Riskiest early-round draft picks 

February, 28, 2013
There are several risky picks in the early rounds of 2013 fantasy baseball drafts, but when it comes to Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, the true risky part is the health. The performance, I believe, is not. I mean, none of these guys will pass off as Cal Ripken Jr. in terms of durability, but each of these players has convinced fantasy owners they are consistent statistical providers who can be relied upon as fantasy stalwarts.

Then there's Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. While he's not a top-10 overall pick -- not like last year! -- he's still highly regarded enough to be a top-50 option, and thus someone I'd call a rather substantial risk in the early rounds. Not only can we hardly be assured he'll play most of the games -- he missed most of 2010 and half of last season -- but he delivered subpar stats in the 2012 games he did participate in. Oh sure, his 2011 season was extraordinary and surprising, certainly in terms of power output and perhaps for the 158 games played as well. Bottom line: If you want risk and even the proverbial risk-versus-reward option, this is it.

Each season I discuss the early-round draft gambles and surely Tulowitzki, Longoria and Bautista fit the mold, as do, to various degrees, Matt Kemp, Buster Posey, Justin Upton and Hanley Ramirez, I suppose. Heck, Mike Trout as a top-three overall pick is, in essence, a bit perilous, because he's all of 21 years old, and with the weight he added this offseason, he now doubles the size of Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon (OK, maybe not quite). Point is, there are hitter risks out there in the first five or six rounds, and to a lesser degree the pitchers, starting with Stephen Strasburg and a bit later in drafts with Roy Halladay, Chris Sale, CC Sabathia and others, and rarely is there a sure thing. However, in most cases, we cannot predict injury. With most top players we can, for the most part, predict statistical impact if they're healthy.