Hard to believe that the season will be up and running next week. That makes this week a big one for owners as the drafts will be coming fast and furious. Over the last few weeks, this space has gone over some names to watch for that could provide pitfalls if not taken with the right expectations. There are still some names out there that need to come with a “Buyer Beware” warning. Risk and downside is part of the game we play, but knowing how to mitigate it can be the difference between making and missing the playoffs. Check out who should be on bust watch to help make those calls.
While not at the top of the draft board for outfielders, many are expecting a rebound year from Andre Ethier. The question is if he can deliver. Ethier has seen his home run totals drop in each of the last three seasons. Along with this, his strikeout rate has increased each year since 2007. With an average and BABIP that has largely settled in at around .290 and .330 respectively, any increase will have to come based upon the contact he makes. The decrease in both the total of fly balls hit and his HR/FB rate could indicate he has bottomed out at the 11 home runs we saw in 2011. The question remains as to if it can come back all at once. With many predicting 85 runs and 85 RBI to go with 20 home runs, the turnaround would need to be quick. The signs simply are not there for him to do exactly that.
Desmond Jennings showed both his best and worst sides last year. He was a disaster in September in hitting just .160 in his final 106 at-bats after hitting .333 in his first 141. The struggles were against some of the better pitchers that he will face, so there is that, but those teams will not go away. Jennings showed problems against the Yankees, Orioles, and Rangers in hitting just .143 in 80 at-bats when those teams were in the other dugout. While he walks in to camp with the starting job, this is a player that is simply being drafted based on potential that he has not shown he can yet live up to. Right now, he is going at pick 58 overall. That is ahead of Shin-Soo Choo, Alex Gordon, Adam Jones, and Drew Stubbs. The major factor favoring Jennings is speed. In all other categories, the four outfielders here are expected to be on par with Jennings based on FantasyPros911 projections. What does it mean? Jennings and his lack of track record have far more bust potential than those being selected around him. Those expecting 20 home runs and 80 RBI with 100 runs and 50 steals simply are reaching.
One of the more pleasant surprises last season was Ryan Roberts. While it is hard to necessarily call someone going at 191 overall a bust, he is the 12th third basemen overall right now by that metric and that means going ahead of Mike Moustakas among others. Also, that spot makes him a likely starter in many formats. The issue comes in his ability to replicate the year he had in 2011. His 19 home runs last year were nearly 200 percent of his prior career total of ten. Even in the minors, Roberts never had more than 12 home runs in any given season. His splits against right-handed pitchers were also alarming as the infielder hit just .238 and struck out 77 times against righties. While his speed should generate 15 to 20 steals, RBI and run totals in the mid-60â€™s to go with a .250 average are a high price to pay when the upside of Moustakas is a greater reward than he can provide.
Then there is Doug Fister. Another surprise in 2011, projecting the Detroit starter to repeat is a dangerous game. Multiple statistics point to places of concern for fantasy owners. Fister saw his opponents average on balls in play drop 30 points from 2010, his only other year as a full-time starter. Add in a strikeout rate that jumped by a full batter year over year and there seems to be room for regression. While Fister kept men on base at about the league average rate, it is a substantial jump from where he has seen his numbers even in the minors. Should he fall back to the typical numbers he has had, an increase in ERA to the mid-to-upper threes is more likely than another season around 2.80.