10 Players We Hate More than You

The Yahoo! Sports fantasy baseball experts have already revealed their man-crushes, those 10 players they love more than you. Now it’s time to pour a round of Haterade and toast … err, roast those players that they wouldn’t be caught dead hanging out with.

 Brandon Funston As Happy Gilmore would say, the price is wrong for these 10 players …

Elvis Andrus – For fantasy purposes, Andrus is a two-trick pony (Runs and Stolen Bases), which makes a top 50 price tag tough to swallow. Hitting in front of Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick in the Angels lineup, don’t be surprised if Erick Aybar proves to be similarly proficient in Andrus’ specialty categories, and you can land him 10-plus rounds later.

Kelly Johnson – A fantasy box of chocolates, Johnson has hit under .225 in two of the past four seasons and over .280 in the other two. And, last season, his K% (26.6) spiked into Carlos Pena territory. Life is like Kelly Johnson, you never know what you are going to get. In our roto racket, that’s not an endorsement.

Paul Konerko – I’m just not willing to concede that he’s the Mariano Rivera of first basemen. He’s 36 years old and coming off two of the most fortunate seasons of his career from a BABIP standpoint. Plus, his supporting cast doesn’t inspire confidence. I can’t shake thoughts of regression.

Russell Martin – Martin had a career resurgence of sorts in New York last season. But it was really only about the home runs (18). He finished with a .237 batting average, the third straight season he’s hit .250 or less. In 5x5 accounting, he ranked just 263rd in the Yahoo! game last season. Drafting Martin at his current ADP (199) is like taking a defense early in fantasy football drafts. What’s the point?

Nelson Cruz – Putting Cruz on this list knowing that Brad Evans has his organs at the ready should the Rangers outfield ever be in need was too irresistible. No doubt, Cruz can stuff a stat sheet, except in the all-important games played category – he’s never played more than 128 games. I can’t stomach the required top 40 pick for a player that seems almost assured to end up with a “DL – hamstring” designation or two over the course of the season. Evans, you may want to add soft tissue to your organ donor plan.

Alex Gordon – His .358 BABIP was among the highest in the league, and is certainly not sustainable. A 20-30 drop in batting average is more likely than Gordon repeating his .303 batting average mark from ’11. And batting leadoff, his RBI total is likely to take a big hit, as well – only two leadoff hitters (Jacoby Ellsbury and Ian Kinsler) had more than 58 RBIs out of the top spot last season. Gordon’s MLB track record is still too sketchy to pay full price for his 2011 breakout.

[ Yahoo! Fantasy experts: Ten players we love ]

B.J. Upton – A .240 average is a steep downside to chasing Upton’s 40-steal potential, especially when you typically are required to pony up a top 75 pick to land him. Cincy’s Drew Stubbs is the same player, only two or three rounds cheaper. Ditto Chris Young. Do yourself a favor and don’t pay for the name-brand mark up.

Justin Verlander – He’s the No. 1 pitcher off the board, on average, in Yahoo! leagues. But he’s not even in my top three, who all hail from the more pitcher-friendly NL (Clayton Kershaw, Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum). But this isn’t completely a league-bias issue for me. My biggest qualm is that Verlander is coming off a year in which his luck factors (BABIP and Strand Rate) were easily career highs, and it resulted in an ERA nearly a full run (0.96) better than his previous best.

Michael Pineda – There’s already been concerns about Pineda’s lack of velocity and abundance of mid-section this spring. But the biggest concern should be that he produced a 4.40 ERA away from Safeco Field last season and a 5.12 ERA across all venues after the All-Star break.

Joe Nathan – Prior to his Tommy John surgery, I was Nathan’s biggest fan. But the wear-and-tear was evident last year, and only a very pitcher-friendly Target Field salvaged some respectability. At 37 years old, with a declining fastball, Nathan is not likely to go the distance as the Rangers’ closer this season, especially with Mike Adams and Koji Uehara waiting in the wings.

 Andy Behrens  “Hate” is a strong word. Let’s just say I like these guys a lot less than you do …

Elvis Andrus – I don’t hate the player, but I really hate the price. There are similar alternatives available much later, like Dee Gordon and Erick Aybar. No need to pay a steep price for this particular set of stats. Let Elvis leave the building.

Curtis Granderson – I’ve ranked him No. 35 overall, so it’s not like I despise him. But you know he’ll be a serious AVG liability. The keys to his value last season were the insanely high run and RBI totals (136 and 119), and a ton of things need to go just right for those to be repeated. Two more things to remember: Grandy is 31 and just a year removed from a .247/.324/.468 season.

Chase Utley – I didn’t actually think I disliked Utley until I participated in my first NL-only auction of 2012. I dropped out of the bidding early on this player. His best years are behind him, he has a chronic knee condition, and the team context just isn’t what it was.

Oakland A’s relievers – I want no part of Brian Fuentes, ever again. His spring ERA is 9.00 at the moment, and Grant Balfour’s is 9.64. And Joey Devine is already hurt. Stay ready, Fautino De Los Santos.

Ichiro – As a fantasy asset, he’s always been a batting average-dependent player, a guy who needs to hit .320 and steal 40 bases. I doubt he’ll reach either of those marks this season.

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Shane Victorino – The Phils’ lineup isn’t looking so scary these days, so I’m not banking on 100 runs. Victorino went 17/19 last season – nice enough power/speed numbers, but not exactly rare for an outfielder.

Josh Beckett – Obviously he’s a talented starter, but Beckett was a BABIP miracle last season (.245). The K-rate should hold, but expect an ERA in the mid to high-3.00s.

Danny Espinosa – We all like the power/speed numbers, but I’m not convinced he’ll top last year’s .236 average. It’s not like he was unlucky last year. Espinosa’s power collapsed in the second half, too, as he cleared the fence just five times.

