All-Bust Team

Also see: Dream Team | All-Rookie Team | All-Breakout Team | Top 10 Bounce-Backs

Adam Dunn redefined “fantasy bust” last year, reaching new levels of failure. It seems unlikely that anyone can possibly repeat his achievement in 2012. (Or his complete lack of achievement, or whatever that was). Still, every season offers new disappointments. Here’s a lineup that can only let you down:

 ALL-BUST TEAM LINEUP CARD 
SS –> Derek Jeter: The fantasy community should probably get this guy a gift basket on his way out, because he’s been a valuable asset in our game since ’96. But Jeter turns 38 in June, and he’s essentially a one-category player these days. He’ll score plenty of runs, thanks to the terrific team context, but the power/speed numbers won’t be too helpful and his .330 days are over.
C –> Joe Mauer: Without question, this is an inner-circle Hall of Fame player. Mauer already owns half the batting titles ever won by catchers. He’s also an injury-prone player at an injury-prone position, and his home park isn’t power-friendly. In fact, Mauer has only hit one career home run at Target Field. If he doesn’t bat .320, he won’t be much help.
RF –> Carlos Beltran: Now that Beltran’s knees won’t allow him to be a base-stealer, he’s just another 25-homer, .275-hitting outfielder – and that’s if everything goes well. The injury risk is elevated and his home park won’t do him many favors. If you can land him at the end of a draft, fine. Otherwise, pass.
LF –> Lance Berkman: Yes, he’s coming off a great year. He’s also 36, his power collapsed after the break in 2011, he does his hitting in a pitcher’s park, and he’s just one season removed from a .248 campaign. Berkman’s value could collapse at any moment. Don’t price him as if he can repeat last year’s totals.
1B –> Eric Hosmer: This is a really talented young hitter who happens to get taken too early in fantasy drafts. He’s only 22, so a consolidation season might very well be on deck in 2012. As Brad Evans has already told you, the batted-ball rates don’t exactly scream “30 homers.” Can you possibly be happy with a Billy-Butler-in-2009 sort of season? Let’s hope.
CF –> Yoenis Cespedes: He’s a buzzy player, sure, but he found the worst possible landing spot in fantasy terms. Cespedes is a power hitter trapped in Oakland, a terrible homer environment. He’s also making a huge leap in terms of quality-of-competition, so there’s a steep learning curve ahead.
DH –> Bryce Harper: When Harper gets the call, it’s going to be a must-watch fantasy event. Let’s please just remember that he’s only 19 years old. If he can merely tread water in the big leagues over 2-3 months this season, that would be a tremendous achievement. It’s highly unlikely he’ll hit well enough to assist fantasy owners, however.
2B –> Jemile Weeks: Jemile is a talented, disciplined young hitter coming off a terrific rookie season. No argument there. But he has not escaped the curse of the Weeks family. Injuries have plagued him during his minor league career, just as they’ve followed Rickie. Don’t expect 150 games and you won’t be disappointed.
3B –> Emilio Bonifacio: Bonifacio has one really useful skill: Speed. It’s also helpful that he’s eligible at so many positions for fantasy purposes (SS, 3B, OF). But there’s no way he repeats last year’s batting average (.296). No way. If it happens, I will bake you a Marlin-themed cake and draft next year’s fantasy team.

 STARTER AND CLOSER 
SP –> James Shields: If you want a reasonable projection for James Shields in the season ahead, just take his two-year average. He was fluky-bad two seasons ago, receiving very little luck on balls-in-play, and he was fluky-good in 2011. The truth of this pitcher is somewhere in the middle, with a 3.60-ish ERA.
RP –> Matt Capps: OK, this call is as close to a layup as any on this list. Capps has to be considered the shakiest of the opening day closers, with Glen Perkins lurking in a set-up role. It’s not as if Capps has never been relieved of ninth inning duties before, and he’s coming off a season in which he had nine blown saves.

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