Players I’ll avoid this year

Every year, as I prepare for draft season, I come across players I don’t like. There are a number of reasons I might dislike a guy. Maybe it’s his statistical profiles, maybe he’s burned me in the past, or maybe there is no good reason and I just don’t like him. On my cheat sheet heading into the draft these players are all marked in red, and under no circumstances will they end up on my roster.

I know that many of you out there are thinking that completely ruling out certain players is idiotic, and that everyone has “value” if they fall far enough in the draft. But as I’ve stated before, I only want to roster players I like, and players I have a high level of confidence in. Especially in the foundation rounds of a draft, you have to be comfortable with the guys you are drafting and believe they will return the numbers you expect them to.

No matter what my reason is for not liking a specific player, if he’s on the red list, it doesn’t matter how far he falls. I’m not taking him. I recommend you take the same course. For starters, if you think you are catching falling “value,” remember that 14 other teams passed on that same guy for a reason. Also, to compete successfully at the highest level, you have to have confidence in your player projections. If you feel strongly that a player has too much risk or you believe he is going to under-perform compared to most expectations, then trust your gut instincts and don’t draft him. If you’re putting months of hard work and dedication into your projections and your carefully constructed draft strategy, why would you change everything based on a specific player falling an extra round? It just doesn’t make sense to me.

I use my own personal projections and evaluations of players, rather than trusting an outside source or someone else’s opinion. The more I’ve learned to trust myself, the better my results have been.

Without further ado, here are a few players who will populate the red list on my rankings this season with explanations for what they’ve done to deserve their spots. If you disagree with any of these, or if it’s someone you feel very strongly will have a terrific year and outperform expectations, that’s fine.

Nelson Cruz, OF, TEX: I’m not disputing how dominant Cruz can be when he’s healthy, we all witnessed it firsthand as he pummeled the Tigers pitching in the ALCS last season. The problem with Cruz is that he can’t stay healthy. In the last 3 years of full time play, Cruz has only averaged 120 games per season. Another very disturbing trend is that Cruz has dealt with numerous hamstring injuries which have severely limited his speed. Once considered a 20/20 threat, Cruz only managed 9 steals last year. Cruz’s current ADP puts him at pick 44, which is the end of Round 3 in 15 team leagues. Personally, I’m looking for much more than 120 sporadic games from my 3rd round pick, and I’ll gladly let someone else assume the risk here.

Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, CLE: For one, I don’t believe that his massive HR/FB spike is repeatable. I think he’s more likely to finish with around 14 home runs in 2012 than he is to repeat his 25 homer performance from last season. In my eyes, he’s a .275/80/14/70/15 kind of player. Now don’t get me wrong, that’s solid overall production from your shortstop, but he’s currently being drafted as the 4th shortstop off the boards at pick 52. He won’t be on my teams.

Jayson Werth, OF, WAS: This one falls more into the category of a guy that I just don’t like as much as the general public. After signing his massive contract in Washington, he turned in an absolutely abysmal performance in 2011. While a minor rebound can be expected, I still see a .260 hitter with declining power and speed tools.

Carlos Quentin, OF, SD: Another low average power hitter that I was never a huge fan of to begin with. Now he moves from the cozy confines in Chicago to PetCo National Park. I’d be absolutely shocked if he cracked the 25 home run plateau.

C.J. Wilson, SP, LAA: This one definitely falls into the category of a player who for no logical reason I just don’t like. While the results have been great since moving into the rotation, something about him just rubs me the wrong way. He simply isn’t a player that I have confidence in, and therefore won’t be a target of mine on draft day.

Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, CLE: After one of the greatest half-seasons in modern history to begin 2010, Jimenez fell off of a cliff and hasn’t been the same since. Many pundits are predicting a rebound in 2012, but I’m skeptical. When I see pitchers that rely mainly on their dominating fastball suddenly lose over 2 MPH, it raises a red flag.

And I can’t forget to mention Justin Morneau, Brian Roberts, Jason Bay and anyone else who is dealing with concussion issues. Counting on players with an injury history is bad enough (which these players all have), but adding the lingering effects of a concussion means these players simply aren’t worth the risk.

