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January 28, 2005

ESPN Column

Scoping ESPN’s Mock Draft

ALFONSO SORIANO (1st round / 5th overall): Soriano struggled throughout the season despite moving to a hitter’s park, then missed the last two weeks with a muscle pull. Still, he led all second basemen in homers, was second in RBI, sixth in steals, and tenth in average and runs scored. Soriano ought to perform better this year, probably not as well as his Yankee heyday, but well enough to return to elite status among second basemen. Positional scarcity is sometimes overrated, but in this case, I would pick Soriano over someone like Carlos Beltran. The combination of Soriano and the tenth-best outfielder is likely to perform better than Carlos Beltran plus the tenth-best second baseman. Note that the walk-averse Soriano takes a value hit in sabermetric leagues.

MARK TEIXEIRA (3RD / 15TH): Until most Ranger batters, Teixeira only improved as the season progressed, smacking 20 homers and driving in 64 in the 75 games after the All-Star break. He doesn’t turn 25 until the first week of the season ends. A 40-homer, 120-RBI season is in his sights. MICHAEL YOUNG (5th / 49th): Unlike with Teixeira, I believe Young is about as good as he’s going to get. Even with some decline, he’ll rank among the best at a position with only one elite fantasy player remaining, Mr. Miguel Tejada.

FRANCISCO CORDERO (6th / 57th): Not an elite closer, but very solid. Expect somewhere between his very good 2003 and his fantastic 2004, meaning 40 saves, 80 strikeouts and an ERA in the mid to upper twos. Division-mate Francisco Rodriguez was chosen 71st in the ESPN mock draft. Given the choice, I’d take Rodriguez, who probably will offer a slightly better WHIP and more strikeouts. HANK BLALOCK: (6th / 58th): Blalock slumped badly in the second half (.240/.338/.406) but still managed a near-elite fantasy season. He, Aramis Ramirez and Eric Chavez should finish pretty close in value. I’d rather have Blalock in the sixth round than Chavez in the fourth.

RICHARD HIDALGO (16TH / 158TH): A risky pick in a round full of them. Hidalgo’s stats have caromed wildly from year to year; over the last six years, he’s batted above .300 twice and below .240 three times. I think something similar to his 2003 campaign is a reasonable expectation, perhaps with a few more homers but a lower average and fewer steals. I’d pick him over fellow 16th-rounders Sean Burroughs and Jacque Jones in a heartbeat. KEVIN MENCH (24th / 231st): On the other hand, I’d take Mench in the 24th over Hidalgo in the 16th. Without a legitimate DH on the roster (David Dellucci?), Texas practically has to play Mench every day. He might equal or surpass Hidalgo’s output.

Among the undrafted hitters, none stands out. OF LAYNCE NIX certainly has the potential to become a worthwhile fantasy hitter, but I wouldn’t risk a draft pick in any mixed league with twelve or fewer teams. Catcher ROD BARAJAS clobbered the ball in May and June, after which he resumed his woefulness. I’m concerned about his value even in AL-only leagues. Having lost the Delgado sweepstakes, Texas probably will offer a DH platoon of DAVID DELLUCCI and GREG COLBRUNN, about which I have nothing to say. No one selected any starting pitchers from Texas, for reasons that should be obvious. Eric Karabell touted KENNY ROGERS as a source of wins, but I’m skeptical. Rogers is 40, his other stats are mediocre, and wins are a fickle thing, being so dependent on run support.

Posted by Lucas at January 28, 2005 07:40 PM