Searching for guys to like is so easy to do. Finding the heels can be a tedious task. Keeping my personal bias out of this list was quite difficult. I failed in accomplishing that particular feat. The four guys from last week all had much larger question marks surrounding them than the four I have for you today. This week’s aversion all stars list has a top 10 pick from 2010, a one-time Cy Young winner, and two former top-15 Baseball America prospects. Please enjoy my cornucopia of resentment.
Matt Kemp OF LAD – Something puts me off about a guy that can flash such raw ability so early on in his career and then let that get threatened by a desire to lead a “playboy” lifestyle. Seemingly, Kemp has traded his glove and cleats for fast cars and popstar girlfriends.
I know that most fantasy baseball doesn’t take into account fielding, as well it shouldn’t, but Kemp’s UZR rating of –24.0 roughly categorizes him as the worst fielder in baseball. Now, we know that’s not the case, but it doesn’t help me like him any more.
Of his 34 stolen base attempts, Kemp was able to convert just 19 of them. That’s the most caught stealings of anybody with 34 or fewer attempts. Also, Kemp saw his strikeout percentage jump to 28.2 percent. For frame of reference, Ryan Howard’s strikeout percentage was 28.5 percent.
I don’t think it was a matter of skill regression for Kemp, but he is definitely having some focus problems. I’d rather see a skill regression or injury because you can still gauge value. When focus or love of the game comes into question, you have to throw projections out the window. Kemp is still a stud in his talent, but to be a top-30 pick, he has way too much baggage.
He and Rihanna have since split, but break-up baggage can be tough, too. Observe Pablo Sandoval’s 2010 season.
Trevor Cahill SP OAK – What is there to like about Cahill? Well, he has a solid Baseball America pedigree. His 56.1 percent groundball rate is elite. He won 18 games in 2010 without coming near the dominance he had shown in previous minor league seasons. So there could be growth in that department.
What is there to hate about Cahill? He hasn’t shown the dominance that he had shown in his minor league career. Cahill’s swing percentages all point to future problems. His BABIP was .236, which was the lowest amongst all starting pitchers. His FIP of 4.10 is a far cry from his actual 2.97 ERA. The offense of Oakland will never be good enough to propel this guy near 20 wins again. There’s no justification of a selection within the first 100 picks for Cahill, much less over the likes of Max Scherzer, Daniel Hudson and Wandy Rodriguez.
Additionally, Cahill represents the kind of fantasy pitcher that can certainly fill gaps for your fantasy team, but he’ll never be able to lead a fantasy staff. His style leads some to compare him to Tim Hudson. I see that as a reach because Huddy outperformed Cahill in most peripheral stats in 2010 and has had a much longer track record of success.
Roy Oswalt SP PHI – Unless the Phillies are going to go 162-0, one of their starters is going to have to show some vulnerability. Hamels has really come into his own of late. Doc Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball. Cliff Lee is the best-pitching pitcher in baseball. So that leaves us with Joe Blanton and Oswalt. Blanton’s limitations are obvious, but he’ll be a serviceable fifth starter.
I must first say that my “hate” for Oswalt is not going to be a statistical dislike as much as a gut feeling. So feel free to reject the following analysis, but remember—a gut feeling can be just as solid as a statistical prediction in this game of chance.
Which Oswalt will find his way onto the mound in 2011? The one that limped through a 2009 with a K/9 of 6.9, an ERA of 4.12, and a 1.24 WHIP, or the one that catapulted the Phillies into the playoffs? His cool, calm reaction to a change of scenery was inspiring. Finding an effective way to use the change-up could resurrect his dominance, which was his highest since 2001.
My irrational “hate” hovers around little things like his hit percent (Ron Shandler Fantasy Forecaster), which was 26 percent, by far the lowest of his last five years. Hit percent helps to mitigate through lucky and unlucky hits. Anything sub-30 percent is considered on the lucky side, and vice versa, anything over 30 percent tends to show some misfortune for the pitcher. I’m also not sold on the strikeouts. A reversion to his career average would not be surprising.
I’m definitely not saying that Oswalt shouldn’t be drafted. Furthermore, I’m not debating his stable skill set. He might fit in with a safer fantasy player. For me, I’m projecting a line of 13 W/3.51 ERA/1.20 WHIP/140 K. A line like that is very comfortable, and a manager could feel content to get that from his 100th pick.
I just see so many “riskier” guys that present a much more interesting statistical offering. All the guys I mentioned that should be taken over Cahill should be taken over Oswalt as well.
Elvis Andrus SS TEX – When the Atlanta Braves handed the Rangers their farm system for a year of Mark Teixeira, I couldn’t eat for days. Gone was Neftali Feliz. Out went Salty. Goodbye, Matt Harrison. Arguably the best prospect in that deal was a little shortstop named Elvis. He was fast and displayed an excellent glove. Andrus has matured in the Ranger system, and his promise manifested itself in 2009. His six HR and 33 SB at age 20 had us all salivating as to what he could one day become.
2010 painted a different Andrus than what we saw in 2009. His power literally disappeared. He had no home runs, only 15 doubles, and a measly three triples in 670 plate appearances. Even with the increase in plate appearances, Andrus’ stolen base total dropped from 33 to 32 in 2010. This was mainly due to a lack of efficiency on the basepaths, as he was caught stealing 15 times.
To say that’s unacceptable is being nice. A speed guy who doesn’t steal a ridiculous amount of bases, doesn’t hit for a decent average, and has absolutely no power is still being drafted at spot No. 71.8, ahead of a host of other players that will out-accumulate him in 2011. Maybe the Braves knew something that I didn’t. Stay away for 2011 at least.
Last on my hate list is the month of February. Now that the Super Bowl is over, we will all be force fed ice hockey, the Miami Heat and Dick Vitale for the next 28 days. Only a glimmer of pitchers and catchers reporting remains. The blah days of February must be approached like the guys on this list. Just close your eyes and let them pass by.
Here’s to March.