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Fantasy Baseball: 13 Most Underwhelming Players 13 Weeks into 2013

Charles BennettSenior Analyst IJuly 5, 2013

Fantasy Baseball: 13 Most Underwhelming Players 13 Weeks into 2013

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    Well, we're halfway through the MLB season, and we've witnessed surprise performances by the likes of Chris Davis. This article isn't about those people, it is instead about the clunkers: pitchers who can't find the strike zone, batters who can't hit anything and players of all kinds who've spent far too much time on the DL for their fake owners' likings. Here are seven batters, four starters and two closers who were expected to post solid numbers this season...and didn't.
     

    Note that this list focuses on top-tier players, players with a draft rate of between 80 and 99 percent.  

    Statistics courtesy of YahooSports.com, projections courtesy of ESPN.com and adjusted for 86 games played. For full projections for each player, click on the "2013 Projections" link in each slide.

13. Albert Pujols, 1B, Los Angeles Angels

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    2013 Projected: 54 R. 18 HR, 61 RBI, 5 SB, .300 BA, .900 OPS, 9 Y! Rank

    2013 Actual: 42 R, 13 HR, 49 RBI, 0 SB, .244 BA, .736 OPS, 146 Y! Rank

    Albert Pujols having another slow start with the Angels…where have we heard this before? 

    Pujols is posting some of the worst power numbers of his career: not only is his batting average below .250 for the first time ever, his OPS is below .800 for the first time, and he’s on track to drive in fewer men (92) than ever before. He’s on pace for his first campaign of fewer than 300 total bases, and the lowest single-season number of extra-base hits by far.

    What’s particularly galling to Pujols owners is that the worst numbers of his season are right now: in the last 14 days, he’s batting just .122 with only a single homer and just three extra-base hits and three RBI against 10 strikeouts.

12. Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers

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    2013 Projected: 43 R, 14 HR, 48 RBI, 3 SB, .290  BA, .858 OPS, 59 Y! Rank

    2013 Actual: 21 R, 5 HR, 25 RBI, 0 SB, .277  BA, .782 OPS, 509 Y! Rank

    Finding a halfway-decent third baseman would have been hard enough if Aramis Ramirez hadn’t been sidelined for a month. The fact that he’s fully returned to form when he came off the DL isn’t helping matters either. 

    Aramis’ doubles and homers numbers would be way off even if he had played 80 games. He has about half the RBI, total bases and runs that were to be expected. True, his average and OPS haven’t taken a great hit, but that’s hardly consolation.

    Ramirez boasted a June with a triple slash of .244/.326/.346. Not exactly anything to write home about.  

11. John Axford, RP, Milwaukee Brewers

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    2013 Projected: 2 W, 20 SV, 0 HLD, 48 K, 3.47 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 160 Y! Rank

    2013 Actual: 3-3, 0 SV, 12 HLD, 37 K, 3.86 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 410 Y! Rank

    The various experiments Axford has conducted in his hair and mustache styling over the past couple of years haven’t translated into better pitching.   

    Projected to be one of the top dozen closers in the majors, Axford hasn’t recorded a save all season (though he has blown three), and has been demoted to setup role in favor of Jim Henderson. This, after giving up four homers and nine earned runs in 3.1 frames of work to start the season. 

    Though Axford hasn’t given up an earned run since mid-May, that hardly compensates for his lack of saves or his 8.44 ERA in April.  

    Axford is posting a career low in strikeouts per nine and career highs in triple slash conceded, .267/.340/.437 for a calamitous .777 OPS.

10. Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    2013 Projected: 52 R. 18 HR, 55 RBI, 9 SB, .297  BA, .907  OPS, 5 Y! Rank

    2013 Actual: 29 R, 4 HR, 24 RBI, 9 SB, .254  BA, .663  OPS, 336 Y! Rank

    Part of Matt Kemp’s trouble this season was his DL stint. The rest of it is that his power couldn’t be more absent if it was taking Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

    While Kemp’s stolen base numbers are better than expected considering his at-bats, having only four homers halfway through the season is disappointing. Matt Kemp only has 80 total bags on the season, almost exactly half of the number he was supposed to have at this point in the season.  

