Whether your team still is in contention for a title or not, most fantasy baseball owners are taking a closer look at their teams and evaluating players, not just for the home stretch this season, but for next year and beyond as well. Championship or not, you’re probably already thinking about which players deserve a roster spot on your team next season and which ones need to be forever kicked to the curb. We always urge you to give the process some time as recency bias should not be a factor in your decision-making process, but let’s face it … sometimes the angst you feel over a player just won’t go away, no matter how long the offseason is for you.
Fantasy sports industry folk are no exception here as even we can hold grudges when we’ve been burned by players in the past. So with that, here’s a look at a number of players you will never see on any of my fantasy rosters ever again. It doesn’t matter the cost, the position need, none of that. These players are forever banished from my Circle of Trust.
Devin Mesoraco, C CIN – My logic this season was simple in that he was a forgotten player whose injuries were exacerbated by the Reds’ mishandling of his treatment and recovery. His cost this season was minimal, so the power potential made things a little more intriguing even if he was expected to miss the first week of the season. Well, obviously the fantasy gods were laughing at me and Mesoraco, who once again, proved to be a massive disappointment. He had one small stretch in mid-June which turned a few heads, but that hope vanished even quicker than it appeared and then he caps off the season with a broken foot. Maybe it wasn’t the Reds mishandling his recovery. Maybe his bones really are made of glass. Either way, I’m done.
Brandon Belt, 1B SF – He’s just never going to breach that 20-homer barrier, is he? No. Blah blah blah he’s great in OBP leagues, but who wants a first baseman who sits on middling, disappointing power? Not me. We can also throw that injury-prone tag on him as he’s played in 150 games or more just once in the last four seasons. He’s a corner-infield play, at best, but that’s in a deeper format like a 15-team mixed league. There are far too many other players who not only can stay healthy for most if not the entire season but who also can hit 20 or more home runs without concern. Buh-bye, baby giraffe.
Jason Kipnis, 2B CLE – This one probably hurts the most as I was all-in on Kipnis right from his rookie season. The skill-set looked fantastic and he was one of those dirt-dogs cut from the same cloth as second-base greats like Chase Utley. He’s been touted as a fantastic power/speed combo and showed us exactly what he could do in his first two seasons when he hit double-digit home runs and swiped at least 30 bases. Then injuries cost him a good chunk of the 2014 season and while he still managed over 140 games in 2015, the numbers were still slipping. Last season he turned up the power to breach the 20-homer barrier for the first time, but the speed dropped off and now this year injuries are once again abundant and the production just isn’t there. The price tag to acquire him has dropped with the diminishing returns, but he’s still probably going to be pricier than I would like in years to come, so I’m out.
Troy Tulowitzki, SS TOR – Even at the ridiculous discount he was able to be acquired at this season, he’s still garbage. Typical health concerns aside, if he can’t hit for power in a bandbox like the Rogers Centre, there’s absolutely no reason to draft him. He doesn’t contribute in any other categories and his batting average and on-base percentage are a drain. Most have been off him for a while now. Now that I see there’s no value no matter how low the cost, so am I.
Todd Frazier, 3B NYY – I just don’t know if I can ride this ride if it doesn’t come with 40 bombs. Plain and simple. The numbers have jumped a little since joining the Yankees, but a .240 average with just five home runs over 100 at-bats still isn’t going to cut it. I was perfectly happy drafting a guy like Adam Dunn because, while many of his numbers, particularly the batting average, sucked, you still could count on 40 bombs from the guy each season. I think Frazier hit his peak over the past two seasons, and what we’re looking at right now is the downside of a career that was never too pretty in the first place.
Hunter Pence, OF HOU – After seven straight seasons of 20 or more home runs, it’s over. I figured I could chalk up 2015 and 2016 to injuries and grab Pence at a discounted price this season, but it’s not just the injuries anymore, is it? Granted, he hasn’t stayed healthy this year either, but even when he’s on the field, the numbers are all in massive decline. He just doesn’t generate the power he once did and he’s never going to offer double-digit steals again. He still looks awkward when he plays, and while that was once an entertaining appeal, the joke has played out. The only joke remaining is having him on your roster.
John Lackey, SP CHC – He was the perfect example of how an older pitcher can elongate his career by having Tommy John surgery. Lackey was middle-of-the-road at best, had the surgery and came back to post three of the best seasons of his career. But the magic obviously has worn off and we can easily toss him onto the scrap heap for someone else to try. Some of the peripherals aren’t horrible, but Lackey’s stuff lacks movement now and hitters have been teeing off on him all year long. His 19.3 percent HR/FB rate is the worst of his career and there are zero signs of things turning around. I expect the 38-year old to walk off into the sunset after this season, and if he doesn’t, he’ll never be a part of my fantasy teams ever again.
Considering how volatile the closer position is, it would seem unfair to single just one out as someone I would never touch again. I mean … I tried that with Fernando Rodney and was forced to go back to that well again this season. It doesn’t matter how much these guys hurt you time and time again, you’ll still find yourself begging to take them back once they’re accruing saves. We’re a slave to that category and it’s becoming pathetic.
So there you go. If you play in a league with me, then you know where these players stand with me. If you like any of them, they’re all yours. I won’t go back. I can’t go back. It’s not pride talking here as much as it’s just good old-fashioned horse sense. I’m out and THEY GONE!!!
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 4-6 p.m.
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