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Roundtable: Worst Value, First Three Rounds

I'm hosting the roundtable this week.  My topic:

Name the player who is the worst value for his average draft position, within the first three rounds.

Brett Greenfield, Fantasy Phenoms

The player who is the worst value for his ADP, within the first three rounds is Evan Longoria. There is no doubt that he has immense potential, but with your second round pick there is way too much risk involved.  He batted .272 last year and stole seven bases.  During his minor league career of two seasons, he stole a total of eight bases.  This guy is not a steals threat.  His low AVG is mainly attributed to 122 strikeouts in less than 500 AB.  He should get 600 AB this year if healthy and is looking like he'll strike out roughly 165 times.  I don't see him being a major contributor in two fantasy categories, which are steals and AVG.  Does anyone really think he hits 40+ HR?

Let's not forget about Ryan Braun, who two years ago smacked 34 HR in 450 AB.  He went on to hit 37 in 611 AB during his first full season. Simply doubling someone's stats during their first time around the league doesn't work.

Lastly, there's someone named Chris Davis, who homered 17 times in less than 300 AB.  He, too was a rookie last year.  His AVG was higher than that of Longoria, at a .285 clip.  He also would project to have similar numbers in the runs and RBI categories.  Why do I bring him up?  He gets drafted in rounds 5-7... and round five is a stretch.  Just because Davis' team didn't make the playoffs, and Longoria's made the World Series, doesn't mean we should draft Longoria so high this year.

He's risky due to a lack of major league AB's and there are many other proven players who you can take instead such as Justin Morneau, Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Beltran to name a few.  Better yet, wait until round 6 and grab Davis.

Patrick DiCaprio, Fantasy Pros 911

In my view it is unquestionably Matt Holliday. Given the change from Colorado to Oakland and his overall tendencies he is not a top 15 OF and arguably not top 20. Oakland does not steal as much as most teams, and regardless of Holliday's SB success rate he will not get as many stolen base opportunities; that is a guarantee. Those 28 steals of 2008 are a huge outlier. Thonly two guys with big SBO numbers were Rajai Davis and Eric Patterson; both one skilled type players from whom they were trying to squeeze value.

Secondly, Holliday routinely hits 35% or less FB; in Colorado that is enough to get an 18% HR/FB rate but that is very unlikely in Oakland. Throw in the fact that his power skills were way down from 2007 and you have a guy that is still a good player but is a fifth round talent. At best. Prediction: 20 HR, 15 SB and a BA below .300 and maybe worse.

Patrick Cain, Times Union

Johan Santana will go in the second round of most drafts, and those who take him then are making a mistake. Santana is a beast, but  pitchers simply shouldn't be taken this early. One reason is that pitchers are more prone to disappointing seasons than hitters. Another  reason is that the hitters you'll miss out on by drafting Santana in the 2nd round (ADP: 18.64) cannot be found later. Conversely, pitchers of nearly the same quality are still out there much later. Brandon Webb is, on average, still available 27 picks later. Take another step down in the pitching hierarchy and you'll have Josh Beckett/Cliff Lee/Francisco Liriano being taking on average in the low 70s.

Guys like Webb, Peavy or even Becket and Liriano could very well out perform Santana this year. Sounds crazy? Well, there were red flags in his seemingly strong 2008. Last year Johan's WHIP was the highest since '02, K-rate was the worst since '01. His line drive percentage and BB-rate were also at a five-year highs. These weaknesses all came in his first year in the NL, which is simply baffling. And despite all these ugly trends he had his lowest ERA ever. Just doesn't add up if you ask me...

Rudy Gamble, Razzball

Ichiro.  He's the perennial top 3 round pick of teams that finish in the bottom half.  He generally projects and finishes around 70-100 in value.  We've got him at #82 in value for 12-team MLB leagues in 2009.  I see him as basically Placido Polanco with speed.  If Polanco suddenly could steal 30 SBs, would he move up 15+ rounds to the top 3?  Nope.  Ichiro's HR/RBI leaves you at a disadvantages vs. other OFs (an estimated -3 points in combined HR/RBI standing points) and he'd need something like a .350 AVG and 40+ SBs to dig himself out of that trench to being extremely valuable.

