Fantasy Baseball 2012: Yoenis Cespedes Should Be Avoided Early

Mitch CharetteCorrespondent IMarch 5, 2012

Major League Baseball definitely did not disappoint this year when it comes to buzz in the media. As fantasy owners, you may find yourselves in a familiar place; deciding what to make of these relatively over-hyped foreign prospects.

Most of the attention as been focused on Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers and Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics.

Although I won't get into Yu Darvish in this article, I will say that he seems to be a much better fit than the likes of Daisuke Matsuzaka was just a few years ago. I will however, explain to why you may be a better manager by ignoring the enticing Yoenis Cespedes.

Oakland A's: Sure, Yoenis may be considered by many as one of the best talents to ever come from Cuba—but that may not matter much with what looks to be a very disappointing Oakland A's lineup.

According to Yahoo Sports, the Athletics hit 114 home runs and scored 645 runs in 2011. This put them 12th in the American League in both categories. That doesn't seem so bad, right?

It may, once you realize that that was before both Josh Willingham and David DeJesus left the club—players who together accounted for 39 homers and 129 runs. Hideki Matsui is also not expected to return.

This puts Yoenis in a lineup with the likes of Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, Kurt Suzuki, and Seth Smith. Not exactly a lineup one would expect to produce. Almost certainly not a lineup that gives Cespedes an easy task of performing for fantasy owners.

The hype: Although this shouldn't play a large role in the progression of a player, it almost always does. Fantasy owners often jump at the chance to draft the hottest new names, especially when they are foreign players we have not been able to watch. I know I did last year when I drafted Tsuyoshi Nishioka, but we'll stop talking about that now.

As far as Cespedes goes, I think he looks the part of a good five-tool player in the right atmosphere. He's just not a fantasy monster in my eyes. The hype he receives will surely prove to be more than his performance demands.


Transition: Once again, this is a seemingly small obstacle for a professional baseball player, but we have come to learn that the media is relentless when it comes to these cherished foreign talents—often providing a very uncomfortable transitional period.

Fortunately for Cespedes, the Oakland A's are not in what I would call a media frenzy of a city. None the less, the attention he will see nationwide will prove to be overpowering and only hurt his chances at success in the MLB.


Draft Position: With the deceptive statistics fantasy owners find while researching Cespedes, many leagues will surely see him being drafted much earlier than what is deserving.

If you are anything like me and constantly run mock drafts, you may be persuaded to believe he is worth a mid-round pick. Keep in mind, not everybody will be looking at all aspects of what justifies a good fantasy player.

They will just see the stat line he had during his last season in Cuba (.333 AVG, 33 HR, 99 RBI, 89 R and 11 SB in just 90 games played).

The deceptive part of that stat line is simple: He did not play in the MLB. The level of competition in Cuba is nowhere near what he will soon face. We have seen this countless times with professional Japanese players who have disappointed fantasy managers.

Of course, if you find yourself in the late rounds of your league's draft and Cespedes is available, take the chance if you must. Just don't fall victim to the hype and draft Yoenis Cespedes until at least 200 players have been drafted. Every pick you make could prove to be an Achilles' heel for your team, leaving you relying on the scarce waiver wire.

Food for thought: Matthew Berry—of ESPN—ranks Cespedes as No. 249 overall. In a 12 team league, he values Cespedes as a 20th round pick. Spot on if you ask me.