Crawfish Fantasy: Shameful Man-Crushes

Duane Burleson

How many chances does a Fantasy Flame get on your team before you realize that the honeymoon is over?

To: illinibob
From: CRPerry13

Hi Bob,

For this week's Fantasy topic, I'd like to discuss those players who were your unreasonable man-crushes. This isn't for guys like Miguel Cabrera or Bryce Harper - guys who are obviously elite. Rather, who are the players that you just couldn't quit, despite all the evidence indicating that they're terrible? Were your reasons personal, club-related, or just one of those things you can't explain?

My first two fantasy man-crushes were Chris Shelton and Mike Jacobs. 2005 wasn't the first year I played fantasy baseball, but it was my first time in a keeper league. I knew nothing about small sample sizes, BABIP, minor league performances...nothing like that. All I knew was that those guys totally raked.

In 2005, here were their lines:

Chris Shelton: 61 R, 18 HR, 59 RBI, .299/.870 (388 AB)
Mike Jacobs: 19 R, 11 HR, 23 RBI, .310/1.085 (100 AB)

I could do enough math to know that Shelton was on a 30-homer pace and that Jacobs was on a 60-homer pace. These guys were simply destined for super-stardom. So out of my 3 keepers, I kept Jacobs (along with Jose Reyes and Gary Sheffield), and drafted Shelton really early.

Now, a zillion minor league games later, we know the truth. Honestly, I'm not sure why Shelton did not stick, and to this day I think he could have played DH or LF and been an improvement for some clubs (w'sup, Houston?). He K'd a ton (but less often than Chris Carter), but he sustained his power numbers and walked at a respectable rate. Jacobs, on the other hand, didn't live up to his rookie numbers, got linked to HGH, bounced around the league, and aside from one 32-HR campaign in 2008 with the Marlins that was devoid of any other contributing stat, he was never better than below-average. Other guys I just couldn't set aside early in my fantasy manager career included Milton Bradley, Daniel Cabrera, and Scott Olsen.

I'll get to recent players in my next reply. Who were your first fantasy players that got way more chances on your team than they should have?

To: CRPerry13
From: illinibob

Good topic! I started playing fantasy in 1994 and didn't know much of anything, other than picking players I liked. My big dollar expenditure was Carlos Baerga. I remember drafting 4 or 5 starters of the Tim Belcher variety . My first minor leaguer was Johnny Damon I believe . My hitting was pretty decent but my pitching stunk.

Later I was obsessed with a big brawny 1B from Texas named Brad something. (Chris, I will look this up later, I'm in the airport now). Not so good.

I went through a phase where I was obsessed with the rookie prospects. Not understanding they were usually pretty lousy for their first few years. Names like Jeremy Bonderman. I had him for YEARS!

I usually tried to draft guys with good BA. Guys like Michael Brantley . Or back in the day young phenoms like Jose Guillen. Came up as a 21 year old and hit 14 bombs, slugged .412. Repeated those numbers again in 1998. I was SURE he was about to explode! He wasn't fantasy relevant again until 2004!

To: illinibob
From: CRPerry13

Brad Wilkerson? He landed on a bunch of my rosters too. He was supposed to be a beast! Jose Guillen wound up on several of my teams also, and I kept him for a few seasons. I don't think that was an irrational fantasy man-crush though, as Guillen had a few monster seasons, and averaged about 25 HR and 85 RBI from 2003 to 2008. I did hang on to him too long, though. Great fantasy player.

The modern-day guys I can't give up on are a little harder to identify. For a couple seasons, I drafted Brandon Wood at the end of every draft, hoping he would live up to his monster PCL numbers. He never did. Likewise, I was high on Ryan Raburn and Kyle Blanks for several seasons, neither of whom have panned out so far. In my favoritest league, somebody dropped Kendrys Morales, and I was happy to get him back for free after he was the MVP of my 2009 and early-2010 club. I really think he's past his broken leg injury and is ready to go back to a .300 hitter with great power, but I am honest enough to admit that it might also be wishful thinking on my part.

From a more local standpoint, Bud Norris always seems to land on my roster at some point during the season, but I always regret it. It's like getting back together with an old girlfriend. You expect it to be better than it was in the past, but in reality, it's as messy as you remember. A new addition to my "unreasonable expectations" list is Carlos Gomez. I realized recently that I had drafted him in every single league this season. That can't be healthy.

Who is on your current list of guys you keep giving unreasonable chances to?

To: CRPerry13
From: illinibob

Wilkerson, YES!

I traded for Ryan Rayburn last year, and held on to his .160 BA entirely too long. I have a well known man crush on Jason Castro, we shall see how that works out. My teams are off to good starts this year, so we will see how the Josh Donaldsons and the Trevor Plouffes work out......and Lucas Harrell is killing my WHIP, but leading one of my teams in wins! This year I spent a LOT of money on Jay Bruce, who seems to be awakening from his slumber.....does he have 35-40 bombs in him again?

* * *

And how about the readers? Who were the players that you were unreasonably attached to?

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