Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The other day I was checking out the early baseball ADP (average draft position) numbers for 2014 and I was surprised to see Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt at No. 3 behind Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera.
Don't get me wrong, it's not that Goldschmidt isn't a great hitter, coming off an excellent season, but it just seems too high for his production level.
In 2013, the Arizona first baseman batted .302 with 36 home runs, 125 RBI, 103 runs, 15 steals and a .952 OPS.
All very nice numbers indeed, but as a first baseman, is it that much different (read better) than the production one would receive from Chris Davis (.286, 53 HR, 138 RBI, 103 runs, 1.004 OPS) or Edwin Encarnacion (.272, 36 HR, 104 RBI, 90 runs, .904 OPS). Or for that matter Prince Fielder, Mark Trumbo, Joey Votto or Freddie Freeman?
The problem is not the player, but the position he plays.
I've always been a believer in choosing the player with the largest variance from the next-best player available. And at first base, there are simply too many good hitters.
Wouldn't second baseman Robinson Cano be a better option? Or shortstop Troy Tulowitzki? How about left-hander Clayton Kershaw?
Cano's production at second base has been far and away the best for the past few years, probably since Chase Utley began to show his age after the 2009 season.
Over the past five years, an average season for the newly acquired Mariners' star has been .314, 99 runs, 28 HR, 102 RBI and an .899 OPS. That type of production puts him well ahead of Jason Kipnis, Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler.
At shortstop, there are only two star-quality players to choose early on in a draft - Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez. Both are head and shoulders above the rest ... when healthy. The injury issue, however, should be enough to keep you away from either player in the first round, let alone at No. 3 overall.
Which brings us to the amazing Kershaw. He brings everything to the table - ability, durability and consistently excellent performances. He's led the league in ERA and WHIP for the last three seasons, won two strikeout titles and two NL Cy Young awards over the span.
That should be enough, but it doesn't stop there. He's started 30 or more games for five consecutive seasons, he's never had a losing record, owns a 3- to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and has thrown at least 200 innings for the past four seasons.
Yu Darvish, Adam Wainwright and Felix Hernandez are outstanding pitchers, but none brings the entire package to the table like Kershaw.
For my money, both Cano and Kershaw are better options at No. 3 than Goldschmidt.