You want to know why fantasy baseball isn't easy, no matter how much you know, think you know or strive to know? It is because busts are the hardest to project.
Seeing Jacoby Ellsbury go from the No. 2 overall outfielder to scoring fewer points in a full season than Jose Bautista scored in one week was frustrating last year. No one saw that coming, nor could they. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is a liar, and probably a thief, too, laughing all the way to the bank to cash your league's winnings.
Jason Bay and Grady Sizemore: Junk and more junk; Kendry Morales: What was he thinking?!?
Those were some of the biggest busts of 2010 and each was a function of injury that couldn't have been projected. It makes touting potential busts the toughest job in fantasy.
It doesn't make it any less important.
Most of SI.com's fantasy baseball preview focuses on the players that probably just are not liked enough. This is one piece of draft content where the focus turns to players who are liked just a bit too much -- the all-overrated players.
This won't be throwing darts. Instead, we will focus this list of busts on players who just aren't worth their weight in fantasy -- and by weight we mean their draft position and not suggesting Pablo Sandoval won't hit his weight.
To serve you right by this, we have to attack some of the biggest names in fantasy. There is no such thing as a bust of a late-round pick. He was hardly costly anyway. It is the well-loved early rounders that get branded with the bust stigma at year's end, so we might as well try to attack some of the most beloved names.
Before we breakdown the
Crawford tends to bounce in and out of the early rounds every other year. He is back in the elite zone after a rebound season in a contract year. He has gotten paid now and is heading to the friendly confines of Fenway Park. What is there not to love? Well, he could go the way Curtis Granderson did in New York last year.
Yours truly has picked him every year since he passed 32. Despite coming off a down year, Jeter's name recognition will still get him picked before his actual value should slot him. There are just too many Jeter/Yankees lovers out there for him to perform to his draft position.
This one hurt to type, because Price is so doggone awesome. But there is something called the [Tom] Verducci Effect: Pitchers who have an unusually large increase of innings from one year to the next (particularly young pitchers), tend to be at risk for breakdown. The A's Brett Anderson was a well-chronicled example of this last year. Well, Price jumped above 46 innings on his career-high total from 2009 to '10. That puts him in the danger zone, even if he could as easily win the AL Cy Young for each of the next five seasons. It is something to think about if you draft him as high as we rank him at SI.com: No. 7 among starting pitchers.
It is hard to find an Orioles player that is highly regarded in fantasy. Outfielder Nick Markakis is the first Oriole in
This one is a bit too easy. He went from undrafted in many fantasy leagues to the No. 2 hitter to Albert Pujols. Bautista shouldn't be picked in the first three rounds of fantasy leagues, though. He could suffer the slides Aaron Hill and Adam Lind had a season ago.
One of last year's comeback players of the year -- in a contract year, mind you -- Konerko has been a Jekyll and Hyde fantasy pick, alternately good and bad. It will take a lot for him to be the fantasy MVP he was a year ago, especially now that he is going to be 35-years old and has signed what should be his last huge contract.
We have Morneau ranked in the top 10 among fantasy first baseman, despite the fact he was useless at the end of last season and idle all winter due to his post-concussion syndrome. He could prove to be a sleeper if healthy, or a bust if not. Also, perhaps, he proves healthy and then takes another fastball to the noggin and is finished for his career. No one wants to see that happen to Morneau or anyone, but it is something to be cognizant of.
Did you see above that we were going to try to speak poorly of some of the stars of fantasy? Well, V-Mart is clearly a top four fantasy backstop, if not a close No. 2 to Mauer. Catchers, like closers, tend to be a bit overrated because of position scarcity. V-Mart has gotten his last big contract. He moves from a great hitter's park to a tough pitcher's park. He is also 32, the age of breakdown for catchers and putting him on the back side of his career. Sure, he will get the added at-bats at DH, but there are warning signs here.
The Indians are more of a locale for sleepers than busts, if only because there are just so many Indians coming off bad years. Carmona is one of the few who had a year significantly better than the previous, but you should still wait to pick him until the late rounds at his position and in his situation with a non-contender.
Everyone will hate this one, but name a highly-rated Royal to attack? Like the Indians, few Royals are coming off surprisingly good seasons that might have them overrated. So let's stick with the closer caveat. What if the Royals don't win a game in a given week? It sure makes it tough to save games, which is Soria's main asset to fantasy owners. Without Zack Greinke, the Royals are bad enough to be an underdog in every single game they play.
The Angels have a slew of players who could be overvalued: Morales; Jered Weaver coming off a career year; Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu being a bit too past their prime years. But Haren will be the pick here. He was already a bust in the first half of last season and his value is riding a lot on him posting a high innings total. He is coming off a career-high 235 innings, though, and maybe at age 30 his shoulder or elbow might just say, "enough" -- if body parts could speak.
Just when you think you're out on Hamilton, he pulls the
When everyone was looking at Anderson last spring, it was Cahill (who didn't even make the rotation out of spring training) who had the breakthrough season. Perhaps the script gets flipped back on us this year: Cahill suffers from the Verducci Effect and Anderson breaks through. It is entirely possible, if not a measure of Murphy's Law: What can go wrong will.
King Felix isn't a Verducci Effect candidate, because he only added 11 innings to his career high from '09 to '10 (249 2/3), but he was up 49 innings from his '08 total to last season. This is one of the most painful to suggest, because he is smack dab in the elite, but every year a stud pitcher goes from riches to rags. It is the way it goes at the position. Maybe, just maybe, the curse strikes King Felix. One reason to like him a teensy bit less is that woeful lineup he will have supporting him -- or not supporting him much at all for that matter.