Prior to the season, I offered three players I didn’t want on any of my teams — those designed to do well, leagues with rewards for horrific play are another matter entirely — and I stuck to my guns, taking not one of the three for any of my teams. In fact, I don’t believe I used any of them in any of my daily leagues either, though that’s much tougher to prove. In any case, I didn’t make a habit out of it.
So, in the interest of accountability, here are the three players I said I wouldn’t draft along with how they did this season.
Scott Baker (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP)
This one was almost too easy. Baker never threw a pitch for the Twins and while I didn’t know when it would blow, I knew his UCL wasn’t right all the way back in December. This is my biggest regret of 2012, that I knew how unlikely it was that Baker wouldn’t be a factor this season and didn’t say it outright. I danced around it, hedging my word choice where appropriate, but I should have been explicit: Baker’s pair of flexor strains in 2011 were a harbinger of a more serious injury to come and it was just a matter of when.
Looking forward to the offseason, I can’t see keeping Baker. Now that his UCL has been repaired, I love him as a middle or late round option for 2013 drafts depending on how far he ends up falling, but the risk is there that he’ll lack the sharpness he had when he was healthy and his upside isn’t so good as to balance that risk. It seems likely to me that the Twins will decline his option, making him an interesting free agent option, especially for National League teams.
Delmon Young (.273/.305/.423, 17 HR, 51 R, 67 RBI, 0 SB)
Unlike Baker, Young actually had a chance to produce this year. WAR is unkind to him because of his poor-by-any-metric defense, but even focusing solely on his offensive production, he still doesn’t quite rise to the level of average. His wRC+ is 94 and while he’s shown more power this season than he did last year in Target Field, he’s still just…average. Young gave owners a pretty OK season, and in the vacuum that’s livable as long as other pieces picked up the slack, but I still look at his draft position and his line and feel like he was getting overdrafted because of his amazing spring.
According to Yahoo!’s draft reports, Young was drafted in 95 percent of leagues with an ADP of 227; his current rank according to Yahoo!’s system is 283 or just about 60 spots south of where he was getting drafted. There’s definitely some ebb and flow in the rankings — I’d hardly be bent out of shape if I took Young at 275 and he finished the season at 283 — but those 50+ spots mean that Young was going about five rounds too early, which goes a long way to explaining why Young was originally owned in 95 percent of leagues and is now owned in 34 percent.
Again, unlike Baker, Young provided owners some value rather than being a total waste of a pick, but with another season in the books, it’s even clearer that Young is a slightly below average hitter with a reputation he’ll never match. That’s a recipe for disaster come draft day.
Josh Johnson (8-12, 3.81 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)
Of all three of these players, I was the most wrong with Johnson, even if I was right that he was getting overdrafted. I thought he’d miss at least a couple starts, but if he makes his start on Wednesday, it will be the second time in his career that he has made 30 or more starts in a season. Still, like Young, he was just about average and those who drafted him paid too high a cost for average production. He was taken in 100 percent of Yahoo! leagues and was taken at pick 99 and while he hasn’t been dropped en masse the way Young has been, he’s still fallen over 100 spots down to 236. So, counterfactually, if Johnson had been drafted where Young was and Young had fallen down about 50 spots, no one could really complain about their production. As it is, both were disappointments.
By staying healthy, Johnson did outproduce Daniel Hudson and Matt Garza, two of the four pitchers I identified as superior alternatives, so I’ll eat some crow there, but Adam Wainwright and Mat Latos both outproduced Johnson by a wide margin. His ERA is higher than his FIP by almost half a run, which is something he hasn’t done since 2009, so there’s definitely some hope for him going into next season, especially if jilted owners let him fall into a more reasonable round. That said, Johnson’s upside is well known and probably too high to see him fall much lower than the 110 to 120 range, where he’s still a risky selection.
Dan enjoys black tea, imperial IPAs, and any competition that can be loosely judged a sport. Follow him on Twitter.