With the Fantasy Baseball season nearing its end and Fantasy Football taking hold of many men and women, it’s time to take a look back on the 2009 Fantasy Baseball season. There was a new number 1 overall player coming into the season and did he live up to the billing? Not quite. I’ll explain in a bit. I’m going to list my team of busts and what to expect for draft position in 2010 or if they should be kept in keeper leagues.
First let’s discuss, Mr. #1 Overall himself, Hanley Ramirez. He was expected to go almost 30HR/30SB. He will get one of those categories, barring injury. He is however leading the National League in batting average at .365. Which is outstanding, but I have to ask where’s the power? 19 home runs are all he can muster right now? Not looking like power speed threat we all imagined. Now I know there is still a month left in the season and Hanley could go off in September to get to the 30 home run mark. But I think until he consistently proves himself capable, that he is not #1. This may not apply to Rotisserie leagues though, as he is a threat in all 5 categories. In head to head point leagues, Albert Pujols is still the man. Some might even say that he should be #1 in Rotisserie leagues as well as he can help in all 5 categories too. But that is another topic for another article, maybe for the beginning of the fantasy season.
Now onto the 2009 Fantasy Bust Team!
Russell Martin – C
Geovany Soto – C
Both of these young catchers came into the season as solid fantasy catchers. Both offer power and average, while Russell Martin also can steal some bags. Both have underperformed this year. Neither has hit for a very good average and are lacking in the power area. They gave fantasy owners a good feeling when they drafted them in March, but now it is September and neither is owned as high as they were projected to be. The current ownership of both is: Martin 91% and Soto 71%. While Soto has had an injury this year, both played in the World Baseball Classic. Is the WBC to blame?
Lance Berkman – 1B
He hit .471 in the month of May in 2008. Man, was that a great month for my fantasy baseball team last year. This year, however, Berkman has not given anything close to that. He has been hampered and DL’ed with a calf injury, but that didn’t happen until later in the year. He hit .162 in April! He only had 10 home runs through the month of May. He has been hitting better since, but some fantasy seasons are determined at the beginning of the year as well as at the end of the year. As far as I’m concerned he’s a bust this year. However, expect him to bounce back next year. First base is a deep position in fantasy baseball, but if he keeps the turn around going through September he could turn into a keeper for the 2010 season.
Howie Kendrick – 2B
Actual: .273/8/48 and 1 trip to the minor leagues.
In my opinion, he is one of the most overhyped players to come around in recent years. He doesn’t do one thing particularly well. Some might argue that he hits for average. I counterpoint with, that’s because he only gets a few at bats, gets hurt and has a nice average for when he comes back, whenever that may be. He is the new Mr. Glass. If M. Night Shyamalan were to remake “Unbreakable” Howie Kendrick could play Samuel L. Jackson’s role. I avoid him like the plague. I would take Dan Uggla, Jose Lopez, or Rickie Weeks before him. Coincidentally, Weeks could play Mr. Glass too if Kendrick were to get hurt during filming. Kendrick got sent to the minors this year because he was hitting .231 with 4 home runs and a 3.7 to 1 K/BB ratio. Not a fantasy player you want at all at any point. Don’t draft him or keep him.
David Wright – 3B
Some might say it is wrong to pick on a guy when he’s knocked down from a 95 MPH fastball. What? Too soon? I’m not that guy though. Wright, while hitting for a great average, has seen his power all but diminish. His strikeout rate was the highest of his career, and his ability to take the ball to the power alley in right center is non-existent as well. Granted he has had to deal with a weakened lineup due to numerous injuries, but he is too good to be putting up these kinds of stats. Fantasy owners who took him in the first round expected a 30/30 season or something close. Now they won’t even get a 10/25 season. He is a keeper regardless of his 2009 stats. I’m not saying he should be avoided next year, just that he is a bust for 2009.
