Fantasy Baseball Busts: The 2021 All-Bust Team
This is a challenging article to write. I never like putting players down in any way. But, when it comes to Fantasy Baseball, the reality is that many players do not return at least par value in relativity to ADP. Avoiding these potential landmines and limiting the number of players on your team that don’t provide value is important. Each year there are plenty of players that end up being Fantasy Baseball Busts. Today, we will look at players at each position who are players to avoid based on their current ADP.
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Fantasy Baseball Busts: The 2021 All-Bust Team
Catcher: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
NFBC ADP (Since 1/1/21): 79.2
This one is tough. I’m not fading him because I think he will be a complete bust. I am fading him more from the standpoint that his ADP has been rising so much that it’s a range where I do not feel comfortable drafting him. Perez has been a productive player over the last several years, averaging over 24 home runs per season between 2015 and 2018. Over that time, he also has a .252 batting average. When you have a guy who plays regularly and can hit for power and a decent batting average at the catcher position, you are pleased.
There are two issues with Perez at his draft price. First, paying for a soon to be 31-year-old catcher coming off a career season. In the shortened 2020 season, Perez hit .333 with 11 home runs. He posted a very high 25.6 percent home run to fly-ball rate. That was more than double his career rate. Perez’s BABIP was also very high at .375, much higher than his career .287 rate.
The other issue with Perez is the injuries. He missed all of 2019 after having Tommy John Surgery. Then, last season, Perez dealt with eye issues. He has blurred vision, but it did not seem to affect him much, given the stats he posted. In the range where Perez is being drafted, there are so many better hitting and pitching options. Drafting him inside the top 80 picks leaves little room to profit and a higher chance at being a bust.
First Base: Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
NFBC ADP (Since 1/1/21): 41.9
This is a similar case to Salvador Perez. It is not that I hate Jose Abreu by any means. As a matter of fact. He has been one of the most consistent first basemen in the league since debuting in 2014. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who is basically a lock to drive in 100 runs, but Abreu is that guy.
Nothing really changed in 2020. He posted similar numbers across the board and hit 19 home runs in the shortened season. Abreu won the AL MVP award, which has likely increased his perceived value for Fantasy baseball.
Abreu is not a bust because the bottom is likely to fall out. It’s exactly the reason I avoided Pete Alonso last season at this draft price. Do not pay up for hitters after career seasons! While Abreu has been incredibly consistent over the years, it is hard to ignore that he is 34 years old. A decline could happen at any point. It is hard to pay-up at his third-round draft price, expecting him to post MVP caliber numbers again in 2021. Given Abreu’s high expectations in 2021 and the small chance to return value, Jose Abreu earns the first base position on the all-Fantasy Baseball busts team.
Second Base: Dylan Moore, Seattle Mariners
NFBC ADP (Since 1/1/21): 121.5
Dylan Moore seemingly came out of nowhere in 2020 and had a massive breakout season. In 159 plate appearances, Moore smacked eight home runs and stole 12 bases to go with a .255 batting average. Pretty impressive numbers for the small sample. It is hard to deny the potential for Moore to be a reliable power/speed threat. Well, what’s the issue then??
Moore struck out 27 percent of the time last season and has a career 30.8 percent strikeout rate. Moore also struggled against breaking and offspeed pitches last season. He hit just .143 and .158 against them, respectively. Will he see a high dose of those pitches next season as pitchers adjust to him? It is possible.
Yes, this pick could be totally wrong, and Moore could be a 20/20 type player. But with his batting average concerns, Moore could hit .200 and find himself on the bench. Mariners manager Scott Servais said that Moore and Shed Long will compete for the second base job in Spring Training. Long is a much better defender than Moore, but Moore also has the versatility to play all over the field. Over the last two seasons, he has played at literally every position except catcher. If he struggles with his swing and miss stuff, he could find himself on the bench, which is my concern here.
Third Base: Manny Machado, San Diego Padres
NFBC ADP (Since 1/1/21): 24.4
The third base position has few bust options and quite a few sleepers and values. Manny Machado stands out as one of the few obvious third base busts. If we were looking at solely 2020 production, you could probably justify this price tag. According to Razzball’s player rater, Machado came in as the eighth-best player in standard 5×5 leagues. In 2019, with a relatively solid performance, Machado came in as the 124th player. The issue here is Machado’s volatility.
Check out Machado’s batting averages over the last four seasons: .259, .297, .256, .304. The inconsistency is what has me off Machado at his price. You cannot afford to take someone in the second round, giving you a batting average in the .250 range. As we have seen, the upside is obvious, but should we really expect it again next season? It is hard to say.
Machado’s speed is also a factor here. Getting stolen bases from players who contribute in all categories is important. Most of those players come in early rounds. Machado’s value was inflated last season by the fact he stole six bases in 60 games. Again, we are looking at a volatility issue. In 156 games in 2019, Machado stole just five bases. In 2016, he stole zero bases in 157 games. Machado will turn 29 next season and has had knee surgery in the past. The Padres like to steal bases, but why would Machado need to run next season? The team will have one of the better lineups in baseball, and Machado will not need to show off his wheels to create runs for the team. After all, Machado has not had a sprint speed above the 39th percentile since 2015.
