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Fantasy Baseball Studs to Avoid in 2012


— by Braden Gall (@BradenGall on twitter)

Every year there are sure-fire, can't-miss fantasy studs who go in the first couple of rounds and end up, for a variety of reasons, costing a GM a chance at a fantasy championship. Owners of Hanley Ramirez in 2011 know all about what I am talking about. It is imperative that your first three picks are sound. Without production from your first couple of picks, be it injury or otherwise, it is very difficult to compete for a fantasy championship.

Using Athlon Sports’ consensus Top 150 as the barometer, I asked the Athlon editors which Top 40, or first three round, player are you staying completely away from?

Athlon Sports Fantasy Rankings:Big Board | C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP

Debate: Which Top 40 player are staying away from?

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Mark Ross:
I would not take either Josh Hamilton (No. 32 overall) or Carlos Santana (No. 33) in the first three rounds. There's no denying both can put up big numbers, but to do that they of course have to be on the field, and that has been anything but a sure thing when it comes to Hamilton. In 2010, the Rangers' outfielder won the AL MVP playing in just 133 games. The only other season he's played in more was 2008, when he posted MVP-worthy (.304-32-130) numbers in 156 games. Otherwise, he has averaged 100 games played in his three other seasons. I know this is a contract year and all, but that's too much risk and uncertainty in the first three rounds for me. As far as Santana goes, even with his dual eligibility at catcher and first base, which helps his playing time, you are more than likely drafting him as your catcher and the first three rounds is entirely too early for that. He did hit 27 home runs last year and will turn 26 once the season starts, but he also hit just .239 with just 79 RBIs. He could very well develop into a top 36 player at some point in his career, and it could possibly happen this season, but I am not going to be the one who drafts him as such.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
A player I will avoid from the top 36 of our Big Board is Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton. His production is still solid when he’s on the field, but the former MVP seems like too much of an injury risk for me to select him in the first three rounds of a draft. Over the last three seasons, Hamilton has played 89, 133 and 121 games. His numbers in 2011 were still quality — .298, 25 HR, 94 RBI, 80 runs, .882 OPS — just not top 40 quality. I’d rather get a more reliable star in round three, and then find the above numbers with another outfielder deeper in the draft. It might in round four with Matt Holliday or Hunter Pence, or much later with a guy like Carlos Beltran, whose numbers — .300, 22 HR, 84 RBI, 78 runs, .910 OPS — in two pitchers’ parks were almost as good as Hamilton’s. If the Rangers’ slugger slips to round four or five, he would be worth the risk. However, I would avoid Hamilton in the top 36 picks.

Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie):
I don’t see any egregious inclusions in the top 40. But one player I would stay away from longer than the rest would be Carlos Santana of Cleveland. I like that he will get 500+ at-bats while qualifying for catcher, but other than home runs, he doesn’t bring much to the table for a middle-of-the-order hitter. Not afraid to take a walk, Santana misses out on RBI opportunities and we haven’t seen anything from him that makes us believe he can hit higher than .250. His OBP will give his OPS a boost, but he is a drain on batting average. He doesn’t score enough runs either to be an elite player.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
I will go with the King of the Northwest and Seattle's Felix Hernandez. There is no doubting his stuff, it is electric. But a closer look at the numbers indicates that his sub-par (as compared to ADP) 2011 really shouldn't have been a surprise. Through 1,388.1 career innings pitched, Hernandez has a career ERA of 3.24 and career WHIP of 1.22. His numbers last year (3.47 and 1.22) seem to line up perfectly with his career output. Yes, he had two sub-3.00 seasons in a row, but his three previous seasons were 3.45, 3.92 and 4.52 with a low WHIP of 1.34 - all in seasons of at least 190 innings. His delivery has always looked "dangerous" and he has averaged 241 innings over the last three seasons. You cannot argue with the strikeouts, but he has averaged 13.5 wins per season since his first full stint in the majors (six years) and only 12.4 wins/year if the 19-win outlier is removed. I would have no problem taking King Felix in the 5-7 round range, but 23rd overall? Not a chance.

Nathan Rush:
Steer clear of Mets third baseman David Wright, who was limited to 102 games last year with a back injury. Worse than the risk of injury is the miserable lineup in Queens — sans table-setter Jose Reyes — as well as the negative attitude and energy permeating Citi Field. Under different circumstances, Wright would be worthy of the high round pick. He's been loyal to the Mets to a fault and appears to be willing to go down with the ship by riding out the rest of his contract. Unless Wright gets traded to a contender, you're better off investing in Bernie Madoff — which the Mets did, not so long ago

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