Jose Reyes – SS
Jimmy Rollins – SS
The shortstop position also requires two players on the team. Both underperformed either before they got injured (Reyes) or all year long (Rollins). It’s also fitting that both are from teams that, normally, in spring training declare themselves the team to beat in their division. Reyes has played in 36 games this year, and missed the rest due to a hamstring injury. Rollins for the most part has been healthy, but just terrible at the dish. Some might argue that putting Reyes on the list is a poor choice. I say it isn’t and here’s why. The past 4 years he has played 150 games or more. No real injuries to speak up, short DL stints if any at all. He seems like he quit on the team once he saw how many injuries they had and how the team was playing. That means he also quit on fantasy owners.
Rollins on the other hand, has just been terrible all year long. While he has raised his average to .242, still 30 points lower than his career average, Rollins is a bust. He hit .207 in April, .238 in May and .167 in June. He had 6 HR and 10 SB at the end of June. Not fantasy stats you want on your team, especially from such a thin position as shortstop. I’d only recommend keeping Reyes for 2010, but let Rollins back into the pool for someone else to take a risk on.
Grady Sizemore – OF
Grady came into the season as a preseason MVP in the American League. Now he sitting in some leagues. He has had to battle a bum left elbow all season long which has zapped his power and made him DH more often, but still look at these stats. He should have shut it down months ago to be ready for 2010, but the kid is a player. He won’t quit on the Indians despite the fact they’re not going anywhere. Expect him to come back in 2010 as the Grady we all know, and the ladies love. He should slip in some drafts to the 2nd, maybe even 3rd round.
Alfonso Soriano – OF
While Soriano has never been a guy to hit for high average, he’s only hit .300 once in his career, .240 is totally unacceptable. There are plenty of options on the waiver wire in the outfield to replace his lagging bat. While he has been dealing with injuries all year long, it seems as if Soriano is loafing. He’s been moved around in the order and I think he’s taking it out on the team in the process. I have never been a Soriano guy, and I never will. I always let him go, even when I knew he would have a great year. See 40/40 year in 2006. If you’re a smart fantasy baseball player you’ll let him go by in the draft. He is no longer worth the risk.
Josh Hamilton – OF
Some might ask, where’s the right fielder on the list? Well here is! The guy was nicknamed the Natural last year. Granted he had an awesome year, but that doesn’t mean the guy is the next Babe Ruth. He still has to do it on a consistent basis. This is only his 3rd year in the majors. He has only 1 full season under his belt and that was last year. He has had to battle injuries this year and come out and admit he has had a drink of alcohol but that doesn’t fully excuse the man for hitting only .276 so far this year with little power. While I think he is someone to build a team around, I don’t know if next year will be any better for him. That doesn’t mean I won’t draft him if it’s the 5th round and I could use a bat to go along with Ryan Braun and/or Grady Sizemore.
That wraps up the position players, now it’s on to the pitchers.
Brandon Webb – SP
77. That’s the number of pitches Brandon Webb has thrown this year. Surprisingly, that’s more pitches than Roy Halladay throws in some starts. Yes, I know he’s been injured all year long. That doesn’t give him a free pass. For all intents and purposes he was supposed to be healthy and pitch all year long. He could be on the trading block this offseason, so keep track if he does move. His stock could go up greatly if he gets onto a good team. He should be able to be drafted later in most leagues due to the injury concerns and what transpires in the offseason. I would not keep him at this point due to the injury concerns.
Cole Hamels – SP
While he is married to a Playboy playmate, not even that gives him enough man points to escape being a fantasy bust this year. He was battling a back injury earlier in the year, came back and had a stretch of starts that made owners think he was back to his old self. Too bad that is not the case. He has struggled of late and is not the pitcher everyone drafted him to be. I traded Carlos Pena for Hamels straight up! In hindsight, that wasn’t that bad of a deal, although he has ridden my bench for most of the year. Unless they go to the World Series again, expect Hamels to be back to form in 2010. Possible keeper depending on who else is on your staff and how he finishes the season.
