Zack Greinke of the LA Dodgers is scheduled to make $21 million this season. A.J. Ellis was his catcher last Thursday night when Greinke plunked Carlos Quentin of the San Diego Padres and Quentin subsequently charged the mound, and ended up breaking Greinke’s collarbone.
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)
Think fast, when is the trade deadline for 2011? July 31, 2011 would be the answer.While some of you may feel that information isn’t important, it really is.
Some teams may need a bat, while others need pitching, causing a specific player to change from the NL to AL and vice versa.These changes may not affect your team in any extreme way, baseball, like other sports, is a game of inches.
There are roughly 60 games left for each team which leaves about 9-10 weeks of the regular season left.Now the heat is on, literally.
In this post, I look past this weekend and into next week to give you a head start on the hitters you should be targeting on waivers and starting/sitting in your lineups.
If you watch ESPN – and if you read this site then there is about a 99.9999% chance that you do – then you have undoubtedly heard the “Three…is a magic number…yes it is…” commercial that seems to be especially ubiquitous during the morning hours.
If you are a fan of the Chicago White Sox, as I am, then this is a tune to keep in mind once next Tuesday rolls around. Why? That is when the Good Guys host the Twin Cities Piranhas in a three game set that will decide the AL Central.
Let’s preview the series and see just how optimistic White Sox fans should reasonably be about their team rising to the occasion in the most important series of the season.
The Gordon Beckham era has arrived on Chicago’s South Side, and this weekend’s series against the New York Yankees was the official coming out party for the precocious budding superstar. In case anyone was wondering why Beckham was untouchable for teams hoping to trade with the White Sox at this year’s trade deadline, the Sox 3-1 series victory over the Yankees was all the evidence they should have needed.
But before we go anything further, let’s get into the right mindset for a Beckham discussion by listening to the song that is taking Chicago by storm and could perhaps prove to be the cheesy 2009 answer to 2005’s cheesy World Series anthem Don’t Stop Believing.
The song is Your LoveÂ by The Outfield and accompanies every Gordon Beckham at-bat:
[track title=”Your Love” artist=”The Outfield” url=”http://www.midwestsportsfans.com/wp-content/uploads/mp3/Your-Love-The-Outfield.mp3″ alt=”Gordon Beckham’s At-Bat Anthem”]
Our friends at Tremendous Upside Potential wrote a great post back in June about Beckham’s somewhat curious song choice. In their post, they cite an article by CSN Chicago’s Chuck Garfien in which he puts to bed any talk of the song being part of some sort of rookie hazing by Beckham’s veteran teammates:
If youâ€™re new to the blog, this song has been an ongoing topic in the Sox Drawer, mainly because after hearing it introduce Gordon for the first time a few weeks ago, I went up to him in the clubhouse, and asked what he felt about getting hazed by his teammates with one of the cheesiest songs from the 1980â€™s.
As it turned out, Beckham chose the song himself.Â In fact, â€œYour Loveâ€ has been introducing Gordon going all the way back to high school.
Needless to say, as a fan and connoisseur of all things cheesy from both the 80s and the 90s, I fully support young Gordon in his musical choice.
Living in Dallas I don’t get to see the majority of White Sox games on TV. It’s always great when the Yankees are in town though, because usually at least two or three of the games are televised nationally. And since I watched every inning of White Sox baseball I could this weekend, I was able to hear Beckham’s song every time he triumphantly strode to the plate — seemingly smacking a double in every at bat — and Your LoveÂ got stuck in my head like all good cheesy anthems do.
However, what reallyÂ stuck in my head is just how special this kid appears to be. And it’s not just me, Ken Williams, and other man-crushing White Sox fans who feel this way. Beckham’s idol Derek Jeter sees a lot to like in the young phenom as well.
The baseball world has taken notice — starting with Jeter.
”He’s playing well,” Jeter said. ”I got a chance to talk to him a little bit because he’s been on second base the whole series. He can hit, that’s the bottom line. You throw him in, he pulls it; you throw him away, he hits it the other way. It looks like he’s got some pop.
”He hasn’t been playing third base very long, but he’s been doing a good job there, too, so I’m sure he’s going to be here for a long time.”
Apparently Beckham turned some heads during Spring Training when he said that he wanted to one day lead the White Sox like Jeter has led the Yankees. Obviously that was bold talk from a kid who had never stepped foot in a Major League batter’s box. De Luca spoke with Beckham about that quote for today’s article, and even Beckham himself said that he “can’t believe [he] said that” having now played against Jeter and seeing how the Yankee icon handles himself.
The truth is, for those of us who have watched Beckham evolve from his struggles immediately upon being called up to his emergence as one of the most feared hitters in our lineup, his Spring Training proclamation certainly seems a lot less outlandish now.
Just look at his numbers from the Yankees series:Â 7-19, 5 2Bs, 7 RBI, 3 R. And over his last 20 games, Beckham is hitting .411 and has 11 2Bs to go along with 17 RBI. His 0-13 start seems like a distant memory now that his season batting average is .311 with 5 HR, 36 RBI, and 17 2Bs.
