As the fantasy baseball season draws to a close, it is important to look back and analyze the stats.
Some players performed exactly as predicted while others were a pleasant surprise. A generic statement indeed, meaning Albert Pujols remains a fantasy monster. Jason Bartlett catapulted himself into the upper echelons of a position notorious for offensive statistical scarcity.
But at the other end of the spectrum lies the players who massively disappointed.
I'm not alluding to individuals whose numbers have suffered due to injury. By "underperformed," I mean those who were high on draft day cheat sheets, but have been torturing their owners since April.
So get ready, Tom Petty. Here are 10 new members of the Heartbreakers, also known as the biggest busts in fantasy baseball for 2009.
Starting Pitcher—Francisco Liriano, Minnesota Twins
After a brilliant second-half performance of 2008, Liriano seemed primed to finally have the breakout season the Twins and the fantasy community expected from the highly touted southpaw.
In fact, yours truly had Francisco pegged as a 200+ strikeouts lock while garnering roughly 12 to 15 wins. I was convinced Liriano would be the sleeper pick of this year's drafts and a dark horse to win the AL Cy Young Award.
Chuckle if you like, for I wasn't the only one with a springtime man-crush on the Minnesota hurler.
His average draft position (ADP) was in the high 70s, or approximately sixth-round material. That's an ADP higher than both Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke.
Since I am merely making excuses for betting on the wrong pony, allow me to digress.
Liriano's 2009 campaign was nothing short of atrocious. Compiling a career high 5.80 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP while posting a 5-12 record, the Twins have rightfully decided to shut Francisco down for the year.
By producing only 10 quality starts for Minnesota, Liriano is easily the biggest bust of the current fantasy season.
Dishonorable mention: Scott Kazmir
Relief Pitcher—Brad Lidge, Philadelphia Phillies
Every year, fantasy gurus and meddling morons such as myself preach not to overpay for saves on draft day.
The role is too volatile and pitchers are too prone to injury to waste precious picks. But such pleas from the pulpit do not apply to the elite closers, right?
For your consideration, please compare Brad Lidge's following stat lines:
2008 1.95 ERA 1.23 WHIP 41 SV 92K 0 BS
2009 7.03 ERA 1.73 WHIP 27 SV 50K 9 BS
After converting every opportunity last year, Lidge leads the Majors in blown saves in 2009 and has the highest ERA among closers.
Dishonorable mention: Kevin Gregg
Catcher—Russell Martin, Los Angeles Dodgers
Martin was the first catcher off the boards in virtually every draft room last spring.
Yet, both CBS and ESPN have at least 10 other backstops currently ranked ahead of the Canadian-born Martin.
In a position with such disparity between tiers, it is understandable why many reached for Russell early six months ago (ADP in the mid 50s). But as Martin has a comparable 2009 stat line to bottom-rung fantasy backstop Jason Kendall, can the Dodger catcher still be considered elite?
Dishonorable mention: Geovany Soto
First Base—Aubrey Huff, Baltimore Orioles/Detroit Tigers
First base was the deepest position for talent coming into this year. So those who missed out on the premier players felt comfortable with a lesser option like Aubrey Huff, expecting him to put up above average numbers.
I doubt a .243 BA with only 13 homers are what many envisioned.
Recently dealt to Detroit, the 38-year-old Huff is now a backup to AL MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera. Consider this a prelude to an obituary, for Aubrey's fantasy relevance is all but officially flatlined.
Dishonorable mention: Chris Davis
Second Base—Dan Uggla, Florida Marlins
It took a red-hot month of August to raise Uggla's batting average to a paltry .239.
Yes, the 23 home runs are nice. But it must be coupled with more than his meager 67 RBI and 66 Runs to choke down such a pathetic BA.
If you listen closely, you can hear all of the Aaron Hill and Jose Lopez owners mocking the Dan Uggla drafters in unison with a Nelson Muntz-like "Haw, haw."
Dishonorable mention: Placido Polanco
Third Base—Garrett Atkins, Colorado Rockies
In 2008, Garrett was one ribbie short of posting his third consecutive season with at least 100 RBI. In the same three season period, Atkins also clubbed 20 or more homers every year.
In 2009, he has a mere 8 roundtrippers and 39 RBI, making Atkins the biggest hot corner bust since Eddie Murphy was stopped by the police after picking up a transsexual prostitute.
Dishonorable mention: Melvin Mora
Shortstop—J.J. Hardy, Milwaukee Brewers
2007 .277 BA 26 HR 80 RBI 89 Runs
2008 .283 BA 24 HR 74 RBI 78 Runs
2009 .229 BA 11 HR 45 RBI 49 Runs
Fantasy baseball is a game of numbers. From the table above it is easy to see why the Brew Crew demoted the formerly four-tooled J.J. Hardy to the minors.
Projected for power at a position traditionally known for defense, Hardy will now be expected to play second fiddle when Milwaukee expands their roster tomorrow.
Long live the reign of Alcides Escobar!
Outfield—B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay Rays
Although Upton lost his second base eligibility this year, fantasy forecasters still predicted B.J. to be an elite standout in a Mariana Trench-deep pool of outfielders.
After all, the "Bossman Junior" did hit seven long balls in only 16 postseason games during the Rays' amazing run to the World Series last year.
However, as hindsight affords, said soothsayers were absolutely incorrect.
With one month left to play, Upton has already surpassed his strikeout total of 2008. B.J. is also on pace to set a new low in the batting average department with a mark of .241.
Furthermore, having a mere 40 runs batted in so far, the elder Upton brother stands to see a significant decrease in RBI for the third consecutive season.
But everyone drafted him for the 36 stolen bases only, correct?
Delusion is a wonderful coping mechanism.
Dishonorable mention: Alfonso Soriano
So there you have it, my list of this year's disappointments. As always, feel free to agree or, more likely, disagree in the comments section below.
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