Friday, October 7 2022

The term “bust” may be harsh for some, but the following players are being overvalued in fantasy baseball drafts. For sleepers, go here.

Gallen was already being drafted well above my ranks before a shoulder injury delayed his start to the season. He looked healthy during his spring debut, but Gallen has good-not-great peripherals and should struggle for wins while pitching for one of the worst teams in baseball.

He better come at a real draft discount now that he’s also dealing with shoulder questions.

Riley is a fine hitter coming off a strong breakout season, but he’s jumped from going after pick 225 in NFBC Main Events last year to having a top-45 ADP in Yahoo leagues right now. That’s quite a leap for a player with one of the league’s highest K rates and with zero career steals. There are similar third basemen (Matt Chapman, Justin Turner, Josh Donaldson) going 125+ picks later.

Rutschman has an extremely bright future, but you’re betting against history counting on a catching prospect immediately hitting major league pitching successfully. And not only is he saddled in Baltimore and constantly facing elite pitching in the AL East, but Camden Yards became less of a hitter’s park over the offseason by moving its left-field fences back significantly.

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Moreover, Rutschman is set to miss the start of the season after suffering a triceps strain, so there’s no reason he should be going before Alejandro Kirk.

Story signed a big offseason contract while switching leagues during the offseason, leaving the best hitter’s park by a wide margin in Coors Field to one in Fenway that hurts right-handed power. The Red Sox also recorded the second-fewest steals in baseball last season, and Story is slated to bat sixth against righties in Boston — while learning a new position at second base as well as a new set of pitchers in the AL.

This doesn’t exactly feel like the year to spend a third-round pick on Story.

Stroman is a perfectly fine pitcher, but he’s also a 31-year-old who just posted a career-best K% that still ranked in the 35th percentile in the league. There’s no way Stroman should have a higher ADP than Alex Wood, Joe Ryan, Jon Gray, Alex Cobb, John Means, Bailey Ober, Triston McKenzie — and more.

Grandal is the fourth catcher off the board in Yahoo leagues and nearly 40 spots ahead of Daulton Varsho. Grandal sports a career .229 expected batting average, so he could easily finish with a similar line to Mike Zunino, whose ADP is 150+ picks later.

Castillo saw a dramatic decrease in K rate last season and was already going to have to deal with a Reds team trading away its best players while also pitching in the best hitter’s park in baseball outside of Coors Field. And now he’s also dealing with a shoulder injury that will require him to open the season on the IL. It was head-scratching that Castillo’s Yahoo ADP was higher than Yu Darvish, Logan Webb, Trevor Rogers, Justin Verlander and Dylan Cease (among others) before his injury.

Luis Castillo #58 of the Cincinnati Reds could bust for fantasy baseball draftersLuis Castillo #58 of the Cincinnati Reds could bust for fantasy baseball drafters

Luis Castillo is fully on the fantasy baseball bust radar. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Quantrill posted a 7.28 K rate last season yet somehow has a higher Yahoo ADP than Alex Wood, Joe Ryan, Jon Gray and Bailey Ober? Come again?

Only seven qualified pitchers last year finished with a worse K-BB% than Quantrill (12.0), and the Guardians should offer some of the worst run support in the league. What’s not to like?

Colorado Rockies: Kris Bryant

Obviously, Bryant saw a massive fantasy boost when he signed in Colorado, but his helium has gotten out of control in some places. Remember, he’s 30 years old, fresh off signing a gigantic contract, doesn’t run much and is safe to project missing 15-20 games. Draft accordingly.

Detroit Tigers: Eduardo Rodriguez

Rodriguez was going at pick 230 in NFBC Main Events last season; this year he’s going 100+ picks earlier despite posting a 4.74 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP and going from a playoff contender to the Tigers. Rodriguez is a ground ball pitcher, and Detroit had arguably the league’s worst defense last season (although they added Javier Baez). E-Rod was unlucky last year (his xERA was 3.50) and may even have another level in him, but this is still a Tigers pitcher with an extensive injury history and a career 1.31 WHIP who’s somehow being drafted ahead of Michael Kopech.

What a world.

Houston Astros: Ryan Pressly

Lance McCullers was too easy given he’s sidelined with a flexor tendon injury that has his season in serious jeopardy. Cross him off your list.

So instead, let’s go with Pressly, solely because of concerns about his velocity being way down. Pressly is one of the best relievers in baseball and in a terrific situation closing for Houston, so hopefully, it’s just a normal case of a pitcher’s velo being down at this time of year. Otherwise, Hector Neris is going to be a top-five type fantasy closer this year, especially with the Astros’ secret sauce now to his advantage.

