Kicking Rocks: I Said Studs, Not Duds!

Complaint time, folks!  I got my crying hat on today…

We’ve all heard it a million times before — every year, every site, every pre-draft advice column — fantasy championships are won in the later rounds of your draft.  When you’re getting third round production from your 22nd round pick, your team is destined for success.  What they don’t say is that, while that may be true for the most part, you also need for your first and second round picks to produce accordingly.  If not, then you’re in a little bit of trouble.  The work it takes to recover from a first or even second round bust is plentiful and can be an agonizing task.

I’m in six leagues, ranging from 10 teams to 18 teams.  Two of them are auction and the rest are all snake drafts.  My biggest bids landed on Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez.  For the other four leagues, my first round picks were used on Ramirez, Evan Longoria, Carlos Gonzalez and David Wright.

Drop your shorts and bend over, Mr. Babar.

Sure, every year you’ve got a guy or two that doesn’t live up to his draft position or gets tagged with a fluke, long-term injury, but this year is just plain ridiculous.  When was the last time you saw five of the top ten overall picks (according to Mock Draft Central’s 2011 ADP Rankings) fail their owners so miserably in a season?  Five!

Injuries happen.  You just can’t prevent them.  Maybe if Wright was out with a concussion again, a la lingering effects like Justin Morneau has dealt with, then I could have said that I should have known better during the draft.  But the back injury is completely unrelated and therefore just a huge bummer that you just have to take. Unfortunately with this, you’re “taking it” a little harder than the normal run-of-the-mill injuries.  Not only are you forced to replace his level of production for the current time lost, but you have no idea if/when he’s coming back, so you’re efforts could last for the entire season.

Longoria’s is obviously a little easier to take.  Totally sucks having to replace two months of production from him, but it’s just salvaging two months and not a season.  It’s workable; something you can hopefully power through, especially since his level of production upon return has been where you thought it would be.

Pujols’ injury obviously hurts a lot more.  Sure you’ve got a general timetable, but what you’re missing out on for the next 4-6 weeks is irreplaceable with just one late round sleeper or some savvy waiver claim.  You’re talking about a guy who started off the season ice cold and then turned it on in…well….a Pujolsian way.  I don’t know any guy that you’re going to pick up that will hit .300-15-45 over the next month and a half.

CarGo, on the other hand, is just poor judgement.  If you chose to ignore the home/road splits and thought that you were going to get similar production to his ridiculous 2010 stats, then you only have yourself to blame.  I justify my pick of him based on how late my choice was in the first round (16th out of 18) and that I was planning on trading him after he got off to a hot start.  Whoops!  I finally found a buyer, but not nearly for the price I was hoping.  Still, he probably hurts the least out of them, as my expectations weren’t huge and a good late round sleeper and a halfway decent waiver claim helped supplement his mediocre production.

And then there’s Hanley.  Oh man.  Now this one hurts.  27 years old, coming off a down year?  He, himself, talked about putting the team on his shoulders this season.  I don’t think anyone was really expecting the .300-30-100-30 season, but I think we were looking for close.  Instead, we just got a swift kick to the fantasy groin.  With his current totals, you might as well have taken Paul Janish with your first round pick.  What hurts even more is that no one produces a stat line like that, especially at shortstop.  Matt Kemp seems to be on his way, but obviously at a much deeper position.

Even worse with Hanley is that his line stinks so bad that not only do you need a late round sleeper or two to pan out, but you also probably need to throw in a big time waiver claim just to counter that atrocious batting average that he is pushing on you.  You either need a guy who’s hitting .320 in 200 AB or atleast two that are banging between .280 and .290 just to fix the damage he’s done.  You can hope that there’s a turnaround in his immediate future, but it’s going to have to be pretty substantial to counter the damage that’s already done.

Obviously this is weighing on me a lot more having experienced it in so many different leagues.  If you’re just getting tagged in one league, the hurt is probably much less.  Or is it…?  The bitch session is now open.  You have the floor.

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site,, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at

29 Responses to “Kicking Rocks: I Said Studs, Not Duds!”

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  1. Alan says:

    Hanley in the first, Dunn in the third (one pick ahead of Kemp [it’s an obp league]). Then, I traded for Holliday two days before his quad injury. It’s only one league that’s a lot of stats being left on the board.

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    • Tom B says:

      I think Hanley is the most detrimental of all of the first round busts, because he is only there due to “position scarcity” anyway. Much easier to replace 1B production than SS.

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      • Bob Saget says:

        It could be argued that since there is less of a drop off in talent at 1b then the drop off in talent from what you expect hanley to give you and the next best player hurts you even more.

