Chris Young :: Brad Mangin/SI
The All-Star Game may have been a celebration of baseball's best this season, the inaugural voyage of Fantasy Clicks is here to honor a few of this year's worst - from a fantasy perspective, that is. This doesn't mean players who lack skills, but lack performance. Nobody expected much of Cesar Izturtis, but when Jimmy Rollins struggles to hit the ball over the fence, that can kills a fantasy squad. Herewith, the five most disappointing fantasy players of 2008 so far:
Chris Young, Diamondbacks: In hitting .248 in May, it seemed the D'backs' talented, young outfielder had matured as a hitter beyond the power-hitting, base-stealing, low-average talent he was. Ah, but some people just can't stand success; by the break, Young was hitting the .228 his previous owners were all-too-familiar with while adding an extra helping of disappointment with the paltry 5 bags he's stolen this year.
Jimmy Rollins, Phillies: To expect last season's MVP to replicate his numbers was unreasonable. But no one could have guessed a winter on the banquet circuit would have sapped a power stroke that produced 55 home runs in 2006 and '07.
John Smoltz, Braves: yes, it's unfair to rip a guy who's hurt, but when the anchor of many a pitching staff is sidelined after five starts, well, there's almost no way a fantasy team can replace that short of tearing up the rest of his squad.
Rafael Furcal, Dodgers: If any player was poised to become the Jimmy Rollins of '08, it was the Dodgers' shortstop, who hit .366 with 5 homers and 8 steals in his first 32 games. Then a bad back flared up, sending Furcal to the DL and fantasy owners to church to pray for a speedy recovery. That didn't happen, nor will much of Furcal happen this year after a rehab stint was cut short by further back pain and surgery. Furcal claims he'll be back this year; we're not crossing our fingers.
Rich Hill, Cubs: Not only did Hill produce a sub-4 ERA and decent WHIP last season, the Cubs hurler also demonstrated an ability to provide that most cherished of fantasy stats: strikeouts, lot and lots of strikeouts. Well, the only thing he's striking out now are minor league hitters while his owners are stuck trying to find major league-quality replacements for a pitcher whose lack of control early this season prompted the Cubs to sentence the 6-5, 205-pounder to limbo.
In another incarnation on this site, as a fantasy hoops scribe, we once ruthlessly ripped Marcus Camby for his inability to play through seemingly minor injuries. Over the last two seasons, however, Camby has been relatively healthy, playing in 70 and 79 games, respectively. Equally important, he had become the backbone of the Nuggets defense, blocking more than 3 shots and pulling down more than 10 rebounds a game over the past four seasons. Those aren't numbers the soon-to-be-rebuilding Nuggets will easily replace after sending the center to the Clippers for the right not to pay Camby $20 million over the next two seasons. But that doesn't mean the Clippers will get those stats, either. Not when Camby is 34 years old and will be working with a lot fewer offensive options in L.A. Still, we'd expect some reasonable facsimile of his Nuggets numbers for Camby with Baron Davis now at his side to help carry the water.
Does the move make the Clippers a legit Western contender? No. But it makes them a lot older and a lot more likely top take Denver's place as first-round cannon fodder for the Lakers or the Spurs.
Conventional wisdom holds that fantasy success is built with two prime time running backs. Last year demonstrated that may no longer be the case, as TheHuddle.com argues in assessing the risk associated with some of this year's potential first-round draft picks
Thaddeus Young :: AP
It's easy to get lost in the hype over the latest rookie crop in the NBA summer leagues, but, as RotoEvil.com, notes, the key to fantasy success often comes on the backs of those young veterans on the cusp of breaking out. With a season or more of experience under their belts, all the Thaddeus Youngs of the NBA need to concentrate on are improving their games. That's a world of difference from the adjustment to pro life most rookies are busy with. Who are the players in contention to make "the leap" next year? Check out these eight in the East and these eight in the West.
Many a fantasy league can be won by the owner who knows when to deal a player at the height of his market value before the bottom falls out on his season. Fangraphs.com has an idea with a handful of pitchers likely to suffer over the season's second half.
More than a few fantasy owners are kicking themselves over passing over Lance Berkman for Mark Teixera. Well, at least one that I know of. But if I had known he was good for 15 steals ? oh, forget it, already. Berkman's speed isn't the only surprise of the first half, as Ryan Boyer from Rototimes.com notes.