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Last year was a crazy year for rookies in baseball. A plethora of youngsters made the jump to the big leagues and performed well... almost too well. Hunter Pence, Ryan Braun, Dustin Pedroia, Joba Chamberlain, Yovani Gallardo, and Troy Tulowitzki all had impressive rookie campaigns. And so this year, not surprisingly, people are drafting rookies way too early. Let them draft their Evan Longorias (no relation to Eva), Jacoby Ellsbury's, and Clay "Itchy" Buchholz because last year was simply fluky.
I'm not saying that the rookies of last year (Pence, Braun, etc.) had fluky seasons, as I am expecting similar production from many of them; however I am saying that the amount of first-timers that proved valuable last year was unusually high, and this year's rookies won't compare. I'm also not saying avoid rookies at all costs because a few this year most likely will put up valuable numbers. If Evan Longoria falls to you in the 19th round, scoop him up, but don't take him in the 12th and expect him to be your primary 3rd baseman. It's simply too risky. Yes the reward is there, but I don't like finishing either last or first in every league I'm in. It also won't be a 50/50 first to last split, it will be more of a 92/8.
I'm sure everyone has heard the adage: a hitter's prime starts when he hits that 26/27 age mark, or has 3 years experience. Consider it good advice to draft players hitting their prime. The reward is still there and the floor isn't as low, or as in some rookie's cases, nonexistent.
Here's a list of players I feel are primed to breakout:
Now here's some rookies I wouldn't take until very late:
Now, of course, the fun part about avoiding rookies is that after they have disapointing rookie seasons and decent sophmore ones, you get to draft them late for their breakout third season when your league-mates have already forgotten them and moved onto next year's class of rookies.
Lastly, if you are in a keeper league, ignore everything in this post.
P.S. I also publish my articles on my blog The Baseball Aspect