Fantasy Baseball 2012: Who to Draft and Who to Avoid Drafting: Offense Edition

Mitch Charette@MitchcharetteCorrespondent IMarch 7, 2012

Fantasy Baseball 2012: Who to Draft and Who to Avoid Drafting: Offense Edition

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    The fantasy baseball draft is almost upon us–and we all have countless questions. As a fantasy baseball manager, you know the names you don't have to worry about–Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Matt Kemp and Joey Votto. I think you get the point.

    The ever growing question burning inside of us owners however–who should we draft and who should we avoid?

    I am going to dissect six players from each position–three you should have no worries about and three you should consider avoiding.

    As always, please feel free to invite me in an intellectual debate through the comment section. You can also follow me on twitter @mitchcharette

    As a reference I will be using Matthew Berry's Top 250, RotoChamp's ADP and statistics from Yahoo®.

C Catcher

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    Must Draft: Mike Napoli

    You Should Not Fear Drafting

    Carlos Santana (CLE): Carlos is definitely in the top tier of catchers. The only thing scaring fantasy baseball managers is his .239 AVG in 2011. With phenomenal power numbers last season—84 R, 27 HR, 79 RBI—you should expect his 2012 campaign to be even more powerful. I also expect his AVG will raise at least 25 points and he may give you a few stolen bases.

    Brian McCann (ATL): One word can be used to sum up McCann—reliable. Expect this career .286 hitter to produce a 80 R, 25 HR, 80 RBI and .290 AVG stat line. His eligibility at 1B will look quite appealing on your roster, too.

    Buster Posey (SF): Buster Posey had his season cut short at 45 games due to a horrific home plate collision—but he is ready to be the heart of the Giants' lineup once again. Compared to Joe Mauer—and possibly more powerful—this young fantasy stud will produce at a top tier level. Expect Buster to bat over .300 with 80 R, 20 HR, and 80 RBI.

    You Should Avoid Drafting

    Geovany Soto (CHC): With a lengthy injury history, Soto should scare you away. In three years he has averaged only 358 AB and burdened fantasy owners with a .248 AVG. Stay away from the once promising Catcher.

    Kurt Suzuki (OAK): What worries me most about Suzuki is not is sub-par stats in 2011—54 R, 14 HR, 44 RBI and a .237 AVG—but the fact that the Oakland Athletics have gotten worse offensively. I would expect very similar numbers from Kurt in 2012, with the possibility of being even worse.

    J.P. Arencibia (TOR): Although his power numbers in 2011 were actually decent, with 23 HR and 78 RBI—his AVG was heinous at .219. I see J.P. as too much of a detriment to my team according to AVG to appreciate his power.

1B First Base

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    Must Draft: Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez

    You Should Not Fear Drafting

    Prince Fielder (DET): Prince finds himself on a team with less speed, fewer offensive weaponsand is now located in an unfriendly park for left-handed hitters. With all that said, it's still Prince Fielder. You may see his numbers drop ever so slightly, but should still expect 110 R, 35 HR, 110 RBI and an AVG of .295. No worries here.

    Eric Hosmer (KC): Hosmer may not have the gaudy power numbers like Prince Fielder, but he has tremendous upside. With his ADP of 52 in mind, he could be an absolute steal in the fourth to fifth round. Hosmer should produce solid numbers with 80 R, 25 HR, 95 RBI and an AVG hovering around .300.

    Michael Morse (WSH): Another player with huge upside and a very undervalued ADP at 82. Drafting Morse in the sixth or seventh round could be the best pick of the draft. With eligibility at OF and 1B—and producing numbers in 2012 to the tune of 90R, 35 HR, 90 RBI, .285 AVG—Morse is as good as they come in the middle of a draft.

    You Should Avoid Drafting

    Lance Berkman (STL): Last year Lance Berkman froze time. I do not see him producing like he did in 2011 with Pujols no longer protecting him. Age will catch up with Lance this season in what is a very strong and youthful field at 1B. I expect modest numbers close to 75 R, 25 HR, 85 RBI and .280 at the plate. Those numbers do not compensate for the possibility he falls off the radar this year.

