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Fantasy Baseball 2017: Busts AL Edition

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Spring Training has officially begun! Let’s check out some players who are being ranked too high and why you should avoid them.

Is Chris Sale doomed as a member of the Red Sox? That, plus more busts in the American League.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Check out my other posts:
Fantasy Baseball 2017 Top 250
2017 AL Sleepers here
2017 NL Sleepers here
2017 NL Busts here

I enjoy writing positive articles. For me, negative stats are difficult to come up with. I wish the best for every player (minus a few Blue Jays). That being said, there are a number of players who are going too high in rankings (I use ECR or ‘Expert Consensus Rankings’). This series of posts is to point those players out and give my thoughts on why I feel they should not be drafted that early. Consider these players my busts of 2017. Just like my sleepers, I will start in the American League and give at least one player of each team. Here we go:

AL WEST

Houston Astros – Alex Bregman, 3B My Rank 97 ECR Rank 86

When writing this article, I told myself I needed to use names that will be drafted in ever format and the higher the ranking the better. The Astros, for example, have two catcher eligible players, McCann and Gattis, who I feel are ranked too high. That really just goes to my low ranking of the position in general. I also am not as found of McCullers, but he is a second half of the draft flier with high upside. This leads me to nominate Alex Bregman as my bust candidate for Houston. Even I have him as a top 100 overall player, but my issue is where he is currently being ranked and, even more so, where he is most likely to be drafted. The Astros have a wealth of young talent waiting to breakout. Bregman is certainly capable, but try to temper expectations.

Los Angeles Angels – Albert Pujols, 1B My Rank 134 ECR Rank 98

Pujols’s foot injury and age have a lot to do with this ranking. The signing of Luis Valbuena raises the concern even further. I see Pujols falling off as a top 100 player this season. I do not want him as my starting 1B either. I have him ranked behind other options like Napoli, Belt, and Chris Davis. Positive news during spring could change this selection. As it stands here in Mid-February, Pujols is going too soon for my liking.

Oakland Athletics – Khris Davis, OF My Rank 111 ECR Rank 75

Davis did this 42 times in 2016. Could he actually improve in 2017?

This has nothing to do with me not liking or thinking Davis is going to be a great part of any fantasy roster. This is more of an example of the ECR being too high on him. Davis had an amazing season in 2016, but even then he was only #102 overall. I’m just not sure how much better he can get. If he regresses down to 30HR instead of 40HR, I think he’ll still finish around player 100-150 overall. He still profiles too much as an all or nothing player. He is currently ranked over players like Kemp, Jones, and Longoria. All of those guys have much longer track records.
Bonus Bust Ryan Madson
A K/9 under 7 on a team that is probably not getting many save opportunities anyway. He’s also got two other pitchers with ‘closer experience’ behind him. I actually like Ryan Dull the most in this pen, but he’s, at best, 4th in line for saves. Avoid this bullpen.

Seattle Marniners – James Paxton, SP My Rank 263 ECR Rank 168

Paxton has been landing on a lot of experts’ sleepers or breakouts lists this offseason. Even I’ve been convinced to move him inside my top 80SP and a near top 250 option. His current ranking has him inside the top 50 at SP. I fully understand the ceiling he possesses, especially considering his increase in velocity. That being said, where he is currently going in drafts has owners paying full price for the best case scenario. At his current ranking, anything short of a breakout will be a bust.

Texas Rangers – Rougned Odor, 2B My Rank 72 ECR Rank 42

Not only do I find it difficult to write negatively about players in general, it is especially difficult when those players are on the team I root for. I also hope Odor does not see this selection… don’t want to end up like Joey Bats! (I am above using that gif here…just imagine it in your head) By now I’m sure everyone is familiar with the fact that Odor had more HR than BB in 2016. Not only that, he had only 19 BB all season. He had 4 more BB in 2015 in 162 less PA! This remarkable achievement has to be noticed by pitchers who step on the mound against Odor in 2017. 30+HR and 10+SB is a remarkable value at 2B, but I cannot imagine how this is possible again if he has a 3% walk rate. He’s young and maybe he will fix this, but I’m not using a 5th round pick to take that risk.

