First Half Underperformers: Draft Day Disappointments

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This article first appeared in the Metro news publication.

The All-Star break has arrived, and it’s time to take stock of the first half’s best and worst performances. Here now is the 2017 All-Disappointments team – players who have undelivered value on their preseason average draft position.

Last week, I looked at the best bargains of the first half. Today, I’ll cover the players who haven’t lived up to their draft cost thus far.

Editor's note: Get a free one-week MLB Premium Pass including our famous Lineup Optimizer/Generator, Premium Matchup Ratings, DFS Lineups, Cheat Sheets, and 10 other tools. Sign Up Now!

 

Players Who Have Underperformed

Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy, Texas Rangers (ADP: 56)

Lucroy suffered through an injury-marred 2015, but enjoyed the best season of his career last year, hitting .292 with 24 homers, 81 RBI, and even chipping in five stolen bases. The pendulum has swung violently in 2017, as he’s put up a middling .256/.303/.364 line with just four home runs. While Lucroy is making more contact than ever before, it’s frequently been of the weak variety, and he’s having trouble elevating the ball.

First Base: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (ADP: 16)

For more than a decade, Cabrera has been among the game’s most reliable stars. From 2004 to 2016, he averaged the following line: .323 AVG, 99 R, 33 HR, 115 RBI, 3 SB. Combined with extreme durability (his first-ever stint on the disabled list came in 2015), this production made him arguably the safest asset in fantasy. Unfortunately, this season has been a much different story. Cabrera has already landed on the DL once and has admitted that he’s playing through multiple injuries right now. That explains his merely mortal performance: .267/.356/.444 with just 11 homers.

Second Base: Jonathan Villar, Milwaukee Brewers (ADP: 21)

Villar broke out in a big way last season, leading the majors with 62 stolen bases while also batting .285, scoring 92 runs, and hitting 19 homers. He’s been one of the worst everyday players in baseball this season, hitting just .213 and on pace for half as many steals. While the pop hasn’t gone anywhere, he’s walking less and whiffing more. In tandem with BABIP regression, that’s tanked his offensive value.

Third Base: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles (ADP: 9)

Machado’s counting stats aren’t too bad – he’s on pace for another 35 HR season and about 90 RBI – but he’s been a big batting average drain this year. A player with his contact ability should never be hitting .228. There’s a bit of poor luck at play here, but Machado has also seen his pop-up rate climb and shown an extreme pull tendency on his grounders, both of which will suppress batting average. He’ll need to start using the whole field again to get back to his usual elite level of production.

Shortstop: Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies (ADP: 30)

Story dominated as a rookie, posting a .272-67-27-72-8 line in just 97 games before injury ended his season. Like the last great homegrown Rockies shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki, year two has been a significant struggle. Story’s already dangerous strikeout rate has ticked up, and his pop-up rate has nearly doubled. Those changes have caused his batting average to crater, and he’s also hitting for less power.

Outfield: Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs (ADP: 77)

Lots of strikeouts, lots of pop-ups, and lack of footspeed is a combination that all but guarantees a player will be a batting average liability, but nobody expected Schwarber to be hitting under .180 at the break. He just returned from a demotion to the minors, and the Cubs will need him to get back on track if they’re going to defend their title.

Starting Pitcher: Johnny Cueto, San Francisco Giants (ADP: 41)

There were plenty of candidates for this spot, but we’ll give the dishonor to Cueto, whose lousy performance is emblematic of the Giants’ nightmarish 2017 season. By basically any measure, Cueto is having his worst season in years. He’s giving up a ton of home runs and hard contact, walking more batters, and even having more trouble with controlling runners.

 

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