Fantasy Baseball: Ichiro and 5 MLB Stars It Is Time to Give Up On

Nathan PalatskyCorrespondent IIJuly 23, 2012

Fantasy Baseball: Ichiro and 5 MLB Stars It Is Time to Give Up On

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    The names are well known and they probably cost you handsomely in your MLB drafts, but it is almost August, and anyone remotely in the playoff race cannot afford to waste a single roster spot. 

    It is very hard to let go of the guy you pinned your hopes to in the preseason. You called out his name or clicked on his picture in the draft room and had a sub-3.00 ERA or 40 stolen bases dancing in your head when you did it. The time has come to let go.

    NOTE: This list applies to a standard 10- to 12-team league. All of these players should be owned in deeper leagues, and you are right to have more patience with your stars in those formats, but in the vast majority of leagues, dump and don't look back.

Ichiro Suzuki, New York Yankees

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    At 38 years old, Suzuki has staved off the effects of age for the last five years when people kept waiting for the exact kind of regression we are seeing in 2012. The newest Yankee is batting .261 with 15 stolen bases in 95 games.

    For Suzuki, the tale is in the on-base percentage. From his debut in 2001 through 2010, his OBP was .376. His OBP dipped to .310 in 2011 and in 2012 it is .288. For a player who doesn't hit for power, owners need him to be closer to .350 to get the steals and runs they paid for.

    Suzuki got away with a low walk total because he routinely led the league in infield hits, turning outs into singles. But this is a player who gets 670-plus at-bats per season and has only passed 55 walks once in his career. In 10-team leagues, there is more on the waiver wire than a 38-year-old platoon right fielder.

Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Evan Longoria has not played since April 30. The Rays are 8.5 games out of first in the divisional race and 2.5 games out of the second wild card. He is their best player by far, is 26 years old and the Rays are talking about trading James Shields or Jeremy Hellickson. 

    All those things tell me they are approaching sell mode, and if they do eventually sell for 2012, what is the motivation to rush Longoria back this season?

    There is a chance Longoria is done for the season, and any playoff contender cannot afford to have an empty roster spot. If you can't trade him, it's time to bail.

Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants

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    Joe Blow player on July 23 is 4-10 with an ERA of 5.72 and 1.487 WHIP, do you keep that guy on your fantasy roster?

    Tim Lincecum owners are hanging on. Granted, the strikeouts are helpful, but anyone who has seen his starts knows he will strike out the side in the first and walk three in the second. His command comes and goes that quickly...and then comes back again.

    At this point, he may be worth spot starting in good matchups, but he has ugly starts against some of the worst offenses in baseball so even then, there is fear to starting Lincecum. Meanwhile, 10- and 12-team leagues have useful spot starters on waivers all the time. 

    Lincecum is a stream-level starter, which means there is no reason to hold him in shallow leagues when there are better matchups on the wire. Do not fall in love with the name.

Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Yes, 11 games is enough. Ryan Howard has hit three home runs, which is fine. But he is batting under .200 and showing no signs of being able to hit regularly. Three of Howard's six hits are home runs.

    Howard may very well hit 10 more home runs for the rest of the season, but if he bats .190 and strikes out once per game (he has 11 in those 11 games so far), then the home runs simply are not worth the ratio; it doesn't make sense to start Howard merely for the home runs.

Jon Lester, Boston Red sox

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    Jon Lester is the American League's Tim Lincecum in the sense that his ERA is slightly better, but at least Lincecum is striking out 9.8 per nine innings. Lester is at 7.5 with a WHIP of 1.463. 

    The arguments for dropping Lester are largely the same as I gave for dropping Lincecum. The name makes owners hesitate, but in shallow leagues, the spot starters on the waiver wire are better collaboratively than owning Lester start-in, start-out. 

    Stop wasting roster spots, fantasy owners.