As if the MLB season wasn’t long enough already, fantasy baseball mock drafts in late January/early February allow us to enjoy America’s pastime a little bit longer.
That is, unless your roster is filled with busts when you finally draft the team that matters.
Fantasy baseball occasionally forces the actual game into a second fiddle role, which isn't the worst thing in the world. It presents the idea of Yankees and Phillies fans on the east coast taking an interest in the Mariners and Diamondbacks. Fantasy baseball, if nothing else, is maintaining America’s interest in the sport.
Alright, so it’s not likely you stopped following baseball because your fantasy team is more of a nightmare than anything else. There have certainly been a plethora of hitters this season earning the "bust" label. From the casual fan who blindly drafted their team to the experts who analyzed every stat and projection, few could have seen some of these disappointing seasons coming.
Honestly, from the gurus to the casual participants and fans, can someone explain how Mark Teixeira and Prince Fielder have fewer home runs than Kelly Johnson?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
It happens every year, in every sport. There will always be a handful of players that don’t live up to their projections. But how does this affect the fan whose sole interest in following the Yankees, for example, is because they have Teixeira on their team?
Perhaps you were unlucky (like I was) and built your fantasy team this year around Dustin Pedroia, Teixeira, Fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Hunter Pence, all of whom have terribly underachieved through the first two months of the season.
Teixeira has hit a dismal .215, with seven home runs, through May 29. If you’ve stuck with him through this awful start to the season, you’ve gotten 30 runs and 31 runs batted in from him. He’s far off his pace from last season, when he knocked in 122 runs.
Fielder has been another massive bust in 2010. While his 31 runs scored aren’t awful (although certainly not what you want from your first or second round draft pick), his seven homers and alarmingly-low 19 runs batted in have been torture for fantasy owners.
Compared to the two sluggers at first base, Pence has been a different kind of fantasy bust this season. As an outfielder, fantasy owners looked to Pence in March as a potential 30 home runs, 30 stolen bases guy. His stock rose fast since Pence was called up to the majors in 2007 (when he hit 17 home runs, stole 11 bases, and hit .322 in 108 games).
After hitting only a few home runs and recording a batting average around the Mendoza Line in the month of April, Pence, however has found his stride. He is now paying benefits to the owners who either held on to him, or scooped him up off waivers.
Therefore, Pence becomes that "bust" player because of the possibility that his original owner dropped the outfielder in April, and is now watching Hunter explode on another team.
The Boston duo of Pedroia and Ellsbury has been unquestionably disappointing so far this season. The two players, however, have been busts for entirely different reasons. Ellsbury has spent much of the season on the disabled list after a nasty outfield collision that resulted in a few fractured ribs.
Pedroia, although his eight homers are nice, is dragged down by his .255 batting average and two stolen bases.
Ellsbury attempted to come off the DL this past week only to feel additional pain, heading back to the injured list in the process. An injury like this, to the type of player he is, could spell long-term trouble for fantasy owners (this season, not career).
Ellsbury is a guy most drafted early to score runs, hit for average, and steal upwards of 50 bases this season. An injury like this could limit his aggressiveness (and even his playing time).
Pedroia’s second base eligibility slightly eases the pain of his offensive struggles. With very little depth at this middle infield position, Pedroia’s eight homers are a nice compensation for the decrease in his other numbers.
He does get the "bust" label, however, because of his potential, and where he was probably drafted in your fantasy league. Most probably drafted Pedroia with the hopes of him putting up MVP numbers.
While these five stars may have bogged down my fantasy team this season, here are a few other hitters who have started the season in an offensive, er, slump.
Carlos Lee, .211, 5 homers, 18 runs, 20 RBI
Chipper Jones, .237, 2 homers, 18 runs, 18 RBI
Carlos Quentin, .215 with only 5 homers
Carlos Pena, .181, 8 homers
David Wright, .244 (and way too many strikeouts)
Brian McCann, .263, 5 homers, 18 RBI
Ian Kinsler, 1 homer, 15 runs, 10 RBI
Grady Sizemore, .211, 0 home runs, 15 runs, 13 RBI (and currently on the DL)
Aaron Hill, .167, 17 RBI, 24 runs (which equals his total number of hits on the season)
Chicago Cubs Offense: Aramis Ramirez, Derrick Lee, Geovany Soto
Look for a pitchers edition sometime next week.