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Maybe I'm a pessimist, but it seems so many experts like to woo us with promises of .300 batting averages, 40 home runs, 50 stolen bases, 20 wins, or 200 strikeouts. Well, not every situation will work out perfectly so here is a list of 30 bad fantasy scenarios that could happen this season.
Braves – The Atlanta offense isn’t able to provide enough run support for their starting rotation.
The Braves were slighted by nearly every offensive free agent in baseball this offseason. This leaves an extremely weak lineup outside of Brian McCann and the aging Chipper Jones.
The Braves' proposed starting outfield (Francoeur, G. Anderson, and J. Anderson) combined for 29 home runs last season. In addition, the bullpen may be a bit shaky with Mike Gonzalez still fresh off TJ surgery and Rafael Sorianoa constant injury threat. It could be a long year in Atlanta with Jurrjens, Lowe, Vazquez, Glavine, and Kawakami feeling the effects in the win department.
Marlins – Cameron Maybin struggles out of the gate.
A year after the blockbuster deal with the Tigers, the Marlins have yet to experience much success with their haul on the Major League level. Sure, all of the players they received were young, so it’s way too early to judge the trade, but should Maybin have a tough April, the entire Marlins lineup could be shaken up.
Would Hanley Ramirezreturn to the lead-off spot? Maybin has the talent to post a 10 HR, 30 SB season, but is the soon-to-be 22-year-old ready?
Mets – Carlos Delgado reminds us that he is 36 years-old.
Delgado had a ridiculous second half last season posting a .303/.386/.606 line while blasting 21 home runs in only 66 games. Still, it is difficult to expect a repeat performance.
The Mets offense looks solid with Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Carlos Beltran, but should Delgado struggle, the rest of the lineup (Church, Murphy/Tatis, Schneider, and Castillo) isn’t that frightening.
The Mets were the ninth best run scoring offense in 2008, but without Delgado, that ranking could worsen, ultimately affecting the starting rotation as well.
Nationals – The starting rotation is lights out in April.
Yup, that’s right, that is the worst case fantasy possibility for the Nationals. I am not a fan of any Nats starters unless you are in the deepest of NL only leagues, so if they start out hot, don’t waste waiver wire priority, free agent dollars, etc., on a team that is destined to lose close to 100 games, again.
Phillies – The Verducci Effect seizes another victim in Cole Hamels.
Hamels was a horse for the Phillies all season, throwing 227.1 innings in the regular season. Based on these numbers, he is a clear top ten starter, but the added workload is a bit alarming.
Not only did he throw 44 more innings than the previous season, but he threw an additional 35 innings in the postseason. Total 2007 innings: 190. Total 2008 innings: 262.1. That’s a big delta for a guy that just turned 25 this off season.
Astros – The Hunter Pence we saw in 2008 is what we get going forward.
After Pence burst onto the scene in 2007 with his solid .322/.360/.539 line, there were high hopes for 2008. His decline, while mainly seen in batting average, was predictable based on his unsustainable .378 BABIP in 2007.
Pence is usually drafted before the 10th round. With his average potentially in the .270 range, maybe consider waiting a few rounds to grab the upside of Adam Jones.
Brewers – Rickie Weeks struggles atop the Brewers lineup.
Last season, the Brewers lead off position had the 28th ranked batting average and 17th ranked OBP, mainly thanks to Weeks, who just can’t seem to put it all together. While I expect the Brewers rotation to struggle in 2009, the offense should continue to improve.
There is no reason for Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder to each barely clear 100 RBIs, like they did last year. If Weeks can put it together, the positive effects will be seen throughout the lineup. It’s getting close to now or never.
Cardinals – Ryan Ludwick owners realize that 2008 was a complete fluke by May 1.
With a 2008 BABIP of .349 and a HR/fly ball rate of 19.9%, I am a little suspect of Ludwick’s long term potential. Nothing in his peripherals matches up with his performance in previous seasons. Either he finally got “it” at age 30, or last season was an outlier. I am betting that it is the latter.
Cubs – Milton Bradley gets injured in April.
It is going to happen at some point, so I guess the worst case scenario would be for it to happen on a cold April day at Wrigley. I think Bradley and the National League is an awful combination, and I would be shocked to see him play 100 games this season.
