First Half Fantasy Review: Busts and Bargains

July 13, 2006 | Comments (1) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Well everyone and their dog has released some sort of best and worst list for the first half of the fantasy baseball season. And since I've come to the conclusion all you need is the ability to type and to remotely understand baseball stats to be considered a "fantasy expert" I would toss my hat in the ring and offer up my Bargains and Busts for the first half. Keep in mind I'm basically looking for guys that have underachieved or overachieved compared to their projections. So Neifi Perez isn't really a bust. No one projected him to do well, so he's just a piece of shit. Moving on....

BARGAINS: In 2005 only 3 catchers hit 20 or more home runs. This season, there are 9-10 that could easily do the same. Needless to say there has been some great value to be found in what is typically the shallowest position in fantasy.

Miguel Olivo, FLA - Miguel has done great for the Fish with a .286, 10 HR, 35 RBI at the break.

Brian McCann, ATL – Some managers have seen their sleeper pick in McCann pay nice dividends already as the Bry-Man is hitting a fat .343.

Johnny Estrada - After an underachieving season in ’05, expectations were tempered a bit for Johnny. The desert air seems to be doing him well as he’s putting up similar numbers that made him a breakout fantasy catcher two seasons ago in Atlanta.

Mike Napoli, LAA – Mike didn’t even get called up until May, yet he’s emerged as a much needed offensive boost at the catcher position for the Halos. So much so that its rumored they’re considering parting ways with their other young catching prospect, Jeff Mathis as they look to make a deal at the trade deadline.

The Best Buy: David Ross, CIN – Playing for his fourth team in three years, Ross has been a welcome site in Cincy as well as on fantasy rosters. His .311, 12 HR, 31 RBI in only 119 at bats has been impressive enough to wrestle the main catching gig away from Jason LaRue for the foreseeable future.

BUSTS: Its hard to say there were any real busts at catcher in the first half. Some guys have faced tough injuries, others are so overrated to begin with that calling them a bust is sort of moot.

Jason Kendall, OAK – Ugh. This guy has been on the decline for about two years now. He offers absolutely nothing for power, and his AVG has been a real letdown since coming to Oakland. His numbers aren’t horrible for a catcher but for a player that for some reason keeps being listed among the top ten catchers on preseason cheat sheets, he’s certainly overvalued. You could possibly do better with someone off waivers.

Mike Lieberthal, PHI – I’m not going to be too harsh on guys that suffered injuries. Lieberthal has been one of those “set it and forget it” type catchers in fantasy for many years. He won’t put up the best numbers at his position but he’ll give serviceable worry-free stats. Unfortunately that’s not been the case this season as managers have dealt with Mike rotting on their DL for the last month. The only plus is that its let us all enjoy more time with fan favorite and 80’s porn ‘stache savior, Sal Fasano.

Jason Varitek, BOS – While he hasn’t been horrible, managers were expecting a little better than a .232 average from the guy many considered to be the best fantasy catcher for 2006 behind only Mauer and V-Mart. He may bounce back, but at this point Jason appears to be worn out.

The Bust Buy: Javy Lopez, BAL – I know. You’re saying to yourself, “Why is he a bust? He’s putting up about the same numbers as last year”. And that is exactly why he’s on here. Look Javy isn’t horrible, but so many were ranking him in the top 5 for catchers this preseason. Look at the “bang for your buck”, or lack thereof managers have received. Lopez is currently ranked 21st among catchers in runs, 14th in home runs, and 21st in RBI. Not the type of marks you’d want from drafting a supposed top 5 catcher.

BARGAINS: First base is so deep with fantasy studs that to look for a value pick seemed silly since there’s plenty of big hitters to go around. But managers that were savvy enough were able to pick up these guys have to be smiling.

