10 Fantasy Baseball Stars of 2013 You Shouldn't Retain in Your Keeper League

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2013

10 Fantasy Baseball Stars of 2013 You Shouldn't Retain in Your Keeper League

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    When it comes to fantasy baseball keeper leagues, deciding whether a breakout player is for real or not is one of the toughest decisions of the year.

    With only a set number of carry-over keeper spots to use, wasting one on a one-hit wonder who regresses next year over a solid veteran option could be the difference between winning and losing your league.

    Some keeper leagues allow for a set number of position players and pitchers to be rolled over to your roster for the following season at no cost to the upcoming year's draft. Others allow a set number of players to be kept, but at the price of the draft pick in the round in which you selected them the previous season.

    This list will focus on leagues in which no draft picks are tied to keepers, and will be more for players in deeper leagues where more than two or three keepers are allowed.

    For example, I'm in a 14-team rotisserie league where five position players (13 starting spots) and three pitchers (nine starting spots) are allowed to be kept. Obviously most of these guys would not be keepers in something like a 10-team, three-keeper format.

    With that in mind, here are the 10 fantasy stars of 2013 I feel are not worth using a keeper spot on when the season comes to an end.


    *Advanced statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.com.

RP Koji Uehara, Boston Red Sox

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    2013 Stats

    56 G, 3-0, 12-of-15 SV, 1.29 ERA, 77 K, 55.2 IP


    Why He Won't Duplicate His 2013 Success

    This is not meant to be a knock on Uehara by any means. His shoring up of the ninth-inning role in Boston has been a big reason for the Red Sox's success this season. The Red Sox bullpen had the potential to be an absolute disaster when both Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey were finished with their turns as closer, but he's done a great job.

    Signed to a one-year, $4.25 million deal in the offseason, Uehara will turn 39 years old next April. As good as he's been in the closer's role this year, there's a good chance he returns to setup duties next season, and that would no doubt take a sizable bite out of his fantasy value.

    He's been a great waiver pickup for a lot of people this year, but there will likely be better options on your roster to designate as keepers than the veteran right-hander.

CF Alejandro De Aza, Chicago White Sox

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    2013 Stats

    .273/.331/.424, 24 2B, 3 3B, 14 HR, 52 RBI, 72 R, 15 SB


    Why He Won't Duplicate His 2013 Success

    An everyday player for the first time in 2012 at the age of 28, De Aza hit .281/.349/.410 with nine home runs and 26 steals as one of the few bright spots in the White Sox lineup.

    He's built off that success this year, showing slightly more pop at the plate. He's already set career highs in home runs and RBI and will likely surpass the 29 doubles he hit last year as well.

    While his counting numbers have improved, his strikeouts rate is up (18.6 percent to 21.7 percent) and his walk rate is down (8.0 percent to 7.3 percent), and that could be enough of a red flag to choose someone else over De Aza when the time comes to lock in your keepers.

SP Jeff Locke, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    2013 Stats

    24 GS, 9-4, 2.90 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 68 BB, 103 K, 139.2 IP


    Why He Won't Duplicate His 2013 Success

    There is no question the contributions of Jeff Locke have helped the Pirates greatly this season. He entered camp competing for the No. 5 starter spot and wound up an All-Star.

    His 2.90 ERA is good for the seventh-best mark in the National League, and with a relatively low strikeout rate and a somewhat high WHIP, that has been his biggest contribution to fantasy roster this season.

    That said, with a 3.86 FIP and 7.3 percent HR/FB rate, he's been the beneficiary of some very good luck this season. He still figures into the Pirates' future plans, but more as a back-of-the-rotation arm capable of posting double-digit wins with an ERA around 4.00 than an All-Star moving forward.

RF Marlon Byrd, New York Mets

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    2013 Stats

    .288/.336/.523, 24 2B, 5 3B, 20 HR, 68 RBI, 59 R


    Why He Won't Duplicate His 2013 Success

    Released by the Red Sox on June 12, 2012 after hitting a combined .210/.243/.245 with one home run in 143 at-bats between Chicago (NL) and Boston, Byrd had to settle for a minor league contract from the Mets in the offseason.

    Unlikely even to get a chance to earn a spot on most other teams, Byrd cracked the Mets' Opening Day roster and quickly played his way into everyday at-bats due to the team's complete lack of outfield options.

    As pleasant a surprise as he's been, his impressive numbers have been padded by a good deal of luck. His .352 BABIP is well above the league average, and his HR/FB rate is at 16.8 percent, which has raised his career rate to 9.1 percent. He may still be a solid starting outfield option for someone next year, but don't expect him to approach the numbers he's put up this year.

SP Mike Leake, Cincinnati Reds

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    2013 Stats

    24 GS, 10-5, 3.01 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 39 BB, 93 K, 152.2 IP


    Why He Won't Duplicate His 2013 Success

    When spring training opened, it looked as though Mike Leake was headed either for a long relief role or to Triple-A with closer Aroldis Chapman moving to the rotation. However, when the decision was made to return the hard-throwing Cuban to the bullpen, Leake came away with a rotation spot.

