As the 2012 fantasy baseball season approaches, we’ve looked at the offseason moves and sleepers, both broken down by position. Today we’re going to take a look at the busts for 2012. In other words, avoid these players below if you can.
Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers
Based on his success in 2011, many assume that Avila is going to be a star catcher in years to come. His stats looked great on the surface (especially for a catcher). In 2011 Avila had an AVG of .295, 19 HR, and 82 RBI. These are definitely superb offensive numbers for a catcher.
That being said, I think it is more likely for Avila to see a regression in 2012 than it is for him to take a step forward. He had an extremely lucky .366 BABIP. Avila also started to wear out towards the end of the season due to the physical demands of catching. The bottom line with Avila is to not expect him to meet or exceed his numbers from last season.
AJ Pierzynski, Chicago White Sox
At one time Pierzynski was a considered a solid offensive catcher that could hit for average and some power. However, Pierzynski seems to be nearing the end of a respectable career. His HR total has decreased in each of the past three seasons, and, possibly more importantly, his number of games played has decreased in each of the past three seasons as well. It seems like all the previous seasons of wear and tear behind the dish have been catching up to Pierzynski, and this means he will likely continue his decline in 2012.
Kurt Suzuki, Oakland A’s
Just a couple of years ago, Suzuki looked like he was going to be a future fantasy stud at catcher for a long time. Unfortunately, things have not quite worked out according to plan. After a breakout year in 2009 when Suzuki hit 15 HR and had 88 RBI, his numbers across the board have fallen fairly drastically. His AVG and OBP have each decreased each year since 2009, and last year Suzuki just hit .237 with an OBP of .301.
He has been ranked fairly high on many preseason fantasy rankings for catchers each of the past couple years, but do not let this fool you. There are plenty of other alternatives that are better at the catcher position.
Other Notable Busts: Miguel Olivo (SEA)
First Base Busts
Aubrey Huff, San Francisco Giants
After putting up an impressive season for the 2010 World Champion Giants, Huff took a huge step backward in 2012, and it is probably unreasonable to believe that he will return back to his 2010 form ever again. He is 35 years old now, and despite having a few great offensive seasons during the course of his career, he has been relatively inconsistent as well. Additionally, he is playing in a ballpark that generally favors pitchers in San Francisco. Chances are he will never be an impact fantasy baseball player ever again.
Carlos Lee, Houston Astros
Lee has been on the decline for a number of years now, and there is no reason to believe that this trend will not continue in 2012. Lee is one of those players that many fantasy owners will make the mistake of taking just because he used to be a consistent fantasy monster a few years back. Do not be one of those people.
If anything, Lee’s decline will only be sped up in 2012, as he is one of the only veteran’s and bigger bats in the lineup for Houston as of right now. This means, he is going to get fewer pitches to hit. This combined with his decreasing ability at the plate makes him a likely bust again for 2012.
Other Notable Busts: Derrek Lee
Second Base Busts
Gordon Beckham, Chicago White Sox
Many people might label Beckham a sleeper for this season, because he has a lot of talent that has not yet translated to success in the majors just yet. Personally though, I am tired of hearing about his potential after he has struggled mightily in each of the past two seasons. After an impressive debut in his rookie campaign in which he bashed 14 HR and had 63 RBI in just 103 games, he has a total of just 19 HR and 93 RBI in 281 games in the past two seasons combined.
He also has the second lowest OBA for a second baseman in 2011. These stats go along with low batting averages, low on base percentages, low slugging percentages, and just poor statistics across the board in each of the past two seasons. He has not shown any growth since his rookie year, so why expect anything different this year?
Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks
When Aaron Hill used to be considered one of the top offensive second basemen in the game, it was mainly because of his power. He never really hit for average nor did he ever have a high OBP. Last year Hill only hit out 8 HR on the season, while driving in only 61.
He got sent to Arizona in a midseason trade with the Blue Jays last year, and this further makes him an unappealing choice for your fantasy draft. Playing in a larger ballpark in Arizona will likely only make his power numbers go down, which ultimately makes him a below average second baseman for fantasy standards.
Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers
Rickie Weeks has shown during the past couple seasons that he can be one of the top fantasy second basemen in the game when he is healthy. His health is precisely the reason why he is a likely bust for 2012.
Many fantasy owners make the mistake of taking an often-injured player’s stats from one season and trying to project them over the course of a full 162-game season. This is a big mistake to make, especially with someone like Weeks. Keep in mind that he has only exceeded 500 AB once in his career. When he is healthy he will produce for you at an above average rate, but you would be lucky to get anywhere near 450 AB with him.
Other Notable Busts: Orlando Hudson (SD)
Third Base Busts
Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves
Fantasy drafts are probably the worst time to get sentimental and nostalgic. Chipper Jones is an example of why this is true. Every year it seems that Chipper gets drafted moderately high for a third baseman, despite the fact that it is almost 100% certain he will not touch the 500 AB plateau for the season.
I will give him credit that he can produce some moderately decent numbers when he is healthy, but it should be a known fact by now that he will NOT be healthy for an entire season. He will likely miss 20-30 games this season as usual, and that is probably being generous. While he has had a storied, Hall-of-Fame worthy career, it’s time to take a pass on him.
Scott Rolen, Cincinnati Reds
Rolen is another one of those players that you do not want to make the mistake of making based on his past. Rolen is really on his last legs, and he does not have much to offer fantasy teams anymore.
In 2011, Rolen’s age finally caught up with him, and it showed as he had probably his worst season ever in the MLB to date. He can no longer hit for average or power, nor is he likely to have a high OBP or score many runs. Yes, his name might look good based on his past, but I promise that any semblance of his prime is long gone going into 2012.
Other Notable Busts: Placido Polanco (PHI)
Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
I know it’s probably a sad day for all those Yankee fans to see Derek Jeter make this list, but there’s no denying that Jeter has been on the decline for a couple of seasons now. Jeter hit out only 6 HR in 2011 despite playing in the friendly hitting confines of Yankee Stadium. He stole 16 bases in 2011, and it’s probably reasonable to expect that total to go down again in 2012.
The only reason Jeter had a decent AVG in 2011 was because of his inflated .336 BABIP. It is probably safe to expect Jeter’s average to decline in 2012 as well. In addition, Jeter’s GB% was a sky-high 62.4% in 2011, which is another indicator of a lucky BABIP in 2012. Jeter simply does not score runs like he used to, and he is no longer the dynamic fantasy asset that he has been for years. He still can help out a fantasy team to some degree, but there are quite a few of better options at shortstop that you should look at first.
Jose Reyes, Miami Marlins
Jose Reyes is an exciting player coming off one of his finest seasons since breaking into the majors in 2003. However there are many red flags with Reyes. For one, his health itself is a risk to any fantasy owner as injuries in recent years do not make him as reliable as he once used to be.
He is no longer the player that will annually lead the NL in SB either as his SB total during the past three seasons are his three lowest totals since becoming an everyday player in 2005. It is also worth noting that prior to 2011 he had never exceeded a .300 BA ever since becoming an everyday player.
Additionally, he had a .353 BABIP in 2011, which indicates there was a lot of luck that went into his last year as well. This suggests that 2011 was somewhat of a fluke, and it is unreasonable to expect him to come close to the season he had last year.
Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies
Jimmy Rollins is not on this list because he is incapable of putting up decent numbers and producing for a fantasy team. However, he is on the list because fantasy owners need to be careful of how high they draft Rollins. He is no longer a top-tier shortstop anymore, as 2011 breakout seasons of shortstops such as Starlin Castro, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Elvis Andrus have put Rollins much further down on the totem pole for 2012.
He is also a risk due to his age and recent injury troubles. He can still definitely put up some statistics for your fantasy team, but like in Jeter’s situation, you should definitely explore other options first.
Other Notable Busts: Alex Gonzalez (MIL)