The worst team hindsight can buy

Although you didn’t know it at the time, scattered throughout your draft at the time when you were drafting were land mines in the form of players that would blow up later in the season. You didn’t know it yet, the players themselves didn’t know it yet; nobody did.

You can blame these players’ failures on ESPN, Little Bit O’ Luck, Canada, Lady Gaga, or whoever, but the truth is that not even I could see these meltdowns coming so there was virtually a zero percent chance you could. On a more serious note, players underperforming is simply a part of fantasy baseball, so get used to it (and join more than one league each year).

Using the same format as this article’s counterpart, The Best team hindsight can buy, here is a fantasy team composed of the worst players you could have taken in each round of a standard 12-team draft.

The Fantasy-fatales

Too much panda, not enough kung fu from Sandoval this year. (Icon/SMI)

Catcher: Everyone (Round 0) – None of Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez, Brian McCann, Matt Wieters or Russell Martin—the catchers taken before round 12—have rewarded those who drafted them. Contrastingly the next three catchers taken—Jorge Posada, Mike Napoli and Kurt Suzuki—are all playing respectably. Go figure.

First Base: Mark Teixeira (1) – This hustling first baseman isn’t packing quite as much power to his punch as he did last year, when he blasted a smooth 39 home runs. This year he is on track to hit just 28 between him and that Yankee stadium right-field porch. Even though at times it has seemed like he was about to catch on fire, the true explosion has yet to come. Won’t it?

Second Base: Aaron Hill (4) – Our boy Hill had a solid 2007 season, an abysmal 2008, and next came his uber-spectacular 2009 season, and surprise surprise, Hill is struggling in 2010. The 11 homers aren’t bad, but you have to brown bag his .192 average to see what’s in it for you. Some players were just meant to have fantasy articles written about them, and I can already see the McFlurry of articles this offseason predicting a Hill bounce back, and next offseason about how he is overvalued. By 2013 we might have found something better than fantasy baseball to do so I’ll refrain from prognosticating any further.

Third Base: Pablo Sandoval (3) – Although owning Sandoval will never be as fun as in his catcher-eligibility days, coming into this season he seemed to have the right combination of batting average, power and body mass to make him a joy to own. Fast forward to the present, though, and his 30 R, 6 HR, 37 RBI, 2 SB, .273 AVG line is not inducing many smiles from his owners.

Shortstop Jason Bartlett (9) – Bartlett’s line consisting of a .227 average, one home run, and three steals is about as barren as the Marlins stadium looks during a replay that shows someone hitting a home run into the outfield bleachers and you see a fan a hundred rows away from where the ball landed scrambling toward it.

Outfield: Grady Sizemore (2) – In general I am trying to avoid putting players affected by injuries on this team, but Sizemore was playing terribly enough before he needed knee surgery to warrant inclusion. Comparing him to players with at least as many plate appearances as he had, his .255 wOBA ranks 13th worst, worse than superstars Jose Lopez and Garrett Atkins but at least better than Brandon Wood and Pedro Feliz.

Outfield: Adam Lind (5) – The Golden Boy of THT Fantasy last year, this year Lind is performing like he is embarrassed to have played so well. Ditto what I said about his Blue Jay teammate in terms of the acceptable home runs (9) but terrible accompanying average (.203). Oh, and he will probably be called undervalued next year, too.

Outfield: Carlos Lee (6) – Lee had been beating the effects of age better than most people expected up until this season and now he has crashed harder than most people thought he would. Currently batting .234 with 10 home runs, he should play better the rest of the season since as is the case with most of the other players on this team, bad luck has contributed to the poor numbers. However, I would not expect the .300 average of the past few seasons but instead something around .260 to .270.

Starting Pitcher: Josh Beckett (7) – If this season will be remembered as one of dominant pitchers, Beckett missed the memo. After eight starts he came away with a 7.29 ERA and a lower back strain that let him test the new health care laws along with the rest of the Red Sox organization.

Starting Pitcher: Wandy Rodriguez (8) – Somewhat quietly Wandy was one of the league’s best pitchers last year, finishing with a 3.02 ERA and 193 K’s in 205 innings. Maybe he was upset at the lack of recognition and figured he would be discussed more if he simply pitched terribly. Well, congrats Wandy, you are now being talked about for your 5.64 ERA and declining strikeout rate.

Relief Pitcher: No one (?) – No closer taken before round 13 has lost his job yet. Injured Huston Street (round 13), poor Chad Qualls (15), and painful-to-watch Trevor Hoffman (15) were the closers to avoid so far.

