Hitters to Avoid in 2017

Yesterday we highlighted pitchers that, due mostly to injury concerns, we will be avoiding in 2017 drafts. Today we thought it only fair to pay attention to the other side of the game and name some hitters we won’t be drafting.

Yasiel Puig, OF Dodgers

There is a big hole in the outfield when it comes to quality fantasy players, one of the slimmest crop of usable players in a while. Even with that we will be avoiding Yasiel Puig. It is highly probably Puig will be traded in the offseason and a lot of people believe it will be to the Brewers, we agree with that by the way. Even if that happens and opens up his playing time we still believe he is too risky. He has not shown that he can be consistent nor stay healthy. He won’t go high in drafts likely, but still we want to stay away.

Jay Bruce, OF Mets

Again, we know there are not a lot of great outfielders to choose from, but Jay Bruce is not someone you want next year. Since his trade to the New York Mets Bruce had been horrible. In 36 games he has a slash line of .192/.271/.315, with only 4 home runs. Question has been asked is he trying to prove too much to his new team or is this simply regression to the mean for him. We believe it is that latter. Last time Bruce his over .250 was in 2013 and it is clear to us that his hot season in Cincinnati was not the new norm for him, but just an extended hot streak.

Jose Bautista, OF Blue Jays

Maybe we should have tried a little harder to find players outside of the outfield, but it is just where we found players we don’t want for 2017. Jose Bautista has his lowest batting average since 2005 when he hit .143. Next year he will be 36 years old and has progressively been showing signs of aging with declining performance and increasing time injured. He is still valued by most fantasy players as a high end option, but is not returning what you have to pay for him. He is likely going to finish the regular season with his first sub-25 home run season since 2009. If he isn’t knocking the ball out of the park, isn’t hitting for a good average and isn’t driving in 100+ runs then he just doesn’t provide enough value for where he will be drafted.

Daniel Murphy, 2B Nationals

Finally, a non-outfielder and probably a pick that has you scratching your head. Daniel Murphy has been a major break out star in his age 31 season and has given owners plenty to celebrate. However, is it really something he can do again next year? We predict that many fantasy owners will be drafting Murphy in the first three rounds and he will not return that value. It is very unlikely that at 32 Murphy will be able to repeat his 2016 season. He has made it known that he made changes to his batting stance to increase his power production, but even if that sticks next year he will more than likely fall off in batting average as he has his highest BABIP since 2008 at .350 that is not going to be repeated. He will be a very useful fantasy player in 2017, but not worth where you will have to draft him.

There are without a doubt a lot more players that will be on our do not draft list for 2017 like Miguel Sano, Joe Mauer, Mark Trumbo and Billy Hamilton, but we didn’t have room to talk about them all here. Be on the lookout during the offseason however for more on why these players won’t be on any of our fantasy baseball teams in 2017.

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Where Analysts Went Wrong in 2016

Clayton Kershaw
By Barbara moore from Springfield, USA (CLAYTON KERSHAW Uploaded by Muboshgu) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Every year analyst put out their projections of where they see players finishing for that season in fantasy baseball. They use past history and their own thoughts on which players will improve and which will fall off. Some players like, Mike Trout or Madison Bumgarner, are somewhat easy to predict as they are very consistent. Others, however, can be extremely difficult. In this post we will look at three players that most if not all analyst got wrong. Players that for one reason or another did not live up to analyst expectations.

Bryce Harper, OF Nationals

After an amazing, MVP, season in 2015 everyone had high hopes for Bryce Harper. Many analysts had him as the top ranked player in baseball. After a season of 38 home runs, 97 RBIs, 112 runs, 125 walks and a .322 batting average it was no wonder we expected him to be such a high end player. As we wrote about earlier this season, to see that post click here, we may have over-hyped him. He had only had one season of those great numbers and we may have put too much in to that one season as this season has not compared to that one. Harper is hovering around the 20th ranked player in fantasy baseball this year, still a very good player, but nowhere near where we expected him to be. There have been rumors that he has been playing hurt and with a .255 batting average and only 23 home runs in 2016 we hope those rumors are true. At least that way we would have an explanation for why he is not what we thought he would be and would help us decide what to do in 2017.

Clayton Kershaw, SP Dodgers

Every season Clayton Kershaw is ranked at the top of all analyst rankings and that is well deserved. He never lets owners down as he has been consistently the best pitcher in baseball year after year. Even when he is not number one Kershaw is never far behind. 2016 was no exception as most every analyst had him ranked as the top pitcher and most had him in the top 5 of all players for fantasy baseball. He should have given owners wins, strikeouts, elite ERA and WHIP and just as many innings as any other pitcher out there, but then something went wrong. On June 30th he went on the disabled list, something that analyst could not predict, and has been out ever since. He is near a return now, but with so much of the season gone it is highly unlikely he will finish anywhere near where he was drafted. Even with the injury he still ranks 32 overall and 4th amongst pitchers. While playing he amassed a 1.79 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 145 Ks and 11 wins in 16 starts and 121.0 innings. He was on pace for what could have been his best season in his career, but will fall far short of that.

