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Consensus Busts from 20+ Experts (2019 Fantasy Baseball)

Consensus Busts from 20+ Experts (2019 Fantasy Baseball)

Fantasy rankings that are 100% accurate simply do not exist. Some players will always be taken much higher than they should, leading to disappointed fantasy owners. As such, we polled 24 experts to find out which hitter and starting pitcher they thought were most likely to finish the season as busts (previously, we got their sleeper picks). The experts also explained their rationale behind their top choice in order to protect you from the eventual regret you’d experience after snagging an early-round bust. Those who selected Dee Gordon and Chris Archer within the first five rounds last year know that type of disappointment all too well. Gordon finished last season ranked 125 spots below his average draft position (ADP) among hitters, while Archer finished 70 spots below his starting pitcher ADP.

Below is our full count of expert votes along with analysis on some of the players who were voted on. Please feel free to view each expert’s selection here.

Note: Hitter and pitcher ADP values are as of March 11

Top Consensus Busts (Poll of 24 Experts)

Javier Baez 2B/3B/SS CHC 9 H19 H15
Clayton Kershaw SP LAD 5 SP17 SP14
James Paxton SP NYY 3 SP14 SP16
Chris Sale SP BOS 2 SP2 SP3
Blake Snell SP TB 2 SP8 SP8
Jose Ramirez 2B/3B CLE 2 H3 H3
Patrick Corbin SP WSH 2 SP15 SP15
David Price SP BOS 2 SP24 SP24
Francisco Lindor SS CLE 2 H9 H9
Trevor Bauer SP CLE 2 SP9 SP10
German Marquez SP COL 2 SP25 SP26
Manny Machado 3B/SS SD 2 H13 H12

Players who received one vote were: Christian Yelich, Trevor Story, Jose Altuve, Jack Flaherty, Carlos Correa, Rhys Hoskins, Max Scherzer, Juan Soto, Whit Merrifield, Charlie Blackmon, Noah Syndergaard  

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Q. Which one of the players you chose do you think has the biggest bust potential this season and why?

Javier Baez (2B/3B/SS – CHC) 
“Baez is the only player in the last four decades to post a wRC+ over 130 with a walk rate below 5% and a strikeout rate above 25%. He was a legitimate five-category stud last season, and that production has fantasy owners treating him as a borderline first-round pick. Unfortunately, the fact is that players with Baez’s hyper-aggressive plate approach are more vulnerable than most to extended slumps or even simple regression. His raw talent is incredible and will likely keep him reasonably productive, but at his current ADP, I’m not interested.”
– Kyle Bishop (RotoBaller)

Javier Baez’s free-swinging nature (4.5% BB% and 25.9% K% in 2018) makes him a volatile option — albeit still a high-ceiling player, as last year illustrated. Even in an outstanding 2018 campaign, Baez needed a bit of luck to hit his gaudy final totals. According to Baseball Savant, Baez’s batted ball data produced an expected .264 AVG and expected .491 SLG, a far cry from his actual .290 AVG and .554 SLG.”
– Josh Shepardson (FantasyPros)

“Sorry to pile onto the obvious answer, but only Joey Gallo — who hit .206 last season — posted a higher swinging-strike rate among qualified hitters than Javier Baez’s 18.2%. With Salvador Perez out for the season, no active hitter chased more pitches outside the strike zone. He had the same contact rate (68.5%) as the good Khris Davis and the bad Chris Davis, so drafters should consider themselves lucky if last year’s .290 average only falls to the .273 clip Baez posted in each of the past two seasons.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

Clayton Kershaw (SP – LAD) 
“Kershaw has gone three straight years without topping 180 innings, and injury is a real concern for any potential drafters. On top of the injury risk, Kershaw saw a big dip in velocity last season. He posted a career-low 91.4 MPH average fastball velocity to go with a career-worst 23.9% strikeout rate. It only got worse as the season went on — Kershaw posted a 19.8% strikeout rate and 90.9 MPH average fastball velocity in six September starts. We know the upside with Kershaw, but is it worth investing an early-round pick given all of the question marks?”
– Jacob Gibbs (SportsLine)

“The red flags are starting to show for Clayton Kershaw. He’s now 30 years old and is in jeopardy of missing Opening Day for the first time in 10 years with a shoulder injury. Last season was the first time in nine years that he did not have double-digit wins. Over the last three seasons, Kershaw has pitched fewer than 200 innings per year. The Dodgers will take it slow with him, and may put him on a pitch count. For where Kershaw is being drafted, he’s too high of a risk to be your fantasy ace in 2019 ”
– Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire)

“The easy answer for me is Clayton Kershaw. To be fair, his value is dropping like a rock. He’s already hurt and will very likely start the season on the injured list. In addition to Kershaw’s injury history, his velocity has been steadily declining. He no longer is able to induce a high volume of swings and misses outside of his breaking balls. There’s too much risk with Kershaw without any real upside.”
– Max Freeze (Freeze Stats)

