The term “bust” may be overly harsh for some of the following players, who are overvalued based on ADP compared to my rankings. For my sleepers, go here.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Madison Bumgarner
Over the last two seasons, Bumgarner recorded a 2.48 ERA in pitcher-friendly San Francisco compared to a 5.16 ERA on the road. That’s oversimplifying it, and the humidor has made Chase Field less of a hitter’s park, but THE BAT projects a 4.68 ERA and Steamer projects 4.70, so it’s hard to understand why he’s being drafted as a top-35 SP (his expected ERA was 4.41 last season).
Bumgarner has turned in one of the best postseason performances in the history of sports, owns a career 0.25 ERA in the World Series (36.0 innings), and is a national treasure, but he won’t be on any of my fantasy teams in 2020.
Atlanta Braves: Mike Soroka
He’s a good pitcher but brings extra injury concern, and you’re buying into someone who just posted a 2.68 ERA with a 7.32 K/9 rate. In other words, he’s almost certain to regress after outperforming his peripherals, and Steamer goes so far to project a 4.21 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. The difference between his ERA (2.68) and xERA (4.05) was the fifth-biggest gap among 108 qualified starters last year, so 2020 isn’t the time to target Soroka.
Baltimore Orioles: Hunter Harvey
He throws extremely hard and has been mentioned by manager Brandon Hyde as an option to close in Baltimore. But Harvey posted a 5.56 FIP in Double-A last season, and projection systems aren’t optimistic about him helping the Orioles much in 2020. Mychal Givens is the better draft pick and a sleeper for saves.
Boston Red Sox: Brandon Workman
J.D. Martinez will soon be 33 years old, continues to deal with chronic back problems, will no longer benefit from Mookie Betts hitting in front of him, and saw sharp declines in Barrel% and exit velocity last year, so I’d also caution drafting him at cost. But Workman enters as Boston’s closer after posting a 1.88 ERA despite a 5.65 BB/9 ratio, and Matt Barnes is just simply the better pitcher.
Chicago Cubs: Anthony Rizzo
A notorious slow starter (although one could counter that skipping April to start in the summer months would help here), Rizzo is dealing with “rib head inflammation” and dates his back issues to 2014. First base isn’t a deep position anymore, but with so many variables in this weird season, adding any known issues isn’t advised. I’d prefer Josh Bell over a fully healthy Rizzo anyway.
Cincinnati Reds: Luis Castillo
Castillo oddly has a top-12 ADP among SPs despite posting a 4.30 ERA two years ago and a 4.78 ERA during the second half of last season. He ran hot during the first half, recording a 2.29 ERA despite 53 walks over 106 innings (.224 BABIP). Castillo is a very good pitcher who’s mistakenly being treated as a great one in fantasy drafts. The Reds’ defense could be ugly.
Cleveland Indians: Carlos Carrasco
I obviously hope I’m wrong here, but I’m contractually obligated to declare one player per team, and as someone with a compromised immune system, Carrasco carries extra risk.
Colorado Rockies: David Dahl
He’s incredibly injury prone, and the Rockies face a tough schedule outside of Coors Field. Dahl posted a .751 OPS on the road last season and is going to see a bunch of pitcher’s parks in 2020. Also, don’t draft Wade Davis, as Scott Oberg will likely overtake the closer’s role.
Chicago White Sox: Alex Colome
His 2.80 ERA last season came with a 4.08 FIP, and closers are volatile enough without walking nearly three batters per nine innings. Colome enters with the job, and the White Sox are a sleeper to win a bunch of games, but Aaron Bummer will likely be the better pitcher in 2020. Also, realize there’s a real risk (to go along with upside) with Luis Robert.
Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera
There aren’t many bust options in Detroit (you won’t hear me bad-mouthing Matthew Boyd, that’s for sure), so let me advise you to aim higher than banking on a bounce back from the 37-year-old. Cabrera’s Yahoo ADP is higher than Eric Thames, Justin Smoak, Yandy Diaz, and C.J. Cron, which is silly.
