How is your fantasy team doing so far? Are you exceeding expectations or have you failed to meet them? If you are anything like me you probably have teams in both categories. I am sticking in there even in the leagues where I'm suffering a bit because rebuilding is for wussies (not really but I like the way it sounds). If you have already dumped entertain yourself with the best sportsbook while you wait for prospects and breakouts to buy with your FAAB dollars.
The most important thing to do in your All-Star break evaluation period is to be as realistic as possible about your chances. How many points can you hope to achieve by your players rebounding to a reasonable level? Which players do you own that might decline? Who can you acquire in trade if you go for it? What if you dump? Where would those trades leave you for the 2017 season?
Below you'll find some ideas to ponder and some are just fun to think about. The first half All Stars are a pretty obvious concept. They include my own biases in combination with statistical review. The second half picks are even less scientific but I feel strongly about most of them.
I'd love to hear about your season thus far and what you think of these lists in the comments or e-mail me if you want.
The 2016 AFB First Half All-Stars:
C Wilson Ramos - The power was expected but the batting average is shockingly good.
C Buster Posey - Posey is so good and so consistent, it's actually rather boring to pick him.
1B Will Myers - He's healthy, playing first base and his promising future is visible again.
3B Josh Donaldson - The A's made a huge mistake not getting more for this guy!
CI Mark Trumbo - I have to give this spot to the MLB homerun leader. He deserves it.
2B Jose Altuve - He might be the best player in fantasy baseball right now.
SS Xander Bogaerts - There are at least six guys that deserve this position, Xander is the coolest.
MI Jonathan Schoop - He's batting 300 with power and coming into his own. Watch him!
OF Mike Trout - He is still the best of the bunch and the stolen bases are back.
OF Kris Bryant - I want to put the NL homerun leader at third base so badly!
OF Ian Desmond - I want to put him back at shortstop so badly!
OF Mookie Betts - Okay, I'm not writing my wish that Betts was still at second base. But I do.
OF Yoenis Cespedes - He's earning every penny at the plate but the stolen bases are gone.
DH David Ortiz - He's going out in style at the plate, unfortunately for him the Red Sox suck.
SP Jose Fernandez - Even with a rough start to the year he is plowing through MLB with ease.
SP Stephen Strasburg - The fear of injury never goes away, he is a true ace.
SP Clayton Kershaw - Hopefully the back injury is as minor as it sounds.
SP Noah Syndergaard - He is the new Mets ace in a rotation of aces.
SP Madison Bumgarner - This is the guy you want on the mound on the last day of the season.
MR Andrew Miller - He could be the Cubs closer in a week or two.
MR Dellin Betances - The Yankees bullpen is as good as expected, the team is pretty weak otherwise.
MR Justin Wilson - He should be a Yankee too. Cashman makes some strange trades.
CL Zach Britton - The closer for the first place Orioles is a certified stud.
CL Kenley Jansen - He should be one of the most heavily checked free agents this fall.
I tried not to pick the obvious guys every time, though this doesn't stray too far from the statistical best. A fun experiment would have been to use a 260 budget to pick the roster but who has that kind of time?
The 2016 Honorable Mentions (mostly breakouts and rookies):
OF Jackie Bradley Jr - He is on pace for a 20/20 season if he can maintain his current production.
SS Aledmys Diaz - The Cuban found his mojo when he got DFA'd, now Peralta's old job is his.
SP Kyle Hendricks - His win/loss record shows the dude has no luck at all but he's earned his place near the top of the Cubs rotation.
RP Derek Law - He looks like a future Giants closer.
C J.T. Realmuto - A catcher that hits and steals bases always has a spot on my list.
C Wilson Contreras - The Cubs are so loaded, it just is not fair. They can trade Kyle Schwarber to the Yankees and not miss a beat.
OF Tyler Naquin - The former first round pick has raked this year but the Indians refuse to let him prove its for real.
OF Ezequiel Carrera - He looks like the future right fielder, since Jose Bautista seems determined to move on in free agency.
OF Jay Bruce - He is healthy and back in All-Star form.
SS Corey Seager - He is just as good as expected, if not better.
OF Melvin Upton Jr. - Not bad BJ, not bad at all (obligatory Independence Day Resurgence joke - as if the movie wasn't enough).
3B Jake Lamb - He deserves a slot on the real MLB All-Star team.