Vanity catchers – We already went over my concerns in the position primer, but I’ll say it again right here: Catchers present unusual injury risk, and they almost never deliver top-100 seasons. Lots of risk, low potential for reward.

Mark Reynolds – This is the year that I will not attach myself to the Mark Reynolds Theater of Pain. I’ve tied myself to this dude for four seasons, and it’s time for a break.

  Brad Evans: Like my disdain for Budweiser products, man-eating sharks, and Carl from “The Walking Dead,” here are 10 players that I hate more than you for ’12 …

Josh Hamilton – Recently fell off the wagon, which raises a flag. Always a significant injury risk. Why bother with the headache? Top-35 pick for masochists.

Carlos Santana – Ranked 178th on a per game basis last year. Fears over position scarcity and expectation driving inflated price. I’d rather have Matt Wieters at 99.

Eric Hosmer – ADP doesn’t justify the immediate potential. Bright long-term future, but he has the profile of a 20-23 HR player, not the 30 HR masher many believe.

Mariano Rivera – Hinted 2012 could be his swan song on HOF career. Have to wonder when he’ll wither away. Underlying profile still strong, but seems chancy.

Alex Rodriguez – Would always be an elite option if vanity scored points in fantasy. The facts: he’s aging, ISO and HR/FB trending south and injury risk. Pass.

Chase Utley – Bothersome knee is sure to flare back up at some point, a setback that sapped his power in ’11. Completely untrustworthy despite discounted price.

Jason Bay – No reason to mince words. Bay blows. Not buying sudden resurgence in now friendlier ballpark. 2009 was an eternity ago. .250-15-70-10, that’s it.

Starlin Castro – Cubs fans are already drawing up designs of a Starlin statue outside the Friendly Confines, but there are still growing pains ahead. Not elite … yet.

Dustin Ackley – Complete injustice he’s going 100 picks ahead of Kelly Johnson. Hype machine working overtime. Nice player but will likely deliver .265-10-65-85-12.

Jeremy Hellickson – Mystifying 2011 characterized by smoke and mirrors. Wide gap between real-life ERA and xFIP. Unattractive 1.63 K/BB also a concern. No thanks.

  Scott Pianowski  “Hate” is such a strong word, such a negative word. Let’s just say I’m not down with the values of the players I list below. Don’t hate the player, hate the price. …

Carl Crawford – Where to start? He can’t hit lefties, his skills don’t fit his home park, he’s coming off a nightmarish year and he’s already hurt. There’s also a risk of Crawford landing in a poor lineup slot (at least a poor slot for a base stealer), given the other prominent hitters in the Boston lineup. Generally I never say never on a player – with most guys, there’s a price that would sway me – but I am 99 percent positive I will not own Crawford anywhere in 2012.

Yu Darvish – If you want to grab him this month, you have to assume he’s an overlord right out of the box, no adjustment period required. That’s not how I approach the game. And keep in mind it’s a new culture for Darvish, and a new routine between starts. The right-field jet stream in Arlington will be heard from, sooner or later. Give me a proven Matt Garza, say, over a speculative Yu Darvish any day of the week.

Tommy Hanson – Is the shoulder okay? Is the new delivery working out? Did the concussion problem wreck his spring? It’s always a file of red ink with this guy.

Josh Beckett – Let’s look at some of the parks he’ll see regularly this year. Beckett’s career in Fenway Park: 4.28 ERA, 1.21 WHIP. New Yankee Stadium: 4.29, 1.40. Rogers Centre: 8.33, 1.60. Why does the fantasy marketplace still consider Beckett an ace?

Michael Bourn – His batting average might be neutral for our purposes (he’s a career .271 hitter) and you know he’s a complete zero in the power categories. He’ll steal a ton and he’ll score around 90 runs, fine. But using a premium pick on Bourn in a mixed league – where steals are easy to find – is a silly waste of resources. Remember that once you spend that early selection on Bourn, you probably lock yourself out of the late speed values that show up.

Ryan Raburn – It happens every year around draft time – someone looks at Raburn’s recent power stats and wants to extrapolate them over a full season. And then Raburn doesn’t play a full season because of two simple reasons: he’s a contact-challenged hacker prone to long slumps, and he’s spotty in the field. The Tigers can’t blow off their defense in the middle infield (given how lost they are on the corners), so Raburn isn’t working with a long leash.

Johnny Cueto – It’s easy to see last year’s 2.31 ERA was a gigantic fluke – have a look under the hood. But even if Cueto’s ERA stays in an acceptable area, keep in mind that he’s routinely injured (that’s life when you’re a 5-foot-10, 220-pound pitcher) and he doesn’t work deep in games. There’s a tendency to consider wins a fluky stat, but the six-inning men like Cueto do it to themselves. He only won nine games last year despite the sterling run prevention, and for his career he’s recorded a mediocre 41 victories over 116 starts.

Yoenis Cespedes – Since when did big numbers from Cuba mean anything to us? Good luck in that Oakland park.

Raul Ibanez – He turns 40 in June and the New York undertow isn’t going to completely save him. The air is hissing out of the balloon. Note that Ibanez slashed .210/.261/.317 away from Philadelphia last year, and his stats against lefties were just as bad (.211/.232/.353). As my buddy Mike Salfino likes to say, the circus leaves town for everybody eventually. In a mixed league, you don’t want part-timers on your roster.

Brian McCann – The whiffle-ball mentality chases McCann, wanting a piece of those power numbers. But look at the rest of the package: McCann hit .270 and .269 (big deal) the last two years, scoring 51 and 63 runs (that’s not moving the needle, either). Play the value game, especially in one-backstop leagues. Fill this position on the cheap.

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