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It’s time to start looking ahead to the 2013 fantasy baseball season. With that in mind, this column will hope to shine a light on players who are noticeably affected by OPS:

Allen Craig – Oh hey, nice to meet you, this year’s Jacoby Ellsbury. Excuse my rant, but I am stunned how high Craig is getting drafted this year. He currently has an average draft position of 39! ESPN and other sites aren’t ranking him that far behind, so it’s very possible he is long gone in most drafts by pick 60. I think this is a big mistake, and one that reminds me of last year’s Ellsbury. The similarities are there: a player with an injury history coming off of a great year. Although with Craig, he’s never even played a full season in the majors. This is a case where people are paying for last season and expecting to be able to prorate last year’s numbers over a full season, both of which are approaches that I don’t endorse.

Now, it’s not that I don’t like Craig. I’ll admit that when I wrote about him last season I thought he would be valuable as long as he stayed healthy. In 2012 he was valuable and hit a nice .307/.354/.522 line across 119 games. I’m expecting him to have a slight drop off, though I don’t think he will completely collapse, unless injuries really derail him. For 2013, I could see him playing in 125 games, with something like a .300/.350/.500 line. That’s still a solid hitter, but is not close to returning the value for where he’s being drafted. Especially when there’s another hitter who will be drafted significantly later that I expect to produce a similar line across the same number of games…

Corey Hart – If you scrolled down early or if you already read the above and somehow didn’t see the name at the beginning of this paragraph, I’m referring to Corey Hart. Surprised? Disgusted? Hear me out on this one. This month it was revealed that Hart will likely undergo surgery on his right knee and miss 4-6 weeks of the season. So, assuming he does not suffer any significant setbacks, he should play in something like 125 games. Last year, his .270/.334/.507 line fit right in with his career average. He’s been a very consistent player over the past couple years and I believe that he will produce similar numbers going forward. He could reasonably post a .280/.340/.500 line in 2013. See where I’m going with this? Additionally I’m expecting his average draft position to plummet over the next several weeks, potentially to the point where he is all but forgotten. Yes, it might be a pain to stash somebody on your DL, but in roto leagues it doesn’t matter too much when you get the production, so long as it’s there. All told, I think it will be well worth your investment to grab Hart and to have near Allen Craig production for a late round pick.

  1. Nerveclinic says:
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    You call Ellsbury a player with a “injury history” implying he is a risk again next year?

    Both injuries were the result of huge, violent collisions, freak accidents. It’s not like they are nagging injuries, his body breaking down etc. They were violent collisions that could result in injury to the best athletes involved in them. So how does that get a guy labeled “injury prone”?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Nerveclinic: True, there is a difference, but I still think that all injuries can contribute to a cumulative toll on the body. I’m not faulting the player for getting in a freak accident, I’m just saying that the freak accident may increase the likelihood of future injury.

      • Tom Jacks

        Tom Jacks says:
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        @simply fred: That’s a good list to keep in mind.

    • Jack Full of Hate says:
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      @Nerveclinic: maybe he’s just soft. There are players that recover faster and don’t have setbacks and some that tough things out. I agree with tom about the cumulative toll. Once you have a bad injury to a wrist or knee for example, those parts are never the same.

  2. T.J. says:
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    I have Hart at $5 in a 6×6 (R, OPS, K, QS) Yahoo! 16-team mixed league ($260 auction) with 9 hitters, 9 pitchers, 5 benchies, and 2 DL slots. We each get 8 keepers. Keep at that price, or throw him back and hope to get him for $1 at the end?

    • tenaciousdeucer says:
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      @T.J.:

      You only need to worry about getting him for $5 or less in the draft. I’d take that chance.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @T.J.: Did you get him at that price last year? If so, then I don’t see why he would go for more this year…

      Otherwise, I think he’ll easily be worth more than the $5, so I’d say to keep him without seeing any of your other keepers. It’s possible to get him for less than that price, but I wouldn’t count on it in a 16 team league.

  3. Simply Fred

    simply fred says:
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    Tom, perfect addition to draft day! I had put a note on my pre-draft: “Target DL’d”. Hart, the ideal candidate.

    Ironically, Craig was my target last year. He came off the DL May 1. Hit 5 dingers in his first 10 games!…before going back to the DL. :-)

    BTW: What’s the body of water in the backround to your pic?

    Thank you!

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @simply fred: Thanks! That is ironic…

      That’s Lake Michigan. I’m pretty sure that pic was taken at the Tower formerly known as Sears.

