Every week we run a column called the Wide World of Waivers, featuring players owned in 50 percent of Yahoo leagues or less. Hopefully, this acts as an informative look into the players that may be floating around in free agency in your league. Today, we’ll examine the other side of the story, players that — like it or not — deserve to be kicked to the curb for the rest of 2011. What brought about this idea? Jason Heyward.
I selected Heyward sixth overall in my keep-five league (included in the top five were Ian Kinsler, Ubaldo Jimenez and Adam Dunn, whom you know is coming up again in a minute). A 21-year-old superstar in the making, and a potential keeper for the next 15-years, Heyward made me jump for joy when he fell to me with the sixth pick. Unfortunately, he’s been the weak link of my team all season, at least until I sent him to the waiver wire a couple weeks ago for Billy Butler.
After hitting .277 with 18 HRs and 12 SBs in 2010, Heyward looked prime to take the next step in 2011. He finished April with a .263 average and seven HRs in just under 100 at-bats. So far, so good. It would be the best his line looked all year, as he went 4-for-41 in May before finally hitting the DL. When he returned in June, he wasn’t that much better, as is evident by his .218 average and home run total of 12. The power loss was the most shocking development of all, as he failed to homer in May or June. It hasn’t gotten better lately, with just one HR to Heyward’s credit since July 22.
It gets worse. Heyward is now not only hitting the bench for fantasy teams, but for the Braves as well, sitting regularly so Atlanta can get hot-hitting Jose Constanza some at-bats. Is he the next Braves super-prospect to come through the pipe? Hardly. Constanza turns 28 next month, and in just over 2,500 minor-league at-bats, he’s come up with a .293/.367/.360 line, along with 209 SBs. Yes, the speed is nice, but didn’t the Braves fix that problem when they traded for Michael Bourn? Maye Constanza can throw Heyward some of that BABIP luck (the rookie’s BABIP is a ridiculous .429 in 53 plate appearances), but I doubt it.
If you play in a limited keeper league, Heyward likely earned himself non-keeper status after this horrific season. I’ll likely be keeping Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano, Troy Tulowitzki, Andrew McCutchen and Cliff Lee this year, and if we extended keepers out to double digits I may not even keep him. Time to turn Heyward loose in the five out of six leagues in which he’s still owned.
Who else has earned themselves a trip to the waiver wire? Let’s find out.
Adam Dunn, 1B, CHW. Obviously. One of the top second-tier options at 1B in 2011 fantasy drafts, Dunn now finds himself owned in only 60 percent of Yahoo leagues, good for about 30th at his position. After several consecutive years of displaying massive power (38-plus HRs from 2004-2010) and mediocre average (.233-.267 during those same years), Dunn has seen the bottom fall out of both metrics. He’s somehow hitting just .161 with 11 HRs in 341 at-bats. While his BABIP is low, it’s not absurdly low, which means he’s not just having an unlucky season. The only month that featured Dunn hitting over .200 (and just barely) was May, and I pity any fantasy owners that have been running him out there every day since.
Jorge Posada, C/1B, NYY. Hip hip no longer. Posada was a nice value pick in March, a catcher-eligible player who would get regular at-bats as a full-time DH. While Posada swung a nice power bat early on, hitting six HRs in April, he had a Dunn-ian .125 average heading into May. His power disappeared during that month, only to re-appear (slightly) in a good June, where Posada hit .382 with three HRs. That would wind up being the top of the mountain for Posada’s fantasy value, and he’s been so terrible lately that he’s been removed as the team’s DH, sending him to pinch-hitting duties. Still owned in three out of every 10 Yahoo leagues, Posada needs to be dumped at this point for any warm body at the catcher position.
Chone Figgins, 2B/3B, SEA. This one seems like a no-brainer, with Figgins’ trip to the DL being the only positive thing he’s contributed to fantasy owners all season. However, he’s still found ownership in 26 percent of fantasy leagues, and unless a quarter of the Yahoo populous is playing Razzball format (where Figgins has carried my team this year), that’s ridiculous. Do you think a guy with a .188/.241/.243 line is going to come off the disabled list and help your non-Razz team? Of course not.
Ian Stewart, 3B, COL. A popular sleeper in the Adam Dunn mold of average average, high power, Stewart was seen as a borderline starting 3B in fantasy leagues heading into the year. He had combined for 43 HRs in 811 at-bats over 2009 and 2010, and with his average rising last year, it seemed he was ready to contribute positive value in fantasy baseball. Not only has his average bottomed out (.156) in the rare times the Rockies have let him on the field (122 at-bats), but he has zero HRs on the year. How is that even possible? If you get depressed about the stink bomb Dunn has laid this season, check out Stewart’s 2-for-26 April and 1-for-21 May. Those aren’t cold streaks during the month — they’re his entire production for each month! When he finally returned to the majors at the beginning of July, he came back to a .064/.154/.085 line, a line I never thought I’d have to write at any point in my career. Appropriately, Stewart went 0-for-3 in his first game back. Even though he’s collected roughly a third of the at-bats of Dunn, I think Stewart has a good argument for Worst Player of 2011.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka, 2B/SS, MIN. I won’t spend too much time on Nishioka, as 89 percent of Yahoo leagues have already booted him from teams, but I do want you to think back to the beginning of the year when Nishioka was hyped as a high-average middle infield option. His Japanese batting title has translated into a .224/.268/.251 line with no HRs and two SBs in 183 at-bats. Sayonara, Nishioka-san.
Alex Rios, OF, CHW. Dunn isn’t the only one that’s come up short for the White Sox. A year after hitting .284 with 21 HRs and 32 SBs, Rios has collapsed, hitting .213 with seven HRs and 10 SBs over the course of 408 at-bats. July was his worst month of all, where he hit .163 with no homers in 80 at-bats. Teams in 50 percent of leagues are holding out hope for a turnaround, but I think it’s time to take Rios’ fantasy year back behind the barn with Dunn’s and give them the (SPOILER ALERT!) Old Yeller treatment.
Francisco Liriano, SP, MIN. After striking out 201 batters in 191.2 innings last season, Liriano looked like a solid second-tier fantasy ace. A repeat of his 3.62 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 2011 would mean great value for his long-term acceptance into the top-25 SP club. Of course, Liriano still had his terrible 2009 season lurking in the background, where he posted a 5.80 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in 136.2 innings. Which one was the real Liriano? Sadly, the 2009 version. He’s stumbled to a 5.00 ERA this year in 21 starts, with a 97:66 K:BB ratio to his credit. He’s still owned in 73 percent of leagues. You can do better.
Carlos Zambrano, SP, CHC. Fantasy owners are likely wishing he would have taken one for the team (out of character, I know) and quit before the season started. Better late than never. John Lackey and Bronson Arroyo, you should be taking notes. Let’s throw Edinson Volquez in there and round out our 2011 Starting Five of Suck.
Who has sabotaged your 2011 season? Let us know below.
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and Razzball and has previously written for FanHouse. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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