    Kevin Youkilis (BOS): As a Bostonian, this pains me. The facts of the matter, though, are too convincing—declining numbers, injury concerns and the prescence of age in his game. Kevin will still be a solid player, but the injuries force me to say stay away from him. The numbers won't be all that great either—70 R, 20 HR, 70 RBI and .275 batting.

    Freddie Freeman (ATL): Sorry Atlanta fans, I am not sold on this guy. I havent seen the numbers backing up his projections and the power isn't all that great. He is compared to Eric Hosmer—but why? A stat line projection of 70 R, 20 HR, 75 RBI and .280 AVG doesn't put him on my team at 1B.

2B Second Base

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    Must Draft: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia

    You Should Not Fear Drafting

    Dan Uggla (ATL): The ugly part of Dan Uggla is his AVG of .233 in 2011. I expect it to be higher at .260 in 2012—and his power numbers are quite the commodity to have at second base. He should hit 35 HR with 90 RBI and 90 R in 2012. A second basemen with those power numbers is very difficult to pass on.

    Ian Kinsler (TEX): A projected 2012 season of 105 R, 25 HR, 75 RBI and 25 SB is more than enough to find Kinsler a spot on your team. He has an injury risk attached to his name, but his upside is far too good. If it were not for the injuries every season, Kinsler could easily push Dustin and Robinson out of the top dog slots.

    Brandon Phillips (CIN): Brandon Phillips is not as fast or powerful as he used to be, but he will not hurt you in any category. A 90 R, 20 HR, 80 RBI and 15 SB player that bats .285 is about as safe as they get. Also, he is a second round talent that often gets pushed to the fourth. Look to steal him in your draft.

    You Should Avoid Drafting

    Chase Utley (PHI): Chase Utley used to be among the best in fantasy baseball, but his hip and knee issues appear to be forever lingering and hurt is value tenfold. When healthy, Chase can hit 20 HR and steal 15 bases to go along with 70 R and 70 RBI. His health is too much of a concern year in and year out to deal with.

    Kelly Johnson (ARI): Ugly AVG, mediocre runs and RBIs leave Kelly in the dust. When playing good, he is amazing and hits a lot of home runs. The problem here—he never continues to play well. I expect a black hole of an average at .240 and not enough upside to upend that stat.

    Jemile Weeks (OAK): Jemile has potential to be a SB machine—possibly racking up 40. The issue for me is once again the Oakland Athletics. The lineup is so inept, I would stay away from any Athletic. Weeks will only produce 70R and 50 RBIs.

3B Third Base

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    Must Draft: none

    You Should Not Fear Drafting

    Evan Longoria (TB): Nagging injuries seem to be a concern—along with an off season foot surgery—but Evan is still most likely the best third basemen in baseball. Even during a bad 2011 season hitting just .244, Longoria still had 31 homers and 99 RBIs. If the injuries bother another drafter, shake his hand and reap the benefits of 40 HR and 110 RBIs.

    Adrian Beltre (TEX): Adrian Beltre his a remarkable hitter—a natural. He will most likely produce excellent numbers with .290 AVG, 30 HR, 80 R and 90 RBIs. If I were in the stock market, I'd be purchasing boat loads of this guy's stock on a Texas powerhouse team.

    Ryan Zimmerman (WSH): I don't think Zimmerman ever fully recovered from him abdominal injury last year. This year, I expect a big year from him. He may slip a little in the draft—which makes him even more appetizing. Look for a solid AVG at .290 with 85 R, 25 HR and 90 RBI.

    You Should Avoid Drafting

    Alex Rodriguez (NYY): Declining numbers across the board, age and a much dimmer spotlight on him seem to be the ending trail of a once great superstar. A-Rod will still put up decent numbers in 2012 with 70 R, 20 HR and 80 RBI, but those numbers are not worth where he will go in many drafts based off his name alone.

    Brett Lawrie (TOR): An up-and-coming talent and good numbers in 150 AB last season make him an attractive pick. I don't think you can simply assume this will translate to 2012. I stay away from Brett solely based off the fact that he has not proven anything. If he is around late in the draft on the other hand, you may want to take him.

    Ryan Roberts (ARI): No way does Ryan Roberts produce the same power numbers he did in 2011. He has a horrific career .250 AVG and will only record 65R, 15 HR and 60 RBIs in 2012. I doubt he plays in every game—even when healthy—and the Arizona team does not help him offensively.

