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Biggest Busts: Shortstops and Outfielders (ottoneu lwts leagues)

Posted By Justin Merry On August 4, 2011 @ 2:15 pm In Busts | 11 Comments

Wrapping up our survey of disappointing seasons, we turn our attention to shortstops and outfielders.

Shortstops

Hanley Ramirez, FLA
wOBA: .318
Avg. Cost $54.45
Performed As: $13
Value: -$42
Tsuyoshi Nishioka, MIN
wOBA: .218
Avg. Cost: $6.96
Performed As: -$11
Value: -$18
Reid Brignac, TBR
wOBA: .207
Avg. Cost: $2.13
Performed As: -$17
Value: -$17

My pick to hit to his cost the rest of the way: Tsuyoshi Nishioka

If the question is who will be the better hitter over the rest of the season, Hanley’s the obvious choice.  But can he hit like the $54 he was drafted to be?  I’m not sure we can expect him to be in the class anymore.  A $30 player?  Sure, I’ll bid that for him.  But that would be $24 less than his price tag, which is a poorer value than what Nishioka and Brignac have offered so far.  The fact that he’s dealing with a shoulder injury makes me even more concerned.

So given the choice between the other two, I’ll go with Nishioka.  That’s mostly because he’s largely still an unknown.  With just 200 PA’s in the North American baseball (through Tuesday night), we still don’t really know how his success in Japan will translate in major league baseball.  The Twins certainly thought he’d be able to hit enough when they signed him to $9 M/3 yrs this offseason, and they’re good at scouting.

With Reid Brignac, on the other hand, we have a larger body of work from which to sample.  His minor league numbers are vastly better than his MLB numbers.  But even there, he didn’t walk a lot, and struck out a lot.  With over 600 PA’s, he has a career .269 wOBA.  I’m not sure he’s going to hit a lot better than that.  On top of that, he’s starting to lose playing time.

Others (number is cost – production = value): Rafael Furcal (-$14), Juan Uribe (-$13), Stephen Drew (-$12), Brent Morel (-$11), Ian Desmond (-$11)

Outfielders

Carl Crawford, BOS
wOBA: .291
Avg. Cost $38.43
Performed As: -$6
Value: -$45
Alex Rios, CHW
wOBA: .241
Avg. Cost: $13.54
Performed As: -$27
Value: -$41
Jason Heyward, ATL
wOBA: .317
Avg. Cost: $40.79
Performed As: $1
Value: -$40

My pick to hit his weight the rest of the way: Carl Crawford

Seriously, what the hell?  I was never a Rios fan, and while I’m not surprised to see him struggle, I didn’t think he would be this bad.  But Crawford and Heyward’s struggles have been very surprising.

In all cases, I think the bidding went a little out of control for their services in the preseason.  Crawford was inflated because of his typical extra value in roto leagues because of his speed, while Heyward got the hype bump.  And both have really struggled, though obviously Crawford has been significantly worse.

Normally, I’d go with the player with the longer track record of success, which is Crawford by a mile here.  But I’m concerned about the significant drop in his already low walk rate, and the jump in his strikeout rate.  The last time Crawford struggled badly–2008–he didn’t show those markers. We’ve seen signs several times this year that he was about to rebound, but so far, no dice.  Since returning from a month off with a hamstring injury, he’s continued to scuffle, hitting just .250/.300/.357.   I still think he’s going to rebound, but given it all I think we need to assume that his talent level has eroded at least a bit compared to his previous excellence.

So I’m going with Heyward.  At least based on his statistics, there aren’t a lot of obvious warning flags.  His walk rate is down significantly, but that can happen when you’re struggling as pitchers will continue to challenge you.  His strikeout rate is also down a hair (more aggressive?), while his ground ball rates and ISO are right where they usually are.  We are seeing a slightly higher swinging strike percentage, and lower contact rates, and, of course, the very high infield fly ball rate (25%!!!).  The common explanation for all of this is his shoulder injury, which caused him to miss nearly a month in the first half, and may continues to linger and affect him.  It scares me.  But he’s 21.  And he has so much power, at least when healthy, that it would not be surprising to see him just go insane for a few months to finish off the season.

Others: Shin-Soo Choo (-$35), Ichiro Suzuki (-$34), Jayson Werth (-$23), Franklin Gutierrez (-$21), Delmon Young (-$18), Aubrey Huff (-$17), Juan Pierre (-$17), Carlos Gonzalez (-$16), Colby Rasmus (-$16), Nick Markakis (-$16), Michael Saunders (-$16)


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