With all of the optimism of the spring it is often hard to forecast which one of these fantasy hopefuls are going to crush your dreams. Unfortunately, it’s going to happen again. That guy you loved going into the draft is going to blow up in your face sometimes. I heavily invested in Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager in an auction league last year and kept Maikel Franco. I hope you weren’t on your lunch break. Busts happen. The lesson is to minimize risk and diversify your roster between more reliable options and those that have a large array of outcomes.
2018 Fantasy Baseball Busts
I’m a fan of Alex Bregman and there have been reports that his intangibles are on the level of a Dustin Pedroia. He may always exceed what he should be because of his work ethic. However, the expectations are out the roof. After a slow start in 2017, Bregman went off in July and August. He has good plate discipline and most of his stats look sustainable. He is a very good player. The problem really has nothing to do with Alex Bregman himself. Early NFBC average draft position data has him at 32 overall. This is incredible! If this stays at this level, there is no way that I am owning any shares of Alex Bregman. You are basically paying for him to be even better than he was last year. I would say that he has a high floor and that is attractive, but I usually don’t pay for the ceiling value.
This is really a similar story to Bregman. Judge had a breakout season in 2017 that was ridiculous on all levels for a rookie. He hit 52 homers, had an OBP of .368, and had an OPS of 1.049. He is a power stud and that will probably play any season. It’s extremely hard to hit .284 and strike out 30% of the time. There is a definite possibility that Judge could have an incredible career and 2017 is the career season for him. Unfortunately, you’re going to be paying for that season when there is not a realistic chance of him getting any where near those numbers across the board. He will be solid and worth an investment, but his numbers could be much closer to Khris Davis than we want to admit and he’s being drafted about 5 rounds later.
Chris Taylor really came out of nowhere to emerge as the Dodgers leadoff hitter and everyday centerfielder. He credits his breakout to adjustments made with Craig Wallenbrock, a hitting consultant. The flyball revolution and launch angle craze worked for Yonder Alonso and Taylor, but will these adjustments continue to work in year 2? Taylor is a fine hitter and he does contribute stolen bases, but I do not believe in his 21 homer power from last season. He had never hit more than 8 homers in any season as a professional. His HR/FB rate was near 16% and probably not sustainable. He could be a fine middle infielder for your team, but I don’t know that I would be drafting him as my starting 2B or OF in a 10 team league.
Hoskins inclusion on this list does not mean that I was not impressed with his 212 at-bats in the majors last year. He smashed 11 home runs in his first 92 at-bats in August. He has real 40 home run potential and that could show as soon as this season. The key word here is ‘could.’ He is being drafted in the 5th round in NFBC drafts and his upside warrants this. You’re basically paying once again for the best case scenario. Steamer has him at 37 homers and a .263 average with a high walk rate. He doesn’t strike out at nearly the rate of Aaron Judge and that is enticing, but you’re taking on a high level of risk with an investment this high.
There’s not really anything to go as far as past statistics as this his first year in the United States. The projections look extremely nice as Steamer has him at about 150 innings with a 11 K/9 and a low FIP at 3.63. He’s a shiny new toy and he’ll be fun to root for this year. The problem arrives with the news of his UCL sprain. Masahiro Tanaka hasn’t had problems since his diagnosis with a similar injury in 2014, but that is probably the exception rather than the rule. With the volatility of starting pitchers, it’s tough to invest in someone you already know has some elbow issues. He was also on a 6 day rotation schedule in Japan and the Angels have expressed interest in following a similar process. There is an argument that this is a good thing because it could prevent more injuries and he will be a better pitcher. The upside is probably 150 innings. In roto, this could be an excellent play, but he may be a problem in H2H formats. This is also assuming that Ohtani is not going to help fantasy owners much as a hitter.
He’s really not being drafted like he used to be, but don’t get overwhelmed by the name value here even at a discount. He really has potential to throw about a 4.00 ERA and strikeout about 8 per 9 innings. In today’s MLB, that’s a pretty quality pitcher. Look at the progression of the last 3 seasons. He has lost more than 2 MPH off his fastball. His hard contact % against has jumped 7 percentage points and his HR/FB rate has doubled from 7% to 14%. Each year you are seeing regression from the previous season. His value is still going to be determined by where he signs, but this is not a guy on the uptick or with any hope of returning to ace level.