Welcome to the first Deep Impact of the year. Did you miss me? Good, because I didn’t miss you. So there.
Remember, the Deep Impact series is aimed towards a different audience than your regular re-draft leagues. That’s because we do things deeper and harder, with special sauce. And while there are many different formats and scoring systems for deep leagues, there are elements we can create a context with. All deep leagues have some sort of dynasty mechanism, which favors younger and/or cost-controlled players. Along with that aspect, you’ll have a robust MiLB system, usually with multiple drafts (MLFAD, FYPD) and escalating long term contracts that attach to those players once activated. And last, but not least, you are most likely dealing with leagues that have anywhere from 15 to 30 teams, NL-only, AL-only, more advanced scoring categories (OBS, W+QS, TB, S*2+H, etc.) and you can even add simulation leagues like Strat-O-Matic or Scoresheet into the mix. We basically have to smash all those things into one sandwich, and then add your usual facets: 2013 production, lettuce, 2014+ potential production, tomatoes, injury risk, bacon, positional scarcity, etc.
This week, we’ll be going over guys I think are too expensive and/or too risky — overvalued in their current state. Remember, it doesn’t mean they have the suck. The most important aspect in advanced leagues is value. That’s what our goal is here. And depending where you are in your league, these summaries can either help you with an inaugural draft, or, if you are already some x amount of years in, you can look to trade these guys while their value is at the highest.
Now, without further ado…
Pedro Alvarez – You could say expectations were pretty low going into 2012. So low, I sent Hilary Swank to go check it out. Yes, I made a funny with The Core. Just wait until G.I. Joe 3: Hey Cobra, Do U Like Deez? comes out, you’ll be crying tears of blood. Anyhoo, Alvarez busted out to sorta fulfill some of his potential, hitting 244/317/467 with 30 homeruns. But he strikes out a lot. Times two. Only Mark Reynolds and Adam Dunn whiff more. Low contact, high strike-out players usually don’t survive at the Major League level. While I will admit there could be some projection left here, and the power is tantalizing in such a low-run environment, those two things are already baked in the price, thus making him overvalued. A good alternative with a similar skill set who will be undervalued is Will Middlebrooks.
Chris Davis – I could basically take what I said about Pedro Alvarez and paste it here. Davis has been, described in the best light, uneven the last 5 seasons. His value lives on the outskirts of relevancy because of three things — Strikeouts, Power, and BABIP. In every one of the past five seasons, one, if not more of those, have completely deflated his effectiveness. Long story short, a BABIP of 315-335 is required for him to have positive value. Basically, it’s the difference between a 25-30 HR year or a 10-15 HR year. I’d rather not bet on volatility like that, especially when he’s being drafted as a 270/330/480 guy. He’s more likely a 250/300/420 guy going forward.
Josh Hamilton – Just to save time, my expert summary for Hambone goes like this: He’s a pony I never want to ride. I wanted to do a My Little Pony’s joke here, but unlike fellow Razzballer Sky, I don’t have time, or, more importantly, the inclination to watch that stuff. Hamilton’s production can be as good, if not better, than the rest of his tier. But it’s just too difficult to predict what his output is going to be. He could have 200 PA. He could have 650 PA. He could hit 35 homeruns, or he could hit the DL for 35 games. Three times in one season. If you’ve sensed a theme with the other guys on this list, you’ll recognize it here as well… there is just too much variation to play with. I’d rather go with Jay Bruce, Bryce Harper, or Joey Bautista.
Aaron Hill – Notorious for following up great years with nasty Ebola infused season-long travesties, his value simply is too high at this point. While he’s still only 31 and the biggest pessimism comes from a fluky BABIP driven career, there will be just too many people buying him with the keystone being pretty shallow. He may again contribute to all 5 categories, but I’d rather try to find the undervalued 2012 Aaron Hill for 2013. Maybe someone like Dustin Ackley?
Adam Jones – Look, I’m not saying Jones is a bad player to have on your team. I would categorize him the same why I categorize the area around my navel — nifty. Tread lightly, Jones will be drafted higher then he needs to be, at a position where it’s pretty easy to find power/speed combo-punches. Don’t believe me? Take it from Grey by checking out his Top 20 OF and Top 40 OF. Just look at guys like Yoenis Cespedes, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Alex Gordon, who all could put up similar slash lines at a cheaper cost.
Yadier Molina – First, let’s get this out of the way. Defense isn’t a category. Oh, wait, unless it is, like in Scoresheet. If so, I’d put him behind Posey and inflate the buying rate accordingly. But if we are just referring to all the other formats, I really can’t endorse paying for catchers… at all. I don’t usually punt the position, but I never touch the top-5, and in most cases, the top-10 simply because of the attrition rate, the obligatory 140-game ceiling, and the lack of any offensive ooompphh!. I’m specifically throwing Molina out there because he represents the very best of Ackbar’s IT’S A TRAP! meme. He’s a top-5 guy, offensively speaking. He just put up a nice 20/65/76/12 year, and he bats over .300. But remember. He’ll be 30 this year, an age where catchers start declining. You also never want to rely on something that fluctuates so violently like batting average. Case in point, just two seasons ago he hit .262. And, in the scheme of things, 15/60/60/5 are numbers you can makeup somewhere else while buying Alex Avila, Ryan Doumit, or even A.J. Ellis a few tiers later.
Josh Rutledge – Look, I get it. I’m going to get bonked for putting him here. The power and positional scarcity go together like a rum and coke. I know. But I’m worried and I need to let you know about it. Cause I don’t know, therapy blows. Remember, I’m not telling you to avoid him, but I’m seeing him going pretty darn high. So much so that there really is no deal to be had here. You are essentially buying a 20/20 guy. Yes, he could get there. The contact rate looks good, the speed is there, and after changing his stance to a more upright posture, the power also has a reason to stay. But keep in mind that he was never regarded highly as a prospect, and not many Major League players can survive with a <3.2 BB%. Some guys have that elite hand/eye skill via their hit tool, but it can decline rapidly because of pitcher adjustments. If you see him go too early, don’t fret, there are plenty of options that could net you a similar slash. Ian Desmond, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Jimmy Rollins come to mind.
Chris Sale – Yes, last season’s numbers are bauce. That much is certain. But let’s be honest here. His arm is a ticking time bomb. And it will explode. Granted, it may not be this year, but it may be. It’s unfortunate to say that all my concerns are health related, but there is a huge ringing noise happening. Take a look at his velocity. Once pitchers move from the bullpen to the rotation, they lose one to two miles per hour. Sale lost almost four. And if you look even closer, you’ll notice that most of that velocity loss was apparent in the last three months. With the innings increase, the loss in velocity, and the documented concerns of his elbow, I’m playing no touchy.
Next week, we’ll go over some undervalued guys.
You can put your pants on now.
Haha, just kidding. Though I should prolly put mine back on.