Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes…it rains. Fortunately, the ominous, dark clouds that usually precede the storm are visible enough to give you fair warning and help keep you from getting wet. So as we talk about the AL outfielders this week, here are a few that have those dark clouds hovering over that you might want to avoid.
Knee Jerk Reaction: Grady Sizemore
Let’s face it, when the cloud says micro-fracture knee surgery, it doesn’t get more dark and ominous than that. Injuries have ruined the once great 30-30 player that sat atop the fantasy rankings back in 2008, and I don’t see it getting much better. He had elbow concerns in ’09 that dropped his ISO 36 points and the knee issue last season that derailed any hope of a comeback. In fact, the extensive recovery process from this type of surgery, usually 6 to 9 months, has kept him out of most of Spring Training as it was only a few days ago that he even started fielding drills. I see another slow start for him this season, followed up with some pressing at the plate, and I certainly don’t see him doing too much running on the bases. I don’t care what the Bill James projections say, I think this former top 5 pick is middle round material at best these days.
Gone West…and Maybe South: Vernon Wells
The road has been a rocky one for Wells over the last few years, and despite last season’s resurgence, I don’t see the move to Los Angeles as anything that’s going to help him or his fantasy value. Sure, he’s got a fresh start, but the inconsistencies since 2007, coupled with the move to a very pitcher-friendly home in a division of pitcher-friendly parks would make me nervous about drafting him with any kind of high expectations. In a very Darin Erstad like way, Wells has gone the “every other year” route and has seen big swings in his ISO and wOBA each year. If the pattern continues we’re looking at a pretty weak year this season. Though the sample size of at bats is small, relatively speaking, Wells does not have good numbers out west over the past 3 seasons. The only park he finds success at, like everybody else, is in Arlington, while he’s sporting a combined .209 average with just 2 HR in the other three. And despite his ability to opt out of his contract this year, he has no real incentive to do so in an effort to grab a bigger payday as he’s set to make over $20M for the next 3 years anyway. I don’t know what the Angels were thinking and I’ll say the same for you if you reach too high for this potential bust.
Overdue and Overrated: B.J. Upton
I’ll admit it. I drank the Kool-Aid. I thought I was going to be on easy street grabbing Upton in my primary keeper league years ago and protecting him each season while waiting for the breakout. Problem is, we’re all still waiting. Sure, he’s had his flirtations like the 20-20 season in 2007 and swiping 40+ bags each year over the last 3 seasons, but it’s never been what we expected, and it’s never been worth where he’s been drafted over the last several years. Upton has gone from a potential first round stud to nothing more than an average middle round speedster and I don’t see it getting much better regardless of last year’s 18 HR. The batting average is atrocious, the OBP is certainly not pretty to look at, his ISO is league average at best, his K% is still on the rise, and even his SB% isn’t all that great. Yes, he had a decent year last year, but is he worth drafting anywhere above the 6th round? Not in my book. I know he’s only 26 and where position players usually hit their peak, but I think I’d rather grab someone with a better attitude and who can contribute more evenly across the board.