Man, things are rough in Anaheim.
Imagine only four and-a-half-months into 2012, and the Orange County city has had not one, but two $250 million dollar investments go kaput. Back in March, Walt Disney's interplanetary sci-fi dud, John Carter, was DOA at the box office, and things are anything but heavenly for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, as their newest superstar and future Hall of Famer, Albert Pujols, is off to quite the uncharacteristically sluggish start.
When talking in terms of such a high-profile name, there's little doubt he'll eventually right the ship. Players can fall off, but not this bad, this soon and especially not to this player, right? The flat-line has slight signs of life, as he finally hit his first home run this past weekend. Think about it though—it took till May 6th for Albert Pujols to finally go yard. It's nice to think this homer may finally bust the floodgates open, but honestly that's only one more home run than I have, and I don't even play baseball.
That comforting thought of a hot July and August does little to help your fantasy team right now though. In mid-May, things are kinda grey. We're in a weird area fantasy-wise: it's too soon to push the panic button, but a bit too far in to sit and watch your team tread water while your big-name investment spins his million-dollar wheels in the mud.
So, what do you do when number five is playing like number two? If you're an Albert owner like myself, it's unfortunately nothing more than a painstaking waiting game to see when Pujols can be the slugger we expected when he went as a top-five fantasy draft pick just a couple short months ago. In the meantime, though, we can take some slight comfort in the fact that there is actually a slew of other big-name fantasy busts so far this season, maybe someone that you blew a first or second-round pick on, someone who's producing more goose eggs than the flock at the park, someone who's turning you prematurely grey, someone who's lucky enough Prince Albert decided to snooze through the first six weeks as well.
So, who is it? Who is baseball's second biggest fantasy bust? The player sending Albert a fruit basket for being the bigger name with a painfully slow start?
JOSE BAUTISTA (.183 AVG, 19 H, 5 HR)
Joey Bats, the home run machine of the past two seasons, has gotten off to a frustratingly rough start to 2012. His walk-rate is up, possibly as a result of seeing bad pitches. But for a player picked to crush the leather into the cheap seats, walks are the fantasy sport equivalent of kissing your sister. Considering the sudden rise of power he had back in 2010, there's always that slight fear for owners that he is regressing just as quickly.
ROBINSON CANO (.261 AVG, 8 RBI, 2 HR)
Robbie Cano...don't ya know! Well, if he's taking up residence at the 2B position for your team, what you do know so far is that he's not the guy you thought you drafted. Cano's getting the hits, but as the centerpiece of a strong New York Yankees lineup, we were all expecting the power he had showcased over the past three seasons. Few expect his early season struggles to last much longer, but when the most productive player on his team is eight years his senior, it seems clear that the un-Canoish numbers we are seeing will not help your fantasy team out of the cellar.
TROY TULOWITZKI (.266 AVG, 13 RBI, 3 HR)
A Rocky Mountain low. For another player who was ranked in or near the top 5 going into the season, Tulowitzki's streaky start has owners scratching their heads. Benching Tulo clearly isn't an option, especially at a power-starved position. If you can take the bad with the good for the time being, it will pay off, as his eventual power surge should come.
JOSE REYES (.234 AVG, 4 RBI, 8 SB)
The Good News: It's the second week of May, and Jose Reyes still hasn't gotten hurt yet.
The Bad News: At least a hurt Reyes won't bog your team down the way he is right now.
Jose Reyes controversially sat out most of the last game of the 2011 season, and has never come back. The defending NL batting title champion is batting an anemic .234 so far this season, down over .100 points from last year's final tally. That's surely not what the Miami Marlins expected out of their brand new shortstop. Marlins Park is not playing nice with batters, so don't expect Reyes to go deep too often. His stolen base total is quite alarming for fantasy owners. With just 8 snags thus far, he's not even close to being the leader for the Fish; teammate Emilio Bonifacio is closing in on nearly doubling Reyes' total.
TIM LINCECUM (2-2 RECORD, 5.68 ERA, 1.52 WHIP)
The only things freaky about Lincecum's 2012 are his sobering numbers. The two-time NL Cy Young winner has stumbled out of the starting gate, with a diminishing velocity and a .500 record to show for it. We can pin it on a haircut jinx that's got the better of him, but that seems like a stretch. Barring any kind of unknown injury, Big Tim Timmy Jim could be a great buy-low candidate from a quick-trigger owner who's sick of his ERA being blown up.
Who else do you feel is the biggest non-Pujols fantasy bust so far this year? Perhaps perennially slow-to-start Mark Teixeira? The Queen City's newest long-term investment Joey Votto? Slumping Brewers infielder Rickie Weeks? Boston's power-starved Adrian Gonzalez? The Beantown ace Jon Lester? The Rays highly-hyped rookie pitcher Matt Moore?