And all the talk about Beckham as a potential Rookie of the Year candidate is here to stay. Beckham has been a huge spark for a White Sox lineup that struggled with inconsistency through the first few months of the season. But the early season addition of Scott Podsednik, combined with Beckham’s emergence and the return of Carlos Quentin, plus the emergence of speed and excitement on the basepaths, has turned the White Sox back into an offensive juggernaut that is a force to be reckoned with.
(At least at home. Now the bats need to prove they can stay hot when away from The Cell, especially in Detroit and Minneapolis.)
In Gordon Beckham the White Sox absolutely have a major piece to build around for the next ten years. And while significant contract decisions must be made regarding Jermaine Dye, John Danks, and a possible renegotiation of Mark Buehrle’s deal, the White Sox will no doubt try to buy out Beckham’s arbitration years and lock him up long-term just like the Rays did with Evan Longoria and like the Brewers did with Ryan Braun. Yes, Beckham has done enough to prove that he is in the class of those two young stars, and he and Longoria could be competing for starting All Star slots at the AL’s hot corner for years to come.
What makes Gordon Beckham truly intriguing is that he seems to have that “it” star quality about him. Whereas Carlos Quentin’s intensity and focus make him appear, at least to an outside observer like me, more aloof and less charismatic, Beckham seems to revel in the attention that his phenom status brings. Beckham always seems to be smiling and having fun, with the fundamentals of baseball appearing to come easily and naturally to him.
This is not to say that Beckham does not work hard or is not focused (although he certainly wasn’t focused this weekend when he left the basepaths and got tagged out, not realizing there were only two outs). There is just a difference in the way he and Quentin carry themselves. TCQ seems like more of a “grinder” in which every movement is 100% max effort but not necessarily “natural”; Beckham, on the other hand, appears to glide effortlessly through every motion on a baseball diamond.
My point is that I think the Quentin-Beckham combination, which will carry the White Sox into the next decade, is going to be an excellent yin and yang duo. To me, Quentin never seemed totally comfortable with all of the attention showered upon him last season during his breakout year. I see him as more of a hard-hat-and-lunch-pail type player, who just wants to show up to the ballpark and work. And don’t get wrong, that’s great; but I have a feeling we’ll see Beckham embrace more of the trappings that go along with being a superstar athlete in a big market, and in that way he can perhaps help remove some unwanted pressure and attention from Quentin.
We all know that Quentin is an fantastic hitter, but one who tends to press sometimes, This can lead to slumps in which he appears to be over-swinging at everything. Beckham will certainly endure his fair share of ups and downs, especially as a young Major Leaguer, but he strikes me as the kind of confident-bordering-on-cocky player who won’t necessarily look like he’s pressing and who will rarely if ever grasp for confidence.
Maybe I’m off base in this assessment, and I admittedly am pretty far removed from the White Sox living in Dallas, but these are my relatively informed impressions. I’d appreciate the opinions of any Sox fans who are closer to the action. The comment section awaits you below.
I think the best part about this weekend’s series with the Yankees was that it was a terrific preview of what the White Sox can do for the rest of 2009 when the offense is clicking, and what the future will look like with Beckham and Quentin leading the way. Carlos will eventually find his way back to the 3 hole this season, and he and Gordon will be terrorizing opposing pitchers hitting 2-3 (or eventually 3-4) in the White Sox lineup for many years to come.
Of course, even with Beckham displaying his prodigious talents at the plate on a game-in, game-out basis now, his field work at third still leaves a lot to be desired. Through 51 games, Beckham’s fielding percentage is a paltry .944 thanks to 9 errors. This is somewhat expected, however, considering that Beckham just started playing third base a few weeks before his call-up. With Alexei Ramirez and Chris Getz holding down the middle infield, third base was the biggest hole in the White Sox lineup; it is a testament to Beckham’s confidence and overall baseball skill level that he can perform as well as he has playing a new position at the Major League level despite such limited experience.
But .944 won’t cut it forever, and defense could very well prove to be the Achilles’ Heel that prevents the White Sox from achieving October greatness this season. So Beckham and the rest of the team will need to clean up some of the spotty play in the field. Otherwise, we may need to rewrite the lyrics of Beckham’s favorite song:Â Please learn how to use your gloves…to-niii-ight!
At this point though, criticisms of the kid are pretty nit-picky. Few players have the natural ability and confidence to step into the situation he was given and produce like he has. If these last two months have been a preview of what the next ten years will be like with Beckham on the South Side, it has been about as auspicious a beginning as I can imagine.
In baseball, few things are as rewarding for an organization and its fans as seeing a draft choice (or international signee) come up through the system and become a fixture at the big league level. Frank Thomas did it. Mark Buehrle has done it. Joe Crede did it. And now Alexei Ramirez, Beckham, and others are currently in the process of doing it. The homegrown stars always seem to be the ones that are most beloved by the hometown fans and the ones who become the anchors of organizations and the icons of cities.
It’s early, but Gordon Beckham sure appears to be on track to become an anchor for the White Sox organization and a sports icon of the city of Chicago. Assuming these last six weeks are just a preview of Beckham’s career on the South Side, and that he stays humble and hungry enough to fulfill his potential, Gordon Beckham doesn’t have to fear ever losing the love of White Sox fans tonight…or ever.
* – Gordon Beckham thumbs up photo credit: Michael O’Day via MLB.com
* – Gordon Beckham spazzing out photo credit: AP via NWITimes.com