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Where Will CarGo Be Drafted?

Carlos Gonzalez had a massive breakout fantasy season in 2010, with a .336 average, 34 home runs, 117 RBIs, 111 runs, and 26 steals.  Rest assured he won't be drafted 123rd on average this time around.  It's certainly not mock draft time, but where wil CarGo go?

Matt Kemp provides a strong fantasy comparable for Gonzalez.  Kemp, coming off a .297-26-101-97-34 season, was drafted eighth on average in March.  Evan Longoria, coming off a .281-33-113-100-9 season, went tenth.  I have a feeling CarGo's average draft position will be even earlier than Kemp's.  Kemp, by the way, had an ADP range of 4 to 13.

If you're the average fantasy player, you still have to take Albert Pujols first next year.  Sure, Gonzalez provided more value in 2010, but Pujols was second and has been a fantasy monster for a decade.  Hanley Ramirez, the typical second overall pick, slipped this year to .300-21-76-92-32.  Some owners will look at those numbers and decide they can't give Hanley the position-based boost and take him second.   Still, on average, it seems like Ramirez's history would help him top CarGo ever so slightly.  It's not as if Hanley had a bad year.

Gonzalez going third overall on average would not surprise me.  Last year's early first round picks such as Alex Rodriguez, Chase Utley, and Ryan Braun had down years by their standards.  Fantasy players have short memories.  One possibility is that someone who had a huge 2010 vaults into the mix.  The contenders are Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, and Josh Hamilton.  But even those players didn't have a fantasy season like Gonzalez did, so I think he snags that third spot.

While we're on the topic, are there any red flags with CarGo?  It's always risky to take someone with a short history of fantasy dominance with a super-early pick.  I thought Kemp was a first-rounder this year, and he was a bust.  One concern touts will point to with Gonzalez is his work away from Coors: .289/.322/.453 with 8 home runs and 41 RBIs in 287 ABs.  That's a glimpse at his worst case scenario, a line I kind of expected from him heading into 2010 - .290-15-80 or so.  But even then, he swiped 16 bags on the road, so you still would have had a tidy profit.  I don't see the point in worrying about the home/road split.  He's not leaving Coors, and he's still useful on the road.

It's unlikely Gonzalez has a healthy, disappointing season like Kemp did.  I'm more concerned that he'll miss significant time due to injury.  Here's his history:

  • March 2008: Missed about 17 days due to a strained hamstring.
  • April 2008: Jammed thumb.
  • May 2008: Missed a week with a sprained ankle.
  • July 2008: Missed three days with a hamstring injury.
  • March 2009: Rib cage injury.
  • August 2009: Steak knife injury, missed a few days.
  • September 2009: Missed a few games with a hamstring injury.
  • March 2010: Quad strain.
  • April 2010: Missed three days with a hamstring injury, almost went on DL.
  • May 2010: Missed a few days with a sore wrist.
  • June 2010: Missed a few days due to a bruised knee.
  • July 2010: Missed a few days with a bruised finger.
  • August 2010: Missed a few days with a knee injury after crashing into the outfield wall.
  • September 2010: Tendinitis in wrist and thumb due to an August 30th foul ball injury.

Obviously I was happy to own CarGo this year in a couple of leagues, but it seemed like he was always day-to-day with something.  But you'd leave him in your lineup and he'd go 4 for 6 with two home runs.  What does this mean - he's injury-prone but plays through it without much effect?  That he's more upfront than most players about standard injuries, so they're reported more?  The injury history is odd but not particularly scary, so we shouldn't downgrade him for it.

Bottom line: if you want CarGo, plan on taking him second or third most likely.  Whether he's worth it might be a separate post, but I think so.  Even if you knock him down to .300-25-100-100-20, that justifies the draft spot.


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