Fantasy baseball players who are potential flops aren't guaranteed to fail. However, don't ignore the danger associated with such names in your fantasy baseball draft. Make sure that you know the facts and your fantasy baseball team can afford to take on the risk.
Mark Reynolds, 1B/3B, Arizona Diamondbacks
Raise your hand if you thought Reynolds would finish as a top-25 fantasy player in 2009. The corner man's lack of plate discipline - 62.2 percent contact! - makes him a potential liability and playing time risk. There is little assurance that he'll attempt to steal 24 bases, let alone be successful that often again.
The home run power is for real. This skill set is pretty dependent on luck, though. Reynolds has always posted a high average on balls in play because he hits the ball hard, and he's still a .257 hitter. It isn't going to get much better, and it can get plenty worse. Perhaps he becomes complacent after signing a contract extension. Esteemed colleagues say: You can't win your league in the first few rounds, but you can lose it. Wait a couple of rounds to take the chance that he's more Adam Dunn and less Jack Cust at the hot corner.
Justin Upton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Don't bank on improvement from Upton
Upton has immeasurable talent. "Talent" isn't a roto category. It's faulty to believe that a 22-year-old, regardless of his ceiling, is only going to improve on .300-26-84, with 20 steals, or is even a lock to repeat it. That's not his baseline. At the time, you thought B.J. Upton could only go up, too.
Reasons for skepticism: Exceptional BABIP, 73.6 percent contact rate, unspectacular
liner rate, heavy whiff rate (despite improvement in that area), youth. What
if the bottom falls out of his average? His future is bright, but when youngsters
regress, they can fall pretty hard. Wait an extra round or two before taking on risk
Johan Santana, SP, New York Mets
Santana had bone spurs removed from his elbow and not a more serious procedure, like Tommy John surgery, which makes most drafters optimistic. However, he has had a similar operation before. The issue may indicate other health concerns and potential for more elbow problems - the kind everyone feared last year.
That's all in addition to the fact that Johan's year-to-year trends were already discouraging. Plummeting command, rising flyball rate (corroborated by his rising HR/FB), escalating average against on balls in play and whispers of lost velocity should already warn you. The anchor of your fantasy baseball staff shouldn't carry such risk. He's not a safe NL ace and sketchy unless he's your mixed No. 2.
Josh M. Johnson, SP, Florida Marlins
We pegged Johnson as a sleeper last year, his first full campaign back from Tommy John surgery. His already capable dominance improved as he found his rhythm, and the flamethrower even dialed up his groundball ability.
A giant red flag comes in his innings jump. Florida tried to monitor his workload late in the season, but Johnson finished with 209 frames. He reportedly felt OK, but his late-season performance hinted he was tiring.
Some folks are making Johnson their No. 1 mixed starter, which carries definite risk. Don't ignore how he ended his '09 season and, more so, his pre-2009 history. His hints that he's not quite ready for the start of the season yet indicate that the ride could be bumpy, at least to start.
Ryan Franklin, RP, St. Louis Cardinals
Adding a cutter helped him, but can he sustain that success? The 37-year-old journeyman had spent most of his career hovering below acceptable dominance levels. His strand rate unsurprisingly jumped when he became a reliever, but with his unproven dominance, that could come crashing down.
His opponents' BABIP and homer rates are prime for correction, too, spelling potential ERA disaster. Manager Tony La Russa turned to Franklin because no one else would step up; TLR is finicky with his bullpen and was even reluctant to name Franklin closer. Franklin's rough September is a warning sign that this situation is far from stable.
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.