As always, if you agree or disagree with anything I’ve brought up here I’d love to hear about it. Sell me on why these players should remain on my draft board and could help lead me to fantasy glory this year!

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  1. Greg O. said...

    Wow, tough crowd.

    If you read the top half of the article, the author makes the point that he simply wants to draft guys that he likes and feels confidant in. He even mentions himself that some of his reasons for not liking a specific player may be weak.

  2. Dave Shovein said...

    @ Andrew: First off, I don’t consider myself to be an expert.

    And secondly, like Greg O. pointed out, if you read the article the true point is simply to make sure that you draft players that you like and feel confident in.

    Everyone that I know in this business has players that they simply don’t like, for one reason or another. CJ Wilson falls into that category for me. If he goes out and has a great year in Anaheim, that’s great. I just don’t have enough confidence in him to draft him as my ace or an extremely high end #2 SP (current ADP of 69.25 puts him in the 5th Round)

    I prefer to live and die with guys who I have an extremely high level of confidence in, and CJ Wilson simply doesn’t fit that profile.

  3. The gig said...

    I think the point of this article was to emphasize a drafting strategy not to necessarily do a complete player workup.  It was fine article. Going by the “gut” is part of the fun in fantasy baseball – I love using advanced metrics but our own quirky thoughts about players help to make drafting enjoyable. 

    That said, I’m going to feed myself and my children poisoned cool-aid and lay down in a field in a circle while white rabbit plays in the background…because of this article.

  4. Dave Shovein said...

    @ Harballs: regarding Ubaldo, I believe that the drop in velocity is a more important indicator than his xFIP and SIERA being better in 2011 than 2010. Plus, it’s not like he severely outperformed those advanced metrics in 2011, they were very similar to his 2010 numbers.

    Additionally, compared to Jayson Werth’s previous 3 seasons, 2011 was absolutely abysmal. The .232 average is downright awful, even if it is carried down by a low BABIP. Only scoring 69 runs and driving home 58 were absolutely brutal to anyone who invested a 3rd or 4th round pick in him last year.

    He’s someone that I have little to no confidence in, and someone who at his current ADP of 120 I will not be looking at.

    And regarding that comment that analyzing fantasy baseball has passed me by, I’d stake my results against yours or any other experts any day of the week.

    Thanks for stopping by smile

  5. Welby said...

    Thank you Greg O.  The reasons for Wilson were more a personal concern and not a statistical one as Shovein lead to in the beginning of the post.  I think Wilson will do just fine as a 3rd or 4th starter in a more pitcher friendly park but that doesn’t mean I’m going to leave the site.  Chill out fellas.

  6. YanksAlot said...

    Over-reaction is right. I don’t think “boycotting” (which is what you’re doing) the entire site is the appropriate action. Seems too personal.

    Though the C.J. Wilson thing definitely screams LAZY analysis.I can think of a dozen reasons to stay away from Wilson. You could’ve easily pursued any of them with fuher analysis. Yes you did warn us that some players you may not like for no apparent reason. But to maintain credibility, you should attempt to stay clear of not backing your case with an actual analytical effort.

    Chalk this one up as an author’s mistake. Hey we all make em!

  7. Shane said...

    Completely agree with you on CJ, Dave.  I’m a Ranger fan and have avoided him every year mainly because of that same reason, and it’s nice to know others out there feel the same way.

  8. Detroit Michael said...

    Good luck guys finding a website where multiple articles are posted for free everyday and you agree that 100% of the articles are worthwhile.

    There is some value in drafting players that one subjectively believes in because one is less likely to drop players or trade them when their value is low during what often might be temporary slumps.  To me, this is more important for the expensive players or high round draft picks than the less expensive guys where some roster churn is anticipated.

  9. Brad Johnson said...


    The human subconscious is capable of incredible inductive leaps that the conscious mind can’t readily reach. When someone like Dave – who’s spent thousands of hours playing fantasy baseball – has a bad feeling about a player, what he’s saying is that his subconscious is concerned and he doesn’t know why. I don’t think it’s lazy in the least to express that and move on.

