The word "bust" is a very subjective term in fantasy baseball. A bust is someone who doesn't come close to their draft day value or performance expectations. The majority of busts are players that are just receiving too much hype. However, it also can come from an unexpected decline of player skills.
Looking back on last season, Adam Dunn was the biggest bust by far. Should we have expected this? Well, in 2008 Adam Dunn had his peak "eye" skills. His walk rate was an incredible 19%, contact rate was 68% and his strikeout to walk was 0.74. In 2009 Dunn's K/BB fell to 0.66, and in 2010 to 0.39. His contact rate of 64% was his lowest in a long time. So then in 2011, what happened? Well, the trend continued as he plummeted to a 57% contact rate and totally lost all confidence and ability.
The second form will be to utilize a great resource that I have for a simple purchase of $25. The great 2012 Baseball Forecaster (Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster), written by Ron Shandler, contains special player metrics and player history that are shown in 5-year box form. It allows me to track trends in specific stats without much headache. This will come in the form of a "know the risk" "red flags" section.
Let's get started, but remember, this is MY list with my personal opinions.
OF Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox: Currently going in the first round ahead of Justin Upton and Carlos Gonzalez. Things that are for real with Ellsbury: runs, stolen bases, 20 home runs, .290 batting average and 75-80 RBIs.
Here is something else to consider before you decide to draft Ellsbury over CarGo and J-Up: During that home run outburst in the second half, he traded off some stolen base production -- 23 home runs in the second half and only 14 stolen bases. And finally, something else to digest, Ellsbury's stolen base percentage was only 72 last year, down 17% from last year, and by a wide margin, his worst stolen base percentage year of his career. Sorry Jacoby, I'm not banking on a repeat.
SP Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels: First of all, pitcher is deep. Second of all, here are all the red flags: His K/9 dropped from 9.3 in 2010 to 7.6 in 2011, he increased his line drive percentage and decreased ground balls, and, of course, any pitcher that has a 45 percent fly ball rate or higher (and Weaver's has been 50, 48, 49 the past three years) is an extreme risk. Stay far, far away; he's a ticking time bomb.
3B David Wright, New York Mets: Sigh.... Oh David, why do you do this to us? First of all, I have absolutely no clue why Wright is getting so much hype again. He's an extreme injury risk still, his speed is rapidly declining, his contact rates are at insane lows (although a 78% contact rate in the second half of last year is promising), but still, it's the same argument that Matthew Berry of ESPN makes against drafting Brett Lawrie in the fifth and sixth rounds: You take all the potential profit away when you assume he will get back to previous levels. Monitor from afar before you leap in.
SP Michael Pineda, New York Yankees: Reports about his spring training velocity are not greatly exaggerated; there is extreme concern here. Pineda had an incredible season last year, no question, but in the bright lights of New York, and the fact that he's reported to spring training incredibly out of shape, are all warning signs. And oh yeah, he's a flyball pitcher. Welcome to the Bronx, Mr. Pineda. Maybe next year.
1B Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals: Let me first start out by saying this is strictly for re-draft leagues. In keeper leagues, he's a gem. It's time for everybody's favorite game!
Player A- Age 33: BB% 9, CT%, 82, K/BB 0.53, xBA (expected batting average) .276, Power Index 116, G/L/F 49/18/35, Speed Index 90, Going around pick #95
Player B- Age 22, BB% 7, CT% 84, K/BB 0.46, xBA .284, PX 104, G/L/F, 50/19/32, SX 87 Going around pick #45 and sometimes higher
Spare me the argument against sabremetrics. Regardless, the point is still the same. These two players are very similar. Player A is Michael Cuddyer and Player B is Eric Hosmer. Point taken?
SP Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers: I'll keep this nice and simple. I don't mind missing out on the greatest thing sliced bread, but Daisuke Matsuzaka is too fresh in my mind. Give me the proven pitchers any day. Come on down, Wandy Rodriguez, Jaime Garcia and friends.
SP Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay Rays: This one hurts because I am a diehard Rays fan. The numbers, however, are staggeringly alarming: 2010 BB/9 2.5, 2011: 3.4; 2010 K/9 8.1, 2011: 5.6; and his line drive percentage increased an entire seven percent from his 2010 numbers. The result? An unexplainable decrease in hit rate (BABIP) from 32% down to 23%; someone please tell me how that makes sense. And finally, 2011 ERA of 2.95 and an xERA of 4.48. PASS
Red Flags and Warning Signs: Do with these as you will.
My column on 50 positive trends will be coming out later this week. Good luck in your drafts!
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