A wise man once said, “One must struggle before he strives…” As we wrap up the second month of the 2014 season, let’s take an in-depth look at some shockingly under-achieving players and decide whether they are worth keeping or cutting.
Carlos Santana, Cle C
Since making the transition from catcher to third baseman this season, Santana has been nothing shy of an absolute disaster at the plate. Manager Terry Francona should be scratching his head in disbelief as he is well aware of the raw talent that the Dominican slugger possesses. Santana has been impressive with the leather in 2014 helping to solidify his spot in the Indians starting lineup despite his offensive struggles.
The 28-year-old has just hit his fifth homerun on the young season and appears to be feeling a bit more comfortable at the plate within these past few weeks. In each of the past three seasons, Santana had at least 18 big flies and 70 runs batted in.
Santana’s fantasy owners appear to be riding out the storm, as he is still 99% owned in ESPN leagues. A huge part of this is due to his catcher eligibility with and a limited amount of productive backstops available on waivers. The fact that he was generally drafted as high as he was (74.5 ADP) also plays a large role in his owners’ loyalty.
Despite an embarrassing batting average of .154, the switch-hitter is still finding ways to get on base posting an OBP of .324 with a 34:34 K:BB ratio. Such plate discipline gives great reason to believe that his bat is just waiting to erupt, so if you are one of his miserable owners, hanging onto him should pay off for you in the long run. Patience is a virtue!
Jedd Gyorko, SD 2B
Like Santana, Padres’ second baseman Jedd Gyorko also owns a disgusting batting average that is far too embarrassing to mention in public. The former West Virginia Mountaineer is batting a frightening .161 on the season, leaving his owners in a tough predicament, especially if they drafted him as their everyday second baseman. His .219 OBP is amongst the lowest out of all National League second baseman while forcing many owners to cut ties with the second-year player (48% owned).
Sophomore slumps are common in Major League Baseball, but I have a feeling that it is only a matter of time until Gyorko turns around this disastrous season. The wiry infielder certainly impressed his manager Bud Black during his rookie season as the 25-year-old managed to lead his team in homeruns (23) and RBIs (63). He did struggle last July where he batted just .100, but once he found his swing, there was no looking back.
Call me crazy, but I see a ton of potential in Gyorko. With a respectable five homers and 20 RBIs so far, stashing him away on your bench could be a wise move considering how high the demand is for a solid middle infielder.
Curtis Granderson, NYM OF
Granderson was never known for his high batting average with the Tigers or Yankees, but I’m sure hitting .200 in the middle of May isn’t exactly where the veteran envisioned himself. He was the Mets’ biggest off-season free agent signing for $60 million over four years and we all know high expectations come along playing in the Big Apple.
The Grandy Man has already struck out an eye popping 41 times over his first 135 at-bats. He has bounced back with four homers and 12 RBIs this month. The 33-year-old shouldn’t have much trouble going yard at pitcher-friendly Citi Field. The recent move of outfield walls in order to boost the team’s offensive production should work in Granderson’s favor.
At 80% owned, I expect Curtis to quietly gain fantasy value over the next couple of weeks. Some impatient owners have already decided to call it quits with the streaky left-handed slugger. It’s got to be hard turning your back on a player who has consistently driven the ball out of the ball park for the majority of his big league career.
R.A. Dickey, NYM SP
The former NL Cy Young award winner has found his way in the last 5 starts after getting shelled in April. The knuckleballer raised his record to 4-3 in Tuesdays win, marking his fifth straight start where he has lasted at least six innings. The right-hander has won three out of his last four starts, but still holds an ugly 4.53 ERA.
At 78% owned, Dickey should throw the ball exceptionally well during the remainder of the first half. Maybe a little bit of Mark Buehrle’s magic has rubbed off on the veteran hurler as he has struck out 41 batters in 47.1 innings. Hang onto Dickey and watch him trim down his ERA down while picking up a good amount wins in the process.
Billy Butler, KC DH
I have come to the conclusion that all of that Barbecue sauce has finally gotten to Billy Butler’s head. The last time I checked, designated hitters were actually supposed to hit. Many expected Butler to bounce back after a disappointing 2013 where he hit just 15 jacks after a career high 29 the year before.
The former first-round pick is hitting just .239 this season with one lousy homerun, 33 hits and 14 RBI in 138 official at-bats. Butler did sink a bit in this year’s fantasy draft and his under-par production has kept him in the bust category even after being drafted later than expected.
The 28-year-old doesn’t seem to be breaking out of his year and a half long slump anytime soon and fantasy owners in shallow and most mid-sized mixed leagues should seek other options at the Utility spot. He is 61% owned and will continue to lose value day-by-day if he doesn’t step his game up. Obviously if you are in a 16-man league, then dropping Butler wouldn’t be the brightest of ideas, but in a 10-12-man league, there are just too many options to roll with when it comes to filling up your utility slot.
Domonic Brown, Phi OF
How could any fantasy player forget outfielder Domonic Brown’s epic power surge at the end of the 2013 season? The left-handed slugger finished the campaign with 27 homeruns and 83 RBI while earning himself some well-deserved respect in the 2014 fantasy draft (116.5 ADP).
This year hasn’t been quite the same story as Brown has hit just .221 with just one homerun and 15 RBI in 136 at bats. The Phillies are going to need the 26-year-old to hit to get the full effect out of their age-ridden lineup.
It doesn’t take a genius to point out the holes in Browns swing, which is why I recommend freeing up some roster space by making him another owner’s problem. I am well aware of how streaky he can be, but who has an entire season to wait around for that one month that he may become hot? Dom is 70% owned and expect that number to plummet, as his struggles are more than likely to continue against left-handed pitching.
Marcell Ozuna, Mia OF
After getting off to a great start this season, Marcell Ozuna has taken a humbling journey back down to reality in just a few weeks. The right fielder posted a .310 average with three homeruns and 15 RBI in April and has followed it up with .149 in the month of May. His .259 average overall isn’t going to get better even though he already has six homeruns and 22 RBIs.
The 23-year-old Dominican is 69% owned in ESPN leagues, but his value won’t stay that high for long with the caliber of month he’s having. Ozuna owners who aren’t in a deep league need to do themselves a favor and bust out the scissors. Outfield is easily the deepest position in fantasy baseball and there’s probably a dozen players floating around on waivers that are outperforming this guy right now.
Zack Wheeler, NYM SP
Mets fans seemed excited to see what the young prospect was going to bring to their starting rotation this season. Losing Matt Harvey to Tommy John was obviously tough and many questions surfaced regarding who was the team’s true ace during his dreaded absence. After these first few months of the 2014 campaign, I think it’s safe to say that it sure can’t be Wheeler at this point. The 23-year-old righty has issued the second most walks in the National League (24) while surrendering 46 hits in 43.2 innings pitched. The 4.53 ERA isn’t winning him any popularity contests in the New York, but having 41 Ks in 43.2 innings does show glimpses of electrifying stuff.
Wheeler is 59% owned in fantasy leagues and has lost nearly half of his value due to inconsistency and control issues. I don’t picture him improving his 1-3 record if he’s walking 6 batters a game and owners in most leagues should go ahead and make this necessary cut.