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Consensus Busts from 20+ Experts (2020 Fantasy Baseball)

Mar 13, 2020

Fernando Tatis Jr. may struggle to replicate his 2019 numbers

The best way to prevent yourself from experiencing the disappointment that comes with an early-round pick who falls far below expectations is to put in the time and research needed to identify which players are most likely to bust. Anyone who drafted Joey Votto, Andrew Benintendi, Blake Snell, Buster Posey, and Edwin Diaz last year knows that feeling all too well and probably failed in their championship quest. Having a good set of rankings is a nice place to start with your research, but one of the things that makes our site a one-stop-shop for all your fantasy knowledge is that we have access to a collection of opinions from all across the industry.

To help you figure out which athletes are 2020’s top busts, we have polled 21 experts on which hitter and pitcher have the highest potential to drastically disappoint and we asked each analyst to also share their thoughts on who this year’s biggest bust is. Read on to see who you should consider avoiding. Please keep in mind that we’re not saying you should outright avoid these players. The table solely indicates which players our voters collectively think could return much less value compared to their draft price. The write-ups display the player that a specific expert thinks is highly overvalued.

Note: Hitter and pitcher ADP values are as of March 12. 

Top Consensus Busts (Poll of 21 Experts)

Trevor Bauer SP CIN 4 SP22 SP22
Whit Merrifield 2B/OF KC 4 H40 H33
Fernando Tatis Jr. SS SD 4 H15 H16
Xander Bogaerts SS BOS 3 H21 H23
Chris Sale SP BOS 3 SP31 SP24
Pete Alonso 1B NYM 2 H25 H19
Mike Clevinger SP CLE 2 SP14 SP12
Jack Flaherty SP STL 2 SP7 SP6
Tyler Glasnow SP/RP TB 2 SP21 SP21
Aaron Judge OF NYY 2 H45 H28

Players who received one vote were: Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Kris Bryant, Yu Darvish, Zack Greinke, Ketel Marte, Starling Marte, Aaron Nola, Chris Paddack, Anthony Rendon, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Justin Verlander, Brandon Woodruff

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Q. Who is the player you expect to be this year’s biggest fantasy bust and why?

Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS – SD) 
“Tatis Jr. proved to be a fantasy superstar in his rookie season. He hit .317 and slammed 22 home runs with 16 steals in only 334 at-bats. The small sample size and the hype are inflating his value. Fantasy owners are currently spending a second-round pick on the young shortstop. However, I am reluctant to believe in Tatis at his current draft capital. He benefited greatly from an absurd .410 BABIP and .272 ISO last season, which typically points to some severe batting average regression. When you include his 3.67 SO/W ratio, we are looking at a .270 hitter with an alarming strikeout percentage. Take into account his injury history and the deep pool of high-end talent at the shortstop position and it’s hard to rationalize taking Tatis over the elite trio of Gleyber Torres, Xander Bogaerts or Javier Baez, all of whom are going after him.”
– Dennis Sosic (Fantasy Six Pack)

Fernando Tatis Jr. truly looked like a top-10 player last year. He smashed 22 homers and swiped 16 bags in just 84 MLB games. However, there are some red flags that indicate his ADP might be way too high. His .317 batting average, for example, was buoyed by a lofty .410 BABIP last season. It’s highly unlikely he’s able to replicate that, just like he’s unlikely to replicate the .272 ISO mark, which is a full 30 points higher than his previous career-high from Single-A ball. We can likely point to the juiced balls for that, but we’re not quite sure what we’re getting in that regard in 2020.”
– Bill Dubiel (RotoBaller)

“All of the underlying metrics are screaming significant risk for drafting Fernando Tatis Jr. in the second round. Yes, he has plenty of speed, but the power was a bit of a mirage, as it was supported by an unsustainable HR/FB rate. Likewise, Baseball Savant tells us that his quality of contact and K-rate suggest a batting average an MLB-leading 0.58 lower than he actually produced. Overall, his all-encompassing wOBA turned out similar to players like Juan Soto and Nolan Arenado, but his xwOBA was closer to the Brandon Belt and Dansby Swanson range.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Whit Merrifield (2B/OF – KC) 
“Merrifield has been a reliable source of average and speed for the last three years, but that could change in 2020. Stolen bases are a precious commodity these days, but he delivered just 20 steals last year while keeping his caught-stolen total at 10. With a 66% success rate, he may not get the green light quite as often. Plus, former manager Ned Yost was always aggressive, leading the Royals to rank third, fourth, and 12th in SB attempts per game the last three years. Mike Matheny isn’t quite as eager to run and could make Merrifield a far less valuable fantasy player.”
– Pierre Camus (RotoBaller)