Clayton Kershaw is fool’s gold in 2019. The Dodgers have a deep stable of pitching, including Ross Stripling and Julio Urias — either of whom is more than capable of filling in while Kershaw continues marching towards full health. This is anecdotal, but the Dodgers don’t need Kershaw to pitch a ton of regular season innings. They are deep enough (and good enough) to focus on getting Kershaw healthy for the playoffs. I can’t justify taking him at his ECR of 65 overall. There are too many quality pitchers in that vicinity who don’t have current health woes and innings concerns.”
– Heath Capps (Fake Teams)

James Paxton (SP – NYY) 
“Paxton has the potential to be a significant disappointment to fantasy owners investing early this season now that he’s traded in his Seattle grays for pinstripes. In 2018, T-Mobile Park ranked 27th in the MLB in runs for park factors, while Yankee Stadium was seventh — and the numbers are even worse if we’re talking straight homers. Speaking of homers, Paxton is coming off the worst home run allowed rate of his career (1.3 HR/9) and will now have to contend with the infamous Yankee Stadium short porch in right field. Throw in his injury history and Paxton makes for an easy fade at his current ranking (SP14). ”
– Bill Dubiel (RotoBaller)

Jose Ramirez (2B/3B – CLE) 
“Ramirez had a remarkable 2018 and I’m sure he’ll have a wonderful 2019 season, but there is certainly bust potential. The Cleveland lineup is much weaker this season, particularly with Francisco Lindor nursing a calf injury already, and Ramirez will likely have difficulty putting up similar counting stats given his surrounding cast. And although his full season was remarkable, it’s worth noting his precipitous decline in the second half, from .302/.401/.628 in the first half to .218/.366/.427 in the second half. Whether that was opposing pitchers finding a flaw in his game or simply reversion to the mean, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a near 40-40 season again from Ramirez this year.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

“I’m pretty sure I’m the only one with this take, but I’m not touching Jose Ramirez in 2019. Was his 2018 amazing? Absolutely. Could he have another great year in 2019? Sure…but third overall is just too high for me considering his one glaring weakness — off speed pitches. His plate discipline is very good, but an xBA of .195 against breaking balls is, by no stretch, elite. In the second half, pitchers adjusted and he did not. He will continue to get challenged in 2019, and unless he is able to adjust, he could be a first-round bust for owners.”
– Jason Johnson (Understanding Fantasy Baseball)

Francisco Lindor (SS – CLE) 
“Let’s be clear, highlighting Lindor’s bust potential has absolutely nothing to do with his skill set and absolutely everything to do with his calf injury. A strained calf during offseason workouts is expected to hamper the majority of Lindor’s spring work, as he was slapped with a seven-to-nine week recovery timeline. If the Indians take things slowly, this could be a non-issue that costs him only a week or two of regular season at-bats, however, the re-aggravation risk of a soft-tissue injury for a player who relies on quickness in the field and speed on the bases is enough to bump him out of the first round for me.”
– Wayne Bretsky (BretskyBall)

Franciso Lindor is a player that I’m avoiding. I don’t believe in spending a top pick on a player that is already hurt and likely to miss regular season time. Even when healthy, what if he doesn’t run as much or at all this season to protect the calf? Stolen bases are an important part of his value.”
– George Kurtz (RotoExperts)

Blake Snell (SP – TB) 
“Snell averaged 96 MPH with his fastball and featured three whifftastic secondary offerings. But, control has always been an issue, and once his ridiculously low .241 BABIP rises toward the league average, his WHIP won’t be good enough for him to hang as a top-10 starting pitcher. Lastly, because of that suppressed BABIP and an absurdly high and unrepeatable LOB%, his ERA was significantly below his SIERA. Even if his strikeout and walk rates remain stable, his ERA is likely to rise well above 3.00.”
– Mike Podhorzer (FanGraphs)

Trevor Bauer (SP – CLE)
“I completely understand the hype surrounding Bauer after the massive strides he took in 2018, but isn’t it possible that we just saw the best we will get from him? The outlier season? His strikeout rate jumps off the page, and that it followed a significant uptick in 2017 is even more impressive. But, he had previously not cracked a 4.00 ERA nor 1.300 WHIP before exploding beneath both. More importantly, he has thrown more than 180 innings in a season only once, and it’s dangerous to tack on another 30 or so expecting them to be as dominant as his best. The whole package, including his social media presence — good or bad as it may be — feels too risky for his draft position.”
– Mario Mergola (Sporfolio)

David Price (SP – BOS) 
“Price has just about everything you might look for in a bust — recent injuries, likely regression, lost velocity, and lost stamina. In 2018, he averaged less than six innings per start and had a FIP north of four. He was able to cover for a loss in velocity due to pitchability, but he still posted his lowest swinging strike rate since 2013. There’s very little upside with his current repertoire and increased risk due to age, injury, and park.”
– Heath Cummings (CBS Sports)

