Everyone feels great when they come away from the draft in April. You may have some players you took late that you are skeptical of, but those players you drafted early, you’re real happy with those. Then the season starts and the shine starts to come off of some of those stars you placed high above on a pedestal. You brush of the month of April thinking “It’s early, they will come around”. Then May comes and it’s the same thing, but still you remain optimistic. You may see little sparks of hope in June, maybe even enough to get your hopes up, but your dreams quickly come crashing down like a house of cards on a windy day.
Yup, we’ve all had them. Those can’t miss picks we had such high hopes for that stunk up the joint. You can’t drop them because they have too much value. You can’t trade them because you will never get full value back on your investment. You can’t bench them because they could come around at any time, but you’re tired of playing them and getting nothing in return.
Nothing is worse than a busted draft pick, and we had plenty of them in 2014. The following players represent the all-bust from the 2014 draft. These players were drafted in 100% of leagues, and more than likely cost you a high draft pick. There may have been players that were a bigger bust, but none were worse than these in comparison to their average draft position.
Joe Mauer: Mauer was the second catcher off the board in many leagues, coming off the board between rounds 5 and 6. The thought of Mauer playing full-time without the wear and tear on his body was enticing. We were expecting better run production, more RBIs and home runs in at least the double digits. What you got were numbers on par with Wilin Rosario who went in round 12 on average and Derek Norris who was a late round pick (if he was even drafted). Sure Mauer missed the month of July, but unless he scored and drove in 25+ runs, hit 7 or more home runs and hit .350, it doesn’t matter. He was still a useful player to own in fantasy and will finish in the bottom half of the top 12, but we expected a LOT more from this early pick. With catcher eligibility gone, his value goes way down in 2015.
Chris Davis: An almost universal unanimous choice for the third best first basemen in the league. Davis was a first round draft choice for most and if he didn’t go there, he didn’t last long into the second round. We knew full well that he would not repeat his power-hungry 2013 season, but at the very least we expected what he put up in 2012. The 26 home runs would have been acceptable had his batting average been closer to .270 instead of below .200. The RBIs fell short, the runs dried up and the season was a complete bust. Ryan Howard produced better numbers and could have been had somewhere around round 18, and Lucas Duda could have been had for free. Davis will finish the year as the 30th best first baseman, sandwiched between Joe Mauer and Eric Hosmer. How forgiving will you be come 2015?
Joey Votto receives an honorable mention being one of several first basemen taken off the board in round 2. Votto is a .3oo hitter and was his usual self in April hitting .292 with 4 home runs and 15 runs scored. An injury hampered him in May and he never fully recovered. He isn’t an injury prone player so it’s not like you could have seen this coming (like Troy Tulowitzki) so while he was a bust, I don’t blame the man. Expect Votto to produce the numbers you saw in 2013 next season.
Prince Fielder gets an honorable mention here as well since he was a second round pick in most leagues. He started to come around in May before an injury took out the rest of his season. Would he have been a bust, we shall never know. Question is, will he still be a second round pick in 2015? My magic 8-Ball says yes.
Jason Kipnis: With improvements in power, speed and batting average, we hoped…no, expected Kipnis to take another step forward. His second half slide wasn’t as bad as it was in 2012 so we figured the worst was behind him. This is why Kipnis was drafted in the second and third round of all drafts (and in round one for some deeper leagues). The speed was still there this year (although less that we hoped for), but the rest of his numbers fell short, and that’s putting it politely. Kipnis finishes the year ranked below Kolten Wong and Dustin Ackley who were late round picks or waiver wire pickups. You would have been better off waiting and taken someone else for second and using a late round pick on a Rajai Davis to make up for the stolen bases, but hindsight is 20/20. Kipnis will probably get a mulligan for this season come 2015, but only the brave will select him in the second round next year.
