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13 Players Who Will Disappoint (2020 Fantasy Baseball)

Feb 11, 2020

It may be wise to temper your expectations for Whit Merrifield

If you play fantasy sports, it’s inevitable that you will select multiple players throughout the entirety of your draft who disappoint you. You will either be forced to release them, trade them for a discount, or just grin and bear the reduced production while hoping it doesn’t crush your title hopes. What you do will likely be dictated by the draft cost of the underwhelming player.

Identifying which athletes have the highest odds to fall short of expectations can save you and your squad plenty of heartache throughout the season. That’s why our featured analysts are here. Continue reading to see who they might be avoiding in drafts this spring and why you should consider doing the same.

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Q1. Who is the one hitter inside the top 40 in hitter ADP that will disappoint you the most and why?

Whit Merrifield (2B/OF – KC): Hitter ADP – 31 | Overall ADP – 43 
“I think Merrifield is a player who may disappoint fantasy owners this season. Merrifield is a solid source of batting average and runs, but does not provide the pop you would normally find from an early-round pick. I also do not expect Merrifield to steal bases with the frequency he has shown in the past. His sprint speed has continued to decline and he is now on the wrong side of 30. The Royals also figure to run less under Mike Matheny than they did under Ned Yost. In Yost’s 10 years at the helm in Kansas City, baserunners attempted a stolen base on 5.8 percent of opportunities. Cardinals baserunners attempted steals on just 3.7 percent of chances under Matheny. I do not think Merrifield reaches 20 homers or steals in 2020. Kansas City does have a soft early schedule, making him a prime sell-high candidate if he gets off to a fast start. Ultimately, Merrifield will be a solid fantasy contributor, but is not someone who should be going as high as he currently is.”
– Mick Ciallela (Fantrax)

Whit Merrifield is being selected way too early in drafts and I would be cautious of what you expect from the 31-year-old. He will leadoff for a team that is projected to win around 60 games. Stolen base attempts have plummeted over the past two years and he was caught stealing in 1/3 of his attempts in 2019 (caught 10 of 30 chances). He’s projected to score under 100 runs and won’t finish in the top 100 for OBP. His strikeout rate has ticked up over the past three seasons and will continue to do so. Leave him alone as you will be chasing bags just like him.”
– Todd D Clark (The Fantasy Fix)

Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS – SD): Hitter ADP – 13 | Overall ADP – 18 
“As an elite prospect with an impressive blend of power and speed, it’s easy to imagine Tatis being a fantasy difference-maker for years to come, but he could struggle to return value in 2020 as the 13th hitter off the board. Tatis Jr. put up huge numbers in his first taste of big-league pitching last year, but some of that production doesn’t look remotely sustainable, particularly his .317 batting average. His .410 Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) was the highest mark of any hitter with at least 350 plate appearances, and his expected batting average was just .259, according to Baseball Savant. Tatis Jr.’s .590 slugging percentage was also a full 100 points higher than he deserved based on the quality of his contact. It’s not completely unthinkable that he could need more seasoning in the minors if his strikeout rate surges, but even if he ends up with the kind of numbers Steamer is projecting — .265-92-30-81-23 — he may end up looking more like a top-40 hitter than top-15.”
– Andrew Seifter (FantasyPros)

Ketel Marte (2B/SS/OF – ARI): Hitter ADP – 36 | Overall ADP – 50 
“This is more just my general philosophy, but I’m not willing to buy that Marte is suddenly an elite hitter after one incredible year. To be fair, his ADP doesn’t value him close to last year’s numbers, but even as the 36th hitter off the board, I’m still skeptical. Marte suddenly went from being a career .263 hitter with 22 home runs in 1,548 plate appearances to batting .329 with 32 home runs in 628 plate appearances. While he made many overall gains, such as a massive increase in launch angle, his expected batting average was just .299 and that .030 difference was 10th-highest in MLB. He also upped his pull percentage by a significant amount and pulled all but one of his home runs, which should be something that pitchers can exploit. Buy some of the gains, but consider Marte closer to a .290-25 type of hitter.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B/DH – TOR): Hitter ADP – 34 | Overall ADP – 48 
“Guerrero Jr. is unlikely to disappoint me personally because I don’t expect exceptional growth in his age-21 sophomore campaign. His minor league numbers and Home Run Derby performance highlight the raw power and talent he holds, as does his max exit velocity of 118.9 MPH last season — second only to Giancarlo Stanton at 120.6 MPH. But MLB pitchers don’t lob meatballs, leading to Guerrero Jr. posting an average launch angle of 6.7 degrees — 17th-lowest among 250 qualified hitters per Baseball Savant. I think another year of adjusting to the highest level will help him unlock the potential, but I’m not paying up for a zero-speed youngster with some durability woes to boot.”
– Nick Mariano (RotoBaller)

Jonathan Villar (2B/SS – MIA): Hitter ADP – 37 | Overall ADP – 52 
“Villar is who will disappoint the most in my opinion. He was amazing last season, hitting 24 home runs and stealing 40 bases. Let’s not forget, though, that he was on pace for around 18 home runs and about 30 steals midway through the season, still solid for a fantasy season, but top-40 hitter? Nah. This means he had a pretty epic second-half to hit the numbers he did. It’s unlikely he does that again, especially hitting in Miami where the power numbers are sure to dip.”
– Joe Bond (Fantasy Six Pack)

Aaron Judge (OF – NYY): Hitter ADP – 17 | Overall ADP – 22
“While I still remain certain his skills are sensational and won’t be disappearing, Judge is the most likely of these players to disappoint at his current second-round ADP. The reason, of course, is that he has missed 50 and 60 games in each of the last two seasons. Giancarlo Stanton, meanwhile, who is going 30 picks later, has played at least 158 games in two of the last three seasons and is actually the better fantasy player when he is active. I’ll be avoiding Judge’s risk unless he drops significantly in my drafts.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Q2. Who is the one pitcher inside the top 25 in starting pitcher ADP that will disappoint you the most and why?

