There are a lot of things I like to do in the early stages of the draft; avoiding bad risks is paramount. I’m going to give you three bats routinely selected in the first 50 picks you should probably pass on draft day.
Aramis Ramirez. He is viewed by many as a safe and steady 3B option. A quick skim through his recent history supports this and seems give owners a reason to quickly make a projection for him based on what he’s already done. A look behind the numbers shows these owners may be wrong to do so. His contact rate has declined each of the last two seasons, so why has his batting average remained relatively high? A higher than career average BABIP, a regression to the mean and you’re looking at a .270 hitter, not the .290 hitter his drafters expect. I wouldn’t be so concerned with the above issue if there weren’t negative indicators in his power numbers too. The only way he can continue his high % of HR/FB is if he continues forward with his declining contact rate, or he continues to be lucky. In the end, his HR totals may not drop off much, but it will be at the expense of a declining batting average and will probably cause his counting stats to decrease as well. The other scenario keeps his batting average near previous levels, but will come at the expense of his HR numbers if he chooses to be more of a gap-to-gap doubles hitter. Regardless of the approach he chooses, I would not anticipate either player to live up to his current ADP, which is around 30th overall.
Alex Rios. There’s a glutton of five category outfielders routinely selected between picks 30 and 60 of every draft, and Rios usually finds his way somewhere in the middle of this pack. I still think the guy has talent, but he has failed to put it all together in a full season, and given his supporting cast I cannot imagine his counting stats will match most of those selected around him. The year 2007 looks to be an outlier in the power department, and 2008 looks to be the outlier in the SB department. Could he put together a 25/30 season? Sure, but expecting anything close to it would be foolish. He’s been good for some pretty good run totals each of his two full seasons, but his peak RBI season was 85 in 2007. I wouldn’t expect it to get any better this year. Let’s face it … RBI opportunities simply aren’t going to be there batting behind Marco Scutaro (career .261 avg./.325 OBP/.377 SLG) and Aaron Hill (career .284/.339/.409). After taking everything into account, I expect a 90/20/80/.290/20 with little counting stat upside. When you take those numbers and match them up against players drafted around him, Rios just doesn’t measure up. He’s a seventh-round pick being drafted in the third round. I’ll take the near identical numbers Torii Hunter offers several rounds later, thank you.
Carlos Quentin. Severely undervalued in 2008 (obviously) and overvalued post breakout. The difference between Quentin and other potential year after career year picks like Aubrey Huff, Kevin Youkilis, Mark DeRosa, among others is that Quentin’s breakout may be legit. This is what I told myself before September 1, 2008, the day his breakout season ended prematurely. Quentin was on pace for a 120 run, 43 HR, 125 RBI campaign before being hit by that pitch and there was every reason to believe he could match or come close to matching it in 2009. Now? Well, wrist injuries are tricky beings. The fact that Quentin seems to be a magnet for being hit by pitches only compounds matters. I’m not usually one to take this sort of information into account when formulating my projections, but in a case like Quentin’s I think you have to. What’s going to happen if he gets hit in that same wrist again? Unlike most body parts, the wrist is very susceptible to re-injuring, especially this soon after being injured in the first place. Sometimes they take over a year to fully heal. I am not going to be the one to take a risk on Quentin this year, at least not at his current going rate. Pay for 30 HRs and 100 RBIs. Anything else beyond that should be considered a bonus. The problem being he is drafted as if he’s going to nearly duplicate last season. I think those owners are taking an unnecessary risk early in the draft with significantly better bets available.
Avoiding bad risks like the ones I diagramed above should get you well on your way to building a championship contending team in 2009. Good luck, hope you enjoyed this, and be looking for my Live Auction blog I will be beginning this week.