9). A regression in that 80-percent strand rate could cause his ERA to spike. I don’t think he’ll be an absolute bust, but I’m not paying number one closer money to get him.
Ian Kennedy (70) – 2011 was a big step forward for Kennedy, but I want to see him do it again before I buy in and use a sixth round pick. I’ll only pay top dollar for truly elite arms, given how many decent pitchers there are later in the draft.
Ricky Romero (86) – Romero is a good pitcher who gets a very healthy amount of ground ball outs. However, his 2.88 ERA from last season is a mirage caused by an extremely low .242 BABIP. His K/BB rate was almost the same as it was in 2010 (3.73 ERA) and he even gave up 26 long balls (a career high 1.04 HR/9).
Josh Johnson (100) – I love the upside, but he’s the type of gamble I’d be much more comfortable with as a 15th round pick, rather than an 8th or 9th round pick.
David Ortiz (104) – Did he change his approach for good (lower K% and much improved numbers vs. LHP), or was that a one-year wonder of a season? I’m not paying his current ADP price, not for a player who, at age 36, runs the risk of regressing and clogging up your utility spot.
Johnny Cueto (112) – Career low .249 BABIP last season along with a regression in strikeout rate for the third straight season, make me hisitate with Cueto, despite his improvement in ground ball and home run rate. He’s still going to be a good pitcher, but not enough to separate himself from other pitchers available later in the draft.
Justin Morneau (158) – I’d rather not include Morneau on this list because the reason he is on it is extremely unfortunate. I want to believe that he is fully recovered from his concussion symptoms and that he’ll return to the power hitter that he once was. Unfortunately, there is no way I can predict that such a transformation will occur. On top of that, he plays his home games is a terrible park for left-handed power hitters.
Austin Jackson (167) – He made my $#!t list last year and nothing he did in 2011 convinced me that he is about to take a step forward. A ridiculous .396 BABIP helped him to hit .293 in 2010, but, as predicted, that rate fell in 2011, to .340, and along with it Jackson’s AVG to .249. I have no idea why any sane manager would hit this man leadoff. He doesn’t do a good job of getting on base and strikes out about as often as Ryan Howard and Carlos Pena and has yet to hit more than 10 home runs or steal at least 30 bases.
Melky Cabrera (172) – The Melk-Man hit .305 with 18 home runs and 20 steals last season, but a huge part of his value came in a highly unpredictable category: RBI. He had 87 of those last season to go along with a career high .332 BABIP. Also accomplished last season was a rise in chase rate and a regression in walk rate. Now he will play his home games in the cavernous AT&T Park. If you’re expecting around 20 home runs and 90 RBI again, or even a .300 AVG, you’re in for a very unpleasant surprise.