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Fantasy Baseball Draft Busts to Avoid: Pitchers (2023)

by Josh Shepardson | @BChad50 | Featured Writer
Mar 14, 2023
Alek Manoah

Even Alek Manoah’s most-favorable ERA estimators were more than a run higher than his ERA.

Fantasy baseball draft season is a time of optimism. Sadly, not every player will live up to draft-day expectations. Some players will inevitably fail to deliver value at their average draft position (ADP). Avoiding costly busts can help a squad contend for a championship. But, of course, bust is a relative term, and the cost of missing on a late-round pick is minimal. As a result, the three pitchers featured in this space have a top-125 ADP, and two have a top-100 ADP.

Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

Bust Pitchers (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

Alek Manoah (SP – TOR): 50.8 ADP & 64.6 ECR

Manoah is over-drafted as the SP20 in ADP. The 25-year-old righty’s 2.24 ERA in 2022 was significantly out of whack from his ERA estimators. Per FanGraphs, Manoah had a 3.31 xERA, 3.35 FIP, 3.97 xFIP and 3.85 SIERA. Even Manoah’s most-favorable ERA estimators were more than a run higher than his ERA.

In addition, his strikeout rate slid from 27.7% in his rookie season to 22.9% last year. The dip in strikeout rate coincided with his SwStr% and called CSW% dropping from his first to his second campaign.

Can Manoah be an outlier who overperforms his ERA annually? Maybe. It’s too early in his career to bank on that, though. As a result, I have him ranked 71st overall, lower than his ADP and expert consensus ranking (ECR).

Kenley Jansen (RP – BOS): 97.4 ADP & 124.8 ECR

According to last year’s value-based rankings (VBR), Jansen was the 43rd-ranked pitcher. The once dominant closer is selected as a top-100 pick and the 38th pitcher. Sadly, his underlying data was decent but provided a reason for concern.

Jansen’s 3.38 ERA was roughly in line with his 3.45 xERA. Further, his 2.75 SIERA and 2.34 xERA were better than his ERA. However, Jansen’s had his two lowest groundball rates since 2020. Jansen’s 11.4 SwStr% in 2022 was also the lowest mark in his career and a stark fall from his 15.0 SwStr% in 2021.

A change of scenery could also pose problems for Jansen’s flyball-heavy batted-ball profile. According to our park factors, Fenway Park has the third-highest park factor for runs (1.210), third-highest for triples (1.643) and highest for doubles (1.298). It also increases homers (1.095). The combination of missing fewer bats and allowing more flyballs is a recipe for a potentially disastrous season. So, gamers should allow another league mate to overpay for a name-brand closer. Thus, the rankers have the right idea, even if they aren’t as aggressively out on Jansen as I am, ranking him 156th overall.

Hunter Greene (SP – CIN): 122.2 ADP & 125.8 ECR

Greene has an electrifying arsenal and an exciting long-term outlook. Unfortunately, he might take some more lumps this year after turning in a 4.44 ERA in 24 starts and 125.2 innings last year.

The hard-throwing youngster allowed 1.72 HR/9 in his homer-friendly home ballpark. Great American Ball Park has the highest park factor for homers (1.518). Additionally, Greene allowed 1.37 HR/9 in 72.1 innings at the Triple-A level. So, coughing up homers isn’t a recent issue for him.

Greene could also struggle to win games for the rebuilding Reds. He earned five wins in 24 starts last year, and the Reds aren’t a powerhouse club. FanGraphs projects the Reds for only 68 wins, and Baseball Prospectus projects them for 67.9 wins. Greene’s strikeout ability is undeniable, but the remainder of his profile leaves much to be desired. Instead of investing in Greene at his ADP, gamers should consider choosing his teammate, Nick Lodolo (129.2 ADP).

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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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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