I Surely Won’t Own These 5 Players in 2015

When you examine at end-of-season rankings, some players stand out more than others against the backdrop of their rotisserie-successful peers. But a lot happens in the course of a year. It’s unfair to dismiss the accomplishments of players as something … less than fluke but more than breakthrough … without some thorough investigation.

Some players finally realize their potential and have built a foundation of skills (including the “health skill”) on which their new performance baselines can rest. But others haven’t. And that’s usually reflected in their outcomes the following season. It happens to some players unexpectedly, but some are easy to see coming.

More than a handful of players stick out right away as candidates for that kind of result next year. Too many things went their way, and I wouldn’t expect so many to go in their favor once again. We’ve discussed these players in the podcast at one time or another. Sometimes I think that such players are obvious, but there’s always a proponent or buyer.

OF Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians

Eno Sarris mentioned recently that he saw results of a recent NFBC draft or mock draft – I forget which already, dangit – and this fantasy baseball darling went like 15th overall. I’d already assumed that Brantley’s price would be a little rich for my blood in 2015, and this is only one sample, but my blood will completely reject that type.

Brantley’s .327/.385/.506 slash line, with 20 home runs and 23 stolen bases, in 676 plate appearances in his age-27 season made him a top-five money earner, but these days we know that – generally speaking, only, granted – players are past peak at that stage of their careers. Brantley’s batted-ball rates (28.2% fly balls, 12.7% HR/FB) and average homer distances, even if untrustworthy at face value, indicate that this type of performance isn’t regularly within his grasp, though. The stolen base opportunities will fall with some correction in his batting average, too.

3B Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds

Third base is a dark position. Frazier, who belted 29 homers and stole 20 bases with a .273 AVG, may look like a source of light to the fantasy manager who hopes to cling to some sense of innocence. To pay anything close to what he earned in 2014 seems like it’d be an act of naivete, really, though.

Frazier, a top-50 player this year and age 29 next, shouldn’t see his power take a sudden dive into the abyss. It obviously doesn’t hurt that he calls Great American Ball Park home. Some may see a player who expanded on his 2012 results thanks to a second straight season of 600-plus PAs and, this time, good health. He showed speed in the minor leagues, too, they might say. Frazier simply swings and misses too often to consider his results reliable, however. We’ve also seen far too many examples of players with unimpressive speed scores who put up a lovely SB total one season and fail to come close ever again.

OF Corey Dickerson, Colorado Rockies

I really like Dickerson, 25, another top-50 fantasy asset this season. He’s younger than Charlie Blackmon, another obvious negative-regression candidate, so he’s kind of in the midst of peak-performance mode. Coors Field residents seem to have a better chance to defy expectations set forth by their components.

Dickerson still has a bit of a swing-and-miss issue, though, unlike Blackmon. The former’s advanced statistics against southpaws are more concerning than the latter’s, especially. I probably won’t own either player next year, but, based on initial looks, I might be more comfortable saying that Blackmon’s floor still includes some playing time, whereas I’m less sure about Dickerson’s. Or, at least, if Colorado is pretty healthy in the outfield, Dickerson would probably be a platoon player, while Blackmon would have a better chance to remain a regular.

OF Denard Span, Washington Nationals

I owned this 2014 top-50 rotisserie asset in my 15-team mixed league. It was great. Surely, the Nats will exercise Span’s option for 2015. That might be comforting. Span, 30, didn’t make any vast improvements in his metrics to suggest that this is more than a career year, one filled with good health and maximization of capitalization on opportunities, however. He may age gracefully, but the point is that those things age, and he’s on the wrong side of it. His 2015 projection won’t include a .300 AVG, I assure you.

SP Tanner Roark, Washington Nationals

I owned this top-100 roto commodity in my 12-team mixed league. It was super. Surely, the Nats will give Roark the edge for the club’s fifth spot in its rotation. Pitchers get injured, so if he’s not one of those who does, then his chances go up. But the right-hander, 28 next year, doesn’t have the weapons to be above-average – or, it appears, even average – in terms of strikeouts.

Plus-plus control is nice, and Roark’s fastballs’ movement may help him to continue to suppress hits on balls in play at better-than-average rates, but probably not .265 well in the majors, as he’s done so far. He didn’t do that at any stop in the minors. Eno has pointed out that Roark’s pitch-type peripherals beg for the addition of something in order to believe that the righty can maintain his 2014 level of performance. As we said on the pod, Washington’s move of him to the bullpen for the postseason may be evidence of a Roark reality check, from their perspective, too. He’s a solid end-of-fantasy-rotation piece  in mixed leagues and probably not much more.

Nicholas Minnix oversaw baseball content for six years at KFFL, where he held the loose title of Managing Editor for seven and a half before he joined FanGraphs. He played in both Tout Wars and LABR from 2010 through 2014. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasMinnix.

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No mention of Derek Jeter?