HumorAugust 20, 2009

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Dead Weight: Hitters

By Cary James

Hello again! Today we return to the hitters who are making you hate that you paid good money for draft guides. Luck is 50% of fantasy sports, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Notice, this isn’t a Buy/Sell guide per se, but a document of human suffering. I will then increase the level of suffering by including two players regularly available in most leagues that have been playing better than your second-round bust. Let the fun begin!

Dead Weight

C: Russell Martin (LAD)

No power, not enough steals, and he’s barely hitting for average. And here’s a painfully fun game brought to you by hindsight.

Catcher A: 48 runs / 3 HR / 33 RBI / 9 SB / .261 BA
Catcher B: 52 runs / 9 HR / 53 RBI / 5 SB / .277 BA

Isn’t it awful to know that the first line is Russell and the second is some scrubby catcher picked up on waivers? And you passed up on solid 4-category OFs or stud pitchers to draft a catching equivalent to Ivan Rodriguez? Oh yeah, I went there.

Replace him with…

Kurt Suzuki (OAK)

Yup, he is Catcher B in the last example. Not much else to report, but…*yawn*…boy is it hard to write about catchers. Did you know I drafted Ramon Hernandez too early in my draft, but was able to replace him with Brandon Inge in a pinch? Anywho, expect middling numbers from Suzuki through the rest of the season, probably a .270 average with about 15 runs/ribbies to the end. Mixed leaguers can do better, but AL-only players are holding him close their hearts.

Miguel Olivo (KC)

In need of power and willing to sacrifice batting average? Sounds like a Royals catcher to me! John Buck wasn’t hitting 15 homers with .200 average, so Olivo has taken over gracefully, bashing 16 homers and even hitting .240! However, Brayan Pena has been taking away his at-bats, making Olivo a spot-start at best. Plus, his peripherals for a terrible hitting team like the Royals are terrifically awful. Guess what? He’s still ranked higher than Russell Martin for the season. Brutal.

Dead Weight

1B: Aubrey Huff (BAL)

This isn’t exactly fair. Huff had a wonderful outlier season last year, the kind of 30-HR/100-RBI season we expected when he played for those Devil Rays. A funny thing happened on the way to the 2009 draft; a lot folks thought he had another outlier in him. We all know what happens next. He regresses to the mean, and begins to resemble that .270 hitter with 20 homers that we all knew and loved. Only you paid an 11th-round premium and you don’t own Mark Reynolds. Life is cruel.

Replace him with…

Luke Scott (BAL)

With the trade of Aubrey Huff comes more playing time for Mr. Scott. You know what he can do if given playing time and if he’s seeing the ball well. In the span of 13 games in May, Scott hit a Shelton-like eight homers with 18 RBIs. That’s not to say he hasn’t fallen back to earth, but he will be tried out at first base now that Huff’s ship has sailed. Perhaps he and his terrible Jeff Mangum-haircut can do some damage down the stretch at a cheap price?

Lyle Overbay (TOR)

Recently he’s been slotted into the clean-up spot behind my favorite grizzled Ginger Adam Lind, and the results have been favorable. The RBIs will be plentiful with Lind, Aaron Hill and the surprising Marco Scutaro setting the table, and pretty soon he may be followed by Travis Snider. As long as Overbay can hit his usual .290-.300, you’ll see a bounty of RBIs. Also, I have him pegged to win the MVP award, in which the “V” stands for “Vanilla.”

Dead Weight

2B: Dustin Pedroia (BOS)

This selection will piss people off, but I ask you a simple question, and hopefully you will answer at your computer screen. When you grabbed Dusty in the third round this season, did you expect an Orlando Hudson season, or a Jeff Kent season? It’s rhetorical, friends. The sudden drop in power points to some luck last season, but too little too late in my opinion. Gritty, yes, but able to produce at an Aaron Hill-level, not so much. He may be able to attain his MVP production in years to come, but you unfortunately grabbed him the wrong year. Luck is a brutal mistress.

Replace him with…

Delwyn Young (PIT)

Second base is often a space where you want to fill your stat sheets with steals, runs, or if you’re lucky homers. And then there are the frustrated Placido Polanco owners. Nothing like a tasty .300 average to go along with scant peripherals and one of the weirdest shaped heads in baseball. Delwyn Young, however, will provide not only average but a wealth of counting stats as well. His average is up to .309 on the season, and he’s eligible at 2B and OF in most leagues. Pounce on this guy quick, but make sure you don’t grab Delmon. You don’t want a bat to the head.

