Studs that were Duds

Even the best fantasy players post poor seasons. Often times, one owner’s disappointment can be another owner’s opportunity. Fantasy baseball is such a “what have you done for me lately” game, that some owners will give up on premier talent after a down season. While it’s never easy to make a deal in fantasy — particularly when the players involved are considered elite — sometimes it pays to inquire whether a certain player is available in your leagues. Here are some of those elite players that could be available at a lower price in your leagues right now.

Jason Heyward

What went wrong: Injuries and general ineffectiveness depressed Heyward’s overall line to .227/.319/.389 in his sophomore season. While his batting average can be explained be a poor BABIP, his complete lack of power is very concerning. Many analysts speculated that Heyward altered his swing following his shoulder injury, which contributed to his lack of power.

Why should you ask about Heyward: Don’t be fooled by his most recent season, this is still the same player that posted a five win season at age 21. Heyward still has loads of potential, and his team already trusts him to bat in the middle of the lineup. As long as he’s recovered from his shoulder injury, he’s going to live up to his promising rookie season.

Hanley Ramirez

What went wrong: Did anything go right for Ramirez last season? Between injuries, ineffectiveness and a bad attitude, the once premier shortstop posted a rather pedestrian season. His season was so poor that the Miami Marlins are taking a hard look at Jose Reyes this off-season — which could move Ramirez off of the shortstop position.

Why should you ask about Ramirez: Ramirez has a track record of success at the thinnest fantasy position. A chance to acquire an elite shortstop rarely ever presents itself in most leagues. Now would be the time to strike, as his owner might be sick of all the drama that seems to follow Ramirez. Based on his history, he’s a great bet to return to form next season.

Carl Crawford

What went wrong: The short answer is “everything.” In his first season with Boston, Crawford failed to hit for average, get on base or steal bases. All in all, he was a huge disappointment — in fantasy and in real life.

Why should you ask about Crawford: Because he was such a major bust last season, Crawford’s owner might think it’s time for Crawford to be someone else’s problem. His struggles were more highly publicized than most players since he plays in a major market, and that could be a benefit for owners looking to acquire elite talent on the cheap. Like Ramirez, Crawford has a history of posting elite seasons, so we shouldn’t let one poor year influence how we view him as a player. There’s also no way he only steals eighteen bases again next season, right?

There’s no guarantee these players are even available in your leagues right now, but savvy owners will at least inquire about their availability. Never underestimate how frustrated an owner can get after a player posts a disappointing season. Sometimes, even the most elite talent is available for less than you think. It never hurts to ask.




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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.

12 Responses to “Studs that were Duds”

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  1. Shiska says:

    What about Choo, Dunn, Mauer, Suzuki, Bay,…any of them fit in the buy low/bounce back category or are they all on the downswing?

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  2. MH says:

    Saying Heyward had a “complete lack of power” is fairly misleading. His .162 ISO and 14% HR/FB were still very solid and both just a touch behind what he did in 2010. He was on pace to crack 20 HR if he’d managed 600 PAs. The big problems were (in order of least concerning to most concerning):

    a) Owners were hoping for growth, not regression

    b) His BABIP went from .335 to .260

    c) His IFFB% went from 5.6% to a staggering 21.8%

    d) He still hit more than 50% of balls on the ground

    Of the four, the last poses the largest problem. The first can be explained by injuries. The second and third are tied together and can also probably partly be explained by injuries, though the IFFB% means the BABIP issue wasn’t significantly a product of luck. The GB% issue is still very real though and will ultimately limit his power upside until he can get the rate closer to the league average. Interestingly, the problem is almost identical with Hanley, except he didn’t see the IFFB% spike and we have a bunch of years prior to 2010 where GB% wasn’t an issue in his case.

    For the record, I’d still draft either one considering how they’re likely to be valued, but I’m not sure how far my patience would go if they’re still burning worms at such a high rate come June.

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  3. BoKnows says:

    His struggles were more highly publicized than most players since he plays in a major market

    That doesn’t make his struggles any less real… if anything I would say Crawford got a pretty easy go of it considering how BAD he actually was.

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  4. TheGrandslamwich says:

    Hanley’s GB% has been steadily increasing, which I find quite concerning.

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  5. GLP says:

    “his (Heyward’s) team already trusts him to bat in the middle of the lineup.”

    If you would check Braves box scores from late in the season, you will find that Heyward was not batting in the middle of the order as you state. In fact, its clear that the Braves did not trust him at all by then.

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  6. Kyle says:

    Crawford is the best bet for a bounce back season… Heyward had a good rookie season(tons of guys do and never do sh!!t again), and Hanley’s power and speed have declined the past few seasons. He’s also an E machine at shortstop.

    The craziest thing is how far his BABIP dropped at an odd .275(while for his career it’s .339.) His bad attitude won’t change unless he goes to a team that he wants to play for but he could easily just take the most money that a team offers him. He seems like the kind of guy who’d rather make an extra 3 million a year instead of play somewhere he could dominate.

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      Crawford has never been a power guy or been an on base guy. His speed is slowing and in Boston’s LF, whatever speed his does have for defense is negated because it’s so small. So no, I don’t think Crawford is the best bet. Crawford is also past the typical prime, so he’ll likely decline even more. Maybe not more than last year, but the general trend should be downward.

      Heyward has a lot of potential and changed his swing after an injury. His problem isn’t a plate discipline problem, but a solid contact problem. Once he gets healthy and gets his mechanics back, he should be back to where he was. Plus he’s young, so he should get better. Obviously better than last year, and also better in an upward trend type of way.

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  7. Chris says:

    As a sox fan I just wish that there had been a Dunn evaluation that predicted him to not be the worst hitter in baseball.

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