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  2. Shamus says:

    Longoria is definitely not easier to take. He had a half-decent May, but he’s been lousy in June. I’ve had him in my primary keeper league since he was first promoted from the minors and I’ve been waiting and waiting for him to justify the long-term investment made. Last year he was a major disappointment in my eyes. His value was inflated by the fluky stolen base production. His power numbers were way to low for a franchise corner infielder. It’s become clear to me that’s he’ll be luck to crack .270 and 20 HR this year. I have a lot of pitching depth on my keeper team, so I dealt him and Sabathia for Teixeira, Ryan Zimmerman and Ethier. Teixeira’s .250 average is a bitter pill, but I’ll take the HR output.

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  3. AL says:

    Two of my top three picks, Longoria and Mauer, not panning out well but still hoping for a turnaround. It helps that I drafted Konerko in a decent round tho.

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  4. kid says:

    What is wrong with Cargo? Rough April, but a .919 OPS is May and. 903 OPS in June are absolutely nothing to complain about.

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    • magguu says:

      I agree. I just got him and Yunel for Hanley, and even though the Spikes on this website will surely mock me for agreeing to this trade, I’ve never been more relieved to unload a player in any fantasy league in any sport ever. CarGo’s ROS ZiPS look fine to me, especially compared to Hanley’s, and I’m giving odds right now that Yunel outperforms Hanley ROS. That’s how frustrating owning Hanley has been.

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  5. Kevin says:

    In what world is Longoria even close to performing to expectations after coming back from is injury? Hanley clearly has him beat as far as largely non-health related disappointments go but don’t tell me Longoria isn’t stinking it up.

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  6. mcbrown says:

    In mid-May I made what I thought was a particularly clever 3×3 trade, the cornerstone of which was getting David Wright for Adrian Beltre. It was your classic “buy low” gambit, the kind that always sounds great in theory but no one ever manages to pull off. Since David Wright hit my roster he has played one game… And almost as if David Wright was out to get me, on the day I agreed to the trade Wright managed to incapacitate Ike Davis, my super-sleeper and secret weapon…

    Yeah, I’m bitter.

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    • Drew says:

      What was the rest of the deal?

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      • mcbrown says:

        Beltre, Jed Lowrie and Jose Valverde for Wright, Brandon Phillips, Brandon Morrow and Jonathan Broxton’s corpse. Every leg felt like an upgrade (one might disagree with the Valverde/Morrow+Broxton piece).

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  7. Drew says:

    Nothing wrong with a good cry.

    Not only do I have Wright (and Jason Heyward, and Brandon Beachy, who also went down for extended periods of time), I’ve also suffered through the seasons of un-injured guys (and relatively high draft picks / big trade centerpieces) like Shin-Soo Choo, Adam Dunn, Ian Kinlser, Carlos Santana, and Chad Billingsley.

    Also, due to lack of DL space, I dumped Liriano in May when he was injured. Oops.

    Then again, I could have Hanley instead of Tulo (though, when I got him via trade in May, he proceeded to wOBA .320 for 30 games before picking it up of late).

    And I know Josh Hamilton and Joe Mauer owners were/are probably much sadder about their guys than I was about Heyward going down (and Carlos Santana sucking).

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    • magguu says:

      As the drafter of Hamilton, Hanley, and Wright, I can tell you that yes, it was very sad when Hamilton broke his arm and Hanley was hitting .200.

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  8. Nathan says:

    The first two players I picked were Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford. FML. :)

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  9. Ryan says:

    How about this. Through some clever trades last year and our keeper format, I came in to the draft this year with Pujols in 1, HRamirez 2, Crawford 3, MCabrera 4. Sprinkly in Fowler, Ibanez, and various other stiffs, and now I’m sitting in 11th place only in front of the team that hasn’t made a single lineup or FAAB pickup all year.

    Had to go and dump all of my SP (5×5) to add hitters, and now I’m running 4 closers and a bunch of MR. I may lose, but I’ll battle to respectability.

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  10. microwave donut says:

    after having Utley last season and Reyes in 2009, Pujols this year seems par for the course.

    Taking Kendrys Morales as my CI on draft day didn’t help, but oh well.

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  11. Jason B says:

    NL auction draft – my two biggest prices were paid for Pujols and Hanley. Stars n’ scrubs, was the way it worked out. THAT certainly worked well…

    Hey at least I had Corey Hart to anchor the outfi…no wait! Dammit.

