Giancarlo Stanton is the poster boy for the All-Early Bust Team so far. But should fantasy owners turn their back on him?
Picking busts is about value.
Scratch that. It's about lack of value compared to expected return.
In other words, just because Maicer Izturis is hitting .162 and having a truly atrocious season, no fantasy owner in their right mind was expecting much, if anything, from him in the first place, so Izturis was ignored in drafts.
When we say "bust," we mean a player with a relatively high average draft position (ADP) but whose performance so far hasn't been worth the pick.
And because the focus is on results—or lack thereof—injury doesn't count. You won't find, say, Zack Greinke, Aaron Hill or Joel Hanrahan below, simply because a player can't under perform if he isn't, you know, playing.
With that clear, it's time for the All-Early Bust Team as we close out the season's first month.
We'll point out the biggest bust at each position as well as a few close calls. Plus, since we like to be both informative and helpful, we'll offer a reason why these busts might bust out yet.
Victor Martinez, Tigers
Fantasy Stats: .187 BA, 2 R, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 0 SB
Martinez remains catcher-eligible in most leagues because he made 26 starts behind the dish back in 2011 before missing all of 2012 with knee surgery. Seems that long layoff has left the Tigers "catcher" rather rusty.
Martinez, who actually spends his time as the designated hitter, hasn't been "hitting" much of anything so far, and the popular preseason pick is hurting owners across the board.
Busting Out: With a .212 BABIP that's bound to rise, V-Mart should open for business soon enough, and the surrounding Tigers bats will help him make up for a lost first month.
Close Calls: Buster Posey, Giants; Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks
Allen Craig, Cardinals
Fantasy Stats: .250 BA, 8 R, 0 HR, 15 RBI, 0 SB
After a breakout .307-22 HR-92 RBI season last year, Craig has yet to hit one out.
While his average isn't awful and his runs and RBI totals are passable, that lack of power from first base is simply unacceptable.
Busting Out: Craig might not take the next step many expected, but once he and the Cardinals offense get rolling, he should approach his 2012 totals.
Close Calls: Eric Hosmer, Royals; Adam Dunn, White Sox
Jason Kipnis, Indians
Fantasy Stats: .170 BA, 3 R, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 4 SB
While he's battled an elbow issue, Kipnis hasn't missed so much action that we can't consider him a bust.
Also, after his second-half swoon last year—he hit .233 with three homers and 11 steals following the break—it's fair to wonder whether Kipnis can be a starting second baseman for owners.
Busting Out: If Kipnis can get right, he still has the skills to be a 10-homer, 20-steal guy at a premium position, and he should score runs hitting near the top of the remade Indians lineup.
Close Calls: Dan Uggla, Braves; Rickie Weeks, Brewers
Starlin Castro, Cubs
Fantasy Stats: .275 BA, 9 R, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 2 SB
We keep expecting Castro to get to "The Next Level," but it hasn't happened yet.
The numbers aren't that bad, especially among shortstops, but right now, you're regretting using that third- or fourth-rounder on this guy a little bit, aren't you?
Busting Out: The numbers might not be overwhelming in any one fantasy category, but Castro is going to produce above-average stats in every single one—for a shortstop.
Close Calls: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians; Danny Espinosa, Nationals
Adrian Beltre, Rangers
Fantasy Stats: .241 BA, 11 R, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 0 SB
It hurts when your second-rounder is just sort of skating by like Beltre has done to this point.
He will get hot—and probably pretty soon—but for the first month, owners were expecting more, especially from one of the precious few hot cornermen who have managed to avoid a stint on the DL.
Busting Out: Beltre is walking (eight) more than he's whiffing (only six!), so it's just a matter of time before a guy who's averaged 32 four-baggers and 103 RBI the past three seasons gets going.
Close Calls: David Freese, Cardinals; Mike Moustakas, Royals
Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
Fantasy Stats: .200 BA, 4 R, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SB
Which of these hitters is most likely to go from bust to bust out?
As many struggling outfielders as there are, this was an easy choice. Those. Stats. Suck.
Sure, some of Stanton's slump must be related to his cranky shoulder, but he's yet to miss significant action or go on the DL, so we're counting him.
With the Marlins lineup a complete and total mess, owners need to cling tightly to the hope that Stanton finds his power stroke and reaches the 30-homer plateau for a third-straight year.
Busting Out: Stanton hit .299 with 18 homers in the second half last year, which was when the Fish started selling off pieces, so he's shown he can produce even without much help.
Close Calls: Matt Kemp, Dodgers; Jose Bautista, Jays; Jay Bruce, Reds
David Price, Rays
Fantasy Stats: 0 W, 26 K, 5.52 ERA, 1.42 WHIP
This is not what owners of the 2012 AL Cy Young winner signed up for.
Last year, while Price was winning an AL-high 20 games, his longest stretch of starts without a dubya was two. So far, he's 0-for-5. Talk about a fickle category.
Busting Out: Price's career BABIP: .278. His 2013 BABIP: .334. The latter will normalize toward the former, and if the lefty maintains that career-best 2.0 BB/9, that yucky WHIP will soon be gone.
Matt Cain, Giants
Fantasy Stats: 0 W, 26 K, 6.59 ERA, 1.26 WHIP
Fantasy owners might be thinking: First Tim Lincecum, now Cain? It's understandable if you're skittish about Cain after watching his rotation mate lose it in 2012 and fearing the same might happen to him.
The right-handed Cain has three quality starts and two clunkers, and while there were minor concerns over his velocity, everything is in line with the norms, per FanGraphs.
Busting Out: Once his home run-to-fly-ball percentage stabilizes—it's at 16.2 percent (six in 28.2 innings) but has never been north of 8.4 percent—Cain will be good as, well, old.
Which of these slow-starting pitchers is most likely to turn it around?
Yovani Gallardo, Brewers
Fantasy Stats: 2 W, 17 K, 4.97 ERA, 1.66 WHIP
Gallardo is known for being a bit of a fantasy tease, never quite as good as his owners want him to be but yet good enough to keep 'em coming back for more.
The right-hander usually posts high strikeout totals and walks his fair share, but so far his 6.9 walk percentage is nearly a career best, while his whiff rate of 13 percent is down from a career 24 percent.
Fernando Rodney, Rays
Fantasy Stats: 1 W, 3 SV, 7 K, 4.91 ERA, 1.77 WHIP
Over the winter, Rodney went from ridiculous to regression candidate, and now it seems to be coming true, starting with a blown save in his very first appearance of the new season.
Worse, the right-hander with the sketchy control—before last year's 1.8 BB/9, Rodney's career rate was 4.9 per nine—is up to his old tricks, having issued six free passes in 7.1 innings.
Busting Out: Rodney's leash won't be super long if he keeps this up, but the Rays don't have much in the way of backup options who are pitching well at the moment either.
Close Call: J.J. Putz, Diamondbacks
All ADP info comes from ESPN fantasy baseball.