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Top 8 Busts in 2020 (Fantasy Baseball)

May 26, 2020

It may be wise to think twice about drafting George Springer at his current ADP heading into a shortened season

There is still plenty of optimism that MLB games will be played in 2020 despite the roadblocks that remain. If our hopes for baseball returning come to fruition in the relatively near future, then we will be met with a version of America’s pastime that we haven’t seen before.

A shorter season threatens to devalue pitchers whose value is primarily derived from throwing many innings. Plus, players who are notorious for slumping out of the gate will have less time to right the ship. These are just a couple examples of how a shortened season can harm the values of certain players. With that being said, our featured experts have shared which early-round athletes they believe are the most negatively impacted by the delayed season.

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Q1. Who is one hitter inside the top 65 in hitter ADP you are low on because of the shortened season and why?

George Springer (OF – HOU): ADP – 42nd Overall | H30
“Springer was already due for a healthy amount of regression to his career-best .292 batting average and 39 home runs from 2019, but the shortened season may well accelerate his decline. The unbalanced regional schedule would mean that he would have a higher proportion of games against AL West opponents, none of whom play in a home ballpark that is likely to be conducive to offensive fireworks. It also means Springer will frequently travel to face teams in the NL West, where every ballpark other than Coors Field is below average for offense, with San Francisco, San Diego, and the Dodgers all sporting bottom-seven parks for offense last season.”
– Andrew Seifter (FantasyPros)

“Some of the appeal with George Springer and the Astros is that they go up against weak AL West pitching staffs. That is zapped when they’ll take on the Dodgers and Diamondbacks much more often, while also playing a bunch of games in San Francisco and San Diego’s pitcher-friendly ballparks. Springer takes a bigger hit than Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez because these ballparks impact power hitters much more than batting average.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Matt Chapman (3B – OAK): ADP – 89th Overall | H62
“Chapman is going to be playing the majority of his games in AL West and NL West stadiums and boy, does that take some of the shine off him. He has just a .624 career OPS in Seattle and a career .573 OPS in Houston. Although he usually plays just 11.5% of his games in those parks, he’ll play roughly 17% of his games in those venues with the unbalanced schedule. Add to that additional games in Oracle Park and Petco Park (two of the four worst stadiums for left-handed hitters in terms of park factors) and having games against the Dodgers’ league-leading rotation from last year, and Chapman should be sliding down draft boards a bit.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Anthony Rizzo (1B – CHC): ADP – 57th Overall | H38
“Rizzo has been a consistent, steady producer every single season since entering the bigs, so you could always expect a .275+ average, roughly 28 home runs, and 90+ RBIs in a full season. This consistency, ironically, is exactly why you should be passing on him at his ADP this year. In a shortened season, there will be a larger variance in end-of-season rankings because the sample size will be smaller and hot and cold streaks will be more prominent. This makes the consistent, but unspectacular hitters less valuable, just as it does the ‘innings eaters’ on the pitching side. Expect me to skip over a safe pick like Rizzo and take a chance on lower ADP 1B eligible players with more upside in a shortened season such as Matt Olson or Josh Bell a couple rounds later, or a Luke Voit or Mark Canha much later.”
– Michael Petropoulos (BRoto Fantasy)

J.T. Realmuto (C – PHI): ADP – 56th Overall | H37
“Despite the fact that Realmuto remains the top-ranked catcher heading into a shortened 2020 season, the potential impact on the schedule has me sliding the Phillies’ backstop further down my draft day list. The condensed schedule will undoubtedly result in fewer off days and more doubleheaders. While we can expect all players to need an extra day off here and there, the impact will hit the hardest on those slugging catchers in the NL (assuming no universal DH rules are coupled with the shortened season). The fact of the matter is that the Phillies just don’t have a great pathway to give Realmuto a break behind the plate while keeping his bat in the lineup. He will lose at-bats compared to his top-tier AL counterparts like Gary Sanchez and Yasmani Grandal and his current ADP (56 overall) is far too aggressive an investment than I’m comfortable with at this time.”
– Wayne Bretsky (BretskyBall)

Q2. Who is one starting pitcher inside the top 25 in starting pitcher ADP you are low on because of the shortened season and why?

Mike Soroka (SP – ATL): ADP – 94th Overall | SP25
“I wasn’t that high on Soroka to begin with, but the delay and regional schedule certainly don’t help him. He had a 4.60 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and 5.2 K/9 last year in interleague play and will now play a third of his games against the AL East. That means not only that he’ll see nearly an entire division of strong offenses, but he’ll also pitch in consistently pitcher-friendly parks. His remaining games will come against the NL East, which, although Soroka had strong production against them last year, has mostly high-powered offenses. With plenty of exposure against him and his great slider (18 of his 29 starts came against his own division last year), NL East teams should be particularly familiar with him and be more likely to have success. Add it all up and it’s a downgrade for the young righty.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Mike Soroka just slides into this list as the 25th starting pitcher off the board on average (overall ADP of 94). There is a lot to like about what he brings to the table and ratio stability is perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of roto baseball. However, during a shortened season, fantasy players will be all but forced to rely more heavily on chasing counting statistics. Many of the ratios that we expect to stabilize over the course of a full 162-game season will show increased variability compared to projections. I’ll be hunting down counting stats (read: STRIKEOUTS) at every turn during the sprint of the 2020 fantasy season and that is just not the value that Soroka provides. Don’t drop the young hurler out of the top 40 among starting pitchers, but there are a handful of reliable, high-strikeout arms that I will gladly select ahead of him due to the circumstances.”
– Wayne Bretsky (BretskyBall)

Clayton Kershaw (SP – LAD): ADP – 33rd Overall | SP9
“While he was already a candidate to be overdrafted based on name recognition, Kershaw could end up being an even worse value in a shortened season. Every National League pitcher will take a sizeable hit in fantasy with the implementation of a universal designated hitter, but it could be particularly bad for a pitcher like Kershaw, who has gotten by more on guile (and weak opponents) than on bat-missing ability over the last couple seasons. The regional schedule will also do him no favors. Under the owners’ proposal, he will have to repeatedly face off against the Astros, A’s, and Angels, which project to be three of the best offenses in the league. Plus, a higher percentage of his starts will come at Coors Field. Yuck.”
– Andrew Seifter (FantasyPros)

Corey Kluber (SP – TEX): ADP – 92nd Overall | SP24
“Kluber is currently being drafted as the 24th starting pitcher overall and it honestly makes little sense to me. Not only is he 34 years old coming off a broken forearm that ended his disastrous 2019 season with fewer than 35 innings pitched, but Kluber is also a notoriously slow starter. If he starts the season on a bad stretch, which historically he has, it will negatively impact your fantasy team that much more because he will likely max out at 125-150 innings in a shortened season rather than his typical 200+. Add to the fact that Kluber is joining a new team for the first time in his career, unable to work closely with his new catchers and pitching coach, and I am staying very far away at his current ADP.”
– Michael Petropoulos (BRoto Fantasy)

Aaron Nola (SP – PHI): ADP – 46th Overall | SP14
“So much of Nola’s appeal two months ago was that we knew he’d pitch 200 innings of quality baseball. Now that the season is shortened and young pitchers are no longer on innings limits, you can essentially get the same quality of pitcher as Nola in the 13th or 14th round where Julio Urias and Lance McCullers Jr. are coming off the board. Nola will also have to take on the AL East bats now.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Thank you to the experts for giving us their top busts. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and subscribe to our podcast below for advice all year round.

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