- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
Once upon a time ... OK, so it was about a year ago, the starting third basemen for the New York baseball teams were very much in demand. I know, it sounds crazy today, as the Mets' David Wright continues to drop in ESPN average live drafts to the point he might actually end up all the way down in Alex Rodriguez territory, outside the top 50. Let's just say this is a territory that neither of these players is used to, and it's a bit stunning in fantasy circles as well.
The reasons to avoid Wright and Rodriguez in 2012, as opposed to previous seasons, are relatively obvious. Wright comes off a season in which he played in only 102 games and hit a career-worst .254. Now 29 years old, he's dealing with yet another injury, and to some he's a shadow of his former self. I tried to trade him in a league over the weekend and was told, by a Mets fan, no less, that Wright is criminally overrated. Well, perhaps he is. I originally had Wright as a late-second-rounder, but his recent oblique injury ruined that plan.
Currently Wright is a fourth-rounder in ESPN drafts, but pretty soon he'll be passed by fellow third basemen Pablo Sandoval and Ryan Zimmerman. Sheesh, at some point, maybe even Alberto Callaspo and Jimmy Paredes will catch him. Yeah, there seems to be a bit too much Wright hate for my taste, which I don't understand. The fact that Wright hit .283 with 29 home runs, 103 RBIs and 19 stolen bases as recently as 2010 still seems repeatable to me. It wasn't that long ago! Even last season, Wright still hit 14 home runs and stole 13 bases; the only other third base-eligible player to do so was the Arizona Diamondbacks' Ryan Roberts.
Rodriguez is "older," and you know how most fantasy owners feel about those people. They avoid those players in drafts. Rodriguez isn't the most durable fellow anymore, but like Wright, I think the dislike is a bit misplaced. As bad as Rodriguez was last season -- he was hurt, too -- he still hit .276 with a power pace not far from 30 home runs and 100 RBIs. In 2010, he hit .270 with 30 homers and 125 RBIs in 137 games. He's a far cry from the guy who used to go first overall in fantasy drafts, but he's the same guy who will eventually hit the most home runs in big league history. He remains a 30-homer guy, and he's sitting there late in the sixth round.
Anyway, I asked awesome ESPN Fantasy engineer Mike Polikoff to look back at Wright and A-Rod's preseason Average Draft Picks (ADP) over the past six years, just to show how far they have fallen. Here are the results:
David Wright, Alex Rodriguez ADPs: 2007-12
The Average Draft Pick (ADP) of Wright and Rodriguez, according to ESPN live draft results. Note that A-Rod (hip surgery) was expected to miss the start of the 2009 season (and did), explaining the low ADP that year.
* The 2012 ADP is as of March 19.
Put simply, we're in uncharted territory for the New York third basemen. Rodriguez was arguably fantasy's top player from the 1996 to 2008 time span, always a top pick. Wright hit .306 with 27 home runs, 102 RBIs and 17 stolen bases in his first full season of 2005 and was a second-rounder the next spring. In 2008, they were two of the first three picks, with Hanley Ramirez sandwiched in between. And now their combined ADP is closing in on 100.
We shouldn't draft Wright or A-Rod better than he deserves based on previous accomplishments, but since I'm not ruling out a return to at least 2010 levels of competence -- I mean, this isn't like Grady Sizemore, who last had a good season way back in 2008, or Barry Zito -- I think both third basemen are going at a nice discount. Some of this is because of age, injury or a combination of factors, but I think people just generally don't like Rodriguez and Wright anymore, and that's generally a bad way to select a fantasy team.
In my personal rankings, Wright has slipped into the later stages of the third round, while I've moved A-Rod up a bit (from my last update) into the low 50s. I'm still more likely to end up with Wright than Rodriguez, and I'm fine with that.
Meanwhile, now armed with six seasons of cool ADP information, I checked on a few others to find trends that I found interesting. Here are just a few (2012 ADPs are as of March 19):
Remember back in 2008, when an elbow injury scared potential Pujols owners? How silly!