The past couple of weeks, I’ve shared my initial view of how I will draft the first and second round of standard snake drafts. This isn’t how the 2015 Platinum projections will rank the players in terms of dollar potential but rather my meshing expectations with risk and overall drafting philosophy.
We’ll finish this series with some comments on players I left out that others will at least consider if not draft in the first two rounds. This shouldn’t be considered my third round, though admittedly they would certainly be on my radar.
Hunter Pence – Let’s start with a confession. The more I thought about it, the more I rued not including Pence in the second round with Charlie Blackmon and Yasiel Puig the most likely to be booted. Pence may not finish with second round value but he has a very high floor. Taking Pence late in the second would allow taking a chance early in the third and as will soon be evident, there’s a whole lot of high-risk, high-reward players available.
Ryan Braun – The narrative will likely be a healthy Braun is close to the player he was pre-nonsense. I’m not convinced, let alone confident he’ll ever be healthy enough to prove me wrong. His fly ball percent has always been low for a power hitter which means he’ll need to carry an elevated HR/FB and I don’t see it returning to past levels. He’ll run but not like before. I’m not saying Braun isn’t still solid, I just don’t trust him enough to be a foundation piece in an era where you can’t afford to mess up with a top hitting pick.
Bryce Harper – Same old story, the talent isn’t the question. Promise me Harper will play 150 games and he’s late first/early second round material with top-10 upside. If I started my draft with two solid hitters, I would seriously consider adding the risky Harper, but I doubt he’ll be available.
Buster Posey – I’ve done the first run of hitting projections and I can safely say Posey will be ranked in the first 15 hitters. He’s aided by the replacement catcher bump but since he plays so many games, he would still be ranked very highly if he were, as an example, first base only. The reason I’m passing on Posey until at least the third round and probably not taking the plunge even then has to do with the confidence I can get catchers I like later at a price where I can get some profit. I don’t feel catchers are priced properly so I can get an edge whenever I decide to grab a receiver – it doesn’t have to be early. Alternatively, it’s viable to completely punt the position and troll for emerging backstops. Many will scoff at this, especially in the high-stakes arena, but the reality is not much is needed from the last two roster spots to be worthy of that spot. The catcher pool is so homogenous at the end that I can just take the best two available really late and look to upgrade as the season progresses with the buffer that I need very little production to justify a 20th round pick.
Nelson Cruz – I’d feel the same way even if Cruz ends up returning to Baltimore. He’s too risky. The assumption is by playing designated hitter he will remain healthy but he played 70 games in the outfield last season and prefers to play defense so he’ll likely be chasing flies again in 2015. Plus, there’s gravity. He’s not likely to repeat a HR/FB of 20.4 percent. It will still be well above league average but between power regression and injury risk, I’ll pass early.
Victor Martinez – Speaking of gravity, V-Mart set a career high in HR/FB at 16 percent, which followed seasons of less than half of that. During his salad days, his HR/FB was about league average. He’ll be 36 on opening day and while David Ortiz has set the precedent of being able to reach and sustain a new skill level later in one’s career, I’ll take the under on just about everyone’s 2015 HR projection for Martinez.
Freddie Freeman – This one is tough for me because so many people I respect are Freeman believers. Considering that his HR/FB rate dropped in 2014 aside, unless he makes a mechanical adjustment to loft more fly balls, he’ll be a glorified John Olerud/Mark Grace/Sean Casey. Yeah, he’ll be better than that trio – so even glorified is a hyperbolic understatement, but Freeman is not on course to be a perennial 30-HR guy. Hmm, maybe a beefed up Don Mattingly is a better comp. Regardless, without the bump in fly balls necessary to hit more homers, I’m not willing to bet on him like some of my brethren.
Adrian Gonzalez – Actually, maybe A-Gonz is the best present day comp for Freeman. In fact, I’d have a real hard time deciding between the two if it came to that. Gonzalez is a bit like Pence but without the steals. His upside is limited but his downside is minimal. It really comes down to mindset. Some will look at the drop in hitting and want reliability. Others will say screw it, players are going to get hurt, may as well just go for it and see what happens. Gonzalez is a candidate for the former.
Max Scherzer – This is all subjective and has nothing to do with the numbers. Scherzer has been the exact same guy for three years – 3.00 ERA with a ton of whiffs. There’s nothing in his skill set that suggests a decline. I’m just concerned that he’s thrown well over 1000 innings the past five seasons. If I can’t get Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale, Madison Bumgarner or Felix Hernandez, I’d rather wait and jump in a bit (but not too much) later. Sometimes I wish I didn’t do this for a living but that ship sailed a long time ago. My 2015 pitching strategy is likely MadBum in the third and if he’s gone, Cole Hamels a couple rounds later, depending on the flow.
Prince Fielder – This is all about risk. The best hitters in 2015 are mostly first basemen and outfielders. I’m not comfortable taking a chance at one of the few positions where there’s a reasonable level of reliability, especially early.
Thus concludes a little 2015 teaser. If there’s a player you’d like me to comment on, please feel free to ask below.