These are the guys you have on your roster for cheap who you'll be keeping next year and that your league mates will be bugging you to trade, but you won't.
The AFB Second-Half Picks: (almost purely guess work but with logic applied)
C Russell Martin - He's switched to a lighter bat and is already showing signs of a rebound.
C Travis D'Arnaud - Since returning from the DL (again) he is hitting with power once again.
1B Carlos Santana - This guy can really hit and the Indians are back in contention.
3B Jake Lamb - I am telling you, get him now if you still can.
CI A.J. Reed - It's just a hunch but I think he's gonna rock after the break.
2B Jonathan Schoop - This is the birth of a star, trust me.
SS Didi Gregorius - He has figured it out. Remember when the D'Backs compared him to Derek Jeter?
MI Carlos Correa - He's already cranking again, did you miss that?
OF Justin Upton - He spent the first two months doing absolutely nothing (his brother was better). He is now awake, we're just waiting for him to get hot.
OF Peter Bourjos - It has been a while but we used to think he'd be good. Now's his chance.
OF Curtis Granderson - The Mets need him to be the version that hits and gets on base.
OF Giancarlo Stanton - The Barry Bonds effect is going to do good things in the second half.
OF Yasiel Puig - You are forgiven if you forgot how young and talented this kid is.
DH Kenny Vargas - He has true power if he can keep the strikeouts at a reasonable level he could have a huge second half.
SP David Price - The skills are still on display, it is just the results that suck - I call it the Red Sox Effect.
SP Yordano Ventura - The Royals Effect is much better than the Red Sox Effect.
SP Michael Pineda - Too many skills here, he can be the Yankees ace.
SP Luis Perdomo - Another pitcher with skills and mediocre results.
SP Marcus Stroman - I have a feeling that the playoff push kicks him into gear.
SP Chris Archer - He is too good to suffer this way. Getting his center fielder back can't hurt.
MR Liam Hendricks - Since coming off the DL he looks like the bullpen ace he was last year.
MR Carl Edwards Jr. - CJ is the bullpen cog the Cubs have been missing.
MR Dylan Bundy - He has proven healthy again now he just needs a bigger role.
MR Shane Green - He really should be in the rotation but the Tigers need him in the bullpen.
These are basically the guys I would be working to acquire in trade talks (a couple may even be free agents in some leagues). They are not playing like studs (most of them) and they present the opportunity to be better in the second half and also potentially add to your keeper list.
Sunday, July 10, 2016
Sunday, November 16, 2014
|The next Cuban Sensation: Shortstop Yoan Moncada|
Wow, did a lot happen this week or what? My favorite bit of news is on the next Cuban Sensation up for bid. He is 19-year old shortstop (and potential second baseman, third baseman or center fielder) Yoan Moncada. This kid is said to be the real deal and definitely worthy of a spot on your dynasty league roster or a minor-league pick in keeper leagues. He is said to have plus speed, plus power and skill with the bat to go with a rocket arm and soft hands in the field.
This Ben Badler quote from Baseball America cinches the deal for me:
How good is Moncada? He has more upside than Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, who just reached a $72.5 million deal with the Red Sox. He’s better than Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas... If Moncada were eligible for the 2015 draft, he would be in the mix to be the No. 1 overall pick. Gourriel and Despaigne would be safer bets, but there’s no player in Cuba with Moncada’s combination of youth, tools and hitting ability.
Yoan Moncada may force MLB to move to an International Draft
Baseball America's Profile on Yoan Moncada
The Tampa Bay Rays Trade Jeremy Hellickson
Hellickson seemed to defy expectations his first few years in the majors with ERA totals that looked much better than the various ERA predictors such as FIP and xFIP revealed. Then injuries and disappointment dominated the last two seasons - as many experts predicted. What do the Arizona Diamondbacks see in Hellickson? They seem to have a vast collection of talented starting pitchers that have disappointed in one way or another, even before adding Hellickson to their numbers. They also have a few highly thought of pitching prospects.
I am confident that Hellickson can be solid mid-rotation starter for the D'backs. I think injuries are mostly to blame for the poor performance the last two seasons. And even if he is not the pitcher he appears to be in his rookie and sophomore seasons, he was never really projected to be terrible. His strikeout rate has been ticking upward and his Swinging Strike rate is indicating that improvement is real. The uptick in strikeouts has also led to an improving FIP. The move to the NL should only help his strikeout rate improve further and with a solid defense behind him I think he will be quite fantasy worthy for a low investment.
