A couple weeks back, we discussed the players who were ranked outside the top-100 coming into this season and handed out the Fantasy MVP. However when it comes to Fantasy Baseball, it is not all rainbows and sunshine. Fantasy Baseball is a zero-sum game in that for every pleasant surprise out there, there are massive disappointments and wasted early round picks. With that in mind, we will be discussing the 2015 Fantasy Baseball LVP.
We will focus on players who were drafted in the top-100 and severely under-performed while on the field.
First, a look at some of the runner ups who weren’t quite awful (or drafted high enough) to win this “award”. These players are ranked by their pre-season draft position.
Jeff Samardzija, SP, Chicago White Sox Pre-Season Rank: 92
Samardzija signed with the White Sox during the off-season with the hope that he would help propel them towards contention. Instead, Samardzija turned out to be a bust and did not come close to helping any of the fantasy teams he may have been on. While it is nice that he led the American League in shutouts, he also led the American League in hits allowed, earned runs, and home runs allowed.
Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B Washington Nationals Pre-Season Rank: 73
If not for some spring training injury concerns, his pre-season rank would have been higher. Rendon had his breakout season in 2014, hitting .287 with twenty one home runs and seventeen stolen bases while leading the NL in Runs with 111. There were high hopes for the Nationals and Rendon was a contributing factor to this. Instead, he succumbed to the cloud of under-achievement that seemed to impact all of his teammates not named Bryce Harper or Max Scherzer. Instead, Rendon put up below average offensive numbers (ninety-one OPS+) in eighty games.
Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs Pre-Season Rank: 67
Soler got called up in late-2014 and had a mini-breakout hitting .292 with five home runs in twenty-four games, leading many to hope for a breakout in 2015 which helped drive up his pre-season value. While the Cubs had their breakout in 2015, Soler saw his performance take a step backwards as he only hit .262 with ten home runs over 101 games.
Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds Pre-Season Rank: 65
As the old adage goes, you cannot steal first base. While Hamilton did fulfill expectations in the speed department, stealing fifty-seven bases, he was an absolute liability elsewhere, hitting only .226 with four home runs. The fact that he played for a Reds team that spiraled down the road to nowhere also limited the amount of runs (fifty-six) that he scored in 2015.
Jose Reyes, SS, Toronto Blue Jays/Colorado Rockies Pre-Season Rank: 46
While it was clear that the best days were behind him, there was still hope that Reyes could be a solid fantasy asset due to his ability to steal bases and hit for a strong average. While he made some contribution in both of these areas (.274 average, twenty-four stolen bases), his overall performance was well below something you would want to see out of a top-fifty draft pick.
Ian Desmond, SS, Washington Nationals Pre-Season Rank: 25
Coming into this season, hopes were high for both the Nationals and Desmond. The high hopes for the Nationals crashed and burned, and Desmond’s under-performance was one of the many reasons why. Even though he was coming off three consecutive twenty/twenty seasons, this year he failed to reach this threshold for both home runs and stolen bases. To add insult to injury, he also only hit .233 in 2015.
Yaisel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers Pre-Season Rank: 18
After a solid all-around 2014 season, expectations were high for Puig in 2015. Granted, he was limited to seventy-nine games but he didn’t do much to justify his early draft position during those games, hitting .255 with eleven home runs while only stealing three bases.
Robinson Cano, 2B, Seattle Mariners Pre-Season Rank: 14
Despite decreased offensive numbers in 2014, Fantasy expectations were high for Cano coming into this season based on his performance with the Yankees. If this article was written at the All-Star break, Cano would have had a good chance at “winning”, as he was hitting .251 with six home runs. A strong second half allowed his final numbers to look much more respectable. However, the standard of performance is much higher for players with pre-season ranks this high.
Carlos Gomez, OF, Milwaukee Brewers/Houston Astros Pre-Season Rank: 8
I love the way Gomez plays and has fun playing baseball. I (along with many other people) loved his fantasy value coming into this season as he was coming off consecutive seasons hitting .284 with twenty-three+ home runs and thirty-four+ stolen bases. From a fantasy perspective, there was not much to love this season, as he dealt with nagging injuries and put up pedestrian numbers at the plate (.255 average, twelve home runs, seventeen steals).
And the “winner” of the 2015 Fantasy Baseball LVP Is:
Hanley Ramirez, SS/OF, Boston Red Sox Pre-Season Rank 15
After a strong (albeit injury marred) stint with the Dodgers, expectations were high for Ramirez when he signed with the Red Sox. He disappointed fantasy owners and the Red Sox with his performance on the field. For an average draft position of fifteen, he rewarded owners with a .249 average and nineteen home runs. This doesn’t even take into factor his defense, which was absolutely awful (-2.5 dWAR), and the fact that the Red Sox were actually worse off with him playing 105 games (-1.3 WAR).
In the end, the race to the bottom was between Gomez and Ramirez and compelling cases could be made for either. While Ramirez did have better power numbers, he also hit for a lower batting average and did not contribute as much in the stolen base department. Based on this, Hanley Ramirez is the Fantasy LVP.