Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft: 25 Huge Surprises in Your League's 2012 Draft

Eric Matula@EricMatula11Contributor IIMarch 14, 2012

Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft: 25 Huge Surprises in Your League's 2012 Draft

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    As the beginning of the season approaches, more and more fantasy leagues are holding their drafts.

    In every league, there's at least one huge surprise that takes place. Whether it be that guy who drafts a closer in round four, or the guy who tries to be a hipster and take a sleeper 10 rounds too soon, there's always a "really?" moment.

    Here's a list of the top 25 biggest surprises that I've seen in drafts so far.

Tim Lincecum Is Being Drafted Way Too High

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    Some of you, or maybe even most of you, will think I'm crazy, but Tim Lincecum doesn't belong in the top 10 for starting pitchers anymore.

    Lincecum's ADP is 25, and he should be taken about 25 spots later. Lincecum isn't going to get any better than what he's already shown.

    In fact, he's on a decline already.

    Starting in 2009, Lincecum has had FIPs of 2.34, 3.15 and 3.17. Plus, his WAR (wins above replacement) has gone from 8.0 in '09 to 4.4 in 2011.

    Furthermore, Lincecum averaged 94 mph in 2008 (sixth-fastest among MLB starters), but was down to 91.2 mph last year.

    Lincecum is still a worthy SP option, but there's no way I'd take him before Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain or Felix Hernandez.

Jesus Montero Is Being Overlooked

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    I didn't think it was possible that one of the most talked about rookies could be undervalued, but that's exactly what's happening with Jesus Montero.

    Usually hyped-up rookies are overvalued, but Montero's ADP is 165, and that's way too low.

    I understand moving from Yankee Stadium to Safeco won't help his power numbers, but the kid has lots of raw power. Montero has had an ISO (isolated power number) above .200 in three of the last four years in the Minors.

    The MLB average last year was .145.

    And yes, he won't be starting the year with catcher eligibility, but he'll get it soon enough. Don't be afraid of taking Montero, he's going to be the real deal.

The Hype of Dustin Ackley

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    I don't really get the hype on Dustin Ackley. His ADP is 134, but he should be taken about 12-15 spots later.

    Yahoo! ranks Ackley as the 12th-best second basemen, but there's no way he's that high. He's 15th or 16th at best. I wouldn't take Ackley ahead of Jason Kipnis, Neil Walker or Danny Espinosa.

    Ackley just doesn't impress me with any of his stats. He's only going to hit around 10 home runs with 10-12 stolen bases and a .270 average.

    Ackley is a decent option in deep mixed leagues, but he's not going to be that valuable.

Billy Butler Is Being Drafted Way Too Low

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    Billy Butler has been consistently good the last three years, but you couldn't tell that by his ADP: he currently sits at 116.

    Since 2009, Butler has hit .303 (546-for-1,800) and has averaged 18.33 homers and 88.67 RBI per season.

    The only knock on Butler can be his position eligibility.

    Depending on your league settings, Butler might not have 1B eligibility (he only played 11 games at first base last year). Even with the eligibility issue, Butler is still a good option for your UTIL slot.

    He found his power stroke in the second half of 2011, so he could hit 25 homers this season.

No Yankees or Phillies Players Are Going in the Top-10

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    I guess this is more of a fact than a surprise.

    The Yankees and the Phillies are two of the best teams in the MLB, so you would think that they have a bunch of fantasy studs at the top, but they don't.

    Robinson Cano's ADP is 12 and Roy Halladay's is 15. I'm not necessarily saying that they should be higher, it's just interesting to see two premiere teams without a top-10 player. 

    That's to be expected with Ryan Howard being sidelined for a while and Alex Rodriguez getting older and more injury-prone.

Madison Bumgarner Is Being Drafted Too Low

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    Madison Bumgarner's ADP is 90. He should be getting targeted much earlier.

    Just remember this stat come draft day: there were only three pitchers who had a lower FIP than MadBum last year: Roy Halladay, Clayton Kershaw and Cliff Lee. That's great company to be with.