    A rocky first month saw him go 1-1 with a 4.34 ERA, but he's turned things around since and been one of the Reds' top starters, going 9-4 with a 2.69 ERA over his last 19 starts.

    He's done a better job keeping the ball in the ballpark this year, which has been part of the reason for his improved performance. But with a 4.05 FIP, some regression can be expected moving forward. With a low strikeout rate, ERA has been his biggest plus this season, and if it returns to the 4.00 range next year, he won't be worth using a keeper slot on.

3B Chris Johnson, Atlanta Braves

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    2013 Stats

    .335/.371/.473, 26 2B, 0 3B, 9 HR, 54 RBI, 44 R


    Why He Won't Duplicate His 2013 Success

    Justin Upton and Martin Prado ruled the headlines of the Braves' and Diamondbacks' offseason blockbuster, but it's Chris Johnson who has put together perhaps the best season of any of the seven players involved in the deal.

    Over his first four big league seasons, the 28-year-old posted a triple slash of .276/.315/.430 with a .352 career BABIP, and he entered the year with the tall order of replacing Chipper Jones at third base as part of a platoon with Juan Francisco.

    Not only did he seize the everyday job, but he currently leads the NL batting title race by .07 point over Yadier Molina and .13 points over Michael Cuddyer.

    However, that is thanks in large part to an MLB-high .410 BABIP.

    Seeing as he doesn't provide much outside of average, a regression to the league average in that department would make him far from keeper-worthy.

RP Edward Mujica, St. Louis Cardinals

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    2013 Stats

    52 G, 2-1, 32-of-34 SV, 1.65 ERA, 3 BB, 41 K, 54.2 IP


    Why He Won't Duplicate His 2013 Success

    With Jason Motte lost for the season before the team even broke camp and Mitchell Boggs proving incapable of stepping into the closer's role, Edward Mujica was nothing short of a savior for the Cardinals early on this season when their bullpen was among the worst in baseball.

    He's been nearly perfect this season. Thanks to walking just three batters in 54.2 innings of work, he has a minuscule 0.79 WHIP despite some less-than-dominant stuff. He relies heavily on a splitter to keep hitters from squaring him up, and it's among the best in the game.

    You can point to things like his 2.89 FIP or .217 BABIP as reasons he's likely to regress in 2014, but the main reason he's not worth a keeper spot in my mind is the uncertainty surrounding his future role. He's a free agent at the end of the year, and even if he does re-sign with St. Louis, he may wind up turning closer duties back over to Jason Motte or flame-throwing rookie Trevor Rosenthal next season.

SS Everth Cabrera, San Diego Padres

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    2013 Stats

    .283/.355/.381, 15 2B, 5 3B, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 54 R, 37 SB


    Why He Won't Duplicate His 2013 Success

    Everth Cabrera came out of relative obscurity to hit .255 and steal 25 bases in 103 games as a 22-year-old rookie back in 2009, but he would play just 78 games over the next two seasons.

    He re-emerged as the starter last year, and while he hit just .246/.324/.324 over 398 at-bats, he did steal an NL-high 44 base. He's again leading the NL in steals this year, but he's also boosted his average by 39 points and his OPS by 88 points.

    However, he was suspended for the remainder of the season for his involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal Given how much his overall offensive game improved this year, it's hard not to think that played a major role in his performance.

    Steals are hard to come by these days, but if he regresses to his 2012 triple-slash numbers, he's not worth a keeper spot.

SP Bartolo Colon, Oakland Athletics

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    2013 Stats

    24 GS, 14-5, 2.97 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 25 BB, 83 K, 154.1 IP


    Why He Won't Duplicate His 2013 Success

    Colon was out of baseball altogether in 2010 and a league-average starter with the Yankees in 2011. The A's signed him to a one-year, $2 million prior to last season, and he was a terrific surprise in going 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA.

    However, his season was cut short after 24 starts when he was suspended for PED use. The A's opted to bring him back on a one-year, $3 million deal, and he's been nothing short of spectacular with some of the best numbers of his 16-year career.

    With a 3.38 FIP and .292 BABIP, his peripherals don't point to any immediate regression, but it's hard to ignore the fact that he will be 41 next May. With a low strikeout rate, he doesn't have elite value to begin with, and it's hard to imagine him putting up the type of numbers he has this year once again in 2014.

CF Colby Rasmus, Toronto Blue Jays

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    2013 Stats

    .273/.335/.478, 26 2B, 1 3B, 18 HR, 60 RBI, 53 R


    Why He Won't Duplicate His 2013 Success

    A first-round pick by the Cardinals back in 2005, Colby Rasmus entered the 2009 season as the No. 3 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America.

    He showed plenty of potential in his first two seasons, but he butted heads with Cardinals management and was shipped to the Blue Jays at the deadline in 2011. He tied a career-high with 23 home runs in his first full season in Toronto last year, but he hit just .223/.289/.400 in the process.

    This numbers have shot up to .273/.335/.478 this year. He already has 18 home runs in 400 at-bats in what looks like a breakout year on the surface.

    However, his strikeout rate has actually gone up significantly from last season (23.8 percent to 30.1 percent), and his .363 BABIP is well above his career average. A return to the league average combined with that strikeout rate could mean a big step back next year.