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7 Early Fantasy Baseball Busts

Jan 27, 2022

You can’t win your draft in the early rounds, but you can certainly lose it. Avoiding risk at the top of your draft is the key to ensuring that you don’t flush your season down the toilet before it even starts. Potential “busts” are generally regarded as high-priced players who have a good chance of bottoming out. However, this label can also apply to those who just moderately underperform compared to their expectations as well. As such, an athlete doesn’t have to be completely ineffective to be a bust. With that being said, we’ve got our featured experts around to shed light on which hitters and pitchers have draft costs that are a bit too rich for their blood. Please keep in mind that the following players are not guys who should flat-out be avoided at all costs as they can provide some value if they’re had for a discount.

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Q1. Which hitter inside the top 40 in hitter ECR do you expect to be this year’s biggest bust and why?

Austin Riley (1B/3B/OF – ATL): Hitter ECR – 29th 
“Atlanta Braves third baseman Austin Riley is 29th among all hitters in the latest FantasyPros expert consensus rankings after having a career year in 2021. He slashed .303/.367/.531 with 33 home runs, 107 RBIs, and 91 runs scored over 662 plate appearances last season. The 24-year-old has elite power but fantasy managers can’t expect Riley to hit .300 again, seeing as how he was a career .283 hitter in the minors, and his BABIP rose 88 points from the previous season. Riley will hit close to 30 homers, but with a career of 7.2 BB%, the Braves’ slugger could see a dip in runs and RBIs, making him more of a pick outside the top 50 overall.”
– Brad Camara (RotoBaller)

Luis Robert (OF – CWS): Hitter ECR – 12th  
“We’re all suckers for power-speed guys, so it’s hard to resist the siren song of a young player capable of providing us with 40 home runs and 25 steals. But it feels too early to make the 24-year-old Robert a borderline first-rounder. He’s had health issues (though it’s too early to label him injury-prone). He’s had contact issues (though he made great strides in that area last year). A near-.400 BABIP last year fueled a fluky .338 batting average, which is contributing to the lofty ADP. Expect some statistical recoil from an exciting young player who’s likely still in the pre-peak phase of his career.”
– Pat Fitzmaurice (FantasyPros)

Salvador Perez (C/DH – KC): Hitter ECR – 30th  
“I love Sal Perez — a throwback, power-hitting catcher. But his 48 HRs last year are an outlier. Can he top 30 again? Sure. His previous high was 27 in ’17 and ’18. However, investing early in catchers is always dicey because of the injury quotient and their potential for a second-half fade. At consensus hitter ECR of 30, Perez is just a little rich for my blood.”
– Joe Pisapia (FantasyPros)

Trevor Story (SS – FA): Hitter ECR – 28th  
“Story screams out to me as a big bust this season. He is likely out of Colorado and his career home/road splits alone say he is going to not be as good as he was when he played half his games at Coors. It is not just that though. Last season we saw a decline in production across the board and hitting advanced metrics back up this decline.”
– Joe Bond (Fantasy Six Pack)

Q2. Which starting pitcher inside the top 25 in SP ECR do you expect to be this year’s biggest bust and why?

Robbie Ray (SEA): Starting Pitcher ECR – 14th 
“Ray is 14th among all starting pitchers in the latest FantasyPros expert consensus rankings. The 30-year-old won the American League Cy Young Award and was rewarded with a five-year deal from the Seattle Mariners during the offseason. He owned a 13-7 record along with a 2.84 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and a 248:52 K:BB over 193 1/3 innings for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2021. Ray struggled with control and had been hurt by the long ball throughout his career. The move to Seattle’s pitcher-friendly T-Mobile Park should help alleviate his mistakes. However, with a career of 3.94 BB:9 and 1.36 HR:9, Ray will rack up the strikeouts, but fantasy managers can’t expect a repeat of his 2021 season.”
– Brad Camara (RotoBaller)

Robbie Ray has been on my do-not-draft list for years, and he still terrifies me even after a Cy Young season. Notorious for poor control, Ray pounded the strike zone with his electric stuff in 2021, posting a career-low walk rate and a career-high swinging strike rate. But do you really want to bet that the control is here to stay? Ray at his worst is a negative-value pitcher capable of single-handedly tanking your team WHIP. Even with a move to the more pitcher-friendly AL West, Ray’s potential downside makes him a no-go at his fourth-round ADP.”
– Pat Fitzmaurice (FantasyPros)

Lance Lynn (CWS): Starting Pitcher ECR – 15th  
“Lynn is my bust candidate. I know 2021 was fantastic overall for him, with a near career-best ERA, WHIP, and K/9. My issue is that last season, despite a very nice K/9, his total strikeouts were not as good as they could have been because he was not allowed to pitch deep into games as he had in the past. As an older pitcher, I don’t see this changing and this limits his upside. Lynn is a safe pitcher, but one that is likely to get passed by up-and-coming younger guys who will be able to go deeper in games more often and rack up the strikeouts.”
– Joe Bond (Fantasy Six Pack)

Jacob deGrom (NYM): Starting Pitcher ECR – 5th  
“If I am spending a top pick on a pitcher, I have to be sure about his durability. Frankly, I’m not sold on the health of Jacob deGrom’s elbow. Even a good spring or a strong first month or two does not mean that elbow inflammation isn’t capable of creeping up again at any time and killing his 2022 season. Personally, I prefer adding two top-20 arms, rather than reaching for a top-five arm early based on the pitcher pool this season. deGrom just comes with so much risk and not enough of a discount for my taste.”
– Joe Pisapia (FantasyPros)

Thank you to the experts for giving us their top early busts. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter.

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