Fantasy Baseball 2014: Bust Alert
It’s a common misconception.
The word “bust” is a player who won’t match their original draft day average draft position (ADP). It doesn’t necessarily mean the player is going to be absolutely terrible for the entire length of the season, however. So, when I say Player X is going to be a bust, it doesn’t mean he is going to bat .245 with five home runs and 20 RBI. It simply means that his production will not be equivalent to where you drafted him.
Don’t get it confused.
So, without further ado, let’s get to some of my busts for the upcoming fantasy baseball season.
Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels: I had Pujols in my hate column a few weeks back, and my mood hasn’t changed. First base is relatively deep with a handful of young talent, and Pujols just lacks the upside to me. At age 34, he’s coming off a nagging foot injury, which is concerning in itself. But he’s also seen his on-base percentage drop in each of the last three seasons, while his walk rate has been cut in half since 2010. Formerly one of the most feared hitters in baseball, Pujols is chasing more pitches. In 2008, his chase rate was only 21.8 percent, but over the past two seasons, it’s sitting at an alarming 34.4 and 34.3 percent. This isn’t the same machine we have grown accustomed to seeing, and I’m not chasing for the Pujols of old when there are better, more intriguing option out there to choose from.
Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers: Segura was one of the best shortstops in fantasy for a large part of last season. Before the All-Star break, Segura batted an impressive .325 with 11 home runs and 27 steals. The power surge was unexpected, but extremely appreciated by fantasy owners. However, from then on out, he hit just one more home run, stole 17 bases, while watching his batting average drop to .241. He simply seemed off during the second half, chasing more pitches when behind in the count, regressing to the mean in the power department and, as a result, getting on base far less often. I mean, this was a guy averaging just 10 home runs per 162 games played in his career, so you shouldn’t expect a source of power at all. A 16th overall finish on ESPN’s Player Rater certainly isn’t in his future for 2014.
Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers: How the mighty have fallen. After being a consensus top-10 fantasy pick, injuries have decimated Kemp’s playing time, as he is now being drafted in the middle rounds. The most alarming number to me is two, as in the number of surgeries he’s had since last season ended. His Opening Day status is in doubt, and he could reasonably sit out for the entire first month of the season. And considering the injury has to deal with his ankle makes me even more concerned. When healthy, Kemp is easily a 30-40 steal guy, but not anymore. And, as Tristan Cockroft of ESPN beautifully points out, when Kemp finished as the top player on ESPN’s Player Rater a few years back, a whopping 23 percent of his value was based off of steals. I’m not saying don’t draft Kemp. If he stays healthy, he’ll be one of the best values on draft day. But don’t chase the name value, folks.
Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds: Man, this is tough for me because I absolutely love Phillips. A genuinely nice guy and a very good player. Sadly, you don’t get fantasy points for being a friendly face. Phillips has seen his numbers decline in each of the last three seasons, but interestingly enough, he has belted exactly 18 home runs in each of the last four years. I never realized it until I looked at the numbers, but according to ESPN, a whopping 95 of Phillips’ 160 career home runs have come at home, making him rather risky when away from Great American Ballpark. Some declining skills for a player prepared to turn 33-years old, Phillip’s strikeout rate has increased the last four years, so it is safe to question how much Phillips has left to offer for fantasy owners. Sigh…
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.