David Wright: You drafted Wright in the second/third round thinking you would get close to 20 home runs and maybe 15 stolen bases. He didn’t reach double digits in either category and his walks and batting average were down. The low run totals I’ll excuse, it’s the Mets, these things happen. Everything else though is his fault. His numbers are on the decline, but overall I think it was just a bad year. That doesn’t help owners who drafted him this year, but consider it next year when you’re staring at his name in the draft. He is 19th on ESPN’s player rater for 2014 so you obviously could have done better with that pick. Sadly, Wright wasn’t the only bust at third so if you waited, you could have still gotten a zonk. Ryan Zimmerman (round 5/6), Pedro Alvarez (round 8) and Brett Lawrie (round 9/10) were all busts and should line up right behind Wright, and several other third basemen did not live up to their rankings. Third base was brutal this year.
Jean Segura: We all knew the question coming into this year, is he the player we saw in the first half or the second half of 2013. That question has been answered, at least as far as this season is concerned. Segura was the third, fourth or fifth shortstop off the board this year in round 4 (on average) with owners flipping a coin between him, Jose Reyes and Ian Desmond. Those that picked tails spent many months contemplating dropping him for other available options on waivers. His April was nothing special and he looked to be turning things around in May but then he completely fell apart. I know he lost his child, and I don’t know if it was something that just happened or it was an illness that had been present for a while that hampered him mentally. As a person I feel for him as that is a tragic experience for any individual to have to deal with. Unfortunately this is fantasy and the only thing we care about are the numbers, and all of Segura’s fell way short. While we all love or respect Derek Jeter, his season was a disappointment from a fantasy standpoint, and Segura will finish below him in the rankings. If you were wondering, Jeter went between rounds 20 and 21 and most drafts. Where will Segura be drafted next season? That is the million dollar question.
Some may say Troy Tulowitzki belongs here, but I did not list he because 1.) He put up better numbers in 4 months than most shortstops did in 6 and 2.) EVERYONE knew he would eventually get hurt.
Carlos Gonzalez – He was a first round draft choice who (when healthy) could put up comparable numbers with Andrew McCutchen. I know, he doesn’t have too many healthy years. Cargo has only had 3 years were he played 127 or more games, but even in those years he has missed time he still produced a 20/20 season. This year, not so much. The speed was missing even before he went down the first time, and when he did return he looked like a shell of the man we hoped he could be. I could recap what he did do, but seriously, why bother. It took me a while, but I finally found him on ESPN’s player rater at 109. He will be 29 next year and normally that would be reason alone to be optimistic, but the injuries are just piling up. Is he a first round pick? Nope, not any more. Is he a second round pick? Probably to somebody, but that someone will not be me. I would gamble on him in the third round, but someone will like him more than that to let him drop that far.
Bryce Harper – Hard to believe that he and Mike Trout were compared to each other when they first arrived. Harper has shown flashes of brilliance at times. Unfortunately his hard-nosed playing style has led to injuries for the second year in a row. His walks slipped, his strikeout rate spiked, the speed was non-existent and the power only made a few brief appearances. Maybe we expected too much from the 21-year-old, not everyone can be like Mike. He still has a bright future, but those who spent a second round draft pick this year thinking the future was now got burned. I can’t say he’s not worthy of a second round pick in 2015 given his upside and potential, but I can’t see taking him there in anything other than a new keeper or dynasty league. I would probably take him before Cargo though if given a choice, but they are both a risk.
Allen Craig – As a Craig supporter, I am at a total loss for words on this one. Craig may not be the big power threat we had all hoped for in 2013, but he has always been clutch .300 hitter (dating back to his time in the minors). He was a bust as a fifth/sixth round selection. Hell, he would have been a bust as a 16th round selection. Where did he finish on ESPN’s player rater? Several slots down from Grady Sizemore (ouch!). I think he can bounce back, and given his numbers you should be able to get him for cheap enough next year.
