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8 Players to Avoid (2020 Fantasy Baseball)

Apr 24, 2020

Xander Bogaerts places high in the ECR despite continuing to run less.

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We’ve asked our writers to identify the top player (inside the top 30 of our Expert Consensus Rankings) that they are avoiding the most in upcoming fantasy baseball drafts. Here’s what they had to say.

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Q: Which player in the top 30 ECR are you avoiding the most?

Xander Bogaerts (SS – BOS)
Bogaerts’ excellent 2019 season came with plenty of red flags, including that his batted-ball data looked eerily similar to his more mediocre 2018 season. Worse than that, his stolen base total dipped to just four, continuing a downward trend. Now in a worse lineup, with no contribution in stolen bases, and likely out of Fenway Park, he’s not someone to take inside the top 30, particularly with the depth at the shortstop position.
– Dan Harris (@danharris80)

I feel the loss of Mookie Betts will have a negative impact on the entire Red Sox lineup, but particularly Bogaerts. I’ve never felt he was a consistent hitter, and I am more concerned this year than in the past. His draft slot is far too high, and there are many more shortstops I would prefer.
– Bernie Pleskoff (@BerniePleskoff)

Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS – SD)
This has been said several times throughout the offseason, but Tatis’s ECR of 19 represents his ceiling. His expected stats were significantly lower than what actually happened, suggesting that major negative regression is in store. I’ve got Tatis projected for 25 homers and 18 stolen bases over 600 plate appearances, not taking into account a shortened season. I’m expecting Tatis to run less given the upgrades to the Padres’ lineup this winter. Thirty or more homers is possible given his above-average barrel rate, but he’ll need to lift the ball more regularly to take advantage of said power. Finally, Tatis suffered two injuries last year, and I’m avoiding injury-prone players as much as I can through the first several rounds.
– Carmen Maiorano (@carmsclubhouse)

Tatis could be a league-winner, sure, as he is young and a former elite prospect, so his upside is yet to be discovered. But if you are expecting him to come close to repeating last year’s insane efficiency, you will most likely be mistaken. His league-high BABIP makes his AVG entirely unsustainable, and more than likely to drop 40 to 60 points! Likewise, his HR/FB ratio was unreasonably high so the HRs and RBIs are both likely to dip as well. As if that wasn’t enough, Tatis is coming off a major injury that leaves some question marks.
– Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)

Rafael Devers (3B – BOS)
There’s just no way to write about Rafael Devers without using the word “regression.” He was a flat-out monster in 2019, but it was an explosive and meteoric rise that, if he can maintain it, would suggest that he might be the best hitter in baseball. He’s clearly in the upper echelon, but we have probably seen his ceiling for the foreseeable future. Most importantly, Devers’ 17.7 soft hit percentage ranked 97th among qualified hitters. We can’t expect the same results in 2020, and the depth at third base makes him an easy pass for me.
– Mario Mergola (@MarioMergola)

Nolan Arenado (3B – COL)
The one thing that seems certain about this MLB season is that at least a large portion of it would be played away from normal home stadiums. This means that Nolan Arenado will see either way fewer or no at-bats at all in Coors Field. That kills his value, and I am not super interested in him because of it.
– Jon Anderson (@JonPGH)

Jose Ramirez (2B – CLE)
While there’s no denying Jose Ramirez’s upside, he has been wildly inconsistent dating back even to his stellar campaign two seasons ago. Since 2018, Ramirez has had an AVG above .320 for four separate month-long spans. On the flip side, he’s also hit under .216 for three full month-long intervals. Ramirez just doesn’t make a lot of hard contact compared to other star players, leading to wild fluctuations in his production. No one should be looking to buy a lottery ticket in the first or second round, which is exactly what Ramirez has become.
– Alex Altmix (@Altmix_23)

Javier Baez (SS – CHC)
Baez peaked in 2018, and his 2019 statistical decline might have been caused by a nagging left thumb injury. Despite the thumb injury, the 27-year-old shortstop is still the free-swinger he always has been, evidenced by his 27.8% K rate. Baez slashed .281/.316/.531 with 29 home runs, 85 RBIs, 89 runs, and 11 stolen bases across 561 plate appearances in 2019. He has also been inefficient on the base paths, as he has been caught stealing 16 times in his last two campaigns. Baez has also missed time in three of his last four seasons due to multiple injuries. He will post solid totals, but is Baez really worth reaching for in the third round? With the SS position being so deep, I’d rather wait a couple of rounds and select Bo Bichette, whose final 2020 stats could surpass or come close to Baez.
– Brad Camara (@beerad30)

Starling Marte (OF – ARI)
It certainly makes sense to opt for safety in the early rounds of fantasy drafts. On the surface, that appears to be what we have with Starling Marte, sitting at 24th overall in FantasyPros’ expert consensus rankings. Marte can be considered “safe” because he’s a jack of all trades. In 2019, he hit .295 with 23 homers, 25 steals, and 179 runs + RBIs. That across-the-board production is particularly useful in rotisserie leagues. If he repeats those numbers, he will be worthy of an early-round selection. The issue with Marte is that you’re banking on it. Now 31 years old, it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if he started swiping fewer bases. Even dropping to 15 steals would hurt his value immensely. While he has been a consistent batting average contributor throughout the years, it has proven to be a volatile stat. All it would take is slightly less production from one of these categories to not view Marte quite as favorably anymore.
– Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma)

Jack Flaherty (SP – STL)
If there’s a season, drafters will have to reaccess how they assemble a pitching staff. One mediocre stretch could torpedo a hurler’s final line in a shortened campaign. The possibility of making every start in a hot and humid location like Arizona — in a smaller park usually reserved for spring training — could grease the fire for such slip-ups. It might seem weird to single out Flaherty, who would have been 2019’s fantasy MVP if the season started in July. However, these circumstances make it even riskier to invest a third-round pick on a pitcher who surrendered a 7.01 ERA and nine of his 20 first-half home runs in June. No expensive ace will have any margin for error, which is why I’m more likely to now eschew them all in this range. The least polished of the premier starters, Flaherty has the rockiest path to returning value on a No. 26 ECR that all but ignores last season’s rough beginning.
– Andrew Gould (@AndrewGould4)

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