by Jared Cothren
Remember the scene in ‘Back to the Future Part II’ when Marty McFly travels to futuristic 2015 and buys a sports almanac with the idea of going back to 1985 and capitalizing on a fool proof plan of no-risk sports betting? Well, lucky for us there are a few seasons left in that almanac and I was able to take a peek at the player stats from the 2011 season. I noticed that there are some big names that don’t put up the big numbers we have come to expect every year. I want to share all of this insight with you so you don’t have to endure being the season long punchline of your fantasy league while similtaniously blowing your chances at taking home the hottest chick at the bar when the lights come on…otherwise known as the “fantasy baseball championship.” Now, I want to explain that this list is not intended to be a “Do Not Draft List,” as the names in this article will put up some decent numbers but they are not worth the slot where they are being drafted therefore qualifying as a draft bust.
1. Ubaldo Jimenez – SP, COL
2010 stats: 19-8, 2.88 ERA, 214 K’s, 1.15 WHIP
2011 proj: 15-11, 3.95 ERA, 195 K’s, 1.25 WHIP
Jimenez opened the first 3 months of the 2010 season as the no-doubt front runner for the NL Cy Young award but his numbers seemed to tail off dramatically over the final half of last season. Whether the decline was the result of more innings pitched or maybe hitters starting to figure out his stuff, the numbers do not lie. Pay attention to the differences in ERA and WHIP before and after the all-star break numbers.
Before All-Star break: 15 -1, 2.20 ERA, 113 K’s, 1.05 WHIP
After All-Star break: 4-7, 3.80 ERA, 101 K’s, 1.30 WHIP
Impressive stat: 11-2, 2.16 ERA, 100 K’s, 1.16 WHIP during Day games in 2010.
Drafting a Rockies pitcher early is always a risk, especially with Jimenez’s unimpressive second half stats. Inconsistency out of your Ace can kill your fantasy rotation and set you up for a season of asking yourself “Hello, McFly…why did I draft this guy.” Take this guy as your #2 starter and make sure to start him during the early season day games.
2. Jayson Werth -OF, WAS
2010 Stats: 106 R, 27 HR, 85 RBI, 13 SB, .296 AVG
2011 Proj: 85 R, 20 HR, 75 RBI, 10 SB, .280 AVG
While in Philadelphia, Werth defined his career as a dependable outfielder with more value to his real team than a fantasy team and this is where fantasy baseball managers can make a costly mistake. Besides Werth’s 2009 campaign, his numbers were never spectacular, and honestly, not even worth mentioning as fantasy relevant. So, “Think, McFly…Think.” Werth lost tremendous fantasy value when he signed with the Nationals and I expect his runs, RBI and batting average to drop from his 2010 numbers. Werth’s new home ballpark is not the hitter friendly park in Philadelphia and the Nationals certainly do not produce the same run totals either. Knowing this, don’t make Werth your number one or two outfielder.
3. Jonathan Papelbon – RP, BOS
2010 stats: 5-7, 3.90 ERA, 76 K’s, 37 SV, 1.27 WHIP
2011 proj: 2-6, 4.20 ERA, 70 K’s, 35 SV, 1.35 WHIP
From 2006- 2009 Jonathan Papelbon was arguably the best closer in the AL and possibly the entire league. But, last year we saw alarming increases in ERA, blown saves, home runs allowed, walks, and opponents batting average. Take a look at the comparison below and you will notice a large increase in BB and OBA, which for a closer, proved to be a killer in 2010.
2008: 5-4, 41 for 46 SV, 18 ER, 4 HR allowed, 8 BB, 0.95 WHIP, .245 OBA
2009: 1-1, 38 for 41 SV, 14 ER, 5 HR allowed, 24 BB, 1.15 WHIP, .289 OBA
2010: 5-7, 37 for 45 SV, 29 ER, 7 HR allowed, 28 BB, 1.27 WHIP, .309 OBA
Papelbon will get opportunities to “Save the clock tower” in a number of games while he is the closer in Boston, but I feel that the team has a great shot at a title run and he could be on a short leash later in the season. With newly acquired Bobby Jenks and “future closer” Daniel Bard in the same bullpen as Papelbon, if he becomes ineffective don’t be surprised when his role is diminished. Take Papelbon as your #2 closer in 2011.
5. Hanley Ramirez – SS, FLA
2010 Stats: 92 R, 21 HR, 76 RBI, 32 SB, .300 AVG
2011 Proj: 80 R, 25 HR, 70 RBI, 35 SB, .308 AVG
OK, OK. Before you start running around like a lab-coated madman shouting “1.21 Gigawatts,” let me explain myself here because I still think Hanley Ramirez is the best shortstop (Tulowitzki is close) in the game, but he is not worth the top 5 pick projected by some fantasy baseball “experts.” I understand the shortstop position does not have many players with his speed and power potential, but his 2010 numbers were discouragingly lower than his recent career highs. Add that the Marlins have lost slugger Dan Uggla, outfielder Cody Ross, and infielder Jorge Cantu, Ramirez is now the veteran in a lineup full of unproven youngsters. If you have a top 5 pick…pick someone else.
