Posted: Wednesday September 29, 2004 12:44PM; Updated: Wednesday September 29, 2004 12:44PM
Juan Gonzalez managed only 138 plate appearances in 2004.
Dave Kaup/Getty Images
As the 2004 regular season winds down, some of you are still putting the final touches on a championship. But for the majority of us, we're trying to figure out where it went wrong.
If you had some of the following players for any extended period of time, you're probably in this position (or at least relying on some real studs to make up for it).
Here are my picks for the 2004 All-Dud Team. In most cases, these are players who drew plenty of attention and bidding in the spring but were major underachievers (and were possible candidates for my reverse fantasy league). Injuries are taken into consideration here, depending on the situation.
American League: Jason Giambi, Yankees A variety of health problems sapped Giambi of his strength and his numbers suffered terribly as a result. Be wary where you get Giambi next season.
National League: Richie Sexson, Diamondbacks He barely played a month before a shoulder injury ended his season. At least it gave teams plenty of time to make up for an expensive mistake. Montreal's Nick Johnson also deserves a look here for doing little after coming back in midseason from an injury.
AL: Bret Boone, Mariners It says something about the lack of depth at the position when a down year from Boone still ranks him among the top second basemen in the AL. His power tailed off slightly and there was a severe decline in runs scored and RBIs. For what it's worth, Alfonso Soriano's numbers declined a bit as well, too, but his drop still looks better than Boone's.
NL: Jose Reyes, Mets Much was expected of him after finishing 2003 with a flourish. Instead, injuries kept him on the bench for most of the season. He'll likely switch places with Kaz Matsui next year, but it shouldn't affect his fantasy value much.
AL: Angel Berroa, Royals A September surge notwithstanding, it was a lost season for the reigning AL Rookie of the Year, who was demoted to work on both his offense and defense. Rich Aurilia, now in San Diego, was also considered
NL: Kaz Matsui, Mets He started on a high note, hitting a homer in his first big-league at-bat. But he hit just six after that. And he barely broke double digits in steals after many expected 30-plus. Injuries also cut his season short.
AL: Eric Hinske, Blue Jays He seems to make news with all the stats that aren't necessarily counted in fantasy leagues (like the 45 doubles out of 109 hits last year). This year, his average is still in the .240 range, but the OPS isn't even .700 as his extra-base hits have slumped badly. He does have double-digit steals, but he nearly has double-digit caught stealings. That 2002 Rookie of the Year season seems so long ago now.
NL: Morgan Ensberg, Astros He surprised many by hitting 25 homers in just 385 at-bats last year. He aggravated many by not hitting his first homer until July 2 and having to split time with the unheralded but surprising Mike Lamb.
AL: Joe Mauer, Twins He was solid when he actually played, hitting .308. But he had just 107 at-bats due to a variety of injuries. Otherwise, I'd go with Toby Hall, who's improving gradually, but possibly not enough for fantasy owners waiting for that big season.
NL: Mike Piazza, Mets Sure he had injury issues, but it's hard to believe that players like Brandon Inge, Jason LaRue and Rod Barajas have more RBIs in fewer at-bats.
AL: Vernon Wells, Blue Jays After a huge 2003, many expected at least the same production. Instead, his homers and run production tailed off badly. He was sidelined with a calf injury in June, and Carlos Delgado's problems also hurt Wells' numbers.
AL: Juan Gonzalez, Royals Was anyone surprised that he played just 33 games?
AL: Brian Jordan, Rangers You don't necessarily expect superstar stats from him, but you do expect decent numbers that complement your studs. Instead, he missed most of April and was sidelined from late May to late July with injuries. And when he did play, he was terrible, as his average didn't break .200 until early September, although he has been hitting well down the stretch.
NL: Sammy Sosa, Cubs His problems have been chronicled all year. Sure, he's still broken the 30-homer mark, but he's not driving anyone in or hitting for average. He's turned into Tony Batista (and Batista has surpassed 100 RBIs).
NL: Marlon Byrd, Phillies A strong second half in 2003 appeared to set the stage for a breakthrough season. Instead, he was sitting in the .220 range all season long with no power or steals to show for it. That led to a trip back to the minors.
NL: Preston Wilson, Rockies Playing in Coors doesn't help if you're spending most of your time on the DL. A knee injury sidelined him from mid-April to mid-June and then knocked him out for good in late August. He finished with a .248 average and just six homers. He never did make the most of his brief time on the active roster.
AL: Barry Zito, A's There were rumblings he might be traded after the season, and after this pedestrian performance, you'd have to wonder how much value he has.
AL: Roy Halladay, Blue Jays The last two AL Cy Young winners stumbled badly this year, further proving how unpredictable starting pitching can be. He just returned after a lengthy stint on the DL in the second half.
AL: Esteban Loaiza, White Sox/Yankees You could also throw Javier Vazquez and Mike Mussina into the mix, but we'll give it to the 2003 Cy Young runner-up, who somehow made it back to the All-Star Game despite very average numbers for the White Sox. Then the Yankees picked him up and wondered whether Loaiza is Spanish for "Steve Trout."
NL: Mark Prior, Cubs The Achilles injury sidelined him longer than usual, and he's still trying to recover fully from a variety of injuries. He's not the dominant force just yet. Although if he has it all together, don't be surprised if he turns in a Josh Beckett-like performance in the playoffs.
NL: Randy Wolf, Phillies I've never been a big fan, but many expected big things from him, and instead he turned in just a 5-8 record with a 4.28 ERA before elbow problems knocked him out for the year.
NL: Kip Wells, Pirates Last year, he was a vastly underrated pitcher whose win-loss record was partly due to bad run support. This year, he was just plain average.
AL: Arthur Rhodes, A's He was dominant as a setup man, and Oakland has a knack for finding productive closers. However, Rhodes proved that he's a better setup guy than a closer, which is why the electric-but-erratic Octavio Dotel is Oakland's closer now.
AL: David Riske, Indians When Danys Baez was let go, it appeared Riske would grab the saves. But he blew two opportunities to start the season and only had five overall as he gave way to former stopper Bob Wickman, who's done reasonably well.
NL: Joe Borowski, Cubs Many people wondered when he'd lose the job when the Cubs picked up LaTroy Hawkins in the offseason. It happened in late May when Borowski tore his rotator cuff, finishing his season with nine saves and an ERA above 8.00.
NL: Matt Mantei, Diamondbacks At least Borowski wasn't blowing many saves until the end of his stint. Mantei was just 4-of-7 in save chances with two losses and an ERA of nearly 12.00 before his season was done. He's too much of a risk.
Oscar Azocars update: With just a few days left, I'm still in eighth, although I lost ground in the chase for seventh thanks to three wins from Cliff Lee and Shawn Estes. For some reason, I had Michael Barrett's 1-for-14 on the bench, while big weeks offensively from Julio Lugo and Jay Payton helped sink me. And then there's Tony Batista, who went 3-for-25, but all three hits were extra-base hits.