Whit Merrifield stole 45 bases two years ago in just his second full year in the majors. That would be a good sign of things to come if he was 25 years old. However, he turned 30 the next year, and only stole 20. Now he’s 31, and it’s unlikely that he’s getting faster with his age. He’s a light-hitting leadoff man on the wrong side of 30 playing for a low-scoring team in a pitcher’s park. That doesn’t instill the level of confidence that you should be able to put in a top-40 bat.”
– Tim Young (Brewer Rat)

“Most of Whit Merrifield’s value is tied to stolen bases. He attempted just 30 last year after attempting 55 and 42 in the past two seasons, respectively, and it was also his lowest success rate at 67%. If the steals continue to decline, we’ll be left with basically an empty batting average. Not ideal for a top-35 type hitter.”
– Ryan Amore (Pitcher List)

Anthony Rendon (3B – LAA) 
“2020’s biggest bust will be Rendon. 2019 was his best in home runs, runs scored, RBIs, and batting average without a meaningful change in his peripheral numbers. His BB% was up 3%, ISO was up .052, Batting Average wasup .011, OBP up .038, SLG up .063, and wOBA up .030 — all of which are moderate differences compared to what he had in 2017 and 2018, while his K% and BABIP were almost identical to his 2017 and 2018 numbers. Even though he was more or less the same player in 2019 as he was the previous two seasons, Rendon’s home runs rose from 24 and 25 in 2017 and 2018, respectively, to 34 in 2019. His RBIs rose from 92 and 100 to 126 and runs scored were up from 88 and 81 to 117. Why would he repeat his 2019 spike in 2020 if he is the same player? With a change in leagues and him being on a new team that won’t be a World Series contender, is it reasonable to expect some regression from his recent three-year stretch? The likelihood is that 2019 was a high point on his career statistical variance. Rendon is a 25-home run, .300 hitting third baseman who will drop in production in 2020 to adjust for the 2019 spike. He’s a nice player, but not a top-20 selection and that means he will be 2020’s bust. Ketel Marte is a close second, but he is being selected later, making his regression less harmful.”
– Chris Mitchell (FantasyData)

Kris Bryant (3B/OF – CHC) 
“This may sound blasphemous to some, but I do not see Bryant living up to his ADP this season and he is one of my biggest fades. He was in the bottom 25th percentile in hard-hit percentage and exit velocity last year, raising questions about his 31 HRs. His expected batting average was 25 points lower than his actual batting average and his SB upside is limited as he has not reached double-digit SBs since his rookie season. On top of that, Bryant has dealt with injuries each of the last two seasons and has been dealing with whirling trade rumors. Just not enough there for me to draft him with guys like Manny Machado, Yoan Moncada, Matt Chapman, and Josh Donaldson available later in the draft.”
– Michael Petropoulos (BRoto Fantasy)

Trevor Bauer (SP – CIN) 
“Picking Aaron Judge almost feels like cheating at this point, so let me address Bauer. He can look completely dominant at times, but the fact remains that through his first six big league seasons, he’s had just one season with an ERA below 4.18 or a WHIP below 1.25. His terrific 2018 campaign may have looked like a breakout at the time, but now it looks more like an outlier. Bauer will put up enough innings and strikeouts to have some value, but I just don’t understand why fantasy managers are lining up to take him among the top-25 starters when he’s performed at that level just once in his lengthy career.”
– Andrew Seifter (FantasyPros)

Jose Altuve (2B – HOU) 
“Altuve turns 30 years old in May and is completely off my draft boards at his current ADP as the No. 21 hitter in fantasy baseball. There are some disturbing trends at play, including declining xBA marks, declining contact rates, and eroding efficiency on the basepaths. I don’t think he’s a quality bet for steals anymore and I don’t trust the career-high 31 homers from last year — which came on a career-high 23.3% HR/FB rate. If I wanted a batting average play, I’d draft Whit Merrifield 20 picks later and if I wanted the power/speed combo that people think they are getting in Altuve, I’d draft Ozzie Albies instead.”
– Heath Capps (Fake Teams)

