Jacoby Ellsbury – I will never spend a high draft pick on a speed guy with limited power upside. The only way he justifies a 2nd round pick is if he gets close to 20 HR (he has only reached double digits once in his career). Given the injury risk and his age, I am not paying this price.
Bryce Harper – I love the player, but drafters are paying for a breakout that might not come for a couple of years. I won’t pay the 2nd round price for Harper until he has a 30 HR season under his belt. The potential reward is not worth the risk given the price tag.
Jose Reyes – Reyes is an injury prone speed guy whose best years are behind him. Drafting Reyes in the 3rd round limits the owner’s upside and essentially ignores the risk. I would like Reyes a lot better as an investment in the 5th.
Yaisel Puig – Puig has actually shown the ability to produce near elite value already, but given that you will likely have to draft him in the top 30, there is a lot of risk here. Puig is really raw still and there may be some growing pains in his sophomore campaign.
Buster Posey – Posey makes this list because he is the first catcher drafted. It is really hard to get good value on a Posey pick considering that you will have to pull the trigger within the first 4 rounds. There are too many good catcher options for me to do that.
Bartolo Colon – His HR/9 was an anorexic .66 in 2013 after being over one for his entire career, but his fly ball percentage didn’t change. Then there was the ridiculously low ERA & FIP, neither of which are repeatable. Oh, did I mention he’ll be 39 in May. Some expect and ERA in the 3’s but I’m thinking closer to or over 4.0 even with a move to the NL East. Add in the low strikeout totals and that makes him waiver material.
Ricky Nolasco – just like Public Enemy said, “Don’t Believe the Hype”. Take out 2008 & 2013 and you have one ugly career. Overall his 3.70 ERA was nice, but the guy who put up a 4.55 in June and a 6.66 in September is the real Ricky Nolasco. You could say he was due as his FIP in the past has been almost a full point below his ERA but I’m not buying. His new home will help pad his ratios, but don’t expect an ERA under 4 or and forget about a k/9 over 7. Let somebody else have him in 2014.
Michael Cuddyer – Prior to 2013 Cuddyer was nothing more than a .270 hitter. The 20 home runs he hit is his ceiling, and while he has flashed more power in a select few years those times are few and far between. You know what you call a 35-year-old outfielder who hits .270 with 16 home runs, 75 RBIs and 70 runs scored? He’s called a great player……for your opponent to draft. There will be some disappointed people next year.
Ian Kinsler – His triple slash line in Texas was .304/.387/.511, and if was still in Texas he wouldn’t be listed here. He’s in Detroit now so his road numbers come to the forefront of the conversation. His career slash line for the road was .242/.312/.399 (That’s Brian Dozier territory). He won’t be a bust but he’ll be a major disappointment to those that draft him early, and anywhere before you would take Ben Zobrist is too early.
Jurickson Profar – Profar may be good one year, but it won’t be next year. He has potential and a lot of upside, but I think people are expecting too much from the 21-year-old in his first full year as a starter. His K’s have gone up while his BB & BA have gone down at every stop, and if he’s having trouble now imagine what will happen when those fastballs he’s seeing turn into breaking pitches. In yearly leagues let others chase this dream because this one is gonna be a nightmare on Elm Street.
Manny Machado – I love watching him play 3B, but that doesn’t help us in fantasy. I also love the bat long-term, but my opinion is that you are going to have to pay for stats he’ll be putting up 2-4 years down the road. The fact that he is coming off of major knee surgery should not be overlooked.
Allen Craig – I do not think his BA with RISP magic of last season carries into 2014. The loss of Beltran will further hurt his RBI total.
Matt Carpenter – unspectacular in HR and SB, a regression in runs and RBI could seriously impact his value. I expect that regression to come in 2014; see: Craig (above) and loss of Beltran.
Anthony Rendon – I am not going to be the one paying to see if he can bat .290 at the major league level.
Billy Hamilton– the speed is blinding, but there is too big a chance he does not hit enough to stick for me to pay the current sticker price.
Jacoby Ellsbury – Scott Boras may have landed Ellsbury a sweet contract in NYC, but fantasy owners should be wary of rushing to add the speedy CF. Injury-proneness aside, Ellsbury is a 1-2 category producer. In a roto-league he has a lot of value because of his ability to steal bases (52 in 56 attempts in 2013), but relies on his offense to drive him in (and Yankees offense is weaker without Cano). Since 2011 when he hit 32 homers, he has only hit 13 in over 900 at-bats. Ellsbury is currently going off the board (CouchManagers mock drafts) in the 2nd round as the 6th OF selected.
