Part of the fun of doing all the player research I do, or anyone else does, is spotting breakouts. Everyone loves being the one to point out that they knew a player was going to be the man that year before everyone else. While that is important, spotting busts may be even more beneficial.
When prepping for your draft, knowing the guys you want to avoid helps you make smarter picks throughout. You have to understand what is considered a bust, though. Obviously, a guy picked in the top 10 who ends the year as the 300th overall player is a bust. The more common “bust” would be someone picked in, say, the fourth round who ends up returning 10th- or 11th-round talent.
These are the guys I’ve keyed in on for my “bust” list for 2023:
- Fitz’s Positional Primers
- Justin Mason’s Draft Day Cheat Sheet
- Players the Experts Draft
- Latest Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft
Xander Bogaerts (SS – SD)
(Current ADP: 79)
This is a hill that I am prepared to die on this season… leaving Boston is going to be the worst thing to ever happen to Bogaerts’ career and fantasy value. I understand the man got paid, and I applaud him for that, but stats-wise he’s going to struggle mightily in 2023.
There are two reasons for this. For one, Bogaerts was seemingly built in a lab specializing in successful Fenway Park hitters. In 631 career games at Fenway Park, Bogaerts hit .312 with 165 doubles, 89 home runs, and an .872 OPS. In 625 away games in his career, he’s hit .271 with 143 doubles, 67 home runs, and a .758 OPS.
His new home, Petco Park, is also the second-least hitter-friendly park in baseball. It’s the worst in terms of XBH for right-handed hitters. Many people point to the fact that he’ll be hitting in the heart of a stacked lineup. That may be true, but we’ve recently seen our fair share of hitters struggle once moving to San Diego.
|Player||BA Before Joining SD||BA After Joining SD|
There’s a legitimate chance Bogaerts ends the season hitting .270 with 11 home runs and eight stolen bases. Those aren’t stats worthy of a top-80 pick.
Tyler O’Neill (OF – STL)
(Current ADP: 100)
The more removed we get from the 2021 season, the more Tyler O’Neill’s 34/15 season starts to look like an anomaly. That’s the biggest knock on O’Neill. Where his ADP sits right now, it seems to have a bounce baked into it and I’m not sure I’m buying it.
In 2022, O’Neill lost a decent chunk of the season to injury, only playing 96 games. This isn’t entirely new for him, though. In fact, 2021 is the only season of his career where he played more than 100 games. Now pair that with the fact that O’Neill’s production slipped and the Cardinals have a plethora of young outfield talent. There’s a reason for concern.
My biggest concern was O’Neill’s sudden inability to hit anything that’s not a fastball. In 2021, he was a solid all-around hitter. He flashed the power as well as the ability to hit anything thrown at him on his way to a career-best .286 average. That was different last season.
There are too many negatives for me to believe he can finish as a top-100 player.
Christian Yelich (OF – MIL)
(Current ADP: 117)
Yelich is someone who I want so badly to like, but the return on investment just isn’t there. Now, if this was March 2020 and he was riding high off of his 44 home-run season in 2019, things would be different. But they aren’t. In my eyes, Yelich has become the quintessential “man who used to be really good and should still be in the prime of his career, so the upside is there” guy, but his 2021 and 2022 seasons proved that isn’t true.
In 154 games last year, Yelich hit .252 with 14 home runs, 57 RBIs, and 19 steals. He had an almost identical season to Thairo Estrada. The only real difference was Yelich scored 99 runs and had a better OBP. Estrada is currently being drafted 184th overall. Yelich does pop on the Statcast pages, though. His 8.1% barrel rate, 91.5 MPH average exit velocity, and 48.5% hard-hit rate are all well above average. The problem is his groundball rate. For the fourth year in a row, his groundball rate jumped significantly — this time up to 58.6%. He has the power-hitting metrics; he just doesn’t get the lift on the ball he needs to be the power-hitting savant he once was.
While I hope he proves me wrong, I just don’t see it this season. It’s hard to draft a guy on upside he has shown he no longer has. And with outfielders like Anthony Santander, Taylor Ward, and even Kris Bryant going after him that have an arguably even higher ceiling, it’s hard to justify him living up to the value at 117.
Luis Robert Jr. (OF – CWS)
(Current ADP: 45)
Let’s be honest — Luis Robert would be so damn good if he could just learn the secret to not getting hurt every game he plays. The once-top prospect has been hyped as an amazing talent since he hit the league during the weird covid year. And to his credit, he was really good for the majority of the shortened season. But that’s where the injury issue comes into play. Normally I don’t like labeling someone of Robert’s ability as a “bust” because everyone can shake the injury-prone label at some point. My reasoning for labeling him as a bust is he’s currently going as a fourth-round pick in standard 12-team leagues. The fourth round is where you should still be taking guys you are absolutely sure will ball out for you all season long. You can’t necessarily win your league in the very early rounds of your draft, but you can certainly lose it.
In three seasons, Robert has played a grand total of 222 games, and the 98 he played in 2022 was his career high. In those 222 games, he’s put up excellent numbers, hitting .289 with 48 doubles, 36 home runs, 26 stolen bases, and an .808 OPS. He’s been excellent in the Statcast department as well. His career 10.9% barrel rate, 43.1% hard-hit rate, and .483 xSLG are all way above league average. Again, though, it comes down to health.
Even in his healthiest season, 2020, he finished the year as the 56th-best player in NFBC leagues. He’s never come close to even finishing inside the top 100 in the two years after that. Taking him with the 45th pick in the draft this year just has bust written all over it. I hope to be proven wrong, but only time will tell.
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.
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | SoundCloud | iHeartRadio