Skip to main content

10 Hitters to Avoid (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

by Lucas Babits-Feinerman | @wsonfirst | Featured Writer
Jan 21, 2022
10 Hitters to Avoid (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

People are always asking me, “Lucas, you know more about baseball than anybody I’ve ever met in my life. What are your thoughts on the upcoming season?” And I always respond, “Who are you, and how did you get in my living room?” So that’s why I’m publishing some articles, so that kind of thing doesn’t happen anymore.

Drafting a fantasy baseball team is a lot like online dating because there’s a sea of suitable candidates, and you never know who is for real and who isn’t. That’s why fantasy managers need help identifying red flags, and I’ve put together a list of ten top-100 players that I will be avoiding at their ADP (average draft position). I’ve crunched the numbers, so you don’t have to, and here are the results.

Average Draft Position referenced is FantasyPros consensus ADP.

Prepare for your fantasy baseball draft with our Mock Draft Simulator >>

Cedric Mullins (ADP – 28)

Last year, he surprised everyone, winning a silver slugger, making the All-Star team, and finishing ninth in the MVP race. But who is Cedric Mullins, really? Has anyone ever seen Mullins and Jose Cruz Jr. in the same place at the same time? (Cruz Jr. went 30/30 for the Blue Jays in 2001 but never hit more than 21 home runs or stole more than 11 bases in any season for the rest of his career.) So all I’m saying is a guy who comes out of nowhere, like Cedric Mullins, to go 30/30 may have sold his soul to the devil to do it, and we don’t know if he has another soul to pledge to do it again.

Managers are drafting Mullins 28th overall, but he finished 32nd on the player rater last year, which means he has to improve to return value. Then consider Baltimore pushing their fences back in left field will reduce his RBI/run opportunities (but maybe not his home runs because most of those were to Right Field), and that’s another strike for him.

If you want to get granular, then Mullins .291/.360/.518 slash line outperformed his .272/.341/.448 expected slash line, and his .372 wOBA was much higher than his .344 xwOBA. The only time he ever slugged over .500 was when he was a 23-year-old playing in Double-A (that’s old for Double-A). 

Steamer projects 24 home runs with 26 steals and a .259 batting average. That’s pretty good, but it’s not the start of the third round good. For some perspective, Trevor Story hit .251 with 24 home runs and 20 stolen bases last season and finished 88th on the player rater.

Marcus Semien (ADP – 27)

Some things get better with age – wine, blue jeans, cast iron skillets, but not baseball players older than 30. So how did Marcus Semien, a career .256/.324/.444 hitter, do it?

The 31-year-old middle infielder had a career year in 2021, belting 45 home runs and 39 doubles without missing a game. But he’s leaving an ideal situation (what hitter wouldn’t want to be the meat in a Springer-Vlad sandwich?). By the way, had Semien played all his games in Globe Life Field last season, he would have only hit 32 home runs (according to expected home runs by park).

Steamer projects him for 30 home runs, 11 stolen bases, and a .258/.335/.466 batting line, valuable for fantasy purposes, but going from the Blue Jays to Texas put a damper on his R and RBI ceiling. You can compare him to someone like Jorge Polanco, who hit 33 HR and stole 11 bases while hitting .269 for the Twins last season. Polanco finished 41st on the player rater and is available in the 7th round.

The way to win championships is buying low and selling high, and Marcus Semien isn’t getting any higher than he was in 2021.

Byron Buxton (ADP – 66)

If baseball had an award for the most injured player, they would name it after Byron Buxton. He’s got first-round upside, but his bones are made of dry spaghetti, and I like baseball players whose bones are made of collagen.

Steamer projects 30 home runs, 15 steals, and a .267/.316/.514 slash line, the problem is they’re also projecting 131 games played. Buxton, a career .248/.299/.461 hitter had only eclipsed 131 games once in his career – back in 2017 when he played 140 games; since then, he’s played in 28, 87, 39*, and 61 games.

Last season, he finished 358th on the player rater. Still, managers are drafting him 66th overall ahead of Max Fried (58th on the player rater), Jose Abreu (61st on the player rater), and Raisel Iglesias (38th on the player rater). League-winning upside, available in the 5th-7th round, needs to stay healthy; he’s like the Julio Jones of fantasy baseball, and we all know how that turned out.