    Bumgarner has the potential to put up the best numbers on the Giants pitching staff--which is saying a lot because he'll have Lincecum and Matt Cain to compete with.

    It's not like he's a crafty pitcher either. He's a lefty that averaged 91.5 mph in 2011 and posted an 8.40 K/9 ratio.

People Thinking Asdrubal Cabrera Will Have a Repeat Season

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    Asdrubal Cabrera had an unbelievable season in 2011, but there's no way you can expect him to produce the same numbers in 2012.

    Cabrera hit a total of 18 home runs in his first 1,610 plate appearances. Then he exploded for 25 in 2011. He had a ridiculous 13.3 HR/FB percentage last season, and he never had a percentage higher than 6.7 previously. That rate is sure to come back down to earth in 2012.

    The speed is also in question.

    Cabrera had 17 steals last year, which tied his career-high. It's not a forgone conclusion that he'll reach that mark again in 2012, especially when his walk rate is very low (6.6 percent last year).

    I predict that Cabrera hits fewer than 15 homers and steals fewer than 15 bases in 2012.

Yonder Alonso Is Not Being Drafted

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    Yonder Alonso is becoming an undrafted free agent in most leagues. His ADP is 292.

    This is a little shocking, considering the fact that he's going to be the Padres' Opening Day first basemen. Owners must be scared that he's moving from one of the friendliest hitters' ballparks to one of the worst.

    I don't think there's that much to be afraid of.

    Yes, his power numbers will certainly take a hit, but he should still be able to launch close to 20 bombs.

    I'm not saying Alonso is going to be an immediate fantasy stud, but the oft-injured Justin Morneau and the strikeout-happy Carlos Pena are being drafted ahead of him.

James Shields Is Being Drafted Too High

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    James Shields had a career-year in 2011, but he's not worth reaching for in 2012. His current ADP is 66, when he should be closer to 100.

    Big Game James put up stellar numbers last year: 249.1 IP, 16 Ws, 2.82 ERA and 225 Ks. Don't expect those numbers again.

    Prior to last year, Shields never posted an ERA below 3.50. In fact, if you take out last year's numbers, his career ERA was over 4.00.

    Shields is a good middle-tier guy, but he's not worth using a 66th overall pick on. He should get around 13 wins with a 3.50-plus ERA.

Bryce Harper Being a Keeper

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    In one of the biggest surprises that I've ever seen in fantasy sports, Bryce Harper was a keeper in my dynasty league.

    And it's not like the manager just picked him up at the end of last season. He kept him on the bench for all of last year.

    Harper is going to be good. I think he's the real deal, but I don't think he's ready to make a big impact for fantasy reasons this year.

    I mean, how do you keep a guy that has never played in one MLB game?

    C'mon man.

Ricky Romero Is Being Overvalued

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    Ricky Romero has one great season, and his ADP shoots up to 86.

    Romero put up brilliant numbers in 2011. He had 15 wins with a 2.92 ERA. But, he was very lucky as well.

    Romero had an FIP of 4.20 and a BABIP of .242.

    These are two alarming numbers. The FIP is scary because he had an xFIP of 3.80, so he actually did worse than anticipated. Additionally, his BABIP was .333 and .289 in 2009 and 2010 respectively, so he saw a dramatic decrease in 2011.

    You cannot expect Romero to have a repeat performance. He's still a good option, but not top-100 good. His ERA should jump to the mid-threes.

Young Pitchers Are Favored over the Vets

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    Fantasy owners fall in love with up-and-coming players, but often times it hinders more than helps.

    I know the feeling of drafting a prospect. It's like, "Yeah, I'm cool because I just drafted the eighth-best prospect according to Baseball America."

    Meanwhile there's a middle-tier guy still on the board that has actually proven himself in the MLB.

    I've seen pitchers like Trevor Bauer, Jarrod Parker, Julio Teheran, Jacob Turner and Shelby Miller all get drafted before Brandon McCarthy.

