In the name of Joe Cleary, I hope you AL leaguers didn’t own Vin Mazzaro last week. Nothing is going to beat the 14 earned runs in 2.1 innings that Mazzaro gave up, but I’ve been on the receiving end of some Fantasy beatings in my day; I remember John Smoltz dropping an eight-earned run turd on me the first year he became a closer. The young high upside pitchers I have a weakness for, don’t always return my love either. I had Kerry Wood in his rookie year, and after two decent starts, I was excited about what he could do. Well in that third start, he decided to get knocked around by Mike Piazza and the Dodgers to the tune of seven earned runs in 1.2 innings. That one had me a little worried I have to admit. Of course, two starts after that he rewarded my patience with a 20-strikeout gem that is arguably the most dominant pitching performance in baseball history. That Wood masterpiece was obviously the best pitching line I’ve ever got from a player I owned. On the hitting side, my one-day hero has to be Hard Hittin’ Mark Whiten. Whiten was a journeyman outfielder that flashed all the tools but never really put them together … until the second game of a doubleheader on Sept. 7, 1993. Whiten went 4-for-5, with four home runs and 12 RBIs. The 13 RBIs he gave me that day (1 RBI in game one as DH) represent two or three days of output from a typical NL-only team.
| This Boston backstop may no longer be just another Salty dog. Photo Credit: Icon SMI
Now these guys I’m about to mention aren’t putting up Mazzaro-like numbers, however they are falling far short of preseason expectations, but for some reason aren’t drawing much negative attention from Fantasy pundits. It’s time to point some Fantasy fingers at some of baseball’s quiet disappointments.
I’ll start behind the dish with everybody’s glamour boy Buster Posey. How come nobody’s talking about his lackluster .281, four HR, 21 RBI season? We weren’t supposed to use the phrase, “for a catcher,” with this guy, but his numbers are just all right … for a catcher. The batting average has ticked up lately but he hasn’t hit a long ball since April 24. When is he going to revert to the incredible spark plug that drove the Giants to the World Series last year? The sad truth is that he’s putting up the numbers we probably should have expected all along. Nothing in the minor league numbers of Gerald Demp Posey suggested he would immediately come in and pop 18 home runs in 406 at-bats. Could he develop more power? Certainly as he gains experience it could happen, but right now, he is what he is; a solid hitter with a little pop and a little speed … for a catcher.
Moving over to first base, home of the big boppers, we find Billy Butler, another golden boy anointed the next breakout bat every spring. I’m sorry Billy, but the .284 average isn’t enough to hide the three home runs and 17 RBIs. Lyle Stinkin’ Overbay has four home runs and 16 RBIs; of course he’s sitting on the waiver wire of every 12-team mixed league in existence. Billy Butler, I’m calling you out. You have become the Monarch of Mediocrity and will never be anything special in Fantasy terms. Have you ever thought about moving behind the plate?
Far be it from me to bash on part of Red Sox Nation, but someone has to do some bashing, because Dustin Pedroia certainly hasn’t. Two home runs? Ten RBIs? Really? At least he has matched the 25 runs scored by the likes of Darwin Barney. With Chase Utley‘s knee issues, Pedroia probably went as the second two-bagger off the board this draft season, and if I’m talking about him in the same sentence as someone named Barney, you know it hasn’t gone well.
Over at the hot corner we have injuries to blame for the demise of Pablo Sandoval and Ryan Zimmerman. So what’s your excuse Aramis Ramirez? For the first time I can recollect he’s 100 percent healthy, yet Fantasy owners have fallen asleep around him. The .296 average is nothing more than white noise covering up the one home run and 17 RBIs. He’s made Billy Butler look like Albert Pujols (well at least the Albert Pujols we used to know). I know that you’ll go through one of your patented hot spells soon, Aramis, but unfortunately one of your patented DL stints will follow shortly after that.
Everybody knows about Carl Crawford‘s struggles, but you never hear about those of Denard Span. No one ever rostered Span for his power, and his one HR and eight RBIs show you why. Where is the speed though? Three stolen bases? Four attempts? Might as well just go get pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson. At least we expect his numbers to be empty.
Speaking of empty, Alex Rios, I see you’ve decided to stop teasing us this season. Normally you give us great speed or solid power, just never in the same year. This year you’ve just neglected to give us anything at all. To be fair, the matching fours he’s put up in HRs and SBs aren’t all that bad … for a backup middle infielder. At least the .205 average blends in well with those of his Chicago teammates.
Okay, enough dropping dimes as some of baseball’s biggest disappointments continue their walk of shame. It’s time to play …
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY? – A weekly look at players who are ugly on the outside (full season numbers), but whose inner beauty (recent production) is starting to shine through.
I targeted Jarrod Saltalamacchia (he should pay me for spelling out his name) in drafts this spring as a second catcher that had a little upside. I figure that if ever he was going to fulfill even a little of his post-hype potential, that Boston lineup would help him do it. As the three home runs, 12 RBIs, and .237 batting average can attest, it hasn’t gone well so far. Don’t lose hope just yet my fellow Saltalamaccians. Over the last two weeks, Salty has hit .333, with all three of his long balls. With Jason Varitek further proving that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in all of sports, the at-bats will be there if the Salty man can continue his charge toward mediocrity. In AL-only leagues there’s something to be said for a catcher that doesn’t completely suck. A catcher that plays a lot and only halfway sucks, can help your counting stats get on the move. If that wasn’t a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.
Most people know that I absolutely love deep mono-leagues. It’s why I love to talk about players like Eric Hinske. You don’t read about him in the Fantasy magazines and no one is hyping him up on their BlogTalkRadio show. Nonetheless, the guy has been a savior in my NL-only leagues. Hinske plays all corner infield and outfield positions, positions where the Braves happen to have Iron Man Chipper Jones and Glass Joe Jason Heyward. Think Hinske won’t get a ton of at-bats this year? Hinske went ignored in my drafts until I nabbed him in the reserve rounds, but his 14 HRs and 50 RBIs just might put me over on the guys who have black holes in their outfield or utility slots. Decisions like these are why mono-leagues really test your mettle as a baseball connoisseur.
After a strong rookie showing, Chris Johnson has been a huge letdown, both to the Astros and his Fantasy owners. We came in expecting Alyssa Milano, but ended up getting Rosie O’Donnel. Johnson’s .226 average and 12 runs scored were especially disappointing. It may not be a deluge, but the numbers have started to trickle in. Over the last two weeks, Johnson has hit .315, with a homer and nine RBIs. He may yet rise to mixed league utility spot value.
Another useful bat that has started to turn it around is Rajai Davis. He’s probably never going to be consistent with the bat, but his .366 average over the last two weeks has his full season numbers back in the realm of respectability. Of course, the five stolen bases in that time span are the real reason to throw him in your fifth outfielder slot.
Enough of RotoDaddy for now. Since we were very offensive this week, next week we’ll take a look at the pitching side of things. If you’re going to hurl, hurl in this.
Doug Anderson is the Executive Editor at RotoExperts.com. His work has appeared on Yahoo!, SI.com, NFL.com, as well as gracing the pages of USA Today’s Fantasy Baseball Magazines.
Wanna climb in the box and talk baseball? E-mail Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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