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Definitive Guide To All That’s Depressing

It’s fairly likely this isn’t your first spin with fantasy baseball, so you are no doubt familiar with the fact that things go wrong. Despite all your preparation, your undivided attention to the prognosticators and the projection sheets, sometimes the bell rings and one or two of your top picks turn into moldy wet blankets. One of your sleeper picks never wakes. A can’t-miss rookie never arrives.

It happens. It’s part of the game.

But is it just me, or do we have more than our share of disappointments this season? I’ve been at it for damn near two decades now (first league was the strike-shortened 1994 season — first two picks went Ken Griffey, Jr. and Jeff Bagwell!) and I’m not sure I’ve seen so many quality players land so firmly on their face three months into the season. I’m sure there’s a more scientific way of approaching that question, but without any interest in doing the thing called math today, what follows is your top 15 offensive piles of excrement for the first half of 2013.

I’d like to point out that trips to the disabled list certainly stink, but you can’t entirely hold the player responsible when they break their stupid hamate bone or turn an ankle or whatever. Injuries happen. But then there are players that not only refuse to produce when healthy and also go on the disabled list, and you’re left holding the sack of undesirable contents until they return. And even then they stink. That’s a bugger.

Below are the Bill James projections before the season started (argue if you must about projection systems, but this is what I had handy) along with the pace of the players based on current production. If they’ve been hurt most the year, we’ll just not bother with pace because it’s kind of irrelevant.

Top five:

Josh Hamilton Projection 0.289 35 96 114 7
Pace 0.207 21 77 54 4
Matt Kemp Projection 0.298 31 103 101 21
Pace 0.250 4 48 37 15
Chase Headley Projection 0.278 22 85 88 14
Pace 0.227 12 52 52 8
Jason Heyward Projection 0.272 26 92 82 20
Pace 0.210 10 54 28 2
Billy Butler Projection 0.300 24 78 100 1
Pace 0.267 11 50 88

Kemp and Heyward both have been dinged up, but as I was saying above — even when they were supposedly healthy, they were busy laying eggs. Josh Hamilton has been a well documented hot mess, of course — and even if he is on pace to have 21 home runs, he was a top tier talent that managers were certainly needing far more than these counting stats. Looking back at pre-season ADP, Yahoo had Hamilton at 19 and CBS at 17. If you drafted him there, you’ve used naughty, naughty words about him.

I wrote about Headley last week, and I think there’s enough encouraging information in his batted ball data to think he can turn things around, but his fantasy production has been below replacement level to date. Pre-season, Headley was ranked about the seventh overall third baseman and he currently ranks about 14th by my count. Butler? He’s baffling to me. It’s his age 27 season and his power has disappeared although he’s become a far more patient hitter and his batted ball profile really hasn’t changed much. You draft Butler thinking you can hang your hat on .300/20/80/100 and right now you could get better production from Adam Lind.
Next five:

Curtis Granderson Projection 0.244 34 105 86 13
Pace N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Ike Davis Projection 0.266 31 77 94
Pace 0.160 11 36 36
Brett Lawrie Projection 0.289 18 96 71 21
Pace 0.206 10 23 29 4
Starlin Castro Projection 0.304 12 83 73 24
Pace 0.228 6 71 51 12
Jesus Montero Projection 0.285 22 63 82
Pace 0.205 6 12 18

As my four year old might say: peeeeee-YOU. This list just reeks up and down. Now granted, Granderson has been hurt pretty much all season, and it was no fault of his own after being hit by two different pitches on the same damned hand. But those of you who drafted him probably had something in mind even beyond the James production above, for better or worse. After all, Granderson hit 84 home runs, scored 238 runs, and drove in 225 runs over the past two seasons. Even if he regressed all over himself, he’d have a useful season as a #2 outfielder with upside.

What do you even say about Davis, Lawrie, and Montero. Just blech. Davis was kind of seen as a poor man’s Rizzo and he’s become a player chasing Justin Smoak. Lawrie’s been dinged up, sure — but even when he’s out there, there’s just nothing to get real excited about. Nothing even needs to be said about Montero — but suffice to say, Jesus did not save.

Castro is the real head scratcher to me. You didn’t draft him to light the world on fire, but in Castro you should have had a solid batting average and a good contributor in all counting stats, with his speed being a plus. Looking back, his price tag was something in the $17-20 range in standard leagues and Yahoo! pegged his ADP at 43 while CBS had him at 31. That’s a high price to pay for what’s amounting to Pete Kozma kind of production.

B.J. Upton Projection 0.248 23 88 75 35
Pace 0.176 17 40 36 12
Josh Reddick Projection 0.247 30 90 85 9
Pace 0.215 6 41 47 12
Danny Espinosa Projection 0.253 21 82 66 19
Pace 0.154 6 23 25 2
Mike Moustakas Projection 0.264 23 75 87 4
Pace 0.208 9 38 29 2
Dustin Ackley Projection 0.249 12 82 55 13
Pace 0.203 2 33 16 2

The projections aren’t fair here for Espinosa and Ackley, but I threw them in there simply because the visual representation of their ineptitude helps me heal. Reddick wasn’t getting drafted exceptionally high, going somewhere in the teen rounds, but he has become pretty much waiver wire material. Upton was getting drafted around the 6th/7th rounds and while he’s been hitting a few home runs, everything else is just miserable.

In the end, you can probably withstand one or two disasters on your roster and still be quite competitive. But there have been so many mines in the proverbial field, chances are you’ve had one too many blowups. And I didn’t even get to the pitchers yet.

Onward. Good luck out there.

Honorable mention goes out to Elvis Andrus, Josh Rutledge, Matt Wieters, Paul Konerko, Nick Swisher, Andre Ethier, and Will Middlebrooks. They belong on some miserable list too, but they were aced out by these fifteen duds.