It's easy to draft a player based on his 2012 stats.
It's much more difficult to pass on a former star, even if you know he comes with plenty of red flags.
The truly great fantasy baseball owners (those who will go down in the Fantasy Baseball Hall of Fame) not only know how to identify stars bound for disappointment, they also display the restraint to trust the facts before them and boldly pass such stars up.
There are three stars in particular who you shouldn't draft early this year, despite their gaudy stats of the past.
Here they are.
Josh Hamilton, OF, Los Angeles Angels
No, this doesn't have to due with the notion that he isn't clutch—that doesn't matter in fantasy baseball.
Rather, it has to do with his injury history and the ballpark he will be playing in this season.
In three of Hamilton's last five years, he's played in fewer than 135 games. He had monster years in 2008, 2010 and 2012, but his numbers weren't befitting his ADP (average draft position) in 2009 and 2011.
Forget the superstition that he's only worth a high draft pick in even-numbered years. The fact of the matter is, he's simply injury-prone. It's like saying a quarterback who has sustained multiple concussions behind a porous offensive line got unlucky one year when he missed time...due to a concussion.
Also, know that Rangers Ballpark in Arlington ranked seventh in baseball in home runs per game last season, via ESPN.com. After going from the Rangers to the Angels, Hamilton now faces a less home-run friendly ballpark.
Where did Angel Stadium of Anaheim rank in 2012? Try 25th.
Want more proof Hamilton could have a down season by his standards? He's hit .260 with five home runs in 150 career at-bats at Angel Stadium.
Felix Hernandez, SP, Seattle Mariners
Before you find the nearest mailbox to drop your hate mail (people still mail letters these days, right?), consider a few things about Felix Hernandez.
One, the right-hander has pitched an absurd amount of innings so far, and he's only 26 years old. He hasn't pitched fewer than 190.1 innings in a season since 2005. That includes pitching over 230 innings in each of the last four seasons.
You can take it one of two ways: a) He's a workhorse and he'll never, ever get injured or b) this guy's arm is going to fall off any second.
Secondly, it's not just Hernandez's workload. Bill Petti of FanGraphs.com wrote a great article in February detailing King Felix's drop in velocity over the years. Petti noted that Hernandez had lost roughly four to five miles per hour off of his fastball since 2007. He also noted that Hernandez's loss of velocity per season was roughly 10 times the normal amount for starting pitchers from 21 to 26 years old.
You add the fact that they are bringing the fences in at Safeco Field this season and King Felix may not live up to his high billing.
Zack Greinke, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Besides the fact that Greinke is recovering from inflammation in the back of his pitching elbow and allowed five runs in three innings against the Kansas City Royals on Monday, consider the right-hander's ADP.
Greinke's ADP in ESPN standard leagues is 57. That makes him the 15th starting pitcher selected on average.
Now, consider the fact that several starting pitchers being taken later in the draft were clearly better than Greinke in 2012. Heck, Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale—who posted 15 wins, a 3.37 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP and 203 strikeouts is generally being selected after Greinke.
There's also the fact that the 29-year-old has posted a 5.03 ERA against the National League West in his career, as noted by ESPN's Matthew Berry.
No thanks. I'll pass.
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