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January 13, 2012 posted by Paul Greco

Biggest Fantasy Baseball Busts of All-Time: Hitters

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The term “bust” in fantasy baseball is almost as ambiguous and hotly debated as the word “sleeper”. What makes a player a bust? And how early does someone need to be drafted in order to be considered a bust?

Both questions may not have definitive answers. A bust could be a top player who has an awful season. Or it could be a top player that lost most of his season to injury. Or maybe, a bust is a guy that was so hyped up that it was not feasibly possible to meet expectations.

The truth is that all three of those things fit the bill of a bust. But how do we stack up a bust against each other? As an example, J.R. Towles was certainly a bust in 2008. However, his ADP was 250-plus, which does not make him as big of a bust as some other players last season. This article will not only stack up certain busts against each other but it will also rank them. Because fantasy baseball has been in existence for nearly 30 years, it is difficult to narrow it down to only a top ten. Therefore, this will be a two-part series starting with hitters today. So without further adieu, here is a list of the biggest fantasy baseball busts of all-time: hitters.

10. Fred Lynn
Year: 1980
Lynn was on a steady incline in power numbers each season for the previous three seasons. In 1980, Lynn struggled and reverted back to the numbers he posted his second year in the majors. Lynn managed to hit for a decent average of .301, but that was down from .333. In addition, he hit 12 home runs and had 61 RBIs, in comparison to 39 and 122 from a year earlier. Lynn was a great hitter, no question. But in retrospect, 1979 might have been an overrating of the player Lynn actually was.
9. Kirk Gibson
Year: 1989
Coming off an MVP season in 1988 and a memorable World Series at-bat (his only one that series), Gibson put up a stinker for an encore in 1989. Gibson played in 71 games and batted .213 with nine home runs, 28 RBIs, and 12 stolen bases. Not even close to the .290, 25 home run, 76 RBI, 31 stolen base season from the year before.

8. Dale Murphy
Year: 1988
The two-time MVP, Murphy put up even better numbers than one of his MVP seasons a year earlier in 1987. Murphy hit .295 with 44 home runs, 105 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases. In 1988, Murphy played a full season but produced half the numbers of the year before. Murphy finished hitting .226 with 24 home runs, 77 RBIs, and only three stolen bases.

7. Roberto Alomar
Year: 2002
In 2001, Alomar posted arguably some of the best numbers by a second baseman in a season. Alomar hit .336 with 20 home runs, 100 RBIs, 113 runs, and 30 stolen bases. To put it into perspective, those numbers would have been good for first, seventh, second, second, and second, among second baseman in 2008. Alomar signed with the Mets and saw his numbers fall completely off the map. He batted.266 with 11 home runs, 53 RBIs, 73 runs, and 16 stolen bases.

6. Carl Crawford
Year: 2008 and 2011
Crawford is a player that’s stock has dropped considerably each year over the past three years, before rebounding a bit in 2009. In 2007 he was a late first-round pick in most leagues and sported an ADP of 12.68. Crawford missed time from injury, playing in only 109 games, and was highly ineffective when healthy, batting just .273 with eight home runs, 57 RBIs, 69 runs and 25 stolen bases. Not including his brief rookie season, Crawford’s numbers last year were career lows in average, runs, and stolen bases.
5. Adrian Beltre
Year: 2005
After hitting .334 with 48 home runs and 121 RBIs in 2004, Beltre was a consensus second round pick in 2005, . He signed a big five-year, $64 million deal with the Mariners and was an instant bust, both for Seattle and fantasy managers. Beltre hit .255 with 19 home runs and 87 RBIs. For owners who were skeptical of Beltre’s breakout season (especially in a contract year), they were rewarded by letting someone else make the mistake of wasting an early pick on him.
4. Shawn Green
Year: 2003
All of the others on this list I am fortunate to say I avoided on draft day. But I must confess, Shawn Green played me for a fool not once, but twice. In 1998 and 1999, Green compiled 77 home runs, 223 RBIs, and a batting average right around .300. Spend an early draft pick on Green in 2000? Why not? Green wound up hitting only 24 home runs that season with a .269 batting average. Then, Green would bounce back for seasons of 49 home runs, 125 RBIs and 42 home runs, 114 RBIs, in 2001 and 2002. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. In 2003, Green hit just 19 home runs and knocked in 85 RBIs.

3. Darryl Strawberry
Year: 1992
A year earlier, Strawberry signed a five-year, $22.25 million contract with the Dodgers. In all nine of his seasons in the major leagues, Strawberry hit at least 26 home runs. Entering the 1992 season, he seemed to be a lock for 30 home runs and 100 RBIs. However, Strawberry’s career hit rock bottom and he would never put up those numbers again. Strawberry finished the season with five home runs and a .237 batting average. He would only appear in 100 games in a single season one time over the rest of his career.

2. Preston Wilson
Year: 2004
Like Beltre, Wilson was a benefactor of a breakout season. Wilson had always put together reasonable seasons in the range of 25 home runs and 75 RBIs, but nothing like the season he had in 2003. Wilson hit .282 with 36 home runs and 141 RBIs season that year. Wilson also had speed, swiping an average of 22 bases per year over the previous four seasons. Lastly, Wilson just played his first season in Colorado and gave fantasy managers another reason to salivate over his potential. In the four leagues I participated in in 2004, Wilson was taken 40th, 29th, 23rd, and 23rd overall. Wilson would only play in 58 games that year, hitting .248 with 6 home runs and 29 RBIs.
1. Jim Thome
Year: 2005
A first-round pick in almost every draft I looked at from that year Thome only played in 59 games and hit an abysmal .207 with seven home runs and 30 RBIs. Prior to 2005, Thome had at least 40 home runs in each of the last four seasons. In addition, Thome had at least 30 home runs in nine straight seasons and at least 100 RBIs in six consecutive. You know you can’t win a fantasy league in the first round, but you can certainly lose one. And for Thome owners, it must have been a seemingly impossible uphill battle.
Dishonorable mentions:
Travis Hafner (2008), Troy Tulowitzki (2008), Andruw Jones (2007), Bret Boone (2004), Corey Koskie (2002), Matt Williams (2002), Ken Griffey Jr. (1995), Don Mattingly (1990), Mike Schmidt (1988), Andre Thornton (1983), George Foster (1982), Johnny Bench (1981), George Brett (1981), Adam Dunn (2011)

Egos aside, who has admittedy been your biggest bust? Do you think someone was snubbed (or lack thereof) from the list?

Paul finished the 2011-2012 Fantasy Football season as the #1 Weekly Rankings & Projections winner of the 411Fantasy Expert Challenge. He also finished 2nd in the FantasyPros.com Expert Draft Accuracy Challenge in 2011. Top 10 Finisher in the FSWA Fantasy Football Draft Projections. Paul is also apart of baseballs elite as a member of Tout Wars. You can follow me on Twitter @PaulGreco
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