    Kemp has just 15 extra-base hits on the season, and is on pace for his lowest bases-on-ball count since 2007. Another disappointing stat is that he only had two dingers in the first three months of the season.

9. Jered Weaver, SP, Los Angeles Angels

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    2013 Projected: 9 W, 96 K, 3.19 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 49 Y! Rank

    2013 Actual: 2-4, 41 K, 3.79 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 393 Y! Rank

    Jered Weaver used to be a blue-chip AL pitcher. No more. He has only pitched 55 frames due to an elbow injury, but those 55 frames have been far from his best. It took him till Memorial Day to record his first victory.

    Though his WHIP has only decreased slightly, his other numbers are pretty bad. He is nearly a strikeout per nine below his career average, and could end up with the worst season strikeout total of his career. 

    He’s one shy of his loss total for all of 2012, despite having three times as many starts and four times as many seasons last year. His ERA is his worst since 2008.  

8. J. J. Putz, RP, Arizona Diamonbacks

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    2013 Projected: 2 W, 19 SV, 0 HLD, 34 K, 2.89 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 131 Y! Rank

    2013 Actual: 2-1, 5 SV, 0 HLD, 17 K, 4.40 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 407 Y! Rank

    J.J. Putz was touted as top-ten reliever because of his control. This season, his owners are asking, “What control?”

    In 17 appearances this season, Putz has five successful saves and five blown saves.  Despite only having played a quarter of the innings he played in 2012, Putz has conceded nearly as many walks. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was 5.91 in 2012; it’s 1.89 this season. 

    His metrics are the worst they been since his forgotten 2009 campaign with the Mets, including a gosh-awful .369 on-base percentage surrendered.

    A DL stint that sidelined him through most of May and June only worsened matters; it may have actually benefited his ranking in that not playing meant that he wasn't afforded opportunities to perform badly. Putz's one redeeming stat is that he has already equaled his wins-in-relief total from last season.

7. Starlin Castro, SS, Chicago Cubs

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    2013 Projected:  46 R, 7 HR, 39 RBI, 13 SB, .296  BA, .769 OPS, 39 Y! Rank

    2013 Actual: 39 R, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 7 SB, .236 BA, .601 OPS, 376 Y! Rank

    Starlin Castro was supposed to carry the Chicago Cubs this season. With his numbers in 2013, he’d have a hard time carrying the Iowa Cubs.

    So far this season, Castro is posting a triple slash of .236/.272/.329, a sharp decrease from .283/.323/.430 in 2012. He’s on pace for only 154 hits this season, his lowest number since his rookie season when he played just 125 games. His ratios of hits and walks to strikeouts are at all-time lows.

    Castro’s sole consolation is that he has 18 doubles on the season, and his runs-scored number hasn’t fallen off that much. Too bad most leagues don’t track doubles.

6. R. A. Dickey, SP, Toronto Blue Jays

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    2013 Projected: 9 W, 93 K, 3.14 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 54 Y! Rank

    2013 Actual: 8-8, 82 K, 4.04 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 413 Y! Rank

    A few months removed from his surprise Cy Young season in 2012, the 38-year-old journeyman found himself traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. As with many of the other big-name acquisitions by the Jays this offseason, the change in scenery seems to have been nothing but a world of hurt.

    It started bad for Dickey (2-4, 4.50 ERA in April), then got worse (2-3, 5.82 ERA in May).

    Perhaps the thing that’s causing Dickey the most pain is that he’s given up 18 home runs in as many starts. If you’re in a league that tracks homers conceded, you probably jettisoned Dickey weeks ago.

    The other thing that has been wrong with Dickey this season is his inability to find the strike zone: his strikeouts per nine rate has plummeted from 8.9 in 2012 to 6.4 this season. He’s also allowing his worse OPS since 2009.

5. Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta Braves

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    2013 Projected:  49 R, 16 HR, 51 RBI, 11 SB, .261  BA, .822 OPS, 30 Y! Rank

    2013 Actual: 31 R, 6 HR, 17 RBI, 1 SB, .228  BA, .690 OPS, 743 Y! Rank

    There was once a time when I was jealous of Jason Heyward. With the way he’s been playing this season, that time has come and gone, and it’s not just because of his DL stint.

    Heyward has seen monumental declines in nearly every stat, particularly batting average and slugging, the latter of which is a career low. His decline in baserunning stats (one-tenth of the stolen bases he had at this point last season; no triples yet this campaign) is even more calamitous.

    Heyward only has 19 extra-base hits on the season, and a career-high at-bats per home run. And in the portions of April and May where Heyward was healthy, he posted a batting average of just .165.

4. Cole Hamels, SP, Philadelphia Phillies

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    2013 Projected: 9 W, 110 K, 3.24 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 35 Y! Rank 

    2013 Actual: 3-11, 107 K, 4.38 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 439 Y! Rank

    Cole Hamels had a halfway decent start yesterday, recording his third victory of the season. That brings his ERA down to 4.38, almost a run-and-a-half per nine worse than ESPN projected. Commensurately, his WHIP is also far above where it's supposed to be.   

    Hamels was the fastest pitcher in the bigs to double-digit losses: he now has 11. Hamels has already given up more doubles thus far in 2013 than he had in a full season last year.

    Considering his ERA, it’s probably no surprise that Hamels has yet to notch a complete game or shutout this season. He went all of May without a victory, during which he posted a 4.95 ERA. Though he notched a victory in April, his ERA was a gosh-awful 4.78.    

3. Miguel Montero, C, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    2013 Projected: 34 R. 8 HR, 45 RBI, 0 SB, .281 BA, .820 OPS, 120 Y! Rank

    2013 Actual: 27 R, 5 HR, 28 RBI, 0 SB, .227 BA, .635 OPS,  791 Y! Rank

    Injuries are not the issue for Miguel Montero, who was projected to be one of the top backstops in MLB and is nowhere close to living up to that. What’s an issue is his complete lack of ability to hit for power, or frankly to hit the ball at all.

    Montero is posting his lowest batting average since 2007 and his lowest slugging percentage since 2006. He has the highest at-bats-per-home-run number (55) of his career.

    May was a particularly bad month for Montero: he batted below the Mendoza line and had just six extra-base hits against 20 strikeouts.

2. David Price, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

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    2013 Projected: 10 W, 113 K, 3.17 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 25 Y! Rank

    2013 Actual: 2-4, 59 K, 4.65 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 678 Y! Rank

    After his Cy Young Award last year, most people expected Price’s stats to drop off a little, but not this much. According to ESPN, Price has dropped in value from a 6.4 WAR in 2012 to a -0.4 WAR this campaign.

    A long DL trip that caused him to miss all of June was hardly Price’s only problem. In the months of April and May, Price recorded only a single victory, but was defeated four times and posted a staggering 5.24 ERA while giving up 10 homers in only nine starts.

    Looking at his averages-against, Price has tacked on a whopping .054 to his batting average allowed, a .039 to his OBP and a gosh-awful .161 to his OPS.  

1. B.J. Upton, OF, Atlanta Braves

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    2013 Projected: 45 R. 12 HR, 41 RBI, 16 SB, .245 BA, .747 OPS, 40 Y! Rank

    2013 Actual: 20 R, 8 HR, 19 RBI, 7 SB, .175 BA, .582 OPS, 928 Y! Rank

    Atlanta dealt for two outfielders named Upton last offseason. One of them is having a halfway decent season. The other is B.J. Upton.

    Upton’s average and OPS weren’t supposed to be earth-shattering. They’ve been terrible. Having only 44 hits on the season means that B.J.’s baserunning numbers have also taken a slide: he has less than half the runs or stolen bases than expected.

    Upton is one of six big-league outfielders with 90 or more strikeouts, and is on pace for a career-high in that stat. Meanwhile, he's on pace for career lows in batting average, doubles, OBP and OPS.

    Upton was batting below .150 in the first two months of the season, with just 23 hits (only eight of them extra-base hits) while being fanned 63 times.

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