AL CENTRAL

Cleveland Indians – Carlos Carrasco, SP My Rank 62 ECR Rank 55

Other than Cody Allen, a 14 spot difference, Carrasco has the largest difference between my ranking and ECR. It is hard to consider him a bust when he is only going a round at most sooner than I’d take him. Injury concerns definitely factor into this, but there are some more performance related issues with Carrasco. His strikeouts were down by over a full K/9. He also gave up more hits and HR per 9 in 2016 compared to 2015. If his K/9 stays around 9 instead of 10+ he might be more of a top 25 SP instead of top 15. Again, splitting hairs, but I have to have a bust for each team, right?

Chicago White Sox – Jose Abreu, SP My Rank 63 ECR Rank 44

Abreu had his least productive season in 2016. Still, he hit .293/.353/.468 with 25HR and 100RBI. Despite all this, Abreu finished as the #96 overall player in fantasy. He doesn’t steal bases and has a low runs scored total. The lineup around him isn’t any better in 2017. Expect the runs total to stay around the same. Runs and SB are 2 of 5 counting categories in most formats. Because Abreu doesn’t provide those stats, he lands outside the top 10 at 1B and in round 7 for me.
Bonus Bust David Robertson
*Checks to see if that Nationals trade has happened* I wrote in my sleepers article promoting the Chicago setup man, Nate Jones. It is only fitting the current closer lands on the busts column. Robertson ranked the #15 closer last season but was #75 in my Pure Reliever rankings. His 4.6 walks per 9 probably won’t land him a top 15 spot in 2017.

Detroit Tigers – Justin Upton, OF My Rank 84 ECR Rank 62

Upton had a disappointing 2016 season compared to expectations. Still 31HR 87RBI and 9SB aren’t terrible counting stats. The .246 AVG was a letdown though and Upton seems to have fallen into that being his expected AVG from this point forward. His increased strikeout rate certainly doesn’t help his case. Even if Upton repeats last season’s numbers, he’s still well outside being a top 100 overall player. It’s very surprising he’d be ranking in round 7 especially considering his potential to be even worse in 2017.

Kansas City Royals – Salvador Perez, C My Rank 189 ECR Rank 138

I have the catcher position as a whole ranked far lower than most. Once you get outside the top 5, Posey, Sanchez, Lucory, Contreras, and Realmuto, I see a significant drop. With the exception of Gattis, the entire next tier of catchers finished the year outside the top 300 overall players. Why waste a mid draft pick just to fill a position? I’m waiting till the final rounds of my draft if I don’t land one of the top 5. To spin this back to Perez, he is coming off his worst season yet. He doesn’t walk enough to warrant a bounce back for his hitting ratios and his strikeout rate increased by more than 7% in 2016. Most experts also fear his high innings behind the plate will eventually *pun alert* catch up to him. Avoid Perez and either grab a top 5 catcher or wait till the end of your draft in 1 catcher leagues.

Minnesota Twins – Miguel Sano, 3B/OF My Rank 180 ECR Rank 123

All signs point to us seeing Sano striking out 40% of the time again.

Sano’s strikeout rate remained over 40% in 2016. He also drew far fewer walks per AB. The upside for power is certainly there, but the lineup around him doesn’t support very high RBI and runs scored numbers. The downside is a lot of strikeouts and low AVG. The power keeps him on the fantasy radar is most formats, but he’s going around 6 rounds too soon for my liking.

