FOXSports experts draft All-Star review

July 12, 2011

Looking back at your fantasy draft is like examining your high school yearbook, as both endeavors inevitably end with the thought of, “What the hell was I thinking?”

Overall, I’m fairly pleased with the returns from the Experts’ Draft heading into the All-Star Game tonight, but there were a few head-scratchers during my self-analysis. Similar to the blond highlights I donned as a teenager, Pedro Alvarez seemed like a good idea at the time. Just like my first girlfriend, Joe Mauer broke my heart. And Delmon Young is comparable to the backward visor phase: let’s act like it never happened.

A rundown of the first-half results from my draft picks:

Round 1: Adrian Gonzalez (9)
Analysis: Stuck gold with Gonzalez, whose line of .354/.414/.591 with 17 jacks and 77 RBI make the Boston bomber the frontrunner for AL MVP. Confession: I was this close to choosing hometown hero Joey Votto. A lack of faith in Votto wasn’t the catalyst for not pulling the trigger; rather, I realized sporting success is fleeting in Cincinnati, and knew the odds were against Votto making it through the season without tearing an ACL, pulling a hamstring, or having Kimo Von Oelhoffen cheap shot him in the batter’s box. And that should explain everything you need to know about being a Cincinnati sports fan.

Round 2: Joe Mauer (16)
Analysis: Some have a weakness for chocolate. Others list shopping as their source of frailty. My vice is Mauer, as this is the second-straight season the sweet-swinging backstop has connived me into selection. In his defense, one cannot foresee an injury (unless that somebody is Ken Griffey Jr.). But the indisputable truth remains: the Minnesota backstop is hitting just .243 with nine RBI, zero homers and a .303 OBP. In layman’s terms, epic fail. Making matters worse has been the performance of players taken after Mauer in the second round, including Matt Holliday, Matt Kemp and Prince Fielder. Ugh. On the bright side, Mauer is batting .308 since June 25, and historically has a .406 OBP in the second half of the season, and …it’s just…if he….sigh.

Round 3: Andre Ethier (33)
Analysis: I suppose it’s hard to gripe on Ethier’s production - .311 average, .383 OBP, 45 runs, 44 RBI – and he did supply an exciting 30-game hit streak earlier this season. But while Ethier’s average and OBP have been solid, I made this pick with the belief that the Dodger outfielder would be supplying 27-32 homers, a projection that seems far-fetched at the moment (Ethier has nine home runs at the break). Not helping Ethier’s case is the little tidbit that Jose Bautista, currently hitting .334 with 31 long balls and an absurd .468 OBP, was taken with the 36th selection. Overall, relatively content with this pick, especially if Ethier begins to display a little power in the second half.

Round 4: Ubaldo Jimenez (40)
Analysis: Through the first two months, this appeared to be a disastrous pick, as Jimenez rocked a 5.86 ERA in his first nine starts. Yet since that juncture, the Rockie right-hander has a 2.52 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in eight appearances. But before declaring him righted, it is worth noting that Jimenez was pedestrian in the second half of 2010, going 4-7 in 15 games with a 3.80 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. I could have selected Jon Lester, who went with the 42nd pick, but the fourth round was anything but bountiful for the league, as Buster Posey, Chris Johnson, Adam Wainwright, Justin Morneau and Shin-Shoo Choo were all selected in this series.

Round 5: David Price (57)
Analysis: Price’s ERA (3.70) is higher than expected but his WHIP (1.09) is down and his strikeouts (8.72 K/9) are up. But as Marcus Camby will attest, sometimes you’re not judged by your performance, but by the merits of your peers. Camby has put together a respectable career, but is often mentioned as an underachiever as Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Ray Allen and Peja Stojakovic were selected after Camby in the 1996 NBA Draft. Much akin to Camby’s predicament, Price was drafted before Clayton Kershaw (9-4, 3.03 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 147 K), Paul Konerko (.319 average, .390 OBP, 22 HR, 67 RBI) and Jered Weaver (11-4, 1.86 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 120 K). Price has been effective, and may finish the season with better results than Kershaw and Weaver. Alas, the early returns have favored the other two flame-throwers.

