This is part two of a three part series that reviews the 2012 Fantasy Baseball season. In the first installment, I gave my “All-Fantasy” team. This round will be my “Bust” squad followed by the “Over-achievers” in the last installment. I’ll rundown each position and add Honorable Mentions or in the case of this column, (Dis)honorable Mentions!
Catcher BUST: Brian McCann
I have always been a huge fan of Brian McCann, but 2012 just wasn’t his year. He battled hamstring issues, a shoulder problem, and minor knees issues throughout the season and it plagued him at the plate. While he did manage to slug 20 home runs, the rest of his statistics were below par. His RBI’s weren’t that far off his usual numbers, but his average and on base percentage plummeted to career lows. Atlanta Braves GM Frank Wren has already stated that McCann will probably miss the first few weeks of 2013, but if he is healthy when he finally takes the field, he should be able to get his AVG/OBP back up to career norms. His draft position will definitely fall next year and his health should be monitored throughout the off-season and into Spring Training. He certainly could be quite a bargain if he stays healthy.
(Dis)honorable Mention: Alex Avila
First Base BUST: Eric Hosmer
This was actually somewhat tougher then I thought it would be, but I still settled on Hosmer as my First Base bust. Hosmer was relatively terrible for most of the season, but still managed to hit 14 home runs and steal 16 bags. Encouragingly, he was only caught once. My big issue with Hosmer was that he closed the season with a brutal September. He had a triple slash of .179/.264/.295. You would think that because the Royals were out of contention in September he could relax and focus, but he was likely pressing which lead to a poor final month. I believe in Hosmer and think he’ll have a relatively nice bounce back season in 2013. As a side note, he was almost my (dis)honorable mention, but that went to Ike Davis. The difference between the two was that Ike Davis actually turned it around. He went .255/.346/.542 with 20 home runs after the All-Star break. That is definitely solid. I think Davis will rebound next year with a nice average and plenty of dingers.
(Dis)honorable Mention: Ike Davis
Second Base BUST: Jemile Weeks
After posting a .303/.340/.421 triple slash in 406 2011 at-bats, Jemile Weeks regressed to a paltry .221/.305/.304 line in 2012. This led to his demotion on August 21, though he was called back up at the beginning of September. He was high on a lot of sleeper lists headed into 2012, but failed to pay dividends. Never known for his pop, fantasy owners instead counted on Weeks’ speed, but he only managed 16 steals. One positive to take away from Weeks is that he walked 50 times, so if he can just up the average, he should get on-base at a decent clip. His BABIP last season was .256, which is below the 2012 league average of .297. It is worth noting that in 2011 he had a rather high BABIP of .350, so if can get that number to somewhere in the middle of the two figures, he’ll be right around league average which should lead to more steals and more runs scored.
(Dis)honorable Mention: Chase Utley
Third Base BUST: Brett Lawrie
Third Base was a bit more difficult than most of the other positions, but I finally settled on Brett Lawrie because of one stand out reason and that was his draft position. After he burst onto the scene in 2011 with 9 homers and 7 steals in just 171 plate appearances, many predicted instant stardom for Lawrie. The injury bug did bite Lawrie in 2011 as he missed a total of 35 games. That could be part of the reason he only increased his home runs by two and his steals by six yet had 365 more plate appearances. Double digits in both categories is very nice, but where he was drafted in most leagues warranted a 20/20 season with plenty of runs produced. I expect a nice bounce back from Lawrie in 2013. He’s going to be in one of the best lineups in baseball and could make for a nice mid-round pick.
Shortstop BUST: Troy Tulowitzki
If only Troy Tulowitzki could stay healthy for 162 games. Boy, would his numbers be inflated. Heck, even when he is in the lineup, it seems as though some type of injury is nagging him. Don’t get me wrong, I love “Tulo”, but I’m counting on my first round pick to give me first round production. If he doesn’t do that, he’s hurting my team. Tulowitzki only managed to play in 47 games and that hurt the Rockies and fantasy owners alike. I hope that he comes into spring training healthy because he’s too good of a talent be laid up on the disabled list for half of the season. Luckily he will fall in most drafts this year, but it’s doubtful it will be past the third round. Draft accordingly.
