9 Players to Avoid (Fantasy Baseball)

Mar 8, 2018

Robbie Ray walked nearly four batters per 9 last season

Last year, there were plenty of players drafted in the first few rounds that largely disappointed (Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Anthony Rizzo). While many are not expecting repeats slumps from those three guys, missing on your early picks are without question more impactful than missing in the mid or late rounds. Just because a player’s average draft position (ADP) has him going in the top 30 does not necessarily mean he’s a safe pick. The point is, it’s always good to identify players that you may want to avoid based on the risk each player carries.

Obviously, if a player falls far enough, taking him at his reduced price is not that big of a deal. But where the names below are currently being drafted, our featured experts aren’t so quick to pull the trigger.

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Q1. Who is the one hitter inside the top 30 in hitter ADP you are avoiding the most and why?

Aaron Judge (OF – NYY)
Hitter ADP: #12 | Overall ADP: #16
“Avoid is a strong word. I would draft almost anyone at the right price, however, I would be unlikely to draft someone based upon my rankings vs ADP. For me, Aaron Judge is a guy I likely won’t have any shares of this year. While I’m projecting him for 40+ HR and 100+ runs and RBI, there won’t be much speed, and I also expect to see a drop in AVG. Overall, I think he will certainly be in the top 30 hitters, but he is going too high in drafts for my taste. ”
– Jason Johnson (Understanding Fantasy Baseball)

“I’m avoiding Aaron Judge. His 2017 was ridiculous but there is massive regression coming here. The strikeout rate is likely to rise again as pitchers now have a full offseason to scout him. This, combined with a BABIP that will drop from a fantastic .352, will lead to a much lower average. Everybody forgets how last year at this time Judge was going undrafted in the majority of leagues due to his issues making contact. I’m still running the other way at this point.”
– Joe Bond (Fantasy Six Pack)

Jose Ramirez (2B/3B – CLE)
Hitter ADP: #17 | Overall ADP: #21
“Of all the hitters inside the top 30 in ADP, I have the fewest shares of Jose Ramirez. Prior to last year, Ramirez had hit 32 home runs in about 2,800 plate appearances between the majors and the minors. If ever there was evidence of the juiced ball theory, it’s that Ramirez hit 29 bombs last year. The problem with Ramirez is that because he doesn’t excel in any other category (except perhaps batting average), if he regresses in power, he’s not going to come close to justifying his draft position. The early rounds are about drafting safety and, for me, it’s simply not worth it to draft a guy who seems to me to be far more likely to go 15-15 with just decent counting stats.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Paul Goldschmidt (1B – ARI)
Hitter ADP: #5 | Overall ADP: #5
“I will have exactly zero shares of Paul Goldschmidt this season. The fact that he is still going within the first round, let alone the first five picks is bizarre to me. You can try to ignore the fact that the humidor is going to have a significant impact, but when the first pitch is thrown in Chase Field it will no longer be Coors-lite, but rather a moderate pitcher’s park. Goldschmidt is still an exceptional player, but with a substantial drop in homers, RBI and runs scored, he falls behind both Votto and Freeman in my rankings.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

J.D. Martinez (OF – BOS)
Hitter ADP: #19 | Overall ADP: #23
“Martinez strikes me as a tad overdrafted this year. Sure, he had a second half for the ages after he was traded to Arizona last summer, but there has to be some regression coming. His .387 ISO is unsustainable given his career .230 mark, and his walk rate looked like an outlier as well. More importantly, J.D. has only played over 120 games once in his entire career, and there was clearly concern with his physical even after Boston announced they would sign him.”
– Jamie Calandro (Fantasy Team Advice)

Q2. Who is the one starting pitcher inside the top 20 in pitcher ADP you are avoiding the most and why?

Robbie Ray (SP – ARI)
Starting Pitcher ADP: #13 | Overall ADP: #46
“I’m certainly prepared to be wrong on Robbie Ray considering the introduction of the humidor, but I’m not going near him as the 13th pitcher off the board or really anywhere close to that. Ray’s 2017 season looked an awful lot like his poor 2016 season if you strip away some of the superficiality, he walks almost four batters per nine innings, and he allows a ton of hard contact. Again, the humidor should certainly help his numbers overall, so it’s not as if I would avoid Ray if he fell significantly. But I’m not spending that draft capital on a guy who could pretty easily be a drain on WHIP and ERA.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Shohei Ohtani (SP – LAA)
Starting Pitcher ADP: #20 | Overall ADP: #72
“I will very likely not own Ohtani in any of my leagues this year. Even if he has a strong spring training, he is simply too much of an unknown for me. I understand the success he has had thus far in his career, but MLB hitting is at another level. What I have seen from him has been impressive, but there are other, more established pitchers I would take over him.”
– Jason Johnson (Understanding Fantasy Baseball)

Madison Bumgarner (SP – SF)
Starting Pitcher ADP: #5 | Overall ADP: #25
“If the question allowed us to go a little deeper, I’m avoiding Alex Wood unless he drops out of the top 15 rounds. For pitchers going earlier drafts, however, Madison Bumgarner is the name I’m not even remotely interested in acquiring near his ADP. No, I’m not anticipating another freak ATV injury, but if you are pulling the trigger on him in the late second round, you’ll have to deal with the reality that his xFIP was virtually identical to that of Sal Romano and R.A. Dickey following his return from the shoulder injury. Perhaps he has it all straightened out this season and will return to being monster this season, but it is not a risk I would advise taking that early in drafts.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Clayton Kershaw (SP – LAD)
Starting Pitcher ADP: #1 | Overall ADP: #6
” It’s not that I don’t want Clayton Kershaw (really), but I was unwilling to pay a first-round price tag for him BEFORE all of his back issues, and now that it’s cropping up in multiple years there is no way I will own him on my teams. Kershaw’s numbers are sparkling, but his K/9 has ever so slightly gone down over the last two seasons, and he allowed 1.18 HR/9 last year (a career high). If Kershaw winds up falling far enough in the draft, I’ll take the plunge, but I’d much rather take an elite hitter first and wait a round for Kluber or Strasburg.”
– Jamie Calandro (Fantasy Team Advice)

Jacob deGrom (SP – NYM)
Starting Pitcher ADP: #5 | Overall ADP: #25
“I am a big fan of his, but this season Jacob deGrom will not be on any of my teams at his current price. I can’t take a pitcher dealing with back soreness in the third round. There are simply too many good pitchers still available who are healthy to take the risk on one who is not.”
– Joe Bond (Fantasy Six Pack)

Thank you to the experts for naming their players to avoid. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and subscribe to our podcast below for all the latest discussions this season.

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