Diamondbacks fans are not thrilled by the trade
Rays fans seem quite a bit happier...
Rays fans examine Hellickson just before the deal took place
New York Newsday's Controversial Steroid Story
Anthony Bosch has accused agent Scott Boras of attempting to cover up the positive test by Manny Ramirez a few years ago. At this point in the on-going steroid/PED story I do not know what to believe. It would be easy to believe that everyone involved in any way is dirty and that no one undeserving has been smeared but I cannot force myself to believe it. I will be very happy when all facets of this story disappear forever.
The New York Newsday Story
Scott Boras statement on the accusations (added to the Newsday Story after the fact)
Mets GM Sandy Alderson has nothing good to say about Scott Boras
The 2014 MLB Season Awards
Despite having his worst full season in the majors Mike Trout finally won the American League MVP award. Though a .287/.377/.561 batting line with 36 homeruns and 16 stolen bases would be a career year for most players. For fantasy owners I'm sure the stolen base total was disappointing and perhaps a few owners were counting on a .300-plus batting average to pull up the rest of their team batting stats. Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs.com looks at how Trout was pitched in the second half of the season when he had a 30 percent strikeout rate. Personally I believe he will make the necessary adjustments to how he is pitched and continue to be one of the better players in the American League for another decade or so.
If I had a vote I would have given it to Giancarlo Stanton (he lets me call him Mike) for the National League MVP. I do not have a problem with pitchers winning the MVP award but I think that should only happen when the pitcher has an historic season and there is not a worthy performance by a batter. I do not believe that was the case this season. Stanton was outstanding this season and when you consider the overall decline of offense in MLB it was even more outstanding. A season of 6.1 fWAR, a 159wRC+, and 37 homeruns is a more than worthy MVP. The Miami Marlins were even in contention until late in the season thanks largely to his performance.
Trout’s 420 points were the most possible, and rounding out the top 10 in the AL were Victor Martinez (229), Michael Brantley (185), Jose Abreu (145), Jose Bautista (128), Robinson Cano (124), Nelson Cruz (102), Josh Donaldson (96), Miguel Cabrera (82) and Felix Hernandez (48). The full ballot is available in this Google doc from the BBWAA.
Kershaw edged out Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, finishing with 355 points to 298. Behind Kershaw and Stanton in the top 10 were Andrew McCutchen (271), Jonathan Lucroy (167), Anthony Rendon (155), Buster Posey (152), Adrian Gonzalez (57), Adam Wainwright (53), Josh Harrison (52) and Anthony Rizzo (37). The full ballot is available in this Google Doc from the BBWAA.Jose Abreu finished fourth in the MVP race and was the first ROY for the Chicago White Sox since Ozzie Guillen in 1985. After a huge debut season it is tough to imagine him doing much better, but if you look at his season splits it might change your mind. hit .292/.342/.630 with an absurd 29 homeruns in 351 PA. The second half he batted .350/.435/.513 with seven homers in 271 PA. The obvious takeaway might be the decline in homerun rate. But Abreu played through a hamstring injury for most of the second half and hit .350 while major league pitchers were doing everything in their power to either get him out or keep him from clearing the bases with one swing. I think there is another MVP worthy season coming from Jose Abreu.
I was a little surprised that Jake deGrom was such an over whelming winner over Billy Hamilton. However he is more than worthy of the award. The first New York Met ROY since the great Dwight Gooden in 1984. deGrom is essentially the product of a good arm on an intelligent and hard-working player receiving great coaching and rubbing shoulders with talented veterans.
Eno Sarris Breaks down deGrom's experience and development in the Minor Leagues (a must read)
Hamilton's stats certainly were not as good for fantasy purposes in the second half but there were signs that he was improving as a baseball player which can only be good for his current and future owners. His defense was outstanding and he showed guts continuing to go out there and battle. Hamilton has shown the ability to adjust in the minors and I think he will adjust again to the barrage of inside fastballs he saw in the second half. Unless you paid an absurd amount for him he should be worth keeping around just for the stolen bases as he continues to improve as a player.
