The discussion below does not involve bizarre predictions. In fact, it doesn’t even include bold predictions. Essentially, the discussion is just the opposite of my bold predictions post last week. Or opposite in that I’ll be discussing players I dislike compared to the average as opposed to players I like. As for what ‘the average is,’ I’m using the expert consensus rank (ECR) from FantasyPros.com. If you’re still confused on the premise of this post, maybe the image below will help.
Evan Gattis – My rank: 13 ♦ ECR: 10
Despite projecting almost 100 plate appearances more than he had last year, I’ve got Gattis finishing with a line that’s very similar to what he produced last year when he was the 13th ranked fantasy catcher on ESPN’s player rater. I’ve got the average up 12 points, 11 more runs and the same number of home runs, RBI and steals. The average and runs bump isn’t enough to boost him past that large group of mixed league replacement level fantasy catchers that also includes guys like Matt Wieters, Wilson Ramos, Miguel Montero and Yan Gomes. You may take exception with a stagnant home run total despite more PA, but I can’t expect him to maintain a top 25 HR/FB rate. He did have a solid average batted ball distance, so I could be wrong. But I’m expecting HR/FB regression to offset the benefit of the extra playing time.
Albert Pujols – My rank: 10 ♦ ECR: 7
Pujols’ upside can’t be more than what he did in 2012, right? None of the projection systems have him matching his 2012 production in a single roto category, so there can’t be any reason to expect him to better than he was in 2012. My projection essentially ignores 2013 and just expects Pujols to continue a steady regression from where he was in 2012. But even if my projection is too conservative, I’m still avoiding Pujols because the upside is limited to his 2012 numbers which would be good for a borderline top five 1B. If I thought Pujols had even a slight chance to return top 20 value, I’d gamble, but the downside is much more significant and more likely.
Brandon Phillips – My rank: 12 ♦ ECR: 8
Phillips’ home run total has held steady at 18 for the last four seasons, but his average batted ball distance, which hovered around 285 feet from 2010-2012, started to slip last year (282.6). A fly ball rate on the high end of his narrow range helped him reach 18 home runs again. But if the batted ball distance doesn’t bounce back or continues to slip, he’s going to have a tough time reaching that total again. The steals finally left him last year at the age of 32, and his contact skills are leaving him as well as his contact rate fell below 80% for the first time since 2008. He’s old now, there’s no reason to expect much of a bounce back and further declining skills have to be expected.
Evan Longoria – My rank: 6 ♦ ECR: 4
All three non-fan projection systems are right with me on Longoria’s average, and the two that also have him with 600-ish PA are basically with me on his home run and runs scored totals. Even Steamer, which has Longo at 640 PA, has him at just 29 HR. I might be a little light on the RBI, but he had 88 last year in almost 700 PA, so I don’t feel like 82 in 600 PA is unreasonable. I don’t necessarily dislike Longoria and these numbers I’m projecting, but this roto line does not look comparable to what I have Adrian Beltre and David Wright projected for, and Longoria is being on drafted on par with them.
Jed Lowrie – My rank: 16 ♦ My rank: 14
The non-fan projection systems that don’t automatically assume 600 PA have Lowrie projected for less than the 550 I’ve got him with. And that makes sense given that he only played 240 games from 2010-2012. If he topped 600 PA again, he’d be at least a top 14 shortstop. But he doesn’t have much upside beyond that and the downside of significant time missed due to injury is very real.
Giancarlo Stanton – My rank: 20 ♦ ECR: 9
I assumed that I loved Giancarlo, but, as it turns out, his overall value is not as sexy as this would lead you to believe.
Power is something to focus on early in your draft because a) there’s not much of it available late in drafts compared to speed and b) you can get power early that doesn’t come along with a terrible batting average. But Giancarlo is probably going to be an early ding on your batting average. He did manage to hit .290 in 2012 thanks to a .344 BABIP, but his career BABIP is .325 and is accompanied by a .265 batting average. If he were to hit closer to 40 home runs as opposed to 30, the batting average hit would be worth taking, and he’d be a top 30 player. But if he only hits the 32 I’ve projected him for, he’s just a borderline top 50 player. And his low-30’s home run total with a middling batting average is very similar to what Jose Bautista will do. Except that Bautista has more R/RBI potential and is going a round later than Stanton.