For fantasy owners, take a pass unless he falls into your lap late in the draft. Depending on the depth of your league, Micah Hoffpauir may turn out to be a decent handcuff.
Pirates – Andy LaRoche turns out to be a bust.
The pressure is on LaRoche to produce this season or else he may find himself entering Andy Marteterritory. WithtThe Pirates adding Pedro Alvarez, LaRoche does not have much room for error. An anemic .177 BABIP, over 100 points below his .285 xBABIP, led to a .166 batting average.
I still have hope for LaRoche based on those numbers, but if he has a bad first half, he may find himself with his third organization before his 26th birthday.
Reds – The wrath of Dusty Baker rears its ugly head in Cincinnati.
Unless you count Aaron Harang as the first casualty, it has yet to happen, but the warning signs are already present. For example, why did Edinson Volquez throw over 110 pitches in four of his five starts in meaningless September games?
If you own Volquez or Johnny Cueto in a long-term keeper league, be afraid…be very afraid. Cubs fans learned the hard way.
Diamondbacks – Mark Reynolds will destroy your team’s batting average.
We all know Reynolds struck out 204 times last season, hitting .239 in 539 ABs. If we look a little deeper, his .329 BABIP may not be that disturbing for a guy who hits the ball hard, but an xBABIP 46 points lower makes you wonder if he could really hit .220 over a full season. This could single-handedly drop you a few places in BA if you count on him all season.
Dodgers – The Manny Ramirez negotiations do not end well. First off, if Manny signs with the Dodgers, there is no way he is able to repeat the ridiculous .396/.489/.743 line posted after the trade. Anyone who drafts him expecting those numbers should not be playing fantasy baseball.
Also, let’s not forget that this has become a very public free agent negotiation. Should Manny have a bad day, misread a teammate’s quote in the paper, or feel slighted by Joe Torre, the prima donna could return. If Manny does not resign with the Dodgers, look for Andre Ethierto return to pre-Manny performance,making him a fourth fantasy outfielder as best.
Giants – Randy Johnson wins his 300th game and loses interest.
There isn’t much doubt that Johnson is heading to San Francisco, in part, to top the 300 win mark. Should that occur at some point in the middle of the summer, is there a chance he loses interest as San Francisco is not likely to compete for the NL West title?
That being said, the Giants offense could make it difficult to get the five wins he needs before the All Star break.
Padres – Jake Peavy finally admits he wants out of San Diego.
At the Winter Meetings, there were stories circulating that Peavy was heard singing “Go Cubs Go” late night at a bar. Even if he is traded at some point this season, Peavy’s home/road splits cannot be easily ignored (career 3.80 ERA on road, 2.77 ERA at home). Depending on where he is dealt, it is possible Peavy drops down a tier or two amongst starting pitchers.
Rockies – The Rockies lineup misses Matt Holliday more than they anticipated.
Despite his struggles last season, Holliday has been a major part of the Rockies offensive attack the past four years. With Todd Heltonaging and the center field situation up in the air, the Rockies offense doesn’t look as menacing with Garrett Atkins and Brad Hawpe batting 4-5.
Don’t be misled by the ballpark effects of Coors Field as the Rockies were only 18th in runs scored last season. Without Holliday could it get worse?
Blue Jays – The Toronto offense is actually worse than 2008 and the Roy Halladay trade talks begin swirling in May.
Halladay is a great starter in any rotation, but no one likes to answer questions about trade rumors every single time they are interviewed. The AL East is the toughest division for any starter, so a trade may be a positive, but the months leading up to it may be the issue.
Orioles – Greg Zaun gets off to a hot start in Baltimore.
While I do expect Matt Wieters will take over the catcher position at some point early this season, what happens if it isn’t until June 1? That will make anyone taking him amongst the top 10 catchers in an annual re-draft league scramble to pick up the slop left on the waiver wire.
Rays – BJ Upton misses the first two weeks of the season and takes an additional month to get up to speed after missing all of Spring Training.
There are already a lot of questions about how Upton’s injury will affect him this season after he posted subpar power numbers in 2008. Six weeks of poor performance would certainly make his overall ranking amongst outfielders take a dive.
Red Sox – The wrist issue David Ortiz struggled with last season saps his power.