    I have my own cadre of players that I avoid at all costs without knowing why. And I’m right so often that in my opinion it’s not worth spending the time asking why. Granted I tend to play in $20-40 leagues, so the stakes aren’t high enough to invest that kind of time anyway.

  10. Dave Shovein said...

    Thanks Brad for very eloquently pointing out something that is very difficult to explain.

    You’re correct in that sometimes rather than having a logical and sound reasoning for every decision, you have to be able to trust your gut instincts.

    I’ve also been right far more than I’ve been wrong when doing so, and I’ll continue to trust myself moving forward.

  11. MH said...

    Just a minor nit-pick:  Jason Bay’s concussion issue was in 2010 and there wasn’t really anything to suggest it lingered in 2011, he just plain stunk.  Still, Citi Field should be much more friendly to RHB this year, even without Jose Reyes the Mets lineup should be pretty decent as long as Ike Davis is healthy and Lucas Duda hits decently, and Bay does steal double digit bases, meaning I think there’s some chance that as a $1 guy he’s got some decent profit potential.  He’s not my favorite late outfielder, but he’s far from my least favorite and he is someone I would consider drafting at such a minimal cost.

  12. Brad Johnson said...

    It’s a dangerous argument to make as it borders on a lot of classic baseball arguments.

    An expert is defined by some as a person with over 10,000 hours of experience at something. Experts are also found to have valuable inductive and deductive insights that non-experts cannot reach with the same information. You and I are probably not technically fantasy experts.

    Personally, I probably say 2,000-18,000 hours of experience, depending how much you count other baseball activities. If only playing fantasy and writing counts – I’m at the low end. If you count playing, writing, reading (fantasy and general baseball), watching, thinking about baseball, and practicing count, then I’m at the upper bound (and that would also mean there are a lot of experts out there). Now I don’t know how I strayed down this path, but this is a whole different can of worms that I don’t care to open.

    My point was supposed to be that guys like Dave and I are capable of insight absent of analysis, it’s just probably not fair to expect expert quality insights from us yet.

  13. Brad Johnson said...

    If you want to have a reasonable discussion about “gut” decisions in a crowd like this, you can’t use the word gut. It has a connotation that your decision is arbitrary rather than reasoned but not understood.

  14. Bryan from MN said...

    Okay okay okay.  I hope I didn’t miss the boat on commenting on this.  I read most of the comments and couldn’t wait any longer.  I like this article a lot Dave Shovein.  I don’t think that every single fantasy baseball opinion/article needs to be backed up 100% by quantitative analysis.  People get so bogged down by all the numbers that you forget to use your gut instinct (of course based partially on statistical past performances). 

    I completely agree with having a no draft list.  There are definitely some players that I will not touch either.  As you already said Morneau is one of them.  Alex Rios is another one.

    Good article, every now and then it is nice to get one that is not so cut and dry.  People just expect you to tell them what to do for every damn draft pick and when there is an article that doesn’t use sabrmetrics people cry.

    Let them cry.  Keep writing articles like this.

  15. Mark F said...

    We do this for fun, right? If I win (!) one of these leagues it will be after months of stress worrying about my guys being able to avoid injuries and to stay hot – OK I could handle that type of fun. If I do not win (every manager is a long-shot to win), I will be tracking players during the dog days of summer and I would rather follow guys I like.

    I enjoyed this article as it reminded me that one can find a variety of logical and emotional (not gut!) reasons to avoid players that would end up driving a guy nuts by the end of the season.

    I enjoy this website, the articles and most of the comments written in by the readers. If prefer “Brad” type comments rather than “Andrew” type comments so let’s hope we have seen the last of those vowing to leave.

  16. Dave Shovein said...

    Thanks for the positive feedback guys, I do sincerely appreciate it

    And yes, Brad does write here as well and does excellent work. Make sure to check him out also!

