In the past couple of weeks here, I talked to you a bit how BABIP and xBABIP can help identify lucky hitters and particularly how xAVG is a meaningful way of evaluating batting averages. In addition, I previously identified potential comeback players for 2012 which inevitably leads to the flip side of that coin where we look at potentially overvalued players for 2012 that you may want to take caution with. I present that flip side to you here.
If you want to look at a more complete listing of xAVG’s from 2011 to make your own judgments, you can view the spreadsheet I created that lists them all out by clicking here. While this post will highlight some of the bigger differences in xAVG and actual AVG, some players are excluded because their batting average is merely projected to drop from the range of “excellent” to “great” so you shouldn’t steer completely clear of them. Some examples are Adrian Gonzalez (.338 AVG to .300 xAVG), Jose Reyes (.337 AVG to .305 xAVG) and Miguel Cabrera (.344 AVG to .322 xAVG). The following players here are ones that seem to have inflated draft status simply due to their inconsistently high AVG from last year.
In the past, Hunter Pence has typically been a nice option for a 3rd outfielder that you could find in the 7th or 8th round of drafts. It seemed like a lock for him to hit 25 HR with 10+ SB and a .280 AVG. Last year, he got traded to the Phillies and responded with a plump .314 AVG on the season which added a ton of previously unseen value to his fantasy status. As a result, he now has an ADP of 44.7 according to MockDraftCentral which makes him a 4th round pick and potential 1st or 2nd outfielder for teams. In both 2009 and 2010, he hit .282 but them jumped up 32 points last year. However, his xAVG last year was actually .281 so it seems very plausible that he should return to that .280 range in 2012. He’s still a fine player but not a 4th round draft pick by any means.
Alex Avila burst onto the scene with good overall numbers in his first full year of catcher duties. He had decent power numbers, decent RBI totals and a very good .295 AVG. Out of the catcher position, this is very valuable and has resulted in him being drafted in the 9th or 10th round of 12 team leagues. Is he a potential Joe Mauer in the making perhaps? Nay, my friends. Looking at the xAVG, it seems that he’s more likely to hit around .269 (which makes more sense considering his past history). That makes him a much more ordinary player that is really no different than a catcher you can find at the end of your drafts.
Justin Upton has progressed nicely thus far in his young career. Last year, he took a huge leap forward with a 30 HR, 20 SB and 100 R season to go along with a .289 AVG. While there are many reasons to be excited about Upton’s future considering he gave you great production in all five categories last year, there is one cause for concern as his xAVG was .267 last year which would be below league average and something that would hurt your team. Considering he has a first-round price tag this year, that may be reason to pass on him for a more proven commodity.
In 221 career minor league games, Jemile Weeks hit .286 with 41 SB’s. In his 97 MLB games last year, he hit .303 with 22 SB’s which makes him a hot commodity for this year as owners think they be able to grab a .300 hitter in the middle rounds who can steal 40+ SB’s. In this case, his xAVG of .288 seems to mirror his minor league AVG. That still is a decent average if he can get a boatload of stolen bases to go along with it. However, potential owners should take into account that he only had a 66% success rate last year for his stolen base attempts which is poor. If he’s going to be a reliable speedster, he’ll need to improve that. These red flags might him a risky pick even for someone being taken in the 13th round or so at the moment.
For the first time since 2008, Alex Gordon stayed healthy for a full season and it resulted in him delivering above average production in all five roto categories (.303 AVG, 23 HR, 101 R, 87 RBI, 17 SB). For someone who came into 2011 with a .244 career AVG, the .303 AVG already seems suspicious and his .284 xAVG backs up that suspicion. While it is still a good AVG, it makes him a little bit more normal and 12 less hits likely means a bit lower RBI and Run totals. In the 6th round of drafts, I would still feel decent about him if he was still eligible at 3B in any leagues for whatever reason. But as a starting OF, it’s a bit riskier to use that early of a pick on him given his injury history as well.
Jose Bautista has become a reliable source for HR’s out of the blue in recent years but he added a new dimension to his fantasy game by hitting .302 last year. Going into 2011, he was a .244 career hitter which was a big negative for any potential Bautsita owners. Did he suddenly take a dramatic shift that catapulted his AVG by 60 points much like his HR totals suddenly jumped by 40 from one year to the next? Well, kinda. His xAVG says he should have hit closer to .286 last year which is a still a big jump and definitely makes him a more valuable hitter. But, it shifts him from having four very positive roto categories to three positive categories, one average category and one slightly negative category. It’s still very, very good but is it worthy of the 4th overall pick at a position such as OF? It’s a tough call and should be a potential risk factor to be aware of for drafters with early picks this year.