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Struggling Stars: Votto, Bruce, Hosmer, Kemp and Santana

This week I will take a look at some good hitters who were highly drafted in your league but are killing their owners. Putting one of your star hitters on the bench is a hard decision to make and it is too important to get it wrong. We don’t want to let emotions and sentiment steer us off track. Don’t allow anger over a player’s slump to trick you into benching a good performer, and don’t let fondness for a favorite player trick you into keeping him in your lineup long after he should have been sacked. Halfway through the season the sample sizes have now grown plenty large enough for us to evaluate our rosters with a discerning eye.

Joey Votto — 1B Reds

The Canadian’s 2014 slash line of .259/.396/.417 pales in comparison to his career .311/.418/.533 record. Votto won’t admit he is playing hurt, but the grimaces and limps during his plate appearances prove otherwise. He missed nearly a month on the disabled list in an effort to allow the muscle strain in his knee to heal. It clearly didn’t work. He is playing in pain and it has severely sapped his power. His OBP is holding steady but his overall performance is drastically degraded. This is not a short term problem and it is going to dog him for the rest of the season. The only way to heal is extended rest and the Reds have said that Votto will continue to play through the injury. The good news is that this type of injury will probably heal itself over the long winter and he will be back to normal in time for the 2015 campaign. Verdict: Damaged Goods. If you are in contention to win your league this year you might want to trade him now. If you are rebuilding you might want to trade for him while his price is depressed.

Jay Bruce — OF Reds

Sticking with the Cincinnati club, their slugging right fielder is also having a subpar season by his standards. Bruce has hit 30+ home runs the last three years in a row, but he only has 7 at the halfway point this year. He did miss about 3 weeks on the DL a while back, and then came back too fast and didn’t even take a rehab assignment. He struggled for a week after coming off the DL but since then has hit the ball quite well. Bruce has always been a streaky hitter throughout his career. Now healthy, I am confident he will perform at his career rates over the rest of the season. Expect a .250 AVG with lots of homers. Bruce has picked up the pace in the stolen base department, having already matched his career high in SBs with 9. The Reds’ new manager Bryan Price has urged the team to be more aggressive on the basepaths this year so I believe Bruce will continue to run and that is a big boost to his fantasy value in roto leagues. Be aware of Bruce’s splits. He hits a lot more homers at home than on the road. You might consider benching him when he is playing in a large stadium against a good pitcher, especially a good lefty. Verdict: The Real Deal. Top 30 fantasy hitter.

Eric Hosmer — 1B Royals

Hosmer has been considered a future star for a long time and has certainly shown brief periods of star level performance, but there have also been extended periods of plain old poor hitting. He is one of the most frustrating players to own in all of fantasy baseball. Chances are you paid a lot to get this guy and he is simply not meeting expectations. I am not bullish on his future. He doesn’t hit for enough power nor enough batting average to justify his reputation. I know he is still young, in fact he is younger than hot shot rookie George Springer. I see Hosmer developing into a James Loney type of hitter. He will do enough to tantalize us and will be considered a perennial sleeper breakout candidate but will ultimately fail to become a consistent fantasy stud. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him put up one monster season sometime in his career, but most years will yield approximately 65 Runs, 15-20 Home Runs, 70 RBI, 10 Steals and a .275 AVG. That is not bad but it makes him merely a borderline starter as a guy who only plays first base. Verdict: Unlikely to reach his potential. Wait for a hot streak then trade him off.

