Fantasy Baseball Cut List: Top 5 Star Drops to Make for Week 22
For every fantasy owner, there comes a point in the season when a should-be stud just isn't cutting it—so it's time to cut him. That's what this is all about: Letting you know it's OK to let go.
Difficult late-season drops can come in all shapes and sizes, from that third-rounder not living up to expectations to the injury-prone star who just can't get and stay healthy to a midseason pick-up who broke out then flamed out.
We get it: Once you've invested in a player and become attached, it's not so simple to say so long. But sometimes, it's for the best. After all, the stakes only get higher and the standings more solidified the longer you wait for a turnaround or rebound that might never come.
With owners everywhere making a push for the playoffs—and a shot to win it all—numbers become more important than names. Even the big ones.
What follows is a batch of players who either were selected as early draft picks or looked like surefire starters at one time, only to have since become cut candidates for one reason or another.
But don't worry: Each player comes complete with suggestions for readily-available replacement options. Because as science says, for every drop, there should be an equal and opposite addition.
Scott Kazmir, SP, Oakland Athletics
2014 Fantasy Statistics: 14 W, 3.08 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 132 K (158.0 IP)
Hey, Scott Kazmir has been great this year, certainly better than just about anyone could have hoped, even after his solid comeback campaign in 2013. Heck, the 30-year-old lefty made the All-Star Game after missing just about all of the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
Thing is, because Kazmir has such a recent history of being, well, injured and not-so-good, he's tough to rely on with complete certainty the way an owner would with just about any other starter with Kazmir's numbers.
And in case you're still caught up in the narrative, there's a chance you might not have noticed his performance of late. His post-break ERA is 5.09, and over his past four turns, Kazmir has allowed 20 runs on 36 hits in 28.2 frames while whiffing just 16.
Don't feel like you have to cut Kazmir, but don't feel like you can't, either.
Replacement Options: Collin McHugh, SP, Houston Astros (42.6 Percent Owned); Shane Greene, SP/RP, New York Yankees (9.1 Percent Owned); Hector Santiago, SP/RP, Los Angeles Angels (7.7 Percent Owned)
Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland Indians
2014 Fantasy Statistics: .251 BA, 53 R, 6 HR, 39 RBI, 19 SB (457 PA)
Jason Kipnis' digits are down this year due, to an extent, to his right oblique strain. But even if he hadn't missed any time, the only category in which he still would be performing up to expectations is stolen bases.
The injury very well could be part of the reason for the 27-year-old Kipnis' decline with the bat after he hit .284 with 17 homers last year. But the "why" isn't really important at this point, is it?
What is? Kipnis clearly won't live up to the second-round pick you used to land him back in March. Don't feel like you owe him—or yourself—anything anymore just because of that.
Replacement Options: Scooter Gennett, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers (35.5 Percent Owned); Jedd Gyorko, 2B, San Diego Padres (31.4 Percent Owned); Arismendy Alcantara, 2B/SS/OF, Chicago Cubs (17.0 Percent Owned)
Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati Reds
2014 Fantasy Statistics: .221 BA, 64 R, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 12 SB (458 PA)
Like Kipnis, Jay Bruce missed some time early in the year with injury. In fact, he underwent left knee surgery that cost him almost three weeks in May.
Owners who were frustrated by the 27-year-old's slow start (.220 BA, 3 HR through April) were willing to give Bruce a break, perhaps figuring that some of his struggles could be attributed to that ailing knee.
Well, so much for that theory: Bruce has shown decent pop (11 HR, 41 RBI) and some surprising speed (7 SB) since returning, but his .222 average in those 81 games proves he just hasn't hit any better overall.
While it's risky to get rid of a player like Bruce, who has been streaky in the past and could put up a solid September, that's merely hoping on a whim rather than doing something concrete. Like picking up one of the players below.
Replacement Options: Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Minnesota Twins (36.1 Percent Owned); Josh Reddick, OF, Oakland Athletics (38.0 Percent Owned); Drew Stubbs, OF, Colorado Rockies (42.9 Percent Owned)
Chris Davis, 1B/3B, Baltimore Orioles
2014 Fantasy Statistics: .190 BA, 54 R, 23 HR, 62 RBI, 2 SB (465 PA)
Man, if you haven't given up on Davis already, well, what are you waiting for exactly?
Even after the 28-year-old's monster 2013 campaign—oh what you'd give for even two-thirds of those 53 homers and 138 RBI!—the red flags remained.
Davis always has sported a scary strikeout rate (31.2 percent career), but following an ever-so-slightly better 29.6 percent rate last year, it's spiked to a ridiculous 34.0 percent. No wonder it's nearly September and his batting average starts with a ".1".
So while it's nice that Davis recently gained third-base eligibility, that's not nearly enough reason to keep him around. Simply unloading his heinous average could help your team gain some traction in that category, even in the final month.
Replacement Options: Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, Detroit Tigers (39.4 Percent Owned); Trevor Plouffe, 3B, Minnesota Twins (36.2 Percent Owned); Steve Pearce, 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles (47.3 Percent Owned)
David Wright, 3B, New York Mets
2014 Fantasy Statistics: .266 BA, 49 R, 8 HR, 56 RBI, 6 SB (537 PA)
Um, what happened to David Wright? The former fantasy stalwart has turned in an impossibly poor season, easily the worst of his 11-year career.
In some ways, that's part of why Wright has been so bad—he's 31 now. But the other factor is that he's been dealing with a right shoulder injury that has hampered him for much of the second half.
Whatever the reason, here are Wright's stats since the break: .215 BA, 8 R, 0 HR, 8 RBI, 2 SB.
Do you really want to hang on to that just because you took him in the third round? Or because he used to be a big-time performer?
Replacement Options: Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, Detroit Tigers (36.4 Percent Owned); Trevor Plouffe, 3B, Minnesota Twins (36.2 Percent Owned); Justin Turner, 2B/3B/SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (15.8 Percent Owned); Conor Gillaspie, 3B, Chicago White Sox (16.3 Percent Owned)
Statistics are accurate as of Aug. 28 and come from MLB.com, Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com, except where otherwise noted. Players suggested as replacement options must be owned in less than 50 percent of leagues, according to ESPN Fantasy Baseball.
To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11