Fantasy Baseball: Biggest Hitting Bust at Every Position so Far This Season
There is still a solid six weeks left in the baseball season, in reality and fantasy alike, but this is still an opportune time to assess which players have fallen short of expectations.
No matter what happens in the remaining 45 to 50 games left, there are some hitters who have struggled beyond redemption.
Perhaps you'll find some of your own players on this list. Whether they stayed on fantasy rosters because of loyalty or a lack of trade partners, they have undoubtedly frustrated owners due to the discrepancy between production and reputation.
Here are the biggest busts, with regards to hitters, at every position so far in the 2011 season.
Stats as of Thursday, Aug. 11 and courtesy of ESPN.com.
Catcher: Joe Mauer
There's little doubt that Joe Mauer has one of the sweetest swings in all of baseball. That, combined with his stocked resume complete with three batting titles and an MVP award, still made Mauer a common first catcher off the board this season, despite his recent injury history.
Unfortunately, that injury history proved itself relevant. Mauer went on the disabled list in mid-April with knee problems stemming from his offseason arthroscopic surgery.
So much for making durability a primary goal for 2011.
He ended up missing about two months, and though he struggled upon his return, Mauer's batting average currently stands at .290.
But with only one home run and 23 RBI, plus those two months of inactivity, he certainly wasn't worth a third-round pick in any fantasy draft this year.
First Base: Adam Dunn
Adam Dunn had been the ultimate model of consistency in recent seasons. You knew exactly what you were getting. A lot of home runs, 100-plus RBI and a fairly respectable batting average.
Not this year.
In one of the year's biggest on-field mysteries, Dunn looks lost at the plate. In his first year with the Chicago White Sox, Dunn currently sports a .161 batting average with only 11 home runs and 40 RBI.
And it isn't for a lack of playing time, either; Dunn has compiled 338 at-bats in 2011.
Dunn has been an extreme disappointment for fantasy owners, particularly those who selected him before his much more productive teammate, Paul Konerko, was drafted.
To add insult to injury, Dunn may end up having a historically awful season.
Second Base: Dan Uggla
With a 31-game hitting streak or not, Dan Uggla has still had a disappointing season for the Atlanta Braves and fantasy teams alike.
The power is still there (24 home runs), but the average had been deplorable until his recent hot streak. It stands at a still-weak .224, but it was as low as .170 before the streak began.
Uggla was typically a third- or fourth-round pick, and you normally don't want guys hovering around the Mendoza line selected that early.
What's more, players who always or typically qualify at second base—like Brandon Phillips, Michael Young and Ben Zobrist—are having much better overall seasons than Uggla.
Unless Uggla reaches Joe DiMaggio territory with his hitting streak, this season will ultimately be a bust.
Third Base: Evan Longoria
Like Dan Uggla, Longoria has still shown decent power this season, smacking 17 home runs and knocking in 64 runs.
Unlike Uggla, Longoria was typically a first-round pick in fantasy drafts, is known for all-around talent and was typically tagged as the best player at his position during preseason rankings.
That being said, Longoria's .230 batting average and one stolen base are pretty subpar. He has never compiled the best average (.274 career) nor has he ever been a potent base-stealer (average of eight per season), but his numbers this year are severely down across the board.
Throw in his disabled list stint in April, and you have a bust-worthy season.
The one consolation here is that third base has been one of the weaker positions overall. Unless you have Jose Bautista, Michael Young or Aramis Ramirez, you haven't gotten prime production out of the hot corner in 2011.
Still, burning your first or second pick on Longoria when there were so many other better options available has to be disappointing.
Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez
Hanley Ramirez wasn't only considered the high-and-away best shortstop in fantasy; he was considered one of the best players overall.
But his .243/10/45 line doesn't exactly support that hype.
He does have 20 stolen bases to his credit. But Ramirez is batting about 60 points below his career average and slugging 127 points below his career mark. Considering he's been receiving time in the Florida Marlins' cleanup spot, that is especially disappointing.
To add injury to insult, Ramirez was just put on the disabled list for the second time this season.
Outfield: Carl Crawford
It isn't clear who has been more frustrated with Carl Crawford this season: fantasy owners or Boston Red Sox fans. Either way, Crawford has performed far below everyone's expectations.
The left fielder is currently hitting .257, a mark that is only that high because of a .359 batting average in August. He was hitting .155 at the end of April and .234 at the end of May.
Crawford isn't even stealing as many bags as he usually does, though that probably has something to do with his .293 on-base percentage. He has 13 swipes on the season.
Crawford was typically the third outfielder taken off the board. Many outfielders (like Matt Kemp and Jacoby Ellsbury) are having outstanding seasons despite often being drafted after him.
As a fantasy owner (and New York Yankees fan) who spent his first draft pick on Crawford, I was internally conflicted for the first four months of the season before finally sending him off in a trade.
Outfield: Shin-Soo Choo
Like Adam Dunn, the frustrating thing about Shin-Soo Choo is how consistently productive he has been in the seasons before this one.
Choo hit .300 or better each of the last three seasons, adding 20/20 (home runs/stolen bases) in the past two. He has informally been given the title of most underrated player in baseball.
In 2011, Choo is hitting .244 with five home runs and 11 stolen bases.
When he was struggling in the beginning of the season, some believed Choo was suffering from emotional stress stemming from his DUI arrest and narrow escape from Korean military duty. But his slow start gradually transformed into a subpar season.
To hurt his value further, Choo has been out for the past month-and-a-half due to a thumb injury. He is slated to return soon, but he won't have enough time to fully turn this year around.
Outfield: Jayson Heyward
People expected big things from Jason Heyward after his impressive rookie season. But it appears the Atlanta Braves outfielder has fallen victim to the sophomore slump.
After hitting .277 with 18 home runs and 72 RBI last year, Heyward is batting .218 with 12 home runs and 30 RBI in 2011.
A typical fourth- or fifth-round pick, Heyward was often drafted before fellow National League East outfielders Shane Victorino and Mike Stanton, each of whom is having a better season.
Heyward has also lost playing time recently to Braves rookie Jose Constanza.