4. Justin Upton – OF, ARI
2010 Stats: 73 R, 17 HR, 69 RBI, 18 SB, .273 AVG
2011 Proj: 73 R, 19 HR, 70 RBI, 15 SB, .270 AVG
A lot of these aforementioned “experts” also have this young kid high on their draft boards and I am trying to understand what kind of player he is turning into. “Great Scott!” Never mind! I know…He is a really poor man’s Hunter Pence and Upton is ranked higher than him in some early season player rankings. I understand that he has yet to hit his ceiling and he is only 23 years old, but 152 K’s in 495 at bats is alarming. Those strike-out numbers don’t seem to be improving, and with the loss of Mark Reynolds, this Arizona offense will sputter. Take him as your #3 outfielder and you will be thinking fourth dimensionally.
6. Jose Bautista – 3B/OF, TOR
2010 Stats: 109 R, 54 HR, 124 RBI, 9 SB, .260 AVG
2011 Proj: 90 R, 27 HR, 94 RBI, 8 SB, .250 AVG
I know what you are going to say, “Hey you, get your damn hands off her, Jose Bautista is one of the best players in the game, so how could I put a perennial all-star, a HR king and RBI machine on the “Bust List?” Well, it’s because Jose Bautista’s 2010 stats reminded us of a reincarnated Reggie Jackson, but this year he will be looking more like Freddy Jackson. There are a lot of questions that have come up about Jose Bautista’s recent power surge, but one thing that will not be questioned is the fact that his 2010 numbers will not be eclipsed in 2011. Don’t let the sparkle of the 54 HRs and 124 RBI blind you. The career .244 hitter will come back to earth this year, but the 25-30 home run power will remain. Take him as your late #1 3B or #2 OF.
7. Brandon Phillips – 2B, CIN
2010 Stats: 100 R, 18 HR, 59 RBI, 16 SB, .275 AVG
2011 Proj: 95 R, 14 HR, 60 RBI, 12 SB, .275 AVG
Second base is one of those positions where there are just a few elite players. These are players like Robinson Cano, Chase Utley, Dustin Pedroia, Uggla, and Ian Kinsler. Brandon Phillips used to be included in that list of names, but with recent nagging injuries and a drop in production we may have seen Phillips’ best statistical seasons a few years ago. Over the last 3 seasons, there have been steady drops in HRs, RBI and SBs, and I don’t think there will be a mid-career resurrection with Phillips. So, if you can’t afford to take one of the top tier second basemen in the draft’s early rounds, think about Rickie Weeks or Martin Prado over Phillips.
8. Prince Fielder -1B, MIL
2010 Stats: 94 R, 32 HR, 83 RBI, 1 SB, .261 AVG
2011 Proj: 90 R, 30 HR, 90 RBI, 0 SB, .260 AVG
A lot of people are expecting Prince Fielder to rebound in 2011 from a personal “down” year in 2010. Looking at his numbers they are actually not bad for most players, but he didn’t get close to the 141 RBI he knocked in 2009 or the 50 HRs he hit in 2007. Going into 2011, Fielder is in a contract year and this season could be the turning point in his career. The issue for Fielder, besides his fondness for the buffet tables, is that he still can’t seem to figure out left handed pitching. Last season Fielder was heard saying “If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits eighty-eight miles per hour… you’re gonna see some serious expletive (inability to hit southpaws)!” He only had 11 extra-base hits off lefties in 2010. Here are his 2010 splits:
Vs. Left handed pitchers: 199 AB, 45 H, 6 2B, 5 HR, 19 RBI, .226 AVG
Vs. Right handed pitchers: 379 AB, 106 H, 19 2B, 27 HR, 64 RBI, .280 AVG
Fielder will make you wish you drafted a different second rounder.
9. Donald Zackary Greinke – SP, MIL
2010 Stats: 10-14, 4.17 ERA, 181 K’s, 1.25 WHIP
2011 Proj: 13-12, 4.20 ERA, 167 K’s, 1.25 WHIP
Zack Greinke has to be a nervous wreck after he was traded from the lowly Kansas City Royals this season to Milwaukee. Although he is going to the National League, a natural DH free elixer, he is moving away from his comfort zone and probably his therapist. If you are expecting the change of scenery to resurrect the ghosts of his Cy Young past, forget it. His strikeout totals are down and his ERA is up. He will get more run support in Milwaukee, which could be his saving grace. He should be no higher than your #2 starter.
10. Joe Mauer – C, Minn
2010 Stats: 88 R, 9 HR, 75 RBI, 1 SB, .327 AVG
2011 proj: 90 R, 11 HR, 75 RBI, 1 SB, .330 AVG
When Biff said, “Manure, I hate Manure,” what he really said was, “Mauer, I hate Mauer.” Biff drafted Mauer too early in his fantasy draft expecting the return of big power numbers from Mauer’s 2009 AL MVP season. I struggle adding any player that will hit around .330 to my bust list, especially a catcher, but last year it was evident that Minnesota’s new Target Field sucked the life out of Mauer’s power stroke. Mauer only hit 1 HR in 239 at bats last year in the new digs and what was even more telling was he only hit 8 on the road. Mauer does not swing for the fences because he is more of a contact hitter with gap power, which occasionally will go over the fence for a home run. He is still a great player and is the best catcher on the board, just don’t expect the 28 home runs from 2009 to suddenly reappear.
Hot Baseball WAG: Take a peep at where Donald Z. Greinke’s wife, former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader and Miss Daytona Beach 2008 Emily Kuchar. The real reason he has anxiety is the fact he knows he can never do better than this.
Emily Kuchar image provided by “http://www.wagrankings.com/emily-kuchar/”