Kansas City Royals: Whit Merrifield

Merrifield has missed a total of zero games over the last three years (and just four the season before that). While staying healthy is obviously a positive, just realize his stats are very much of the compiler variety. In other words, Merrifield’s .711 OPS last year ranked 115 out of 132 qualified hitters. His Statcast page is cold as ice. It certainly helps that Kansas City lets its players run wild on the base paths, but Merrifield is 33 years old, will be moving to a new position in the outfield and just hit 10 homers over 720 plate appearances last season, so he seems like a stretch as a top-35 pick.

Every time Merrifield is drafted ahead of Byron Buxton, an angel loses its wings.

Los Angeles Angels: Jo Adell

The first critique with projection systems would likely be that they are often too pessimistic when it comes to prospects, but selection bias may play a big part here (prospects do mostly fail right away, but we tend to overly remember the rare ones who hit big immediately). Put differently, it certainly wouldn’t surprise if Adell made a leap this season, but drafters are expecting a MAJOR one, as his ADP is around 200 in Main Events (and rising since Justin Upton‘s release). That’s higher than Jorge Soler, Randal Grichuk, AJ Pollock, Julio Rodriguez and Charlie Blackmon despite extremely modest projections (The BAT X ranks Adell as the #70 outfielder and has him hitting .237/.291/.413).

Los Angeles Dodgers: Andrew Heaney

Heaney absolutely has fantasy upside (his 5.83 ERA last season came with a 4.04 xERA), especially with the Dodgers providing a ton of run support. But the biggest issue of his career has been allowing too many homers — his career HR/FB% (15.9) would’ve ranked bottom-five in MLB last season. While Dodger Stadium is considered a pitcher’s park because it suppresses run scoring, it’s also increased home runs a whopping 26 percent over the last three seasons, which is the second-most in the NL (and twice as much as Coors Field over that span). Another ugly ERA may be in store for Heaney (draft Tony Gonsolin instead).

Miami Marlins: Jazz Chisholm

After a hot start last year, Chisholm hit .231/.282/.386 (.668 OPS) over the final 100 games. Of course, all stats count, but there’s a real chance his performance in April goes down as a gigantic outlier. Projection systems have Chisholm batting in the low 230s this season, yet he has a top-85 ADP in Yahoo leagues. And while I’m all for reaching for steals, realize that after going 10-for-10 on the basepaths to open last year, Chisholm was caught on eight of his final 21 SB attempts. His home park also destroys lefty power (Marlins Park has decreased HR for LHB an NL-high 19% over the last three years), and Chisholm may also be moved down to ninth in Miami’s lineup.

Milwaukee Brewers: Devin Williams

I get why Williams is being drafted in the middle rounds despite being a middle reliever, as he has a ton of upside should things break right. There’s no question he’s one of the best relief pitchers in baseball, so at worst he’ll help your ratios. But he has MLB’s elite shutdown closer ahead of him on the depth chart, and Jake Cousins could also be a sneaky threat for saves should Josh Hader get hurt. Cousins’ 35.2 K% would’ve ranked top-10 among relievers had he qualified last year.

Minnesota Twins: Carlos Correa

The Twins were the most difficult for this exercise, but Correa has some red flags while having to pay up for his career season last year. He’ll be joining a new organization after signing a huge offseason contract in Minnesota, which is a definite downgrade in home parks for right-handed power (Target Field has decreased HR for RHB by 12% over the last three years, whereas Houston has increased them by six percent). Don’t forget Correa missed an average of 64 games per year over 2017-2019 (and 2020 was only 60 games).

New York Mets: Chris Bassitt

Bassitt certainly landed in a favorable spot for his fantasy value now calling home to Citi Field, but the move also bumped up his ADP. A 33-year-old with a modest K rate coming off back-to-back highly fortunate FB/HR seasons, The Hound shouldn’t be going ahead of at least a dozen pitchers below his Yahoo ADP.

New York Yankees: Joey Gallo

No player sees his fantasy value change more in OBP leagues. Gallo should be considered among the favorites to lead MLB in home runs this season, but it’s tough rostering a possible sub-.200 batting average (he’s hit .181 and .199 the last two seasons). Gallo’s expected batting average (.203) was also the lowest in the league last season, so this isn’t a luck factor. Batting average can fluctuate greatly, but Gallo is the only hitter I cross off my board given his risk of tanking a category.

Oakland A’s: Ramon Laureano

Laureano hits in one of baseball’s best pitcher’s parks and should struggle with counting stats in the league’s worst lineup. His average exit velocity was in the bottom quarter of the league last season, he’s dealt with plenty of injury problems in the past and he’s set to miss the first month of 2022 while finishing his 80-game PED suspension.

