A slight change of plans from what I said on Tuesday, as — perhaps unsurprisingly — the disappointments and those who failed to qualify for the batting title featured more than a little crossover.
Injury is one of the dominant reasons players ended up here — whether one major blow like the one Buster Posey suffered, or a seemingly endless cavalcade of issues that hit Joe Mauer or Shin-Soo Choo — but some simply just couldn’t produce this year.
This is a value ranking of position players only, produced by taking their average draft position according to ESPN and subtracting the oRank I introduced on Tuesday. The more negative the number in parentheses is, the worse the value the player provided. Not everyone here was objectively bad, but all were overdrafted.
Howard may not have had a great year, but he’s hard done to be listed among this lot. A -9 in baserunning does him no favors, but even if that’s generously reduced to 0, he still struggles to make the top 40 in batting runs alone. You could have gotten just slightly worse production from Nick Swisher, who was drafted about 125 picks later in most drafts.
Posey, Cruz, and Zimmerman all spent more than a month of the season on the DL, so it’s not surprising that they failed to reach expectations for this year. I’ll draft both Posey and Zimmerman without hesitation next year, but Cruz, who had the most playing time of the three, turned in an uncharacteristically poor year. I have concerns about his ability to avoid this list again next year.
If you didn’t watch much of the AL Central this year and are wondering what happened to the Twins, well, here’s a pretty good clue. Once Mauer was healthy, he was more productive than fans seem to remember — an .810 OPS in the second half isn’t stunningly good, but it’s nearly 200 points better than his first half — but pneumonia made his resurgence short-lived. Morneau had so many injuries and issues this year, it was hard to keep track of them all. Even when he was on the field, he wasn’t right; his best month was May when he had a .723 OPS, his next best was his .612 in August.
Heyward is an interesting case. This season was a big disappointment for him and he has been told that he is not guaranteed the right field job next year. If an MRI on his shoulder shows damage, that could go a long way towards explaining his poor year, but this could just be a case of a player and new manager not gelling well.
Before mock draft season started, I was deadset on drafting Dunn, but he consistently went just a little higher than I wanted. Consider that a bullet dodged. Dunn’s issues versus left-handers got plenty of press — going 6-for-94 against them will do that — but Dunn just flat out didn’t hit anyone this year. I refuse to believe this is the sudden and permanent end to Dunn’s career, so perhaps he’s worth targeting in the late rounds of next year’s drafts. Just a thought.
Like Morneau above, Ramirez was alternately hurt and profoundly disappointing, which was a kick in the teeth to owners that took him second overall, or worse, above Pujols with the first pick in the draft. One of the most compelling storylines for the early part of the 2012 season will be how he and new manager Ozzie Guillen get along. Keeper owners are surely hoping for a good bond between the two.
01. Carl Crawford (-102)
There’s nothing like kicking a man while he’s down. 2011 was an immensely disappointing year from Crawford, who would have provided owners good value if he had been taken some 100 picks lower than he was. For redraft owners, there’s not much beyond the old Ron Washington quote “that’s the way baseball go,” hopefully you traded Crawford to some sap early in the season and weren’t forced to watch him stumble his way through. You have my condolences, for whatever that’s worth.
For keeper owners however, there’s some good news. Crawford last swooned like this in 2008, when he hit .273/.319/.400 with 8 HR and 25 SB — better than this year’s line of .255/.289/.405, 11 HR, 18 HR, but still disappointing. He rebounded in 2009 to .305/.364/.452 with 15 HR and 60 SB. While this doesn’t mean he’s a lock to swipe 60 bases in 2012, it’s at least a glimmer of hope after a regrettable year for Crawford.