Ryan Braun gets an honorable mention considering he was a late first/early second round selection. Paul mentioned him the other day in his Done and Doner article. I’m not sure I am done with Braun, but I am done selecting him with one of my first two picks. His numbers weren’t bad this year, that is to say if you drafted him in the mid rounds as your third outfielder. His numbers rank him at #28 on the ESPN player rater for outfielders. It will be interesting to see 1.)Where he is ranked next year and 2.)Where people will actually draft him.
A special shout out goes to Alex Rios. Your numbers were hardly worthy of a fifth round selection. Good luck on the open market when Texas doesn’t pick up your option.
Justin Verlander – He was a third or fourth round pick in most drafts and had us feeling pretty good about that pick through April. I think we all know how the rest of this story goes (insert your own Verlander sucks story here). This was an epic fail, to the point that I don’t have to say anything else. I’ll reserve any future judgment on him until the off-season when I have more time to dig through his numbers.
Matt Cain – Selected between rounds 7 and 8 on average, owners thought they got a bargain and that Cain’s numbers in 2013 were a result of an off-year. Turns out it was just wishful thinking. Cain wasn’t Justin Verlander bad, but bad enough that owners regretted not taking Alex Cobb, Mat Latos or even Homer Bailey who all went around the same time. Those who agonized over what to do with the stumbling pitcher were handed a reprieve in July when Cain was placed on the DL. I’m not sure where he ranked on ESPN at the time, but currently he is outside the top 150. Was 2013 just an off-year? Were his issues this year due to the bone chips in his elbow? One thing is for sure, he will come at a discount in 2015 if you want to find out.
Mike Minor – Minor fell to round 9 and 10 in drafts because of a sore shoulder, otherwise he might have been taken higher (and been an even bigger bust). He was serviceable in May, Bad in June and Horrible in July. He had pretty good numbers in August, but not good enough to make up for the pile of excrement piled on owners doorsteps from his previous starts. Home runs, walks and BAA all went in the wrong direction. The increased home runs was odd considering his FB% went down and GB% increased, but we’re not here to analyze Minor today. Bottom line is, he was drafted to deliver numbers worthy of a number 3 pitcher and you ended up with someone ranked worse than Matt Cain on the ESPN player rater.
If you’re wondering why Jose Fernendez isn’t listed, I had mixed feelings on this. On one hand he was a second or third round selection who missed most of the season wasting a pick, but on the other hand he was lights out before he went down so he was living up to expectations. Make your own call on this one. The same goes for Cliff Lee who was taken in the third or fourth round of drafts. 2007 was the last time he didn’t register 200 innings so I just see this as bad luck and not a bust (and this is coming from a Cliff Lee owner).
Joe Nathan: Who has more regrets, the owner that drafted Nathan in round 8 or the Tigers who signed him to a bloated 2-year deal? That contract is the only reason he is still closing out games because anyone else would have been removed. Sure, he has 33 saves this year, but at what price? Is an ERA over 5.0 and WHIP over 1.5 worth it? If you drafted him you either stuck with him or pawned him off on someone else hoping for a turn about. Those that had him on their roster may have been thankful for the saves, but they screamed (expletive deleted) every time he got one. Do you know where Nathan sits right now on ESPN’s player rater? I scanned through the top 50 several times thinking those saves had to rank him there, but I had to go to the next page to find him, sitting at #67. Nathan was taken ahead of guys like David Robertson and Glen Perkins. Will owners be willing to forgive Nathan next year? Maybe, but only at the price of a late round pick.
Jim Johnson DESERVES an honorable (or dishonorable) mention for being taken on average in round 12 of drafts (ahead of Papelbon and Janssen). Johnson was signed to a large contract (small in comparison to Nathan), but Oakland had no problem admitting their mistake and removed him from the closer role early and eventually released him and ate the contract. Detroit picked him up (because they didn’t have enough bad relief pitchers of their own), but that’s a story for another day.
Who was your biggest bust on draft day?