Matt Kemp —  OF Dodgers

This guy was the best player in baseball in 2011. He did it all: 115 Runs, 126 RBI, 39 Home Runs, 40 Stolen Bases and a .324 Batting Average. Fantasy Platinum! Last year he didn’t reach even one third of those totals. Fantasy Kryptonite! Once again Kemp has been a big disappointment thus far in 2014. He used to be an elite 5-category stud. Now he is below average in every single category. Much of Kemp’s decline can be blamed on injuries, all of which seem to be healed right now. He has also missed time due to disciplinary and attitude problems, as well as defensive deficiencies that have seen him lose his role as the Dodgers’ centerfielder and get bumped over to left field. Kemp has played better of late but we need to adjust our expectations. He is no longer a fantasy 1st round draft pick, nor even a 5th round pick. But this guy still has all the talent and tools in the world. He can still pile up the fantasy stats in a hurry for extended periods when he is healthy and playing every day, like he is now. He is a very strong fantasy asset and he is a bit undervalued right now. I think he will have a strong second half. Verdict: Trade Target. Try to snare him but don’t pay anywhere near his 2011 price.

Carlos Santana – C, 1B, 3B Indians

Santana was simply horrible for the first two full months of the season. Then he took a knock to the noggin’ and suffered a concussion that put him out of action for a couple weeks. Ever since then he has been excellent with a 1.015 OPS in the month of June. Santana’s fantasy value depends on what kind of league you play in. He is much more valuable in a points league or an OBP league than he is in a standard 5×5 roto. He will always be a liability in AVG and Steals, but he doesn’t strike out a ton and takes a lot of walks that boost his OBP. He has more value in two catcher leagues and leagues with extra corner infield slots. His newfound multi-position eligibility can be a real boon in some league formats. If the Indians decide to move him permanently off the catcher position his fantasy value will take a dive because his stats won’t look too sweet if he is limited to first base. Verdict: Stud in some formats, Dud in others.

If you have any questions about any other hor or cold players ask them in the comments below. I will reply ASAP! Also, if you make any trades involving the players above make sure to tell me about them in the comments.

Read some more of my recent articles here.

Nick Doran writes all kinds of cool stuff about the game’s ultimate flamethrowers at Blazing Fastball and will answer your baseball questions on Twitter @BlazingFastba11.

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Nick Doran

Nick Doran


  1. […] discusses some struggling stars, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Eric Hosmer, Matt Kemp, and Carlos Santana.  What does the future hold for […]

  2. New to Keeper
    July 5, 2014 at 10:46 am

    5×5 Roto 12 Team 6 Keeper (price = pick)

    Am in 1st. This is my roster after landing Addison Reed in a trade for CJ Wilson.

    I don’t know, if I am being fooled by point total swings.As I had a 17+ lead over the field at one point in June.Now, I have an 8 point lead over 4th. Or if I need to be active in upgrading 2B/OF/SP now.

    Any roster thoughts? Teams aren’t dumping yet. Could get Longo for Seager. However with 3B/CI not a need. Coupled with, the Longo health factor. A bit early of doing that. Harper owner has said he is unavailable.

    Any roster thoughts/names to target?

    R – 9
    HR – 7
    RBI – 8
    SB – 10
    AVG – 11
    W – 5
    SV – 4
    K – 11
    ERA – 12
    WHIP – 12

    C – Lucroy/Rosario
    1B – C.Davis
    2B – Prado
    3B – Encarnacion
    SS – Andrus
    CI – Freeman
    MI – Andrus
    OF – Rios/Pence/Kemp/Martin/JUp
    UTIL – Seager
    DL – Aoki

    P – Felix/Hamels/Samardzija
    P – Reed/Qualls/Allen
    P – Melancon/McGee/Hudson
    BN – A.Wood/Kluber/C.Martinez
    DL – Cashner

    • July 7, 2014 at 2:33 am

      I would do the Seager for Longoria trade. Longo is only 2 years older and has a much better history of excellence.

      You can cut Aoki, especially since you will have to be Encarnacion on the DL.

      With such shallow benches in your league I am guessing there are pitchers more valuable than Carlos Martinez available on the waiver wire. You could sell high on Hudson and Qualls.

      • New to Keeper
        July 7, 2014 at 8:05 am

        Keuchel,Gallardo,Burnett,Dickey,Masterson,Tillman,Estrada,Peavy,Morton Nolasco are available.SP

      • July 7, 2014 at 3:39 pm

        Hmmm. The best of that bunch is Keuchel. Or you could hold onto Martinez for awhile to see if he sticks in the Cards’ rotation and thrives.