Pete Alonso (1B – NYM) 
“I’m a Mets fan whose prized possession is a bobblehead of Alonso sitting on a polar bear. I still don’t want him as a top-30 pick. For as hard as he hit baseballs, he also recorded too many strikeouts (26.4%) and pop-ups (13.3%) to envision anything better than last year’s .260 batting average. ‘Bust’ may be an extreme word, but given the high supply of sluggers, the price is a tad steep for the sophomore if he merely regresses to .250 and 43 homers.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

Starling Marte (OF – ARI) 
“I just can’t get on board with Marte at his current ADP. He’s been relatively healthy in recent memory, but has surpassed 132 games played just once in the last four seasons. His average this season will likely normalize closer to .275 rather than the near .300 we saw last season and 2019 was his only year ever hitting more than 20 HRs. Add in that he’s on a new team with a mediocre lineup around him and that he’s playing his home games in Chase Field where the humidor dropped HRs by 20% from 2018 to 2019, and Marte is someone who will likely disappoint this season.”
– Jason Petropoulos (BRoto Fantasy)

Yordan Alvarez (OF/DH – HOU) 
“‘Bust’ may be a little too harsh, but I have to say the love for Alvarez is a little surprising. Yes, he’s the reigning AL Rookie of the Year and mashed 27 home runs in a little more than 300 ABs to get the award. He also returned to earth during the postseason – one home run in 58 ABs with three times as many strikeouts (21) as walks (seven). Regardless of what your view is on how the sign-stealing scandal will impact Astros hitters in 2020, viewing Alvarez, who has a grand total of 105 games in the majors, as a top-30 hitter in drafts is a tad too optimistic for my tastes.”
– Mark Ross (Athlon Sports)

Xander Bogaerts (SS – BOS) 
“Bogaerts had an outstanding 2019 season, setting career-highs in home runs and RBI and getting his batting average back over .300. But when you look under the hood, things don’t look all that different, as his strikeout rate, hard-hit percentage, average exit velocity, and launch angle all remained nearly identical to the 2018 season when his numbers were much worse. Meanwhile, his stolen base output has dropped from being consistently in the double-digits to a mere four last year. Add to all this that Bogaerts plays perhaps the deepest fantasy position and that the Red Sox lost Mookie Betts and there’s a strong chance Bogaerts dramatically fails to live up to his ADP of 31 overall.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Aaron Nola (SP – PHI) 
“I am going with Nola. He is currently going as the 14th starter off the board. Fantasy owners may be inclined to push him into SP1 territory in 12-team leagues due to injury concerns surrounding Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Mike Clevinger, among others. This feels like a mistake to me. Despite making 34 starts, Nola finished 2019 as the overall SP37 per Baseball Monster’s Roto rankings. There is not much in his expected stats or underlying metrics to suggest that he underperformed. They were all right in line with his actual 2019 production. I am fine with Nola as a solid SP3, but I cannot justify taking him among the top-15 starting pitchers and certainly not the top-10.”
– Mick Ciallela (Fantrax)

Stephen Strasburg (SP – WSH) 
“Strasburg pitched 200 regular-season innings for the second time of his career last year. Tack on another 36 playoff innings and he topped 240 innings! Given that his three-year innings average is 170, he is extremely unlikely to duplicate 200+ innings pitched. Yet, the majority of projection systems have him hitting that threshold again. I wouldn’t be surprised if he went on the IL for a stint or two this year as a result of his workload last year, along with his track record of getting injured. I would love for him to stay healthy, but younger pitchers like Jack Flaherty and Shane Bieber offer similar upside, but a safer floor.”
– Carmen Maiorano (FantasyPros)

Ketel Marte (2B/SS/OF – ARI) 
“Marte was one of last year’s biggest surprises, but there are reasons to worry heading into this year — starting with his .342 BABIP. If his homers drop to the mid-20s and his average drops to around .290, suddenly he’s a good-but-not-great middle infielder. Most of his advanced projections suggest this will happen and he doesn’t steal enough bases to really make up for it. His owners will wish they had used that fourth-round draft pick on someone with more power or more speed.”
– Matt Lutovsky (Sporting News)

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, which is also available below.

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