Well, folks, for those of you that don’t know, I just got back from a long weekend bender in good ol’ Las Vegas. It’s time to put the chips down, step away from the Sports Book, and leave the fruity drinks at the pool and get back to reality. Or fantasy, as this week’s title may suggest.
It’s time to catch up on a little Fantasy Baseball. So far this 2014 season I have given you my breakout players as well as some pleasant early surprises. Most of these players have held up thus far like Masahiro Tanaka, Jose Abreau, and Charlie Blackmon. For every great player that a fantasy “expert” finds there is an equal bust. Now, it is entirely too early in the season to deem someone a bust, but it’s never to early to call someone out for pissing me off on my fantasy team.
There are quite a few early season disappointments in 2014 fantasy baseball. What I find most disturbing is that a lot of them are on one of my two fantasy teams. I know what you are thinking: why should I continue reading this guy if he is flat out telling me he can’t draft? Well, put your mind at rest. I’m one game out of first place in both leagues and amongst the top three scorers in both as well. A few bums here and there don’t hurt the overall chemistry of a fantasy genius.
The following is a list of people that most likely have you ripping your hair out as we are just over a month into the season. I’m not focusing on guys you took a gamble on in the 20th round and aren’t panning out. If you really thought Josh Reddick was going to bounce back from his atrocious 2013 and took him any higher than the 20th round, that’s the drafters fault, not the players. I also won’t be touching upon players like CC Sabathia. Is he a tremendous let down thus far in 2014? Absolutley. However, CC was diminishing in velocity and ability last season. If you took him in the first ten rounds, again, you should be looking in the mirror for your blame. This list is composed of players that are keepers or players that are annually drafted in the first 10 rounds. This list is perennial All-Stars and multi-millionaires who are costing us hundredaire fantasy players our hard earned money.
TOP 5 DISAPPOINTING FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYERS IN 2014 SO FAR
5. Jedd Gyorko, 2B, San Diego Padres. (.162, 5 HR, and 19 RBI)
Gyorko was my minor league keeper two years ago and came into the 2013 season as my starting fantasy baseball third baseman for The Lammerts. He turned out to be one of the many problems that had my team go from 18-5 and 10 points shy of a championship to missing the playoffs. Gyorko turned it around late last season and hit 23 home runs, but I had already dropped him by then. This season I avoided him altogether and it is looking more like Gyorko, once one of baseball’s top prospects, may be a Quad-A hitter, or for those not versed in baseball lingo, a career-minor leaguer. Gyorko shifted to second base this season, a weaker position than third base, which should have given him a prime opportunity to put up Top 5 stats for his new slot. However, it is now May, and he is barely hitting a 9th grader’s weight. I am no longer a believer in Gyorko and if you have him, it is time to move him.
4. Wil Myers, OF/1B, Tampa Bay Rays (.257, 4 HR, 19 RBI)
Myers isn’t doing absolutely terrible one month into the young season. However, those who drafted him after his astounding 2013 Rookie of the Year campaign invested highly in the sophomore. Last season Myers, once the top prospect in baseball for the Kansas City Royals, came over to the Rays as the center piece in the James Shields trade. He was called up and in just over half a season, he put up the numbers of a superstar in the making. This season, however, he is struggling to live up to the high expectations he set for himself last year. It isn’t time to move on from Myers yet, but you may have to bench him for other options until he escapes his funk.
3. Hunter Pence, OF, San Francisco Giants (.250, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 6 SB)
It seems like for the last decade Hunter Pence is one of the safest plays in fantasy baseball. He consistently bats .280 to .295ish, bashes 25 to 30 HRs, scores about 90 runs, and drives in 90 to 100 runs all while stealing a nice amount of bases EVERY year. I never had the luxury of having Mr. Consistency, so when he was sitting there in the seventh round, I jumped on him. Now, he sucks. Ok, that is a bit harsh as it is only May and if there is one thing Pence doesn’t do, it is suck. He just isn’t performing at the elite level he usually does. Pence, over his 8-year career, has been a second-tier fantasy baseball outfielder, not quite a Jacoby Ellsbury but better than a Nick Swisher. This year, however, he isn’t making the same contact. He is getting on base and scoring a ton of runs though, so right now despite disappointing numbers, that shows he can turn it around. It isn’t worth trading him at this juncture because you won’t get anywhere near the return you invested in him. So you do what I do: sit back and curse him after every at bat until he breaks out of his early slump.
2. Prince Fielder, 1B, Texas Rangers (.236, 3 HR, 14 RBI)
The Son of Cecil has been my fantasy keeper for five years now. People told me I should look to move on after last year’s down year. He still had 25 HRs, 106 RBI, and 82 runs scored in a “down year”, I said. He is going to play at The Ballpark and players have bashed home runs in a Rangers uniform since the mid-90s, I said. Now, Prince is making me look stupid.
The real problem he had last season that I should have noticed was his drop in OBP. On base percentage is the most important stat in real and fantasy baseball because it really determines everything else. If you get on base at a high percentage, it usually is because you can work counts. If you work counts, you either walk or, in Prince’s case, wait it out until you get your home run pitch. Fielder averaged nearly a .410 OBP over his first three seasons as my keeper. Last year, he dropped to .362. That’s a 50 point drop and that should have been a red flag. But I remained loyal to a guy who always produced for me and kept him. 25 home runs is no longer elite at the first baseman position neither, but I thought going to Texas would help him bounce back. Of course, the Rangers don’t have Miguel Cabrera batting in front of him, another red flag I should have noticed. If anyone can turn around a season in a week, it is Prince Fielder. But I think it is time to move him. The only question you have to ask yourself is this: how the hell does a vegetarian get that big?
1. Brian McCann, C, New York Yankees (.213, 4 HR, 12 RBI)
I drank the Kool-Aid. I saw McCann sitting there in the ninth round and though it was an absolute steal. I also thought I was pretty darn good at fantasy baseball, but now I wonder.
I live in Atlanta. I have been telling people this since last season. The second I saw Evan Gattis was a decent enough player for the Braves to move forward with, I knew Brian McCann would be coming to the Yankees. I gushed over how consistent he has been as one of the elite catchers in the league, and how the Little League dimensions of Yankee Stadium would make him the best catcher in baseball. So far, I am a bit off.
There is light at the end of the tunnel. McCann has been facing that pesky infield shift nearly every at bat over the first month. So instead of coming in and posterizing the right field fence as many thought he would, he has been learning how to use the entire field and beat the shift. As opposed to other players (Mark Teixeira, I’m looking at you, sir), McCann is trying to hit to all fields instead of going right at the shift and hitting a home run or bust. He has been coming around and spraying hits up the middle to center and left field. What the shift is doing, however, is making his career monster power numbers practically non-existent. There is no need to panic just yet, though. If he continues to grow and beat the shift, the infield will have to adjust back to normal, and McCann can start unloading on that right field porch. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been throwing stuff at my TV screen when my ninth round pick continues to struggle early on in 2014 though.
There you have it, fellow fantasy baseball friends and geeks. Remember, more than any other fantasy sport, baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. There is plenty of time to turn the season around, but trends may deem otherwise. If you hold on to the wrong guy because of his past you may perish down the stretch.
Until next time, let’s hope Donald Sterling keeps his mouth shut.