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NL Fantasy Baseball Busts for 2014
A "bust" in terms of fantasy baseball is a player that doesn't live up to expectations. With this in mind I have put together a list of names that I think will be busts in the upcoming 2014 National League fantasy baseball season. Let me be clear, I still think many of these players will have good seasons. However, in order to get them on your fantasy team you will have to reach for them by either picking them too early in a draft or paying too much for them in an auction. If they fall to acceptable levels of value, by all means go ahead and select them. However, because of hype surrounding many of them coupled with name recognition, it isn't likely that this will happen. Most will be taken much sooner than their estimated production levels warrant. Take my words of advice and avoid these players at all costs and you won't regret it. Let someone else deal with the headaches and disappointment for the six months of the season.
- 2014 NL Fantasy Baseball Sleeper Picks
National League sleeper picks for the 2014 fantasy baseball season.
Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals
Cardinal fans are going to hate me for this one. I love Yadi, but when it comes to fantasy baseball we have to be ice cold realists. He will turn 32 in July and he plays an unforgiving position. Age is going to catch up with him sooner or later and I'm thinking this is the year it will happen. Plus, there always seems to be a Cardinal fan in every league that reaches for all the St. Louis players. There is a strong crop of underrated catchers in the NL this season such as LuCroy, Gattis, Ramos so you don't have to reach to get solid numbers at this position.
Which player on this list will be the biggest bust in 2014?
A.J. Burnett, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
If A.J. was staying in the Steel City he would not be on this list. It just happens that he made a poor decision to join a floundering team and he will pay the price this season with a mediocre performance. He's leaving a rising team with a great bullpen that plays in a pitchers park (Pirates) and is moving to a directionless team with a crappy bullpen that plays in a hitters park (Phillies). Let someone else gamble on A.J. this season. Age is also an issue with Burnett. He turned 37 in January and the decline will be rapid when it starts. Don't let him drag your team down with him.
Marlon Byrd, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
Byrd is the most deserved name on this list. Suspicion abounds after he had a monster year at age 36 with a career high in both home runs and OPS in two parks not known for hitting. He also had a .353 BABIP versus a career .325 mark so regression is bound to occur. He is moving to a much friendlier park than Chase Field or PNC Park, but I have no confidence that he will be able to repeat his performance of 2013. I see him falling back to the 12 home run, 65 RBI range, so please don't chase after him in the draft.
Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Puig is probably the most controversial name on this list. It is hard to estimate what he will do for a full season after his spectacular debut in 2013, which saw him take the league by storm and bat .407 over his first 34 games and 135 at bats. However, it looks like the league started to figure him out after second go around. In has last 39 games he hit a measly .235 with only 4 stolen bases. I also imagine teams will have spent quite a bit of the off-season searching for holes in his swing, so this downward trend may continue this April. Puig is an exciting player and I would love to have him on my team, it's just I know there will be someone in the league that will be expecting him to bat .330 and go 40-40. It won't be me so I'm not going to overpay or draft him in the first round. I estimate he will bat .290 with 28 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Very good numbers, but not first round material.
Chris Johnson, 3B, Atlanta Braves
Johnson hit way over his abilities last season, his first with the Braves. He was in contention for the batting title most of the season, but eventually lost out to Michael Cuddyer, another bust candidate on this list. There was nothing in Johnson's past record to suggest he will consistently hit for a .321 average in the major leagues. He owns a .276 lifetime mark in the minor leagues and .289 career average in the majors. He also hit an incredible .394 on BABIP in 2013 compared to a career figure of .361 that is also somewhat surprising. I estimate he will settle in at the .280-.290 range with 10-15 home runs and 70 or so RBI. Not bad numbers, but nothing to get that excited about either.
Michael Cuddyer, OF, Colorado Rockies
Cuddyer is a solid player, but he played way over his head and won the NL batting title by hitting .331 in 2013. In fact, it was the first time he hit .300 in his 13 year career. His lifetime average is only .277 so it is safe to expect some regression here. He also managed to stay relatively healthy, which is not easy for him to do. He has averaged only 123 games played the past three seasons and he is not getting any younger. He will turn 35 in March. I wish the Rockies would have moved him to first base to save some wear and tear and help keep him in the lineup, but they decided to sign Justin Morneau to man the first base bag. Cuddyer will play well when he is healthy, but I anticipate he will play only about 130 games this season due to his advanced age and history of getting injured. I predict he will hit .285 with 15 home runs and 70 RBI.
Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Kemp is the most perplexing player on this list. After having an epic, near-MVP campaign in 2011, he has barely played the last two season due to an assortment of injuries. He had ankle and shoulder surgeries this off-season to correct the problems, but word is that he is still recovering and likely won't be ready to start the season on time. I also imagine he will be a very different player once he does come back. The speed will likely be gone due to the hamstring injuries and how much power can we expect with the shoulder issues he's had. Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to Kemp and how he will perform. The Dodgers also have three other solid outfielders in Puig, Crawford, and Ethier, so Kemp may be eased back into the lineup once he returns. There are just too many questions and not enough answers with Kemp. Are you willing to roll the dice with him?
Bartolo Colon, SP, New York Mets
How much longer can this keep going? He will turn 41 in May so age is obviously a concern. He is moving to a pitcher friendly league and will be facing the pitcher a couple of times a game, so that will help. However, at his age can we expect the same level of production to continue? He went an amazing 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 2013. With the luck of the Mets on his side I'm guessing his performance will start to tail off this season.
Carlos Quentin, OF, San Diego Padres
No surprise here. I just wanted to make sure people don't fall asleep and draft him by mistake. Carlos easily takes the award for the most unreliable player in the NL. He just can't be trusted to be in the lineup when you need him. Carlos has played over 100 games only 3 times in his 8 year career and he has averaged only 84 games played the past two seasons. If you are in a league that locks the lineup for a week there will always be a couple of scoring periods where Quentin will screw you due to his balky knees and it will happen when you most need him. Headaches and grief will abound if you draft him.
Francisco Liriano, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Liriano was the feel-good story of 2013 after struggling so many years with a bad elbow. He finally was able to put all of it behind him and had arguably the best season of his career going 16-8 with a 1.22 WHIP and 3.02 ERA for the upstart Pirates. However, I just can't see a repeat. The elbow is just too fragile and I don't feel comfortable using a high draft pick for him. He's just too risky at this point.