Mike Jacobs, FLA – He’s not the first bargain Marlin on this list and he certainly won’t be the last. Many considered Jacobs a late-round sleeper in the draft and when the season started, the only thing sleepy about him was his bat. Mike had a horrible April, hitting only .192 and in most leagues, relegated to waiver wire fodder. But as the season heated up, so did Mike’s output. Jacobs has now pumped up his AVG to .278.

Kevin Youkilis, BOS – It wasn’t uncommon to see Youkilis drafted in the final rounds this spring if at all. You’d be hard-pressed to find him lingering on the waiver wire now with his .297 AVG, 10 HR, 43 RBI, and 60 R. His eligibility at 3B as well makes him a nice utility guy at the corners.

The Best Buy: Justin Morneau, MIN – Morneau has been on the verge of a breakout season for a while now. After a disappointing 2005, many managers passed on him in the draft this year. And after a dismal April Morneau could easily be found on waivers. Anyone that bought low on this guy are reaping the rewards now. Justin has been destroying the ball as of late and seems poised for that breakout year finally. His .300, 23 HR, 73 RBI rival some of the big sluggers in the league and he’s already close to matching his stats from last season.

BUSTS: Even if you don’t count the ones that were plagued by injury there are still a handful of 1B that have played well under par up to this point.

Derrek Lee, CHC – It pains me to list him, but if we’re counting other injured guys, Lee has to be on here. Lee was a first round pick in most league drafts, so when he collided with Rafael Furcal you could here a collective groan from fantasy owners everywhere. Now that he’s back, many managers are hoping he can give them a needed boost to hopefully make up for lost stats.

Dan Johnson, OAK
– Johnson, along with Mike Jacobs were both considered the young “sleepers” at 1B. Both started the season looking horrible. While Jacobs has bounced back quite well, Johnson has struggled. Despite a promising June, Johnson’s AVG is only .237. Although there is a light at the end of the tunnel. His K/BB ratio suggests he’s a fairly disciplined hitter. I’d keep an eye on a possible second half surge.

Aubrey Huff, HOU – ‘The Huff’ looked horrible for most of the first half and just in the last two weeks has started to hit like he can. Now he’s in Houston, where there’s a chance the change of scenery will help him. Huff was quite happy with Houston’s welcome basket of Skoal and Busch Light that was given to him.

The Bust Buy: Mark Teixeira, TEX
– For an average 1B his numbers aren’t bad (.275, 9 HR, 49 RBI). But Tex isn’t your average 1B. This guy was touted as probably the best fantasy 1B in the AL next to David Ortiz, and was projected to flirt with 40 homers. Right now he’s on pace for about 20. Not what managers were hoping for. Quick Note: As I was typing this piece I see on ESPN that Tex hit 3 homers tonight. I think he may be breaking out of the funk finally.

BARGAINS: Next to catcher, 2B is the fantasy position that is usually the shallowest. This season, some managers have found value in unlikely places.

Ty Wigginton, TB
– The Wigginator certainly doesn’t get you any cool points, but 16 homers and 50 RBI in the first half isn’t too shabby. Especially when the only other 2B eligible batters with 16+ homers are named Chase and Alfonso.

Brandon Phillips, CIN
– Hey, remember when this guy was a highly touted prospect for the Indians? So much so people were actually drafting him as one of their “sleepers” a couple years ago? Well apparently he just needed a move across the Buckeye State to finally realize his potential. A .306 AVG with 16 steals is a nice start to his Reds career.

Ian Kinsler, TEX
– Kinsler was one of the rookie sleepers in this year’s draft. But a injury early put on him on the DL for a month and a lot of owners grew impatient and dumped him to waivers during that time. Anyone who stuck it out, or snagged him off waivers when he got healthy have enjoyed his .320 AVG and .932 OPS.

The Best Buy: Jose Lopez, SEA – With the corpse of Bret Boone finally tossed in a dumpster behind Safeco, Jose Lopez has officially taken hold of the reins in the middle infield and he shows no signs of relinquishing them any time soon. His .280 AVG is serviceable but most owners have had a boner for his 58 RBI, which is best in the MLB among 2B.

