It sure has been a great baseball season for fantasy leagues. While some of the best, most talented players in the game lost significant time, most are expected back at full strength for the 2015 season. Some new stars have burst upon the scene like Anthony Rizzo and Anthony Rendon, while others have disappointed us. The names I’ve come up with below go beyond the normal level of disappointment from players like Jean Segura or Eric Hosmer; these are the players I will never own again. I’m done with them, and in some cases I’m doner.
Carlos Gonzalez: OF – Colorado Rockies
“Don’t look, but how many years has Carlos Gonzalez hit 30 HR ? Driven in or scored 100 runs? One time. His K rate went through the roof (27%) in 2013. His HR/FB percentage of 24 is also apt to fall. Yes I like the player, but there’s almost no chance he returns first round value. 25 HR 20 SB .280. Heck, that’s his average year over the past 3.”
I wrote that in December about Carlos Gonzalez, then followed up in January by featuring him in my Your Team NOT Mine post, and then finally I was probably the only person anywhere to not include him as a first round pick. So why, you’re asking, am I including him again? Because I went and acquired him via trade in a keeper league this year. I was well aware of the risks, but I had budget money to burn and a first place team to maintain. In thirteen weeks on my roster, Carlos Gonzalez contributed 36 at bats and a .194/.275/.472 slash line.
It’s not just the injuries, as he was limited to just 281 plate appearances for the season, but it is the drop in production as he finished the year at .238/.292/.431. Away from Coors he hit .160/.224/.319.
Gonzalez did manage to drop his K rate from 27% to 25% this season, but his HR/FB rate plummeted to 15.5%. His GB rate was up just above his career norm at 47%, leaving him with his worst LD% of his career at 15%. He’s also swinging at more pitches and making less contact. This is no-doubt a talented player but what you shouldn’t mistake him for, is a first round (or second or even third round) pick. I now own him at $29 for next season, and hoping that someone is still enamored enough that I can trade him away for anything at all. In redraft leagues, I’ll take Kole Calhoun and Christian Yelich 8-10 rounds later and get better production.
Aaron Hill: 2B – Arizona Diamondbacks
I ranked Aaron Hill as the 10th best second baseman for 2014, and as a group we ranked him #6 heading into the season. When he fell to me in Round 3 of a 14 team league with 12 keepers, I felt I needed to take the surplus value whether I needed it or not. I had Anthony Rendon as one of my keepers, and with my goal to sell off youth for a playoff run, I sent Rendon packing in exchange for Rick Porcello. Now this league heavily favors starting pitchers so 8 months ago this wasn’t so horrible, but as Rendon flourished this year, my resolve to keep Aaron Hill grew stronger. Jeff Quinton wrote about this phenomenon last year, yet even being armed with this knowledge I fell victim, not dropping him until after I’d lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Looking at the numbers (I shouldn’t fall into the Advocacy Effect trap again), Hill was outstanding as recently as 2012 with a .302/.360/.522 line. To put that in perspective, no second baseman this year has slugged as high. In 2013, Hill hit .291/.356/.462 in an injury-shortened season; an OPS that would rank 6th this season. Expecting a top 10 finish didn’t seem unreasonable, but a career high K rate, a career low BB rate and his worst AVG since 2010 left Aaron Hill out of the top 20 second basemen in 2014. With a career average of 65 R, 15 HR, 61 RBI and a .270 AVG through 10 seasons it would be unreasonable now at 32 years of age, to expect anything more than that in 2015 or beyond.
Wilin Rosario: C – Colorado Rockies
Rosario also made my Your Team NOT Mine post preseason, where I stated:
“Currently the 4th catcher off the board at Couch Managers, Rosario is going ahead of Mauer, McCann, Lucroy, Perez and Wieters. The Rockies signing of Justin Morneau in the offseason effectively ends Rosario’s shot at getting extra at bats at first base. With a ceiling of 475 AB, don’t look for more than 25 HR. That sounds pretty good at the C slot, but he has one of the worst BB/K rates in the game. His .292 AVG in 2013 was BABIP driven and I expect his poor contact rates will come back and hurt him. These things usually find a way of “catching” up with young hitters. I’ll happily wait on one of the previously listed guys, or even Ramos and Gattis, drafted 70-80 picks later.”
Superb pun aside, I bring this up, because again I found myself with someone from this list in a redraft league this year (though not for long). Rosario actually improved his K/BB rate from approximately 8:1 to a more palatable 3:1 in 2014, but his BABIP indeed corrected and he currently sits at a .254 AVG. His HR/FB rate cut in half , resulting in a 75 pt drop in his slugging percentage. Still just 25 years old, Rosario should see his HR output increase next year back to the 20 range, but his stat line is otherwise empty. Our catcher rankings for keeper leagues will be out in less than two weeks; I can’t imagine him being a top 10 option and with little value coming from catchers 10-15, I’d prefer to fill my line off the wire. Russell Martin was a pick up of mine in two leagues this year that way. Others will come next year, and the year after.
Pedro Alvarez: 1B/3B – Pittsburgh Pirates
Every writer ranked Pedro Alvarez too high heading into 2014. Even with a prediction of 18th best 3B for 2014, I was giving Pedro Alvarez way too much credit as he comes in at 30 on the ESPN player rankings and is barely a top 30 option for the season in points leagues. Like Rosario above, Alvarez significantly improved his K/BB rate from 4:1 to 2.5:1 this year, but it came with half the home runs. His .230 AVG looks like what one should expect, but the drop to a .400 SLG sure is ugly. Alvarez has hit more ground balls, more fly balls, and more infield flies this year. There is room for his HR/FB rate to improve next year, but if he’s hitting line drives at just 15%, the slugging won’t increase a whole lot.
Compounding these problems with his contact and hard hit ball percentages is the fact that Alvarez is leading the world in throwing errors at 3B. The Pirates have already played him at first base 5 times this year, and that total would have been higher had he (and prior, Andrew McCutchen) not been injured. If you’re curious how his numbers would stack up at 1B, his OPS is right in line with James Loney. I expect the Pirates will give Alvarez that opportunity at first base next year; he’s a former NL home run champion and top pick . What I don’t expect is him to have a lot of value there. Think Ryan Howard. Today’s Ryan Howard.
Ryan Zimmerman: 3B/OF – Washington Nationals
It’s hard to mention throwing errors at third base and not bring up Ryan Zimmerman. While we don’t usually care about defense in fantasy baseball, where a player ends up on the defensive spectrum greatly affects their offensive value. What I’m suggesting though with Zimmerman is that it really doesn’t matter. Over the past five years, he has averaged 17 HR, 70 R, 70 RBI and 4 SB. Add to that, Ryan Zimmerman will be 30 next season and it could be the last year that he has the added value of third base eligibility. Even if he could replicate his five-year average, that is Pablo Sandoval territory. Put those numbers at 1B or the OF and he’s a waiver wire option for you when your main guys get injured.
I remember Zimmerman’s 2006 and his 2009 seasons quite well (odd how I have such a bad memory at home), but it’s long past time of hoping for a repeat. Not even the best Zimmerman(n) on his team, you’re as likely to get 200 empty at bats (like 2014) as you are of getting 20 HR and 75 RBIs. There is a whole new crop of third basemen: Rendon, Arenado, Castellanos, and some guy coming in Chicago next year, that it’s time to be done with Ryan Zimmerman.
While there are plenty of other names I could have added to this list, you’ll have to wait for the sequel: Done and Doner To.