Aaron Gleeman

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The Stay-Away List

Friday, March 26, 2010

I've spent the past four columns going over my favorite sleepers among AL-only hitters, NL-only hitters, AL-only pitchers, and NL-only pitchers, so let's switch gears now and look at players to stay away from if you have a draft this weekend.

Some of these players are simply being overrated based on the Average Draft Position (ADP) data found in our Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, some are due to regress following career-years, and some just aren't very good, but in all cases I'd advise letting someone else take the plunge with them for 2010.

David Aardsma (RP, Mariners) - Finally figuring out a way to harness his dominant raw stuff at age 27 led to 38 saves with a 2.52 ERA and .190 opponents' batting average, but a repeat seems unlikely. Aardsma had a 5.29 ERA with 90 walks in 145 innings prior to 2009 and the presence of potential closer Brandon League could give him a shorter leash if Seattle's great outfield defense can't track down as many fly balls behind him.

Garrett Atkins (1B/3B, Orioles) - Until last year's complete collapse Coors Field helped mask Atkins' decline, making it possible for him to maintain solid raw stats despite awful production in normal altitude. He batted a combined .233 with a measly .696 OPS on the road during the past three years, and in addition to no longer having Coors Field on his side Atkins is switching to the tougher league and a difficult AL East schedule.

Jason Bartlett (SS, Rays) - Bartlett is being drafted as a top-100 player after hitting .320 with an .879 OPS and 14 homers in 137 games last season, which is going to make for a lot of disappointed owners when the 30-year-old reverts back to the guy who hit .276 with a .699 OPS and grand total of 11 homers in 449 games coming into 2009. His speed still has plenty of value, but you can find that in a shortstop five rounds later.

Rajai Davis (OF, Athletics) - Davis hit .305 and swiped 41 bases in 2009 despite not drawing regular starts until June, so projecting those numbers out to a full season have him getting drafted as a top-40 outfielder and top-150 player overall. The problem with that is two-fold, because Davis' track record suggests he's more likely to hit .275 than .305 and the A's have too many young outfield options to give him 150 starts.

Scott Feldman (SP, Rangers) - This year's best example of why focusing on win totals can be a recipe for disaster. Feldman went 17-8 last season, but that had more to do with good fortune and good run support than good pitching. He came into 2009 with a 4.97 career ERA, even last year's mark of 4.09 certainly didn't match his record, and his 113/65 K/BB ratio with a neutral ground-ball rate makes regression almost certain.

Brian Fuentes (RP, Angels) - Fuentes led baseball with 48 saves last season, but that was largely due to opportunity as he blew seven saves, posted a career-low strikeout rate, and had more walks than strikeouts in the second half while turning 34 years old. Fernando Rodney will lurk in the background all season, especially since the Angels can avoid bringing Fuentes back for $9 million in 2011 if he finishes fewer than 55 games.

J.A. Happ (SP, Phillies) - Happ was great in whichever role the Phillies had him fill as a rookie, going 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA in 23 starts and a dozen relief outings. However, his 119/56 K/BB ratio in 166 innings was mediocre, his fly-ball rate makes him likely to serve up more homers in 2010, and both his league-leading rate of stranding runners on base and fourth-ranked batting average on balls in play were unsustainably excellent.

Garrett Jones (1B/OF, Pirates) - Jones had a great half-season as a rookie, but there was a reason why he didn't get an extended chance in the big leagues until age 28 and nothing in his extensive minor-league track record suggests a repeat is likely. Jones has always had 25-homer pop, but hit just .265 with a mediocre .784 OPS and terrible K/BB ratios in over 2,400 plate appearances at Triple-A.

Jason Marquis (SP, Nationals) - Marquis' remarkable streak of being on a playoff team in each of his first 10 seasons will come to an end after signing with the Nationals. He had a .541 winning percentage with an average of 13.3 wins per year from 2004-2009 despite a sub par 4.49 ERA during that time, but cheap victories won't be so easy to come by in Washington while his minuscule strikeout rate and awful WHIP will remain.

Casey McGehee (3B, Brewers) - Mat Gamel's injury makes it unlikely that McGehee will lose his starting job any time soon, but he's just as unlikely to have another season like his out-of-nowhere rookie campaign. McGehee hit .301 with 16 homers and an .859 OPS in 394 plate appearances for the Brewers, but keep in mind that he's already 27 years old and hit just .282 with a .745 OPS in 1,153 plate appearances at Triple-A.

For more analysis of potential busts and sleepers, plus complete profiles, projections, and dollar values for nearly 1,000 players, get the Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide.

Aaron Gleeman is Rotoworld's senior baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. Also find him at AaronGleeman.com and on Twitter.
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