There’s been a few disappointments so far but most have been due to injury or having been named Placido.

Mark Ellis, OAK
– The guy has battled injury but even before that he looked like shit. I’m not gonna rag on him any more. He already took a beating in both of my Anti-All Star Team posts.

Jorge Cantu, TB – Like Kinsler he missed over a month of the first half because of injury. Unlike Kinsler he hasn’t done much since coming back. Nonetheless most managers are hanging on to him in hopes he picks it back up in the second half.

Jeff Kent, LAD – For a 2B, most managers would be content with .279, 9 HR, 43 RBI. But not when said 2B is overrated and overvalued Jeff Kent. Usually one of the first few 2B off the board, I think we’re seeing signs of Kent's inevitable decline. His 100 RBI days look to be behind him.

The Bust Buy: Placido Polanco, DET
– Remember when this guy was an on base machine? Barely. He doesn’t do enough to justify being in your starting lineup yet he doesn’t suck enough for you to drop him. At least he’s out of Philly so Chase Utley can shine.


BARGAINS: No, David Wright is not a bargain. But he is incredibly valuable. It’s been almost 24 hours since I’ve seen his face. I’m getting withdrawal headaches from my David Wright All-Star man-crush.

Kevin Youkilis, BOS – Remember what I said about him in the 1B section? Well he’s even more valuable at 3B.

Ryan Zimmerman, WAS
– It took him a while to warm up but he’s worked his AVG up to .287 and is currently riding a 12-game hitting streak. Washington fans at least have to be happy he’s not Vinny Castilla.

Joe Crede, CWS – Crede seems to have finally figured it out. The power potential has always been there but this season his offensive output has gone to the next level. Joe looks poised to put up career numbers in about every category.

The Best Buy: Freddy Sanchez, PIT – Barely a blip on the fantasy radar to start the year, Freddy has been a hitting machine and thus been rightfully snatched up in just about every league out there. His 106 base knocks is second among 3B.

BUSTS: I’ve already ripped Huff, Cantu and Polanco. Who else can I skewer?

Eric Chavez, OAK – He’s battling tendonitis and just had an MRI done over the break. He says he’d rather go on the DL and get healthy rather than play hurt all season and hurt the team. Oakland management says they want to avoid a DL trip “at all costs”. Hey Macha, for the sake of your fans and for the sake of fantasy owners that took Chavez early in the draft, put the guy on the DL already!

Joe Randa, PIT – Not that we had high expectations to begin with but Randa owners deserve better.

Vinny Castilla, SD – Wait, you have to actually have been projected to do well in order to be a bust right? Well if your retarded enough to have Vinny on your team, there’s a good chance your fellow league-mates are laughing at you behind your back.

The Bust Buy: Morgan Ensberg, HOU – Yes sir Mr. Huff, we have a starting position all ready to go for you. I guess if its any consolation for Morgan owners, about 30% of his hits have gone yard.

BARGAINS: There aren’t many guys I’d call a bargain here. I already mentioned Freddy Sanchez and Ian Kinsler. Although they play a different position they both qualify at SS in most leagues. I guess I should talk about someone.

Mark DeRosa, TEX and Jamey Carroll, COL – These guys don’t really deserve their own writeup. Both are mediocre journeymen utility players. Both have overachieved so far this season. Both will be forgotten by September.

Omar Vizquel, SF – There once was a time where Omar’s name was mentioned any time the subject of best shortstops came up. Anyone that was trying to fill a hole in the lineup could do a lot worse than Vizquel this season. A solid .302 AVG and 56 runs make him a worthwhile fantasy contributor this year.

The Best Buy: DeRosa, Sanchez, Carroll, Kinsler, Vizquel, take your pick. Yuniesky Betancourt and Carlos Guillen get a nod too I guess.

BUSTS: Can a shortstop really be a fantasy bust? If they suck then they’re really just hitting like a normal shortstop would.