Dustin Pedroia – Pedroia is a 2nd round pick and the 3rd overall 2B selected. He should be hitting 2nd in Boston next season, which may give him opportunities to drive in runs and score, but don’t expect a lot of steals (maybe 15-20), and I am worried about the decline in power. Couple the power outage with a thumb injury and recurrent wrist issues, and owners who select Pedroia in round 2 may be disappointed.
Evan Longoria – I am a big Longoria fan, but I am not spending a top 20 pick on him. His last 2 full seasons he has finished with batting averages of 0.244 and 0.269. He hit 31 and 32 homers, but that may be closer to his ceiling than floor. Longoria does not steal bases, and depending on where Joe Maddon bats them, Wil Myers is in line to steal some RBI opportunities from Longo. Wait a few rounds and select Ryan Zimmerman instead.
Jean Segura – Segura burst onto the MLB scene last season, hitting 12 HR and stealing 44 bases. While the return of Ryan Braun to the Brewers lineup could mean more scoring chances, don’t expect the power to remain (in nearly 1500 plate appearances in the minors Segura hit 24 home runs). Owners would be wise to wait a few rounds and select Ian Desmond for a balanced speed/power combo.
Max Scherzer – I don’t draft pitchers early because I think there is depth and always “sleepers” and “values” to be had. I will not fault other owners for selecting a pitcher early, but don’t buy too heavily into the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner. Scherzer will rack up strikeouts (more than a K/inning), and he will get you 30+ starts. However, he is coming off a season where he pitched the most innings of his career. He also received an average of 5.59 runs of support per start, highest support for a starter in the top 40 of ERA. In 7 starts, Scherzer gave up 4 or more runs. He was 3-2 in those starts, with 2 no decisions. In his other 25 starts, he gave up 3 or less runs, and was 18-1 with 6 no decisions. There is room for regression here, especially in points leagues that reward heavily for wins.
Curtis Granderson – I’m not as worried about the move to Citi Field as I am with his overall trends. Once you start striking out 28% of the time, even with a low GB rate, there just isn’t a big margin for error. In 5×5 he won’t hurt you as much as in points leagues, but this is arguably the worst signing of the off-season.
Ryan Braun – I’m expecting decent numbers from Braun in 2014, but nowhere near what would be expected from a 1st round pick. (yep, he’s going in the first round in early mocks) An escalating K rate (22%) combined with a rising GB rate (52%) would be cause for concern on its own. Add in the fact that he’s been using PEDs and I’m not paying that kind of price. 25HR 15SB .280 is all I am expecting.
Carlos Gonzalez – Don’t look, but how many years has Carlos Gonzalez hit 30 HR ? Driven in or scored 100 runs? One time. His K rate went through the roof (27%) in 2014. His HR/FB of 24% is also apt to fall. Yes I like the player, but there’s almost no chance he returns first round value. 25 HR 20 SB .280. Heck, that’s his average year over the past 3.
Everth Cabrera – This is a career .250 hitter coming back from a PED suspension. His ISO is less than .090 for his career. Yes he can run, but so can a lot of utility players. Fortunately he does draw some walks, but there’s still plenty of risk. If he doesn’t hit .250 the SB might not be there, and even if he does steal 45 bases he’s going to hurt you a lot in HR, RBI, AVG and a little in runs. He’s being drafted in the 6th round and he’s waiver wire fodder. I’m giving him a 5×5 of 72/4/52/40/.235
George Springer – While my long-term outlook for Springer is for good production, I think he’ll struggle in his first look at major league pitching. There’s power and speed, but I can’t imagine Houston will keep him up if he’s struggling and striking out 30+% of the time. Keeper and Dynasty leagues can hold, and there may even be a buying opportunity down the road, but I see little to no value in 2014.
That’s quite a list, and what’s impressive is that two-thirds of the players named were taken in the first five rounds of our early mock draft. Cargo & Tulowitzki went in round one, Puig, Pedroia, Longoria, Ellsbury & Braun in round 2, Segura, Desmond, Reyes, Gomez, Harper & Scherzer in round 3, and Carpenter, Kinsler, Machado, Posey, Fernandez & Craig went in rounds 4 & 5. Even more impressive was the fact that out of the 30 players named, only Ellsbury’s name came up twice. Now some of the players here could still be useful in fantasy, they just might not be as good as you thought they would be or worthy of being drafted where they are.