Joe Mauer is not playing up to preseason expectations.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
As the first half of the 2010 baseball season approaches its finish, it's time to evaluate our rosters and make changes.
We can look at our lineups and see who is playing above expectations. For those players, we must determine if they will keep playing at the new higher level, in which case we want to keep them, or will revert to their "normal" playing level in which case we want to trade them while they are at their peak fantasy value.
We must also look at the other end of the spectrum...at those who have disappointed us. If we determine that they will continue to falter, then we must either cut them or trade them for what we can. Or, if we think they will improve, we can determine to "stay the course."
Below are the top-10 hitting failures for the first half of 2010. Not because they haven't hit the ball at all, some have on occasion, but because they haven't hit up to our preseason expectations.
It was just last year that Joe Mauer was hitting the ball out of the ballpark with regularity, wasn't it? Those fantasy owners who thought that his 28 home runs in 2009 was his "new" production level, however, are sadly mistaken. The Minnesota catcher, who's previous high was 13 homers in 2006, has reverted back to a "doubles hitter." Whether it is the new ballpark, Target Field, or simply a return to his normal power level is yet to be determined, but there is no mistaking last year was a "career year' in regards to home runs. What might be more concerning to fantasy owners is the fact that this career .324 hitter is batting just .297.
Is Mauer having a "bad" first half? No. It's just that he's not playing up to preseason expectations. If you can live with the lack of home run power, you should still hang on to Mauer as his batting average is sure to rise over the second half of the season. He's a career .315 batter after the All-Star break.
Next in line for disappointing fantasy owners is Pablo Sandoval. While his .270 batting average isn't horrible, it's certainly not the .330 batting average he posted in his rookie campaign. He's not hitting for the power he did in 2009 (25 HR vs. 6 this season) and it's a bad sign that the team has moved him all over the lineup instead of keeping him in the coveted No.3 hole. Sandoval has batted fifth, sixth or seventh in 20 games this season and in a weak-hitting lineup like the Giants, that means less opportunities to knock in runs and be knocked in. As a fantasy owner, we are left to wonder whether last year was a fluke, or he's just in an early season slump. With just 1,145 plate appearances to his name, it's difficult to evaluate, but I'd have to say last year was above average and you should trade him now while other owners can still remember 2009.
A pair of Blue Jays also appear on the list - Aaron Hill and Adam Lind.
Hill was coming off a "monster" year in which he hit 36 homers, knocked in 108 runs and scored 103 runs. He was likely a top-five selection at second base and to date, he's not producing like even a top-10 guy. Batting a sub-Mendoza Line .190, Hill has 11 homers, but just 30 RBI and 31 runs scored. A number of much lower selections at second base, like Marin Prado, Ty Wigginton, Rickie Weeks, Howie Kendrick or Kelly Johnson, are out-producing Hill and his ADP of 39.
Lind was also coming off a big 2009 campaign - 35 HR, 114 RBI, 93 runs, batting .305. He's been only slightly better than Hill in 2010, batting a meager .207 with 11 HR and 38 RBI.
Unfortunately, you will never get equal value in return for either Hill or Lind, so my best advice is sit them on your bench until they heat up.
The remainder of the "flop" list were selected within the first 10 rounds back in April, but aren't performing anywhere near our expectations. Of them, at least Figgins is giving you stolen bases with 10 in the last 16 games. And Wieters has some long-term value in keeper leagues. The other four should be jettisoned as you can find equal or better value in the free agent market.