      • New to Keeper
        July 7, 2014 at 3:59 pm

        How does losing EE affect what I can do? He still isn’t on DL yet so I don’t have his slot

        Trade SP – i need wins, and with the june starts most of my SP have little trade value..As people arent dumping yet.

        Trade Qualls – I can still move up in Saves and have role uncertainty in a couple of places

        3B – Slide Seager over and makes UTIL BPA

        UTIL – Span,Odor,Wong,Dyson,Vicideo bpa dependent on if i go back to another speed guy or power guy to make up for no EE.

        this leaves Prado in at 2B unfortunately.

  3. Eddie Bingo
    July 7, 2014 at 1:46 am

    Derek Norris (25) or Wilin Rosario (25) as my starting catcher LONG-TERM in a dynasty league? Head to Head categories with one C spot and one Util spot. Offensive stats are R, H, HR, RBI, and SB. You can respond by email. Thanks.

    • July 7, 2014 at 2:25 am

      I would go with Derek Norris. I think he is a better all-around hitter than Rosario. Rosario gets more playing time and hits in the luxurious Coors Field but those are short term concerns. Rosario is less likely to remain at catcher in my opinion as well. Your league doesn’t use batting average, which is Rosario’s weakness. Norris will eventually get a full-time job and it might not be in Oakland, which is a tough place to hit anyway. Both catchers are good players but I prefer Norris long term.

  4. Darren
    July 7, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Better keeper: Rendon, or Kipnis? thanks!

    • July 7, 2014 at 3:28 pm

      Both are really good keepers. I really like Rendon’s bat and he is having a better year than Kipnis, but Kipnis has proven himself as an elite fantasy second baseman. Kipnis separates himself from Rendon with his stolen bases. Kipnis is still fairly young and is only 3 years older than Rendon. I really like both of these players but if forced to choose one I would take Kipnis.

  5. Jeff
    July 7, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Would you trade Garrett Richards for Noah Syndergaard in a dynasty? My team is in a complete rebuild, and I’d be receiving Noah. Is Richards for real? Will he regress in the 2nd half?

    • July 7, 2014 at 3:25 pm

      Hi Jeff, No I would not trade Richards for Syndergaard. Richards is 100% legit. He has the fastest fastball among all starting pitchers, a great K% and all his peripherals indicate he will continue to be one of the better pitchers in the league. Syndergaard has had some injury concerns and even if he reaches his full upside he won’t be better than Richards already is. Syndergaard is a good trade target but Garrett Richards is way too high of a price to pay. Keep Richards!

  6. December 25, 2014 at 9:59 am

    A 14-team, H2H keeper league with realistic previous year salaries – my team in 2015 will be all about risk taking. From Joey Votto AND VMart to Ellsbury and Machado, the risk of seeing regression and injury from my offense is high. I do have a bright spot in Giancarlo Stanton, but I guess a critic could even make a case for him to miss some time in 2015.

    It doesn’t get a whole lot better on my rotation, as broken studs Jose Fernandez and Garrett Richards will be making the leap to next season with me. Joining him will be Mr. Tommy John Waiting-To-Happen Chris Sale, and someone who has already had the infamous surgery in Jordan Zimmermann.

    Rounding out my 10 keepers is Devin Mesoraco, so not exactly a shoe in for guaranteed production there either. And my 3-man minors consists of Joc Pederson, Addison Russell & Lucas Giolito.

    So I guess my point is, am I taking too many risks? I lost in the Finals last year, in part due to the loss of Fernandez, Stanton, Machado, Richards, etc. But making it that far has me torn on what direction to go in 2015. Would you replace any of the 10 with Fister? Shoemaker? Quintana? I don’t see how you could, but am willing to listen to any advice thrown my way.

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