Our Baseball Professor league is a combination dynasty/re-draft league. We keep 12 players apiece each year and then fill out the bottom half of our rosters with whatever’s left over in the draft. The result is a rather weak draft pool populated with borderline top-100 players and a few spring training gems sprinkled in. Occasionally there’s one player that everyone wants, and a flurry of trade proposals ensue as teams jockey to move up to first overall in the draft.
The league is a lot of fun, so fun in fact that I just lost my train of thought explaining how it works. I’m still giddy about having the first overall pick this past year and having months to decide between Miguel Montero, Brandon Beachy, or trading the pick (I went with Montero). Why was I explaining it again?
But back to Beltran. The point I was making from the outset of this post was that depending on your league’s format, it might be time to cut struggling stars. And boy, is Beltran struggling.
On August 12 I dealt Andrew McCutchen and a high draft pick in 2013 for Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Josh Willingham. Losing such a valuable outfielder hurt, but the pitching upgrade was totally worth it. Two days later I traded Adam Wainwright for Carlos Beltran. Perfect! I just traded McCutchen and Wainwright for Lee, Halladay, Willingham, and Beltran. That’s a total win.
For the most part it has been a win…aside from Beltran. Since that fateful day, Beltran has gone into a tailspin. Since August 14, the day I pulled off what I thought was a great trade, Beltran has gone 19-for-93 (.204) with just one homer, four RBI, eight runs scored, and three stolen bases. The rules of proper writing dictate that I spell out all numbers less than 10, so the fact that I have to spell out every single one of Beltran’s stats over a 28-game sample (notice I didn’t have to spell that out) isn’t a good sign. He’s been abysmal. But is he now droppable?
With just two weeks left in the season, what are the chances Beltran rebounds? Is it better to cut bait now and go with the many hot bats available on free agency (see our Spot Start Squad post series)?
In short, it’s time to cut Beltran. He’s still hitting line drives at the same rate he has all season, over 20 percent, but he’s no longer hitting fly balls. In fact, in September he’s hitting ground balls 2.14 times as often as fly balls. That means you’re not going to get homers. And, aside from a three-steal effort back in August, Beltran isn’t going to steal bases. He has a .135 ISO in September, which just continues the downward trend from his spectacular May. He remains a good option in OBP leagues (well, good for a hitter who’s been living in the low .200s for a couple months now), but he isn’t even a good keeper due to concerns regarding age, injury, and his current tailspin.
The end is near for Beltran. Heck, it might even be now. To decide what to do, let’s look at some scenarios.
Best Case Scenario
Beltran continues to struggle, except he does it on someone else’s team. And that team probably used their waiver priority to get him, which might bump you up in case you need to use it. The guy you added in Beltran’s place continues to rake and becomes a permanent fixture of your team’s outfield, potentially propelling you to a championship. Also, you look like a genius.
Most Likely Scenario
Beltran continues his mini hitting streak for a couple days and pops another homer over the next two weeks, but for the most part he’s just a borderline top 100 or 150 player. Even though he would have produced a little for you over the last two weeks, the guy you added in his place continues his hot streak, which is still hotter than Beltran’s been. You probably decide to make a couple more add/drops with this roster spot until the end of the season, but the cumulative result is a net positive. You don’t look like a genius, but you look like a shrewd manager and have instilled fear in your leaguemates hearts because you’re not afraid to make the tough decisions.
Worst Case Scenario
Beltran gets going again. In the last two weeks he puts up a .280 average with three or four homers, and even adds in a steal for good measure. It’s like he knows what you’ve done. You play all the right matchups, but nothing goes your way. In the end you come up just a bit short, and your leaguemates ridicule you for losing faith in one of the best players of 2012. You are the butt of every joke during the long, five-month offseason, and in your fantasy draft next season you feel compelled to draft Beltran just so you can save face. Instead of reproducing his stellar 2012 numbers, he stumbles through April before pulling a hamstring trying to beat out a grounder to second. He winds up on the DL with team doctors saying he’ll be back in three weeks, but instead he occupies your team’s DL spot for two months before coming back and blowing out both his knee and your team’s chances of making the playoffs.
(But that probably won’t happen.)
Players to Add in Beltran’s Place
- Colby Rasmus (45% owned)
- Norichika Aoki (32%)
- Brandon Belt (22%)
Would you drop Beltran? Or would you add someone else? The comments section exists for a reason!