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9 Busts to Avoid (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

Mar 16, 2023

Busts are generally players who drastically fail to live up to their average draft position (ADP). The earlier a bust is taken, the higher the chance is that he can wreck your season. Therefore, a great way to mitigate potentially losing your season before it starts is to do your best to avoid the athletes who carry the most risk early and play it safe.

We asked our featured experts to break down players you should avoid at their current ADP.

Fantasy Baseball Busts to Avoid in 2023

1. Which hitter inside the top 150 overall in ECR do you expect to be this year’s biggest bust and why?

Oneil Cruz (SS – PIT)
“Oneil Cruz has incredible physical gifts, which are reflected by the many bright red figures on his Statcast page (95th or better percentile in barrel rate, max exit velocity and sprint speed, 91st in average EV, and 81st in hard-hit rate) and the 17 HR and 10 SB he produced in just 361 plate appearances as a rookie. But he also hit just .233/.294/.450 thanks to significant contact issues, hits too many grounders and isn’t a terribly efficient base thief. Then consider how little help he has in a putrid Pirates lineup, particularly if (when?) Bryan Reynolds is traded. The ADP is understandable given the sky-high upside, but there are so many elite options at shortstop that I can’t see myself taking the gamble.”
Kyle Bishop (RotoBaller)

C.J. Cron (1B – COL)
“CJ Cron’s home and away splits keep him off my teams this season. Cron was a beast at Coors Field, with 22 home runs and .302 AVG in 2022, but on the road, he caused real damage to your batting average and didn’t add much to the counting stats (seven home runs and .212 AVG in 2022). For Cron to be effective on your fantasy team, you would have to platoon him with another first baseman, and his current ADP of 125 is way too high for a hitter you have to platoon. You will be better off taking Christian Walker, Andrew Vaughn or Anthony Rizzo, who are all going around the same area or later, and they are much more complete hitters and don’t need to sit during away games. ”
Travis Argo (Fantasy Six Pack)

Michael Harris (OF – ATL)
“Atlanta Braves outfielder Michael Harris went off in his rookie year, slashing .297/.339/.514 with 19 home runs, 64 RBI, 75 runs, 20 stolen bases and a .370 wOBA across 441 plate appearances. He is ranked 33rd overall in the latest FantasyPros expert consensus rankings with an ADP of 28.58 in NFBC leagues. It’s a premium price to pay for an unproven player. Harris still has some work to do to improve his 24.3% strikeout rate and his production against lefties, slashing .238/.284/.365 over 135 appearances versus southpaws last year. Fantasy managers can’t expect Harris to repeat his .361 BAIP, as regression is expected for the 22-year-old in 2023. Harris can potentially be a five-category star, but a pick in the first three rounds is expensive for a player with concerning platoon splits. The upside is there for Harris if everything goes right. Still, I would rather have more proven hitters such as Randy Arozarena, Matt Olson and Cedric Mullins II, who are going a few picks after Harris in upcoming fantasy drafts. ”
Brad Camara (RotoBaller)

“Ranking Michael Harris is challenging as we head into this season. Harris emerged in his rookie campaign with a.297/.339/.514 slash line with 19 homers/20 steals in just 144 games. However, his plate discipline, with a 4.8 percent walk rate and an outrageous 55.2 groundball rate, is alarming. It seems that luck was on his side during his rookie season. Investing a top-32 selection in an OF with a small sample size and warning signs that should indicate regression provides me with enough ammunition to pass Harris by when on the clock. ”
Dennis Sosic (Fantasy Six Pack)

Xander Bogaerts (SS – SDP)
“Xander Bogaerts. Much worse in his career away from Fenway. Moves to worst park for righties in terms of XBH. Soto, Bell and Drury all struggled mightily after joining San Diego, I expect Bogaerts to do the same.”
Blake Meyer (Sports Gambling Podcast Network)

Alex Bregman (3B – HOU)
“Alex Bregman might be living on reputation, or his excellent finish to 2022 could be swaying the rankers. Unfortunately, Bregman’s expected stats using Statcast data were less impressive than his surface stats. His batted-ball data wasn’t especially impressive when he heated up at the end of last year, either. The veteran third baseman has stolen only two bases since 2020, with a .260 batting average. And per FanGraphs, Bregman has also averaged only 19.9 homers per 600 plate appearances in that timeframe. Thus, a top-65 pick isn’t justifiable for him.”
Josh Shepardson (FantasyPros)

2. Which pitcher inside the top 150 overall in ECR do you expect to be this year’s biggest bust and why?

Jacob deGrom (SP – TEX)
“There’s no doubt that when Jacob deGrom pitches, he’s transcendent. Aye, there’s the rub — how many innings can you reasonably expect from a guy who has only managed 156 in the last two years, is entering his age-35 season, and has already come up lame this spring? In the early rounds, I’m prioritizing floor over upside and not chasing injuries, which makes deGrom’s ADP unpalatable. If he makes it through the year in one piece, I’ll regret it — but that’s a pretty big if.”
Kyle Bishop (RotoBaller)

Dylan Cease (SP – CWS)
“Chicago White Sox ace Dylan Cease was incredible in 2022 and finished second in the AL CY Young voting. He owned a 14-8 record with a 2.20 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and a 227:78 K:BB ratio across 182 innings. As great as Cease was last year, regression is due in 2023. His 3.50 FIP and 3.48 SIERA illustrate that he won’t repeat his 2.20 ERA. The 27-year-old will also need to reduce his double-digit walk rate, and it will be hard for him to repeat his .260 BABIP. Cease is 48th overall in the latest FantasyPros expert consensus rankings with an ADP of 43.99 in NFBC leagues. Cease can rack up the strikeouts, but living up to that draft price could be challenging. I would instead pass on Cease and wait for a round or so to take Max Fried, Yu Darvish, Alek Manoah or Framber Valdez, who are better values and going after the White Sox right-hander in upcoming drafts. ”
Brad Camara (RotoBaller)

Dylan Cease. His second half numbers last year scare me. K rate dropped to 8.74 per 9, K-BB% to just 15.1%. His xFIP ballooned from 2.92 in the first half to 4.27 in the second half. I’m not convinced that second half isn’t the real Cease.”
Blake Meyer (Sports Gambling Podcast Network)

Kenley Jansen (RP – BOS)
“Kenley Jansen has been one of the game’s best relievers in his career. However, the blemishes are starting to surface. According to FanGraphs, Jansen’s 11.4 SwStr% last year was the lowest of his career. Furthermore, he had a sub-30 GB% twice in the previous three years. A decline in missing bats and an increase in flyballs could spell doom for him at hitter-friendly Fenway Park this season.”
Josh Shepardson (FantasyPros)

Spencer Strider (SP – ATL)
“Spencer Strider is coming off a phenomenal rookie campaign, finishing the season with an 11-5 record with a 2.67 ERA and 0.995 WHIP while striking out a whopping 202 batters across only 131.2 innings. Strider won the NL Rookie of the Year while producing incredible numbers. The current ECR has Strider coming off the draft board as the SP6, which is a high price for one great season. Especially when you consider that Strider has pitched at most 130 innings in his career, and the increase in innings typically takes its toll. Fangraph and ZIPS projections have Strider taking a step back from his 4.9 fWAR last season down to 3.5, along with his other numbers across the board this season. Fantasy managers should never pay for a career season, especially when selecting that player over established pitchers like Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Brandon Woodruff. ”
Dennis Sosic (Fantasy Six Pack)

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 – which optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball draft season.

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