  4. centerfieldballhawk says:
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    Great post. I play in a league with four DL spots… so I’m going hard after guys like Hart, Beachey, Luebke and even Danny Duffy.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @centerfieldballhawk: Thanks! Those are all good guys to target and you might as well use up those DL slots. Beachey could be a huge steal considering how impressive he was last year.

      • Tony says:
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        @Tom Jacks: when’s beachy due back this season….?

        • Vacation says:
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          @Tony: Sometime in June.

          • Tom Jacks

            Tom Jacks says:
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            @Vacation: What Vacation said, which is right on schedule if I’m not mistaken.

            • centerfieldballhawk says:
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              @Tom Jacks: I’ve been collecting some data on the guys that we will starting the year on the DL. Here’s what I’ve got so far

              Cory Luebke – Jul
              Colby Lewis – May
              Neftali Feliz – August
              Brandon Beachy – Mid June
              Daniel Hudson – July
              Andrew Cashner – May
              Danny Duffy – July
              Corey Hart – May

              • Tom Jacks

                Tom Jacks says:
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                @centerfieldballhawk: Good stuff! The others I can think of are Felipe Paulino (July) and Soria (June). Also, Scott Baker is coming back from Tommy John, but he might be ready by the start of the season.

  5. EB says:
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    Should I keep Craig or Alex Gordon in a hits and OPS league?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @EB: It’ s close, but I prefer Gordon. I think his power will improve quite a bit this year.

      • Uspsjeter2 says:
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        @Tom Jacks: Why do you believe Gordon is due a power spike?

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
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          @Uspsjeter2: His FB% and HR/FB% were both the lowest of his career. I think they will increase this season, resulting in something like the 23 homers he hit in 2011. His power is still there, as indicated by his 51 doubles.

  6. beardcrabs says:
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    avoid injury risk by targeting an injured player…sounds reasonable… jk i’m avoiding craig nevertheles, not sure if i’m drafting hart (all my leagues are deep, can’t afford to waste a DL spot)…

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @beardcrabs: Haha…agreed that the number of DL slots and depth of the league are difference makers on whether you can afford to stash DL guys.

  7. Tim says:
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    doesn’t make sense to forego a solid player because of prior injuries in favor of another guy who will definitely be on the DL for the first 4-6weeks of the season. And, who knows how badly Hart’s performance will suffer when he gets back?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Tim: I’m not just talking about their injuries. Where they’re being drafted is even more important.

  8. Snake Hips says:
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    I agree that craig is being drafted way to high… But avoiding him because of the “injury prone” label? He is a pure hitting machine who will be the cards dedicated 1st baseman now instead of running around in the outfield. Players manning 1st base usually have it pretty good in terms of physical demand on defense. I see a great year from Craig as first baseman.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Snake Hips: The main reason I don’t like him is the price, but I also can’t predict a healthy season for a guy who has had all sorts of injury problems since he fractured his knee. First base may help some, but Hart will be playing first base too…

  9. TheFlyingWasp says:
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    Your usage of the word prorate at the end of the first main paragraph is incorrect. The appropriate word is extrapolate. Prorate is used to shorten a known amount while extrapolate is used to extend a known amount. Sorry….ha ha….I had to point this out.

    “This is a case where people are paying for last season and expecting to be able to prorate last year’s numbers over a full season”

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @TheFlyingWasp: No problem, thanks! I questioned myself when I typed it, but thought I had heard it in that context elsewhere so I went with it. Should have checked, but will know better next time.

      • At least you didn’t say prostrate.

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
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          @Rudy Gamble: Ha! I would only prostrate in the presence of Giancarlo.

          • TheFlyingWasp says:
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            “They don’t think it be like it is, but it do”.

            I am new to this site and commenting in general so I may have messed up trying to reply….I think I just had a blank reponse.

            I really enjoy Razzball and plan to use it a lot. FYI….I just read a post where “Grey” used the word prorate the same way so that may be where you picked it up Tom. I guess it has become somewhat excepted in English overtime but extrapolate is better.

            • Tom Jacks

              Tom Jacks says:
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              @TheFlyingWasp: Sounds good. Welcome to the site!

  10. birrrdy! says:
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    What are the chances that Gamel rakes in April and May and that Hart comes back to the OF, instead of 1B? I think that’s Hart’s preferred position anyway.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @birrrdy!: I think slim chance for both. Also, I don’t see the Brewers wanting to bench any of Braun, Aoki, or Gomez for Hart.

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