We have completed our 2015 Consensus Rankings series, and we hope you enjoyed the series, and we were able to help you get ready to win your fantasy baseball leagues this season. As we are in the midst of draft season, I have three next weekend and one the following weekend, here is a summary of players I suggested you avoid for 2015.
First, I offer you links to all of the players we advised you to avoid in drafts this season, by position:
Players to Avoid
My 2015 All-Avoid Team
Catcher - Yadier Molina, Cardinals
After playing 124 or more games in each of the last six seasons, Molina missed 52 games last season after having surgery to repair a ligament in his right thumb. When healthy, he hit .282-.333-.386 with 7 home runs, 40 runs scored and 38 RBI in 445 plate appearances. His .386 slugging percentage represented the lowest since 2010.
Last season, he hit more ground balls, and fewer fly balls, since his 2010 season. He HR/FB% dropped as well, so if the trend continues, the years of double digit home runs could come to an end. Plus, we don't know how he will return after his thumb surgery, and he isn't getting any younger.
First Base - Freddie Freeman, Braves
Freeman hit .288-.386-.461 with 18 home runs, 93 runs scored and 78 RBI last season, in a lineup that included recently traded Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis. He is currently coming of draft board as the 6th ranked fantasy first baseman in early drafts thus far, and I am banging my head to explain why this is the case. He hit 23 home runs in 2012 and 2013, and I think we will look back and see that those were his career high home run total. He is an extreme line drive hitter:
2012: 26.0 LD%
2013: 26.7 LD%
2014: 31.0 LD%
If you check out his fly ball rates over the same period, you will see that he is hitting fewer fly balls and more line drives, so that doesn't bode well if you are looking for more power from Freeman in 2015. He will hit for average, but I see his home runs, runs scored and RBI totals dropping in 2015. He will underperform his ADP and disappoint owners this season.
Second Base - Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
I wrote about Pedroia in part 1 of our Consensus Top 30 Second Base rankings on Monday, saying that while he is still loved by the fantasy community, his power is in a four year decline, as measured by both slugging percentage (SLG) and isolated power (ISO). According to the NFBC ADP second base rankings, he is currently coming off the board as the 7th ranked fantasy second baseman this season, but I think you can get better production from a few guys ranked behind him, especially Neil Walker, Kolten Wong, Daniel Murphy and even Howie Kendrick.
He is coming off his worst power and stolen base season of his career, hitting just 6 home runs and stealing just 7 bases in 609 plate appearances in 2014. Second baseman don't age too well. and Pedroia is already on the wrong side of 30, so while he still holds name value and hits in a very good lineup, on paper, there are safer choices ranked below him in the our consensus rankings for 2015.
Shortstop - Jean Segura, Brewers
I may have recommended avoiding Segura last season as well, but I am not a fan once again this year. I know he has the speed to steal 20+ bases, but I don't think he has the hit or power tool that others at the position can offer. Let's take a look at his monthly batting average trend in his two seasons with the Brewers:
April - .367
May - .345
June - .277
July - .281
August - .252
September - .214
His batting average dropped every month of the season.
April - .244
May - .288
June - .196
July - .179
August - .250
September - .319
He hit better in the second half of 2014 and the first half of 2013, but the other two half seasons are abysmal. Add in the fact that he doesn't hit for power and his stolen base success rate dropped last year, and he is one to avoid in 2015.
Third Base - Evan Longoria, Ray
We ranked Longoria as our 5th ranked fantasy third baseman in our Consensus Rankings earlier this week, but I won't be drafting him this season. According to the Mock Draft Army ADP stats prepared by Howard Bender over at Fantasy Alarm, Longoria's ADP is trending up and currently sits at 39.6. The Mock Draft Army mock drafts are hosted by Howard, are a very good representation of ADPs as they are attended by some of the best fantasy baseball experts in the industry, and an even bigger point, there are no auto drafters allowed in these mocks.
With third basemen like Nolan Arenado and Kyle Seager going after Longoria, I would pass on drafting him and grab Seager or Arenado a round later, as both could put up better stats in 2015. As I wrote in part 1 of our Consensus Third Base Rankings, Longoria's power is trending down, and that is not a good thing for his owners. He is coming off his worst power season of his career, as his ISO slipped to .151 and his SLG dropped to .404 last season, down from his .230 ISO and .498 SLG in 2013.
Outfielders - Jason Heyward, Cardinals
There are still many readers and industry experts who still like Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward. The baseball community loves him because he plays a great right field and is still very young.
I disagree with the fantasy community on Heyward. Granted, he is still young, and could benefit from a change in scenery, but I don't think the Cardinals lineup is that much better than the Braves lineup that he played with in 2014. Last season, he hit .271-.351-.384 with 11 home runs, 74 runs scored, 58 RBI and 20 stolen bases. The stolen bases are nice, but I am not sure how much he will run under new manager Mike Matheny. The Cardinals don't run that much, so that total could drop a bit in 2015.
Add to that the fact that his power is in decline:
2010: 18 HRs, .179 ISO, .456 SLG
2011: 14 HRS, .162 ISO, .369 SLG
2012: 27 HRs, .210 ISO, .479 SLG
2013: 14 HRs, .173 ISO, .427 SLG
2014: 11 HRS, .113 ISO, .384 SLG
Here is a list of guys who had better power seasons than Heyward in 2014, as measured by ISO:
Melvin Upton, Jr.
Could he rebound in 2015? Sure. I am not going to be the guy to invest in him though. His current ADP according to Mock Draft Army over at Fantasy Alarm is 69.9, or a 5th round pick in 15 team mixed leagues. He is currently being drafted ahead of outfielders that I prefer including Matt Holliday, Charlie Blackmon and Marcell Ozuna.
Others to Avoid
Michael Brantley, Steven Pearce
Starting Pitchers - Andrew Cashner, Padres
Cashner gets plenty of love from fantasy owners and experts in the industry. But did you know that over the last two seasons, Cashner has made just 45 starts and pitched just 298.1 innings. Over those two seasons, 86 pitchers have thrown more innings than Cashner. When healthy, Cashner has pitched well, putting up ERAs of 3.09 and 2.55 in each of the last two years. His fastball averages 94 mph, but he doesn't even strike out seven batters per nine innings, so he isn't really helping you in the strikeout category. He benefits from pitching in Petco Park, but he comes with plenty of injury risk. He is currently the 39th pitcher off NFBC draft boards, ahead of guys like Phil Hughes, Mat Latos and a few other starters I prefer over him this season.
Others to Avoid
Adam Wainwright, Gio Gonzalez, Danny Salazar
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