Round 6: Elvis Andrus (64)
Analysis: Others in my league viewed this pick as a stretch, yet Andrus is currently the third-ranked fantasy shortstop behind Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera and 52nd overall. Considering he went 64th, I’d say he’s met expectations. Andrus’ 23 net swipes trail just Reyes for most in the majors, and his 56 runs and .283 average have been beneficial to most fantasy owners. Studs like Cole Hamels, Andrew McCutchen and Tommy Hanson followed Andrus in the draft, but the Andrus pick has proven its worth.

Round 7: Martin Prado (81)
Analysis: I took Prado for his versatile position eligibility, most notably for his ability to play second. Due to injury, Prado has only 256 at bats, hitting .277 with eight homers and 33 RBI. After a slow start in April (.261), Prado was batting .299 before succumbing to a staph infection in his right knee. Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson and Jacoby Ellsbury went before Prado, but no one taken after Prado in the round has come back to haunt. We are giving this selection an “incomplete” grade, as Prado is set to return after the All-Star break to fill in for Chipper Jones.

Round 8: Pedro Alvarez (88) and Round 9: Delmon Young (105)
Analysis: Let’s put these two together, as they collectively killed my offensive output during the first six weeks of the season. I can’t tell you how many times I checked Pittsburgh and Minnesota box scores in early spring to discover o-fers from Alvarez and Young. The Alvarez selection was a stretch at the time, but I thought the Pittsburgh third baseman’s 16 bombs in 95 games could correlate to a 25-homer season. Instead, Alvarez’s output has been so abysmal (.208 average, 2 home runs, 10 RBI) that the Pirates optioned him to Triple-A. Although he hasn’t faced demotion, Young hasn’t fared much better. After hitting .298 with 21 blasts and 112 ribbies in 2010, Young was batting a putrid .211 with one homer and 11 RBI heading into June. It’s not worth mentioning who could have been selected in their place, as almost anyone besides Mauer would have been an upgrade. (Shaking head in shame.) Let’s move on.

Round 10: Jaime Garcia (112)
Analysis: For whatever reason, most of the league was skeptical Garcia could replicate the 2.70 ERA from his 2010 campaign. Although his WHIP (1.30) wasn’t phenomenal, Garcia’s BABIP from 2010 was .292, certainly not low enough to indicate an enormous amount of luck. Through 19 games, Garcia has picked up where he left off, going 9-3 in 19 starts with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. Garcia’s strikeout rate has slightly improved, and has vastly reduced his walks. Considering the rest of the players selected in this round haven’t panned out, Garcia has been somewhat of a diamond in the rough.

Rest of the Draft

Steals: Johnny Cueto (208), Matt Joyce (225)
Analysis: He didn’t make his first start until May 8, but Cueto has a 1.96 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 82.2 innings. His strikeouts are down after whiffing just two in his last 14.1 innings, but the results have been nothing but positive for Cueto. And while Joyce’s production has significantly dropped off since June, getting 12 homers, 41 RBI and 45 runs from the 225th pick isn’t too shabby.

Positive: Jeremy Hellickson (129), Carlos Pena (153), Madison Bumgarner (184)
Analysis: Hellickson might have been a bit of a risk as a rookie, but his exploits in the minors and his brief appearance in Tampa at the end of 2010 were enough assurance that he was worth the gamble. Sporting a 1.15 WHIP and 3.21 ERA through 103.2 innings in 2011, Hellickson has paid dividends. In the words of Dennis Green, Pena is who we thought he was: a power hitter (19 home runs, 49 RBI) who won’t provide much average assistance (.225 mark). A rough spring (6.17 ERA in April) seemed to banish Bumgarner from the radar, but since May 2 has a respectable 3.57 ERA.

Duds: Matt Thornton (160), Magglio Ordonez (232)
Analysis: Thornton lost the closer gig after blowing four saves in early April, with an atrocious 8.64 ERA in the month. Ordonez has just 166 at bats thanks to injuries and is batting .217 on the season.

So-So: Brian Fuentes (201), Omar Infante (249)
Analysis: Fuentes racked up 11 saves before Andrew Bailey returned to the closing role, and while Infante hasn’t duplicated his .321 average from last season, serves well as a utility backup.

Omitted: Rafael Soriano (136), Desmond Jennings (177)
Analysis: Our draft occurred before Soriano signed as a set-up man with the Yanks. As with Jennings, the heralded prospect was projected as a starter on the Rays’ roster until Johnny Damon and Man-Ram were acquired.