Back in college, a friend and I had an expression that we’d always use to make fun of each other: “Have some respect for yourself.” The expression worked because it was extremely flexible and could be used in a multitude of situations. Have an outdated phone? “Have some respect for yourself.” Going to some stupid, trendy nightclub? “Have some respect for yourself.” Little too much PDA in the hallway during a party? You guessed it… “Have some respect for yourself!”
As we head into fantasy baseball draft season, it’s time to start drawing a line in the sand in terms of which players to target and (maybe more importantly) which players to avoid. Every player on your cheatsheet has value, but the real key is getting said player at the right value. Getting a player at a good value will give you a head start on the rest of your league, but drafting a player too early will kill your season before it even begins. As we lead up to Opening Day, I’ll be helping you find that Goldilocks value by taking a weekly look at players to target and players avoid in relation to their average draft value. The first player I want to take a look at (and hopefully convince you to avoid) is San Francisco Giants catcher, Buster Posey.
To preface, I am not trying to be like this guy and troll you by trashing the reigning National League MVP (that’s not what this article is about). What I am trying to do is convince you that Buster Posey is being taken way too high in fantasy baseball drafts right now and help prevent you from making the same mistake. In order to do so, I’d like to take a look at three common arguments for drafting Posey early and debunk those myths.
Myth #1: Position Scarcity
The main argument I see from Posey propagandists is that he’s far and away the best catcher in fantasy baseball and thus provides his owners with great positional value. I won’t argue with the assertion that he’s the best catcher in fantasy baseball, but I take huge issue with the positional value line of thinking. Posey is a great player and all, but he plays a position that I like to call “the kicker of fantasy baseball” (sorry…I always have fantasy football on my mind).
Despite what some may think, catcher is one of the deepest (and most volatile) positions in fantasy baseball. Here’s a quick look at last year’s preseason catcher rankings compared to last year’s season-end rankings (after you finish browsing through those, I’ll meet you at the bottom of the chart):
|Catcher||2012 ADP||2012 Final Ranking||Variance|
You’re all smart people, so I’m guessing the first thing that stuck out to you was the fact that only four of the preseason top ten returned any type of value in comparison to their draft position. After that, I’m hoping the second thing that stuck out to you was the fact that five of the catchers who finished the season ranked in the top ten were drafted in the 16-30 range among catchers. I realize one year is a small sample size, but if that chart doesn’t scream “catcher is a volatile position!”, I don’t know what does.
Sticking with this same line of thinking, let’s take a closer look at Buster Posey’s draft value (and yes, I realize he was one of those catchers who actually gave you a positive return on your preseason investment last year). As of February 20th, Posey was being selected with the 16th overall pick among Expert Mock Drafts alongside players like Justin Upton, Adrian Beltre and Jose Bautista. “Lesser” catchers like Wilin Rosario, Miguel Montero and Jesus Montero are being selected at the 91st, 103rd and 124th picks alongside players like Martin Prado, Carl Crawford and Will Middlebrooks. By that rationale, you could either select a tandem of Buster Posey and Will Middlebrooks or you could select a tandem of Adrian Beltre and Wilin Rosario. For comparison’s sake, let’s do a quick blind tandem comparison using 2013 player projections. Which tandem would you rather have?
Tandem A: .289, 136 R, 47 HR, 176 RBI, 9 steals
Tandem B: .287, 163 R, 59 HR, 174 RBI, 8 steals
Again, you’re smart people so I don’t think I have to tell you that the answer is obviously Tandem B (which is Adrian Beltre/Wilin Rosario) over Tandem A (Buster Posey/Will Middlebrooks). And before you accuse me of cherry-picking examples, you can do this comparison with any of the players I listed above and it will always come out in favor of the non-Posey side. This line of thinking goes out the window if you’re in a start-two catcher
Myth #2: Posey is only 25. He’ll be even better this year
I’m not going to be obtuse and say that Posey isn’t going to improve over the course of his career, but who’s to say that he’s automatically going to post better numbers than last year? He had a great season on his way to leading the Giants to a World Series victory (.336, 24 HR, 103 RBI), yet there are reasons to worry about a regression for San Franciso’s franchise player.
The one thing that really set Posey apart last year was his .336 average, but he had never hit above .305 in his short career before that. His BABIP (.376) was also ridiculously high and is almost a full .03 percentage points above his career norm (read: he got a little bit lucky on balls in play last year). Furthermore, Posey’s HR/FB ratio last year (18.8%) was a much higher than his 2011 figure (10.3%) and his 2010 figure (15.4%). Posey has power, but those numbers show that it might be a little presumptuous to assume that he’s automatically going to hit 25-30 home runs.
I’m not using these numbers to insinuate Buster Posey is a bad player or anything, but there are a few red flags that indicate 2012 probably isn’t a starting point for projecting his 2013 numbers. If you take his batting average down to a more realistic .310 or .315 and assume that he’ll hit a more likely range of 20-24 home runs, Posey loses quite a bit of value. With those types of numbers, there isn’t a whole lot that separates Posey from the likes of Yadier Molina, Matt Wieters and even Miguel Montero (and you can get all of those guys at least four or five rounds after Posey).
Myth #3: He’s eligible at Catcher AND First Base
Yes, that’s true but what’s your point? Outside of Posey playing some games at first base (which ups his games played from 120 to 145), there is absolutely no fantasy impact of his position eligibility. In fact, it will actually hurt your team if you play Posey at first base and draft another catcher later (thus completely nullifying any position scarcity argument that you might have been clinging onto).
Let’s go down this rabbit hole for a moment and say you’re going to draft a catcher later and use Posey at first. If you’re still with me on the .310-315, 20-24 HR, 90-100 RBI projection (let’s assume you are), where does that place him among first basemen? Let me give you a few names and their projected 2013 stats:
Freddie Freeman: .280, 26, 95 RBI
Paul Konerko: .295, 28 HR, 91 RBI
Adam LaRoche: .280, 29 HR, 96 RBI
Oh, and by the way, you can get Freeman, Konerko, and LaRoche in the sixth, eighth and tenth round (respectively) in most drafts right now.
I’ll give you that Posey is better than any of those guys as a catcher (since none of them play catcher), but is he four-to-six rounds more valuable at first base? You may give up a few points in average, but you can easily make those up at one of the other 20 spots on your roster.
Drafting Posey to be a catcher is one thing, but don’t be fooled by his dual-position eligibility. Most people will look at that and think it’s something that increases his value, but you’re actually doing yourself a disservice if you draft Posey to be your first baseman. If you want a first baseman who will hit 25 home runs with 90-100 RBI, you can find one of those much, much later in your draft.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I rest my case. If I haven’t convinced you to stay away from Buster Posey at his current ADP, then you need to stop reading SportsJerks and start running for the President of The Buster Posey Fan Club.
Between his inflated average draft position, the depth at the catcher position and his inevitable regression, it’s pretty clear that Buster Posey is not worth taking in the first or second round. Now stop making out in the middle of the hallway at parties and have some respect for yourself. Stay away from Buster Posey.