Houston Astros: Kyle Tucker
He’s a fine prospect likely to eventually provide a nice power/speed combo (while hitting in the .240s), but Tucker is slated to be a bench player this season. Of course, injuries are going to happen, and this is an especially fluid season, but there are similarly interesting fantasy outfielders going at the same stages of drafts who aren’t entering the season in a reserve role.
Kansas City Royals: Ian Kennedy
A move to the bullpen was huge for Kennedy last season, but there are countless examples of relievers unable to repeat out-of-nowhere performances like this. THE BAT projects a 5.27 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP for Kennedy, who’s yet to be named KC’s closer.
Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout
With his wife expecting their first child, Trout is likely to eventually miss a week (now nearly 12% of the season) at minimum, and there’s also a real chance he sits out 2020 altogether. He’d have to fall to the third round for me to take the gamble, and that’s not happening. There’s also a strong chance Ty Buttrey overtakes Hansel Robles as LA’s closer.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Will Smith
He’ll help the Dodgers plenty, but fantasy managers need to realize Smith played well over his head as a rookie. He can still be a top-10 catcher with a low BA, but Steamer projects .225, so realize he’s a risk in that category (like most catchers). Kenley Jansen also carries extra risk, arriving to camp late after testing positive for COVID.
Miami Marlins: Jon Berti
One of the best surprises last season, Berti is intriguing in fantasy as someone shortstop-eligible who runs, as steals are harder to come by. But Berti is also a 30-year-old with a career .703 OPS over 3,000+ at-bats in the minors, and he enters 2020 without a defined starting role and calling one of baseball’s best pitcher’s parks home. Berti is more likely to help the Marlins as a baserunner in extra innings than he is your fantasy team, yet his Yahoo ADP is somehow higher than Nomar Mazara’s.
Milwaukee Brewers: Lorenzo Cain
I like Cain just fine as a bounce-back candidate, but as an injury-prone 34-year-old his Yahoo ADP (159) shouldn’t be so much higher than teammates Ryan Braun (244) and Avisail Garcia (245). I’d rather either of the latter even at the same draft cost.
Minnesota Twins: Eddie Rosario
It’s all about cost here, as Rosario should be a fine hitter in 2020, but his Yahoo ADP shouldn’t be anywhere near higher than Jorge Soler, Nick Castellanos, and Marcell Ozuna (among many others). Teammate Max Kepler will provide similar (if not better) fantasy stats and has an ADP 60+ picks later.
New York Mets: Wilson Ramos
It’s nice to be in a loaded lineup, but that also means Ramos will hit toward the bottom of it and won’t benefit with extra ABs from the new universal DH. Ramos is oddly being drafted as a top-eight catcher despite coming off a season in which his Barrel% was in the bottom 20th percentile, while his expected slugging and xwOBA weren’t much better, and he hits in arguably the best pitcher’s park in baseball.
New York Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton & Aaron Judge
I trust neither to stay healthy. Stanton’s calf only recently returned to 100% after supposedly being questionable for the original Opening Day (and playing just 18 games last year), while Judge’s rib fracture could still require surgery to fully heal, and he’s missed time recently with a new neck issue. Without question, Stanton and Judge are two of baseball’s best hitters (in a terrific fantasy situation), but both need more of an injury discount than what’s typically being shown at draft tables.
Oakland A’s: Ramon Laureano
I’m doubling down with my statement here, giving teammate Stephen Piscotty a 45% chance of being the better fantasy player than Laureano in 2020. Laureano shouldn’t have a higher Yahoo ADP than outfielders Marcell Ozuna, Andrew Benintendi, and Franmil Reyes.
