Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy 2012: The 10 Biggest Flaws in Yahoo's Rankings
As I've been writing articles the last couple weeks, I've noticed that some ADPs were abnormally high or low. Whatever the reason was, I couldn't put my finger on it.
That was until I had my first draft through Yahoo! just a couple days ago. It then made all the sense in the world.
The Yahoo! experts certainly do make some valid points, but there were some rankings I couldn't understand at all (kind of like all the grammatical errors in those yellow post-it notes next to your player's name, but that's a different subject).
Here's a list of the top 10 flaws I found in Yahoo's ranking system.
Paul Goldschmidt's O-Rank Is 21 Spots Better Than Billy Butler's
I thought there was a glitch when I saw Paul Goldschmidt ranked 97th and Billy Butler 118th, so I closed out of the window and reopened my draft page.
It didn't go away.
Let me start by saying I'm a huge Goldschmidt fan. I've mentioned him in more than a couple articles, saying he could be a big performer in 2012. But there's no way he should be ranked higher than Butler.
In the last three seasons, Butler has averaged 18.33 homers, 88.67 RBI and 76.33 runs scored with a .303 batting average (545-for-1,800).
While those aren't the most impressive numbers, Butler has been steady with above-average stats.
Goldschmidt has the potential to belt 30 home runs, but he's only played in 48 MLB games. His batting average doesn't project higher than .260 and he struck out 29.9 percent of the time last year (a mark that has been very high in every level of pro ball).
Butler, on the other hand, strikes out much less. Plus, he found his power stroke in the second half of last year, and he's on fire in the spring (.373 BA, three HRs). If you can get Butler after Goldschmidt, then it's a steal.
Nelson Cruz Is Listed as the 11th Best Outfielder
Nelson Cruz has the talent to be a top-15 outfielder, but he is never healthy enough to warrant a spot that high.
Look at some of the outfielders that Yahoo! ranks after Cruz: Matt Holliday, Hunter Pence, Jay Bruce, Adam Jones and Michael Bourn. There are plenty others who deserve to be ranked ahead of Cruz, but you get the point.
Injuries can happen to anyone (Buster Posey showed us that last year), but you have to be wary of a guy who has never played more than 130 games in any MLB season. And it's not like Cruz is a young dude anymore. He'll be 32 in August, suggesting injuries could become even more prevalent in the future.
And not only did Yahoo! rank him as the No. 11 outfielder, they gave him an O-Rank of 35. That means they have Cruz ahead of Carlos Santana, Dan Uggla, Jered Weaver and Matt Cain.
When healthy, Cruz has the potential to put up MVP numbers. But, come draft day, you have to think Cruz will miss significant time.
So, if you decide you take Cruz over Pence and Co., you'll end up with someone like Coco Crisp eventually starting on your team. Crisp isn't awful, but just imagine what you could have had.
Corey Luebke Is Ranked as the 36th Best Starting Pitcher
Corey Luebke had a very underwhelming 6-10 record in 2011, but he pitched way better than that.
He owned a 3.29 ERA, and if that wasn't good enough, his FIP was 2.93. You think that was a fluke? Try again. His xFIP was 3.02, meaning he was just 0.09 off than projected.
And it's not like Luebke is a soft-tossing lefty. He throws in the low 90s and had a K/9 ratio of 9.92 last year.
Oh yeah, he also pitches in a park that yielded the third-fewest runs scored and eighth-fewest home runs last season.
Look at some of the guys who are ranked before Luebke: Daniel Hudson, Jordan Zimmerman, Brandon Morrow and Shaun Marcum.
Hudson's numbers will get worse, Zimmerman won't record the strikeouts Luebke does and his ERA will be higher, and Morrow's K totals are good, but do you want his 4-plus ERA and high WHIP?
Luebke is going to have a good 2012 season, and you can get him for cheap, thanks to the guys at Yahoo!
Derek Jeter Is Ranked in the Top 100
This is going to be hard because I love Derek Jeter. I mean, who doesn't? It's impossible to hate Jeter if you like baseball.
With that said, Jeter is getting older and has lost a lot of value in the fantasy realm.
Jeter's power and speed numbers have been on the decline, and Jeter's overall health will be a concern. The Yankee captain played in just 131 games in 2011.
I'm not worried about the average; it will hover around .290. Jeter is now a guy who will hit close to .300 with maybe 10 home runs and maybe 15 stolen bases (and those numbers are generous).
Yahoo! has Jeter ranked as the ninth best shortstop, but I would bump him down even a few more spots. I would put Alexei Ramirez, J.J. Hardy and Erick Aybar all ahead of Jeter, whereas Yahoo! didn't.
Jeter's O-Rank of 96 is way too high for my liking as well. That number puts him in front of Freddie Freeman, Billy Butler, Tommy Hanson and Ricky Romero.
I wouldn't take Jeter before any of those players.
Michael Cuddyer's O-Rank Is 65
Apparently, the Yahoo! experts are putting a lot of stock into Michael Cuddyer's move to Coors Field, but I'm not completely sold.
Yes, Coors gives up plenty of long balls, but Cuddyer just turned 33 years old and is coming off a season in which he only played 139 games.
Except for the 2009 season, Cuddyer has never hit more than 25 home runs. He has averaged 21.2 homers during the last five seasons, so there's no reason to think that a new ballpark will have a great impact.
Cuddyer has versatility, being eligible for first base, second base and outfield. He is obviously most valuable at second, but there's still no way I'd take him 65th overall.
