Fantasy Baseball: First month busts

In my most recent article, I highlighted the All-Stars after the first month of the season. All of the players on that list have been killing it. In stark contrast to that article, this will feature a few players who have been busts so far this season. They may not be doing terribly, but they have been vastly underperforming compared to their preseason draft stock.

Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy

J.J. Hardy has struggled to get anything going this season

J.J. Hardy

Heading into the season, J.J. Hardy was projected to be a borderline top-10 shortstop. He was a player that could be drafted relatively late in the draft and provide a source of power – a rare commodity in the shortstop market. Before my drafts, I knew I wanted to grab him, but fortunately for me, someone drafted him before I could.

Over the last three seasons, Hardy has averaged 26 home runs and 75 RBI. Hardy has missed a quarter of the Baltimore Orioles games so far this year and when he has played, he has been pathetic. He has clawed his way back to a decent batting average – he is currently hitting .256 – but his power is nowhere to be found. Hardy has no home runs and just nine RBI, not to mention, he’s only scored six runs.

I keep expecting Hardy to turn it around, but he just hasn’t. I still have hope for him to salvage his season – he hits in one of the best lineups in the league, which certainly doesn’t hurt. He is now just owned in 79.5% of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues. In a points league, I think it still may be worth holding on to him just because of his power potential, but in a roto league, his lack of production in every category makes him droppable. Either way, keep an eye on him because if he does turn it around, he could be a great addition to a fantasy team.

Miguel Cabrera

 This may be the first time that Miguel Cabrera has been labeled as a bust. In reality, his season hasn’t been too bad, but it hasn’t been typical of the two-time reigning MVP. Cabrera is hitting .282 with four home runs and 25 RBI. He has hit 44 homers in each of the last two seasons and he hasn’t had an average below .324 since 2008.

One reason for the decline is that Cabrera’s plate discipline has suffered so far in 2014. His walk rate has fallen from 13.8% last year to a measly 6.1% this season. His strikeout rate has also gone up. Another problem early on has been his Isolated Power – it was .276 and .288 in 2012 and 2013 respectively. After 124 at bats this season, it has dramatically fallen to just .186. To put that number into perspective, Cabrera has never had an ISO below .223 his entire career.

If it still is not clear why I labeled Cabrera as a bust, let me further explain. In most fantasy baseball leagues, Cabrera was picked number two overall. As of May 9, Cabrera is not even in the top-100 of ESPN’s fantasy baseball Player Rater. It’s still not time to worry about Cabrera. Over the last three games, he was 5-for-13 with two home runs and six RBI. It looks like Cabrera is finally heating up.

2013-14-tsr-hot-stove-6-prince-fielderPrince Fielder

Many thought that being traded to the Texas Rangers would rejuvenate Prince Fielder’s career. Fielder has seen a decline in both his home run and RBI numbers in each of the last three seasons. He is no longer a threat to hit 40 home runs in a single season.

The move to Texas certainly hasn’t changed much. Fielder is hitting .228 with only three home runs and 12 RBI after 35 games. That means he’s on pace for just 14 homers and 56 RBI. It’s pretty likely he’ll eclipse both of those numbers, but he is still almost certainly going to be a bust by season’s end.

Before the season, he was projected by ESPN to be the number 13 fantasy hitter, meaning that in many leagues, he was probably picked in the second round. Currently, Fielder is ranked 332nd on the ESPN Player Rater. If I owned Fielder, I would take almost anything I could get for him now. His fantasy stock is the lowest it has ever been. He may turn his season around in a small way, but I don’t see any chance of him living up to his preseason stock.

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