In last week's column, I discussed some of the underachieving starting pitchers who were purchased for a hefty sum, 20 bucks or more, at the Mixed Auction Tout Wars draft table. Let's switch over to the hitting side this week, and while I maintain my stance that investing heavily in hitters rather than pitchers is the safer route, this doesn't mean that all of the expensive hitters are sure things. On that note, here are my picks for the five most disappointing 20-plus dollar hitters relative to draft cost. Fortunately, none of these guys reside on my Tout Wars roster, though I was involved in the bidding for a few of them. Sometimes, you just need a little bit of luck.
Giancarlo Stanton ($39) - There's nothing wrong with 14 homers through 63 games. But when those 14 homers are tied to a .213 batting average (.313 OBP), a mere 34 RBI and a $39 price tag, there's something wrong. Plus, Stanton is whiffing at a career-high rate and only two of his 14 home runs have come in the month of June. The good news is that he has managed to stay healthy, and the streaky slugger is the type of hitter who can carry your offense when he's hot. I'm not too concerned. The Marlins outfielder actually makes for a fine trade target if he can be acquired at a discount.
Andrew McCutchen ($38) - Aside from a declining stolen base total, McCutchen has been one of the game's most consistent across-the-board fantasy producers for quite some time now, and he carries added value in OBP leagues like Tout (career .383 OBP). Coming off four straight seasons of at least 21 homers, 83 RBI. 89 runs scored and a .400 OBP, McCutchen seemed like a fair buy at $38, and I was in on the bidding until the end. As it turns out, the Pirates centerfielder sports an uninspiring .317 OBP through 70 games along with a career-high strikeout rate and career-low walk rate. The optimist can point out that he's still on pace to finish the season with 22 homers and 85 runs scored. But after showing some positive signs in May, his bat has again gone cold this month (.259 OBP, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 5 R). There's still time for the 29-year-old to get his season back on track, but I wouldn't blame McCutchen owners, especially those in non-OBP leagues, if they choose to swap him for a respectable return.
Carlos Gomez ($26) - Gomez did spend the second half of May on the DL, so his numbers are slightly deflated by the missed time. Still, there's really nothing positive to say about his 2016 season, though eight steals in 53 games is decent. Maybe his .292 AVG (.361 OBP), three homers and three swipes in June is a sign that Gomez has finally figured things out. Or maybe not. I wouldn't go out of my way to trade for him at this point. On the other hand, I wouldn't go out of my way to deal him for pennies on the dollar.
Prince Fielder ($24) - After being sidelined for most of the 2014 season, Fielder bounced back nicely last year, delivering a .305-23-98 stat line. This season has been a different story. Not only is Fielder on pace for only 13 home runs, but his OBP through 70 games sits at .272, this compared to his career .382 mark. Track record aside, considering that he has yet to piece together any sort of hot streak, I'd look elsewhere for buy-low opportunities.
Yasiel Puig ($21) - Heading into this season, there was a great deal of hype surrounding Puig, with many fantasy pundits deeming him this year's ideal discounted player, the kind of player that wins championships. I wasn't quite buying it. In his only full season, back in 2014, the Cuban import posted a .296-16-69-92-11 line. Pretty good, but injuries and inconsistency have plagued him for most of his big league career, and is 21 bucks truly a discount? This year, he's on pace to finish with .249-13-45-52-9 totals in a season that has yet again included a DL stint. Perhaps an MVP season lies in the 25-year-old's future, but as long as the market continues to overvalue him, I'll continue to bet against it.