Fantasy Baseball Busts: 10 Players Who’ll Underperform in 2013
It’s hard not to wonder if there aren’t at least a few MLB Players out there that peek around the internet to see if their names show up on these lists. So if any of you are reading, I apologize in advance. In my opinion, having a bust of a season doesn’t necessarily mean a player craps the bed.
A bust is a player that underperforms their draft slot. A few examples of varying degrees from last season would include Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Upton, Brett Lawrie and Mark Texeira. My job is to help you try to avoid some of these guys this year, so lets get started. Here are my 10 most likely candidates.
Matt Cain is a guy, who in my eyes, put together his best season last year. He set career best marks in wins (16), strikeouts (193) and BB/9 (2.01) while posting very low BABIP (.260) and LOB% (79.0) numbers. You should expect him to head off draft boards anywhere between 6th and 10th. For him to justify that draft position he needs to match last season, and there is some regression in his future. I say he wins 15 games this season, posts an era in the 3.40-3.50 range and strikes out 180 batters. Those however are Top 20 numbers, not Top 10. He could be considered a fantasy baseball bust in 2013.
Unless Hosmer starts showing major league pitchers he can handle off-speed pitches, his struggles at the plate will continue. Want proof? Here you go -- Hosmer logged 132 at bats where he was behind in the count either 0-2 or 1-2 and count was decided. He hit .091 in those situations with 56 strikeouts. That’s 12 hits people! For the record, I think he improves on last season. The problem is it won’t be enough to justify his draft slot. You can get a .265-75-19-77 line at first base from a much safer option like Adam LaRoche or Paul Konerko instead.
Hanrahan could be considered a potential fantasy baseball bust in 2013. The number that should jump out at you when considering Hanrahan is 5.43 -- That represents the number of walks he issues per nine innings. A cool 14.2 percent of the batters he faced last year. That is a colossal number. He managed to finish the season with a 2.72 ERA, a 10.11 K/9 and 36 saves though. Credit that to his extremely low .225 BABIP and 89.7 LOB%. Those are simply unsustainable numbers to expect this season. Especially when you take into consideration his career LOB% is 75.0 percent and .306 BABIP over 397.1 innings. Mark my words here -- Andrew Bailey will be back closing for this team by the end of June.
Heading into 2012, Desmond had launched just 72 home runs as a professional in over 3,964 plate appearances dating back to ’04. So to say his 25 homer outburst over just 547 plate appearances last year didn’t raise my eyebrow a tad would be an understatement. Desmond swung his bat a heck of a lot more last season; a cool 54.8 percent of the pitches he saw All those hacks meant he only worked the count full 32 times. Better yet, he swung at the first pitch and put it in play 115 times. Opposing pitchers will be made fully aware of this in their scouting reports. That means he isn’t going see anywhere near the league high 70.8 percent first pitch strikes he saw last year.
Hellickson has now hurled 402.1 major league innings. Over that time span he has managed to an LOB% of 82.1. To put that into perspective, that number has been topped just ten times in a full season since 2000. It gets better -- Hellickson has a career BABIP of .244. There have been only 24 instances where that number was topped in a season over that same time span. Something has to give here folks. These are the two biggest ‘luck’ stats out there in my opinion. Hellickson was listed on my bust list last year and he managed to skate by. The chances he isn't a fantasy baseball bust in 2013 are slim.
Upton has struck out in 25.1 percent of his 4,063 career plate appearances. Albert Pujols, one of the best pure hitters the game has ever seen, struggled mightily during his first few turns around the American League last year and I am expecting Upton to suffer some even worse growing pains. Unfamiliar pitchers are deadly to a guy who swung and missed 14.9 percent of the pitches he saw (4th highest in MLB). Expect a dip in home runs and no chance at any type of batting average improvement from last season.
Dickey was lights out last season. He started 33 games, winning 20 of them while posting an ERA of 2.73, WHIP of 1.05 and punching out 230 batters. All of these marks were career bests. What many fail to acknowledge is the level of competition he faced. A whopping 16 of his 33 starts came against teams ranked 20th or lower in runs scored. His trade to Toronto means he must go back to facing designated hitters. It also means roughly half of his starts will come against the AL East. Dickey could knuckleball his way into being a bust in 2013 fantasy leagues.
My decision to add him really comes down to the fact that I feel he is being over-drafted. Last year, Harper posted a .270-98-22-59-18 line over 597 plate appearances. In Fantasy they ranked 29th at the position. In early drafts he is coming off the board as early as the mid-second round. He hasn’t lasted past pick 49 in any NFBC draft to date. Only two players saw a lower percentage (45.9) of fastballs than Harper last season. The respect he is already getting means his improvement will rely solely on his ability to handle off-speed pitches. A steep uphill climb for a 20-year-old. He is already a Top 50 player, but by the time you draft, he will be taken among the Top 30.
I'm really scared off by Weaver's numbers from last year. For starters, we saw a sharp drop in his strikeouts per nine innings (K/9). Two seasons ago he finished with a career best mark of 9.35. In 2011 he dropped to 7.56 before dropping to 6.77 last year. His average fastball velocity also dipped to a career low 87.8 mph. It gets worse -- Weaver ranked 6th in the league in LOB% at 79.2 and had the league’s lowest BABIP at .241. Even if Weaver sees a bump back upward in velocity this season it’s only fair to assume that BABIP and LOB% creep back up towards league average levels.
The problem with Hamilton is his lack of patience and there isn’t a pitcher in the league who doesn’t know this information. Last season, Hamilton saw the fewest fastballs in the league (44.6 percent). Unless there are runners in scoring position and the count dictates, why throw him one? Toss in the fact there wasn’t a hitter in the league who swung at more pitches outside of the strike zone (45.4 percent) you have yourself a recipe to slay this dragon. His move away from Texas will show in his power totals and I expect a continued trend downward in batting average as well mean he's a potential fantasy baseball bust in 2013.