No task is harder in fantasy draft preparation than predicting who won't live up to expectations. After tackling who we think might
The Phils are a tough one because most of the hitters are coming off down years by their previously lofty standards and no one should dare consider Roy Halladay a potential bust. Cliff Lee is more likely to be at risk to bust. Lee is a bit more inconsistent and does have the World Series hangover thing working against him, unlike Halladay.
Uggla is a remarkable model of consistency and a loveable player for those of us fans who are vertically challenged. But he is 30 now and has gotten a big payday, and a first year in a new home tends to require an adjustment period.
The Marlins are another difficult team from which to call a bust. Stanton is the best limb to climb in that regard, although that is a weak limb. Stanton could be overvalued if your league tends to jock the next big thing before he is actually a big thing. Stanton could hit 35-plus homers in his first full season -- or he could go into a month-long slump and head to Triple-A.
The Mets are an annual teamwide group of busts, so we figure to attack the players that actually overwhelmed us a year ago. There were some good reasons Pagan was a journeyman reserve outfielder for so long. If he goes too high on draft day, he likely have that Mets curse working against him.
How many times has a career overachiever gone into free agency with a few huge years and then gone in the tank? Too many. Werth heading from the Citizen Bandbox to the Nationals pitcher's park looks just too uncertain to perform at his prior levels.
Axford was a blessing in disguise for the Brewers and fantasy owners last year. But we have seen it happen so many times with closers who come out of the woodwork one year and disappoint the next. The question is how valued is Axford? If people buy him as a top-15 closer, they are probably making a mistake, even if this team looks plenty capable of contending with a rebuilt rotation.
Carpenter tends to be more productive than his draft position because of his advanced age and injury history, but he does fall in the veteran version of the
Coco is one of the most underrated closers in baseball as a 40-save candidate year to year. But the presence of phenom Aroldis Chapman could toss a wrench into the operation. Coco usually retains his closer's job through slumps because he has been mostly on non-contenders throughout his career. Well, the expectations are higher than ever in Cincy now, and Chapman might prove to be the best arm in the bullpen. He could relegate Cordero to a setup role by midseason.
Marmol was lights out with a modicum of pressure with a non-contender in Chicago. That was for a pitcher who has bounced from being a setup man to closer in recent years. Well, Marmol got paid this spring -- removing his contract-year status -- and veteran ex-closer Kerry Wood is working as his setup man. Marmol could fight another bout with wildness and Wood could be all-too tempting to slot back in as the closer in Chicago. Wood, after all, is perhaps the most loved Cubbie of our generation not named Sammy Sosa.
Myers enjoyed a renaissance in Houston, but we have to go back to warning about veteran pitchers 30 and above -- not to mention the Verducci effect. Myers' innings almost tripled from the previous season. He remains a quality veteran front-line starter, but the risk for a breakdown remains as it has for his entire career.
The Pirates are another team whose young players all carry the risk of bust, because there aren't many highly sought options here. Walker, though, was one that was far more impressive than many could have expected in his first season. A career .273 hitter in the minors, he flirted with .300 and showed more pop than he had in most of his career to date. Walker is merely the second Pirate in SI.com's Top 300 at No. 194. Andrew McCutchen has too much room to grow at No. 77.
After the breakthrough Gonzalez had a season ago, you won't find one person who dislikes this talent. The rub, though, is he is now getting selected in the top 10 of fantasy, perhaps even the top five. That sacred area is reserved for the consistent year-to-year presences. Two teams had given up on Gonzalez before he landed with the Rockies -- and his road splits are Dante Bichette-like. Gonzalez hit just .289 with eight homers, 41 RBI, 41 runs and 16 steals on the road. That would have made him a more reasonable .289-16-80-80-30 breakthrough, not a .336-34-117-111-26 freak of nature. That is thanks to his .380-26-76-70-10 numbers at home. He remains on tap for 81 games in Coors Field, though, because that is way the schedule is written. It will just be tough slugging like Barry Bonds at home
Where do we begin with the potential Giants busts when you consider the postseason hangovers? Well, let's gloss over the pitchers for a second and go with the reigning NL Rookie of the Year. He is even named Buster. Sure, he is a great talent at a notoriously thin position, but catchers just don't tend to be this good so soon. A step back as a sophomore is a definite worry. Even a full step back will make him a top five at his position, but the rigors of catching a full 162-game season -- coming off an extra month of the postseason, too -- could catch up to him.
If the Giants are a team to be wary of busts, the Dodgers are more of a locale for sleepers. Outfielder is a position that tends to be a bit overrated in the early rounds on draft day. It is easy to fall in love with the speed-and-power talents and forget most outfielders' scoring wind up bunched together in the middle. Kemp is one of the outfielders where talent hounds drool over the possibilities -- a la B.J. and Justin Upton. Kemp, though, could continue to be like the Uptons and leave us with unfulfilled promises.
Bell told writers on reporting to spring training he wouldn't be surprised to see himself dealt by midseason. The Padres certainly are a team you might expect to suffer a letdown after their surprising season and the trade of Adrian Gonzalez to greener monsters in Fenway. Bell could be a candidate to challenge the Giants' Wilson as the No. 1 closer off the board, but he could be just as likely to be dealt to set up for a big-budget contender, where he might not be the closer, by midseason, too. That would hurt if you're the one that rings the closer Bell with him in the early rounds.
Hudson is a Verducci Effect-lite candidate, too, but the concerns are more about how strikingly dominant he was in the second half last season with the D'backs. Hudson went a Pedro Martinez/Bob Gibson-like 6-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 79 2/3 innings after being dealt at the trade deadline last July. That was just his second full pro season after being a fifth-rounder in the '08 June draft. Hudson can be a very good ace for the D'backs, but his second-half '10 good? Highly unlikely. Hudson went with the third pick in Round 10 in