Yesterday, I wrote about my most and least valuable pitchers. Today, I switch over to the batters as I begin with my Least Valuable Fantasy Hitter. The player that wins this award is someone who played a majority of the season without injury, but disappointed his fantasy owners. Whether it was a failure to his 25 home runs or drive in 100 batters, this hitter did not live up to his fantasy value. This season, that award goes to Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval.
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Sandoval burst onto the baseball scene in 2008. While he played in just 41 games, he hit three home runs and 24 RBI. His first full season the following year is when eyes began to widen. Twenty-five homers, 90 RBI and a .330 batting average later, he finished seventh in the MVP voting. He had five more successful seasons with the San Francisco Giants before signing with Boston.
Many experts expected Pablo Sandoval to hit close to 20 home runs and 85-90 RBI with a .300 batting average. The Red Sox had a great lineup in Spring Training. It looked like the best hitting lineup in the AL East. While the pitching wasn’t the best, the batters could have carried them to a lot of wins.
Unfortunately, 2015 was not what Red Sox fans and fantasy owners, including myself, expected from Pablo Sandoval. He was drafted as a top-10 third baseman, a 105.2 ADP (11th round) in ESPN leagues. After playing at least 141 games in his last two seasons, he played in just 126 this year. He hit 10 home runs, 47 RBI and a .245/.292/.366 line.
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At the end of the season, Pablo Sandoval ownership percentage was at 25.7 percent of ESPN leagues. He finished as the 51st third baseman and 245th hitter overall on the ESPN Player Rater. There are only 30 full-time third basemen, some more with third-base eligibility and others playing the bare minimum at the position. Yet, Sandoval finished behind 50 of them.
I excluded some of the other disappointing players that missed time due to injury (Yasiel Puig among others). Sandoval played 126 games, which I think is enough to qualify him for this “award.” Using your 10th-round pick on a player who should anchor your offense, but doesn’t defines the least valuable player and that belongs to you, Pablo Sandoval.