    (Of course I would hasten to add that a rotten experience with it this year doesn’t really invalidate stars & scrubs; like you said, you just kinda need your top-dollar guys to, you know, PRODUCE like top-dollar guys.)

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  12. tenags says:

    My team has V-Mart, Danny Espinosa, Hanley, CarGo, Kemp, Prado (DL), Wright (DL), Kershaw, Felix, , Yovani, Josh Johnson (DL) and I am in 9th out of 16……. how can this be?!?!?!?!?!

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  13. gryff says:

    For the draft this year I was targeting Hanley as my first rounder. I ended up having 1st pick so I obviously chose Pujols.

    My other targets in the early rounds were Rios, Dunn, Santana, Aramis Ramirez, Stanton, Daniel Hudson.

    I only managed to grab 2 out of those five (Santana, A-ram) and was a little dissapointed.

    Right now though I am so glad I am not stuck with Rios, hanley and Dunn. I’m in 2nd place in my league and enjoy the fact that my draft misfortune was a blessing in disguise.

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  14. Joser says:

    I think I win. 16-teams, 40-man rosters. my team: Pujols, Hanley, Longoria, CarGo, Choo, Liriano. Somehow still in second place, mostly thanks to hamels, Weeks, Felix, and my young closer crop (kimbrel, Storen, Walden)

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  15. How Did I Lose That Hand?!? says:

    I flopped a straight and he hit a runner-runner flush! AAARRRGGGGHHHHH!!!! Why does that always happen to me?!?!1?!1

    (Just beyond bad beat stories that nobody wants to hear or cares about in the least, are fantasy sports trades/finds/sob stories that no one wants to hear or care about.)

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  16. MikeInNJ says:

    Ha, none of you have me beat! I’m in a 10 team NL only league. Here’s my list of mostly injured + major busts.

    Let’s start with my entire corner…
    **David Wright – Bust and out 6+ weeks
    **Ike Davis – Possibly out for season
    **David Freese – App. 2 months

    Then add in…
    **Hanley Ramirez – Bust and DL stint
    **Marlon Byrd – Out indefinitely
    **Brandon Beachy – One month
    **Shane Victorino – 2+ weeks with hammy
    **Jose Contreras – Only saving grace is I own Madson

    I’ve also had minor injuries to Tim Hudson (missed start), Rasmus (ab pull) and R.A. Dickey (foot).

    The worst part? Watching helplessly as your team goes from solidly in first to fifth.

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  17. BottomoftheBarrel says:

    If I don’t have you beat, I’m pretty close…
    A whopping combined .187 BA for my big 3. I drafted Holliday but recently traded him for Gallardo to shore up my pitching staff that I didn’t draft to pick the amazing 3 mentioned above! Needless to say, I’m 12th in a 12 team league 51 games out of 1st place! And I won it all last year. Can’t wait for football!

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    • MikeInNJ says:

      Doesn’t sound like it. You’re in a mixed league. You have a larger pool of players to draw from. Plus, while Dunn and Uggla have been busts it’s not like they haven’t historically had sub-par BA’s. You take a risk in drafting those guys knowing they could slam you with a really bad BA.

      Busts are one thing. Having four major injuries out of 14 offensive players is simply awful luck.

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  18. Dane says:

    Hows this for bad luck. In an MLB team dynasty league I was happy enough to get the Rays. Of course I got Longoria in the deal. That turned out awesome. Add in that my first pick in our offline draft (20 team league, each team has 5 keepers from their actual team, OBP and K/9 league) I picked up Wandy Rodriguez. Later on I got Jorge De La Rosa. I have gone on to trade for Josh Johnson, Tommy Hanson and Grady Sizemore. Out of them all, the only one’s still on my team are Grady, Longoria and Wandy. I got decent returns on Josh Johnson (Hellickson and Jemile Weeks) and Hanson (Ramos and Kinsler) at least, but the output just isn’t there overall. My only saving grace is that my throw-ins from most of my trades are carrying my teams now (JJ Hardy mostly). Oh yeah… I also drafted Kendry Morales and Geovany Soto.. Almost forgot.

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  19. Nate says:

    I usually don’t comment, but I usually don’t find quotes from Fletch worked into fantasy baseball articles. All time great movie, well done.

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  20. Bob Saget says:

    rd. 2 – cargo
    rd. 3 – wright
    rd. 4 – mauer
    rd. 5 – dunn
    rd. 6 – josh johnson
    rd.12- morneau

    do i win an award?

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  21. nom du plume says:

    Ha, I think I have you beat.

    k. johnson

    And yet, I’ve still been in 1st or 2nd since mid-may.

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