Considering this season's busts for next year

Bryce Harper's Fantasy game should match his hair game next year. (USATSI)
Bryce Harper's Fantasy game should match his hair game next year. (USATSI)

The Fantasy baseball season is winding down. If you're still in the race in your league, keep it up. If not, you probably dealt with your fair share of disappointing players. Selecting a bust early in the draft can singlehandedly sink a team. Identifying which of those players are due for a bounce-back the following season can be the key to winning your draft. For those of you who already have eyes on next year, here are a few players who will be questioned on draft day.

Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers

We've reached a point where his health far outweighs concerns about steroids. Braun's numbers have certainly taken a hit, but he also hasn't been healthy all season. Injuries played a big role in his 2013 decline, and it's now starting to become a legitimate concern. At 30, Braun's not necessarily old, but he's no longer in his physical prime either. 

Chances of a bounce-back: Unclear. Braun will come at a discounted price next season, making him an intriguing pick. But given the injuries, and lack of power, it's unclear that he gets back to hitting 30+ dingers.

Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals

Here's another case where injuries have really hurt a player's value. Harper takes a ton of criticism due to his high profile as a prospect, so it's easy to forget that he's just 21. Most players his age should be in the minors. He's already played 315 major-league games. The injuries are a concern, but his ability is too strong.

Chances of a bounce-back: High. I can't quit Harper and I won't apologize for it. There's a chance he won't be discounted much due to his ability, but that won't stop me from taking him again.

Chris Davis, 1B, Orioles

This is the Chris Davis many Fantasy owners grew to hate early in his career. We're now dealing with a player who has one fantastic season on his resume, one good season on his resume and a lot of poor part-time seasons on his resume. 

Chances of a bounce-back: Low. Maybe the BABIP rebounds and Davis hits .240, but it doesn't look like the MVP-version will be back.

Joey Votto, 1B, Reds

There were power concerns with Votto entering the year, and this season will do nothing to quiet the doubters. Injuries stink, and it makes Votto difficult to evaluate moving forward. He'll be 31 next season, which isn't very appealing, but he still displays an excellent approach at the plate. He won't be considered an elite option at first, and that should help with his value.

Chances of a bounce-back: High. He'll go lower than elite options, but has a chance to get back there again. Maybe he only hits 20 home runs, but he should get back to posting strong averages and elite on-base percentages.

Prince Fielder, 1B, Rangers

Injuries have shown up a lot with these players, and that's no coincidence. Unfortunately, those issues make Fielder impossible to evaluate. He was coming off a down year, and did nothing to alleviate those concerns. On top of that, people have always wondered how long his body would hold up. None of this is good, and Fielder should come with considerable risk next season.

Chances of a bounce-back: Unclear. Injuries are dumb, and it's really tough to evaluate Fielder.

Jason Kipnis, 2B, Indians

Kipnis made huge gains in 2013, but seemed to give them all back in 2014. That's not exactly the case, even though his 2014 line indicates he reverted back to form. Kipnis has shown improvement with his strikeout rate this year, and there's reason to think he's been unlucky with his power numbers.

Chances of a bounce-back: Likely. Maybe he doesn't get back to 2013 levels, but he should hit for more power next season.

David Wright, 3B, Mets

Declining performance, combined with his age, make Wright a worrisome choice next season. There's evidence he'll regain his power stroke, but it's unclear how much pop he has left in his bat. There's a good chance his price is severly discounted next year, which could make him appealing. 

Chances of a bounce-back: Unclear. The age and park make Wright worrisome. At the same time, third base isn't all that strong. 

Carlos Santana, C, Indians

The average will never be all that great with Santana, but 2014 seems extreme. A rebound, which might just be in the .240-.250 range, seems likely here. He still has great skills at the plate and can hit for power.

Chances of a bounce-back: Likely. Don't want to go overboard, but the average should rise next year.

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