SS Shortstop

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    Must Draft: Troy Tulowitzki

    You Should Not Fear Drafting:

    Jose Reyes (MIA): Jose Reyes will not get you more than 60 RBIs in 2012, but he will provide an AVG above .300, 100 R, and 40 SB. He did miss some time due to a hamstring injury in 2011, but this should not be much of a worry. Jose Reyes' potential alone is enough to feel safe drafting him in a very weak SS position.

    Starlin Castro (CHC): The power numbers will not be what Cubs fans hope for, but an AVG hovering .300, 90R and 20 SB makes Castro a very good short stop. 10 HR won't be such a bad thing to have either. I think his fans may be right about one thing—this kid can play.

    Elvis Andrus (TEX): Another speedy guy.He will get upwards of 40 SB and score 100 runs for the powerful Rangers offense. The batting AVG may suffer a little at .270—hardly worth considering not drafting him with this year's selections at shortstop. He will produce amongst the top.

    You Should Avoid Drafting:

    Hanley Ramirez (MIA): Hanley Ramirez has all the talent in the world to be one of the best in the league. The problem is that he has shown he refuses to be. Two years in a row, fantasy owners have been disappointed by Hanley's production—getting burned by their first pick. If it weren't for shortstop being a very weak position, Ramirez wouldn't even be within the top five. He still may not be. Last years injury and off season surgery should have anyone considering picking him very worried.

    Derek Jeter (NYY): Age is of the most concern here. He will still have a solid batting average around .280, but will only hit 10 HR with 55 RBIs. I consider the age a forgone reason for major regression and injury during 2012.

    Dee Gordon (LAD): A great base runner and run scorer, Dee Gordon seriously lacks in the power department. Projecting only a couple home runs and less than 40 RBI—too many gaping holes in the stat sheet. If the AVG was something special, I may advise considering Dee, but he will be a .270 batter.

OF Outfield

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    Must Draft: Jose Bautista, Matt Kemp, Jacoby Ellsbury

    You Should Not Fear Drafting

    Ryan Braun (MIL): The only reason Ryan Braun is not on my must draft list is—well...what if he did dope? With the tiny miniscule chance he was on some type of illegal performance enhancer, you would see his production drop. Regardless of that fear, Braun should put up tremendous numbers. 100 R, 30 HR, 100 RBI and a .310 AVG is a dream for fantasy managers. You may see him steal as many as 20 bases, too.

    Justin Upton (ARI): Read Ryan Braun's stat line and subtract 15 points from the batting average. Now you have Justin Upton. What I like about Upton is that he is just 24. He may very well end up the best fantasy baseball player and may be taken at the beginning of the second round!

    Carlos Gonzalez (COL): Missing games due to injury really hurt Cargo's stock. Had he not missed any games in the past two years—we'd be looking at possibly the first pick overall. I like everything about Carlos and you will too when you see what he does for your fantasy team when you draft him—95 R, 30 HR, 95 RBI, .295 AVG and 20 SB.

    You Should Avoid Drafting

    Curtis Granderson (NYY): This was a tough one. I personally think Granderson will continue to slug the heck out of the ball, but there is such a risk that he will not put up even close to his 2011 numbers. You will still be looking at 95 R, 30 HR and 90 RBIs, but the AVG will be around .250. Still very good power numbers, but he will not be worth the risk at as high as he will be drafted in most leagues. Don't forget the chance that he may dissapear this year.

    Matt Holliday (STL): With injury problems and no more Pujols—Holliday will no longer be worth as high as most are going to pick him. So I say stay away. He will no longer steal bases but you should still see a 20 HR .300 AVG hitter in Holliday. With Pujols leaving, Holliday may not have the protection and his numbers will probably adjust accordingly.

    Desmond Jennings (TB): In 2011–with less than 250 AB–Jennings hit 10 HR and stole 20 bases. I do not think this is anywhere near his true power. Over the course of an entire season, I expect Jennings to hit 15 HR but seriously lack in the RBIs. He might have a chance at 40 SB, but I have not seen enough to convince me he is a worthy pick over other proven players.