The semantics of the league is not reason for this post. There have been a few thoughts bouncing around my head during my draft prep. Looking into my projected first-round player pool, Ryan Braun bothers me. I don’t know if all the fantasy experts were smoking crack when predicting this kid as a .330-40-120 bat in Milwaukee’s line-up, but I just don’t see it. In fact, I could just as easily see a sophomore slump before that line. I mean… .330… seriously? I know he was killing it last year, but let’s give the pitchers and coaches in the NL a little more credit to figure this kid out. Don’t confuse my skepticism with statistical fact, because the Slugging % over the course of Braun’s career shows that he can keep it up (he had a hiccup in 2006, but other than that it was great). I just wouldn’t spend a first round pick on him. In my 20-team league, maybe at the end of the first I would consider it. However, it would be a definite struggle between Braun’s upside and the robotic consistency of guys like Carlos Beltran, Carlos Lee, and Lance Berkman (again, 20-teams… none of those three should be taken in the first round of any 10- or 12-team draft).
A friend asked me if I would consider Troy Tulowitzki as my starting shortstop in this league. My answer, in short, was no. Currently, I have him ranked as a late second round pick in this league. That’s absurd. Unless I get A-Rod with the first overall pick and have to wait until 40th overall, I can’t see taking Tulowitzki in the second round. Other options that I think are more attractive than Tulo in a points league come in later rounds. Carlos Guillen (ranked mid-third rounder) and Rafael Furcal (mid-fifth rounder) provide the opportunity for average and speed respectively. Though Tulowitzki has the potential for 25 home runs in 2008, Guillen is an automatic for average and runs scored in that beastie Detroit line-up. Furcal, allegedly healthy for ’08, will have Joe Torre liberally giving him the green light on the base paths and a fat contract to play for. I know, it’s easy for me to offer these options without saying who I would take in the second round. Personally, if it were a late pick, I would look to take a stud-starting pitcher. Erik Bedard and C.C. Sabathia are ranked as early-third round picks, but you wouldn’t be crazy to jump at either of them in the late second.
Final thought for this installment: Has anyone else noticed how many 3B options there are in ’08? It’s crazy. Obviously, David Wright, Alex Rodriguez, and Miggy Cabrera are at the head of the class, but as far as sleepers go, most of the guys who I’ve been eyeing are third basemen. Before idiotically getting into a car accident last week, Hank Blalock was on my radar. I never bought into his hype in previous years, but I feel like this year he’s valued at just the right position: a late round sleeper / utility player.
If the White Sox would trade Joe Crede already, Josh Fields would be a good option at the hot corner also. As it stands now, both are White Sox, and Fields, as a result, is undervalued. Everyone talk about Ryan Braun, but this kid hit 23 dingers in 200 less at-bats. Also, let’s not forget the deceptive speed on the base paths he showed in the minors. Throw in dual eligibility at 3B and OF and you have yourself a nice little option in the late rounds of any draft. If your draft is coming up soon snatch this guy up and wait for the ChiSox to ship Crede out to the Giants or something…
I was going to initially list Eric Chavez in this list, but… no.
I don’t really dig on the whole Mark Reynolds hype, but many other writers do. If, you’re one of them, please try and convince me, because 130 punch-outs in someone’s rookie season just screams Jose Hernandez, and I don’t want any of that.
Edwin Encarnacion, again, rears his ugly head. Don’t we do through this every year with him? Is 2008 finally going to be the year he busts it out in Cincinnati? I don’t think so, but that’s only because he’s toyed with my emotions one too many tomes before.
Now, here’s one that you may think I am crazy for: Aubrey Huff. Before you “x” out this window let me try and talk my way out of this corner. This will be Huff’s second season in Baltimore and there’s no more Miguel Tejada. That is a good thing. Tejada, according to some, was not exactly the best teammate and left a clean-up spot vacant for Huff to step right in to. Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis will be on the base paths frequently for Huff, who will see more pitches coming from the stretch. Also, what’s so bad about spending you last pick on ol’ Aubrey Huff? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
I’ll come back some analysis of the draft once it’s complete. Anyone who wants results from this league’s draft, shoot me an e-mail and I’ll see what I can do about sending them to you.