Yahoo! lists players like Howie Kendrick, Rickie Weeks, Shane Victorino and Mat Latos after Cuddyer. Personally, I wouldn't pull the trigger on Cuddyer before any of the aforementioned players.
Cuddyer will hit around 20 home runs with a .275 batting average. Those are pretty good numbers, but I'd rather wait for Cuddyer until after the first 100 picks.
Alex Rodriguez Is Ranked Ahead of Michael Young and Brett Lawrie
Yahoo! puts Alex Rodriguez as the No. 7 third baseman and an overall rank of 42. Yes, that's not a typo. They ranked him that high.
A-Rod is one of those players I'd avoid for the 2012 season. Well, I shouldn't say avoid, but I would definitely not overpay for him. I'd spend a seventh-round pick on him and not a third.
A-Rod is still capable of putting up good numbers, but I cannot trust him to stay healthy. Starting in 2008, Rodriguez has played in 138 games, 124 games, 137 games and 99 games. Meaning, he's missed an average of 37.5 games per season for the last four years.
And even if A-Rod manages to stay healthy (which is doubtful), he's still only going to play 130-some games because he'll get routine days off.
This is the reason he shouldn't be ranked ahead of Michael Young or Brett Lawrie.
While A-Rod is playing in fewer games and his numbers are dropping, Young has been steady. Young had a career-high 106 RBI in 2011 and hit .338. He has also played in 155 or more games in nine of the last 10 years.
Lawrie is going to be stud. After making an impressive debut last year, Lawrie is hitting .545 (18-for-33) in the spring. He's got the rare combination of speed and power at the corner position.
Ryan Howard Has a Higher O-Rank Than David Ortiz
The last time we saw Ryan Howard in action, he was lying on the ground with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Howard was reported to be making a fast recovery until he suffered an infection that has now set him back. There is no timetable for Howard's return, but you have to figure he's going to miss at least two months.
So with Howard missing significant time, Yahoo! still gave him a 121 O-Rank while giving David Ortiz a 127 O-Rank.
I'm not sure how this is possible.
Big Papi has averaged nearly 30 homers (29.67) and 99 RBI the last three seasons. In the last two years, Howard has averaged 32 homers and 112 RBI.
The two have been very close the last couple years, so Yahoo's rankings would make sense if Howard was healthy. But he's not, so how is he still ranked higher?
Getting to 25 home runs will be a challenge for Howard this year, and as long as Ortiz stays healthy, he should hit close to 30 again.
Ortiz is only eligible at DH, but there's nothing wrong with filling up that slot with a guy who has the pedigree of Oritz.
The Love They Are Giving Alex Avila
Alex Avila had a brilliant 2011 season. He hit 19 home runs with 82 RBI and a .295 average. But expect those numbers to drop in 2012.
Those impressive numbers were the result of an inflated BABIP and HR/FB rate. Avila's BABIP last year was .366, when it was .278 in 2010, and his HR/FB was 13.8 percent, when it was nine percent in 2010.
The law of averages tell us that Avila won't be capable of a repeat performance. But Yahoo! didn't get that memo. They ranked him at 110.
With a 110 O-Rank, that puts him better than Joe Mauer, David Ortiz, Nick Markakis and Josh Beckett.
I wouldn't take Avila before any of those players, and Avila is supposed to get fewer at-bats in 2012. He faltered down the stretch and skipper Jim Leyland has said that he plans on giving Avila more days off during the regular season.
Justin Upton Is a Top 10 Pick
Justin Upton is going to be a superstar in the MLB, but he's not a first-round pick just yet. Yahoo! ranks him 10th overall, but he should be bumped down about 10 more spots.
Here's a look at some of the guys who are ranked after Upton according to Yahoo!: Carlos Gonzalez, Evan Longoria, Jacoby Ellsbury, Prince Fielder, Dustin Pedroia and Mark Teixeira.
Upton is good, but he's not better than any of those players.
CarGo is capable of hitting .300 with 30 homers and 20 steals. While Ellsbury's home-run totals will most likely drop in 2012, he's still going to be a lock for a ton of runs scored and 35-plus stolen bases.
Then you have first basemen Prince Fielder and Mark Teixiera, who annually hit 35-plus homers with 100-plus RBI.
Evan Longoria and Dustin Pedroia play at much shallower positions, so finding a stud at third or second is much more valuable then using a top 10 pick on another outfielder.
Once the first couple second basemen go (Robinson Cano, Pedroia, Ian Kinsler) there's a considerable drop off. But, if you pass up on Upton, you'll still be able to get Hunter Pence, Andrew McCutchen, Matt Holliday or Jay Bruce much later.
Tim Lincecum Is a Top Five Starting Pitcher
I actually agree with Yahoo's top four pitchers. Clayton Kershaw is definitely No. 1 with Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander and Cliff Lee following. I might switch Lee and Verlander, but it's close enough.
But I don't agree with Tim Lincecum being No. 5. Jered Weaver, CC Sabathia, Felix Hernandez, Matt Cain and Cole Hamels should all jump Lincecum.
Lincecum has been on a decline that few are noticing. His K/9 ratios have dropped every year since 2008, and his BB/9 has increased. His FIP has also steadily gone up while is WAR has fallen. And perhaps the biggest stat: his velocity has dropped.
Lincecum is still a very good pitcher, but I'm not using my 28th overall pick on him, nor am I taking him ahead of any of those other pitchers I mentioned.
Most will believe that Lincecum is still one of the most dominant starters, but the truth is, he's not even the best pitcher on his team any more.