Marco Scutaro (TOR)

One of my favorite trends to watch for is the Expert’s Whipping Boy. Every fantasy pundit hates a guy, but nothing steams them off more when a player hits a bunch of homers and people start asking them if he is legit. Case in point: Marco Scutaro. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who believed in Scutaro, and the phrase SELL in all caps usually followed poor Marco’s name. With 83 runs scored and .300 average, Scutaro has increased his walks total at the top of a potent line-up to go along with a .325 BABIP that suggests a career year. Enjoy it. I’m sure the owners of Jose Lopez, Alexei Ramirez and Mark Derosa aren’t, because he’s currently out-performing those high-profile players.

Dead Weight

SS: Rafael Furcal (LAD)

I don’t think I truly understood the term hubris until I owned Furcal last season. Update after update, each telling me that he was this close to returning. You’re a liar, Mr. Furcal! Excuse me, let me catch my breath. Furcal hasn’t been the same since his back started seizing up last season. Either he’s playing through pain, or he’s lost a few steps due to age. Either way, he sports one of the great pencil mustaches in the league. A terrible OPS (a career worst, in fact) has contributed to Furcal’s descent into mediocrity. Again, I had him last year. You can have him. Forever.

Replace him with…

Yunel Escobar (ATL)

I don’t get it. Do people play in eight-team leagues? No MI position? I just don’t understand how a player of Escobar’s caliber can still be available in 38% of Yahoo leagues. Seeing as how he has a ZiPS projection of a top-10 SS over such luminaries as Jimmy Rollins, Stephen Drew and Furcal, he should be owned in more leagues. It’s that freaking simple.

Alcides Escobar (MIL)

Speaking of simple, how does a possible .285 average and a boatload of steals with playing time locked down sound? Sounds good to me. If Escobar can get on base, he will be much like the Padres’ Everth Cabrera. Steals are fun and rare to come by this late in the season. Also, great team name you can generate: Alcides in Chains. If you don’t get it, you weren’t grunge. And if you weren’t grunge, you were probably into Michael Jackson. I feel your pain and applaud your iconoclastic ways.

Dead Weight

3B: David Wright (NYM)

Adam Kennedy, Willy Aybar, Marco Scutaro, Mark Teahen, Geoff Blum, Chase Headley, Casey McGehee, Mike Fontenot, and Jerry Hairston Jr. All of these gentlemen are 3B-eligible and have hit more homers than David Wright. The sad part is they may continue to out-hit him after he hit the DL. The Mets are sad.

Replace him with…

Carlos Guillen (DET)

Any one of those guys I listed if you were looking for power. The Mets foursome of Reyes/Wright/Beltran/Delgado may go down in history as the biggest fantasy bust from one team. Ever. Pick up Carlos Guillen if you’re looking to add some power and average. He’s getting regular starts in the outfield after the Huff trade, and should do a little raking for you.

Dead Weight

OF: Carlos Beltran (NYM)

I don’t care if he comes back. I drafted him to play at least one hundred games. I dropped him two weeks ago thinking he’ll get micro-fracture surgery. And then David Wright went down. My next thought was this: “Man, if Alex Cora hits the DL, then the Mets have no need whatsoever to hurry Beltran back.” Lo and behold, the Mets lynch pin Cora is down, and there truly is no reason to play baseball in Metco. Besides watching Omar Minaya try and blame anyone else for his team’s problems of course. For that I would pay anything.

Replace him with…

Andre Ethier (LAD)

I had him at the end of 2008 and he was solid. The fellow who resides ahead of me in first place drafted him confidently. I laughed and told him to enjoy 15 home runs and diminished returns. On the inside I cried and knew he would break out. The power is for real, and the average is right where it should be. He’s really good and I drafted Magglio Ordonez in the fifth round, but I try to not let such short-comings define me. Regret!

Robot Garrett Anderson (ATL)

Insert the Robot into your line up and watch the RBIs and batting average pour in. Age does not affect the Robot. The Robot will hit anything as long as his robot legs can hold up his aging robot frame. The Braves were smart to grab him, and equally smart to let Smoltz go. Slot him in as your third or fourth outfielder and reap the benefits. Robotically, of course.

Thanks again for reading, and I’ll see you on the forums!

Residing in Chicago with my ever-patient wife, I live a quiet life of grad school, two jobs, and writing with a little music mixed in. I particularly enjoy when one of my pitchers gives up a homer to one of my hitters. Jones!
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