Separating studs from duds on draft day is a lot like picking winning horses. It often comes down to two parts pedigree and one part luck. Every now and then a horse comes out of nowhere to surprise the field. Heck, a guy named Brady Anderson hit 50 home runs one year for the Orioles. That’s time to just count your lucky stars. The right approach from year to year, however, will find you consistently bringing home more of the stud variety while leaving the duds to your competition!
Let’s look at three players I think may be underrated on draft day when the smoke clears.
#1 Coco Crisp – Oakland Athletics
All Coco Crisp did in 2013 at the age of 33 was rip off his first 20/20 season and his best overall season since 2005. He eased it across the finish line with a .779 OPS, smacking 22 HR, 21 steals and nearly 100 runs (93).
While he lost 18 stolen bases his overall numbers improved across the board elsewhere. The issue with Crisp is his ability to stay healthy. He’s appeared in 130 games only twice in the last six seasons, playing in 131 games in 2013. The fact that’s he’s 34 this year isn’t helping that situation, but its also the reason that he’s likely to be had for less than he’s really worth.
In 2014 I think numbers along the lines of .270, 15 HR, 65 RBI and 20 SBs’s are totally achievable. Not bad for your fourth or even fifth outfielder which is where I think Crisp can likely be had in a lot of leagues. He’s just not a sexy pick. If you’re playing in a league that counts Runs there’s even more to like on an A’s team that’s likely to be the favorite to win the AL West at the start of the season.
#2 Jason Castro – Houston Astros
Castro has the pedigree, having been selected with the 10th overall pick in the 2008 draft. Yet he came out of virtually nowhere in 2013 because of the fact that he missed the entire 2011 season due to a knee injury. In just 120 games, he put up a .276/18 HR/56 RBI line with an OPS of .835 on an absolutely horrendous baseball club in Houston. Castro will turn 27 in June and is entering his peak years offensively. Speed is the only part of his game that’s lacking offensively (2 SB’s).
You could alternately look at Jason Castro and make the argument that he’ll be overrated in the draft, but I would disagree with that assessment in general. Someone’s always willing to overpay for any player, but Castro has only played in 120 games in the majors on a developing club.
If he can stay healthy, Castro has the talent and the opportunity to put together an even bigger season in 2014 playing on a club that will cause him to be overlooked and underrated by many an owner. He’s still not a household name, but could definitely become one with another big season. Strike now.
#3 Jed Lowrie – Oakland Athletics
Most people won’t realize Lowrie was also a 1st round pick by the Red Sox in 2005. At the start of the 2013 season, it was unclear how consistently Lowrie was going to be trotting out to shortstop.
Lowrie produced a .290/15 HR/75 RBI slash line in 2013 putting together a nicely solid season. He’s 29, so you’re likely looking at peak numbers. But we’re talking shortstop in the AL here. Lowrie is wearing that cloaking device recent A’s teams have sported known as “poor offensive ballclub“. Reality may differ at this point, but lets not argue with our fellow owners. Josh Donaldson is the one everyone’s raving about here; and Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick both figure to be better than they were in 2013.
Lowrie will be the one that get’s overlooked by many an owner on this ballclub on draft day. If he’s healthy in the spring you may be able to steal him late when position scarcity makes him an even bigger find in the middle rounds in your draft.