Ryan Boyer

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Fallback Hitters

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Last week I took a look at hitters that are likely to see an uptick in their performance from last year. This week, it’s time to look at the other side of the coin.


The following hitters, for one reason or another, are likely to see a downturn in their performance in 2012 and might be overvalued by those in your draft room. Don’t make the mistake of reaching too far for these guys in hopes that they’ll duplicate their 2011 numbers.


You can find projections for the following players and hundreds of others in the 2012 Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide. It’s the best way to get ready for your fantasy draft.


Mark Trumbo, 1B, Angels

Trumbo’s production in 2011 jumped up and surprised everyone, as the then-25-year-old belted 29 home runs and drove in 87, numbers that helped him finish runner-up to Jeremy Hellickson in the AL Rookie of the Year race. There are myriad reasons why a fallback is in order, though. The first is that Trumbo doesn’t have a regular starting position. He’ll be worked into the mixed at third base, the outfield and in the DH slot, but if Kendrys Morales is healthy and Bobby Abreu isn’t traded, at-bats could be hard to come by. The second is that he’s coming back from a stress fracture in his foot, and although at the moment he’s expected to be ready for Opening Day, a setback is certainly possible. There’s also the fact that with a horrid 25/120 BB/K ratio, Trumbo simply isn’t a very disciplined hitter and could eventually be exposed. I’d avoid him in mixed leagues.


Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Indians

Like Trumbo, Cabrera had a breakout year in 2011. Unlike Trumbo, he had had some prior major league success, but his power surge came out of nowhere. Cabrera banged out 25 longballs last year, exceeding his previous career high by 19 bombs. While I do still like Cabrera plenty and think he’ll provide a good amount of value in 2012, it’s unrealistic to think that a guy who had 18 homers over 1,610 major league plate appearances coming into last season suddenly blossomed into a bona fide power hitter. I wouldn’t be surprised if his home run output drops by at least 10 in 2012.


J.J. Hardy, SS, Orioles

Hardy came into the 2011 campaign having produced two straight injury-shortened, disappointing seasons, but he finished the year with a new three-year, $22.25 million contract extension after blasting a career-high 30 homers while finishing fourth among shortstops with 80 RBI. There’s ample risk associated with expecting a repeat performance, though, as Hardy has a lengthy injury history and had a career-high flyball and HR/FB rate in 2011. If he stays healthy, he’ll be fine, but he won’t be as good as he was last year.


Jhonny Peralta, SS, Tigers

Peralta found his first full season in Detroit very much to his liking, as he produced the second-best offensive season of his career, hitting .299/.345/.478 while earning his first trip to the All-Star game. The former Indian will turn just 30 in late May, so he should still have some juice left. Another 20-homer season is in reach, as he had three of them prior to last year and will be playing in a more hitter-friendly home park than he had in Cleveland. That .299 average isn’t repeatable, though, as Peralta enjoyed a bloated .325 BABIP and had previously hit above .276 just once coming into the year.


Jeff Francoeur, OF, Royals

Francoeur’s first season in Kansas City was a good one, as he reached the 20-homer plateau for the second time in his career, finished behind only Miguel Cabrera with his 47 doubles and came out of nowhere to swipe 22 bases. Frenchy should remain an asset against left-handed pitching, but his plate discipline is still terrible and he can get buried against right-handers that have a clue. And while adding speed to his game was nice from a fantasy perspective, his effectiveness as a basestealer faded as the year went on and he probably won’t have the green light as often in 2012.


Melky Cabrera, OF, Giants

Cabrera enjoyed a breakout year alongside Francoeur in Kansas City, and his performance in 2011 was even more surprising, as he set career highs across the board while topping the 200-hit mark. The Royals, smartly realizing that the Melkman wasn’t likely to repeat the numbers in 2012, shipped him to the Giants for Jonathan Sanchez. The 27-year-old landed in a more pitcher-friendly home park, will have less protection around him in the lineup and probably won’t run as much as he did in last year. Cabrera seemed to be refocused in 2011, getting himself in much better shape, but even if the improved commitment is for real, he won’t be nearly as good in 2012 as he was this past season.


Lance Berkman, OF/1B, Cardinals

Berkman was one of baseball’s best comeback stories in 2011, making it official when he took home NL Comeback Player of the Year honors. Like Cabrera, Big Puma’s improved workout regimen contributed greatly to his bounce-back season, but, unlike Cabrera, Berkman just turned 36 and the reality is that he’s going to enter the decline phase at some point. A return to first base will probably help keep him healthy, but Puma slugged just seven of his 31 bombs in the second half last season and isn’t a good bet to approach 30 longballs again. We’re probably looking at another effective season in 2012, but one that might not produce another All-Star appearance.

Ryan Boyer is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter.
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