I can't believe these guys are still being drafted.
Well, maybe I can.
I mean, many so-called "household names" have been around for so long, it's easy for owners to see a name like Chipper Jones and immediately think 20/100/.330, or see Carlos Zambrano and ink in 200 strikeouts without delay; or seek out Ichiro with the assumption of 35-plus steals looming in the back of their minds.
Unfortunately for those players, it isn't 2007 anymore.
But that doesn't mean a few nostalgic owners won't be stuck in the past on draft day. It's important never to assume production from a certain player simply because they've been "old standbys" for your team in years past.
I'm here to separate the myths from reality when it comes to name recognition.
Using current ADPs courtesy of Mockdraftcentral.com , I've developed a short list of players who may be fan favorites or trusted veterans in the fantasy world, but have seen their stats quietly begin to erode enough to create a substantial gap between supposed value and actual value.
Below these players are young up-and-comers whose names you may not recognize, but whose stats could match or exceed those of their older, more popular counterparts.
Draft these guys too early, and you're truly living in a fantasy world.
Household Name: Ichiro Suzuki, OF, SEA - ADP 40.33
Once a shoe-in for a first or second-round pick, the 36-year-old Ichiro isn't quite a shell of his former self, but 26 stolen bases last season (a career low) is proof that father time is beginning to take its toll.
He cracked double-digits homers for the first time since 2005, so it appears that he's beginning to sacrifice speed for power, and another season of 10-plus homers and 20-plus steals is certainly doable. But his walk rate was down in 2009, which means a drop in batting average may be in the cards (particularly if he's unable to maintain his .384 BABIP), making him less appealing as an early-round pick than he has been in years past.
Cheaper Alternative: Nyjer Morgan, OF, WAS - ADP 131.20
Hoping to follow-up on an unreal second half in which he hit .355 with 24 steals, Morgan is Ichiro-lite, only you can snag him almost 10 rounds later.
The move to Washington from Pittsburgh seemed to rejuvenate him (who wouldn't be excited to leave Pittsburgh?), and two straight seasons of 40-plus steals means you likely don't have to reach in the early rounds to pay for steals.
Like many speedsters, Morgan doesn't offer that little bit of pop that Ichiro does, but he's a career .302 hitter with a .362 OBP—marks that offer value in a second category and suggest that he'll get on base enough to use his wheels.
Household Name: Alfonso Soriano, OF, CHC - ADP 78.82
A classic household name taken too early based on recognition alone, I was surprised to see that Soriano is already 34-years-old.
His 30-30 days are ancient history, and last season's knee troubles make me wonder if a 20-10 season is even a possibility. You're paying for 25-plus home run power with this version of Soriano, and not much else, which makes me wonder why so many owners believe he's worthy of a seventh-round pick?
Cheaper Alternative: Nolan Reimold, OF, BAL - ADP 201.06
The 26-year-old Reimold is the type of player Alfonso Soriano wishes he still was.
He hit .299 between Triple-A and Baltimore last season, and managed to mash 15 homers in a mere 358 major league at-bats.
We know his power is for real (22 homers at Double-A in 2008), combine that with his decent speed (14 steals between Norfolk and Baltimore last season), and he may actually give fan favorite Nick Markakis a run for his money.
Household Name: Vladimir Guerrero, DH, TEX: ADP 139.93
Vlad The Impaler actually landed in a pretty favorable scenario with the Rangers, where he's slated to bat clean-up in front of Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler.
Yet last season marked the first time since 1997(!) in which Vlad batted below .300, and a torn pectoral sapped his power for most of 2009.
We may see a return to hit 2008 form, but at 35, it's only a matter of time before his free-swinging ways begin to look more like Russell Branyan and less like a career .321 hitter.
Cheaper Alternative: Jason Heyward, OF, ATL: ADP 304.55
The fact that manager Bobby Cox recently compared Heyward favorably to Hank Aaron is probably enough to land him in the top-15 rounds of most drafts.
Chipper Jones says he looks like Fred McGriff, only bigger.
Eric Hinske says he rips line drives like a young Cliff Floyd.
But 2010's most talked about prospect also comes equipped with the skills to back up the talk.
