The Worst Fantasy Infielders In Baseball
Catcher: Drew Butera, Twins (Rank 1094)
Called into action because of the Joe Mauer injury, Butera, a former firth round pick, hit just .197 last season. That is actually considered a career year for the 27-year-old backstop who is now batting .150 with one home run in 107 at bats.
First Base: James Loney, Dodgers (Rank 778)
It’s bad enough that Loney has never been able to hit with much power, but now that his average is down to .242 on the season after hitting just .267 last season, Loney is not tolerable.
Second Base: Chone Figgins, Mariners (Rank 945)
Rewarded with a long-term contract in Seattle, Figgins responded with a disappointing .259 average last season and just 62 runs scored. As bad as it was, a .286 average following the All-Star break made it look like an aberration. Not the case, as Figgins is hitting just .182 this season and is now batting eighth in the Mariners lineup.
Shortstop: Miguel Tejada, Giants (Rank 939)
Thinking that Miguel Tejada would be an improvement over Edgar Renteria, the Giants acquired the veteran shortstop. A .217 average with one home run and seven errors suggests this was not the best move.
Third base: Jose Lopez, Rockies (Rank 983)
Once considered a rising star, Jose Lopez blasted 25 home runs with 96 RBI in 2009. However, his inability to draw walks coupled with diminishing returns made Lopez expendable in his first season with the Rockies. He has officially been released with a .208 average in 125 at bats.
By R.J. Anderson //
When the Seattle Mariners signed the speedy Chone Figgins to a four-year deal over the off-season, a .193 batting average and eight stolen bases is not what they envisioned. Yet, to date, Figgins has produced just that total and looks hapless at the plate, leading some to wonder whether the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim knew what they were doing when they let Figgins walk.
While the Angels almost certainly held intimate knowledge of Figgins, even the most pessimistic account of his aging patterns would be hard-pressed to forecast his strikeout rate jumping from the teens to more than a quarter of his at-bats. Data provided by FanGraphs has Figgins’ contact rate at a career-low 80.9%, whereas in recent seasons Figgins has made contact at an 86% rate. That is concerning, but the good news is that Figgins is still drawing walks. What about that batting average though?
Figgins’ batting average on balls in play is a measly .250. His career rate is 88 points higher; over the last three seasons, Figgins’ low is .356. Using batted ball data to dissect his game, Figgins is hitting as many grounders as ever, but fewer liners than usual. Behold though, the one real caveat about batted ball data in general: Line drive percentage. Since human scorers tally what is a fly ball and what is a line drive, there are discrepancies year-to-year and park-to-park. A quick glance at previous years shows that the Angels’ scorer might take some liberties in qualifying close fly/liner cases as line drives rather than fly balls.
Figgins’ struggles are exacerbated by circumstance. In April of 2009, Figgins hit .244 with an inflated strikeout rate and wound up fine. In September and October of 2008, Figgins hit .234. In 2007, Figgins hit .250 in April and then .156 in May. He then torched the league for a .461 average in June, .351 in July, and .342 in August. Those months are only cherry-picked in the sense that the following results are known.
The expectations for Figgins’ season outlook have certainly depressed, but at the same time, presuming that Figgins cannot hit for the Mariners when five weeks ago everyone thought he would makes no sense. It’s that fly-by-the-seat style of roster management that leaves notoriously slow starters ripe for the grabbing come this time of the year.
If you own Figgins, hold onto him. If someone in your league dropped him, run to the waiver wire and take advantage of your competition’s short-sightedness.
For more on Chone Figgins and other struggling players, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Tools.