Jonathan Daniel - Getty Images
Every year there are players who dominate one fantasy category, but absolutely kill their managers everywhere else. They're the most polarizing players in fantasy, the guys you force yourself to suffer with because, well, you just might need help in that one statistic that they contribute in. Here is the 2012 One-Dimensional All-Star Team.
Alvarez had been an obnoxious enigma in his first two seasons in the big leagues, alternating flashes of his enormous power potential with stretches where he looked like he'd never seen a curveball before in his life. In 2012, he finally broke out...sort of. He demonstrated the power that had made him the number two pick in the 2008 draft, hitting 30 bombs, but that was about it. Otherwise, Alvarez was a fantasy murderer, killing you in strikeouts and batting average, and he didn't draw a great many walks, either. If he's hitting 30-35 home runs a year, he'll always be worth something, but if this is all he is, it seems likely major league pitchers will figure out how to chew him up and spit him out sooner rather than later.
Campana might be the most one-dimensional fantasy player I've ever seen. He literally does one thing well: steal bases. He can run like the wind and he might get you the stolen base title all by himself if he ever played a full season. Unfortunately, he's completely worthless in every other category. And I mean every category. He doesn't hit for average, he doesn't walk, he strikes out at an alarming rate for a slap hitter, and his "power" would make Jason Tyner look like Barry Bonds. He's one of those one-category studs who some managers will fall all over themselves for because they need a boost in steals. These same managers then sit there wondering why they aren't getting any outfield production as Campana is immolating their team every day in every other stat column that matters.
He's pretty much along the same lines as Campana, except that he is generally seen as a player who could turn into much more. Gordon never got it going with the bat this year, and he ended up the owner of an absolutely hideous .561 OPS. His 32 steals provided the only silver lining to a miserable year. He came into the season as one of the more interesting prospects in the game, and he did battle injuries, so there's still hope. If we're going to give out hardware for being one-dimensional fantasy team killers, though, Gordon is the 2012 MVP.
Salty was an even more extreme version of Alvarez, hurting your team with an even worse batting average and tons of strikeouts. The one thing he did well, hit home runs, he provided from the catcher position, so thus you tolerated him if you missed out on the top catching talents in your league. Saltalamacchia's 25 homers ranked him third among all catchers, which was nice. It's just that you had to gag through the other stuff (.222 BA, .288 OBP, 139 Ks) to take advantage of the good. Salty's second half fade and the presence of Ryan Lavarnway puts his future with the Red Sox, and as a starting catcher, in serious doubt.
I'm horrified that I have to put Lincecum on here too, but let's face it...he only gave you strikeouts. He stunk it up royally in every other category and probably sunk a lot of fantasy owners who had drafted him in the first few rounds. He gave up the most earned runs of any National League pitcher and had the worst walk rate of his career. Just a brutal year all around. He's been untouchable so far out of the bullpen this postseason, so his keeper owners will hope he's righted the ship after six months of hellish waters.
At first glance, Zito appeared to turn in his best season as a Giant, with a 15-8 record and 4.15 ERA. Beneath the surface, though, he was walking on eggshells all year, and wasn't a particularly productive fantasy pitcher. I wrote at length about Zito's supposed bounceback season in this space, but here's the nutshell version. He helped his owners in the win column, but that's where it ended. His K:BB ratio and WHIP were both mediocre, and he didn't even qualify as an innings-muncher, as a lot of his starts ended with him leaving the mound with a lead in the sixth inning with runners on, only to have his bullpen hang on and preserve the win. High win totals are almost completely out of a pitcher's control, and with his subpar underlying numbers, Zito will have an uphill task replicating his modest 2012 success next season.
Ah, the erstwhile "Best Closer in Baseball". Once upon a time, Valverde gave you more than just a gaudy save total. He could strike out a bunch of hitters with his nasty slider and give you an ERA in the low-twos. Now, he pretty much represents everything wrong with the modern closer and the save statistic. Valverde's ERA and WHIP were very mediocre for a reliever this year, and his strikeout rate was the lowest of his career. The only reason he has any fantasy value is because he's alive and breathing and gets to stand there when the ninth inning rolls around. As far as one-dimensional players go, Valverde does less damage because there are only so many ways a reliever can help you or hurt you over a fantasy season, and he does rack up the saves, which is all you really ask of a closer.
Who was the most one-dimensional player in 2012?
Pedro Alvarez (1 vote)
Tony Campana (9 votes)
Dee Gordon (7 votes)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (0 votes)
Tim Lincecum (2 votes)
Barry Zito (0 votes)
Jose Valverde (0 votes)
19 total votes