Down: Last Year’s Top Picks

Our astute reader Jonathan noted the following about our recent mock draft at Rotographs:

Zim bought in quite a bit on down seasons 2-5

Yes, Jonathan, you are right. After gladly grabbing Cano with the 7th over all pick, I took the following down picks:

2nd Round: Hanley Ramirez
3rd Round: Justin Upton
4th Round: Adrian Gonzalez
5th Round: Jacoby Ellsbury

I decided to party like it was 2012 all over again by trying to balance down side with the hopes of huge gains.

By comparing at 3 expert mock drafts from last year, here is where my 2nd to 5th round picks averaged being taken in the previous drafts:

Name: Average Draft Position
Upton: 8.3
Gonzalez: 10.3
Ellsbury: 11.0
Ramirez: 16.3

While I wasn’t at all considering last year’s rankings, I do see promise in each of these players for the following reasons.

Hanley Ramirez – The Ramirez pick happened for a couple of reasons. First, I had him in the top group of SS. With Tulowitzki and Reyes already off the board, it was a chance to still get a top SS. I took him over Castro for the added position flexibility for being qualified at SS and 3B.

While his 2012 season may have seemed a disappointment, he did come in 4th in our end of season shortstop rankings. While strikeouts are causing his AVG to drop, I will take the 20+ HR and SB for the SS position everyday. Also, his counting numbers will get a boost by being a part of the the Dodgers lineup.

Justin Upton – With Upton, I am taking the chance on some research I did for FG+ last season. I looked at players who played through injuries in one season and how they performed compared to their projections in the next season. Of the players I highlighted in the article, their SLG averaged being 50 points higher than their ZIPs projection. Upton played through 2012 with an injured thumb which probably caused the huge drop in power from 2011

Season: ISO. Average FB and HR Distance
2011: .240, 300 ft
2012: .150, 287 ft

I am taking a chance he was able to rest and heal the thumb and will be back to hitting like he did in 2011.

Adrian Gonzalez – Gonzalez’s stock has fallen, but it doesn’t mean he is completely useless. He ended up 10th in value at the end of 2012 among 1B and was within $2 of being 6th.

The one item everyone points out as a cause for his demise is his declining walk rate since 2010:

2010: 13.4%
2011: 10.3%
2012: 6.1%

The key to looking at those walk numbers is to take away the intentional walks and the intentional non-intentional walks (pitching around a hitter).

Season: NIBB%, INIBB%
2010: 8.4%, 6.9%
2011: 7.6%, 7.0%
2012: 5.4%, 5.5%

While the rate is down, it only drops around 1.5% instead of 3% once the completely free passes are taken into account.

Like Ramirez, I like the Dodgers offense and expect him to get a good number of counting stats.

Jacoby Ellsbury – I loved Ellsbury coming into 2012 and he reverted to is old injury prone self by losing time to a shoulder, wrist, and lat injury. This pick is based off of him being staying healthy, which is a big if. I could end up with top 10 talent in the 5th round or nothing. I believe the talent, besides health, is in his body. Just like Upton, he played through some injuries and really didn’t perform up to his talent in the second half of the season.

With my 2nd round to 5th round pick, I took some calculated chances. I believe the picks’ upside is worth it to me and I continued to take chances later in the draft. I could be right or wrong. It doesn’t really matter until the drafts start to get real in a couple of months.

We hoped you liked reading Down: Last Year’s Top Picks by Jeff Zimmerman!

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Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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How can you possibly calculate INIBB%?