From MLBTrade Rumors:
The Angels’ Matt Shoemaker (40 points), the Yankees’ Dellin Betances (27), the Astros’ Collin McHugh (21) the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka (16) rounded out the top five in the AL voting. Billy Hamilton finished second in the NL balloting with 92 points, well ahead of the Cardinals’ Kolten Wong (14), the Phillies’ Ken Giles (8) and the Diamondbacks’ Ender Inciarte (4).Ken Giles made an impression this season
Kershaw was a unanimous winner, with Johnny Cueto and Adam Wainwright finishing second and third, respectively. Madison Bumgarner finished in fourth place (obligatory caveat: votes were due before the postseason commenced), while Jordan Zimmermann, Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, Doug Fister, Jake Arrieta, Craig Kimbrel, Stephen Strasburg and Henderson Alvarez rounded out the ballot. The award marks Kershaw’s third Cy Young in four seasons.The Re-Building Braves
Kluber, a breakout star with the Indians, edged out Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, who finished second. Kluber received a total of 169 points in the voting, while Hernandez received 159. Rounding out the ballot were Chris Sale, Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, David Price, Phil Hughes, Wade Davis and Greg Holland. Kluber posted an 18-9 record with a 2.44 ERA, 10.3 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and a 48 percent ground-ball rate in 235 2/3 innings.
The Dodgers were not the only team to revamp their front office this fall. They brought Roy Clark back to the organization and hired Gordon Blakeley as Special Assistants to the General Manager. Brian Bridges was promoted to scouting director. Not to mention being John Hart on as the General Manager. The Braves have entered if not quite a re-building period - it is at least a period of re-structuring that extends from the front office to the playing field.
Baseball America outlines the front office and scouting department changes the Braves have made.
John Hart denied that the Braves were shopping Evan Gattis despite the abundance of rumors to the contrary. The inexperienced Christian Bethancourt will be the primary starting catcher. If the Braves are not marketing Gattis they will need to find a place for him to play, which is likely what has gotten the media and other GMs speculating.
“We are coming in with the idea that we don’t have to trade anybody,” Hart said. “We have not made a call (to see if a team is interested in any player). We have received calls on people; we haven’t had any conversations yet. That (Gattis rumor) is absolutely inaccurate. And quite frankly, I think anybody that says that – if you look, I’ve got two corner outfielders who’ve got one year left (before free agency), and I’ve got one potential corner outfielder (Gattis) that’s got four years left (under contractual control).”Despite this statement it seems almost certain that the Braves will deal one of their corner outfielders before the season. I am sure they would prefer to trade B.J. Upton, but that is extremely unlikely to happen. That means either Jason Heyward or Justin Upton, if not both, will be traded for some combination of prospects and pitchers they can control for several years.the Braves should be able to get whatever they need. There are so few quality and experienced bats available in trade, they should have multiple options.
But then there is this:
“Everybody mentions the two outfielders (as trade targets), but there’s other pieces on this club that we might consider (trading),” John Hart said. “There’s some bullpen pieces below Kimbrel. We’ve got some pieces that people like, it’s just a matter of trying to the right guys back where you’re going to say, this will allow us to win, or at least allow us to compete. That’s where we are this early in the winter. And I think it’d be a shame on us if we didn’t go out and explore that avenue first. Go out and see if we can make a deal to get pieces that we like.That will, even though we’ve got to subtract something, will still give the club a chance to compete.”GM John Hart on the Gattis Rumors
The Braves GM of the Future
The Yankees are Making Moves
Pending a physical, the Yankees have agreed to a one-year, $2.5MM deal with free agent outfielder Chris Young. It sounds like the yanks will also attempt to re-sign their closer, David Robertson. but Cashman's recent comments also make it sound as if negotiations will either progress quickly or the Yankees will move on and accept the draft pick as compensation.
Brian Cashman on the 2015 Closer
Cashman on the Justin Wilson Acquisition
Chris Young Re-Signed
The Yankees Outfield
More A-Rod Crap
Other Links of Potential Interest to Fantasy Owners
The Royals are interested in acquiring 1B Ryan Howard
More on the Dodgers new methodology.
Pablo Sandoval is a hot commodity
The Angels have targeted Max Scherzer
The Cardinals have money to spend
Baseball America on Cuban Shortstop Roberto Baldoquin
Rays Montreal Rumors
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Mike Trout is the best player in the game, both real and fantasy. He does it all, he hits for average, has 30-homerun power, and steals bases. We can also expect the lineup around Trout to improve a bit with Albert Pujols almost certainly healthier and Josh Hamilton should be better, even if he never returns to his MVP form. Trout is worthy of the first overall pick in leagues of all formats for which he qualifies. At just 22-years old we'll probably see him there for a while. There has been a lot of talk about his weight and training techniques but I do not believe there is anything to be concerned about here.