  17. Pochucker said...

    Ill throw another twist in it. I agree there are players I wont draft each year. Those decisions are made on statistical and gut feeling. Then there are those players I would draft if they “fell far enough” but in reality you know you wont be drafting them. I would put A.Cabrera in that list.
      Then there are people who say that “Im not drafting x-player becauseI dislike him” They may not make his lifestyle,attitude,percieved drug usage or some other bad vibe.
      I disagree totally with that. Its no different than real life job. You may not like all who work with you or for you but the idea is to have people surrounding you who can get the job done.
    Hell I even drafted Carl Everitt one year. (was accused of child abuse and child removed from home)

  18. Josh C said...

    @ Andrew, glad you’re not in my league, you sound like that chump who thinks he’s drafted the ultimate team, only to fall way behind by May, and then who quits with a reason like “I need to spend more time with my gf” (or in your case, a pillow). If you can’t decipher a simple title like “Players I’ll avoid this year”, with the “I’ll” meaning Dave, then you’re probably better off suited waiting until June to join a CFL fantasy league, which as we all know is comprised of turdburglers.

    Good read Dave, glad to see none of your choices were drafted by me yet. CJ to you is BJ to me, we all have one (except for Andrew apparently, the kind of d-bag who would draft Morales in the second round).

  19. Nick said...

    Dave, while I think some of the comments are a bit harsh, I must admit that I haven’t read an article in a long time that gave me such a strong negative reaction.  I find it difficult to imagine that an “aspiring fantasy guru” would offer this type of advice.

    Some of your responses in the comment section also completely contradict what you wrote in the article.

    For instance, in the article you wrote, “No matter what my reason is for not liking a specific player, if he’s on the red list, it doesn’t matter how far he falls. I’m not taking him.”  In your comments, you noted in a few places that you’re not drafting guys becuase of WHERE they’ll be drafted (ie. CJ Wilson as your #2 starter or Werth based on his ADP).

    You’ve completely changed your tune based on the criticism.  In my opinion, writing that you won’t draft a “red” player no matter how far he falls is complete folly.  If you’re in the 20th round deciding whether to draft CJ Wilson or someone like Livan Hernandez as a bench pitcher, you’re telling me that you’re going with Hernandez?

    It shouldn’t matter what your “gut” tells you at that point.  You need to go with some conventional wisdom and realize that maybe the masses might have a point.

    While I will certainly not boycott the website, absent something that drastically changes my mind, I’m not sure I can put much stock in what you write in the future based on this article.  I realize this is coming off as personal and, since I don’t even know you, that’s not fair.  But, I read alot of fantasy baseball articles and this one falls so far short for me that I felt compelled to comment.

  20. Dave Shovein said...

    @ Nick: I don’t feel like I’ve contradicted myself at all. When bringing up the ADP, I look at a guy like CJ Wilson. While his ADP is 69.25, the latest he has gone in any draft ran to date is 95th overall. Even at that point in the draft, he isn’t a player that I would ever consider.

    Same thing with Werth. The latest that he has been taken in any draft to date is 136, and never would I even consider him in that spot.

    It’s foolish to suggest that CJ Wilson would even be available in the 20th round, to make the comparison of taking a Livan over him in that spot.

    My point is, that even at the absolute latest that these players have been drafted thus far, they don’t even warrant consideration from me. These players won’t be on any of my teams.

  21. Carl S. said...

    Nick, Harball and Andrew, until we see your own sites with your own damn content, shut the hell up and let these guys give us some analysis. Plus this content is free, you would have a right to bitch if you were paying for content, but you’re not, so suck it assclowns.

  22. Nick said...


    Thanks for the response.

    At the risk of repeating myself, you wrote, “No matter what my reason is for not liking a specific player, if he’s on the red list, it doesn’t matter how far he falls. I’m not taking him.”

    That’s very different from your response, “My point is, that even at the absolute latest that these players have been drafted thus far, they don’t even warrant consideration from me. These players won’t be on any of my teams.”

    I can get on board with the response but, if that was your intent, I think it would have been helpful if you said that in the article.

    When I re-read the article and put in that one additional sentence, it changes everything (for me anyway).  I certainly wouldn’t have had the reaction I did if that sentence was in the original article.

    Thank you.

  23. Shane said...

    Of course he would draft them in the 20th, but that is a hypothetical situation which wouldn’t happen because I guarantee you someone else thinks highly of CJ, and will waste that pick on him… =)

    He was simply expressing his distaste for Wilson and   no matter, what he would not draft him at or around his ADP.

