There were a lot of hitters who suffered from poor luck in 2011. Let’s take a look at the ten worst, as well as their potential to improve and bounce back in 2012:
1) Vernon Wells – Los Angeles Angels – .214
The fact that he struggled was not surprising, but a lot of his issues stemmed from some terrible luck. However, seeing him get back to where he was in Toronto is going to take more than just improving his BABIP. He regressed in his strikeout (16.3%) and walk (3.8%) rates. He also appeared to be trying to hit home runs, with a career high 48.1% fly ball rate, and failed to hit the ball with authority, with a 12.3% line drive rate. It all adds up to the fact that if you are shopping for bargains, you will likely want to look elsewhere.
2) Alex Rios – Chicago White Sox – .237
We recently discussed Rios in great detail, so make sure to click here for a closer look. The bottom line was that he is going to be well worth the flier, as long as you keep your expectations in check. If you are looking for 30/30, you are going to be disappointed. If you are thinking 15/25 and .280, you could easily get yourself a bargain.
3t) Mark Teixeira – New York Yankees – .239
Another player that we’ve already discussed (click here to read more), it appears like playing in Yankee Stadium has gotten into his head. Over the past three years he has posted the highest fly ball rates of his career, at 43.8%, 45.5% and 46.8%. When you are clearly swinging for the fences, you are going to end up with a lower than expected BABIP. He’s a top level talent, and is going to continue to be a 30/100/100 threat. However, it has become apparent that he is not going to be the .300 hitter he once was without making a philosophical change to his approach.
3t) Evan Longoria – Tampa Bay Rays – .239
Average was the only place that he actually struggled in 2011, posting 31 HR, 99 RBI and 78 R in 483 AB. He wasn’t overly swinging for the fences, with a 44.7% fly ball rate (compared to a 43.1% mark in ’10). Considering he had posted BABIP of .300 or better in each of his first three seasons, this number screams aberration (especially considering that his strikeout rate continued to improve). We’ll take a much closer look at him over the course of the offseason, but there is no reason to shy away from him.
5) Ian Kinsler – Texas Rangers – .243
He flashed power once again, which resulted in an increased fly ball rate (47.1%). We’ve been down this path with him before, after he posted a .241 BABIP in 2009 when he really swung for the fences (54.0% fly ball rate resulted in 31 HR). Of course, those are the two seasons where he posted 30/30 years. If we are going to get that from him, we will all “deal” with a lower average, won’t we?
6) Kurt Suzuki – Oakland Athletics – .244
Another disappointing season for Suzuki. It’s the second straight year he had a below average BABIP (.245 in ’10). This comes despite making consistent contact (12.4% strikeout rate) and hitting the ball with authority (20.1% line drive rate). I know we are all frustrated by him, but that only makes him scream opportunity. As other owners label him a bust and ignore him on draft day, you will be able to swoop in during the late rounds (or off the waiver wire) and reap the benefits. He’s a risk, but there’s a good chance that there’s a reward.
7) Casey McGehee – Milwaukee Brewers – .249
Even if you expected a regression, did you really expect this? The fact of the matter is that he wasn’t as good as he showed in 2010 (.285, 23 HR, 104 RBI, 70 R) and he’s not as bad as he showed in 2011 (.223, 13 HR, 67 RBI, 46 R). The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, though it will be interesting to see if he gets the chance to show it in Milwaukee. We’ll have to take a wait and see approach before determining how much risk we want to take.
8) Dan Uggla – Atlanta Braves – .253
It was an awful start to the year, but by the end he was producing just as expected. He has a habit of trading .300+ BABIP years with poor ones, but last year was by far the worst. Maybe there was pressure in living up to the hype with a new team? That seems possible, as his BABIP over the final three months were .328, .377 and .281 (he was under .200 each of the first three months). Given his finish, there probably is no “sleeper” value, but there also is no reason to be concerned.
9) Yuniesky Betancourt – Milwaukee Brewers – .259
The fact is that Betancourt doesn’t offer much value for fantasy owners. He’s a career .268 hitter (he was at .252 in ’11), has no speed and has never hit more than 16 HR. You certainly could do better elsewhere.
10) Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians – .263
Poor luck helped to sabotage his 2011 campaign. While he hit .239, he still posted 27 HR, 79 RBI and 84 R. He struck out more than anticipated (20.2%), something that you would expect him to improve upon. Given the other numbers, would it be a surprise if he emerges as the top catching option in the league? He’s a fixture in the Indians lineup (he also sees time at 1B) and should reap the benefits of much better luck in 2012. He’s a definite buy.
Make sure to check out all of our preliminary 2012 rankings: