By Jeremy Tiermini
The first base position was perhaps the deepest one heading into fantasy baseball Draft Day for the 2010 season. With over one-third of the games played for the season there are some notable names in the running for the Bust of the Year.
When looking for busts I used the player rater from Yahoo Sports, since I play in a 5X5 mixed league on that site. All of the statistics I listed are current through Sunday night’s games.
|Player||Pre. Rank||Cur. Rank||AVG||HR||R||RBI||SB|
|Mark Teixeira, Yankees||8||244||.211||8||35||34||0|
|Ryan Howard, Phillies||9||74||.286||9||32||40||0|
|Prince Fielder, Brewers||10||158||.276||9||35||21||1|
|Adrian Gonzalez, Padres||22||86||.283||11||30||36||0|
|Pablo Sandoval, Giants||30||250||.283||4||26||23||2|
|Derrek Lee, Cubs||52||346||.238||6||27||23||1|
|Adam Dunn, Nationals||70||160||.271||10||30||28||0|
|Carlos Pena, Rays||85||364||.175||9||25||34||2|
|Lance Berkman, Astros||86||331||.266||6||16||27||1|
When looking at which of these players is the biggest bust, I looked for injuries first. The only player listed that has missed significant time due to injury was Lance Berkman. Every one of the players listed has at least 200 AB’s except for Carlos Pena (he has 194) and Berkman, who has 154. As such, his stats are less than what they should be at this point of the season. However, Berkman does have some warning signs. His batting average is the lowest since his rookie season (.237), where he played in just 34 games. With the Astros struggling, Berkman can no longer be counted on for 85+ runs and 100+ RBI’s. Most fantasy owners were aware of this prior to the draft, so Berkman was not the early round pick he was in seasons past. He has indicated that he would agree to be traded to a contender, which would improve his fantasy value for the remainder of the season.
Ryan Howard and Adrian Gonzalez should also be eliminated from bust consideration. Howard is slightly behind his pace to reach his career averages in runs and RBI’s, but the biggest concern is his decreased power. He has reached the high 40’s in homers the last few season but is only on pace for 26 this season. The only stat in which Gonzalez is behind in from his 2009 pace is the HR’s; he hit 40 last season. A few good weeks with some extra power production from both would bring them fairly close to their projections.
Adam Dunn has been the 40 HR man, but slipped to 38 last season. He is only on pace for 29-30 this season but, again, a few good weeks of power production can get him back on track for reaching 35+ HR’s. His RBI production is also down, but that is more a product of the runners not getting on base in front of him; if Dunn maintains his current batting average, and the Nationals have some offensive improvement from other players, Dunn should get his RBI totals up, as well.
The remaining five players are in sure-fire bust territory. As a team, the Yankees have struggled offensively in recent weeks and Mark Teixeira has been a part of the problem. He has averaged just under 35 HR’s a season in his career but he is only on pace for numbers in the low 20’s this season; his batting average is also abysmal. At this point of the season, if you own Teixeira, you really have to hold on to him. You can’t drop him and you won’t get full value for him in any trade offers. I do expect him to rebound quickly but his season projections do need to be adjusted: 27 HR’s, .270-.275 BA, 100 runs, 110 RBI’s. These aren’t the numbers you paid for, but a strong final two-thirds of the season could help owners forget Tex’s early season slump.
Prince Fielder is also behind his projections for home runs and RBI’s. His power output has also been erratic the last few seasons: 50 HR’s in 2007, 34 in 2008, and 46 in 2009. He is on pace for just 27-28 bombs this season; if he reaches 30+ homers this season, his owners will forgive him for his early season slump. Like Teixeira, Fielder’s projections need to be modified: 26 HR’s, .280 BA, 90 runs, 70 RBI’s. Again, for the price you paid to get Fielder on your squad, these final numbers will be disappointing for fantasy owners.
With the depth at the first base position, Derrek Lee and Carlos Pena were targeted after the big-name 1B sluggers were off the board. Owners that drafted Lee based on his 35 blasts last season are certainly disappointed that he is projected to finish the year with under 20 HR’s; he also will not get anywhere close to the 111 RBI’s he posted last season. You didn’t pay as much for him so, while you will be disappointed, his final projected stat line (18 HR’s, .260, 75 runs, 65 RBI’s) shouldn’t hurt you as much as the ones from Fielder or Teixeira will hurt fantasy owners.
Pena’s average is disappointing and he has NEVER been a high average guy, posting a career .243 batting average. With Tampa Bay’s offense, Pena’s lack of production has been surprisingly bad and he is costing himself some money as he prepares for free agency. His final stat line qualifies him for the Bust of the Year award: 26 HR’s, .220 average, 70 runs, 85 RBI’s.
However, none of these players came into the season with the hype of Pablo Sandoval. “Kung Fu Panda” excited fantasy owners with his 2009 stat line: 25 HR’s, .330 BA, 79 runs and 90 RBI’s. Because owners thought he would improve on these numbers, Sandoval shot up the draft boards. San Francisco’s offense has been brutal so far and Sandoval’s numbers have suffered. In adjusting his projections, I look for Sandoval to finish the season with the following numbers: 16 HR’s, .288 BA, 68-70 runs, and 55-60 RBI’s. Because Sandoval was projected to produce the value equivalent of a third-round pick, Sandoval is the Bust of the Year at first base thus far this season.