In general, the worst top 3 round picks tend to be those that overdraft speed.  Remember that SBs are just 1 of 5 stats - if you're giving up performance on the other 4 to get speed, it's generally a bad move.  Also, multi-skilled players who stole 10-25 SBs the year prior can easily drop 5-10 SBs due to nagging injuries, injury prevention, manager philosophy, or aging.

Commish, Fantasy Baseball Geeks

I am going to have to go with Jimmy Rollins at #9 overall (according to our friends at Mock Draft Central) as the worst value pick.

In 2008 he was above average in one category (47 SBs)  other than that (76 R, 59 RBI, 11 HR, .277 BA) he was steadily mediocre.  Even though I believe that he will bounce back from his 2008 numbers, I still have a hard time thinking that he is the 9th best fantasy player overall going into 2009.   I had a hard enough time putting him in the Top 10 last year, but this year Top 10 seems ridiculous.  If anything he should be a buy low candidate this year.  I would not mind having any of the Top 10 SS's this year in a shallow league and there is even decent talent after the top 10, so I see no reason to reach for Rollins towards the end of the 1st round if I can't get my hands on Hanley or Reyes.  I think it makes more sense to wait 4 rounds and grab Furcal or 5 rounds to grab Tulowitzki or Drew or even later for Peralta.

When I am picking in the 1st round I want as close to a slam dunk as possible.  Give me Hamilton or Kinsler or Teixeira or even 140 games of Utley before I have to buy high on Rollins.  Unless you think he is a lock to regain his 2007 MVP form, there is no reason to spend a 1st round pick on Jimmy Rollins.

Adam Ronis, Newsday

My selection is C.C. Sabathia. The Yankees went after the elite free agents on the market and the hype will be high for Sabathia. He is coming off a dominating second half with the Brewers, which will be fresh in peoples minds. Sabathia is listed at 6-foot-7, 290 pounds and has been a workhorse his entire career. He has pitched at least 180 1/3 innings in all eight of his major league seasons. He threw 253 innings last season and 241 in 2007, so there has to be concern of a heavy workload and all the pitches he has thrown. The Brewers also used him several times on three days rest.

Sabathia got off to a horrible start with the Indians last season, allowing 27 earned runs in his first 18 innings. He moves from a weak NL Central to a strong AL East. He won't match his 2.70 ERA of last season. Sabathia also had 10 complete games last season. I don't see him getting to the 230-inning mark again. Sabathia had career highs in ERA, K/9 and WHIP. It's going to be difficult for Sabathia to match last season's numbers and people are drafting him like he will. I don't think he will be a flop, but he will have some regression and is not worth a second or third round pick.

Jon Williams, RotoExperts

It is becoming very easy to name Manny Ramirez as a bad value, who may not have a job to start the season. He is going late in the second round (21.81) according to Mock Draft Central’s ADP data. I can also see several writers choosing second baseman Dustin Pedroia (24.08) as a potential bust. I happen to have faith he will earn his draft position. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez (2.81) is a player I would not touch with a ten-foot pole, but my thoughts on him are completely subjective. Hypersensitive A-Rod seems to be digging himself a deeper and deeper hole with every utterance. 

I would hesitate to draft second baseman Chase Utley at his ADP (16.97) because I believe the hip injury and surgery could have a negative impact on both his power and his speed. I would not be overly critical of anyone who chose Ryan Howard (12.34) in the first round. However, Howard is just as likely to bat for a .220 average, as he is to have 40-plus homeruns, not a risk I want to take in the first round. I would avoid taking second baseman Brandon Phillips (30.13) because he is not trending well. His LD and FB percentages are both dropping which when put together with his swing at everything approach (despite making decent contact) bodes poorly for his batting average. Phillips is also in a significantly weaker lineup this season. 

Tim Dierkes, RotoAuthority

Having seen everyone's responses, I'll go with Justin Morneau, he of the 20.64 average draft position.  I have him at .286-26-112-88-1 in 586 ABs.  That'd be worth $16.33.  Even pumping him up to 30 HR and 120 ribbies doesn't make me want to take him that early.  Give me Carlos Beltran, Alfonso Soriano, Matt Kemp, or Dustin Pedroia instead.  Morneau is a zero in speed, so he can't afford to be less than excellent in any other category.

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