550 at-bats, .315/.400/.550, 30 HR, 115 Runs, 100 RBI, 35 SBs
Thursday, April 11, 2013
By a stroke of bad luck, I drew the #7 pick, a universally despised position. At #7, you will not get one of the three "premier" first round players. You are not close enough to the wheel to have the advantage of having two picks close together. But, as with most things in life, you can make it work to your advantage.
The first round went pretty much by the book. Ryan Braun fell first followed by the Triple Crown winner and then the Boy Wonder, Mike Trout. Of the three, Cabrera would have been my pick. Braun may put up better numbers, but it is no secret that MLB is on his case for PED issues. Whether he will be suspended for some time during the year is yet to be seen. I also worry a little about the psychological pressures he must be under as the target of a massive investigation. As for Trout, his 2012 season was truly one for the ages. But, take a long breath and tell me what should make us believe he can do it in his second big league season. He may do as well, or even better, but he lacks a track record...something Miggy clearly has.
The next three picks were Kemp, Cano, and McCutchen, in that order. None of these selections give me any particular heartburn, but with high first round picks one should maximize predictable value, not upside. With Kemp, whose talent is unquestioned, there are some nagging health issues. Robinson Cano has a history of monster seasons, but it takes him 650 at-bats a year to pull this off. With so many Yankee stars on the DL or ready for retirement, one must wonder who there will be to drive Cano in, or who will be on base for him to drive in. Andrew McCutchen is clearly a fantastic young player, but one who has not yet reached his peak or established a level of consistency. Had this been a keeper league, though, McCutchen would have been my pick. As it is, I probably would have gone with Cano and crossed my fingers for his mates to get healthier.
That left it up to me at #7. Generally, the first round means find the best player available. In addition, I planned to grab power, batting average, and reliability. I found all those things in a very large package named Prince Fielder. This meant passing up on numerous legitimate first round candidates, including Joey Votto and Carlos Gonzalez, both of whom I love, but both of whom present some health issues. Ditto Albert Pujols and his knee. As for Giancoarlo Stanton, I was bothered by the quality of the hitters around him. When your sole protection is Placido Polanco, you have some issues. Justin Upton and Jose Reyes would have been fine picks as well, but I reminded myself that my first rounder had to be a person with good reliability as well as mammoth power and an excellent average. Welcome to the team, big man!
Three big name pitchers went early in the second round...Strasburg, Verlander and Kershaw. I was a little surprised that the three went 3, 4 and 5 in the second round. Kershaw I can see as a second round pick, but Verlander was, IMO, overdrafted here. As for Strasburg, my thinking was similar to that regarding Trout - show me you can do it for a full season, twice.
So for my second round selection, I went with Dustin Pedroia. He's not a true masher, like Fielder, but he does have 20-25 home run power. There were two more factors I considered here. One is that second base is a very thin position at the top. The other is that Boston may run more this year than we've seen in a while, due to the tendencies of their new manager, John Farrell. Pedroia will be on base plenty, and has the wheels to pick up 30 or more steals if he gets the green light. Plus he gives me more plus average, which may be a scarce commodity this year.
Before my third round pick, four more top line starters would fall, including Price, King Felix, Hamels and Matt Cain. It became abundantly clear to me that I would not get one of the top starting pitchers if I didn't take one in the third round. Available were Cliff Lee, Yu Darvish, Bumgarner, Weaver and Dickey. But I was still looking for reliable power, and it came in the form of Yoenis Cespedes, a hitter I believe could turn in an MVP season. No, he does not meet my test of "do it twice", but he is a hitter we have watched for years in his native country, and there are few who doubt this guy's ability to rake.
The fourth round presented a difficult decision. I had not planned to take pitching early, yet I had seen all the top starters fly off the board. I was also mindful of the fact that "closer" has even less job security than "NFL placekicker".
A really good closer, in addition to providing you help in the Saves category can, essentially, turn an average starting pitcher into a Cy Young candidate. By that I mean that in addition to saves a really good closer will give you a ton of Ks, an ERA around 2.00 or less, and a Whip of 1.00 or less, as well as a handful of wins. Add those numbers to an average starter, and his resulting numbers are outstanding. By contrast, some closers will not only fail to help you in ERA and Whip, but can actually hurt you there. And, they can lose their jobs in the process.