Patrick Corbin (SP – WSH) 
“Corbin’s been good before, but never this good. While there were some changes, the slider amplification was actually done in 2017, so I don’t think that’s a justification to believe he’ll maintain his 2018 excellence. I’m also leery of pitchers in Year 1 of a mega-deal. More often than not, there’s a transition period.”
– Paul Sporer (FanGraphs)

Responses for Players with One Vote

Jose Altuve (2B – HOU) 
“Look, Altuve isn’t going to be a total bust — he’ll hit for a high average and score plenty of runs in a loaded Astros lineup — but at ECR11 among hitters, the industry seems more optimistic than I am that the home runs and stolen bases are coming back. Altuve’s back-to-back 24 HR seasons in 2016 and 2017 always looked unsustainable based on his high ground ball rate, and while last year’s 13 homers may be his floor, fantasy owners shouldn’t realistically expect more than 15-17. Meanwhile, Altuve’s sprint speed is down and his stolen base attempts have declined for five straight years, suggesting that he may again fail to reach 20 stolen bases, let alone 30. Altuve proved last year that he can be a top-60 player even with paltry HR and SB totals, but he could perform more like a third- or fourth-round pick than a first-rounder in 2019.”
– Andrew Seifter (FantasyPros)

Jack Flaherty (SP – STL) 
“Flaherty had an incredible year for sure, but I’m not necessarily someone who buys a full repeat from a breakout without much of a track record at the MLB level. And when you throw in a good, but not top-tier walk rate with a BABIP in the .250s, you can see where the give back in his stock could come from. I’m going to opt for more established options in Flaherty’s tier instead.”
– R.J. White (CBS Sports)

Charlie Blackmon (OF – COL) 
“Blackmon is the oldest batter in the top 30, and one of just three top-30 hitters over 30. Long gone is his 40 SB potential, and now he’s simply a good player in decline, playing in a great ballpark for batting. There are players with his power that have better RBI numbers, and there are players with his AVG that have better stolen base numbers. On top of that, there are numerous ways for a 32-year-old centerfielder to get hurt. Blackmon is a fine player that won’t kill your team in any category, but at his ADP, there are so many better options.”
– Tim Young (Brewer Rat)

Rhys Hoskins (1B/OF – PHI) 
“It isn’t so much that I think Hoskins will take a big step backward. Rather, I imagine him producing about the same as we’ve seen the last two years, which frankly isn’t enough to tempt me to take him in the first nine rounds. His batting average won’t do you any favors and while he does have power, players like him will be available 100 and even 300 picks later in some cases. Our consensus projections show him as having similar expectations to Randal Grichuk and Mark Trumbo, which should tell you all you need to know about drafting Hoskins in the first four rounds.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Stephen Strasburg (SP – WSH) 
“Strasburg has only pitched 200 innings once in his nine-year career. Furthermore, he has only pitched 150 innings once in his past four seasons. Ranked as the 18th pitcher, his bust potential seems higher then any other play in the top 20.”
– Travis Riechers (eDraft)

Carlos Correa (SS – HOU)
“Correa is one of the biggest risk/reward picks of the first few rounds. He’s 24, has four years of MLB experience, and plays in one of the best lineups in baseball. We’ve seen him approach his ceiling in AVG (.315), HRs (24), RBIs (96) and SBs (14), although not in the same season. The last two years, he’s battled injuries and saw his quality of contact decline. He could be a bargain if he slips to the fifth round, but could also sink your team if things don’t break right.”
– Pierre Camus (RotoBaller)

Manny Machado (3B/SS – SD)
“Since it was built, only Adrian Gonzalez has managed to tame Petco Park. I don’t expect Machado to be the second coming. He can, but I don’t want to bank on it. He has his money secured, showed the NL West sapped his production while with the Dodgers, and is no guarantee to steal double-digit bags, but yet we’re putting a back-end first-round grade on him? The margin for error is entirely too slim for his positions, both SS and 3B, that are maybe the two deepest.”
– Andy Singleton (Expand The Boxscore)

Max Scherzer (SP – WSH)
“Hitters in today’s baseball are too good. The days of pitchers dominating fantasy baseball are done. Scherzer is not guaranteed to deliver a seven-inning, eight-strikeout, two-earned run-type of performance anymore, and the Braves, Phillies, and Mets can all do damage. If you draft the soon to be 35-year-old with your first- or second-round pick instead of taking the electric Trea Turner or Javier Baez, you are putting yourself in a deep hole, and betting on a guy who has already passed the best pitching of his career.”
– Muntradamus (Beast Dome)

Thank you to all the experts for naming their consensus busts. You can view each expert’s picks below and be sure to give them a follow on Twitter for more great advice. Also, please check out our podcast episode, which is also available below.

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