My 2012 "Ole" Team - Early Spring Training Edition

On Tuesday, I went position by position and pointed out the players I am most likely to have on my teams this season based on the differences between their ADPs and my personal rankings. Today, we're going to talk about the opposite. These are players whose ADPs will most likely prevent them from making it onto any of my teams. Again, these are not players that I dislike for the current season -- in fact some of these players will be quite valuable. I just fully expect them to be drafted before I would pull the trigger on them. For example, if Justin Verlander were available in the 3rd round, I'd love to have him on my team. But, as a first rounder? No thanks.

So with the image of myself as a bull fighter in Spain and Justin Verlander (seriously, I'm not picking on him) charging straight at me in tow, let's get this started:

Catcher: Devin Mesoraco (Dis-Honorable Mention: J.P. Arencibia, Yadier Molina)

Don't get me wrong, I really like Mesoraco long-term. But for 2012, I fully expect to him to struggle a bit out of the gate as he gets his feet wet in the majors. On top of that, you never can trust Dusty Baker when it comes to rookies -- and they do have the chronically underrated (in real baseball) Ryan Hanigan. Don't be surprised to see Hanigan get 70-75 starts this year, which consequently would make him a nice end-game value pick in NL-only leagues.

We go around the rest of the diamond after the jump..

First Base: Mark Trumbo (Dis-Honorable Mention: Gaby Sanchez, Paul Konerko)

It amazes me that Trumbo has the ADP that he does, as right now he's being drafted 11th among first basemen. This despite the fact that he doesn't really have a job. Right now I have him ranked 22nd on my personal list and even that feels a little high. The Angels are a contending team and I have a hard time believing that they will parade him out there if his OBP is under .300 again, while hacking it at a position he can't play (3B). Maybe a trade clears this up, but for now, he's undraftable at this price.

Second Base: Jose Altuve (Dis-Honorable Mention: Alexi Casilla, Rickie Weeks)

I love Altuve as a player and really enjoy watching him hit, but unfortunately I have to be a little objective here. First of all, Mini Jose plays in Houston -- this means he will be accumulating very little by way of counting stats. Last season he had 26 runs and 12 RBI in 57 games - and that's with him hitting 1st or 2nd 85% of the time. He's also not a burner, so he probably will top out around 15-20 steals. My brain hurts when I see he's being drafted ahead of Kelly Johnson, as I have KJ 8 spots ahead of Altuve in my rankings.

Shortstop: J.J. Hardy (Dis-Honorable Mention: Asdrubal Cabrera, Elvis Andrus)

Here's what I wrote regarding Hardy at the beginning of January -- the same thoughts still hold:

Hardy has downside risk both from performance and injury perspectives. While he did hit 30 HRs last year, he also hit 17 combined between 2009 and 2010. So why did he hit 30 HRs last season in only 129 games? The answer lies in an unsustainable 15.7% HR/FB ratio, which was also exacerbated by a career high 43.4% fly ball rate. This means that if these rates regress to his career norms (11.6% and 38.7%), it would mean a season of approximately 17 HRs. That's a big difference.

Third Base: Brett Lawrie (Dis-Honorable Mention: David Freese, Chase Headley)

This I'm sure is going to make me a lot of friends around here. I think everyone needs to take a collective deep breath about Brett Lawrie. He's going to be a very good player, but he's had exactly 150 at bats at the major league level. Last year's 17% HR/FB rate is not going to hold up long-term, so I'd be surprised to see him eclipse 20 HR. The most interesting stat to watch with Lawrie this year will be his contact rate within the strike zone, which was 82.1% last year and in line with players who put up decently higher K rates than he had. Either way we're dealing with small sample sizes and his price (#5 3B and 55 overall) is too expensive for my taste. Lawrie is going to be the first guy I throw out in auction leagues this year in order to get some cash off the board.

Outfield: Corey Hart, Yoenis Cespedes, Vernon Wells (Dis-Honorable Mention: Peter Bourjos, Torii Hunter, John Mayberry

Corey Hart's power numbers are trending down even though it's not apparent in his raw stats. Hart had a career high ground ball rate of 44.6% in 2011, paired with a career high (and abnormally large 19.7% HR/FB rate). Don't be surprised if he doesn't hit 20 HR in 2012 even if he stays healthy, and with 14 steals combined in the last two seasons, you're not exactly going to get that value back elsewhere. Cespedes being drafted as a top-50 OF is pretty nuts, as it's a total bet on his tools which are rusty and about to play in one of the worst home parks in baseball for power. Most rival execs believe he needs at least 1-3 months in the minors to shake off the rust and adjust to professional breaking balls. His upside may be great long-term, but don't take a sucker bet for 2012. And Vernon Wells at 51 among outfielders? Ahead of Carlos Quentin, Alex Rios, Brennan Boesch and Lorenzo Cain (among many, many others)? Not only was he terrible last season, but he could easily be out of a starting job by Memorial Day. You can find 20 HR elsewhere.

Starting Pitcher: Justin Verlander, Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Doug Fister, Johan Santana (Dis-Honorable Mention: Alexi Ogando, Julio Teheran, Ricky Romero)

Justin Verlander is my #3 overall pitcher and a solid late-second/early-third round pick, but he's going 6th overall. That's too early for any pitcher, and this year I don't have a pitcher ranked in my top 12. Grab someone three or four rounds later and then look at your offense -- you'll be happy. Ian Kennedy was the target subject of one of my first pieces here at Fake Teams (link), so I won't bore you with any more on him. Daniel Hudson is the poster child for the "he pitched so much better than his raw stats reflects" movement, and I don't have a problem with that. My problem is that he's being drafted as though he's fully capable of putting up numbers similar to the ones he should have put up in 2011. As a #4 starter in mixed leagues, absolutely, but if he's your #2, you may not end up too happy. Doug Fister put up great numbers against some terrible teams down the stretch last year and now too many people think he's a better pitcher because of it. Even if you think he's becoming a product of his improved fastball velocity, he still can't strikeout enough guys to avoid the potentially horrid defense behind him. Finally, as a Mets fan, I love the optimism about Johan Santana's return. But as a Mets fan, I know this will not go well. Trust me.

Relief PItcher: Brian Wilson, Drew Storen, Kenley Jansen (Dis-Honorable Mention: J.J Putz, Jose Valverde, Francisco Rodriguez)

Brian Wilson as the 6th closer off the board is utter craziness at this point in the spring. He had a down year last year with two stints on the DL, the second of which was elbow inflammation that he's still dealing with. Stay away. Drew Storen is a perfectly fine closer, but he's not the 2nd best RP in baseball (where he's being drafted) and I personally don't have him in my top-5. Though my bigger issue here is that I think Craig Kimbrel is the only relief pitcher worthy of being selected in the first 100 picks of any draft. There's just a ton of depth and no other legit star options. Kenley Jansen is a beast of a reliever, and he'd be undervalued if he were the closer for the Dodgers. Unfortunately for him, he is not -- and no matter how good of a real-life reliever he may be, unless he's closing, he's definitely not worth being the 17th RP off the board ahead of guys like Jason Motte, Rafael Betancourt and Joe Nathan.

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