Sometimes you find a sleeper that benefits your team, but other times you draft a player who busts and hurts your Fantasy Baseball team. We are currently longing for a resolution to the Major League season, but Fantasy Baseball draft prep must go on for now. Talking about busts is never fun, but today we come to the table to discuss shortstop busts for 2022.
If you can avoid inevitable landmines that end up being “busts,” you will be in much better shape for the season. Let’s classify a bust as someone who will not return the expected value based on ADP. I am not necessarily saying these players will be bad either. The shortstop busts we will discuss today are players who have a slim chance to return a profit at their current ADP.
Shortstop Busts for 2022 Fantasy Baseball
Javier Baez, SS, Detroit Tigers
Between 2018 and 2019, Baez posted a .282 batting average with 86 home runs and 42 stolen bases in 1714 plate appearances. That comes out to an average of 30 home runs and 14 stolen bases per 600 plate appearances. Then, Baez fell off hard during the shortened 2020 season and hit just .203 with eight home runs and three stolen bases. Due to the weird circumstances of 2020, I was fine giving him a pass. Last season, Baez bounced back, hit 31 home runs, stole 18 bases, and was traded to the New York Mets at the trade deadline. His batting average rose, but to just .265.
It all seems positive, right? Baez has nearly everything you are looking for in a fantasy hitter. He has power and speed and produces plenty of runs and RBI. His career batting average of .264 won’t kill you either. So, why will Baez be a bust?
It starts with his high ADP. While a 62 overall ADP on NFBC is not outrageously high, it still means he is a borderline fourth/fifth-round pick. The biggest issue with Baez for me is his volatility. He has a career five percent walk rate due to poor plate discipline. Last year, Baez had the worst contact rate in baseball among all qualified hitters at 62.2 percent. His zone contact was second-worst to Joey Gallo. Baez’s swinging strike rate of 21.7 percent was three percentage points worse than any qualified hitter. To wrap up the plate discipline, he chases pitches out of the zone nearly 50 percent of the time. The poor plate discipline leads me to avoid Baez altogether.
On top of the plate discipline issues, Baez has a new home in Detroit. The Tigers lineup is a downgrade from both the Cubs and Mets teams he played on last year. Comerica Park also has one of the worst home run factors for any park in baseball.
There are too many factors working against Baez. The power and speed combo is enticing, but the floor is low. I prefer not to be on the wrong side of this for 2022. Due to the ADP and other concerns, Baez is an easy first choice for shortstop busts.
Jazz Chisholm Jr., SS, Miami Marlins
Jazz Chisholm had an exhilarating rookie season last year, hitting 18 home runs and stealing 23 bases. Much like Baez, the power and speed potential here is very high. The image of Chisholm hitting a 100 mph Jacob deGrom fastball in the upper deck is in our minds. Chisholm has superstar upside. That upside is the reason Chisholm finds his current ADP sitting inside the top-75.
The issue of Chisholm is very similar to Baez, the plate discipline. Now, Chisholm’s contact rates are much better, but strikeouts remain a concern. Throughout the Minors, Chisholm consistently struggled with strikeouts. Minor leaguers who strike out over 30 percent usually don’t make it as successful Major Leaguers. Chisholm could be the exception, but his high strikeout rates are concerning.
If Chisholm were going outside of the top-100 picks in drafts, I would be willing to take a shot on his upside. But, the floor is too low here for me to invest the current draft cost of Chisholm.
Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Kansas City Royals
Everyone loves the new shiny toy, and this year’s toy is Bobby Witt Jr. Witt certainly helped his case by hitting 33 home runs and stealing 29 bases last season between Double and Triple-A. Witt also posted a combined .290 average in those 564 plate appearances. While Witt’s ADP has trended downward throughout the offseason, it still sits right around pick 90 on NFBC.
It is easy to remember prospects like Ronald Acuña Jr., Fernando Tatís Jr., and Juan Soto. Those prospects came up and dominated from the start. But, most prospects do not. It took Vladimir Guerrero Jr. some time to figure it out. Jarred Kelenic came up and struggled last year. The transition from Minor League Baseball to MLB is not always easy.
While not horrible, Witt struck out 23.2 percent of the time last year between Double- and Triple-A. The more concerning number to me was his 14.3 percent swinging-strike rate. Plenty of hitters are successful with those types of numbers in MLB. But, you have to wonder if those numbers could rise for Witt against MLB pitching.
The Royals are also a team that loves to run. But, MILB stolen bases do not mean a player will steal in the Majors. How Witt’s power will translate is also a question. Park factors on Baseball Savant and EV Analytics have Kauffman Stadium as the second-worst ballpark for home run factors.
At the end of the day, Bobby Witt Jr. is an extremely talented baseball player. There’s a reason he is ranked as the top prospect by many publications. I have zero concerns about Witt being a high-end Fantasy Baseball asset in the long term. But for 2022, there could be an adjustment period. If I am a year late, I will enjoy watching Witt have a successful season. But, it is easy to see the bust potential here with Witt for 2022 alone.
Media and Statistical References: Fangraphs, Baseball Savant, EV Analytics