Do Not Draft List
Everybody wants to read about sleepers. It’s all about finding breakout players and outperforming draft ranks. But people rarely focus on avoiding the players who underperform their draft ranks.It’s equally as important. Nothing will derail your season faster than guys you invested early picks in failing to perform.
I don’t like calling guys “busts”. In the game of fantasy baseball, there are literally hundreds of players who add some sort of value to your team. The deeper your league, the more players who have value and are worthy of roster consideration. There are few players who are truly worthless for fantasy purposes. But, there are players who offer far less value to your team than the experts project them to.
There is an inefficiency in how experts rank players. They tend to rank players based on their projected ceiling. Here’s the rub though. Most players don’t hit their ceiling. Especially younger ones. You want to draft guys for their most likely projected outcome. And that’s what I’m here to help you do. Here are the guys who I think will fail to return you value based on their current NFBC mock draft position.
Mike Trout -14th Overall
I’m going on 20 years playing fantasy baseball and I have never owned him. I never, ever get the chance to pick first in my drafts. NEVER. And no matter the format over the last 10 years, that’s where you needed to draft to get him. He’s finally dropped out of the first round and unfortunately, I still don’t think I can take him.
I don’t think that Trout is washed up. I think he is as good a hitter as he’s ever been. He can still hit 30+ bombs and put up a .290 average. The Angels should be good enough to get him close to triple digit runs and/or RBI. But he doesn’t steal bases anymore. The biggest concern is he’s shown it’s difficult for him to stay healthy for 162 games.
The guy is a freaking animal when he plays. He’s the type who could give you an MVP caliber stat line in 130 games. I don’t have him buried. I have him as the 18th hitter and 36th overall. Still a very valuable player and one to keep an eye on if he falls down the boards. But certainly not a guy I want in the second round. The projections the experts have on him to justify that ranking would be his best season since 2018. He hasn’t played more than 140 games since 2016. How do you think it’s most likely to play out?
Ozzie Albies- 18th Overall
Is Ozzie Albies the second best option at second base, a notoriously shallow position? Yes. Is he the 18th best player in the game? No. Not even close. He is fresh off a career year in which he hit 30 homers and stole 20 bases. Literally. 30 and 20. I don’t want to minimize his season. But, it’s the first time he has reached either threshold and he BARELY made it.
Now, he’s only 25 so I could look foolish if he repeats. He isn’t even in his prime yet so he could be genuinely getting better. There’s nothing super fluky about his stat line. He may have genuinely made adjustments that led to the spike in flyballs and in turn homeruns. But he’s still a free swinger. He doesn’t walk a whole lot and he posted a career low batting average, which is odd considering he piqued in practically everything else.
Positional scarcity is real and it’s hard to feel better about practically any other second baseman in the game. But I feel like Albies most likely outcome is closer to 25 homeruns and 15 steals. Still very good and a top 50 overall player (number 48 in my ranks). The gap between being 18th and 48th is massive. Even missing by that much with such an early pick is a boot right to the McGiblets and can really ruin your season. No thanks, I’ll pass.
Wander Franco- 55th overall
Let’s just get this one out of the way. I love Wander Franco. I really do. I have him in multiple leagues and in only one with super shallow keeper rules am I considering letting him go. But that’s kind of my point here. No matter how much I love him, I have to be honest with myself about his most likely outcome for this season.
Franco held his own in a big way last season. In only a 70 game performance, he made a case for Rookie of the Year. Not at all outmatched, he managed to hit .288 with seven homeruns and two steals to go along with…… Wait, what? That can’t be right. Let me hit fangraphs real quick and…… hmm. Seven homers and two steals. Well, at a full 162 pace, that would be…. Oh… 14 homers and 5 steals. Well, hey let’s look at his triple A numbers from last year. If you combined his 2021 MLB and Triple A numbers, he would have a line of….. 14 homeruns and 7 steals.
Look, Franco did hold his own last year. The fact that he moved to the majors and pretty much hit pitchers there exactly the same way he did in Triple A is incredible. He is going to be a very good player for a very long time. He will probably be the next Hanley Ramirez. But he’s not there today. I wouldn’t blame you for taking him in a keeper or dynasty league because that’s longer term thinking. But for this season? At a deep position? I’m gonna have to pass.
Dylan Cease- 84th Overall
I could make a case to put Cease on either a don’t draft list or a sleeper list. On one hand, he took a massive step forward last year. He saw gains across the board, both in his stats and underlying metrics. K’s up, walks down, good ERA and WHIP and the White Sox are a great team with plenty of opportunities for wins. So if it’s all legit, why is he here?
Frankly, it’s what I’m terming “The Chris Paddack”. The Chris Paddack is when a guy has one phenomenal pitch (Paddack’s is a changeup; for Cease it’s a slider) and he has a great season by just throwing the ever living shit out of it. The rest of his repertoire however, is simply “meh”. Innocent fantasy analysts just crunching numbers may miss this fact however. They will look at his numbers and his age and assume he continues to improve. Unfortunately at the major league level, you can’t survive with just one pitch. Hitters are too good and when that one pitch is a slider, they just stop swinging at it.
Chris Archer was the same way. Once guys stopped swinging at his slider, he stopped being relevant to fantasy. Actually, why didn’t I call it the Chris Archer effect? Oh well, this is why I don’t work in marketing. Anyhow, I think Cease is a solid pitcher. He should have an ERA around 4.00 and a WHIP around 1.25. Probably wins double digit games and has a fighter’s chance at 200 strikeouts. That’s not exactly what you expect at 84th though. He’s going a solid eight rounds too early for me.
Jack Flaherty — 78th Overall
I feel for Flaherty. He’s too young to have had so many injuries to this point. Shoulder problems in Spring Training rarely lead up to a 30+ start season for any pitcher. The kid has good stuff. The Cardinals usually field really strong defensive teams and play in a great pitcher’s park. Health aside, you can’t be set up much better for success.
Thing is, while Flaherty is a good pitcher, he’s not THAT good of a pitcher. He had a great 2019, but it was heavily propped up by a fluky low BABIP and fluky high strand rate. In other words, things went right for him practically all the time. In fact, his FIP was about ¾ of a run higher than his actual ERA. Take that for what it’s worth. He outpitches his peripherals literally every season. Again, good defense and good ballpark.
Last season, he took a real step back in terms of swings and misses. Maybe it was injury fueled, or maybe it was just that his stuff isn’t breathtaking. His fastball is still a great pitch, but he hasn’t seemed to have a feel for his slider since 2019 and the rest of his arsenal outside of those two pitches is just average. I think he’ll post an ERA close to 3.60 and he usually posts a WHIP under 1.20, but I don’t think he sets the world on fire anywhere else. Even if he’s healthy, double digit wins seem like a stretch and he’s only a little better than average in the K department. Maybe he racks up 150? If you’re following along and thinking, those are very good numbers man, what are you thinking? I agree. I have him at 118 overall, which is a very strong ranking and definitely a valuable player. But that’s a pretty big gap from 78. I can’t justify taking Flaherty in the first 10 rounds.
Byron Buxton — 56th Overall
I wasn’t going to include Buxton, as I already included him in a daily draft tip earlier this offseason. But I just can’t come to peace with it. 55 overall? FIFTY-FIVE? Dude is super talented and fills the box score when he plays. It’s the “when he plays” part that will kill you. Every year. By a lot. I’m still shocked every time I see this one.
That’s all for today. Thanks for reading and for a full draft values list, hit the link for a full list of 540+ players. If you buy by April 1st, you’re included in a contest to win a free copy of MLB; The Show 22 MVP edition on the console of your choice. Click Here
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