  24. Bryan from MN said...

    Yes I apologize, I misused the word gut.  What I was going for was not only using stats or sabrmetrics, but other information about the person/player in question.  Either way it was a good article and apparently sparked some controversy.

    *cough (I comment here) *cough

  25. Andrew said...

    I have been reading this site for quite some time, and I like the analysis that you guys do. Often you have a lot of insight into things.

    I think that your comment on CJ Wilson will probably result in me not visiting this site anymore.

    You call yourself an expert, and that is the explanation you give for putting him on your no draft list.

    What a joke.

  26. Harballs Sucking said...

    Ditto on the Ubaldo and Werth.  Ubaldo’s xFIP and SIERRA were BETTER last year than his 2010.  Perhaps you don’t know those stats?

    Werth’s gonna have a “slight rebound”.  true.  but your calling his year “abysmal” is both wrong and asinine.  he didn’t have a Dunnian year. 

    Perhaps you need to rethink your ability to analyze fantasy baseball.  Perhaps it’s past you by?

  27. Teddy said...

    I too have been reading this site for a while and enjoy the content. However when I read CJ WIlson I was expecting you point out his increase of workload over the past few years. Instead you write something completely nonsensical.

    I too will no longer be visiting your site and most likely will stop donating money every year to sick children just because it’s such a big deal.  Nope..nope…that’s it I’m gonna blow my brains out.

  28. Jim G. said...

    Probably everything that needs to be said about this article has been. But here’s my take anyway: everybody that plays fantasy baseball has gut feelings and unwarranted biases against certain players, and sometimes it’s interesting to see if other people might feel the same, or name a player that you either totally disagree with, or might give you second thoughts. That’s the worst case with this article (which is not bad at all).
    Some people have a real problem making the distinction as to the worth of a real player compared to their fantasy worth. There are so many intangibles that make a “real” player valuable to a team. Many don’t translate to fantasyland, and it’s reasonable to say the Dave makes no pretense that this is more than an evaluation of fantasy worth.
    As far as boycotting the entire site, that’s nonsense. If there’s a writer you don’t like, it’s easy enough to avoid them. I think the site overall does a great job. I mean, it’s not like this is Yahoo…..

  29. Brad Johnson said...

    Jim, if people start comparing us to Yahoo!, I’m going to start boycotting the readers.

    First step, closed comments.

    Second step, publish to my private, passworded google website.


  30. Brad Johnson said...

    But in all seriousness, Yahoo is great and stuff. Really, they have a different audience and they write to it.

  31. Dan said...

    As someone who is a friend of Dave’s and a collaborator on some of his teams I feel qualified to weigh in on his “controversial” article. Dave has as deep a knowledge base concerning baseball as anyone I’ve ever met and is well versed in all of the advanced metrics. At this point he has been at his research for the coming season for at least a couple of months now and I trust his player analysis because I know how much time he puts in to it.
    With that said, he is sometimes prone to hyperbole and a bit of exaggeration. I have no doubt he would have been better served to simply say that these are certain players that he would not select around their ADP and leave it that. I also agree that concerning C.J. Wilson a real explanation would have been more helpful than fantasy superstition.
    The point of this article, to me, is that in any fantasy draft you should get the players you feel most confident in and avoid those who “rub you the wrong way”. ADP is just a guideline and should be treated as such. Many a championship team has been made up of “reaches” and players who were not great picks from an ADP perspective. Trust your own projections, what fun would it be if we all valued players the same?

  32. Brad Johnson said...

    The article I write based on the expert draft we conducted last night (of which Dave was a participant) will probably be titled – Getting Reachy. I sat in the 12/13 turn which almost requires you to reach for most of your picks.

  33. Behemoth said...

    Andrew – holy over-reaction, Batman.
    Harballs – the stat is SIERA not SIERRA. Also, you meant passed, not past.

  34. Jim G. said...

    @ Brad – I didn’t mean to touch too much of a nerve with Yahoo… OK, yes I did. grin
    Is there any bigger travesty in ANY journalism, let alone sports, than the “Contributors Network’? What a joke!

