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Buyer Beware: Players to avoid on draft day

MLB.com @FredZinkieMLB

Ah, fantasy baseball -- the annual ritual of watching a perfectly laid plan slowly fall apart. The reality of this challenging game is that a substantial percentage of draft-day selections are not going to meet expectations. Although some '18 busts will seemingly come out of nowhere, the following 10 players are especially unlikely to produce statistics that match their draft-day price tags.

Yadier Molina, catcher, (Cardinals): Molina turned back the clock in 2017, producing the highest RBI total (82) and the second-best homer mark (18) of his 14-year career. And while owners should be happy to grab Molina as their catcher, they should resist the urge to invest significant draft-day resources in a 35-year-old backstop who averaged six homers, 52 RBIs and 43 runs scored from 2014-16.

Ah, fantasy baseball -- the annual ritual of watching a perfectly laid plan slowly fall apart. The reality of this challenging game is that a substantial percentage of draft-day selections are not going to meet expectations. Although some '18 busts will seemingly come out of nowhere, the following 10 players are especially unlikely to produce statistics that match their draft-day price tags.

Yadier Molina, catcher, (Cardinals): Molina turned back the clock in 2017, producing the highest RBI total (82) and the second-best homer mark (18) of his 14-year career. And while owners should be happy to grab Molina as their catcher, they should resist the urge to invest significant draft-day resources in a 35-year-old backstop who averaged six homers, 52 RBIs and 43 runs scored from 2014-16.

Yahoo ADP: 169

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Justin Smoak, first baseman (Blue Jays): One of the biggest breakout performers of 2017 (38 homers, 90 RBIs, .270 average), Smoak will likely take a significant step back this season. As a lifetime .232 hitter who batted .213 with eight homers and 19 RBIs after Aug. 1 last year, the slugger is unlikely to help shallow-league lineups at arguably the deepest fantasy position.

Yahoo ADP: 108

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DJ LeMahieu, second baseman (Rockies): Although LeMahieu can make a major difference in the batting average and runs scored categories, his lack of production in the other three areas should push him to the middle rounds of mixed-league drafts. Wise owners will see the limited upside of a player who has never logged a 70-RBI season, ranked 262nd in homers last year and placed 124th in swipes.

Yahoo ADP: 88

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Evan Longoria, third baseman (Giants): While Longoria will likely help a light-hitting Giants lineup, being traded to a club that calls home to pitcher-friendly AT&T Park is not part of the recipe for a power surge. And with fewer than 23 homers in three of the past four seasons (despite playing at least 156 games in all four campaigns), the veteran is likely to lag behind the mixed-league-caliber options at a deep third-base position.

Yahoo ADP: 155

Corey Seager, shortstop (Dodgers): While Seager is clearly one of baseball's young stars, he has yet to show the necessary power (career high of 26 homers) or speed (lifetime-best four steals) to warrant an early-round selection in such an offensively charged landscape. And although the 23-year-old could take a step forward this year, his owners should not pay for such a breakout, especially after he entered Spring Training still dealing with an elbow injury from the second half of last season.

Yahoo ADP: 33

Avisail Garcia, outfielder (White Sox): Although Garcia made minor improvements last season on his strikeout rate (19.8 percent) and hard-hit rate (35.3 percent), he largely broke out on the strength of an unsustainable .392 BABIP. A .250 hitter from 2014-16 who offers little speed and has only once produced more than 13 homers, Garcia can go undrafted in shallow leagues.

Yahoo ADP: 201

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Adam Jones, outfielder (Orioles): Although Jones has reached the 25-homer plateau in seven straight seasons, his power skills are not exemplary in the current offensive landscape. Additionally, the veteran totaled seven swipes across the past three years, has not compiled 85 RBIs since 2014 and last scored 90 runs in '13. A consistent slugger to be sure, the 32-year-old lacks the upside or supporting cast (Baltimore ranked 16th in runs scored last year) to be selected in the first half of shallow-league drafts.

Yahoo ADP: 104

Jake Arrieta, starter (Phillies): Although his final numbers (3.53 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) were boosted by a strong finish, Arrieta showed signs of decline while working with diminished velocity in 2017. Recording an elevated 29.4 percent hard-hit rate (23.8 percent from 2014-16), the right-hander also averaged fewer than six innings per start, tossing 168 1/3 frames over 30 outings. While Arrieta remains a reliable rotation asset, he is likely to be overdrafted by owners who are expecting a No. 2 mixed-league starter.

Yahoo ADP: 104

Lance McCullers Jr., starter (Astros): McCullers can produce ace-level results when healthy, as was evidenced by producing a 2.53 ERA across his initial 14 starts last season and memorable outings in the postseason. But in between a stellar start and fantastic finish, the youngster missed significant time with a back injury. Until he proves that he can hold up over a 30-start season, McCullers should be drafted as a No. 4 mixed-league starter.

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Yahoo ADP: 97

Wade Davis, reliever (Rockies): To be fair, Greg Holland successfully navigated the challenges of working at Coors Field while tying the franchise single-season saves record (41) last season. But the obstacles remain for closing out narrow wins at baseball's toughest venue, and the Rockies have produced a reliever with at least 32 saves just four times in the their 25-year history. Having tallied fewer than 60 innings and 80 whiffs in each of the past two seasons, Davis should be ranked no better than middle-of-the-pack among closer options.

Yahoo ADP: 111

Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB.