2012 Fantasy Baseball: How Reliable is Blue Jays' Brett Lawrie?

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Let's talk about Brett Lawrie. Let's talk about his OBP. Let's talk about all the home runs and the wOBA that may be. Let's talk abooouuut Brett. Let's talk about Brett. Boom, totally current Salt n' Pepa “Let's Talk About Sex” reference. So culturally relevant in 2012, tapping right into the zeitgeist. Down with AIDS right? How many pairs of Hammer pants do you own? Is it 20? I bet it is! Squash the beef.

Brett Lawrie though, how about him? Everyone's favorite tattooed dinger-bringer is the darling of the fantasy baseball world in 2012. Currently sporting an ADP of 53 on, even though he has a total of 171 major league plate appearances and will play the 2012 season at 22 years old. Seems like a reach for a guy with very little track record, no? I think it is.

The 171 PA were great, Lawrie cranked 9 HR, stole 7 bases, scored 26 runs and knocked in 25 RBI, with a .293/.373/.580 line. He had a .413 wOBA and a 17% HR/FB and 44.9% FB%.  Unfortunately the small sample size alarm just woke up your neighbors, it was ringing so loud. 171 PA is not a big enough sample size to have much predictive value going forward. It's like catching the 10 minutes of “Love and Other Drugs” in which Anne Hathaway is topless and buying the DVD, not realizing that movie is ass. 

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Brett Lawrie isn't ass. In 2010, then playing for the Brewers AA affiliate, he hit .285/.346/.449 with a .361 wOBA, 8 HR, 90 R, 63 RBI and 30 SB in 554 PA. In 2011, before the Blue Jays brought him up, he hit .353/.415/.661 with a .460 wOBA, 18 HR, 64 R, 61 RBI and 13 SB in 292 PA. Projections are good too. Fangraphs says .285/.357/.507 with 24 HR, 97 R, 102 RBI and 23 SB in 607 PA. Bill James says .284/.337/.495 with 22 HR, 92 R, 75 RBI and 30 SB in 628 PA.

The lack of a significant track record, tempers my enthusiasm for those projections. You're buying at 53, middle of round 4 in a 12 team draft, based mainly on 171 PA. And that's assuming nobody else in your draft has eyes for Brett and jumps on him even earlier. In a non-keeper scenario that's a ton of risk to assume, at the top of the draft, where you are looking for steady production.

With Lawrie it's all about how much risk you are willing to take on. The upside is tremendous, especially considering the 23 or 30 SB projections, which would put Lawrie easily at the top of the 3B steals list, to go along with all that projected power. It's only projection though and all on the shoulders of a 22 year old playing his first full season in the major leagues. I'd prefer to invest in a known commodity that early in a draft.

Written by Ryan Coombs exclusively for Follow Ryan on Twitter @RMCoombs

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