Busts – Bats

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Billy Hamilton - Bust

Okay, let’s be clear about what a bust is before we enrage all those Mariners’ and Marlins’ fans who have renewed hope for their respective teams. A bust is a player who will perform noticeably worse than his Average Draft Position. This does not necessarily mean recent acquisitions are poor moves for each club, but that each player may not perform as well as they did last season for any number of reasons.

In the Fantasy world we are constantly looking for value in underrated players, but we tend to ignore the equally important overvalued players. Here are Caveball’s overvalued position players for the upcoming season – Our Top 10 Bat Busts for 2015:

1. Nelson Cruz (OF) – After he averaged 29 HR in his last 4 years with New York, Robinson Cano had half that number (14) with Seattle last year after signing a mega-contract. Adrian Beltre spent his prime years (age 26-30) with the Mariners, but averaged just 20 HRs over those 5 years . The year before he was traded to the Mariners he had 48. In the 4 years after the trade Beltre averaged 31 HR. Cruz, who also tends to get injured fairly often, will prove to be one of the worst value picks in Fantasy Baseball in 2015. He turns 35 in July. (Overvalued/Injury Risk/Tough Home Stadium – Bust)

2. Carlos Gonzalez (OF) – Hope is a bad thing to rely upon in Fantasy Baseball, and that’s what you’re doing when you waste early round draft picks on high injury-risk players. 2010 was the last season Cargo missed less than a month’s worth of games. Yes, it’s a shame that one of the purest swings in baseball has spent so much of his young career in the sickhouse. The shame will lie with you, however, if you continue to gamble on his frailty. (Injury Risk – Bust)

3. Dee Gordon (2B) – Here we have a prime example of “buying high”. Gordon was one of the better surprises of 2014, with 92 runs and 64 steals. Yet if you take a look at his splits, they tell a bit of a different story. His OPS in the second half was almost a hundred points lower. (pre All-Star: .742; post All-Star: .648) He only had 4 walks in the second half. The one-D speedster will continue to rack up the steals, but he’s going to hurt you in other categories. (Overvalued – Bust)

4. David Wright (3B) – Played a great deal of 2014 with a lingering shoulder issue. This is a red flag by itself, but the last time he hit 30 HRs or more was in 2008, the prime of his career. The last time he had more than 20 SB was 2009. He has averaged 126 GP over the last 4 years. This year demands a high pick for a 3B. There are now at least 8 who look better than the 32 yr. old Wright. (Injury Risk/Overvalued – Bust)

5. Billy Hamilton (OF) – His drop-off in the second half was even more pronounced than Dee Gordon’s: pre All-Star he had a .743 OPS; post All-Star it was .511. Equally striking was his .200 BA in the second half. His speed is eye-popping without question, but that’s all you get here. Keep this in mind when you’re getting sucked in by the speedsters – the primary purpose of the batter is to hit the ball. (Overvalued – Bust)

6. Alex Rios (OF) – Lacklustre, lackadaisical, and lacking passion, with Rios you can never predict what he’s going to do from year to year. Last year, with the Rangers, he looked like he was just going through the motions. Once in a while he’ll play up to his skill level, but it’s difficult to predict when. On top of all this, Rios turns 34 next week. (Overvalued – Bust)

7. Danny Santana (SS) – The 24 yr. old bolted through the starting gates after being called up in early May last year, and very few of us saw it coming. Why is this? Well, because there was very little sign of this from his Minor League numbers. His OPS through 548 games in the minors was a very pedestrian .708. (Overvalued – Bust)

8. Joe Mauer (1B) – Loses even more value this year with the loss of catcher eligibility. Last year he missed as many games (42) as he did in his catching years. 4 HR and a blah .732 OPS doesn’t cut it for a 1B. Even if he started catching again he would not be an intriguing pick. Don’t fall for the name. (Overvalued/Injury Risk – Bust)

9. Billy Butler (1B) – Speaking of 1Bs with a low HR total, and a pedestrian OPS, look no further than the 28 yr. old Butler. The 9 HRs from 2014 wouldn’t even be tolerable if his .702 OPS were 100 points higher – not from a 1B with no speed. Even if he bounces back a little this year, his new team lacks the offensive punch to help him with the counting stats. (Worse Line-up – Bust)

10. Allen Craig (1B/OF) Unless Craig is involved in a trade, there will be big issues with playing time with the glut of outfielders and Mike Napoli and David Ortiz blocking out the 1B position. What else affects playing time? Well, injuries, and Craig is notorious for them. The 30 yr. old has averaged 126 GP over the last 3 years. (Playing Time Issues/Injury Risk – Bust)

Bonus: Austin Jackson (OF) Okay, we began with a new Mariner, and now we end with one they acquired last July. I don’t have anything against Jackson, but do we need any more evidence that Safeco is unfriendly to hitters? Okay, how ’bout this rundown of his 2014:

  • With Detroit: .273 AVG/.332 OBP/.398 SLG/.730 OPS
  • With Seattle: .229 AVG/.267 OBP/.260 SLG/.527 OPS

And it’s not that small a sample size – 223 AB in 54 GP. I’m beginning to think Kyle Seager would have had 45 HR on another team last season.

Back around the turn of the century I had both the pleasure and discomfort of watching the Mariners’ home opener. Pedro Martinez was pitching for the Red Sox, and I can’t remember any hits on either side. It probably ended in a scoreless tie.

Okay, I had to look it up: the game took place on April 5, 2000. It ended 2-0 for the Sox, and Pedro allowed two singles. But what really stuck in my mind, even more than Pedro’s performance, was how poorly dressed I was for a night game in early April in Seattle. The damp coldness of those early home games can go right through your bones. And I remember the foul balls off Pedro doing just that – vibrating right through the ulnae and radii of each Mariner who was able to get a piece of one of his fastballs. It looked quite painful as one by one tried to shake it off. They were probably less eager to make contact with the each successive pitch.

Sure the Northwest has better winters than a lot of places, but it can take a while for the warmer weather to kick in, as well. We all talk about the dimensions of Safeco being a big factor, but there is the damp heavy air to consider, as well.

The Mariners could very well have a contender this year, but my gut still says to stay away from the whole offence as far as Fantasy goes. To make a short story long, this includes Jackson. (Tough Home Stadium – Bust)


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