    And Dan makes a great point. If we didn’t have these educated guesses, unfounded biases, and gut feelings when we draft, everyone would just take the highest ranked player. Every league’s teams would look the same. What fun would that be?

  35. Ben Pritchett said...

    Geez Dave! Cause controversy much? This is what is great about THT. I write a love article about Ubaldo Jimenez… Two days later, Dave writes a hate article about him.

    I would also disagree with you about Quentin. When he’s healthy he mashes home runs. I don’t think that will change much in San Diego. He just needs to stay on the field.

    @Brad Johnson- I laughed when you had to explain that you write here. Hilarious… Somebody needs to get back to contributing. I know I miss Brad Johnson articles.

  36. Brad Johnson said...

    It has been awhile, huh? I have a bunch of fantasy stuff in my headspace, but no time to work on it (I suppose if I stopped playing Skyrim I would have had time to write 3 articles last month but otherwise I’m booked solid).

    I think I’m going to try cutting 90% of the reading I do on BPro and Fangraphs and all of the commenting. That should free up some time to scratch out a few fantasy articles before draft season is over.

  37. Jerry said...

    I’ve had Wilson for the last 2 years in an AL only league(for a buck).  I thought he would tank last year but he was solid, and remember, he put up those stats (greater than 7.5K/9 less than .6HR/9)  pitching in arguably the worst home park in MLB for a pitcher.

    Now that he’s out of that oven and in a more favorable home park with an above average offense behind him, I see his numbers being the same if not better this season.

    Hopefully the other managers in my league will be thinking like you guys…I have topper rights on him this year.

  38. Tex Pantego said...

    I’m down on C.J. because he has what I call an M.E. fastball, i.e…. a “minimally effective fastball” that has just enough velocity to be effective when combined with his other struff, but any drop in velocity and he becomes much more hittable. 

    When his fastball drops is up to debate, on average, the answer is “about now”, but considering he’s got less mileage on his arm than most starters, maybe he can avoid age-decline a ltittle longer than average. 

    For the short term though, as just fatasy stats go, pitching over half his games in cold marine-layer air should do a lot for him compared to half his games in North Texas heat with a wind tunnel often blowing out to center.

  39. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ Brad

    What a fun mock that was.  The need to reach is accentuated with the 12/13 turn, but I think there is importance in reaching in fantasy drafts.  By that, I mean it’s better to draft by your board than rely on ADP information.  Hypothetically speaking, if you have Matt Wieters ahead of Brian McCann on your draft board, who cares if McCann has a higher ADP.  It may not be worth waiting for McCann to fly off the board before selecting Wieters because someone else may value Wieters similarly to you.

  40. Scott said...

    A mostly agree with your premis, but you are really only speaking to snake draft leagues, to auction type leagues.  That really changes the ‘red’ type players.  I think your article would be a better resource if you consider both types.

    I plan pretty much the same as you in relation to some players, but some of the players you will list in red become ‘get ‘em at a bargin or not at all’ types for me.  Asdrubal Cabrera falls into that category.  He’s certainly a solid contributor to one’s team.

    I’d give you examples of ‘no way’ guys, but owners in my league may read this and I cannot let them know anything on my planning, sorry.

  41. Derek Ambrosino said...

    Oh, so this is how we get more activity in the comment section…

    Seriously, I think Dave just overstated his premise a bit. Realistically, there’s no way any of those players will wind up on his teams. There’s no way he’s going to have the highest opinion on any of these guys of anybody in his league. I guess what he should have said was, no matter how far they fall within their established draft range I will still find players I like better.

    And, I think that’s pretty fair. As Brad mentioned, we often have opinions that we can’t exactly articulate the basis of, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong or irrelevant. He drew from Gladwell’s Outliers on the experts claim, but Blink deals with this subject pretty heavily. While Dave’s “rationale” for his position on Wilson doesn’t provide a good basis for a debate, his true reasons are probably nowhere near as superficial as they may sound. He’s “thin-slicing.” And, while agree that isn’t necessarily a great basis for an article, that doesn’t make it inherently illegitimate, and it’s only one or two sentences in his whole piece.

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