This article is part of our The Z Files series.
There's a mindset suggesting it's unfair to overly scrutinize early draft picks or top auction purchases since there's a whole lot more that can go wrong than go right. The general tenet is to expect the upper end players to simply come close to breaking even, while the rest of your roster generates the profits needed to take down a fantasy baseball league. If a $35 player generates $25 worth of production, he's still a second-round player. How can a second-round player be a disappointment?
In standard auction terms, it takes about $320 worth of production to win a fantasy baseball league. There's more to it than that, as categorical distribution needs to maximize points, but in a nutshell, winners take their $260 draft-day budget and realize around a $60 profit.
As such, a $10 deficit is a $10 burden, regardless if it's your $35 bringing back $25 or a $15 guy dropping to $5. It's another $10 worth of stats necessary to accrue elsewhere. Granted, it's a lot easier for a $35 player to underproduce than overproduce, but a deficit is a deficit.
With that as a backdrop, I'm comfortable calling out the following eight hitters for disappointing pre-break performances. The criteria begin with injuries not playing a part. The fewest plate appearances of anyone on the list is 344. To make the list, the initial expectation was they would be top-50 hitters as determined by the aggregate projections of RotoWire, Baseball HQ and Mastersball. Projected earnings for a