2016 Fantasy Baseball: All-Bust Team — Hitters
Finding potential sleepers and busts is an obsession for fantasy baseball fans. Sometimes you pick up the fantasy baseball magazine or click on the preseason rankings and find yourself scratching your head. Identifying potential busts (as we are doing here) depends largely on your definition of the word. For some, being a bust means you fall flat on your face. For others it simply means you don’t come close to meeting your preseason expectations.
It is impossible for me to distill expectations out of the equation, so you will see player’s preseason ranking from Yahoo and ESPN accompanying them. The idea is for the busts to be in each publication’s top ten at their position, but that rule will be broken on a couple of players. Just consider those opportunities as too good to pass up.
Catcher: Stephen Vogt (ESPN= 9, Yahoo= 9)
It could be said that Vogt had a breakout year a season ago, but really he had a breakout half. Vogt slashed .287/.374/.498 before the all-star break. He slashed .217/.280/.349 after the all-star break. His career marks of .257/.320/.420 seem to be a midpoint between those two extremes. The difficulty is that 2015 marked his first extended playing time and when you see someone fall off that much the second and third time through the league you really have wonder.
First Base: Freddie Freeman (ESPN= 10, Yahoo= 9)
Freeman should have his first name legally changed to Poor. I think a lot of people will be referring to him as Poor Freddie Freeman. Joey Votto is a close second in this category for the same reason. Fantasy first basemen drive in runs. If you aren’t going to drive in at least 90 runs you need not apply. Freeman may not have the opportunity to do that unless he is traded. There were whispers in the offseason of a deal to Houston and that would have wiped him off this list. Unfortunately for him, that didn’t happen.
Second Basemen: Ian Kinsler (ESPN= 7, Yahoo= 7)
Kinsler is not a bad player. He falls under the under-performing category and even then it is only in the fantasy sense. His stolen bases have gone from 30 in 2011, to 10 a season ago. The home runs have gone from 32 in that same season to 11 a season ago. It has been a steady downhill run in both of those numbers. Without elite power and speed, Kinsler is no longer an elite performer. Still, both of the major publications have him in the upper echelon of second basemen.
Third Basemen: Miguel Sano (ESPN= DH2, Yahoo= 5)
I hate buying players on spec. Sure, Kris Bryant was just about as good as advertised, but for every Bryant there are at least four or five guys that don’t live up to the hype. Sano had a .916 OPS in half a season in Minnesota. Sure, he could repeat that performance over a full season, but past experience tells us he won’t. No one is saying Sano will be bad per se. He probably will hover somewhere in the low 800s for awhile until he adjusts to what the pitchers are doing. They’re pretty good too you know.
Shortstop: Jose Reyes (ESPN= 5, Yahoo= 7)
As we are fond of telling our students, attendance is a big part of the grade. In 2008, Reyes came off of his fourth consecutive season with 153 or more games played. He’s done that once since then. Reyes was arrested on domestic violence charges and there is no telling how many games (if any) he will miss accordingly. He isn’t the only player that could come under the new domestic violence rules umbrella. No one doubts his ability to produce gaudy numbers in Denver, but if he can’t play, he can’t produce those numbers.
Outfield: Ben Revere (ESPN= 35, Yahoo= LF7)
There will be a distinct pattern to these outfield busts and it reflects a personal bias. Stolen bases are great, but we can go a little hog wild in our pursuit of them. Finding players that can steal first base is considerably more important and Revere has not done that consistently. When you look at his last several seasons you find OBPs of .310, .333., .338, .325, and .342. In the current game, that last one might make you a decent leadoff guy, but it’s also difficult to trust career seasons. A .328 career OBP and average of 35 steals per season is nice, but is it really elite?
Outfield: Billy Hamilton (ESPN= 32, Yahoo= CF18)
It’s interesting that ESPN and Yahoo seem to differ so much on his value, but it should be noted that Yahoo’s rankings were tailored to fit a six category league (walks included). Let’s come out and say it: Billy Hamilton just isn’t a very good baseball player. Heck, he’s not even average. Yes, he steals bases. He’s very similar to Vince Coleman in that regard. No one is clamoring for Coleman to go into the Hall of Fame. When you have a career .287 OBP you have significant issues. If he doesn’t figure out how to get on base soon, all the speed in the world won’t save him.
Outfield: Carlos Gonzalez (ESPN=18, Yahoo= RF10)
Again, we see a discrepancy in the two major publications based on the inclusion of walks at Yahoo. It says a lot that the Rockies actively shopped him and traded Corey Dickerson instead. He was nearly impossible to deal even though he had a career high 40 home runs a season ago. There is a lot to like about CarGo, but he still has had only two seasons where he has met expectations. Like we said earlier, attendance is a part of the grade and he has been known to lose 30 to 40 games a season (or more) to nagging injuries. That makes him nearly an annual fixture on the preseason bust list.
Utility: Prince Fielder (ESPN: DH1, Yahoo= 38)
A man who once hit 50 home runs in a season hasn’t reached 30 since 2012. You could argue he hasn’t be an elite offensive player since his last season in Milwaukee (2011). He is signed through 2020 on one of those mega-deals teams tend to regret five minutes after putting ink to paper. Like most sluggers, Fielder isn’t a bad player, but he isn’t the player he was in his prime.