There is plenty to like in Machado’s profile, though. First off, his durability is unmatched. Since 2015, no player has played more games than Machado’s 853. The highest number of possible games played during that span is 870, meaning Machado has only missed two percent of games.
The power is also steady. From 2015-to-2019, Machado averaged nearly 35 home runs per season. In 2020, he was on pace for 43 bombs. There are positives of taking Machado here, but question marks in speed and batting average. Bryce Harper feels like a much safer option at his price point, especially with some solid third basemen being available later. For all these reasons, Machado is an easy choice for the Fantasy Baseball busts list.
Shortstop: Adalberto Mondesi
NFBC ADP (Since 1/1/21): 19.6
Adalberto Mondesi will be a first-round draft pick in 15 team leagues before all is said and done. He has steadily been creeping up draft boards each month and is selected at an average selection of 17 over the last two weeks. Mondesi is one of the most debated players in the Fantasy Baseball community. We all know both sides of the argument. Mondesi could be a 20 HR/50 SB type player, or his poor hit tool and inconsistent contact rates could land him on the bench.
Rob Silver wrote a great piece over at Rotowire($) that is well worth your time. He stated that 218 players since 1960 have stolen 50 or more bases. Of those 218, just one had an OBP below .280, two had an OBP under .290, and only seven had an OBP below .300. He also stated that if Mondesi does join the 50 stolen base club, he would likely post the highest strikeout rate of any player to do it. Jonathan Villar’s 25.6 percent strikeout rate in 2018 is the current worst among any 50 base stealers.
I know many of you do not play in OBP leagues, so it does not really matter. Many of you are looking at batting average alone, which Mondesi has a career number of .251. His career OBP, however, just .284. OBP has a huge factor with stolen base attempts. If you get on base more, you have a higher chance to steal bases.
The reality is that Mondesi is extremely volatile as your first or second-round pick. Could he be a league winner? Certainly. Could pitchers also exploit his high swing and miss stuff? Yes. I fear that Mondesi ends up hitting .230 and really drains your batting average. We did not even bring up the fact that he struggles to stay healthy. Outside of playing 59 of 60 games in 2020, he has struggled to stay on the field. Mondesi’s highest amount of games played in a season is 102 in 2019. Given the volatility, Adalberto Mondesi is the shortstop representative on the all-Fantasy Baseball busts team.
Outfield: Teoscar Hernandez, Toronto Blue Jays
NFBC ADP (Since 1/1/21): 78.3
This pick seems too easy. Teoscar Hernandez seems like the consensus bust pick around the industry. Obviously, someone in most drafts like him enough to keep his ADP at a lofty 79. Before 2020, Teoscar had shown his power before, hitting 22 and 26 home runs in 2018 and 2019. There were signs that he could easily hit 30 home runs in a season, which he was more than on pace to do in 2020. The most significant difference was his batting average. After hitting a combined .235 over nearly 1000 plate appearances in 2018 and 2019, Hernandez hit .289 in 2020. On the surface, everything looks great. His statcast numbers even seem to support the breakout 2020 season.
So, why are you concerned Teoscar could be a bust in 2021? Well, his plate discipline did get notably worse. His strikeout rate may have dropped, but it was still a dreadful 30.4 percent. Hernandez’s walk rate also dropped from 9.7 percent to 6.8 percent in 2020. Additionally, Hernandez swung nearly ten percentage points less on pitches in the zone, and his contact rates were among the league’s worst.
This was not a small sample problem either. Hernandez’s swinging-strike rate jumped from 14.7 percent to 15.7 percent. I am not denying that Hernandez can be a solid performer in 2021. But the small sample in 2020 really made everyone forget about his career .237 batting average before the breakout season. There is minimal room to profit at his current draft price, especially if batting average regression comes and Hernandez hits below .240. Hernandez is one of the more common and easy choices for the all-Fantasy Baseball busts team in 2021.
Kyle Lewis, Seattle Mariners
NFBC ADP (Since 1/1/21): 140.8
Recency bias rang very strong with Kyle Lewis early in draft season. In the first month of draft season, Lewis was being drafted around an average pick of 90. Through November, that ADP dropped about ten spots to pick 100. Through December, his ADP was 117. From January to the current date, you can see that Lewis’ ADP is 140.
It was a tale of two halves for Kyle Lewis, and a monstrous first half helped him cruise to the AL Rookie of the Year award. Through the first half, Lewis was batting .368 with seven home runs and two stolen bases. Over his final 117 plate appearances in the second half, Lewis hit just .150 with four home runs. Much like Teoscar Hernandez, Lewis has low contact rates and terrible swinging strike rates. His strikeout rate between 2019 and 2020 of 31.5 percent is not great but can be even worse.
Even with the drop in ADP all the way down to pick 140, Kyle Lewis is still not worth the gamble. He could certainly make adjustments, but we have seen the downside, and even in the 140 range, the upside is not worth Kyle Lewis’s downside. Not to mention a ton of talented outfielders breathing down his neck. I want no part of Kyle Lewis in 2021.
