We all like to look for the sleepers that we can target on draft day, but how often do we really consider the players we could fall victim of over drafting? The players who may look appealing and should produce, but where you need to draft them actually becomes a negative.
Let’s take a look at three possible over draft candidates among first baseman:
1) Edwin Encarnacion – Toronto Blue Jays
Mock Draft Central ADP – 24.71 (5th among 1B)
Rotoprofessor Ranking – 46 (10th among 1B)
Maybe I am a little bit more skeptical about Encarnacion then most and I certainly am not going to argue if you want to believe that he has finally figured it out. He clearly has, and that’s obvious from his numbers over the past year plus.
That said, let’s not act like he is a lock to even come reasonably close to last season’s production (.280, 42 HR, 110 RBI, 93 R). The biggest concern should come from the average, where there is a serious chance for regression.
His average is almost solely tied to his ability to hit 35+ HR. It’s not that he strikes out a lot (14.6% in ’12), but he doesn’t hit the ball hard (17.6% line drive rate last season) and puts a lot of balls in the air (49.5% fly ball rate last season). The latter two things rarely equate to an impressive BABIP, so his .266 mark from 2012 (and .280 for his career) is a reasonable number and not overly unlucky.
Could he suffer from the “Aaron Hill Effect”, where he goes home run crazy and, when they don’t come, instead hits for an abyssmal average? In 2010 Hill made good contact (14.7% strikeout rate) and really tried to hit home runs (54.2% fly ball rate). He did hit 26 HR, but the cost of a .205 average.
I’m not about to say that Encarnacion is a similar player to Hill, but there is a comparison to be drawn. I certainly wouldn’t avoid Encarnacion because of his power potential, but I wouldn’t invest a second or third round pick on him either. While Hill’s average was extreme, there is an obvious cause for concern.
2) Allen Craig – St. Louis Cardinals
Mock Draft Central ADP – 35.73 (7th among 1B)
Rotoprofessor Ranking – 66 (13th among 1B)
The funny thing is that I happen to be a big fan of Craig’s as we head into 2013, but we can’t draft him acting like there is no risk involved. Let me ask you this, when is the last time Craig has had 500+ total AB between the Major and Minor Leagues?
He came close in 2012 (497 AB in 126 total games), but he didn’t get there. In 2011 he had just 241. In 2010 it was 420.
The fact is, we need to go all the way back to 2008, when he played 129 games at Double-A and amassed 506 AB that season. That actually is the ONLY season that he has ever had as many as 500 AB.
Craig is a great talent at the plate, hitting .307 with 22 HR and 92 AB in 469 AB for the Cardinals last season, but no one should be spending a third round pick on him. First base is too deep and the risk is too great that he’s going to miss time.
If he stays healthy he’s a great value at this spot, but that’s way too big of an if at this point.
3) Ryan Howard – Philadelphia Phillies
Mock Draft Central ADP – 72.93 (13th among 1B)
Rotoprofessor Ranking – 134 (21st among 1B)
The truth is Howard just isn’t the same player that he once was. Sure, there is still power but the last time he hit more than 33 HR was in 2009.
Now 33-years old, he also appeared to go down the Adam Dunn path in 2012 as he posted a strikeout rate of 33.9%. While it is higher than anything we have seen from him in the past, it’s not like he was ever a contact hitter (27.8% for his career).
At this point you would be better served to wait on a younger option, like an Ike Davis, or just use this pick to fill another need and take another first baseman significantly later, like Kendrys Morales or Justin Morneau. There is just too much risk that Howard sinks your average, especially given the depth at the position, to use this high of a pick on him.
What are your thoughts on these three players? Would you draft them at their current ADP? Why or why not?
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Make sure to check out our 2013 rankings (all of which will be updated in the next few weeks):
- Catchers (updated 02/18/13)
- First Basemen (updated 01/15/13)
- Second Basemen (updated 01/22/13)
- Shortstops (updated 01/24/13)
- Third Basemen (updated 01/29/13)
- Outfielders 1-20 (updated 02/06/13) | 21-40 (updated 02/07/13)
- Starting Pitchers 1-20 (updated 02/12/13) | 21-40 (updated 02/14/13)
- Relief Pitchers (updated 01/31/13)