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Fantasy Baseball Hitters to Avoid (2020)

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
Mar 11, 2020

Tim Anderson is an easy fade this year given the other options at the position.

Consciously or subconsciously, we all have players who we like and we dislike. Throughout our prep, we identify the guys we hope are there when our picks come around, or the guys who we want to throw out in an auction to get money off the board, knowing we want no part of them.

We’re going to be looking at players – hitters, more specifically, but we’ll look at pitchers later this week – who you need to avoid.

Now, that’s not to say that you’re going to avoid them entirely. Just like in trade negotiations and really anything in life, everyone has a price. The guys below are players that I’m looking to avoid 99 percent of time, but if they fall to a place where I feel comfortable enough taking them, I’ll take the leap.

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Most Rays

Usually, we list the name, position, and team that they play for, as well as rostership percentage or ADP. 

But we are going to kick-off the players to avoid by looking at a team almost in its entirety.

The easiest way to look at who you should avoid is to look at the players that you should be comfortable taking:

That’s it. That’s the entire list.

The Rays are brilliant, and they’ll mix-and-match their lineups daily, utilizing their bench to its fullest extent. 

The following guys will play, but we have no idea how much:

No thank you. All of the players have talent and could be viable options in standard leagues (#FreeNateLow), but be warned that if you draft them, you’re going to be dealing with a headache trying to figure out who to start and who to sit

Nick Senzel/Aristides Aquino/Jesse Winker (OF – CIN)
Sticking with the multiplayer theme, let’s head up to Cincinnati, where the Reds, for the second straight offseason, made big moves to push for a playoff spot.

The one area where they have a surplus of options, though, is in the outfield. See, the above guys are going to be competing against each other for one spot, and we didn’t even include Phil Ervin, who may make the team, as well.

Nick Castellanos and Shogo Akiyama will play every day and the majority of the time, respectively.

With Mike Moustakas, Eugenio Suarez, Joey Votto, and Freddy Galvis (they love his defense) manning the infield, there’s going to be a battle for playing time in the outfield.

The most likely situation is that Aquino gets sent to the minors to start the year after he was exposed badly in September and winter league, which would leave Senzel and Winker as a platoon of sorts in the outfield.

Senzel is the superior talent, and he was the team’s top prospect who got the call last year, but he’s battled injuries throughout his minor league and big league career so far. 

Tim Anderson (SS – CHW)

That’s the best word to use to describe Anderson’s 2019 season.

Now, do I think he’ll be bad in 2020? No, I don’t. But, there’s no chance Anderson leads the league in batting average again.

Anderson is a career .276 hitter, and he hit .335 last year. If you look at his xBA, though, it was .294, making his gap between his expected average and actual average the fourth-largest in baseball. To be fair, .294 is one hell of a mark, but looking around .270-.280 is more realistic for Anderson.

He’ll be leading off for a great lineup, so his runs should be high, but looking at his exit velocity (36th percentile) and hard hit rate (39th percentile), we should temper expectations of a 20-homer season.

It hurts Anderson that he plays shortstop, which along with third base, is the deepest position in fantasy this year. 

He’s an easy fade this year given the other options at the position.

Adalberto Mondesi (SS – KC)
Bold prediction time: Mondesi won’t be a thing in 2021.

Mondesi showed last year that he wasn’t worth grabbing in the first three to four rounds of your draft, yet here we are again, with Mondesi going off the board 55th overall per FantasyPros ADP.

He’s not a complete zero at power, but you’re drafting him for speed only, essentially. If you look at his xwOBA (6th percentile), xSLG (16th percentile), and xBA (14th percentile) and pair that with his 29.8 K% and 4.3 BB% (both bottom 6 percent of baseball), what’s to like? 

Oh, that’s not to mention that he’s recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. 

Unless you’re in a big tournament-style league where you need to look for the splash play, avoid Mondesi this year and find your steals elsewhere where you don’t have to make quite the investment.

Tommy Pham (OF – SD)
You really need to try to remember that Pham is already 32 because of the late start he got to his career. While he’s been a top fantasy contributor for the past three years, he’s at the age where skills tend to fall off.

If you look at Pham’s batted ball data, he still has a high exit velocity and hard hit rate (both 82nd percentile), and his spring speed and xOBA and xBA are all great and above average, respectively.

But there are signs that a decline could take place, making him a guy you could be overdrafting at 83rd overall.

He recorded his lowest launch angle of his career in 2019, which resulted in the fourth-highest groundball rate in the big leagues. What’s more, he also was 128th in baseball in Brls/Bbe%, tied with the likes of Mondesi, Travis d’Arnaud, Maikel Franco, and Andrew Benintendi.

Take into account his batted ball profile and his age, seeing the loss of of a handful of steals and homers could make him a pick you regret, especially when you see names like Nelson Cruz, Eddie Rosario, Matt Chapman, and Nick Castellanos going after him.

If he falls to around 110, you should pull the trigger, but right now, add him to your fade list.

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Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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