Fantasy Baseball 2012: 5 Struggling Players Who May Be Lost Causes for the Year
The following slideshow chronicles five struggling players (three hitters, two pitchers) who may be lost fantasy causes in 12-team leagues—factoring in this season only.
While it's true that 10 weeks of MLB action shouldn't reveal the full story of the 2012 season, the mounting statistical evidence against the quintet (read: negative trends) should be enough to immediately suspend their contributions to your fantasy team.
Bottom line: It's never easy to dump or trade a big-name talent or young prospect with seemingly limitless potential; but in situations like this, it's also the intelligent move to make.
Shortstop: Dee Gordon, Los Angeles Dodgers
2012 Stats: 1 HR, 11 RBI, 23 Runs, 14 Steals, .230 BA
Skinny: The way things are progressing for Gordon, he may be nothing more than a one-trick in pony in fantasy circles.
Without a doubt, the kid has blinding speed...but the prohibitive cost of failing (or stalling) in four categories doesn't cover the lone benefit of steals. Even if he ends up with 40-plus thefts by season's end.
(One positive note: Gordon is batting at a .319 clip in his last 13 games).
On the whole, Gordon has a .271 on-base percentage—an absolute no-no with power-deficient players whose only goal should be reaching first base, by any means necessary.
And if the Dodgers had to choose between table-setters like Gordon and Elian Herrera (.304 batting), they'd probably pick the speedster with a .377 OBP and three-position versatility (2B/3B/OF).
Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies
2012 Stats: 2 HR, 13 RBI, 27 Runs, 10 Steals, .247 BA
Skinny: When viewing Rollins' seasonal numbers, the fantasy optimist would point to the absence of hitters Ryan Howard and Chase Utley and Rollins' expanded pressure to carry the offense.
They might even take the positive from Rollins' .296 on-base percentage, saying that he posted the same number in 2009...and still finished the year with 21 homers, 77 RBI, 100 runs and 31 steals.
Well, if Rollins was still 29, perhaps I'd buy into the rationale of both points. Instead, I'm left to wonder if it's worth holding onto a 33-year-old shortstop with a low OBP...who is no longer a safe bet to score 80 runs or steal 25 bases?
After all, he's currently on pace for something like seven homers and 42 RBI. Unfortunately, there are better options on the shortstop market.
3rd Base: Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates
2012 Stats: 8 HR, 24 RBI, 18 Runs, 0 Steals, .194 BA
Skinny: Aside from the six-homer, 14-RBI stretch from April 18-May 4, Alvarez's production curve with the Pirates this season has taken the form of a horizontal straight line.
A 0-for-16 slump since May 29. A hitting clip of .145 since May 7. Just one homer since May 3. A painful walk-to-strikeout ratio of 13/60.
However you frame it, Alvarez has been the equivalent of fantasy roadkill...so much that he shouldn't even be stashed in 16- or 20-team fantasy leagues.
In deeper leagues, owners would be far better off investing in a burgeoning Double-A talent who could reach the majors in the next 40 days.
Pitcher: Ervin Santana, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2012 Stats: 2-7, 5.33 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 53/34 K-BB
Skinny: Let's start with some positives when discussing Santana:
1. From April 29 to May 20, he had an encouraging five-start stretch of three runs or less and 29 strikeouts.
2. Santana plays on a star-driven club that will likely compete for a playoff spot.
But aye the rub: The Angels seem intent on making a four-month charge, regardless of how Santana fares every five days.
In his last three starts (spanning only 14.2 innings), Santana has surrendered 14 walks and 16 runs, while collecting only eight strikeouts.
And from a seasonal perspective, not one of the four stats above would qualify as acceptable.
Simply put, it's asking a lot for owners in 12-team leagues to be patient with pitchers who are weekly threats for 13 walks or have little staying power beyond the fifth inning.
Pitcher: Daniel Bard, Boston Red Sox
2012 Stats: 5-6, 5.24 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 34/37 K-BB Ratio
Skinny: As a long-term prospect, I believe in Bard's abilities to develop into a solid No. 4 or 5 starting pitcher. His live arm and superb track record as a Red Sox reliever (2009-11) certainly buys him time in that realm.
But in the short term, there's no value in owning a pitcher who has surrendered at least five runs in three of his last six outings; there's also no glory in stashing someone who has more walks than strikeouts on the season—an unpardonable sin amongst pitchers.
On the bright side, Bard is a candidate for victory every time he takes the hill...simply because the Red Sox have a potent offense. But the risks of enduring semi-regular meltdowns in runs, walks and WHIP far outweigh the potential excitement of victory.
Bottom line: I'll be happy to take a last-round draft flier on Bard next season, but this campaign may be a wash.