Andrew McCutchen, OF Pirates

Prior to the 2016 season when fantasy baseball owners heard the name Andrew McCutchen they thought elite outfielder and a player you would love to have on your team. That was not the case for this season. McCutchen has fallen and fallen far in rankings. As the season started the narrative was that he is just a slow starter and that he would turn it on and reward those owners who held on to him, but that has not happened. In 2015 McCutchen finished ranked 32nd overall, dropping 17 spots from where he finished in 2014. Maybe analyst should have looked at that drop in more depth, but we didn’t, we ignored it and he was a consensus top 10 player coming in to this year. Currently he has a .253/.331/.420 slash line which compared to his career line of .293/.382/.487 is a big disappointment. With only 19 home runs and a mere 6 stolen bases to go with his 58 RBIs and 68 runs he is ranked 101st overall in 2016. There is no explanation for why he has fallen so far from what he was and we still don’t know if this will be the norm for him moving forward. None of that matters to those who own him this season though as all they can do is wonder what could have been if he lived up to his expectations.

Others we could have included in this post; Prince Fielder, Carlos Correa, Shelby Miller, Jose Bautista or James Shields.

2017’s #1 Overall Pick

Recently I read an article on CBSSports.com written by Scott White (To read the article you can click here). It made me a bit frustrated. Not frustrated with White himself, since he says Mike Trout would be his top pick in 2017, but about the fact that this even has to be discussed.

I get as fantasy baseball owners we are always looking for the next big thing and we love chasing the hot hand, but when someone like Trout comes along and consistently performs at the level he does there is no reason to ever stray from him. Many owners did this with Bryce Harper this year after one great season and paid the price for it. Next season owners will be doing it again with Mookie Betts or Jose Altuve, but the reality is neither has done it as long or as good as Mike Trout.

My advice, trust the track record because the last thing you can afford to do is waste the first overall pick.

Did We Over-Hype Harper

Originally Posted July 27th, 2016

Bryce Harper
By MissChatter on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
At the beginning of the 2016 fantasy baseball draft season there were many analysts who had Bryce Harper as their number one ranked player, I was not one of them. Who could blame them though as he finished his MVP season in 2015 as the third ranked player in roto. Analysts fell in love with what the talented, young, outfielder did and said finally he had lived up to what we expected. By any measurement you use, if you thought he was number one, you would be disappointed with what Harper has done this year. It’s our own fault though.

Harper is currently the 46th ranked player in roto, far from the projections of number one he was projected as. He has a .240/.380/.458 slash line this year with 20 home runs, 55 RBIs, 53 runs and 75 walks. If you just look at those number and forget that you drafted him number one you would be happy with the production you have received, but in the context of being drafted number one you are let down.

But why did we let ourselves take one season and get fooled in to thinking that was the new norm. In 2014 Harper finished ranked 332. Yes, he was hurt and was still a kid at only 21 years old, but he never showed us that he could stay healthy or produce the numbers he did in 2015. Harper has taught us a valuable lesson, don’t let one season outweigh the broader numbers. Yes, you can expect players of Harper’s age and talent level to improve from season to season, but don’t put enormous expectations on a kid.

On behalf of fantasy analysts I want to say sorry to Harper, we put too much pressure on you and should not have done that.

Rise and Fall of Yasiel Puig

Originally Posted August 3rd, 2016

In 2013 a young, vibrant, Cuban born player named Yasiel Puig burst on to the baseball scene. This 22 year old outfielder had an electric arm and smashed the ball out of the ballpark. Not to mention a fair bit of speed. After his call up Puig went on a tear and finished his rookie season with a .319/.391/.534 slash line with 19 home runs and 11 stolen bases in 104 games. Baseball fans everywhere were impressed by what he had done.

Turn to today and you will see a much different story. Puig was told on Monday that if he wasn’t traded he would be sent down and the latter came true. Yesterday he was sent to the Dodgers Triple-A affiliate Oklahoma City. Puig has seen his career nosedive since his outstanding rookie season. Not only has his performance on the field taken a hit, but there have been several stories about his off the field behavior that have made you wonder about his character. Little did we know at the time that in 2013 Puig would have his career high in home runs, stolen bases and batting average. He has had multiple injuries that have slowed his progress and one mental mistake after another.

Yasiel Puig
By TonyTheTiger (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
What Yasiel Puig really needs, and looks like he will get, is a refresh. Puig will get a chance to go down to AAA and sort out his issues. He will be able to learn the game the way he should have earlier in his career. It is not his fault he was rushed to the majors and not give a chance to truly learn the game of baseball, but he has been blamed for it over and over again. Now let’s not take all the blame away from him as his off the field and clubhouse issues are on this shoulders, but maybe this dose of humility will help him in that area as well. We wish Puig the best and know that it won’t be long before we see him in the majors again.