Eight fantasy baseball stars to stay away from in 2010

The intention of this post was to give you five players to avoid in 2010, but it quickly became apparent that wasn’t going to work. So, we’re turning it up to six. (Last year, we had to turn it up to six, too)

To start my research for picking nine players you should avoid in 2010, I searched the Interwebz for Top-100 lists, then Top-20 lists and finally Top-10 lists.

There are plenty of positional rankings to be found, but few people are ready to put their money on who’s going to be the best out of those rankings — note to self: Get a Top-10 list up on the site pronto, and while you’re at it Top-20 and Top-100.

The big guns like Yahoo and ESPN, a couple fantasy magazines and the few lists online will have to do. Really, I was just looking for players who didn’t belong in those top-10s anyway.

The funny part about it is, that as Chinstrap Ninjas, you know that there should be players in your own personal Top-10 who “don’t belong” because by the end of the season there will be players there that don’t belong, but who turned themselves into values.

However, out of the crazy predictions I did find, these are the few that I wouldn’t bank anything on in 2010:

Jacoby Ellsbury – You can’t expect 70 steals again. You could figure on 55 or 60 to go with 100 runs and a .300 average. But you’re going to have to get him in the first or second rounds according to some experts. Or you could wait and get 35-40 steal, 75-run, .300 average guys like Nyjer Morgan and Rajai Davis a half-dozen or more rounds later. I think Ichiro Suzuki is overrated, but I’d pick him before Ellsbury in 2010.

David Wright — Wow. Just, wow. Apparently all these listers didn’t have Wright on their rosters last year. I expect him to bounce back, but these dudes are like “he’s still the second best third baseman out there!” Wrong! A player can’t just lose 23 homers and 52 RBIs, gain 12 stolen bases and strike out 20 more times in 100 less at-bats than the year before and bounce back to form the next season. Consider the Mets’ lineup woes — will Beltran be back? Reyes? — and their new stadium. Wright should be OK this year and should be a draft value, but he’s not based on where the early lists have him.

Joe Mauer — Gotta have a catcher on this list. I know some folks, like our own jzak, are going to go after a catcher early. Not me, and especially not if that catcher plays for the Twins and is named Joe Mauer. I see him being picked as early as third overall, and most of the time in the first or second round of drafts. That’s as ludicrous as thinking he’ll be better than his 94/28/96/.365 line from 2009. If he regresses to his three-year averages — and playing a demanding position like catcher, I’d consider it likely — he’ll slash 85/15/80/.332. Is that really worth passing up Braun, Holliday, Rodriguez, Kemp, Howard, Longoria…

Mark Reynolds – I did not champion any player more than Reynolds during the season last year, and I think he’s here to stay as a fantasy fixture. So, why is he on this list? Everybody’s looking at his age (27) and what he did in 2009 then looking up, up, up to find his ceiling. If you really think he’ll be better than that amazing 98/44/102/24/.260 in 2010, I want to play in your league. Reynolds’ll be more like a generous 85/35/85/15/.260 in 2010. That’s good, especially for a third baseman, but he’s still ranked above his value.

Joe Nathan and Jonathan Broxton – Just like last year I’m ending this list with closers. You should know by now not to waste an early pick on closers, and these are two guys you’re going to have to waste very high picks on. Nathan is 35 and had bone chips removed from his throwing elbow in the offseason. He’s supposed to be fine for 2010, but you shouldn’t make him the first closer taken just to find out. Broxton was a great pick last year, but after posting 36 saves, a 2.61 ERA, an 0.96 WHIP and 114 Ks in just 76 innings, your draftmates are going to reach for him. Wait instead for this year’s Broxton.

It’s more than likely that these players will benefit their fantasy teams in 2010. However, I’m banking that they won’t live up to their very high draft spots.

Now, for the boring methodology and research I used to come to these conclusions. I’m sure some of you don’t care.

Hey, thanks for sticking around for the awesome methodology stuff! Those readers that already clicked back, they’re not ninjas. You are a ninja. And, bonus, we’re going to talk about a few players I left off this list and why.

I looked at 3-year averages for players, some minor league performances and some advanced statistics like BABIP and HR/FB. I had a list of 15 potential busts, but cut it down to make the list.

Here’s my reasoning for cutting a few of them:

Adrian Gonzalez — A-Gonz blasted the ball on the road (.306-28-63) and against righties (.305-30-62). You can see where his opposite stats (home/lefties) were utterly horrible. Despite that, it’s difficult for me to give him less than 90/35/100/.280. As long as Pujols, Cabrera, Teixeira, Howard and Fielder are gone, Gonzalez is a decent pick. Just eat a light dinner when he faces a lefty at home.

Roy Halladay — Not a single starting pitcher made the above list. Surely there will be a few who fall on their faces, but I just couldn’t write Halladay into that list. He moved from a pitcher’s park to a hitter’s park and, because he’s in the National League now, Halladay’s not going to have as many shutouts or complete games. Still his decimals are dirty good, he logs 220 innings every season and is in the top-10 in strikeouts over the last three years. That number should go up with his move to the DH-less NL.

Justin Upton – Of all the choices I had to cut, Upton was the most difficult. There are going to be a lot of people pegging him for a 100/30/100/30/.290 season, which is absurdly great. He’s really, really high on some lists, but at age 21 last year he was /84/26/86/20/.300. Could he regress? Absolutely. He could also drop that absurd line above on us.

Mariano Rivera — I know, don’t pick closers early, right? But, if there’s no crazy run and four other closers are already off the board because everyone is scared that Mo is 40, you might want to consider picking him. He’s the model of consistency, has dirty decimals every season and last year posted his best save total since 2001. We can expect the Yankees to give him more opportunities to do his thing in 2010.

In case you haven’t been keeping track, this is the fourth in a series of posts on sleepers and busts.

Several days ago we released a disclaimer on sleepers and busts and the risks involved with following sleeper and bust advice. It’s a good reminder even if you already know that, or if you’re crazy enough to believe/disapprove of all the predictions I just typed.

We also looked at our record for 2009 bust and sleeper picks on consecutive days. Smart ninjas, you’ve probably already figured out that with tomorrow comes five (or six?) players to target as sleepers in 2010.

Is there any one player you just know you’re going to avoid in 2010?

5 Responses to “Eight fantasy baseball stars to stay away from in 2010”


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