When you drafted your fantasy baseball team, you knew there were a few question marks. After all, it's the question marks at the beginning of the season that can turn into exclamation points by the end.
But we're getting to that point in the summer when a slow start turns into a sub-par season.
As batting averages round into where they'll pretty much stay and sample sizes turn into trends, it's becoming easier by the minute to tell which of your boom or bust candidates are never gonna boom.
Inclusion in this list doesn't mean I think you should immediately drop any of these guys. But it does mean everyone's preseason predictions might have been a little more like wishful thinking.
If only this was the first time one of the Upton boys had disappointed us.
You can't drop Justin Upton. That would be tantamount to insanity. The guy was a No. 1 or No. 2 pick, and an MVP candidate just a year ago. But the way the once and future king of the Arizona Diamondbacks has been playing, 2011 might as well have been a millennium ago. He's hitting just .250 with five home runs and 22 RBI. Thanks to Upton's new-found aversion to curve balls, you could've gotten better production so far from Ty Wigginton and/or Scott Hairston.
Upton has shown signs of life with six hits the week after manager Kirk Gibson started sitting him, and he's a constant threat to shoot into the stratosphere without a moment's notice. There's also talk of moving him back to shortstop (his original position), which would undeniably raise his value. But at this point, it could be worth trading his perceived potential for a more consistent contributor.
It's been a rough couple of weeks for Drew Stubbs, and nearly as rough for his fantasy owners. Not only has the speedy Reds outfielder been sidelined with an oblique injury since June 6, he also caught the bug that's apparently been going around the Cincinnati locker room.
But even before that, Stubbs hadn't been quite as productive as previously advertised. With one 20-30 year under his belt (2010), he was an attractive sleeper in drafts this season. But Stubbs has been only half-awake with a .235 average and 59 Ks to go with only 18 walks.
A streaky player even on his good days, Stubbs' appeal is linked directly to the base paths. But getting there has been a problem.
Maybin next year?
After three disappointing seasons with the Miami Marlins, Cameron Maybin appeared as if he had jumped on the right track last year in San Diego. A trendy preseason pick, he was expected to be a Top 25 outfielder in 2012. But Maybin seems to think he's back in Florida, hitting an atrocious .214 with three home runs. He has swiped 14 bags, but so have guys like Rajai Davis.
While other 40-steal threats tend to help out at least a little within the other four categories, Maybin is a detriment. If you're counting on every single steal you can get, it's hard to say goodbye to him. But there are more balanced bets out there.
It's as if Ervin Santana exists solely to crush your hopes.
One year (2008), he's a Cy Young candidate. The next year, he's got an ERA above 5.0. Then, last year, he throws a no-hitter only to come back this year and become arguably one of the worst starters in the AL. He's 3-7 with a 5.74 ERA and only 56 Ks in 80 innings. And although he's been riding a wave of run support, Santana's ERA so far in June is a disconcerting 12.19.
With a K/9 rate as low as it's ever been (6.3) and a BB/9 rate at his all-time high (3.9), a statistician would tell you Santana is due for a correction to his mean. But that statistician probably wouldn't have the stomach to sit through one of Santana's starts either.
For a minute, Jordan Schafer looked a little like a non-wealthy man's version of Brett Gardner. He seemed to thrive after a move from Atlanta to Houston last season, and conservative projections had him hitting for respectable average with 35 steals with a full season of work.
He might get those 35 bags, but that's contingent on him keeping his job—a prospect that is growing dimmer by the day.
Schafer has gone 1-for-13 in his last four games, and he's been striking out more than 34 percent of the time. Although his ownership numbers have plummeted since Opening Day, they indicate that a decent amount of people still believe. You probably shouldn't be one of them.
You knew going in that Francisco Liriano was boom or bust. So it shouldn't be all that shocking that he's been the latter.
Another guy who has tossed a no-hitter within about the past year, Liriano is sporting a 1-7 record and a nauseating 6.45 ERA after a temporary move to the bullpen. He had a tolerable two-game stretch in late May and early June where he struck out 17 in 12 innings as a starter again, but he promptly followed that up by allowing four runs in 5.2 innings on Sunday.
You don't draft a guy like Liriano for his baseline numbers; you draft him for his high ceiling. But this looks a lot like one of those years where everything's caving in.
A quintessential sleeper first baseman prior to this season, Ike Davis has looked nothing like the guy who hit .302 with seven home runs in just 129 at-bats last year.
Struggling to hit .188 and on pace for just 15 homers, he seems safely entrenched in the New York Mets lineup, but he's disappearing more and more. The team says he won't be demoted, but it's hard not to notice that Davis has been sitting against southpaws.
Although he put up three scattered weeks of decent numbers, Davis has only recently shown signs of life (he's hit 6-for-16 in the past week), and he's teased owners before. I'd say those 30 home run projections now verge on science fiction.
If he stays in Boston, they're eventually going to run out of places in the field to push Adrian Gonzalez—and even Bobby Valentine knows which of those players is more valuable. But if Youkilis ends up in another uniform (no word where that would be since GM Ben Cherington says nobody seems to care), who knows how that situation will pan out?
At this point, I have no problems cutting Youkilis. He's just as unattractive to fantasy owners as he is actual ones, so you might have trouble trading him. And if he does for some reason seem to straighten out, you'll probably have at least a week before anyone else trusts him enough to pick him back up.
Alex Gordon has come alive as of late with two multi-hit games in his last three. Now use that to get him off your team.
Consistently touted as a future star, it's time to start living in the now. Gordon is batting .247 (which sadly isn't all that bad for him), but his five home runs and 21 RBI are middling at best. Consider that he's never hit 25 home runs or 90 RBI any year since becoming a regular player in 2007, and it's a lot easier to see Gordon as expendable.
Could he hit a power surge? Maybe. But during his 23 homer 2011, he stayed pretty consistent and never hit more than five in a month. Nearing the half-way point of the season, I'd rather take my chances on someone I've actually seen do it before.
I've been backing Tim Lincecum all year long. So putting him in this spot is sort of a way to come to terms with his uselessness. But he actually deserves it, too.
Although he's managed 77 Ks in 72 innings, Lincecum is 2-7 with a 6.0 ERA and is winless in his last nine starts. Now there are rumblings that this two-time Cy Young winner will be moved out of the rotation. Obviously, this is about rock bottom.
I wouldn't recommend dropping Lincecum unless he officially changes roles, and even then, there's a chance he works out the kinks in middle relief. But it's probably time to stop looking at him as if a recovery is a matter of when and start wondering if it's a matter of if.