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Players To Avoid: AL Central

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

So far we’ve identified players in the National League EastWest and Central and American League East divisions that you should shy away from in fantasy baseball drafts for the 2013 season. Next up: the AL Central ...


You can find projections for all of the players below in the new 2013 Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide. And while you're at it, sign up for a free fantasy baseball league with our partners at Yahoo! Sports.



Jake Peavy, SP, White Sox


From 2009-2011, the most starts Peavy made in a season was 18. He also put up pedestrian ERAs of 4.63 and 4.92 in 2010 and 2011, respectively, in his first two “full” seasons with the White Sox. For these reasons, he was largely an afterthought in fantasy drafts last spring. Yet, the former National League Cy Young winner pulled a rabbit out of his hat in 2012, posting a 3.37 ERA while accumulating 219 innings – a total just 4 1/3 frames shy of his career high. Not coincidentally, it also happened to be his walk year, and he earned a new two-year, $29 million deal following his bounce-back season. Expecting a repeat from the 31-year-old would be awfully dangerous, as he’s far from a guarantee to make 20 starts, let alone another 30.


Torii Hunter, OF, Tigers


Hunter’s 2012 season was the first time over a full season – other than his rookie year -- that the veteran outfielder failed to reach the 20-homer plateau, and he fell well short with just 16 bombs. Yet, Hunter managed to keep his fantasy value afloat by batting .313, the first time in the 37-year-old’s career that he hit over .300. However, Hunter’s BABIP was an unsustainable .389 -- a good 82 points above his career mark – and he also failed to reach double-digit steals for the third straight season. Hunter’s average is a good bet to fall back around his career mark (.277), and if his power continues to fade, there’s just not much appeal here from a fantasy perspective.


Paul Konerko, 1B, White Sox


Konerko got off to a roaring start last season, batting .381 with 11 dingers over the first two months. But the veteran first baseman then began having more left wrist problems in June, undergoing a minor procedure for the ailment, and then batted just .258 with 15 bombs the rest of the way. Konerko had the wrist operated on again in October, and although he’s been given a clean bill of health, the malady has to be a bit of concern heading into 2013. Konerko had three good-but-not-great years from 2007-09 before rebounding to post big numbers in 2010 and 2011, so there is some danger in again writing him off too soon. The six-time All-Star will turn 37 next week, though, and injury is a bigger concern at this point. His numbers probably won’t fall off the cliff, but there’s a good chance they’ll continue to trend in the wrong direction.


Scott Diamond, SP, Twins


Diamond didn’t make his first start with the Twins last year until over a month into the season, but by the end of the campaign, he was easily the club’s most reliable starter, posting a 3.54 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over 27 outings. The left-hander’s recipe for success is simple: he throws strikes (1.6 BB/9 in 2012) and he gets ground balls (2.09 GB/FB ratio). The problem is that Diamond rarely gets swings and misses (4.7 K/9), so his margin for error is small. And, while the southpaw has always had good control, his walk rate in the minors was never close to as good as last year’s mark. There’s also the fact that Diamond is recovering from surgery to remove a bone chip from his elbow, something that could keep him from being ready on Opening Day. That’s too many question marks for me, especially for a guy whose upside is limited even if everything falls into place.


Alex Avila, C, Tigers


Avila looked well on his way to becoming one of the game’s top catchers after batting .295/.389/.506 with 19 homers in 2011 during his fantastic first full season. The 26-year-old dealt with patellar tendinitis in both knees down the stretch that year, though, managing just three singles in 41 at-bats during the playoffs. He then stumbled to a .243/.352/.384 line last season, watching his home run total fall to nine and his ability against left-handed pitching completely evaporate. Avila received platelet-rich plasma injections shortly after last year’s World Series ended, and he thinks that will help his knees stay healthy in 2013. Perhaps it will to a certain degree, but Avila is going to take a beating again with Victor Martinez not ready to lighten the load behind the plate.


Chris Perez, RP, Indians


Perez proved last season that his drop in strikeouts the year prior was an aberration, as the Indians’ closer whiffed over a batter per inning in 2012. He also slammed the door on 39-of-43 save opportunities, good for an impressive 91 percent conversion rate. However, Perez was again prone to the occasional blow-up appearance, which resulted in a 3.59 ERA – his worst since he became a closer. But, while Perez’s skill set clearly falls short of that of a top-tier closer, the bigger worry might become his situation. Perez will make $7.3 million in 2013 before hitting arbitration for a final time over the winter. The Indians have shown no eagerness to extend him, which isn’t surprising given his sometimes inconsistent performance and the shots that he’s taken at both the front office and fan base. Perez’s name is often involved in trade speculation, and we could see the Tribe finally move him at the deadline if they’re out of contention (which is a distinct possibility in a division with the heavy favorite Tigers, the White Sox and the improved Royals). A deal could result in him going from second-tier closer to setup man.


Alcides Escobar, SS, Royals


The Royals love what Escobar gives them with the glove, as well as his speed and durability. And, while his power is still well below average, he’s even taken some small strides in that area, too. However, at least in fantasy terms, the 26-year-old is still a one-trick pony. Escobar batted .293 in 2012, but he was helped out immensely by a .344 BABIP. As a guy that rarely drives the ball with authority, he’s always going to be dependent on BABIP luck to prop up his average. And, as a singles hitter who is allergic to walks (he drew just 27 in 648 plate appearances last season), Escobar’s runs totals also leave something to be desired. Another run at 30 steals should be attainable, but he’s not going to give you anything else.

Rotoworld's fantasy preview: Catchers

Kay Adams (@heykayadams) and D.J. Short (@djshort) examine some catchers to target and avoid in fantasy drafts.

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Ryan Boyer is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter.
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