Chris Paddack (SP – SD): Starting Pitcher ADP – 17 | Overall ADP – 59 
“I think that Paddack is a bit overvalued at the moment. He was a fantasy darling during his rookie campaign in 2019 and expectations are even higher for the 24-year-old heading into 2020. He is currently being drafted as though another step forward is a fait accompli, but I expect some growing pains in his sophomore season. Paddack will be expected to pitch deeper into ballgames this year, which may take away some of his effectiveness. His strikeout rate was 34.6 percent during his first time through the lineup last season. That number dropped to 24.7 the second time through the order and just 15 percent after that. Paddack is essentially a two-pitch hurler, which can lead to problems when tasked with going through a Major League lineup three times. He is said to be working on his curveball to address this very issue, but it remains to be seen how effective it will be. I think Paddack is better served in the 20-25 range among starters than his current ADP of SP17.”
– Mick Ciallela (Fantrax)

Jack Flaherty (SP – STL): Starting Pitcher ADP – 6 | Overall ADP – 24
“There is a noticeable drop-off after the Cole-deGrom-Scherzer-Verlander tier of fantasy aces and Flaherty is one of the next pitchers early drafters are turning to in search of a fantasy ace. Unfortunately, there are some warning signs in his peripherals that he won’t quite live up to his ADP as the sixth pitcher taken. Flaherty deserves credit for improving his walk rate last season, but his 2.52 BB/9 was still just middle of the pack among qualified starters, while his 10.59 K/9 rate was excellent, but not quite elite. Meanwhile, Statcast data suggests that Flaherty was fairly fortunate in terms of both the batting average and slugging percentage he allowed to opposing hitters, while his 83.3 percent left-on-base percentage may have helped artificially suppress his earned run average. He also doesn’t work as deep into games as the top tier aces, limiting his win potential.”
– Andrew Seifter (FantasyPros)

Noah Syndergaard (SP – NYM): Starting Pitcher ADP – 21 | Overall ADP – 66
“I’d say Syndergaard is synonymous with disappointment now given the potential in his arm against his performance on the field. Yeah, Wilson Ramos just reported working on his receiving skills, but that doesn’t mean Thor is going to suddenly hold runners on or refine his arsenal to generate more whiffs. Nearly 200 frames last season at least dispels some health arguments, but today’s swing-hard era yielded more flies and a 13.3% HR/FB rate off him in 2019, leading to the 4.28 ERA. His first-strike percentage soared to 65.8% in ’19 from 59% in ’18, which leans into aggressive first-pitch swingers. I’d love to see him harness the lightning within, but I’ve yet to see that he’s working to be a pitcher rather than a thrower.”
– Nick Mariano (RotoBaller)

Aaron Nola (SP – PHI): Starting Pitcher ADP – 12 | Overall ADP – 42
“Yes, Nola is an extremely talented pitcher who has posted big strikeout numbers the last two seasons while remaining durable, but I’m concerned about his ratios taking even another dip. Not only did he walk 88 batters last year, but he was hit quite hard too. Baseball Savant measures the quality of contact (exit velo and launch angle) to determine the most probable outcome for each batted ball, then packages that data into expected statistics so we can begin to measure luck. Nola was not unlucky last year and, in fact, it may have been the opposite, as his xWOBA was 53rd among starting pitchers and behind names like John Means, Martin Perez, and Chris Bassitt. If he gets to 220 Ks it would be nice, but not so nice with a 4.15 ERA and 1.30 WHIP out of the mid-fourth round.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Trevor Bauer (SP – CIN): Starting Pitcher ADP – 23 | Overall ADP – 72
“I like Bauer and won’t necessarily shy away from him this season, but he’s certainly one of the most likely pitchers to disappoint. Bauer may be one of the most talented pitchers in baseball, but he has exactly one season with an ERA below 4.18, a WHIP below 1.25, or more than 12 wins. Even on an improved Cincinnati team, there’s little reason to expect him to do much better than those numbers. Bauer will give you innings and plenty of strikeouts, but fantasy owners would do well to largely forget 2018 and draft him with closer to a 4.00 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in mind.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Lucas Giolito (SP – CWS): Starting Pitcher ADP – 15 | Overall ADP – 51
“I worry about Giolito a bit. Last year’s breakout was unexpected, to say the least. If you breakdown his 2019 more, you’ll see that hitters seemed to catch up to him in the second half, with this ERA climbing from 3.15 to 3.76. One reason for this is he allowed six more home runs in 24 fewer innings. Not good. I don’t think he will be the complete trainwreck he was in 2018, but to expect the pitcher we got in May and June, even mixed in more times than not in other months last season, is reckless.”
– Joe Bond (Fantasy Six Pack)

Tyler Glasnow (SP/RP – TB): Starting Pitcher ADP – 22 | Overall ADP – 71
“Sure, Glasnow has an electric arm that spews a 95+ MPH four-seamer accompanied by a deceptive ‘Uncle Charlie,’ but his durability is the main issue here. Projections have him around 150-ish innings pitched, which seems elevated due to never coming close to that mark. In November, he had a median nerve procedure on his throwing arm and a strained forearm derailed his ’19 campaign. The Rays had one of the best bullpens last year and I trust them to limit the wear on the rising star. There are many more established and proven starting pitchers available in that price range that I would feel more confident spending my high draft pick on.”
– Todd D Clark (The Fantasy Fix)

Thank you to the experts for giving their players who will disappoint. For more great fantasy advice, please be sure to follow them on Twitter.

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