Final thoughts

The scary part in looking at these players is how safe a lot of them were considered before the season started, especially the pitchers. We still are less than halfway through the season so there is time for some of these guys to turn things around.

The biggest snub from the team is definitely Aramis Ramirez and I’ll let you guys tell me who else should have been included from there.

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  1. Babish said...

    Gordon Beckham, Derrek Lee, and Jason Bay are three good ones.  I took Nolasco in the 8th round (doh!)

  2. Tom B said...

    I think Greinke and Zobrist should be included on this list.  Anyone expecting Peralta to be good was just fooling themselves.

  3. Tom B said...

    … also, I don’t know how much “respectable” play Napoli can be given credit for.  He was awful to start the season, and it took 2 injuries (Mathis and Morales) to force Scioscia’s hand.

    That being said, the opportunity and power he is displaying now is redeeming to those who drafted him and rode it out smile

  4. Jason B said...

    Kind of amazing that the Jays have had the offensive output that they have this year, considering the woeful starts from Lind, Hill, and Overbay.  The lesser lights – Bautista, Gonzalez, Wells, and Buck – have really shone so far.  I’m guessing there’s regression to come all around, with the abjectly awful being not quite so bad, and the stellar performers being not quite as good.

  5. Wade said...

    95% guessing game, and always will be.  That’s because only around 5% saw what ultimately happens nearly every year. 

    Pre-season write-off who are defying predictions:
    1.  Troy Glaus – Way up
    2.  Tim Hudson – Up
    3.  Martin Prado – Way, way, way up
    4.  Eric Hinske – Way up
    5.  Tommy Hanson – Flat
    6.  Brian McCann – Down
    7.  Chipper – Down (what rebound?)
    8.  Jair Jurrjens – Down (injured)
    9.  Billy Wagner – Up
    10. Johnny Venters – Who?

    One team, ten examples.  How is weather predicted?  Well…what happened last year?  And how accurate is that?  At least with weather there’s satellite evidence to back up the guess.

    All that “obvious talk” aside, I’ve got Prado at second base.  So nyeah nyeah…

  6. Jason B said...

    …pretty sure short-term weather forecasts aren’t based on “what happened last year.” (Not that I’m enamored with their predictive powers or their success rates.) Maybe in the Farmer’s Almanac or something?

  7. DF 9 said...

    Co Jack (AZ & OAK, OF), Valley Fever gone, posting .425/.561/.589 in the Dominican Winter League gone, chance of me winning my NL only league b/c I thought a bounce back was possible, GONE!!!

  8. DonCoburleone said...

    Jason Bay and Gordon Beckham are 2 really big ones that have been mentioned in the comments already… How about Fatty Fielder?  He’s currently on pace for something like 30HR’s and 75RBI after going 46-141 last year.

  9. kevin said...

    wow, drafted 2 of these guys and picked up another due to injury. I would argue that another player on my team is more deserving of a spot on this list, Markakis. Sure he has a nice shiny batting average, but compared to lee he has 2 less runs, 7 less hr’s, 17 less rbi’s, and 1 more sb (woo!). He’s basically scott podsednik without the steals (unless bb’s count in your league). At least with lee there had been a fluky BABIP contributing to his poor numbers.

  10. Kris said...

    Good call on Markakis.

    Lots of SP to choose from for this list: Burnett, Lackey, Grienke, Vazquez have been bad.  Haren, Verlander, Hanson, Shields, and many others just not really coming too close to what they were drafted for, if not terrible.

  11. Brad Johnson said...

    Mike Cameron can only play center field? I’ve never heard of a guy who can play only CF but not LF or RF (or both). I’m pretty sure the Red Sox decided that Cameron in center was the best defensive alignment…

    I was on the Kyle Blanks bandwagon and got disappointed there. Nolan Reimold similarly disappointed me, but at least I half expected it to happen because of his achillies injury. They both don’t really qualify since they were late round picks.

  12. Elbert said...

    Don’t forget Carlos Lee; he’s been pretty disappointing as well.

    i can’t help but wonder if the end of ‘roid era has triggered the beginning of “volatile stats” era, since most of old consistent producers have gone back to inconsistency.

    perhaps it proves to us the preciousness of being great year-round/ century round naturally.

