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15 Players You Must Pass On in Your Fantasy Baseball Draft

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Fantasy Baseball 2014: 15 Players to Avoid On Draft Day

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One of the biggest keys to success in a fantasy baseball draft is being able to recognize players that bring increased risk, most often from a change in team or unsustainable success from the previous season. Being able to leave aside a player’s track record and name value is also important when trying to find players to avoid.

With all of the above factors in mind, here are 15 players that fantasy owners should pass on during drafts.

15. Cincinnati Reds OF Billy Hamilton

Billy Hamilton Fantasy Baseball
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15. Cincinnati Reds OF Billy Hamilton

Billy Hamilton Fantasy Baseball
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Hamilton is slated to be Cincinnati’s starting center fielder this year, and based on that he could almost single-handedly win the stolen base category for fantasy owners. But we’re looking at a two-category producer (.280 career batting average in the minors) that will not come at a discount on draft day.

14. Cincinnati Reds 2B Brandon Phillips

Brandon Phillips Fantasy Baseball
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14. Cincinnati Reds 2B Brandon Phillips

Brandon Phillips Fantasy Baseball
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Phillips has hit exactly 18 home runs in four straight seasons, but his 2013 RBI total (103) was aided by hitting .340 with runners in scoring position and he had just five stolen bases with a .261 batting average as Cincinnati’s cleanup hitter. More steals could come with a different spot in the lineup, but outside of 18 home runs Phillips is difficult to project confidently in any other category and there’s downside at age 32 (33 in June).

13. Los Angeles Angels OF Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton Fantasy Baseball
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13. Los Angeles Angels OF Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton Fantasy Baseball
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Hamilton is a popular rebound candidate after a dismal 2013 season (.250, 21 home runs, 79 RBI), but a calf strain that kept him out of spring training games until this week serves as a reminder of lingering durability concerns. In a best-case scenario Hamilton will put up notable home run and RBI totals with a batting average that won’t hurt fantasy owners too much, but the upside is just not here like it once was.

12. New York Mets OF Curtis Granderson

Curtis Granderson Fantasy Baseball2014
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12. New York Mets OF Curtis Granderson

Curtis Granderson Fantasy Baseball 2014
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“The Grandy Man” played just 61 games last season, and he’ll now take his talents to another New York City borough and a pitcher-friendly home ballpark. 20-25 home runs is possible this year with better health, but Granderson’s bad batting average (.232 in 2012) and continued decline in stolen bases (eight in 2013) leaves fantasy owners chasing power upside that is not coming back at age 33.

11. San Diego Padres 3B Chase Headley

Chase Headley Fantasy Baseball
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11. San Diego Padres 3B Chase Headley

Chase Headley Fantasy Baseball
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Headley had high expectations at this time last year coming off a big 2012 season (.286, 31 home runs, 115 RBI and 17 stolen bases), but a thumb injury during the spring started him on the wrong foot and a steep decline came as he battled other injuries (.250, 13 home runs, 50 RBI and eight steals) throughout the season. A rebound is possible with better health, but 2012 looks like Headley’s career year.

10. Toronto Blue Jays OF Jose Bautista

Jose Bautista Fantasy Baseball 2014
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10. Toronto Blue Jays OF Jose Bautista

Jose Bautista Fantasy Baseball
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30 home runs looks like Bautista’s new baseline or upside, under the assumption of full health in 2014. But with more than 100 missed games over the last two seasons, advancing age (33) and multi-position eligibility going away this year fantasy owners can bypass Bautista on draft day and not feel like they’re missing much.

9. Milwaukee Brewers SS Jean Segura

Jean Segura Fantasy Baseball 2014
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9. Milwaukee Brewers SS Jean Segura

Jean Segura Fantasy Baseball 2014
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Segura has a nice first full major league season in 2013 (.294, 12 home runs, 49 RBI and 44 stolen bases), but eight of his home runs came in April and May and he hit just .214 in September. Simply put, I’d rather wait a few rounds and draft a shortstop with better upside (Andrelton Simmons) or a good chance to rebound after a poor 2013 (Starlin Castro, Erick Aybar).

8, Oakland Athletics OF Coco Crisp

Coco Crisp Fantasy Baseball
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8. Oakland Athletics OF Coco Crisp

Coco Crisp Fantasy Baseball
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Crisp set a career-high with 22 home runs in 2013, which helped obscure a mediocre batting average (.261) and a continuing downward trend in stolen bases (21). A drop in home runs is virtually certain, and if Crisp runs less again this year there’s not a lot of upside for fantasy owners.

7. Philadelphia Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins

Jimmy Rollins Fantasy Baseball 2014
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7. Philadelphia Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins

Jimmy Rollins Fantasy Baseball
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Leaving aside the headlines surrounding him this spring, Rollins is clearly a player in decline after setting career-lows in home runs (six) and RBI (39) last season despite playing 160 games. His batting average (.252 or lower in four of the last five seasons) is a drag on his value, and if his drop in stolen bases (22 in 2013) continues there just isn’t much here for fantasy owners to latch onto.

6. Los Angeles Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig Fantasy Baseball 2014
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6. Los Angeles Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig
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Puig’s all-around production will be solid (20-25 home runs, 20 stolen bases, a batting average around .290) and there’s room for upside, but any fantasy owner that wants him will surely have to take him a round or two too early compared to similarly ranked outfielders.

5. Atlanta Braves 3B Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson Fantasy Baseball 2014
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5. Atlanta Braves 3B Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson Fantasy Baseball
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A remarkably lucky BABIP (.394) pushed Johnson’s batting average up to .321 last season, and his home run (12) and RBI (68) totals sure looked a lot better next to that average. Any potential rebound to his 2012 power numbers (15 home runs and 76 RBI) will not offset the certainty that Johnson’s batting average drops this year, and he is simply a mediocre fantasy option.

4. Boston Red Sox RP Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara Fantasy Baseball 2014
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4. Boston Red Sox RP Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara
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Uehera will enter the season as Boston’s closer after saving 21 games and posting a 1.09 ERA in 2013, but his age (39 on April 3), injury history and the offseason signing of Edward Mujica (37 saves with St. Louis last season) suggest a repeat should not be expected.

3, Miami Marlins C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Jarrod Saltalamacchia Fantasy Baseball
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3. Miami Marlins C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Jarrod Saltalamacchia
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Saltalamacchia hit 14 home runs last season after setting a career-high with 25 in 2012, though he did drive in more runs (65; 59 in 2012) and hit for a higher average (.273; .222 in 2012). But that batting average spike was driven by an unsustainable BABIP (.372) and moving to a much more pitcher-friendly home park in Miami leaves 20 home runs and a batting average between .250-.260 as “Salty’s” ceiling for 2014.

2. New York Yankees SP Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka Fantasy Baseball
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2. New York Yankees SP Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka
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Tanaka will go right toward the top of the Yankees’ starting rotation after coming over from Japan, and he could be very good right out of the gate. But any fantasy owner that drafts him in a mixed league has to embrace the potential for inconsistency and a fairly high level of risk.

1. Seattle Mariners 2B Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano Fantasy Baseball 2014
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1. Seattle Mariners 2B Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano
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Cano had a very productive final season with the Yankees (.314, 27 home runs and 107 RBI) with an injury-depleted supporting cast, which creates hope he can sustain that level in Seattle. But moving to a more pitcher-friendly home park brings downside that has not existed up to this point, and there are surely better value picks at second base.