Wrist injuries and power hitters are an awful combination (Carlos Quentin owners beware), just ask owners who drafted Derrek Lee in 2007. Another trend to keep an eye on is pitch selection, as Ortiz is beginning to swing at more pitches out of the strike zone. If this continues, expect his offense to decline.
Yankees - After signing the huge off season contract, Mark Teixeira gets off to a slow start.
Teixeira has always been a notoriously slow starter, posting a career .964 second half OPS, compared to .877 in the first half. While you and I may know this, I doubt every Jeter-chanting, Yankees fan is aware of this fact.
Should Teixeira continue this trend, I would expect the fans to get on him early and often which could make him press. Dallas, Los Angeles, and Atlanta are nothing compared to the heat he could face in New York.
Indians – Kerry Wood back is a concern all season.
Despite the claim that it is nothing serious, this recent news about his back issues scares me. Jim Hendry may have had a reason for not wanting to resign Wood in Chicago.
While his peripheral numbers were great in 2008, back issues landed him on the DL once last season. He is entering the wrong side of his career, so expect his numbers to get worse, not better.
Royals – The Royals are the worst team in the AL Central and Joakim Soria does not get enough save opportunities.
It seems as if this is the season everyone is willing to take a chance on Soria. Consistently ranked in the top seven closers, he will certainly provide a great WHIP and decent strikeouts for a closer.
But if you are willing to pick him near the eighth round, you would hope to get a decent number of saves out of him. Without many saves, Soria becomes an expensive Heath Bell.
Tigers - Jim Leyland decides it best to go closer-by-committee and no reliever collects more than 15 saves.
The Detroit bullpen is pretty crowded after the Brandon Lyon signing. Fernando Rodney is already complaining, and Joel Zumaya believes he is healthy. Throw in Ryan Perry, their 2008 first round pick, and you have a long list.
Unless Lyon steps up early in the season, Leyland may be forced to go with the hot hand, a disastrous proposition for fantasy owners looking to bolster their saves total.
Twins – Ron Gardenhire never settles on his best outfield/DH combination.
As muddled as the Twins' situation is right now, nothing could be worse for fantasy owners than Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Delmon Young, Denard Span, and Carlos Gomez all getting somewhere between 400-500 at bats, thus destroying much of their value.
White Sox – Bobby Jenks continues to experience a decrease in K/9IP and save opportunities.
Since 2006, Jenks has missed fewer and fewer bats while closing fewer and fewer games for the White Sox. His K/9IP rate has gone from 10.33 in 2006 to 5.55 in 2008. Not surprisingly, his contact rate has increased from 77.8 percent to 84.5 percent over that same period. This is Todd Jones territory…you have been warned.
Angels – Both Vlad Guerrero and Bobby Abreu show their age this season.
Hard to believe Guerrero is only 33, but it seems as if his characteristic gait may be catching up to him. Should he and Abreu begin to fade, the Angels will struggle to score runs, affecting nearly every player’s fantasy value.
Guerrero was never much for taking a walk, so as that bat slows, expect the numbers to tumble, maybe faster than for an average player.
Athletics – Every negative prediction in every fantasy article you have read about Matt Holliday comes true. I
In the recent FoxSports.com mock draft I was asked to participate in, Holliday was selected fifth overall, before Alex Rodriguez. Ridiculous. I admit that is the extreme, but if you are willing to use a second round pick, don’t you want to be sure of what you are getting? There are far safer outfielders to take before Holliday, so let someone else take the risk.
Mariners – Felix Hernandez doesn’t break-out…again.
I’ll admit it, I thought last year was the year Hernandez would become a fantasy star, but his season went with the rest of the Mariners. What is to say Seattle will be any better this season, Ken Griffey, Jr.?
Hernandez has never topped 176 Ks in any season. Should he struggle to get wins, I might rather have Ted Lilly roughly 10 rounds later, if willing to trade a lower ERA for more wins.
Rangers – Last season was the best power year Josh Hamilton ever experiences.
Hamilton was a fantasy star in 2008, at least in the first half. Sure, his overall numbers look great, but a sharp decrease in slugging percentage cannot be overlooked. Hamilton’s career 33.0 percent fly ball rate is very low for a classic power hitter. Is it possible that what we saw last season may have been closer to his power ceiling than fantasy owners want to admit?
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