Every year, some of the best value in your baseball draft or auction can be found by investing in last year's busts. Most of them are just a year removed for greatness and they all had huge projections for the previous season, but something just didn't go right. Plenty of your fellow owners will be too gun-shy to pull the trigger on some of these guys, especially whoever owned him last year. But not you. You will be armed at the draft table with the knowledge of which of last year's bums is primed to become this year's stars. Or at least a candidate for this year's "best value" when all is said and done.
Let's take a look at some of the most prominent busts from 2010 and their respective outlooks for this season.
While Hill isn't going to duplicate his '09 numbers, I actually like him heading into '11. The main reasons? That BABIP and line-drive percentage we just talked about were career-lows by far. Before the '10 season, his career-low BABIP was that .288 in '09, and his worst line-drive percentage was 17.3 in '08. With guys like Chase Utley, Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Dan Uggla, Dustin Pedroia, Rickie Weeks and Brandon Phillips, second base is not the shallow pool it once was, but if I miss out on those guys, I'd have no problem waiting around and grabbing Hill. But I wouldn't grab him if this next guy is still around.
Beckham settled down in the season's second half, posting a .310/.380/.497 line with six homers after the All-Star break. As we discussed with Hill, there are a lot of second basemen to go around this season. You could do much worse than biding your time and grabbing Beckham late. Especially when he ends up with numbers comparable to Phillips.
So, is Upton a guy to target or a guy to avoid? Well, one thing we know about him is the steals will be there. The speedster has stolen 42-plus bags each of the last three years, despite posting OBPs of .313 and .322 in '09 and '10, respectively. Even in his three down seasons since breaking out in '07, he has racked up 37, 33 and 38 doubles. Not only did his home run total jump back up to 18 from 11, but 10 of those were in August and September. That's a signal to me that he has rediscovered his power stroke. Upton is a '10 bum that I'd love to have in '11.
There's reason to believe in a bounce back for Lind in '11. For one thing, he hit at every level in the minors before getting the full-time call to the show. Clearly, pitchers made an adjustment to him last year. The question is, can he adjust to what they were doing that made him a less effective hitter? I think you'll see an uptick in rates, but I'm not expecting him to return to the 35-homer plateau. Give me Drew Stubbs over Lind any day.
You know what you're getting out of Granderson. He's not going to hit .300 or get on base 40 percent of the time all of a sudden. He's a black hole against lefties, and his value is mainly derived from his ability to go 30/20. That's what makes last year's steals total so troubling. Granderson only attempted 14 steals last year. If he's running that infrequently, he's nothing more than a third outfielder. I'd stay away unless the price is really right.
Zobrist was the beneficiary of a .326 BABIP in '09 even with a K-rate of 20.8 percent. His walk rate and line-drive percentage and walk rate were better in '09 than they were in '10, but not markedly. The huge difference in '09 Zobrist was his that 17.5 percent of his fly balls were home runs. For comparison's sake, Albert Pujols' HR/FB rate was 18.3 percent last year. Zobrist's '09 power binge came from nowhere, as he hit just 23 home runs in 1,642 minor-league plate appearances. There's no reason to expect '09 was anything more than an anomaly. Steer clear of Zobrist this year.