Clint Barmes, COL – A .208 average? Is it the deer meat Clint?

Adam Everett, HOU – At least when he had 21 steals last year he was kinda sorta almost valuable. This year he hasn’t even stolen bases that much. Just like with Vinny, shame on you if he’s on your team.

The Bust Buy: Bobby Crosby, OAK - .238 with 8 HR and 35 RBI? Where’s the ESPN "Crosby for MVP" hype-machine now? Can we focus on Bobby having a full healthy season where he bats over .260 first? Are there Crosby owners that are honestly shocked by his numbers? Just think, you could’ve drafted Omar Vizquel, or Carlos Guillen, or Ian Kinsler, Freddy Sanchez, Yuniesky Betancourt, Jamey Carroll, Mark DeRosa. Hell, you could’ve gotten half those guys off the waiver wire. Nice move shithead.

BARGAINS: Lets here it for the ex-Cubs!

Gary Matthews Jr., TEX – Too bad there isn’t a stat for “Amazing Catches that ESPN Analysts Continue to Jizz in their Pants Over”. Gary Matthews would then for sure be the MVP. No way anybody drafted this guy at the beginning of the season. And if they did, it was probably some 65 year old dude that thought he was actually Gary Matthews Sr. At this point he’s probably taken in your league.

Jermaine Dye, CWS – Back in his days as a Royal, it looked like young Jermaine was ready to have a long stellar career. Then he went to Oakland where he became a #3 or #4 fantasy OF option on your team. Even this year he was ranked right around 40th among OF on most preseason cheat sheets. Well anyone who took him as their 3rd OF is probably happy to see Dye outperforming his #1 OF. He’s on pace for a monster year and his first 100 RBI season since his days in KC.

Corey Patterson, BAL – God damn you Corey. When seeing his stats with the O’s so far this season, almost every Cubs fan has the same thought, “Figures”. It was obvious Patterson would probably do better once he was free of Dusty’s evil reign, crushing our talented youth. Despite that, I, like many were scared to death in taking a late round flyer on Corey this year in the draft. A few said, “Why the hell not?” and took him late. They’ve been laughing ever since. His 31 steals more than make up for his occasional slumps.

Brad Hawpe, COL – A lot of people were all over fellow Rockie, Matt Holliday in the draft, but most passed over the lesser known Hawpe. Those that did pick him up have benefited from a .310, 15 HR, 49 RBI.

The Best Buy: Raul Ibanez, SEA – At the break, Raul has 20 HR and 70 RBI. Read that sentence again. No, seriously, read it again. Were talking about Raul frickin’ Ibanez! I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. He had 20 homers all last year, and he’s had no more than 24 in a full season. This is just amazing, and no one seems to be talking about it.

BUSTS: I only have one guy here.

The Bust Buy: Jose Guillen, WAS – F this guy. Jose has been on 6 teams in the last 6 seasons. He’s been a clubhouse cancer everywhere he's gone. And he makes Raul Mondesi and Derek Bell look like the greatest team-players ever. Now I’m just reveling in the fact that he’s batting .211 and has looked like a moldy dog turd at the plate.

BARGAINS: If there’s any position where you can dig around in free agency for value its SP. And most of these guys are examples of that.

Josh Johnson, FLA – At the start of the season most people couldn’t name a pitcher for Florida aside from Dontrelle Willis. Now, well, they still probably can’t. But fantasy nerds are familiar with Josh Johnson at this point. Johnson has wowed owners with a 2.21 ERA with a 8-4 record and 74 K in 85.2 IP.

Jered Weaver, LAA – How often do you see a guy get replaced in the rotation by their little brother? Jered Weaver did just that, as the Angels released older brother Jeff to make room for him. And unlike Jeff, Jered has been outstanding this season. The younger Weaver has won all 6 of his starts thus far. He currently posts a 1.12 ERA with 36 K.

