On April 16, 2008 (the day C.C. exploded, giving up 9 ER two games in a row, and the day that Miguel Cabrera had 5 RBI), this question was posed.
Between Mark Teixeira, David Ortiz, C.C. Sabathia, Miguel Cabrera, Jose Reyes and other underperforming fantasy superstars, who is liable to continue to stink throughout the course of the season and why?
Eric Stashin, rotoprofessor.com
The player I'd think is most likely to struggle the entire season would be Roy Oswalt. While he may not be in the class of players listed above, he was probably drafted as a #1 fantasy pitcher in all formats.
Players like Reyes & Cabrera have already started to turn their seasons around. Ortiz is still struggling, but he's just too good to struggle the entire way. Teixeira started slowly last season as well, so it's not a complete surprise that he hasn't really gotten going yet. It's just a matter of time. Sabathia has been pathetic and shown no signs of turning around, but I have to believe that he will. Coming off a Cy Young season, there's no way he lost it all at once like this.
Oswalt, meanwhile, had thrown up three stinkers before finally looking good the other night. He went 7 innings, giving up 1 run on 5 hits and 2 walks, striking out 4 against the Phillies. It's promising, yes, but given his past few seasons, you wonder if it is just the exception instead of a return to the norm.
Since 2004, his strikeouts have gone from 206 to 184 to 166 to 154, a trend that cannot make owners happy. After winning 20 games in both '04 & '05, he won just 15 in '06 and 14 in '07. His WHIP and BB/9 were both career worst at 1.33 and 2.55, respectively, in 2007.
Could he turn things around and put up solid numbers the rest of the way? Possibly, but I don't really see it. Obviously, his ERA is not going to stay at 6.65 and his WHIP will come down from 1.70, but with the trends that he's shown, he certainly is going to under perform what fantasy owners hoped he'd give them. Of the star players, he is the most likely to be a bust this season in my mind.
David Chase, BrockforBroglio.com
At this point, any performance is still just random variance. The best pitchers, and hitters go through regular sustained slumps over the course of the long season; everything is just magnified around this time of the year. I think all of them will rebound and perform at or close to their expected level of performance. I remember people thought the sky was falling with Carlos Zambrano last season, and he went on to finish with respectable numbers. My best advice: offer aggressively for each one of these players, and get yourself a bargain.
Brett, Greener on the Other Side, kobayashibaseball.blogspot.com
Tough call but I will go with CC Sabathia. He logged close to 270 total innings last year including playoffs and threw a lot pitches. He's the only pitcher on this list and pitchers have proven to be less reliable on an annual basis. He did have a career year last year and because of all of the innings thrown, he was able to amass a ton of k's. His K rate in 2007 wasn't among the top 20 and if he misses a few starts due to injury he won't repeat last year's numbers as a result.
His struggles early on are worrisome because someone of his talent and ability rarely goes through stretches this awful. Despite having a great 11K start against KC recently, his previous few starts were so terrible that it makes me wonder if something is wrong.
While this was a tough choice, CC Sabathia is the least likely of that group to rebound.
Adam Ronis, newsday.com
Of the guys mentioned, I'll go with C.C. Sabathia by process of elimination. I think Teixiera will have a huge year. He has started slow in the past and I wouldn't worry about him. Unless Ortiz is hiding a serious knee injury, I think he will come close to the numbers he put up last season. He said the knee is bothering him and that's probably stemming from the surgery in the offseason. He played with a sore knee last season and still produced. Miguel Cabrera is already breaking out of it and there's no worry there. Same with Jose Reyes. He might not steal as many bases as last season, but he will produce. Sabathia could be feeling the pressure of playing for a contract. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone thrives in a contract year. See Andruw Jones. Sabathia is still throwing in the mid-90s, but his location is bad right now. He gets a two-strike count on a hitter and throws a fat pitch. He hardly walked anyone last season (37) and he's on pace to reach last season's total in just a few more starts. He already has 14. He also had a huge jump in innings pitched. He went from 192 2/3 to 241 last season. Then he threw an additional 15 1/3 innings in the postseason. He should be fine once he finds his command. But of all the guys listed, he is the most likely to struggle.
Tim Dierkes, rotoauthority.com
I will go with Sabathia. Combining the tangible massive increase in innings from '06 to '07 plus the intangible weight of a contract year, I could see Sabathia regressing to perhaps his 2005 level. His control was worse and he posted a 4.03 ERA that year. A duplication of that season wouldn't stink, but it would be a disappointment. Plus, pitchers are more risky than position players in general.
I would suggest David Ortiz's November knee surgery might be affecting him, but he absolutely raked in August and September of last year while outwardly admitting to knee pain. I think Papi will be fine.
Let me start off by saying that traditionally I am usually very conservative/patient/tied to my pre-season rankings. So I usually expect the players that I ranked high to eventually play to form. Usually that philosophy pays off, but other times; like last year when I kept starting Richie Sexson week after week and kept watching his and my Batting Average plummet it works to my disadvantage. This year Roy Oswalt is seriously testing that patience.
Having said that, there are huge busts every year. Sometimes it is a Sophomore slump - Troy Tulowitzki 2008? Sometimes it is the pressure of playing for a new contract - Andruw Jones 2007. Sometimes it is the pressure of playing up to the level worthy of a new contract - Barry Zito 2007 - 2013. Sometimes it is that you were playing over expectations and your talent level finally caught up with you - Jason Bay.