    While McCarthy isn't a superstar, he's going to be the A's Opening Day starter, and he picked up nine wins with a 3.32 ERA last season.


The Hype of Brett Lawrie's Overhype

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    In other words, I'm surprised that a lot of people are saying Brett Lawrie is being over-hyped.

    Lawrie just didn't play in a couple of games in 2011. He played in 43 games and belted nine home runs (in 150 at-bats) and swiped seven bags.

    The Canadian native is ready to become the face of the Toronto Blue Jays. At 22 years-old, Lawrie is looking at a 20/20 year, and he has the potential to be a 30/30 guy in the very near future.

    Plus, Lawrie is hitting .579 in spring training so far.

    While I realize it's just exhibition games, it's always a better sign if a guy is raking in the spring rather than struggling.

Doug Fister Is Available Deep into the Draft

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    Doug Fister's ADP is 185, and he could easily be drafted 80 picks sooner.

    In case you didn't realize, Fister went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA once he was traded to Motown. He's in a good pitcher's ballpark and he has one of the best offenses giving him run support.

    And while Fister's K/9 rate has always been below-average, he has improved the velocity of his fastball in each of the last three years.

    On top of that, Fister is golden for saving WHIP. He hardly walks any batters and hardly gives up home runs.

Freddie Freeman's Progression

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    As mentioned before, fantasy owners love young players. And, at the same time, most owners think that every young player automatically improves year after year.

    After being the runner-up in the NL ROY vote last year, I can see why people think Freeman will only get better. But, he could be in for a sophomore slump.

    Freeman hit .282 in 2011, but he had a .339 BABIP, meaning his average will most likely drop in 2012. Also, his HR/FB percentage was 14 last year. I can't see it being that high again, so expect a drop.

    Freeman will be a good player for the Braves for a long time, but just because he had an impressive rookie season, doesn't mean he'll automatically get better.

People Not Caring About Batting Average

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    Guys like Dan Uggla, Mike Stanton and Jay Bruce bring good power numbers, but they can kill your batting average.

    A lot of fantasy owners ignore batting average, but I don't understand why. A .250 batting average in 600-plus at-bats is very damaging.

    Yeah you'll have good power numbers, but it's almost like your conceding batting average. And in some cases, especially with Uggla. you're hurting your OBP and OPS.

Justin Upton Going as a First-Rounder

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    Justin Upton is very good, and he has even more upside (dude is just 24 years-old), but he's not a first-rounder just yet.

    His ADP is nine and that means he's going in the first-round, except if you're playing in some crazy eight-man league.

    Upton is being overvalued.

    On average, he's being drafted before Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Joey Votto and Adrian Gonzalez.

    I'm not hating on Upton—I think he's going to be a superstar.

    But right now, there's no way he's a top-10 pick. Outfield is a very deep position. Plus, Carlos Gonzalez is better than Upton, but his ADP is lower.

Closers Going Early and Often

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    This really isn't a surprise anymore.

    In every league, there's always that guy who takes a closer way too soon, and it causes an arms race (kind of like tight ends in fantasy football leagues).

    Next thing you know, and there's already a handful of closers off the board and you're only five rounds in.

    Some people like to argue saying that getting a great closer early can make a huge difference. But closers are a dime a dozen.

    Kimbrel is the exception to the rule because he posted a 14.84 K/9 last year.

    But look at the other closers. According to Rotochamp, Drew Storen finished 2011 as the second-best closer. Then at No. 11 sits Heath Bell. They both notched 43 saves and Bell had a lower ERA. The only difference was Storen held the advantage in strikeouts.

    Closers are not worth taking a high pick on. The difference between them isn't much, and you can use that pick for something else.

Daniel Bard Isn't Getting Much Love

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    Since the news of becoming a starter, Daniel Bard is hardly getting drafted. His ADP currently stands at 308.

    Bard was a very valuable reliever, but moving to the rotation doesn't hurt his stock. He'll be pitching for one of the best offenses in the MLB. 10-plus wins is certainly attainable for Bard in 2012.