In my opinion, the closer who provides the best projected stats and job security is Craig Kimbrel. He is the only closer I would consider taking early in a draft (with the possible exception of Aroldis the Red). Plus, given the fact that so many starters had already been taken, I figured that I had to get Kimbrel right then if I expected to roster him at all. So, welcome Craig Kimbrel. Of course, the next owner in line took Chapman. He told me he would have taken Kimbrel had I not done so.
The next four rounds were used to fill out my infield and add a couple of outfielders. Some players I believed were being undervalued, and should have strong years in 2013 are Shane Victorino, Martin Prado, Erik Aybar and Melky Cabrera. Melky may have been a reach, but I think there's a good chance he'll have a big year, unless he was nothing more than a product of PEDs.
I took my first starting pitcher in Round 9, and the honor went to Ian Kennedy. He was the 30th starting pitcher taken, and a bit of a bargain as the 127th player overall.
The rest of the draft consisted of picking the best offensive players available. I tried picking as many pitchers with high upside as possible. Among the hitters I was very happy to roster were Chris Davis in Round 10 and Dexter Fowler in Round 13. Happily, each of them has gotten off to a hot start. They will undoubtedly slow down some, but I think they are both guys who will exceed expectations and deliver big in 2013.
My other hitters were Yonder Alonso, Aaron Hicks, Hiroyuki Nakajima, Carlos Ruiz, Alex Avila and Rajai Davis. Nakajima appears to be a miss, but I think the Athletics would like to get him back up and playing ASAP in order to justify their investment in him.
I chose relievers Casey Janssen, Ryan Cook and David Hernandez to join Kimbrel in my bullpen. I think Janssen is being undervalued this year, mostly by people who think Santos will claim the job. Janssen has the stuff to close. As for Cook and Hernandez, they should put up stellar qualitative stats, and could work themselves into position to garner a few saves.
The starters I picked (including my four reserve round picks) were selected primarily on the basis of upside potential. They were as follows:
Kyle Lohse (signed the morning of our draft),
Wade Davis, and
I think each of these guys have the potential to turn in solid seasons. Davis and Myers have looked pretty bad so far, but fantasy baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. And while they won't put me on top of any of the pitching categories, I'm counting on my offense to make up the difference or at least give me someone to trade for another starting pitcher. In the meanwhile, I will be diligently working the waiver wire. Already, I have placed Nakajima on the DL and purchased Maicer Izturis as a free agent. I also added some outfield depth with Chris Heisey, dropping David Hernandez in the process. With some luck and good health, this lineup should produce 1100 runs, 250 homers, 1000 ribbies, 200 stolen bases, all with a .282 average. On the pitching side, I'm projecting 85-90 wins, 85-90 saves, and around 1150 Ks. ERA and Whip may be an issue. Right now I'm thinking 3.65 and 1.23, which won't place very well in this league.
So there it is...the Advanced Fantasy Baseball entry in the Blog Wars league. I'll be posting progress reports from time to time. In the meantime, any comments, critiques, or suggestions will be appreciated.
Thanks, and have fun!
Sunday, February 24, 2013
My friend Derek Ambrosino at the Hard Ball Times recently posted an article called "Who is 2013's Top Dog?" which debates which player should be drafted first in re-draft mixed leagues this season. To his eyes there are only three candidates - Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun and Mike Trout.
I agree that those three should be candidates. However, I will add three more names for consideration - Matt Kemp, Robinson Cano and Andrew McCutchen. Kemp, Cano and McCutchen are generally going with the fourth, fifth and sixth picks in one order or another but a case can be made that they are each better selections than at least two of Derek's choices.
Before jumping into each player's qualifications I think it is important to decide what is important to acquire in a first round pick, especially an early one. The first pick in the draft would ideally have a track record of success, annual statistics that typically place the player within the top 10-15 players overall, a clean bill of health, a secure position on his team and contribute to five categories. If you are lucky, that player will also be in his prime years of performance and own the potential for further upside in his statistics.
