Fantasy baseball owners tend to be creatures of habit. If a player performs well for them, they have a sense of loyalty towards that player, and that can cloud the owner’s judgment in future decisions.
There are some players who have become fixtures in the first round in recent years, but are now not worth the first-round pick. There are other up-and-coming players who have a lot of hype surrounding them, but the substance is not quite there yet and fantasy owners should avoid spending a first-round pick on them as well.
Here are three players fantasy owners should avoid drafting in the first round.
Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
Harper is one of the loudest players in baseball, but he is not yet elite. He played well during his time in the majors last season and finished with an average of .270, 22 home runs and 59 RBI.
Harper is a young and aggressive hitter and has a tendency to pile up strikeouts. Look for pitchers to figure Harper out this year and use his aggressiveness against him.
Harper is on the verge of becoming an elite player, but many a great player has fallen into a sophomore slump. Look for Harper to struggle in his second year.
Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies
Howard has been one of the premiere power hitters in the majors for close to a decade, but injuries have slowed him and decreased his production in recent years.
For all the home runs and RBI Howard accounts for, he is also a very undisciplined hitter. Howard tends to pull off the ball, struggles against lefties and often leads the league in strikeouts.
Howard is at his best when he can take the ball to the opposite field, but he has not used all the fields since early in his career.
Combined with his injury history and declining production, fantasy owners should avoid using a high draft pick on Howard.
Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
At one time, Pujols was the consensus first overall pick, but with his changing of leagues, increased age and inconsistent production in 2012, he is now the third-best fantasy option on his own team.
After a slow start in 2012, Pujols rallied to have a solid season by his standards with a .285 average, 30 home runs and 105 RBI.
Pujols is still an elite player and has the potential to have a bounce-back season in 2013, but he is not worth spending a first-round draft pick.