    Look at the track record for relievers being converted into starters.

    C.J. Wilson, Alexi Ogando and Ryan Dempster are just a few names who have made the transition within the last couple years, and they've been pretty solid.

    And those guys weren't considered as good as relievers as Bard, so why wouldn't Bard find similar success?

People Don't Know Henderson Alvarez

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    Henderson Alvarez is stating his case to be a legitimate starter, but hardly anybody is paying attention because his ADP is 311.

    In fact, he's only being owned by 11 percent in all Yahoo! leagues.

    So let me introduce you to Henderson Alvarez. 

    He is only 22 years-old, and he made his MLB debut last year. In 10 starts, Alvarez went 1-3 with 3.53 ERA and notched 40 strikeouts in 63.2 innings.

    This is a sleeper special.

    The Jays should give Alvarez better run support this year, and he'll end up with 10 wins and a mid-three ERA.

People Not Seeing That Michael Morse Is This Year's Jose Bautista

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    After putting up the season that he did in 2011, it's shocking to see Michael Morse's ADP at 82.

    I think Morse will be Jose Bautista version 2.0. Last year, many fantasy owners passed on Bautista thinking he couldn't repeat his 2010 season. Bautista's ADP was 31 for 2011 drafts and he finished the year in the top-10.

    Morse has the potential to do the same thing. While he won't be a top-10 guy, Morse is going to hit 30-plus homers with an average around .285.

    If he's falling that late, don't be afraid to snag him.

Five of the Top-10 Are Outfielders

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    According to ADPs, five of the first 10 guys drafted are outfielders.

    For a position that is very deep, Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, Jose Bautista (he also has 3B eligibility), Jacoby Ellsbury and Justin Upton are going in the first round.

    It's understood that Braun and Kemp are going that high, but Ellsbury and Upton (as mentioned earlier) might be pushing it.

    Ellsbury is coming off of a career year and is being taken ahead of guys like Joey Votto, Prince Fielder and Clayton Kershaw.

    You can pass on Ellsbury in the first round and get Carlos Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson or Hunter Pence a little later.

Injury Concerns Aren't Much of a Factor

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    Injury-prone players can derail a season, but there are a handful that are still being drafted high.

    Nelson Cruz (about 50 spots too early), Josh Hamilton (about 20 spots too early), Jose Reyes (about 20 spots too early), Rickie Weeks (about 15 spots too early) and Ian Kinsler (about 10 spots too early) are posting better ADPs than rankings.

    There's nothing wrong with drafting a player with injury concerns, but reaching for an injury-prone player is a different story.

    It's funny to note that Josh Johnson, the most injury-prone pitcher in baseball right now, isn't on the list. His ADP is 100.

David Ortiz Is Reaching the Middle Rounds

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    David Ortiz's ADP of 106 suggests he is being ignored for the 2012 season.

    With home run numbers coming down the last two years, it's surprising to see a guy who has averaged 28 home runs and 96.5 RBI the last four seasons sliding all the way out of the top 100.

    The position eligibility is an issue because the only spot you can play Ortiz is at UTIL/DH. Plus, once you reach the Interleague schedule, you'll miss out on Ortiz's bat. Even so, Ortiz should not be dropping this low.

    He'll be hitting in the middle of a very potent Red Sox offense.

Jon Lester Is Being Drafted Too High

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    Jon Lester is receiving a lot of attention, even though his numbers got worse in 2011. His ADP currently reads 50.

    Last year, Lester had four fewer wins, 43 fewer strikeouts and saw his ERA climb almost a quarter of a run higher compared to 2010.

    And perhaps the biggest red flag—Lester had the fourth-highest swinging strike percentage decrease from 2010 to 2011. His SwStk% was 10.3 in '10, but he was down to just 8.7 last year.

    Lester's FIP jumped up to 3.83 in 2011, so he's worth being cautious about. Lester is still a top-100 player, but he's definitely not top-50 material.