Can I be Frank? Even though most call me Greg, I’m going to be frank with you. There are some players every year that I put on my ‘do not draft under any circumstances’ list. Exhibit A in 2012, for me, was Albert Pujols. It didn’t matter how far he fell in the draft, he wasn’t going to fall far enough for his price to be attractive and I wanted no part of him. He just signed an enormous contract; strike one. He moved from the AL to the NL where he will see more breaking balls (According to the testimony of dozens of players who have made the switch. I haven’t actually crunched the data on this but I don’t doubt it’s veracity) and more importantly he had to learn the repertoires of dozens of new pitchers; strike two. Finally, when I watched Albert in preseason games this I was concerned just how much he’d thinned out. It’s the lightest I’d ever seen him. Perhaps he had lost some strength? In any event, it was yet another change that had potentially significant downside. Strike three. In 2011 Adam Dunn topped the list for some of the aforementioned reasons plus his new role as a DH. Sometimes I miss out on values as a result, but overall ‘the list’ serves me well.
As I size-up the keystone, I’m currently planning to avoid Dustin Pedroia in midseason leagues. I love his makeup, his gamer mentality, and his hustle. The problem from a fantasy perspective is he’s so dedicated that he frequently plays through injuries and will lie and say he is healthy when he’s not, or he’ll downplay a significant injury that could linger and drag his stats down for a considerable stretch of time. Pedroia is nursing a thumb injury and has scuffled at the plate after missing six games due to the ailment. Word is that he’s fine and that he’s just trying to get his timing back. We’ll see. Aside from the thumb he just isn’t running this year. Three stolen bases in 5 attempts isn’t enough production from someone who had a 17 overall ADP in March. He might start running again, or he might just do what he’s done 2 of the last 5 years: end up with fewer than 10 bags. The scrappy second baseman is on pace for just 12 bombs this year. Statistical anomaly? He’s averaging 15.6 homers every 600 AB’s over his seven-year major league career. There is a decent chance that you’ll get 15-5 type production from this 2nd round pick. All the while you have Jason Kipnis on a torrid 25-40 clip, Mike Aviles chugging along at 20-20, yeoman Jose Altuve reporting in at a 10-30 pace and coupled with a .319 batting average. The latter breakouts will surely be much cheaper than the former MVP.
After a slow April, Robinson Cano has been his normal self (since May 1st: .319/30/11/27). He should once again be the first second baseman off the board. One could make a strong case that Jason Kipnis (.284/46/11/41/17) should be next, but I’m leaning slightly towards Ian Kinsler (.274/51/7/35/10) based on his track record, presence in a better lineup and the ballpark in Arlington. Dustin Pedroia (.268/34/5/26/3) will probably be taken third and then the Indians’ rising star fourth in most drafts. Dan Uggla (.251/46/11/41/0) rounds out the top 5.
Kelly Johnson (.258/34/9/30/7) is repeating last years counting numbers with an improved batting average and is a fine option if you miss out on the upper tiers. Aaron Hill (.272/25/7/27/6) is another safety blanket that will be available in later rounds. Owners have been waiting for a long time for Danny Espinosa (.230/32/6/19/9) to improve his batting average. I have the misfortune of being stuck with the Nationals second baseman on one of my teams. He becomes an asset if your roster is deep enough at MI to platoon him and start him only when he gets AB’s against left handed pitching (.375/.474/.667). Against right handers he does more harm than good (.191/.271/.303). First round selection Gordon Beckham has heated up the last thirty days (.265/17/5/16). He’s done this before and only time will tell if this is just another hot streak or if this post-hype prospect has finally started to figure things out.