Why, Tim Lincecum? Why are you so bad this year? (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
I don't think there's is a more demoralizing feeling in a fantasy baseball league than looking at your roster at the halfway mark and seeing that a player you paid $80 for on draft day is stinking up the joint. This is when painful flashbacks from draft day start to occur. There are visions of you cackling at all of your buddies that you just outbid for your prize, possibly (hopefully?) while making it rain with Monopoly money as you chomped down on a comically oversized cigar. You got your pricey star, and you couldn't wait to rub your friends' faces in it. Now, as that expensive player stumbles into and out of the All Star Break with career-worst numbers, you just look like a grade A jerk.
We've all been victims of having a high-priced draft pick go busto on us, I'm sure. Every year, some player (or players) suffers from some unforeseen malady, or just inexplicably becomes mediocre, and those of us who spent top dollar for him in the draft are left holding the bag. We're here now to point out those disappointing players and call them out for failing us. They killed our seasons, and now they deserve ridicule.
Here at Fake Teams, we did a whole series praising the fantasy stars of the first half. Now it's time to turn the tables and examine the dark underbelly of the first part of the fantasy season. After the jump, the top draft busts, by position, of the season's first half.
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
In retrospect, perhaps Gonzalez's shriveling production wasn't too hard to see coming. I mean, even last season, Gonzalez saw his home run output dip to its lowest total since 2006. His walk total dropped substantially, and he hit more balls on the ground than ever before. Now, after managers blew their budgets for him in auction drafts, he's suddenly become Todd Benzinger.
It's certainly possible that we were all blinded by his shiny (and well above career-norm) .338 batting average from last year, and failed to see that the rest of his numbers were trending a bit downward. As a slow-footed first baseman, he definitely fits the dreaded "old player skills" profile. He's one of the more popular second half bounce-back picks, but count me among the worried.
Runner Up: Albert Pujols
2B: Rickie Weeks
Weeks's horrific season has been well-documented. It's been a nightmare wrapped in another nightmare having an even worse nightmare. His .199/.314/.343 line at the break is more than enough to have his fantasy owners jolting out of sleep in a sweat at three in the morning, jabbering frantically about lost fantasy dollars. It remains to be seen whether Weeks can help his owners sleep a little easier. A hot eight-game stretch in July (small sample size!) is definitely a step in the right direction.
Runner UP: Dustin Ackley
SS: Troy Tulowitzki
Add me to the laundry list of people who either drafted Tulo way too high or spent way too much money on him in preseason drafts (I spent more money on him than on any other player in my one auction draft). Tulowitzki was a legitimate candidate for top overall pick before the season. He's a 30-homer/100-RBI threat at a position where that kind of production is almost unheard of anymore. Unfortunately, he spent half of the first part of the season on the disabled list, and it's not at all clear when he'll be back. With this new injury, he's quickly being stuck with the "oft-injured" tag. That may be unfair (his last major injury, in 2010, was from being hit by a pitch), but his owners aren't exactly getting much bang for their buck while he rots in the DL.
Runner Up: Dee Gordon
3B: Brett Lawrie
Lawrie came up in August of last season and impressed fans by walking on water and raising the dead. Er...or OPSing .953. You know, whatever. Lawrie's red-hot initiation to the big leagues had managers falling all over themselves bidding for him in drafts this preseason. He hasn't been horrible, by any means. A 22-year-old with a .291/.334/.425 line with eight homers and eleven stolen bases is nothing to sneeze at. However, we were expecting more. As in, more power, a higher average, and some general stardom. When you shred the major leagues in your first 150 at-bats, you create high expectations. Lawrie will definitely live up to them at some point, but managers who drafted him super-high expecting instant returns probably jumped the gun a little.
Runner Up: Evan Longoria
OF: Justin Upton
He was my preseason MVP pick, and I think he's doing this whole "underachieving" thing with the sole intention of making me look like an ass. Upton seemed poised for a breakout into the upper tier of fantasy stars, but instead has been an utter disappointment across the board. A .401 slugging percentage with seven homers just isn't going to do it for a player taken in the first round by many a fantasy manager. He's my pick for a big second half, if only to justify my early season fawning.
Runner Up: Jacoby Ellsbury
Santana was supposed to be the cream of the crop at a shockingly deep catcher position this season. Instead he's been...well, pretty much hitting like a catcher. The walks are still there, but he still isn't hitting for a good average and now suddenly the power has gone in the tank. He's at risk of becoming an early-career version of Mike Napoli, only without the pop. That ain't good. If he can rediscover the home run swing that made him so valuable last year, he'll be a top second-half producer.
Runner Up: Alex Avila
SP: Tim Lincecum
Lincecum is probably the draft bust of the year so far. How many managers paid a lot of money for him in drafts only so see his ERA shoot higher than Lincecum's own mental state on a roadie through the Pacific Northwest?Theories are abound as to why Lincecum has been so crummy this year; he even has his own witch doctor theory that he isn't "mad enough" anymore. His awful walk rate is probably the key cause, but it's anyone's guess if he can fix his control problems with any ease. As much as it pains me to say, it's hard to see any evidence for a quick turnaround here.
Runner Up: Roy Halladay
RP: John Axford
I'm sure Axford didn't go too high in drafts; no one is going to go wild overdrafting a closer, unless they're in on a fix and tanking the league. Axford may have been the top closer taken in most drafts, though, what with his ability to rack up strikeouts. This season all he's gone about proving is that it takes more than a silly handlebar mustache to consistently thrive in the ninth inning. Axford is now walking everybody, and his ERA has inflated accordingly. He's a decent candidate to follow the Derrick Turnbow path to irrelevance.
Runner Up: Heath Bell