We know what is right in front of our face. Follow me here on another one of my inane digressions. You have a perfectly lovely lover that you call your better half. She's away on business for a 10 days. You go out, a bit lonely on day eight, have three too many Long Island's, and find yourself hitting on the gal sitting right next to you. Hopefully you will stop short of ruining your life, there's no chance the blondie at the bar has more to offer than your special gal who will be back from her trip in a few days yearning to hold you close, but the temptation is inexorably pulling you toward a bad decision, right? Let me turn this toward discussion to the wold of baseball.
We focus far too much on what we see, or more accurately, what we have seen recently. Why does 2013 wipe out 2012? Better yet, why does an emergence in 2013 mean a guy with one year of elite production is now thought of, by everyone, as elite? Why does a guy who struggled in 2013, after years of success, all of a sudden stink? In both cases it is possible that the common thought on the players is accurate, we really have to go on a case by case basis, but I believe that the majority of folks may be missing the boat, only looking at 2013, thinking that tells them everything Folks that take that line of thoughts might be missing out on a few vital keys to success in 2014. Let's take some examples to heart.
Paul Goldschmidt is being taking in the top-5 in every draft out there, most of the time going in the top-4 and quiet frequently going 3rd overall behind Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera. Goldschmidt was spectacular last season hitting .302 with 36 homers, 125 RBIs, 103 runs and 15 steals. I get the love. Still, the guy had 145 Ks and over his first 670 big league at-bats hit .278 with a .487 SLG. Are you really sure, based off 602 at-bats in 2013, that he's now a .302 hitter with a .551 SLG? Everyone is sure he is, even though we're talking about one season. I know he was a huge prospect who had all that success in the minors, but you're willing to bet the farm on a full repeat, which is what is needed if you're taking him in the top-5? Some cautionary thoughts. (1) Goldschmidt had a 79.4 percent contact rate in '13. The league average was 0.79. (2) He owns a .340 career BABIP and posted a mark of .343 in 2013, but that's a darn high rate that could slip a bit. If it does, he doesn't hit .300. (3) His 22.5 percent HR/F rate last year was huge (5th best in baseball). If things regress to his 18.9 percent career mark he will mostly likely finish with less than 35 homers. (4) So much of Paul's value depends on his work on the base paths. Paul is one of three men who have stolen 15 bases in back-to-back seasons, as a first baseman, in the 21st century. No first sacker has done it three straight years in that time. Don't forget that Goldschmidt was only successful on 68 percent of his attempts last season, a terrible rate. There's enough uncertainty here that people shouldn't blindly be listing him as top-4 option without giving it a second thought.
Chris Davis? I already wrote thousands of words on him that can be found in the 2014 Draft Guide. A sneak peak at what can be read there follows. It's asinine to think he will repeat his effort from last season yet he's going in the first round in nearly every draft. Why? It's because of his massive 2013 and the mistaken assumption that he will repeat that effort in 2014. I don't want to make it seem like I only help folks that purchase the fantastical 200 page Draft Guide, so a couple of key points. (1) In baseball history how many men have hit .285 with 195 Ks in a season? Davis is the only one. Ever. (2) From 2008-12 he averaged 26 homers per 150 games. In 2013 he hit 53 homers in 160 games. He basically doubled his career rate. (2) Davis hit 33 homers overall in 515 at-bats in 2012. In 2013 he hit 40 homers in 367 at-bats against righties. For more get The Guide and read the article, but let me just say this; it's crazy bonkers time to blindly call out Davis' name in the first round without giving serious consideration to the potential pitfalls of that decision.