2014 Fantasy Baseball: Disappointments — Centerfielders
We return from a work induced break to continue with the saga of looking at more disappointments from the 2014 season. Of course, this comes on the heels of all of baseball’s awards. Disappointments are an interesting contrast when compared to rookies of the year, Cy Young award winners, and most valuable player awards. Like some other positions, there weren’t very many disappointments in center field. You had to be considered a potential fantasy starter to be considered a disappointment, and there weren’t a lot of those.
We will have to stretch the rules a bit to get in our three disappointments. Fundamentally, this isn’t a big deal because many leagues employ five starting outfielders. In a standard twelve team league, that means that sixty outfielders would end up being starters. In that scenario, we might see as many as twenty center fielders become regulars. Since we have liberally expanded the rules, let’s see what we can find.
Michael Bourn— Cleveland Indians
(.257 AVG, 3 HR, 57 Runs, 28 RBI, 10 SB)
Some things get better with age. Speedy outfielders are not among those. 2014 was Bourn’s age 31 season. A look at classic lead-off hitters shows that they normally lose their speed in their early thirties. The ones that are able to make it are the ones that improvise their games in other ways. They get on base and they score runs. Bourn has never had an OBP higher than .354 and last year it was a paltry .314. He also missed nearly 60 games to injury. When you combine those two factors together you can see what happened to Bourn.
What about 2015?
Bourn led the league in steals three years in a row, but he hasn’t led the league since 2011. It is safe to say he is not the stolen base threat he once was. Without those steals he becomes a very ordinary fantasy player. His career averages are .269/.333/.364. If you combine those with 20 to 30 steals you will get a borderline fantasy regular in leagues that employ five starting outfielders. Otherwise, he isn’t much of a factor these days.
Colby Rasmus— Toronto Blue Jays
(.225 AVG, 18 HR, 45 Runs, 40 RBI, 4 SB)
If Colby Rasmus were a woman he would be called a tease. In 2010, he hit 23 home runs and scored 85 runs. He nearly duplicated that in 2012. Heck, he even hit 22 home runs in 2013 as well. He always seems on the verge of putting it all together and then something happens. In this case, he missed nearly 60 games to injury. Who knows, maybe if he had only missed 30 games he would have hit another 22 or 23 home runs again. Again, no one was looking at Rasmus as a legitimate fantasy regular, but a number of people saw him as a sleeper candidate. It’s time to wake up from the nap.
What about 2015?
Rasmus is an impending free agent, so the possibilities are endless. He can play either corner outfield spot in addition to center field, so a team might sign him if they think they can turn him around. He is capable of hitting 25 home runs and stealing at least 10 bases if he can stay healthy. Who knows, maybe some hitting coach can unlock the secrets that the Cardinals and Blue Jays couldn’t. He also might never unlock the potential that people saw in him. Some fantasy players will take a flyer on him and some might be rewarded.
Curtis Granderson— New York Mets
(.227 AVG, 20 HR, 73 Runs, 66 RBI, 8 SB)
Again, we are looking towards the bottom of the starting outfield combination, but Granderson was coming off of back to back 40 home run seasons in 2011 and 2012. He suffered from a number of injuries in 2013, but some gambled on him returning to his high home run ways. He got off to a horrible start in 2014, but he was actually pretty decent between April and August. In May, June, and July he hit 14 home runs. In fact, if you only removed April and August you would still see 18 home runs and an average well over .250.
What about 2015?
The Mets have employed a new hitting coach. Who knows, maybe he will unlock the key that will bring Granderson back into the guy he was in Detroit. No, he won’t steal bases again, but if he hits between 25 and 30 home runs then he will still be a guy that fantasy players can plug into the starting lineup. With his switch to right field, he will be eligible in two outfield slots, so it makes it that much easier to draft him and use him. I’d be more comfortable betting on Granderson than I would on Rasmus or Bourn.