*COVID shortened 2020-season.

J.T. Realmuto (ADP – 59)

J.T. Realmuto is the best catcher in baseball, and if you don’t believe me, ask a Phillies fan. But he’s not the best hitting catcher in baseball, and fantasy managers don’t get any points for defense.

He hit .263/.343/.439 last season, worse than his .275/.331/.453 career averages, and he’s entering his age-31 season, when most players decline, not improve. If that’s not bad enough, his Statcast expected slash line was .253/.333/.416 with a .329 xwOBA. vs. actual .336 wOBA. He won’t become completely unproductive, but he’s being drafted at the end of the fifth round (59th overall), ahead of 27-year-old Will Smith (who I’d rather have).

Steamer projects .251/.325/.438 with 21 home runs and nine stolen bases in 129 games. The stolen bases are appreciated, especially from a catcher. However, managers can roll the dice on Dalton Varsho (Steamer projects .254, 16 home runs, and seven stolen bases in 102 games) four rounds later for a similar profile.

Also, much of his value is in stolen bases, but how much longer will Realmuto be a stolen base threat? 31-year-old catchers aren’t generally known for their base-running prowess. Let the Phillies fan in your league grab Realmuto at his ADP.

Jazz Chisholm Jr. (ADP – 89)

Jazz has blue hair and runs the bases with reckless abandon; he’s the type of player that baseball should market the heck out of. He’s got enough tools to make Home Depot jealous and even took Jacob deGrom deep last season. But he finished 191st on the player rater, and managers are drafting him 89th ahead of Bryan Reynolds and Giancarlo Stanton.

That means fantasy managers are pricing in a big bump in production for the 23-year-old middle infielder. Steamer projects .241/.304/.427 with 22 home runs and 22 stolen bases, comparable to Robbie Grossman in 2021, who finished 131st on the player rater.

A giant red flag for Jazz is strikeouts (28.6% last year). He has a long swing, hence the strikeouts, and a minor league track record to back up what we’ve seen in the majors. To his credit, Jazz has always played against older competition, but so has Wander Franco.

I have him in some dynasty leagues, but I won’t be drafting him in redraft because I worry if he can stay healthy (a lot of the skinny, speedy types get injured), and I don’t think he can cut down on the strikeouts. Long-term, he has a Javier Baez/B.J. Upton-type profile, but he’s still a little too green for me to invest an eighth-round pick.

Adalberto Mondesi (ADP – 71)

Adalberto Mondesi is faster than 5G internet. He’s the best base stealer in the game, but like Byron Buxton, he cannot stay healthy.

Last season he was active for 35 games and still tied for 22nd in stolen bases with 15; that’s 64 steals in 150 games. But Mondesi has as good a chance to play 150 games next year as the Royals have to win the World Series.

Eventually, all the injuries will take a toll on his game; he already strikes out way too much (31.6% last season), which means he’s a stone’s throw away from becoming Billy Hamilton. And he’s going ahead of guys like Corey Seager, Javier Baez, Brandon Lowe, and Carlos Correa, which doesn’t seem right considering their bones are made of cartilage while Mondesi’s are made of chalk.

Stolen bases are hard to come by, and that makes Mondesi a shiny toy, but they’re even harder to come by when you’re not on the field.

To help bolster your willpower, consider that Mondesi won’t score many runs or drive in many runs (because he plays for the Royals), and he won’t hit for a high batting average because of all the strikeouts.

Ryan Mountcastle (ADP – 110)

Expectations were as tall as the Green Monster for Mountcastle in 2021, but it was a mixed bag; he was as streaky as poorly washed windows.

He hit .327/.382/.684 or better for two months and .256/.283/.465 or worse for four months, finishing 118th on the player rater, right around where managers are drafting him.

Steamer projects him to hit .258/.314/.464 with 29 home runs and five steals next season, a modest decline from last year’s totals, but there are a couple of red flags that make me swipe left on Mountcastle. First, the Orioles moved their left-field wall back nearly 30 feet and made it taller; that means fewer home runs. Second, the Orioles are not even trying to win this season, which isn’t good for morale. Third, his strikeout rate exploded to 27.5% last season, which is bearish for his batting average. That’s why I worry that he won’t match his projections.

And I’d rather have Kyle Schwarber two picks later.

