2014 Fantasy Baseball: Disappointments — NL Starting Pitchers

fernandez land

Jose Fernandez
Source: Denis Poroy/Getty Images North America

The senior circuit certainly had their fair share of disappointments on the hill. In most cases, we are talking about pitchers that got hurt and underperformed because of that. Injuries happen, but when players build a track record of good health and performance then it is easy to be disappointed. The fact is that pitchers are more susceptible to injury as they get older. It is one of the many reasons why giving pitchers long-term deals is so risky. Yet, teams continue to do it to their own detriment.

Not all of the pitchers on the list are under long-term contracts or old, but if we have seen anything happening in baseball we have seen a sharp increase in the need for Tommy John surgery (ligament replacement surgery). It seems like every team has at least one major league pitcher or big time prospect that spends most of the season on the shelf. Some teams (like say the Atlanta Braves) have multiple guys on the shelf. Until the sport finds away to curb this trend, it would be wise to be wary of just about every pitcher on the board on draft day.

Jose Fernandez– Miami Marlins

(4-2, 51.2 INN, 2.44 ERA, 70 K, 0.948)

What Happened?

Obviously, the numbers are very good, but Fernandez didn’t even make it to June. He was shut down for the season and had surgery. Most pitchers in his situation are down for 12 months. His tale is a fairly common one. He had a brilliant rookie season in 2013 and therefore was one of the top five starting pitchers off the board. It is a cautionary tale that people should consider before drafting any of this seasons rookie pitchers high up in their draft. Hard throwers like Yordany Ventura are particularly vulnerable. We don’t know why exactly, but experience tells us it’s true. The road back for Fernandez is a bit cloudy because he likely will not be back in Spring Training. So, he might be a waiver claim later.

What about 2015?

If it takes Fernandez a calendar year to come back then he likely won’t be back until June of 2015. Four months of Fernandez is still pretty strong if he is able to approach 2013 numbers, but that isn’t likely based on past experience. Most of the time, it takes a pitcher two years to get back to where he was before the surgery. So, Fernandez might be the Fernandez of old in 2016. That’s good news for guys who have him in keeper leagues, but it does little for you if you are playing in a standard league. Fortunately, the Marlins are improving as a team, so he still might give you decent win and strikeout numbers once he comes back. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Disappointments — AL Starting Pitchers

verlander land

Justin Verlander
Source: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America

Pitching in fantasy baseball is an interesting dichotomy. On the one hand, pitching has never been more dominant at any time in fantasy baseball. Sure, they played some Stratomatic back in the 1960s, but fantasy baseball has only been popular in the internet age. In the internet age, hitting has always been king. That has changed fairly dramatically in recent seasons. The flip side of that trend is the fact that you can count as many as ten prominent pitchers to either get hurt or underperform each season. The end result is that most smart fantasy players have been loading up on position players and simply identifying solid pitchers to add to their rosters later.

Unfortunately, some pitchers still dominate the early rounds of most drafts and some of those guys had some hard seasons in 2014. Like with the position players, players can disappoint because of injuries or lackluster play. The upshot with pitchers is that they are also more susceptible to batted ball luck than position players. So, when we look at the disappointments we need to take special care to determine which category they belong (the injured, the underperforming, or the unlucky).

C.C. Sabathia– New York Yankees

(3-4, 46.0 INN, 5.28 ERA, 48 K, 1.478 WHIP)

What Happened?

C.C. Sabathia represents the downside of relying on pitchers early in the draft. Of course, few picked him that high this year because 2013 represented a down year for him as well. His ERA in 2013 ballooned to a robust 4.78, but he still hurled 211 innings and struck out 175 batters. He also won 14 games as well, so many fans still added him to their regular rotation with the expectation that he would hurl 200 or more innings since he had done it in every season since 2006. Unfortunately, he broke down in May and never came back. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Disappointments — Right Field

ryan braun

Photo Credit: By Steve Paluch

Some leagues have five starting outfielders. That means 12-team leagues will employ 60 starting outfielders when they employ those five guys. Even leagues with the standard three starters will see a number of outfielders employed as utility players along the way. So, conservatively, we might be looking at a bare minimum of 15 starting right fielders. We can definitely find a few folks that could classify as disappointments.

