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 Tommy Rancel //
San Francisco Giants’ general manager Brian Sabean has a type: aging middle infielders. From Omar Vizquel and Ray Durham to Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria, Sabean always seems to find a past-his-prime infielder that puts a little twinkle in his eye. His latest move follows that blueprint: the signing 36-year-old Miguel Tejada to a one-year deal worth $6.5 million.
Tejada is familiar with the Bay Area, having spent the first seven years of his career with the Oakland Athletics. Unfortunately, the production he put up as a member of the A’s is just a memory.
In recent seasons, he has transformed from a slugging run-producer to a contact-driven, league-average hitter with a little pop left in the bat. From 1998 to 2006, Tejada averaged 26 home runs and 105 RBI a year. Since then, he’s averaged just 15 home runs and 76 RBI per year.
On the other hand, 15 home runs, 75 RBI, and 80 runs scored would be a pretty solid season, given the weak current group of MLB shortstops. The only two players to top those marks in 2010 were Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki – the two best offensive shortstops in the game.
Also working in Tejada’s favor is durability. He’s averaged 151 games played over the past four years, while averaging more 40 extra-base hits a season. The question for the Giants is, can he handle 140 games at shortstop? But as a fantasy owner, he’s also earned his SS eligibility for 2011.
After the top tier of Ramirez, Tulowitzki, and the second level of Stephen Drew, Starlin Castro, and Jose Reyes, the remaining NL options have as many – if not more – offensive question marks than Tejada in 2011.
If you are unable to land one of the top guys early on draft day, sit back and wait. Odds are the latest Sabean Special will be available later as a potential starter. The risk of Tejada completely deteriorating is real, but the minimal cost in terms of a draft pick with the likelihood of league average production should be worth it in NL-only leagues; his counting stat potential even makes him a decent choice at the end of a mixed-league draft.
By Bloomberg Sports// Ballpark Figures: Stock Report— Bloomberg Television’s Michele Steele and Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Analyst Rob Shaw are talking Bulls and Bears in Fantasy Baseball. Shaw tells us to invest in Royals infielder Wilson Betemit, Yankees outfielder Marcus Thames, Nationals outfielder Michael Morse, and Mets pitcher RA Dickey. Shaw is bearish on infielders Alberto Callaspo of the Angels and Miguel Tejada of the Padres. For more fantasy insight visit us at BloombergSports.com.
By R.J. Anderson //
In late July, the Baltimore Orioles traded Miguel Tejada to the San Diego Padres. He’s hit .295/.360/.410 since, sparking endless stories on how rejuvenated and grateful the 2002 AL MVP is to be involved in a playoff push. The same media that comes down on Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp for single-play gaffes has allowed Tejada to skate by on, presumably, giving lackluster effort for nearly 100 games.
More amazing is how people are so quick to buy that Tejada is back to being an above-average player. Tejada is hitting for marginally more power than he was in Baltimore (.115 ISO to .092) and while he’s walking more often (9.3% versus 3.5%), he’s also striking out more (from 9.7% to 14.1%). Tejada has not sustained a walk rate over 9% since 2000 and that includes playing on good Oakland teams and bad Astros teams alike. The odds of him doing it with the Padres over any length of time are low.
Besides the walk rate, an increased batting average on balls in play is helping to buoy his line. In Baltimore, 28.2% of Tejada’s balls in play turned into hits; that number has spiked 33.3% have with the Padres (league average is usually around 30%). Tejada is actually hitting fewer grounders and more balls in the air with San Diego, which usually isn’t a great combination for improved BABIP, but he has improved his infield hit rate. Tejada had 10 with the Orioles, he’s got three with San Diego already. Perhaps he really is a man full of joy:
If that seems like a lot of negativity around Tejada’s future prospects, well, it is. Little optimism exists for a 36-year-old with a line of .292/.325/.417 over the past three seasons, moving to an extreme pitcher’s park no less. Nonetheless, being a shortstop again adds some value to his recent hot streak and moving from the American League East to the National League West could boost his player’s offensive value.
If you need a shortstop at this point in the season then you probably won’t have an active team for much longer, so add Tejada for nostalgia’s sake if you want because he’s available in more than 30% of ESPN leagues. If you’re a standard mixed league of 12 teams or less, though, pick up someone like Oakland’s Cliff Pennington instead.
For more on Miguel Tejada and other former MVPs in baseball, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Tools.
by Eno Sarris //
We started looking at what the trade deadline means to fantasy baseball last week by first focusing on the pitchers that might change hands this trading season (you can now scratch Cliff Lee off the list of available hurlers). Now it’s time to look at the position players who might be wearing new laundry soon, and what it would mean to their fantasy value.
The man with a pop idol’s name is having a good year from a fantasy perspective. But a look at his underlying skills shows many of his skills remaining unchanged. He’s walking at about the same frequency (8.7% this year, 9.1% last year) and striking out at around the same rate (21.8% this year, 22.0% last year). The biggest difference is his power: a massive .274 ISO (isolated slugging percentage, i.e. slugging percentage minus batting average) this year, .158 ISO last year.
Now Hart looks like a speedy, powerful outfielder on a bad team that’s ripe for the picking – just look at his spider graphs from Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Tools. He’s only under team control for another year, too, so the Brewers could be inclined to trade him. The good news for his owners in NL-only leagues is that he’s been most often linked to National League teams like the Giants and the Braves. The bad news is that both of those possible new parks suppress home runs compared to his current home park. AT&T suppresses home runs by 14.6% and Turner Field by 4.3%. Meanwhile, Miller Park increases home runs by 19.3%; so a move, especially to San Francisco, would be a big deal for his power potential for the second half. If owners weren’t trying to sell high already, this news should spur some movement.