He hit .323 with 17 homers between High-A and Triple-A last year (as a 19-year-old), and will undoubtedly challenge Matt Diaz and Hinske to become Atlanta's starting right fielder on Opening Day.
Regardless of where he begins the season, Heyward looks to be in line for at least 350 at-bats, making him a worthy alternative to Guerrero for a third of the price.
Household Name: Carlos Zambrano, SP, CHC - ADP 170.02
The 28-year-old Zambrano has seen a decline in innings pitched in each season since 2005.
He's accumulated a ton of mileage for a pitcher who should be just entering his prime, but five straight seasons of 200-plus innings before your late twenties will do that to you.
Despite completing an alleged offseason "diet" which dropped him down to 260 pounds, 2009 may have been the last time we see Zambrano with a sub-4.00 ERA.
Cheaper Alternative: Jorge de la Rosa, SP, COL - ADP 196.94
He won 16 games last year (who knew?) and actually ranked ninth in the NL in strikeouts.
While the Rockies have a clear No. 1 in Ubaldo Jimenez, the well-traveled de la Rosa makes an intriguing case as their No. 2, after a surprisingly effective and under the radar 2009.
Although his ERA (4.38) leaves something to be desired, he sported an xERA under 4.00 for the second straight season (3.56 in 2009), meaning his surface numbers don't tell the whole story as to how effective he really was.
He's equipped with a cannon for an arm and his high strikeout rate over the past two seasons seems to be the difference maker in de la Rosa finally realizing his potential at age 29.
Forget the stigma of being a Rockies pitcher; he keeps the ball on the ground at an above-average rate, although nothing too outlandish to assume he was simply getting lucky.
Furthermore, his WHIP has improved every season since 2005 (2.031, 1.664, 1.638, 1.462, 1.378), which means the best may be yet to come.
Household Name : Andy Pettitte, SP, NYY: ADP 211.91
This is a gimmie.
He'll be 38 in 2010, and has seen a progressive erosion of skills since his dreamy 2005 season in Houston (2.95 ERA). His IP (195) and strikeouts (148) were both at 10-year lows, and an ERA upwards of 4.50 may outweigh the benefits (particularly, wins) that come with pitching for the Yankees.
Cheaper Alternative: Ricky Romero, SP, TOR: ADP 293.45
In the running for the possible No. 1 starter job in Toronto because of Roy Halladay's departure, Romero managed to win 13 games on a subpar Toronto team last season.
His growth as a pitcher is quite encouraging, as he's seen a marked improvement in strikeouts and ERA over the past three seasons. His extraordinarily high groundball tendencies makes a sub-4.00 ERA a very distinct possibility in 2010, and it looks like you can snag him relatively late.
Household Name: David Ortiz, DH, BOS: ADP 184.27
The face of the Red Sox organization since 2003, Ortiz is revered in Sawx Nation to the point where most New Englanders have taken his admittance of using PEDs with the same trivial plight of being unable to find a parking spot on a Saturday night in downtown Boston.
His peculiar inability to hit the long ball during the first two months of last season was well-documented (his first homer came on May 21), as was his power resurgence in the second half (20 HR, 63 RBI).
It would be foolish to draft Papi for his volatile power numbers again this year, and it will be a struggle for him to hit above the Mendoza line when all is said and done. A perfect example of drafting a name over (declining) skills.
Cheaper Alternative: Daniel Murphy, 1B, NYM - ADP 329.64
Murphy's second half stats (.283/.478/.796, 7 HR, 39 RBI) provide reason for excitement in 2010.
He saw a massive power spike in the second half, and a very promising uptick in flyball ratio.
Despite playing in a "pitcher's park," Citi Field's shortest porch is the right field fence at 330 ft., which will certainly benefit the left-handed Murphy.
His relatively high flyball rate means the power is there, and his elevated line drive rate in the second half may indicate his batting average will hover around .270-.280, rather than the .242 he hit during the first half.
With Carlos Delgado (hip surgery) still unsigned and on the shelf for at least four months, he'll have first base all to himself, with only the underachieving Nick Evans and possibly Mike Jacobs behind him to take minimal at-bats.
This may be the 25-year-old's time to shine, and it wouldn`t surprise me to see his power numbers rival or exceed Big Papi's by the end of the year.
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