  13. Jeffrey said...

    Nolasco will be just fine. He had a 3.6 ERA earlier this year and many starts and just had a few major implosions. His last 4 starts have got him right back on track in terms of K/9 and the walks have never been a prob. it’s just those damned homers

  14. Jeffrey said...

    OH, and Here is the team I bought on draft day in a money-auction league. You might agree that I have the absolute worst luck in the universe

    C-Miguel Montero
    C-Chris Iannetta
    1B-Derrek Lee
    2B-Gordon Beckham
    SS-Hanley Ramirez
    3B-Chris Davis
    OF-Nelson Cruz
    OF-Hunter Pence
    OF-Grady Sizemore
    DH-Travis Hafner
    SP-Josh Beckett
    SP-Wandy Rodriguez
    SP-Ricky Nolasco
    SP-Cole Hamels
    SP-Phil Hughes
    SP-Stephen Strasburg
    SP-Colby Lewis
    RP-Mike Gonzalez
    RP-Kerry Wood
    RP-Billy Wagner

  15. Paul Singman said...

    First of all, Carlos Lee is on the team already so mentioning him doesn’t add anything and makes me wonder if you read the article. Actually I hope you didn’t read the article at this point.

    Elbert, I obviously have not run the numbers to check if players are generally more inconsistent now than before, but I highly, highly doubt that is true. The time will always come when consistent players get old and start the bumpy ride toward retirement. “volatile stats” era is one of funnier suggestions I’ve heard lately though. Your unintentional omission of “the” before ‘roid era and “volatile stats” era does make it even funnier btw.

    Babish—Beckham is a good candidate but Jason Bay? He hasn’t been exciting but his fantasy value isn’t terrible especially with the 10 steals.

    Same goes for Zobrist, Tom B. He’s not blowing anyone away but it could be much, much worse. Greinke’s not getting the wins but isn’t pitching bad at all.

    Jason B—Agree.

    Bryan—Seven words: Stop expecting things from B J Upton. From a fantasy standpoint he’s not playing too bad either. I think a trade would do him well.

    Scott—If “big game james” is James Shields, I could never put a pitcher with a K/BB ratio over 4.00 and a BABIP over .330 on this team. That sort of optimism didn’t work out so well with Dave Bush in 2007 and Shields does seem to have the whole “batters are simply hitting the ball hard off him” profile; but he generates too many swings and misses to not think his ERA will improve.

    Wade—No response.

    DF9—Even though placing your team’s fortunes in the hands of Conor Jackson sounds ridiculous, I understand where you were coming from.

    DonCoburleone—Initially I had Teixeira and Fielder and sharing the first base and first round honors so, yea, he was a last second cut. I had to change a lot of ‘“they”s to “he”s and “are”s to “is”s in the process.

    Kevin—Love the Markakis suggestion. He looked like the next fantasy superstar a few years ago and has become one of the most boring fantasy players in the mold of Ryan Sweeney/Daric Barton.

  16. Northern Rebel said...

    I’m not a fantasy guy, but I imagine someone’s trying to get the taste out of their mouth, after picking Mike Cameron, who my favorite team thought was a great signing.

    If Jacoby Ellsbury was in centerfield where he belonged, he be in the lineup today.

    Instead, because Cameron can only play one position, my Sawx have been playing with only one major league outfielder.

    The Sawx front office has been infatuated with this never-was journeyman, who’s best talent is a swinging strike three, and has never fulfilled the potential he supposedly had, and may be the best example of an underachiever, in this century.

    Next time, I’m not pulling any punches, and I’m gonna tell you how I really feel!

  17. Paul said...

    Jeffrey – worst bad luck?  Not so much (though it depends when your auction was), but i do share your pain with a few guys here

    Ianetta was in a timeshare at best after signing Olivo – and he had a history of being juked around in COL
    Davis din’t have a starting job
    Hafner – what did you expect?  No bad luck there
    Lee – not so much bad luck as overexpectation based on a fab 2009
    Pinning your hopes on banged up pitchers like Wood and Gonz is an injury risk/reward bet and not bad luck

    Nolasco/Beckett/Hamels/Wandy fall into the category of pitchers that are usually not as good as their peripharals suggest they should be – but this is not really new knowledge this year – so not bad luck.

    Agree that you are a bit unlucky with injuries to Montero and Cruz when he was fire; Sizemore was a pretty big risk where was generally being taken, but it is a bit unlucky; Beckham has totally sucked (but everyone liked him pre-season) so a bit unlucky

    …but you got lucky with the overperformance (compared to their cost) of Lewis, Hughes and Wagner – and probably got lucky with Sizemore and Beckett going on the DL when they did because they were seriously hurting teams by playing

    anyway good luck for the remainder of the season smile

  18. Paul said...

    didn’t mean that to be so critical!

    I’m just going through the same thing at the moment – my teams suck, and i can either blame back luck, or i can be objective and look at where i made poor choices (many) so to improve performance for next year (AL hitting and NL pitching for me in future)

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