As for the Bust candidates mentioned I am going to rank them in order of who I am least worried about to most worried:
Miguel Cabrera: He will end up hitting over .300 with his usual 30/110/110 line. Miggy Cab and the rest of the Tigers will start hitting the way we expected very soon. No need to jump ship.
Mark Teixeira: He is a career .245 hitter in April and hit .231 w/ 2 HR last April. He is one 2009 free agent who will put big numbers to justify his wallet busting new contract.
David Ortiz: .113 & 1 HR. Never in my wildest dreams did I see this kind of start for Ortiz, but unless his knees are worse than he is letting on, there is no way he doesn't approach at a minimum 2003's line of .288/31/101/79. He will need to start picking it up soon though.
Jose Reyes: The only reason he is this low is because he has already missed time due to hamstring problems. And since Reyes needs his legs to be a fantasy asset (don't they all) a nagging hamstring will put a major damper on his season. But I think by the end of the season his numbers will make us forget about the last few games that he has missed.
CC Sabathia: The reason he is last on this list is this number; 256 1/3. That is the number of innings he pitched last year, including the playoffs. He had a bad post season and is off to an even worse start this season. Sort of reminds me of Mark Prior's 2003/2004 seasons. At age 22 Prior had 234 total IP, including the playoffs. His regular season numbers in 211 1/3 IP that year 18-6, 245 K, 2.43/1.103. The next year was the start of his demise. In 2004 in the 118 2/3 innings that he was able to pitch his numbers fell to 6-4 and 4.02/1.348. He was able to keep his K/9 rate over 10.0 however. Back to Sabathia; his increased workload is my major concern for the rest of this season but he also posted career bests in all major categories in 2007. So a little regression should have been expected. One other major factor for my concern; in 2007, Sabathia walked 37 batters in 34 games. Through 4 games this year he has already walked 14. Not a good sign.
Rob Reed, baseballgeeks.com and playertrack.com
First, I have to ask: who is the mole in the roundtable? Baseball Tonight asked this question on Thursday night, so we're going to look like copycats.
This question became much easier after Wednesday's games. Jose Reyes is back from some hammy trouble, and he knocks a homer (I'm still last in the SB category in the two leagues where I drafted him, however, and I am getting a little antsy in that regard).
The answer became clear, though, when Miguel Cabrera knocked 5 RBIs off of C.C. before most Cleveland fans had finished their first beer. C.C. allowed 9 earned for the second start in a row. That's 7 2/3 of 18 ER. 13.50 ERA, 0-3. 14 Ks in 18 IP and 14 BBs! Opposing batters are hitting .390 off of him. No typo.
He could throw two complete game shutouts in a row and still have a season ERA over 6.00. That's bad. Very bad. He'll get better... but, this is worse than Carlos Z last year. Carlos took months to get out of the funk, and fantasy owners just don't have the earned run capacity to just let C.C. figure it out until late May or June.
In my money league, I'm stashing him on the farm. In another league, an optimistic owner (obviously bothered with Tim Hudson's recent velocity issues) offered up Huddy for Sabathia. 8 minutes later, and 10 seconds after receiving the trade offer email, I clicked "Accept."
I'm getting asked a lot about Troy Tulowitski as to whether it is a sophomore slump. For you Troy owners, he hit .244 with 21 Ks in 80 some odd ABs in April, 2007. He'll be fine.
Big Papi will be fine. He is probably the best option to try and trade for him now as I suspect that many of his owners are very down on him (what with all this offseason, knee problem talk -- isn't this eerily sounding like the "don't draft Albert Pujols" contingent at the start of the season?). I proposed a deal of Joe Nathan and Jim Thome for David Ortiz and Francisco Liriano. Wishful thinking, but I think the owner (who is in last place and needs a closer -- I have five of 'em) just might go for it.
So long as he doesn't read this roundtable, of course.
(Editor's Note: unfortunately, the owner in question didn't take the Thome bait -- even after a grandslam; I owned C.C. in three leagues at the time I answered this. I traded C.C. in one league for Tim Hudson before the both Hudson and Sabathia pitched this week. I'm still happy about this trade. And, after a stellar week, the "Get Papi from frustrated owners" window is now closed.)
Rudy Gamble, razzball.com
No doubt that Sabathia is disappointing a lot of owners but, really, he's fatter than the Cleveland Brown defensive tackles. Can you be THAT surprised? Part of my strategy for taking Santana, Peavy, or Webb in every league was so I didn't have to make a call on guys like Sabathia and injury-prone guys like Bedard and Kazmir.
I'm going to go with Jose Reyes as the disappointment based on his pre-season ADP. I was sour on him before the season as my projections had him at #16 vs. the consensus top #4 with all his positive value tied up in SBs. While I'm not going to read too much into his 3 for 5 SB record so far, I do think he'll disappoint in SBs. Maybe Pedro's hammy problems are contagious. Maybe he just reduces his attempts a tad and/or is slightly less successful. Let's say 55 SBs. I think Michael Bourn, Willy Taveras and Carlos Gomez will all give him a run as SB champ. There goes the "Draft Reyes and you're guaranteed top ranking in SB" strategy.
It's too risky to project a drop in stats for someone of Reyes' age (24) so I'll predict he doesn't improve on last year's 119/12/57/.280. Given it took him 160 G and 681 PAs to get these stats, a DL stint would derail some improvements. My advice - trade Reyes for a 4-category hitter or pitcher like Santana, Peavy, M. Cabrera, D. Wright, P. Fielder, etc.