The right field crop has it’s fair share of disappointments like some other positions. But we haven’t seen that in the outfield just yet. Sometimes it happens that way. Ironically, the first disappointment is only there because of a position change. It may not be so much about being a disappointment as adjusting our expectations. Pitchers have clearly taken over in the battle between pitching and hitting. Sure, there are still some dominant hitters out there, but we may need to collectively change our expectations of what certain guys will do.

Ryan Braun– Milwaukee Brewers

(.266 AVG, 19 HR, 68 Runs, 81 RBI, 11 SB)

What Happened?

Do you want the snarky answer or do you want a more thoughtful one? The snarky answer involves simply being off the juice and that might be more accurate than we might think. However, I think we have a combination of getting off the juice and the game shifting back to pitching. Braun only played in 135 games. If you gave him the customary 150+ games then we might be looking at 25 HR and close to 100 RBI. So, really Braun wasn’t quite as disappointing as we were led to believe. The difference is that he isn’t the top 10 overall fantasy player he used to be. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Disappointments — Centerfielders

We return from a work induced break to continue with the saga of looking at more disappointments from the 2014 season. Of course, this comes on the heels of all of baseball’s awards. Disappointments are an interesting contrast when compared to rookies of the year, Cy Young award winners, and most valuable player awards. Like some other positions, there weren’t very many disappointments in center field. You had to be considered a potential fantasy starter to be considered a disappointment, and there weren’t a lot of those.

We will have to stretch the rules a bit to get in our three disappointments. Fundamentally, this isn’t a big deal because many leagues employ five starting outfielders. In a standard twelve team league, that means that sixty outfielders would end up being starters. In that scenario, we might see as many as twenty center fielders become regulars. Since we have liberally expanded the rules, let’s see what we can find.

Michael Bourn– Cleveland Indians

(.257 AVG, 3 HR, 57 Runs, 28 RBI, 10 SB)

What Happened?

Some things get better with age. Speedy outfielders are not among those. 2014 was Bourn’s age 31 season. A look at classic lead-off hitters shows that they normally lose their speed in their early thirties. The ones that are able to make it are the ones that improvise their games in other ways. They get on base and they score runs. Bourn has never had an OBP higher than .354 and last year it was a paltry .314. He also missed nearly 60 games to injury. When you combine those two factors together you can see what happened to Bourn.

What about 2015? [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Disappointments — Left Fielders

Carlos Gonzalez

The World Series is officially over, so now teams are entering off-season mode. Unlike past seasons, teams can begin signing free agents five calendar days after the World Series is over. By the time you read this, some teams will be ready to pounce on some of those free agents. One of the temptations for all fantasy players is to read too much into the results from the playoffs. Some players will be overvalued or undervalued depending on how they performed in the postseason. For left fielders, that might be overvaluing Alex Gordon based on his strong postseason performance.

The flip side is to look at players that disappointed in the postseason. We didn’t see many prominent left fielders that struggled in the post-season, but we did see quite a few that struggled in the regular season. The key is to determine whether it was a blip on the radar or a trend we need to pay attention to. The key in November is to keep everything in perspective. Most of us will be drafting again in March, so we have time to let cooler heads prevail.

Carlos Gonzalez– Colorado Rockies
[Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Disappointments– Shortstops

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Jean Segura
Source: Mike McGinnis/Getty Images North America

As we continue the disappointment train, we find ourselves with the exact opposite problem as we had with the third basemen. It isn’t that we didn’t have shortstops that sucked. It’s that a majority of them were expected to suck, so it is hard to pinpoint the ones that disappointed. In point of fact, at least one of them won’t necessarily look all that disappointing at the outset. Sometimes we just have to shift our collective expectations. This is obviously true at shortstop where there are only a few true legitimate all-star performers. Welcome to the era of the pitcher.