(Dis)honorable Mention: Dee Gordon
Carl Crawford hasn’t been the same since he played his last game in a Rays uniform. Only two years removed from being a consensus first round pick, he is a guy that I’d only consider taking a flyer on in 2013. He battled wrist, groin, and elbow injuries last season and amassed 117 at-bats before choosing to go under the knife and have Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. He could be ready by Opening Day, but you simply can’t expect the type of production he had from 2003-2010. He first has to prove he’s healthy, then he’ll have to adjust to a new city and a new team. I’m not confident. Brennan Boesch was high on a lot of sleeper lists last year. Looking to build on a productive 2011, Boesch was slotted to bat ahead of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. That didn’t exactly work out for him. He finished 2012 with a triple slash of .240/.286/.372 and was on the bench most of September. Fantasy owners hoping for a breakout were tremendously disappointed and likely won’t travel down that path again in 2013. Cameron Maybin is a player that I had high on my breakout list last off-season. I was confident that he’d reach 10-15 home runs to go along with around 50 steals. I was wrong in both cases as he regressed by one homer and 14 steals in roughly the same amount of plate appearances that he had in 2011. I still think Maybin could reach 50 steals over a full season, but double digit home runs could be a reach considering he plays half of his games in Petco Park. To reach 50 plus steals, Maybin is going to have to get on-base more which most likely will have to come from making better contact. During his time with the Marlins and now with the Padres, Maybin’s walk rate has ranged from 7.5%-8.5%. Because of that, I don’t see a drastic jump in his walk rate coming this year. I am somewhat high on Maybin headed into 2013 and think he’ll have a nice bounce back season. He should come much cheaper too.
Starting Pitcher BUST: Tim Lincecum
To say 2012 was a rough year for Tim Lincecum is an understatement. He struggled throughout the season posting the worst numbers of his six year MLB career. He was flat out dreadful in the first half of the season, posting an ERA of 6.42 and a WHIP of 1.58. His numbers certainly improved from mid-July on, but they still weren’t close to his career norms. The Giants said that he was healthy, but one has to wonder whether that was truly the case. Any player can show a bit of regression from one season to the next, but Lincecum fell like a ton of bricks. I’ve always thought that Lincecum, with his violent delivery, is a candidate to have a severe injury at some point in his career. He has immense talent, but he’s not a guy I want anywhere near my fantasy team. He may come back in 2013 and post Cy Young numbers, but I think that’s highly doubtful. Look for some improvement next season, but I think he’ll be average at best.
Relief Pitcher BUST: Heath Bell
Well, Heath Bell got paid and then proceeded to implode. In his first save chance of the season on April 8, 2012, Bell gave up 2 earned runs on 4 hits in 1/3 of an inning. That basically sums up his entire season. He was pulled from the closer role in late May, he regained it soon after, lost it again, and finished the season pitching in middle relief. On the plus side, he had nice numbers in September, posting a 0.82 ERA and a 0.55 WHIP. The problem for fantasy owners (especially in deep leagues at that point) was that he wasn’t saving games. He was traded to Arizona this off-season and will likely pitch middle relief. He would be at least third in line to save any games behind J.J. Putz and David Hernandez. He has no value headed into 2013.
(Dis)honorable Mention: John Axford
Thanks for reading! Next up will be the 2012 All-Fantasy Overachievers Team.
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis, Fantasy Tagged: | Alex Avila, Brennan Boesch, Brett Lawrie, Brian McCann, C.J. Wilson, Cameron Maybin, Carl Crawford, Chase Utley, Dee Gordon, Eric Hosmer, Evan Longoria, Fantasy, Heath Bell, Ike Davis, Jemile Weeks, John Axford, Jon Lester, Pablo Sandoval, Tim Lincecum, Tommy Hanson, Troy Tulowitzki