Can't Touch These

Al Messerschmidt

Forgive the poor, forced Hammer reference. Just don't draft these guys. They aren't worth it.

"Draft Jayson Werth higher," I said.

"Draft Brett Gardner higher. Draft Brian Roberts and Everth Cabrera higher."

There is a very natural consequence, though, of drafting all these guys higher. It's like a batting order - if you bump your #8 hitter to the #6 hole, a couple of guys are sliding back a slot.

So who, you ask, am I advising drafting lower? It's a good thing you ask, because that's what I'm about to tell you, and it would have been awkward if I told you without having been asked.

There are a handful of guys that, for one reason or another, are going higher than I really understand. Maybe a lot of these guys have cousins who play fantasy and draft them out of some sort of "blood before roster intelligence" rule. But I think that people are looking at the wrong things, and I want to fix these things. Unless you really are Mark Trumbo's cousin, in which case...well, you're a good cousin, but I don't think you're a great fantasy player.

I'm leaving out spring injury concerns, like Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Roy Halladay. There's no way to compare where they should go to any kind of average draft position, as those numbers are changing constantly. And anything I might say about avoiding them, you already know.

Trumbo - I am the hatin'est Mark Trumbo hater out there. I do not think he is a good baseball player. He has parlayed a reasonably good power bat and a hot first two months in 2012 into some reputation as a super-slugger. But look deeper at his numbers. His strike-zone awareness is abysmal. Normalize his first-half BABIP in 2012, and his on-base percentage falls below .300 for a second straight year. That's hardly tenable, even if you're hitting 30 home runs a year. If Trumbo starts out 2013 hitting like he did in September 2012 (.183 average, .205 OBP), I wouldn't be shocked if the Angels start giving his at bats to (gulp) Vernon Wells. Trumbo will be on none of my teams, and he should be on none of yours.

A.J. Ellis - Does your league use OBP and/or walks? Do you get credit for pitches-per-plate-appearance? If so, Ellis has his value. But if you're in a standard, AVG-R-HR-RBI-SB league, what does he do? He's not a strong contributor in any of those. Take an Alex Avila or a Salvador Perez. Ellis is a cool story. I'm glad he's finally got a full-time gig. He's not a fantasy contributor.

CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova - Sabathia is still a stud, but he's no longer his studliest. Nova was never a stud, artificially looking like a better pitcher because he was getting wins. And now they're pitching in front of a dramatically reduced offense. The wins are going to be tougher to come by. Knock Sabathia a couple rounds, and I'm not sure I'd even touch Nova.

Dustin Ackley, Derek Jeter, Todd Frazier - These guys might all reach their ceiling. It is certainly possible that I'll avoid them and regret it. But there are question marks about all three - Jeter's age, Ackley's yet-to-prove-himself-ness, Frazier's fluke potential. What if Jeter finally hits like the 39-year-old off an injury that he is? What if Ackley was overrated coming up? What if it means something that Frazier never hit as many home runs in the minors, and never slugged as high above low-A ball, as he did in the majors last year? Maybe I'm too cynical about these guys, but I'm comfortable letting someone else take the risk.

Grant Balfour - A year ago, I championed drafting Balfour, under the theory that the Athletics would be terrible (oops), and would be giving him every save opportunity to try to drive up his trade value. This year, it's the opposite. They're actually decent. But they are also historically finicky with closers, and if Balfour struggles out of the gate, or if he's not quite healthy to start the year, I would be surprised to see Ryan Cook (or Sean Doolittle or Pat Neshek) get the opportunities. If I'm drafting a guy that isn't guaranteed to get saves, I want better peripherals than Balfour offers.

Also, his last name is Balfour. If his name was Grant Strikthree, I might reconsider.

Follow me on Twitter @danieltkelley

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