If there is any general theme for 2015 it is that we have to finally shift our perceptions on the balance between pitching and hitting. There are some positions where there are only a handful of dominant performers. After that it is catch as catch can. After players like Troy Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez, most of the guys on the board are going to have some sort of flaw, so you have to pick and choose which flaws you can live with.

Jean Segura– Milwaukee Brewers

(.246 AVG, 5 HR, 61 Runs, 31 RBI, 20 SB)

What Happened? [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Disappointments — Third Basemen

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David Wright
Source: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images North America

Discussing disappointments at third base could take awhile. There is no position on the diamond that was more underwhelming than third base. It certainly starts with the three names we will look at today, but it isn’t limited to those names. Others may have been more mildly disappointing. Then there is the shadow that was cast by Alex Rodriguez. No, Arod isn’t the dominant force that he was during his prime, but we are talking about a starting quality fantasy third baseman that found himself suspended for the season. The end result was a position where most fantasy players found themselves scrambling for credible performance.

Since it has been a little while since we visited disappointments, we should set up some ground rules. In order to be labeled a disappointment, you had to be a preseason starter in most 12-team leagues. That might be hard at some positions and at least one of these guys will be a borderline case. In another, you will be wondering whether that player’s performance could be truly labeled as disappointing. Perception is reality in these cases, but we have to remember what the perception was in March.

David Wright– New York Mets

(.269 AVG, 8 HR, 54 Runs, 63 RBI, 8 SB)

What Happened? [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Disappointments — Second Basemen

kipnis land

Source: Ed Zurga/Getty Images North America

It’s certainly interesting looking at fantasy baseball through the prism of disappointments. Obviously there are disappointments at every position, but it is also interesting that some positions disappoint as a whole. Nowhere is that more true than second base (and third base which we will see next). While every position has its Jose Altuve, we certainly see more disappointments in the offing than we do surprises. Moreover, surprises are usually guys added in the late rounds or even in free agency. Anyone can nab those guys and so anyone can see their fortunes go from rags to riches.

The flip side is much more cruel. Our disappointments were picked and earmarked as starters. In some cases, they were picked among the first five rounds. It isn’t impossible to overcome drafting a disappointing player, but it’s difficult to be sure. If you find yourself nabbing more than one, you can almost guarantee a season outside the playoff hunt. That happened to more than a few of us this season. The best we can do is do an autopsy on the season to determine what happened and whether it is likely to happen again. So, here are the top three disappointments from the 2014 season. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Disappointments — First Basemen

davis land

The yin and yang of sports is about as powerful as any force there is. For the most part. There are few out of nowhere surprises at first base. Most of the players picked among the top twelve were highly thought of before the season. On the flip side, the players labeled as disappointments were not only picked among the top twelve first basemen but were also probably picked in the first four to five rounds of most drafts. These kinds of mistakes tend to blow up a fantasy season and many seasons were blown up when these three players tanked on the season.

Keep in mind that players can tank for two primary reasons. The first and most prevalent reason is that players simply under-perform in comparison with expectations. The second reason is that the player could have lost a lot of time due to injury. Obviously, the circumstances surrounding the lack of performance will color what we might expect from the player in the future. We will look at both for all three players. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Disappointments — Catchers

Source: Victor Decolongon/Getty Images North America

Source: Victor Decolongon/Getty Images North America

If sports are anything, they are great sources of drama. The major networks now pay billions of dollars to broadcast major professional and college sports. As they say, live sports are TIVO proof. The best Hollywood writers in the world can’t write this stuff. The Kansas City Royals don’t appear in the playoffs for 29 years and suddenly they look like World Series contenders. Of course, few people concern themselves with the flip side of that feel good story. In July, the Athletics seemed on the verge of running away with everything. They had just added Jeff Samardzija, Jon Lester, and Jason Hammel. Now, they are all planning early vacations.

Before the end of the season, I went through an entire series of breakout players at each position. I’ll begin the offseason by looking at the reverse. We will be looking at three players at each position that we could classify as disappointments. In order to classify as a disappointment, a player should be a consensus preseason starter in a standard 12-team league. With all of the positions, we will look at why they were disappointing and whether we can expect them to bounce back. [Read more...]