Ty Wigginton/Miguel Tejada
The Baltimore Orioles lost one of their biggest trade pieces (and second-most likely mover in this week’s first trade piece) when Kevin Millwood went on the DL this week. But that shouldn’t stop the O’s from looking to move their infielders. Wigginton is actually having a good year, as he’s walking at a career-high rate (9.4%) and showing his usual good power (.190 ISO, .182 career ISO). If and when his BABIP recovers (.259 this year, .294 career), his batting average could normalize as well (he’s currently at .253/.336/.443). Because he’s eligible at so many positions, he’s a valuable bench player in head-to-head fantasy leagues, and a great backup in most leagues.
AL-only owners might be worried about the rumors concerning Philadelphia and San Diego, but it’s unclear how much trade value the up-and-down Wigginton has. He might be more of a free-agent acquisition for National League owners looking for a little power on the infield. Much of the same could be said about Miguel Tejada since the team has called up possible third baseman of the future Josh Bell. There haven’t been many rumors, but Tejada isn’t very useful to the Orioles right now, and probably won’t be a Type A free agent, so they could probably get their best value from the former shortstop in a trade. Tejada is most useful for managers writing him in the lineup at shortstop in deeper leagues. So like Wigginton, he won’t have much fantasy trade value.
Adam LaRoche/Kelly Johnson
This Arizona Diamondbacks pair is much like the Orioles’ duo: two decent veterans who don’t fit a rebuilding team’s future and can easily bring back more value in a trade than as free agents. Johnson has been a revelation in the desert, though, and is under team control for another year, so it would take a little more to pry him loose than it would to get the free-agent-to-be LaRoche. Johnson is walking at a career-high rate (13.5%) and his BABIP is close to neutral (.318 this year, .312 career), so some parts of his game will play anywhere. It is worth wondering if the career-high ISO (.227) would play the same in another park. His home park, Chase Field, currently augments home runs by 27.6%. While there have been general rumors that Johnson could leave town, no specific teams have been mentioned. For now, his fantasy owners should consider shopping him on both a sell-high basis, and to hedge against a trade to the AL. Don’t settle for a middling return, though: Johnson is an elite performer at second base for the moment.
LaRoche is having another of his patented seasons, with a mediocre batting average and 25-home run power. But as a free-agent-to-be, he could easily be acquired by a contending team looking to add power at first base, DH, or even off the bench. No rumors are out there right now, and the fact that he’s got little-to-no fantasy trade value in standard 12-team leagues means he’s a hold if he’s on your roster.
Cody Ross/Dan Uggla
Florida is only five games under .500, but the Marlins are already 10 games out of first, and more importantly, with many strong teams in front of them in both the NL East and Wild Card races. Both Ross and Uggla are under team control for next year. But Ross ($4.45 million in 2010) and Uggla ($7.8 million) are already expensive, and could become too pricey in arbitration for a Marlins team known for its penny-pinching ways. Ross is having a strange year, as he finally has a nice batting average for once (.288), but it’s propped up by an unsustainable BABIP (.348). Unfortunately, his power has suffered (.138 ISO, .205 career); still, a move out of Florida (which suppresses home runs by 19.9%) would help in that category. Uggla is doing what he always does, but his home slugging percentage (.485) is virtually identical to his away number in that category (.480), so a move out of town might not affect his power as much. The only specific rumor on either player is Uggla to the Rockies, which would have to be seen as a win for Uggla owners.
David DeJesus/Jose Guillen
Another duo from a terrible team here, but rumors are still just of a general nature. Honestly, Guillen owners have to feel happy that they got anything from the aging slugger. They have already put those 14 home runs in the bank, and they got them for a bargain price. Anyway, Guillen is best suited to DH and should move within his league, if at all. With his griping to the press, he’s not making himself more marketable, though. DeJesus, on the other hand, is a good all-around hitter and a strong defender, and the team has an option for next year. He’s also not a great fantasy player. Because of his poor power (.136 ISO, .150 is average), mediocre base-stealing ability (47 career stolen bases in 867 games), and position (outfield), he just doesn’t do enough to be a strong fantasy player. Check out his spider graphs from Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Tools. Meh.
None of these factors will change with a change of venue, either, so if you’re playing DeJesus in a five-outfielder deep league, you’ll just have to find another high-batting average/low-power and low-speed bat to replace him should he go to the National League.
The First Basemen
We’ll lump these guys together because the aging first baseman/designated hitter is not one of the most valuable commodities in real or fantasy baseball. They’re a bit too fungible. With that said, Adam Dunn is the prize of the group, a legitimate 40-home run man whose legendarily poor defense would play a lot better as a designated hitter in the American League. His NL-only owners should be nervous around this time of the year, and there is a White Sox rumor about Dunn making the rounds presently. Of course, the Nationals have also said they want to sign him to an extension, so Dunn might stay put.
Then there’s the case of Lance Berkman and Lyle Overbay, whose teams would love to move them, if just to save a little money. Berkman’s power has been declining for three straight years now, and his knee may be arthritic. That makes him hard to trade, despite the chance that he goes to the Angels, for example. Overbay is pretty much a bench bat in both fantasy and real-life baseball, so the impact of a possible trade would be low.
For more on Corey Hart and other possible trade-deadline movers, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Tools.