Starting Pitcher: Dinelson Lamet, San Diego Padres
NFBC ADP (Since 1/1/21): 87.6
Much like Kyle Lewis, Dinelson Lamet’s draft price has steadily fallen throughout draft season. This could be from a combination of things. The Padres have loaded up on starting pitching, leading many to believe that Lamet is not healthy. Lamet was dealing with bicep tendinitis that caused him to miss the end of the 2020 season. General Manager AJ Preller said in October that he did not believe Lamet would need surgery. That did nothing to ease anyone’s mind. The video of Lamet throwing off a mound began to surface toward the end of January. People still are not buying that Lamet will be healthy for the season.
Great sign for Padres fans. Dinelson Lamet back on the mound and throwing.
— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) January 26, 2021
Outside of injury concerns, Lamet’s other problem is that he is a two-pitch pitcher. He solely relies on his slider and four-seam fastball. The slider is among the best in the league, but depending on two pitches as a starter can be challenging. Lamet might be worth the gamble at a certain draft price, but not as a top 100 pick. Given all the circumstances surrounding Dinelson Lamet, he is an easy choice for the all-Fantasy Baseball busts team.
Zach Plesac, Cleveland Indians
NFBC ADP (Since 1/1/21): 59.7
If you want to start an argument on Twitter, mention the name Zach Plesac. You can find plenty of people on both sides of the debate, much like with Adalberto Mondesi. Plesac is a good pitcher, but he is not worth the price as a high-end SP2. His eight start sample in 2020 was quite impressive as Plesac posted a 2.28 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP with a 27.7 percent strikeout rate. His strikeout and walk rate both were much better than he showed in the Minor Leagues.
Plesac does a great job of limiting hard contact, but his .224 BABIP is sure to see regression. Not to mention his 91.7 percent left-on-base rate that is sure to come down over a full season. Of pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched last year, no one had a higher strand rate than plesac. These factors led Plesac’s FIP, xFIP, xERA, and SIERA to be over a run higher than his actual ERA. Three of his eight starts were against the Royals and the Tigers last season. Plesac also had six called strikeouts that were balls. In a small sample, six strikeouts is a decent portion. With all of that being said, I still think Plesac can be a good pitcher. I think he is likely to perform closer to a back-end SP3 than a high-end SP2.
Framber Valdez, Houston Astros
NFBC ADP (Since 1/1/21): 85.1
This is another case of a player I do not hate, but I am not buying at the current price. Framber Valdez enjoyed an excellent breakout season in 2020, posting a 3.57 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP in 70.2 innings pitched. He posted a 26.4 percent strikeout rate and a ground ball rate of 60 percent, the only pitcher to post both a 60 percent GB% and over a 25 percent K%. His SIERA (3.23) and FIP (2.85) both suggest he actually underperformed.
Statcast data does not love Valdez, however. Last season, he allowed one of the highest hard-hit rates and exit velocities in the league. His 91.4 mph exit velocity ranked fifth percentile among all pitchers. Valdez’s hard-hit rate of 48.7 percent was better than just four percent of all pitchers in baseball. Some pitchers can get away with this, but it is not good to allow that much hard contact. Valdez’s sinker induces a ton of groundballs, which helps negate some of the concerns, but if hitters began to lift his pitches, he could be in trouble. His strikeout rate is likely unsustainable, given his below-average swinging strike rate of ten percent. Valdez can still be a solid pitcher, but drafting him around pick 85 asks for a lot of a pitcher who will likely be more of a mid-rotation pitcher for Fantasy purposes.
Relief Pitcher: Edwin Diaz, New York Mets
NFBC ADP (Since 1/1/21): 74.7
Edwin Diaz is a huge boom or bust play. We have seen the volatility, going from one of the best closers in the league in 2018 with the Mariners to nearly losing his job with the Mets in 2019. He did brush off a 5.59 ERA in 2019 and returned to form in 25.2 innings in 2020. While he posted a 1.75 ERA, Diaz saw his walk rate jump to 12.7 percent. His strikeout rate did blossom to 45.5 percent, which is quite impressive.
We have known that Diaz is one who can struggle with pressure. The 2020 season did not have the same feel without fans in the stands. 2021 will have plenty of pressure moments for the Mets, as they should be in contention to make a run at the World Series. The Mets have strengthened the bullpen by adding Trevor May and still have other reliable options in Dellin Betances and Seth Lugo. It will only take several blowup outings for Diaz to lose his job and someone like May to slot in the role.
At the price of a top 75 pick, Diaz is easy to avoid because of his volatility. There is no denying the elite upside, but there is also a lot of downside, and Diaz is prone to lose the closer role quickly. With it being tough to really nail down a relief pitcher that will bust in 2021, Diaz earns himself a spot on the Fantasy Baseball busts team.
Well, there you have it! The 2021 all-bust team for Fantasy Baseball. Avoiding the potential Fantasy Baseball busts could go a long way to carrying your team to a championship in 2021. Be sure to head on over to the FantraxHQ MLB Draft Kit to get more insight into various players.
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