Building your core around the wrong fantasy baseball players can lose your league. Many players coming off a big season often wind up as fantasy baseball busts or overvalued players. Who should you avoid in your fantasy baseball drafts this season?
Michael Bourn, Atlanta Braves
If you're paying for steals, Bourn is one of the best options, but his final dollar values last season were augmented by his .295 batting average. His line-drive rate of 26.6 percent ranked him second among all qualifying hitters. Unfortunately, he also took fewer walks and offered at more pitches, so if he can't square up the ball as consistently, we could be looking at the 2010 version (.265).
Anyone who reaches Stubbs their toe
Speedsters are no strangers to high BABIPs. Bourn has a history of them, and restoring his successful bunting last season helped. But his clip restoration also stemmed from a percentage of frozen ropes you can't bet on him repeating.
His basement-level BB/K versus lefties last season negated his improved in-play ability against them; this will keep the pressure on him to sustain his batted-ball fortunes against the more common handedness - not a tall tale, but undoubtedly a tall order, even for a swift player.
Bourn should fall somewhere in the middle of his 2010 and 2011 incarnations, but a significant drop in batting average will leave you with an expensive rabbit when you could've divvied up your money on multiple investments for pilfering. -TH
Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals
Beltran resurrected his elite potential last season; his grounded batting average peripherals expanded on what he showed in 2009, and he got some power back, even though his home parks were pitcher-friendly all season. Seems like a postseason chase helped get some of his mojo back.
The ballooned .324 BABIP probably was part of him staying healthy and therefore producing solid contact the whole year; a decrease in grounders hit and a 21.1 percent liner rate, his highest in the last three years, justify that.
We were surprised he lasted 520 at-bats last year, too; contract years do that sometimes. Though he hit well after coming back from a DL stint (sprained right wrist), the sideline trip was another reminder of his fragility.
Sure, they gave him big money to sit in the heart of their order, but if the injury-prone veteran, who'll turn 35 in late April, becomes hobbled, St. Louis will have plenty of acceptable alternatives to let him rest - especially whenever Allen Craig (knee) returns. Even when healthy, Beltran could still see plenty of days off to keep him fresh, which limits his returns even further.
He's at an age where his already shaky knees will probably start weakening, and the breakdown he has already experienced has sapped his stolen-base potential. He won't reach double digits unless he logs more attempts.
Don't bank on Beltran hitting 20-plus homers in his new home of Busch Stadium, a park that isn't far off in offensive suppression from AT&T Park and last year's Citi Field incarnation. His main attributes - batting average and veteran-level run production - remain tenuous and aren't worth reaching for, especially with his questionable ability to last a whole season. -TH
Drew Stubbs, Cincinnati Reds
Even after Stubbs' disappointing 2011, many potential drafters have elevated him because of his acumen for speed. This makes sense, on some level, but unfortunately, if you do so, you're, once again, not getting the same package that caused him to be overvalued last year.
His yard-leaving in 2011 was corrupted by an increased grounder rate, which probably stemmed from Cincy's desire to see him make more contact to combat his Mark Reynolds-esque whiff frequency. Too bad he still finished with an MLB-leading 205 K's and hit just four homers over the final three months.
To stay in the lineup, he'll probably have to keep his batting average up; old-school manager Dusty Baker probably doesn't want a leadoff type who can't. Stubbs is locked in an identity crisis for his offensive role. His statistical sketch doesn't say he's a leadoff hitter (that's Brandon Phillips' job for now), nor is he a masher. He'll likely bat sixth, which won't do much to help his stolen-base attempts - the main reason folks draft him.
Stubbs holds a bleak batting average future and will need a few breaks for him to creep toward 20 homers again. If he slips through the cracks, his speed is worth a chance, but early indications say he'll go for a similar mixed-league price as he did before 2011, when he didn't already reveal the flaws that concern us this year. -TH
Fantasy baseball sleepers and undervalued: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP
Fantasy baseball busts and overvalued: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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