Folk Hero (USAT)
Although I'm generally agnostic at the table - there are no bad players, just bad prices - there are a few notable names I'm pretty sure I won't own in 2014. Sure, draft season isn't over yet, but I can see which way the river is flowing. Let's get to the clipboard.
- Evan Gattis: Catcher is the most physically and mentally taxing position there is, especially when you're not very good at the spot to begin with. This looks like the sucker play of 2014. Gattis hit .211 (with a .265 OBP) as a backstop last year. I'd love to root for the story, like everyone else, but I think Atlanta is going to regret giving Gattis the full-time catching gig. Sure, you'll probably get 20 homers, but everything else concerns me.
[Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]
Gattis's Yahoo ADP is an expectant 179. If you want someone cheaper, I suggest Wilson Ramos (189), Jason Castro (212) or Miguel Montero (218). If you can write a bigger ticket, Sal Perez (146) and Jonathan Lucroy (really like him at 154) make sense.
- Masahiro Tanaka: Obviously the ballpark and environment come into play, but mostly this is an argument against the price of the shiny new toy. Look at some of the interesting pitchers going after Tanaka (ADP 95.7) in Yahoo leagues: Mike Minor, Michael Wacha, Julio Teheran (go get him), Shelby Miller, Danny Salazar, Doug Fister, Tony Cingrani, Francisco Liriano. Don't force it; take what the room gives you. Most of the Japanese imports turn out being better (and better values) in Year 2, anyway, and Yankee Stadium is a tricky place for any right-hander to make his living. (For more of my Tanaka stance, click here.)
- Chris Davis: It's not that I see him as a colossal bust, but he's being priced as a first-round pick and that's not where I want to take a three-category guy. Davis has the profile of someone who could bat .250 or less (check the second-half numbers, not to mention the strikeout rate and fly-ball rate), and I'm only willing to pay for 30-35 homers.
- Jon Lester: He's coming off a 247-inning season if you factor in the playoffs. He was a difference maker in K/9 during the salad days, but it's come down to 7.28 and 7.47 the last two years. Lester benefited from home-run luck last year, and he was very fortunate in run support (tenth-best in baseball) after some bad luck in 2012. I rarely own him, and this year won't be any different.
- CC Sabathia: It's rare for me to supply an outlier rank in the fake-baseball industry, but I'm that guy with Sabathia. Maybe the trimmer CC will make everyone happy, but I'm not betting against the ugly fastball trend - especially in the nasty AL East. A massive workload is finally taking its toll
Sabathia's ADP of 150.7 is shocking to me. Look at some of the names you can get later, on average, in Yahoo leagues: Andrew Cashner, Lance Lynn (grossly underrated), hipster Sonny Gray, Justin Masterson, A.J. Burnett, Ervin Santana (highway robbery at 208). They're letting you beat them, gamer.
- Troy Tulowitzki: With his injury history (two full seasons out of seven), I can't consider him until the late-second round or the early-third round. And you certainly won't see him then.
At some deeper positons, it's not that big a deal to accept injury risk in the early rounds. I can talk myself into a Carlos Gonzalez play, say, because the outfield depth is reasonable in mixed leagues. But I don't feel good about the shortstop pool as a whole, which is the final dagger against a Tulo selection.
- Jered Weaver: Look at the frightening loss of velocity, look at the disappearing strikeouts. This isn't difficult. And yet, Weaver's name brand remains strong - his ADP checks in at 135. Can't go near this one.
- Jason Grilli: His reinvention is a helluva story, but he's 37 and only pitched 108.2 innings the last two years. I don't want to pay for Grilli as a sure thing, but ADP demands a Top 10 ticket at the position.
- Yasiel Puig: Buzzy sophomore, a fun pick for most. I'm allergic to buzz. Does it bother you that Puig hit .214 in September? Does it bother you that Yoenis Cespedes (another Cuban hitter and free swinger) dropped 52 batting points in his second year? Do rhetorical questions bother you? Do you like movies about gladiators?
- Johnny Cueto: I'm generally wary of smaller pitchers to begin with (Cueto is 5-11, 215), and now there's over a year of physical problems to worry about. The name-brand remains strong, with an ADP around 139. An easy stay-away.
- Mat Latos: His strikeouts have taken a dip (predictably) from the San Diego days, and I dare him to allow just 6.9 HR/FB again this year, especially considering his home park. Was it Bill James who said the smartest pitchers are usually the best pitchers? I've never given Latos an intelligence test or anything, but I've always had my doubts on his mental makeup (I certainly can't prove that and maybe it's irrelevant; do with it whatever you like).
And then there's this: Latos won't be ready for the start of the season. Why use a seventh-round pick on someone who's already carrying a red flag?
- Rafael Soriano: The handshake total was pretty, but everything else was moving in the wrong direction last year (most troubling is the strikeout dip, from 9.2 to 6.9). Now comes the Age-34 season. New manager Matt Williams has no history or tie to Soriano; I make no leash assemptions here. Forget paying the 117 ADP in Yahoo; you can find similar options at much cheaper prices (forever-underrated Casey Janssen comes to mind).
- Dan Haren: He's becoming one of those "it's not your fault" pitchers, a guy who looks much better in the peripherals than he does with the up-front ERA. But maybe Haren's high HR/FB clip the last two years is due to a fastball and cutter that are no longer up to snuff. Sure, the move to Chavez Ravine should help, in theory. But working in the NL East last year was a cushy assignment - the weakest hitting division in baseball - and Haren still gave us a 4.67 ERA. The circus leaves town for everyone eventually.
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- Evan Gattis