Ryan Braun is at the top of Mock Draft Central's ADP Report. Braun won the 2011 MVP award and has been one of the top offensive players in baseball for years and contributes to all five offensive categories. He was worth $50 in 2012 according to BaseballHQ.com values. He has been worth at least $30 in each of the last six years and 50-plus the last two seasons. He has averaged over 600 at-bats the last five years. He is definitely in the prime of his career and signed to a long term contract by the Milwaukee Brewers. The only real negative is regarding the suspicion of PED use and the possibility of suspension. After beating the rap before the 2012 season, Braun was one of the names connected to the BioGenesis Clinic. If Braun missed 50 games due to suspension would he still have first round value? Probably, but I certainly would not be happy to have used the first pick of the draft on him.
Miguel Cabrera is ranked second by MDC's ADP Report. He won the 2012 MVP Award and achieved the Triple Crown last season. Cabrera has been worth at least $30 in seven of the last eight years. HQ valued him at $42 in 2012 and at no less than $36 the last three seasons. He has batted no worse than .324 with 30 homers in each of the last four seasons. He has not had fewer than 548 at-bats since 2004. He is still just 29-years old and in the prime of his career. Last season he moved back to third base so he qualifies at a premium position. Cabrera does not steal bases and that is pretty much the only flaw in his game. If you are hunting for a problem you might knock him for some occasional issues related to alcohol but he has not had an issue with that in the last few years.The lack of stolen bases is unfortunate but Cabrera is still an excellent option.
Mike Trout was the stat guy choice for the 2012 MVP. He had a Rookie-of-the-Year season better than anyone else has ever had. He hit for average, for power, scored runs, drove in runs and stole bases almost at will. BaseballHQ valued him at $49 in 2012 and $0 in his 123 at-bat audition in 2011. If Trout did everything at the same rate he did in 2012 over the entire 2013 season he would easily be the number one choice, almost without debate since he would gain more than a month of at-bats at that MVP level rate of performance. many analysts have pointed out that even with some significant regression to his 2012 statistics Trout could still be an easy first round value with an extra 100-plus at-bats added to his season totals. However, Trout, prior to the 2012 season had never displayed the 30-homer power he achieved in 2012. In fact he had never hit more than the 17 he hit at three combined levels in 2011. As Derek pointed out, it isn't unusual for a young player to show big improvement but it is not typical to make such a huge advance in a player's rookie season.Trout may be a great player in the making but one huge season does not make him an ideal first overall pick.
Matt Kemp was the 2011 MVP Runner-up to Ryan Braun. He was given an astounding value of $62 by BaseballHQ in 2011 but just $24 in his injury-plagued 2012 season. Kemp began the 2012 season with a monster month of April but an early May hamstring strain (which he tried to play through) basically put him out of action until the middle of July. Kemp has been worth at least $31 in four of the last six seasons and no less than the $21 he earned in 2010. He usually contributes in all five offensive categories and is one of the rare players capable of achieving 40-plus in both homers and steals. The Dodgers have him signed for the next several years. Kemp is considered a crucial part of the Dodger's core. A player coming off an injury-shortened season is not an ideal first overall pick but Kemp's upside potential is as high or higher than any of the players under consideration.
Andrew McCutchen is just 26-years old but already considered one of the best in the game. He has shown power gains three years running. He has fantastic speed and has spoken publicly this spring regarding his desire to improve his base-stealing techniques.The coveted 30/30 season could be in his future.He was worth $43 according to HQ in 2012 and at least $27 in each of the last three seasons. He hasn't had fewer than 570 at-bats in the last three seasons. He contributes to all of the offensive categories. McCutchen doesn't have a long track record but in his four major league seasons has shown steady improvement while providing excellent fantasy stats. Of the players under consideration, McCutchen has the highest probability of a huge breakout season. None of the MDC drafters took McCutchen before the third pick of the draft but he is capable of delivering a season with that level of value.
Robinson Cano is in the prime of his career and the best player on the New York Yankees. He is an annual MVP candidate. He has been worth at least $30 in each of the last three seasons and has done so while manning second base, a premium fantasy position. Unfortunately, he does not steal many bases. His value comes from very high batting averages and 30-homer power. Statistically he is probably a more appropriate pick for the mid to late picks of the first round but for those owners that prefer to use early picks on scarce positions Cano is a very safe option.
The choice here is for Ryan Braun but as Spring Training continues and Matt Kemp proves himself healthy the decision could change.For now I believe the MDC drafters have it nearly correct. The key difference is that I would not choose Mike Trout in a re-draft league with a top five pick over the other candidates listed here.