AL EAST

Baltimore Orioles – Chris Davis, 1B My Rank 124 ECR Rank 64

Since starting his Orioles career, Davis has averaged 39HR 99RBI while hitting .249/.340/.518. Those numbers are great. But keep this in mind, last season he hit 38HR 84RBI and had a .221 AVG. He was only the #184 overall player in fantasy despite the incredible HR total. I’m expecting a better batting average in 2017 and with that an increase in his counting numbers. I still don’t believe this warrants a top 65 ranking. He reminds me of a better Miguel Sano and very similar to Khris Davis. I don’t like to build my team around these types of players. Davis ranks behind players like Matt Carpenter, Justin Turner, and Victor Martinez for me.

Boston Red Sox – Chris Sale, SP My Rank 28 ECR Rank 22 David Price, SP My Rank 53 ECR Rank 46

Look no further than Price to understand my concern for Sale. Price’s ERA jumped to 3.99 in 2016. That was nearly a run higher than his career ERA of 3.09 going into the 2016 season. The spotlight shines brighter on Sale than ever before this season in Boston and his numbers already started to decline from 2015 to 2016. We are obviously splitting hairs here between only 6 spots in ranking. I have Arrieta and Kluber just above Sale and would not be surprised if the wheels come off for Sale this season. Price supports will say that last year was a worst case scenario for him and he still finished #70 overall. I feel this is the new normal for Price. Again, just an 7 spot difference being argued here, but in the scope of the SP rankings, I have deGrom, Strasburg, and Verlander ahead of Price.

New York Yankees– Gary Sanchez, C My Rank 94 ECR Rank 69

On pace numbers suggest Gary Sanchez could easily topple 50 HR in a full season. I’m willing to take the under.

Sanchez has the biggest bust potential out of perhaps any single player in fantasy this season. He’s minor league numbers paint him as more of a 20-25HR player hitting .275. Those numbers certainly justify a solid fantasy player, especially at the catcher position. He also has the potential to have an incredibly high strikeout rate and hit below .250. I will gladly take Sanchez, just more around player 100 than player 70 (or player 50 like his current ADP is).

Tampa Bay Rays – Brad Miller, SS/1B My Rank 175 ECR Rank 164

The Rays don’t present much bust potential caliber players so I have to reach a little for a player. I’d also be surprised if Miller gets drafted as high as his ECR suggests. Miller had a 30HR season in 2016 after combining for 29HR in his first 3 MLB seasons. Despite the career season, Miller only managed to finish as the #174 overall player in fantasy. Do we truly believe he can do better? If he falls back to a 10-15HR player then he is probably dropped in most formats, even with 1B eligibility. Perhaps Tampa Bay found something in Miller to push him to be an annual 25+HR player. My ranking warrants a caution approach when drafting him. He is mentioned here because I’ve seen him as high as 140 overall in some rankings.

Toronto Blue Jays – The Entire Team Jose Bautista, OF My Rank 139 ECR Rank 91

It says all you need to know when Bautista’s 2016 season is highlighted more by Rougned Odor than his on the field play. Yes, Bautista was injured throughout most of the season, but even when healthy he still wasn’t very good. At least compared to what owners have come to expect from him. Now entering his age 36 season, he has added injury risk. Couple that with a weaker lineup around him (Encarnacion is gone) and add that to the fact the area he excels in (power) is at a surplus compared to years past and you begin to see why he is considered a bust going inside the top 100 players. Avoid Bautista in 2016 and certainly don’t be the owner who takes him inside the top 20 OF just because he can do a bat flip.
Bonus Bust Marcus Stroman
He has a terrible home ballpark and division, he doesn’t have a high strikeout rate and doesn’t appear close to improving it, and he frankly just gives up too much stuff. I believe he is certainly capable of having a 4.00ERA with a 7.5K/9 and 8-12 wins a season. This hovers around SP #50 instead of SP #30.

There you have it. That is my rundown of busts for the American League. Hopefully having Odor and Bautista on the same list won’t cause any issues. Just mind your face… or maybe I should mind my face!

Feel free to sound off in the comments. Who are some of your busts for the American League?

As always, thanks for the read and see you next week for the National League edition!