Fantasy Baseball Draft Day Decision: 5 Outfielders to Avoid in 2012

Eric StashinSenior Writer IFebruary 29, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 21:  Jason Heyward #22 of the Atlanta Braves strikes out  against thes Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium on September 21, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

There are a lot of reasons that people may suggest not drafting a player for fantasy baseball. 

It could be based on injuries (both a high risk for one or the recovery of a previous one), potential loss of playing time, diminishing performance or various things in between. 

Let’s take a look at five outfielders I likely won’t be drafting in 2012:

1) Jason Heyward – Atlanta Braves

I’ve already shared my feelings on Heyward (click here to view), but it definitely is worth repeating.  All the talk is of injuries in 2011 costing him from producing or that he has been working on improving his swing. 

We can also talk about all of the potential in the world, but the fact of the matter is that until we see it on the field, how can we justify drafting him within the first 10 rounds (according to Mock Draft Central he has an ADP of 107.39 and has been drafted as early as 65)?

What do you need to hit home runs?  Fly balls, right?  How is Heyward going to do that when he consistently buries the ball into the ground?  It is not like it was just 2011 that this was a problem:

  • 2010 – 55.1%
  • 2011 – 53.9%

In the past three years, 65 players who qualified for the batting title have posted a ground-ball rate of 50 percent or greater.  Of those, only four hit at least 20 HR, so that really should tell us everything we need to know. 

I am not about to say that he doesn’t have potential, but I am not about to take the gamble with that high of a draft pick.  Not considering what he’s shown thus far in his career. 

2) Drew Stubbs – Cincinnati Reds

I gave my projection for Stubbs recently (click here to view), which was a line of .255 with 18 HR, 65 RBI, 80 R and 34 SB.  It’s not a bad line by any stretch, but people are overvaluing Stubbs thinking that he can suddenly become something that he’s not. 

Actually, its two things that he’s not, as people want to believe that he can be a leadoff hitter and a source of power.  Unfortunately, neither are exactly accurate.

We all saw him hit 22 HR in 2010, but he had never shown that type of upside before.  His minor league high was just 12 HR (in 2007).  In 486 AB at Triple-A, he hit just five HR.  The 2010 number is probably his ceiling, but it is definitely not his floor.

As far as the leadoff hitter, he just strikes out way too much.  Last season, he was at a ridiculous 30.1 percent mark.  To hit atop a major league order, with Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce behind you, you have to get on base.  If you aren’t making contact, you aren’t getting on base. 

So, you have a player who could struggle to hit for average and is going to hit lower in the order.  That means that he’s not going to score as many runs as we’d like him to, just further hurting his value.  The red flags just keep coming.

3) Curtis Granderson – New York Yankees

As I’ve said before (click here to view), my reasoning for avoiding Granderson has nothing to do with his ability.  He is a tremendous option, but if people are reaching in the early second round for him due to his 2011 success, they are likely going to be sorely disappointed.

Does anyone really think that he can come even close to 41 HR, 119 RBI and 136 R?  The 20.5 percent HR/FB rate is higher than he’s ever posted before (previous best in a season with at least 450 AB was 14.5 percent).  That alone should be a red flag, but people simply don’t score 136 runs in a season.  He’s going to regress, it is a foregone conclusion.

4) Carlos Lee – Houston Astros

People are going to draft him for his name “value”, but it really hasn’t been there for a few years at this point.  The last time Lee scored more than 67 runs was in 2007, his first year in Houston.  If that alone isn’t enough of a reason to avoid him, there is plenty more.

If you don’t want to count the fact that he offers no speed whatsoever (16 SB total the past four seasons), then what about his declining power:

  • 2006 – 37 HR
  • 2007 – 32 HR
  • 2008 – 28 HR
  • 2009 – 26 HR
  • 2010 – 24 HR
  • 2010 – 18 HR

That is a decline in HR for six consecutive seasons.  Do you still have any interest in him, because you shouldn’t.

5) Nelson Cruz – Texas Rangers

If he could ever stay healthy for an entire season he would be an absolute no-brainer.  However, can we really expect that?  He has never had more than 475 AB in a major league season, nor has he played more than 128 games.

Yes, the numbers are impressive, but according to Mock Draft Central he is currently the 15th outfielder coming off the board (48.47 ADP).  Considering he is almost a given to miss a few weeks, at the least, do you really want to invest that heavily in him?  It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Make sure to check out our look at other players to avoid for the 2012 campaign:


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