As we gear up for the second half, it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t get a chance to vent our frustrations and call out those players that fell way short of expectations and basically screwed us in the first half. We’re always so quick to praise those players who returned a significant value and helped us along (2012 First Half Best Value All Stars), but let’s also bring a little accountability to the forefront here and acknowledge those that cost us a bundle on draft day only to turn around and put up a stinker of a first half. I present to you the 2012 First Half Worst Value All Bust Team.
Carlos Santana, C CLE – He was the number one catcher off the board in almost every league, going as high as the second round in some. His second half surge increased everyone’s expectations even more and with the knowledge that he would grab mad at-bats as a 1B/DH as well, he was considered a no-brainer. Whoops! After a decent first few weeks in April, it all went downhill for Santana. Some will blame the concussion, but since excuses net you zero fantasy points, we’re simply left with a lame-duck .221 average with five home runs and 30 RBI. And even though he has a 15.6% walk rate, his .339 OBP is still on the disappointing side. In the second half here, he will need to do exactly what he did last season to redeem himself, but he’s left so many fantasy owners with such a bad taste in their mouths, it’s hard to say who he will be benefiting with a surge anyway.
Eric Hosmer, 1B KC – Given Hosmer’s raw talent and natural skill set, most people dismissed the potential concerns of his hacking at the plate and grabbed the youngster as a major player somewhere near the late 4th/early 5th round in most drafts. And while he’s not exactly hacking up there, he’s falling behind in counts and swinging defensively which, for the most part, has led to a ridiculous 54.2% ground ball rate. He started to turn things around towards the tail-end of June, but it was way too little, way too late. He should probably be considered a good buy-low candidate right now, especially as the Royals soon become sellers on the trade market, but only as a corner infielder and not your primary first baseman.
Rickie Weeks, 2B MIL – Usually it’s the injury bug that helps land Weeks onto a list like this, but this season it’s all about a 28.6% strikeout rate, poor contact and a batting average still sitting below the Mendoza line. You almost wished there was an injury to blame he’s looked so bad, but alas, it was 81 games of pure disgustingness. He did post a slash line of .272/.356/.447 over the final month of the first half, but that still wasn’t enough to pull his numbers up to a level of respectability. Does it give some hope for a second half turnaround? Sure, maybe a little. But after drafting him around the sixth round as the sixth best second baseman out there, it’s going to have to be one tremendous second half for there to be any forgiveness.
Evan Longoria, 3B TB – Normally I don’t like to single out disappointments based on injury, but this is now two years in a row that Longoria, the consensus number one third baseman and first round draft choice in several leagues, has gone down early and paid less in dividends than he should have to those that either drafted or protected him. What’s worse now is that he suffered a major setback in his rehab (a tweaked hamstring) and now won’t be back until at least August, we’re told. His numbers last year, in just 133 games were still outstanding, but he’s definitely not rallying like that again this season, especially when he’s on pace to play in less than 100 games this season. Is it too early to label him as “injury prone”?
Alexei Ramirez, SS CHW – It’s hard to say just how high expectations were coming into this year, especially after a slightly down season in 2011. But Ramirez was taken off the board, on average, as the 13th best fantasy shortstop somewhere around the 13th round and that still was too high. His .266 average might be able to be forgiven if he would only step it up in other areas, but with just two home runs and 10 stolen bases, he’s not putting up enough to make starting him every day a worthwhile proposition. Seeing the likes of Ian Desmond and even Alcides Escobar, doing so well only adds salt to the wounds. His second half last year offers a glimmer of hope, but not enough to keep his owners off the waiver wire in search of something a little more promising.
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF BOS – Like I said before with Longoria, I don’t like to single out when there’s an injury involved, but this one comes on the heels of a career year that fooled everyone into thinking he was more than the player he actually was and lofted him into the first round. No way was Ellsbury going to/capable of repeating 2011’s power numbers, yet everyone drafted him as if he was now suddenly a perennial 30-50 player. Not only do you have yourself to blame for this one, but with two major injuries over the last three years, coupled with the fact that he’s obviously a slow healer, I’m ready to throw that “injury prone” tag on him here. If you’re thinking you’re headed towards greener pastures with him in the second half, you should probably curb your expectations. It wasn’t like he was doing anything before he got hurt. Maybe he does well in the SB department, but if you’re looking for power, look elsewhere.
Justin Upton, OF ARI – Nagging injuries, mediocre numbers and a poor attitude put J-Up on this list this year, especially after being drafted as a top five outfielder and late first round draft choice. His strikeout rate has gone back up, his overall power is down thanks to the thumb issue, and even with a solid .340 BABIP, he’s still only batting .273. On top of all that, he’s had a serious attitude problem that seems to be getting in the way. He’s criticized ownership and been benched by manager Kirk Gibson on more than just one occasion. Perhaps if/when he lands with a new team he’ll be somewhat rejuvenated, but for now, he remains one of the bigger busts of the first half.
Desmond Jennings, OF TB – While rookies like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are making it look easy, Jennings is struggling mightily this year in comparison to what we expected him to do this year. Due to his enormous speed potential coupled with a little bit of pop in his bat, Jennings was coming off the board in the fourth and fifth rounds as people envisioned a Carl Crawford-type player, but better. His five home runs and 15 stolen bases aren’t completely awful, but only if you drafted him somewhere after the 13th or 14th round, not the fourth or fifth which is where he went. Obviously cutting down on strikeouts and increasing his walk rate are musts if he’s going to recover any of that value, but he also needs to stop getting under the ball so much and popping it up in the infield (15.1 IFFB%). It’s like Willie Mays Hayes in Major League….someone needs to make him do some push-ups every time he puts the ball up in the air.
Tim Lincecum, SP SF – Really, no surprise here on my end. With three straight seasons of fewer strikeouts, more walks, and more home runs allowed, Lincecum was a cautionary tale even just walking into this year. If his name was Randy Wolf and you saw that decline, you wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot poll. But because his name is Lincecum and he won two Cy Young awards, owners were willing to overlook the immense data laid out before them and used a second round pick to land themselves three wins, a 6.42 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP over the first half. Sure, they notched over 100 strikeouts, but is the damage done in the other areas offset by just the strikeouts? Nope. What’s worse is that there is little reason to believe things will turn around for him in the second half. Maybe he tosses a few good games in there here and there, but overall, we could be looking at the end here.
Heath Bell, RP MIA -- In all honesty, there were at least half a dozen closers who could have fit the bill here. But we went with the guy with the highest ADP in comparison to expectations and ADP just prior to the start of the season. We all saw Bell faltering last year and the strikeouts took a huge nosedive. But apparently many thought that the change of scenery would do him some good. Whoops again! The ninth closer off the board, on average, is now sitting in a probable platoon situation again and probably won’t be trusted again for some time.
So there you go. The worst of the worst. Some might see a turnaround and are worth a buy-low label while others should continue to haunt their owners with more lackluster play. The question is, can you pick the right ones out of the lot? We’ll see what happens to your team in the second half. The first game of the day has already started, so we’re already on our way. Good luck to you all.
Full day recaps start up again tonight, so I’ll catch up to you then…
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over ten years on a variety of web sites including his own, The Fantasy Baseball Buzz. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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