Gil Meche, SEA – Meche was touted as a sleeper for a handful of seasons back in the day. But an onslaught of injuries and disappointment has plagued his career. Recently Meche has looked good, going 4-0 in his last 7 starts, improving his overall record to 8-4.

The Best Buy: Chris Young, SD – Every year there’s a young pitcher that everyone is talking about as their big sleeper pick. A lot of times they don’t really pan out, or at the very least are so overhyped in the spring that they aren’t worth the money spent at auction or the spot the were drafted at. Chris Young has not been that way. The move from hitter-friendly Ameriquest to pitcher-friendly Petco has greatly helped Young’s career. At the break Young is boasting an 8-4 record, with a 3.12 ERA and 104 K. And anyone that drafted him probably took him as their #3 or 4 SP. Not bad.

Starting pitcher busts? We could be here all day.

Ben Sheets, MIL – Mark Prior, CHC – Kerry Wood, CHC – My injured trifecta of pain have inflicted just that on their owners this year. Most passed on Wood and those that took him did it late, so his failure wasn’t that harmful, but other owners have pulled their hair out and gnashed their teeth at Sheets and Prior and their long stints on the DL.

Bartolo Colon, LAA – Yeah he’s been hurt, but even when he’s not, Bartolo has not been the SP most managers were expecting when they drafted him.

Matt Clement, BOS – 6.61 ERA, 1.76 WHIP. Has anyone been so adversely affected by getting drilled in the face? Even worse are the managers that somehow thought he’d be better.

The Bust Buy: Jeff Weaver, LAA – This guy actually had a decent second-half fantasy-wise last season. He’s just been miserable this season as the Angels finally cut him loose. The Cardinals just picked him up however to replace the "Drunken Aruban Train Wreck", Sidney Ponson. That move just cracks me up. The Cardinals just replaced Ponson with virtually the same guy but without the surly drunkenness. Don’t believe me? Look at this. Scroll down to the list of “Similar Pitchers through Age 28”. Exactly, put that in your pipe.

BARGAINS: This is easy. Any closer that wasn’t the closer at the start of the season is a bargain.

Takashi Saito, LAD – Eric Gagne is broken, good thing we have Danys Baez! Um……er……I…mean good thing we have Takashi Saito! Saito has filled in well and it now looks like he’ll be in that role for at least the rest of this season.

Akinori Otsuka, TEX – After Francisco Cordero imploded, Otsuka jumped in and has pitched admirably. 17 saves with a 2.13 ERA means Otsuka has a pretty strong hold on that job.

The Best Buy: J.J. Putz, SEA – A lot of managers picked up Rafael Soriano when Everyday Eddie’s corpse officially couldn’t throw a strike any more. While Soriano was the sexier choice for closer, savvy managers snagged Putz and haven’t looked back. 16 saves, 58 K in 42.2 IP.

BUSTS: This is just as easy. For every bargain, there is probably a bust on that same team.

Eric Gagne, LAD – Just for the fact that he duped fantasy owners into believing that his injury bugs were going to be history.

Chad Orvella, TB – Is it fair to have him on here? I’m not sure Chad even got a serious save op this season. But he was slated as the TB closer early on when Baez was dealt and there were dipshits out there that drafted him.

Chris Reitsma, ATL – Reitsma pretty much guarantees that Atlanta won’t win the NL East this year. Reitsma owners are pretty much guaranteed they won’t win their fantasy league this year either.

Keith Foulke, BOS – It appears his closing days are over. This is fine by me because his demise has made way for The Papelboner.

Jose Valverde, ARI – When you’re so bad that Jorge Julio has stolen your job, it’s never a good thing.

The Bust Buy: Eddie Guardado, SEA – Seriously, if you drafted Eddie as your #1 closer, just quit. I mean it, you shouldn’t be allowed to play fantasy baseball.


Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan @ 8:12 AM, July 14, 2006

One quick note. Shame on me for not including Dan Uggla on the 2B list. He should've been listed amongst the bargains.