Tim Anderson (ADP – 43)

Tim Anderson finished 51st on the player rater, slashing .309/.338/.469 in 123 games with 17 home runs and 18 steals. The problem? Managers are drafting him 43rd overall.

Sometimes a guy comes up to you with 15+ steals and home runs, and you miss red flags because you’re distracted by his *ahem* assets. Anderson’s walk rate (4.0%) was the worst among qualified hitters, and his BABIP (.372) was the highest. If Anderson isn’t knocking base hits, he isn’t getting on base, and if he isn’t getting on base, he isn’t stealing, and if he’s not stealing, why did you draft him?

He isn’t one of those guys like IKF, Altuve, or David Fletcher who slap at everything and never walk but also never strike out; no, his k-rate (21.6%) is in the meaty part of the bell curve.

Steamer projects 23 home runs and 19 steals with a .283/.318/.447 slash line in 150 games. The problem? He hasn’t played in 150 games since 2018.

He’s another guy who misses a chunk of time each season.

He reminds me a bit of Jeff McNeil, who sustained a high BABIP for multiple seasons despite middling exit velocities and then fell off hard with seemingly no warning. I don’t think the drop-off for Anderson will be as hard and fast as it was for McNeil because Anderson has a speed tool that McNeil doesn’t. Still, Anderson’s luck has to run out sooner or later, and he already has to be better than he was last season to return value on draft day, so that’s a no for me, dawg.

Wander Franco is going one spot after him, and Francisco Lindor is going almost one round later. So I’d choose them instead.

Alex Bregman (ADP – 76)

I honestly don’t know what to make of the Astros hitters from 2017 to 2019. The cheating allegations continue through the 2019 postseason (buzzers, whistles, etc.), so it’s fair to cast a discerning eye on any stats from that period. Nobody has indeed proven anything, but I don’t exactly trust MLB to go out of their way to damage their brand and reveal the full extent of the Astros misdeeds. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and you have to ask yourself, why would they stop cheating after winning the World Series?

So yes, Bregman was an MVP caliber player in 2018 and 2019 and has fallen apart since then, but I’m discounting those seasons because I’m not sure he wasn’t cheating.

Since the scandal broke, Bregman has batted .261/.353/.431 in 133 games over two seasons, much lower than his .281/.377/.507 career average. Compare his batting average against 4-Seamers and curveballs pre-scandal (2019) vs. post-scandal (2020 & 2021); pre-, .333 against curveballs and .329 against 4-Seamers to .250/.280 in 2020 and .254/.281 in 2021.

Injuries have played a big part in his decline, especially in 2021 when he hit .270/.355/.422 in 91 games. His plate discipline remains elite, and perhaps that’s all it was: injuries, but I’m not confident he can rebound. His downfall reminds me of Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich.

Steamer projects 27 home runs and a .270/.380/.486 slash line in 146 games, similar to Carlos Correa’s 2021 season, which would provide value where managers are drafting him, but there are too many question marks for me.

I’d instead grab Ketel Marte, who’s going a couple of picks later and who I’m sure will hit if he’s on the field.

Bregman also had offseason wrist surgery which is another demerit.

Kris Bryant (ADP – 85)

I don’t even know where this guy will play next season. If he ends up in an ideal situation, I might take him off the list; otherwise, I see a guy who needs to improve to return value, and at age 30, I don’t think that’s very likely.

Bryant was noticeably worse in the second half than the first (126 wRC+ vs. 118 wRC+), and his slugging fell nearly 50 points from .502 to .455. Of course, part of that is the result of moving to a pitcher-friendly home ballpark, but his statistical profile has the look of someone who peaked at age 24/25. As we get further away from his peak, the more his skills diminish, and the more his skills diminish, the less I want him on my fantasy team.

Steamer projects 23 home runs, seven steals (better than nothing), and a .251/.343/.445 slash line in 139 games that would be similar to Ryan McMahon, who slashed .254/.331/.449 last season and finished 143rd on the player rater. Yeah, no.

Complete a mock draft in minutes with our free Draft Simulator >>

SubscribeApple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | SoundCloud | iHeartRadio

Beyond our fantasy baseball content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – that optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball draft season.

Lucas Babits-Feinerman is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Lucas, check out his archive and follow him @WSonFirst.

Featured, Featured Link, MLB