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Sunday 18th Feb 2018

When preparing for my fantasy baseball drafts, I begin with a process of elimination approach. Go ahead and try it sometime, it can be effective. Rather than deciding players to target, make a list of players you have no interest in, due to performance, draft price inflation concerns, or a combination of both. Often, this list will be a long one, but that's good. The less players to consider on draft day, the better. 

A common mantra among industry pundits is to be prepared to draft anyone if the price is right, which makes sense, though it is not entirely realistic. If you have negative feelings about a certain player, chances are you will not draft him, even at a discount. So, using the Mixed LABR results and the results of my NFBC Draft Champions draft still in progress, here are some early-round players who I'll be staying away from. Note that both of these leagues are 15-team mixed leagues.

Trea Turner

LABR: Round 1, Pick 10

NFBC: Round 1, Pick 8

Drafting Turner in the first round seems crazy to me. But if you want him this year, it's looking like he will not fall past the opening round. This is a guy with three months of big league experience. It was a remarkable three months, but it was three months. The speed is unquestioned, but a .342 batting average and 13 homers in just 73 games? Turner's career .316 AVG in the Minors suggests that a .300 AVG is certainly attainable, but he slugged a combined 19 home runs in 268 minor league contests, so matching last year's 13 home runs, even in a full season, is far from a lock. If you own Turner in a keeper league, congratulations. But in a redraft league, let someone else make the first-round investment. For reference, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Miguel Cabrera and Anthony Rizzo were all taken after Turner in both of these drafts.

Giancarlo Stanton

LABR: Round 2, Pick 14

NFBC: Round 2, Pick 13

The issue here is health, and when it comes to health, it's tough to have much confidence in Giancarlo. Detailing each and every one of Stanton's injuries over the years is equivalent to a thorough lesson in human anatomy, and at some point, it is fair to wonder if staying healthy is as much a skill as it is luck. Rather than banking on that "imminent" 50-home run season, I'll be looking elsewhere in the second round, and so should you. Wait another round or two and draft Nelson Cruz or Yoenis Cespedes instead.

Jean Segura

LABR: Round 4, Pick 10

NFBC: Round 3, Pick 6

Can Segura steal 33 bases again? Sure. Can he score 102 runs again? Probably not. Can he hit .319 again? Highly unlikely. Can he launch 20 homers again? No way. Prior to last season, Segura had amassed 23 career home runs in 479 games, and he will now be moving from hitter-friendly Chase Field to spacious Safeco Field. In order to earn third or fourth round value, he will need to at minimum bat .300 with 15 homers, 30 steals and 90 runs. I'll pass.

Kyle Schwarber

LABR: Round 5, Pick 13

NFBC: Round 6, Pick 9

Impressive hitter, but a hitter with only 236 big league at-bats under his belt. The fact that Schwarber made a sooner-than-expected return from major knee surgery is encouraging. The fact that he is slated to bat leadoff this season is encouraging for his runs total but discouraging for his RBI upside. He will not be catcher-eligible in most leagues, to open the year at least, which is discouraging. Also discouraging is his likely draft cost, which equates to that of a proven .290-30-100 slugger. Although I'm not strictly opposed to owning Schwarber this season, he will surely be gone by the time I'd seriously consider drafting him. And I'm fine with that.  

Eric Hosmer

LABR: Round 6, Pick 1

NFBC: Round 7, Pick 7

Let's see, 19, 14, 17, 9, 18, 25. Which of these numbers doesn't belong? Hosmer recorded a single-season high 25 home runs last year, but there's reason to be skeptical regarding his ability to sustain the increased power. The Royals first baseman has always been more of a ground ball hitter, and his GB/FB rate last season was actually a career-high. But his HR/FB rate was also a career-high. Strange indeed. Drafting him with the 76th overall pick is assuming that he will duplicate the 25 homers. Pick #97 is reasonable, but I still want more proven power from my starting 1B. 

When Hosmer's name is called at the Tout Wars Mixed Auction in three weeks, you won't hear a peep from me. 

Zach Steinhorn is the 2016 Mixed Auction Tout Wars Champion. Follow him on Twitter @ZachMLB

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