Philadelphia Phillies: Zack Wheeler
He’s moving away from baseball’s best pitcher’s park, as Citi Field has decreased run scoring by 17% over the last three seasons, which is five percent more than the second-best pitcher’s park. Philadelphia, meanwhile, has increased homers by an MLB-high 24% over that span. Wheeler recorded a 4.00 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP when not pitching in Citi Field last season and is also unsure whether he’ll even play in 2020 with his wife due to give birth later this month.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Mitch Keller
He has a bright future, but Keller likely isn’t ready to help fantasy teams in 2020. He’ll eventually put up big strikeout numbers, but Keller’s WHIP is going to be a major drag in the meantime. Also, with Keone Kela yet to report to camp, Kyle Crick looks increasingly likely to open as Pittsburgh’s closer.
San Diego Padres: Tommy Pham
He’s just a bit too much of an injury risk to be treated as a top-20 outfielder. Pham elected not to undergo surgery after playing through a torn UCL last season when he appeared in 140 games for the first time in his career. He then tested positive for COVID in early July. But the DH should help, and a healthy Pham would be huge for San Diego and fantasy managers. The Padres are quietly dangerous to make a deep postseason run as soon as this year.
Seattle Mariners: Mallex Smith
Another team without many candidates here, Smith is the most popular fantasy player on Seattle thanks to his legs, but there’s a lot to not like about the rest of his game. Last year his expected batting average (.219), Hard Hit% (19.8) and exit velocity (84.3 mph) all were in the bottom 4% of the league, and he’s also not a good defensive player (making him a greater risk to lose his job than most speedsters). Smith should hit at the bottom of Seattle’s lineup, was late arriving in camp, and is likely to hurt you in all but one fantasy category.
San Francisco Giants: Tony Watson
There aren’t any Giants being drafted aggressively in fantasy during the team’s rebuild phase, and their projected closer is a 35-year-old lefty coming off a shoulder injury. San Francisco shouldn’t win many games, and management is willing to mix and match the ninth-inning role (Tyler Rogers is a sleeper for saves).
St. Louis Cardinals: Jack Flaherty
He’s coming off arguably the best second-half ever when he recorded the third-lowest ERA (0.91) since 1920 during a season that saw 671 more homers hit than ever before. This one is more “overvalued” than bust for sure, as Flaherty is the real deal, but he clearly benefitted from a .242 BABIP last season, will no longer benefit from no DH and shouldn’t be consistently drafted ahead of Clayton Kershaw. Flaherty’s xERA was 3.36 last season (nearly identical to his actual ERA the year before).
Tampa Bay Rays: Austin Meadows
A shorter campaign cuts both ways when it comes to injury-prone players, as while it’s certainly easier to get through a full season this year, one trip to the IL now costs more than 15% of the season. Meadows has the potential to be a fantasy monster but just realize he has an extensive injury history. That said, the Rays are absolutely loaded and my pick to win the American League (assuming their pitchers report).
Texas Rangers: Danny Santana
Santana is coming off a major outlier performance while approaching age 30, so it’s easy to expect regression in 2020 even before factoring in Texas’ new park that will no longer feature a jet stream. Santana is eligible at five positions, but there’s a real chance he’ll be mostly used on fantasy benches or waiver wires this season.
Toronto Blue Jays: Cavan Biggio
A huge September (that included 30 Ks over 80 ABs) is leading to Biggio being one of the most over-drafted fantasy players this year. He obviously gets a boost in OBP leagues, but a .230 BA is a real threat. If you’re looking for homers and steals and a poor batting average, teammate Teoscar Hernandez will provide a similar stat line at a much cheaper draft cost.
Washington Nationals: Patrick Corbin
Another one that’s more “overvalued” than true bust, Corbin has to pitch in one of baseball’s best hitter’s parks (only Coors Field has increased run scoring more over the last three seasons), now has to face a DH and gets a modest 4.27 ERA and 1.31 WHIP projection from THE BAT. Statcast also suggests hesitation, as Corbin’s Barrel% and exit velocity were both in the bottom 25th percentile last season when he also finished with a 4.05 expected ERA.