Philadelphia Phillies: Zack Wheeler

All signs currently point to Wheeler being ready shortly after the start of the season, but he’s still being drafted as a top-12 starter in Main Events, which seems awfully risky for a pitcher who experienced shoulder soreness during his winter throwing program. Purely performance-wise, that’s about where a fully healthy Wheeler’s ADP should be. And we haven’t even discussed the expected issues with Philadelphia’s new defense.

Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies

As good as Zack Wheeler has been, he comes with serious question marks in 2022. (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Pittsburgh Pirates: Chris Stratton

Stratton’s ADP has been on the rise since the Pirates announced plans to share closer duties, but David Bednar is simply a far superior pitcher. Don’t worry about any role definition in early April, as Bednar has the potential to develop into one of MLB’s true shutdown relievers and quickly take over Pittsburgh’s closer’s role for good.

San Diego Padres: Blake Snell

Snell was a massive disappointment last season, posting a 4.89 xERA despite leaving the AL East for PETCO Park. Watching him labor on the mound can be tortuous, as his high K rate comes at the expense of constantly being deep in counts (and too many walks). Snell admittedly had a strong second half last year, but he’s also a big injury risk. And apparently, San Diego’s new pitching coach guru has fixed everyone but Snell in spring.

Don’t be surprised if MacKenzie Gore has a better fantasy season.

San Francisco Giants: Jake McGee

McGee posted a 0.91 WHIP last season and was just named the Giants’ Opening Day closer by manager Gabe Kapler, so his fantasy managers are feeling awfully good about grabbing him five rounds after Camilo Doval. But I’d argue McGee’s fantasy value may never be higher than right now in 2022, as the difference between his peripherals and Doval’s are dramatic.

It’s possible McGee manages one more year living on the edge while in a clearly defined one-inning role in which he never enters with base runners on. I wouldn’t bet on it, however, especially when there’s an absolute monster waiting in the wings (not to mention Tyler Rogers is also a better option to close).

Seattle Mariners: Logan Gilbert

Eugenio Suarez is too easy of a pick after he went from a hitter’s paradise in Cincinnati to one of the best pitcher’s parks in MLB, so let’s offend a bunch of people and go with popular breakout pick Gilbert.

What if I told you there was someone being drafted as a top-40 SP who posted a 5.48 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP after the All-Star break last season, allows extremely hard contact while not throwing strikes and plays for a team projected to have a losing record with a bad defense.

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Is that someone you might be interested in?

A leap is certainly possible at this stage of his career, but that’s beyond expected at Gilbert’s ADP.

St. Louis Cardinals: Tommy Edman

The BAT X projects a lowly .715 OPS for Edman, whose new manager has moved him from leadoff to eighth in St. Louis’ lineup this spring. Edman remains appealing with steals so tough to come by but realize he swiped just two bags over 200+ ABs in 2020.

Tampa Bay Rays: Luis Patino

Patino isn’t the hottest take, but the Rays don’t have great candidates (everyone expects Mike Zunino’s power to regress), and the young hurler is buzzy enough to have a similar ADP to intriguing pitchers such as Roansy Contreras, Tylor Megill, Tony Gonsolin and Huascar Ynoa. Last season’s 5.03 xFIP suggests pain could be in store for Patino in the AL East this year.

Texas Rangers: Marcus Semien

Semien is a 31-year-old coming off a career-best season that resulted in a huge free-agent contract. He went from hitting in the best possible environment last year (Dunedin and Buffalo were more favorable than Coors Field) to a pitcher’s park now in Texas (Globe Life Field is among the worst places to hit for right-handed power). Other than that, Semien looks like an excellent target now that his ADP is five rounds higher than last year.

Adolis Garcia is another Texas player to fade this season.

Toronto Blue Jays: Kevin Gausman

Gausman’s splitter wasn’t the same when he wore down over the second half of last season (4.42 ERA, 1.37 WHIP), but it’s hard to ignore how truly dominant he was before the All-Star break (1.73 ERA, 0.82 WHIP). Gausman’s performance last season was fully legit, but it’s worth noting a sharp Giants organization never even made him an offer to re-sign, and now he’s going back to the AL East. Gausman also goes from a pitcher’s park (while the changes in SF have resulted in more run scoring, Oracle Park remains one of MLB’s toughest places to homer from both sides of the plate) to a venue in Toronto that’s boosted homers for lefties a whopping 38% over the last three seasons (second-most in baseball).

Yet, Gausman is being drafted as a top-15 fantasy starter in Yahoo leagues.

Washington Nationals: Lane Thomas

Thomas has an extremely short sample of moderate success in the majors after a career of mediocrity in the minors (.755 OPS across nearly 2,000 at-bats). If you’re looking for someone platooning and hitting toward the bottom of the lineup, then Thomas is your guy!

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Source: Yahoo Sports


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