Talent makes for breakouts and busts; spring changes to MLB ranks
The reaction to the SI.com fantasy baseball preview has been mostly positive, save for the exception of the busts story. People just hate to hear of their favorites spoken in a negative tone. It apparently angers them more than speaking well of someone else they don't care for, or even think very little of.
But a further explanation here is needed: Busts are impossible to predict.
There are very good reasons everyone likes those players we tried to attack. You have to go after the well-regarded early to middle-round picks in that feature. Busts always happen with the early round guys. If a late-round pick goes bust, it hardly makes a noise -- and usually no one will notice.
We tried to give reasons why a well-regarded player from each team
In fact, as was pointed out to us in the writer feedback, we were even so brazen to list some players like Matt Kemp and Michael Stanton both as a potential breakouts and a potential busts. There are some players like those two potential stud outfielders that can go either way, breakout or bust.
Why? Because they are potentially that darn good, that's why.
You have to draft those elite talents earlier than their already posted numbers might suggest. There is no guarantee they'll reach the lofty expectations, though. In fact, Kemp has mostly disappointed those who believe he is a .300-30-100-100-30 beast. Stanton still isn't the .260-35-100-90-10 he could be.
Those perceptions are altering what has been seen as reality. It doesn't mean it cannot become reality this year.
So, please, don't take everything as gospel. Weigh the arguments on all sides when marking up our printable cheat sheets.
If you have already taken the time to do so, we made some tweaks that should be pointed out. They will be updated on SI.com this week. It will be a weekly process altering our initial rankings.
Here are the top 10 notable changes Tuesday:
He is getting injections in his knee and his health has become even more of a question mark. He is 32, the same age when Carlos Beltran's knee issues went from circumstantial to chronic. Players age 32 and older feel Father Time acutely, especially ones that take a physical beating playing "up the middle" -- catchers, shortstops, second basemen and center fielders. Those are kid positions, so be wary of ages at those spots the most -- especially when players are developing chronic pain.
Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler, with his spring-leading four homers, might be threatening to take Utley's spot as the No. 2 second baseman to first-rounder Robinson Cano.
Come to think of it, perhaps it is time to consider Utley a potential bust. Wouldn't that create some waves with readers?
Carpenter was actually listed in our busts story, as was former rotation 'mate Adam Wainwright. Well, Wainwright is already out for the year and Carpenter isn't able to pitch because of a recurring hamstring issue. It could keep him from the Opening Day start. His age makes him a candidate for a few DL stints anyway, so this is a bad start. Start sliding him down your draft boards. SI.com moves Roy Oswalt and Clayton Kershaw over him for him, but the slide might only go further.
Morales might not be ready for Opening Day, so you have to consider the healthier likes of Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko over him at the deep first-base position. That slide makes him a risk to pick in the top 80 on draft day. SI.com ranked him 39, but he was going 61st on CBSSports.com's Average Draft Position (ADP). That was mostly under the assumption he was going to be healthy. Slide him even further down. By the way, Justin Morneau (post-concussion syndrome) is getting ready to play, so he might not have to move out of the top 10 at first base.
SI.com has already anticipated some bumps for the 2011 NL ROY candidate. This is a significant bump, especially because it requires surgery. Ordinarily, broken bones require 4-6 weeks to heal. That number bumps to 6-8 weeks when you consider surgery. Atrophy weakens the area and requires more intensive rehab. A hitter without a full functioning wrist is bad news, especially someone that is unproven. Ben Francisco gets a bump, but not enough to put him in the top 100 outfielders yet. We might not see Brown in the majors until May. And he wasn't a sure thing anyway, even if talented.
Sizemore isn't expected to be ready for Opening Day, so there have to be serious concerns about this chronically injured former fantasy star. We optimistically ranked him among the top 35 outfielders, but he doesn't warrant being in the top 40 anymore. About 10 spots at outfield moves him 50 spots in the Top 300. His ADP is 144 and his Top 300 spot is now 156.
Castro was already a lowly-ranked catcher because of his struggles at the plate, but he was at least a well-regarded prospect being handed the position's keys. Now, figure Humberto Quintero to be the Astros' primary backstop going into the season, ranking 37th in Castro's spot among catchers. Quintero will stay there until the Astros acquire someone else. Jesus Flores might be available from the Nats via trade, and there's also Bengie Molina, who isn't retired, but waiting for a phone call. Neither Flores nor Molina rank among the top 40 catchers right now, but if they wind up starting for the Astros, they could be top 25 options at the position.
Johnson likely won't beat out Matt LaPorta at first or Travis Hafner at DH for the Indians, but he gives them some depth and insurance for a pair of disappointing players. Johnson is never healthy himself, but he still warrants a late-round flier in deeper AL-only formats.
We already devoted a full column on the topic last week, but Dickey warrants a spot at No. 81 among starting pitchers (Scott Baker's old spot) and at No. 279 in the Top 300. That knuckleball has been refined and saved his career. We shouldn't have been so initially stubborn with him.
Manager Ron Gardenhire has made two potential sleepers a mere one by deciding Kevin Slowey and Baker will be competing for the last spot in the rotation. Brian Duensing, mostly a journeyman swingman, and Nick Blackburn have reportedly won rotation spots behind Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano. That slides Baker, who is struggling with some shoulder woes, to the bottom of the top 100 and slots Blackburn and Duensing in. We will assume Slowey beats out Baker at this point, but either can be a 15-game winner for fantasy owners -- Slowey perhaps even 17-plus with a full year of health. The projected wins for Blackburn or Duensing should be more in the 10-to-12 range.
Cruz was a player that has come with considerable injury risk, but it might be time to give into his disproportionately high ADP. He is going 31st in Rotisserie on CBSSports.com. This writer's rankings tends to rate the middle-section of outfielders lower than the masses, because there is just very little to choose between them, but Cruz and Andre Ethier are two chosen to move up significantly because their ceilings are so high. Cruz is at least proving healthy (team-high seven games played), albeit unproductive (.211) thus far. Slide Ethier up to No. 60 overall, as well. There is a little bit more juice behind this duo than originally given credit, as seen in ADP and SI.com's mock draft.
• Neftali Feliz is still stretching out to start, mostly because that is where the Rangers feel he eventually belongs, but he came out this week and said he actually would prefer to close. His fantasy value will be far higher as a closer, because he would be an elite option at that position -- among the top five. The fact we haven't seen him as a full-time starter in the majors for a year would slot him out of the top 30 starting pitchers. His residual relief eligibility in head-to-head points leagues would prove very valuable, though. His ranking will stay the same on SI.com until an official announcement is made. It is still this writer's belief he remains the Rangers' closer for this season. Interestingly, though, Alexi Ogando is one of the highest risers in ADP in the past few days. Ogando could be the fallback option to close with Frank Francisco now teaming to set up for Octavio Dotel in Toronto.
• Carlos Beltran made his debut Sunday in Port St. Lucie, but he wound up needing Monday off and didn't travel with the team Tuesday. It is a curious sign, especially after he admitted he is no longer the team's center fielder. He could be someone to slide down your boards for health fears. Those knees just won't ever be the same, and reports said he looked like a shell of his self running the bases in his debut Sunday. Forget him in the stolen bases category, which was what used to make him so valuable. And power? Well, CitiField isn't forgiving there. There is not a whole lot to like about Beltran, outside of a contract year perhaps.