Second Base Busts for Fantasy Baseball 2021
This is not an easy decision. Calling a player bust is not only a pessimistic thing (something I strive not to be), but it also requires an arbitrary definition of a “bust”. For this article, we will use “a player who has an above-average likelihood to performs below their ADP”.
The second base position as a whole could be considered a bust. There are certainly good players at the position. However, in terms of fantasy, it feels like nearly every player has the potential to be “out of the frying pan, and into the fire”. While that is more so true at the middle to bottom level of the position, the top options have their negatives as well. I personally do not believe any of these players are bad players, but the chance they underperform their ADP are as strong as any. Therefore, here are three second base bust candidates heading into 2021.
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Second Base Busts for Fantasy Baseball 2021
Dylan Moore, Seattle Mariners
ADP: NFBC 108.63 / Fantrax 148.03
Dylan Moore seemingly came out of nowhere in 2020 to enjoy a massive breakout year from a counting stats standpoint. In only 159 plate appearances, Moore scored 26 runs, hit eight home runs, drove in 17, and had an impressive 12 stolen bases. In 2019, he quietly played well, but it wasn’t near the rapid pace he produced in 2020. Combining his career numbers so far, it looks like there is a potential counting stat monster in Moore:
There is no denying the potential power-speed that Moore could provide. The issue is primarily with his strikeout rate, and his ability to get on base. His career 30.8% strikeout rate, below-average 27.9% whiff rate, and below-average in-zone contact are all concerning traits. These, combined with a career .214 expected batting average do bring concern to his profile. Moore seemingly struggles to make quality contact with breaking and off-speed pitches. In his breakout 2020 season, the difference between his hard hit percentage on fastballs versus breaking and offspeed was vast. What happens when teams start throwing him more breaking and offspeed pitches? Does he walk at a higher clip? Or do we see a spike in strikeouts and a dip in hard hit rate?
If Moore begins a major slump in terms of being able to put the ball in play, the risk that the Mariners opt to move him down in the lineup is there. While this more so is directed at his 108.63 NFBC ADP, Moore has a path to underperforming his ADP if he can’t get on base above a league-average clip.
While he took steps forward in 2020, and barreled the ball at a career-high pace, and maintained a career-high exit velocity, we have to remember it was only in 159 plate appearances. That is one-fourth of a full season’s pace. This adds into the worry with Moore. We simply haven’t seen it over a large sample.
While this is arguably the most valid point, I do understand taking the risk over players like Max Muncy (mentioned later) and Mike Moustakas. He can provide you borderline elite stolen base numbers while not hurting you in power. I simply question if Moore is battle-tested enough at the major league level. Only 2021 can bring us that answer, buckle up if you decide to draft Moore within the top 150 of your fantasy drafts. He is as likely as any to be a second base bust.
Cavan Biggio, Toronto Blue Jays
ADP: NFBC 57.05 / Fantrax 64.51
I am a huge fan of Cavan Biggio, and I really don’t enjoy putting him in the second base bust category. Don’t believe me? Go check out this article I wrote on him prior to the 2020 season. He is a fun player that brings a unique profile. Undeniably, Biggio is a power-speed threat that at the top of a potent lineup. However, he also has one of the most eye raising plate discipline profiles in baseball.
Particularly in 2019, Biggio had an elite walk rate, sitting at 16.5%. One would think with an elite walk rate would come a solid strikeout rate. That wasn’t the case for him, as he struck out 28.6% of the time. While the walk rate remained the same in 2020, 2019 saw a large drop in his strikeout rate. This caused an increase in his putrid batting average, rising from .234 to .250. Seemingly, that has created his stock to rise from 2019 to 2020. He was going after pick 100 in 2019, now he finds himself well within the top 70 in 2020.
For a player that showed little improvements in terms of plate discipline, batted ball data, and expected stats, I don’t understand the rise. Sure he’s a threat to hit 20 home runs, steal 20 bases, and score 100 runs, but his batting average won’t rise much with his current profile.
Simply put, Biggio doesn’t swing much, and he didn’t change that in 2020. When he does swing, he doesn’t typically make strong contact. Just look at his baseball savant player profile below.
That cut in the strikeout rate was largely due to Biggio making more chase contact, meaning he hit more pitches out of the zone. That played a key role in his large dip in average exit velocity, barrel rate, and groundball rate. While Biggio is a fun player, he likely won’t be a top 70 pick in redraft leagues for me.
Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers
ADP: NFBC 96.02 / Fantrax 101.29
It doesn’t feel right to call a player that has hit 35 home runs in his past two full seasons. But this is where we are with the Dodgers first baseman. Muncy has been a great player for the past three seasons, and no one is questioning that. After all, the Dodgers showed their faith in Muncy in 2020 despite having his struggles, keeping him between two and four throughout most of the year. But don’t let it slip by, Muncy did struggle.
He hit .192 in 2020 over 248 plate appearances. That is beyond bad. Nonetheless, if that doesn’t worry you, let’s take a look at what’s been happening to his profile over the past three years.
Muncy has dropped or risen in the wrong direction in nearly every major category each season since his breakout 2018 season. While 2020 of course is a small sample, 248 plate appearances is getting to the beginning realm of a decent sample.
Muncy’s Barrel rate and xwOBA have dropped from elite to good, as he sat in the 80th-percentile in both. More concerning was the dramatic drop in xBA, exit velocity, and hard hit rate. Combined with an increase in strikeout percentage and whiff percentage, and there is a constant negative trend with Muncy.
While the fact he has second base eligibility helps his draft stock at a position that lacks power, if Muncy struggles to hit above the Mendoza Line again, there is a strong possibility he is moved down in the lineup. Consequently, if the chips were to fall that way, you run the risk of drafting solely a player that provides you above average home run numbers. That could turn into a bad investment around pick 100.
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