Failing to Meet Expectations

The 2013 Major League Baseball season is five weeks deep and for most fantasy baseballers there are players on their roster who have failed to reach the high expectations had of them.

These expectations were set early in the draft when owners grabbed their first couple bats and their first few arms. While some are reaping the rewards of a Felix Hernandez or a Robinson Cano selection early on, others aren’t so happy.

Those of you who drafted the following players are probably kicking yourself for wasting a top pick—unless you had a great draft in the later rounds. But for those who didn’t, here are some guys that have failed to reach expectations and how those players should be handled.

Josh Hamilton, OF, Los Angeles Angels

With good reason Hamilton was a guy I chose to steer clear of come draft day given the new environment, his struggles in AL West ballparks in 2012 and recent off the field struggles going into his new contract.

Hamilton inked his five-year, $125 million deal this past offseason and has had a similar start to that of Albert Pujols who inked his 10-year, $240 million deal the season prior. Like Pujols, Hamilton will be able to turn things around to an extent with all that talent surrounding him but don’t expect him to do what Pujols did.

Hamilton is struggling to find his zone and he is seeing fewer fastballs go his way (career-low 39.7 percent). He has been swinging at the bendy stuff and this has lead to a 69.5 percent contact rate, also a career-low. If Hamilton is going to turn things around it will be because he’s condensed his strike zone and has become more patient at the plate. Trading Hamilton after he heats up may also be a good idea as well. Trading a hot Hamilton may be harder to do, but getting rid of inconsistency for consistency may be the best route to take. If the former MVP is able to improve those numbers he should be helping two teams push for the playoffs. The only question here is if those improvements are going to be enough?

Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays

If you’re expecting anything more than the power statistics that you’re getting you may want to deal Bautista.
Struggles pertaining to batting average have come into play for Bautista and in three of the last four seasons he has been unable to maintain an above average batting average. Bautista has an ugly .213 batting average and an even uglier BABIP of .197. He holds a career mark of .268 but it seems as though that number will never be touched by him again.

If you’re fortunate enough to have solid average in most other positions, you may be able to get away with holding onto Joey Bats. But for those who aren’t so lucky, dealing him may be the best thing for you and your season.

Matt Cain, SP, San Francisco Giants

Last season it was Tim Lincecum and this season it’s Matt Cain.

In recent memory the San Francisco Giants have had one of the most consistent pitching rotations in baseball and their most successful arm last season was the last starting pitcher in black and orange to garner a win. I wouldn’t be so quick to throw in the towel with Cain.

Cain’s velocity remains the same and his strikeout to walk rate haven’t change either as he’s essentially striking out a batter an inning, with 36 strikeouts, and has only allowed 13 walks in his seven starts. The main difference this year is the long ball. Cain has allowed nine total home runs in those seven starts which match his total for the 2011 season. With that said, those nine home runs have accounted for 14 of the 16 earned runs he’s allowed and because of that I wouldn’t trade him.

At some point he’s going to adjust and pitch like we’re all used to. For a young guy like Cain it’s not a matter of if he’ll make the needed adjustments, but when? Hopefully for me and those who also own him, that time will be sooner rather than later.

Stephen Strasburg, SP, Washington Nationals

Fantasy Baseball - Failing to Meet Expectations - Stephen Strasburg

After winning his first start on Opening Day, Strasburg lost the next four and hasn’t picked up a win since then. But don’t let his Phil Humber-ish start fool you.

The 24-year-old Strasburg hasn’t looked like the pitcher of a season ago but it isn’t because he is pitching poorly. His lack of success is mainly due to poor run support and he’s lost a lot of close games.

Strasburg’s first loss was his only poor start of the season. In that game against Cincinnati he struck out only five, allowed nine hits and four walks in 5.1 innings pitched. That game is the only one in which he didn’t register more strikeouts than innings pitched and he’s allowed just a hit per inning as well. Strasburg is still striking batters out like he did last year and he’s on pace for over 220 this year. Don’t do anything drastic with Strasburg at the moment. A few months from now he’ll be atop the pitcher rankings once again.

Have any questions or disagree with my take? Let me know. You can reach me on Twitter @ThisJustM or leave a comment below.

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