Francisco Liriano – SP
Johan Santana, Jr. is what some people thought this guy would be, and when he first burst onto the scene he was. Then he had to have Tommy John surgery. The Twins took their time with him and it has been over a year since he had the surgery. Sadly, his stuff has not recovered which leads to an inflated ERA, lower strikeout totals and more runs against. Also, less wins and more wins for his fantasy owners. Until he can prove he is back to the pitcher he can be, I would avoid him at all costs. He should not be starting on any team right now. He is highly inconsistent, and it is playoff time in some leagues. Buy low on him next year in the draft. Real low, like 10th round or later low.
Daisuke Matsuzaka – SP
Matsuzaka is another possible victim of the dreaded WBCitis. Dice-K had a fantastic season in 2008 winning 18 games, despite having a high walk total. This year is another year, almost a Jekyll and Hyde type year and it has to leave the Red Sox wondering what pitcher they signed. The 2008 or 2009 version? Fantasy owners are wondering the exact same thing. If anyone who had him last year drafted him this year, they must be banging their head against a wall while cursing him. He hasn’t pitched since June, and has walked 18 in 35 innings. That’s almost 1 every two innings! That is a terrible ratio for baseball and fantasy baseball, period. Sell low on him for 2010 and do not keep him.
Scott Kazmir – SP
He is the guy that Steve Phillips traded for Victor Zambrano! He is Scott Kazmir! That is always how I will remember him. Long after his days of pitching only to the 5th inning are over, I will remember that way. If there is a guy who is an enigma in fantasy baseball, it’s Kazmir. Who knows what you’re going to get from him, but I can guess he’ll go no longer than 6 innings. Yet in that 6 innings he could strikeout 10 and walk 4 or more. I think playing in the playoffs last year has really affected him, and this is a really bad side effect. I would not own him right now in any league, especially head to head point leagues. He does not go long enough in to games to warrant it. Plus with all the hits and walks he is death for Rotisserie leagues too. Draft him at your own risk in 2010.
BJ Ryan – RP
Talk about a bust! BJ Ryan was straight released in July by the Blue Jays, picked up by the Cubs on a minor league deal, and then released from that…all this year! Luckily he still gets that 15 mil that Blue Jays owe him. Some owners may think that relief pitchers aren’t worthy of a bust category, but I disagree. In head to head point leagues, relief pitchers can help save a week for you. If you have a starting pitcher implode, a closer that saves 3 or more games can help negate that bad outing. Ryan, however, normally caused more negative points this year than he helped erase. He is somehow still owned in 63% of leagues on ESPN.com. That shows you 63% of teams on ESPN.com are not readily managed. Even if he signs with a team for 2010, avoid him at all costs. It is unknown if he will be a closer, reliever, or sent to the minors at the end of camp.
Kerry Wood – RP
Actual: 16/4.50/53 and numerous heartburn attacks for fantasy owners
Last year he gave Cub fans heart attacks in the 9th inning while trying to close out games. This year he is picking on another set of fans that have endured years of losing: the Cleveland Indians. Proving that he is still as erratic as last year, Wood has made life hard for manager Eric Wedge in the 9th inning, and his fantasy owners this year. I bet he makes some Tribe fans wish for Bob Wickman again. Still, he’s better than BJ Ryan! Wood is a low end closer and should only be drafted if needed. He is not steady enough to warrant a roster spot, and he plays on a losing team, which means less save chances.
Brad Lidge – RP
Not even BJ Ryan has fallen as far as Brad Lidge has. While he has battled a knee injury this year, which required him to get a special shoe to help offset it, he just has not been good. Of course, perfection has its price, and Lidge is obviously showing it this year. One year after not blowing 1 save, he has blown 9 so far this year. He also has given up 11 gopher balls. Those are not exactly elite closer stats in baseball or fantasy baseball. He most likely will be the Phillies closer in 2010, but buyers beware. Let someone else take the risk on him instead.
Agree or Disagree with the All-Bust team? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.
Note: All ownership stats and rankings are based upon ESPN.com’s 2009 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit.