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Fantasy Baseball 2017: Busts NL Edition

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March is here! We are now just one month away from baseball that counts! Let’s wrap up my Sleepers & Busts with the Busts of the National League.

Freddie Freeman had a career year in terms of power last season. Should fantasy owners expect this to continue for the Braves first baseman in 2017?
Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

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

Welcome back to my 2017 Fantasy Baseball busts. Let’s head over to the National League and look at some players who are being ranked too high for this upcoming season.

NL WEST

Arizona Diamondbacks – A.J. Pollock, OF My Rank 50 ECR Rank 34

I actually like Pollock as a bounce back candidate following his 2016 injury plagued season. Player #34 in my rankings would be a top 10 OF. I’m not ready to place Pollock back in that conversation just yet. The two seasons prior to Pollock’s breakout 2015, he was a 12HR 20SB .281AVG player. I wouldn’t be surprised if his breakout season is the outlier. I can’t project him to return to a 20HR 40SB player right off the bat. I’m willing to take a chance on him, just a round or two later than most.
Bonus Bust Robbie Ray
Much like James Paxton in the American League, the sleeper hype for Ray has gone too far. The strikeout rate is stellar, hard to dispute that. His FIP also suggests he should have a lower ERA than he did in 2016, but it’s hard to combine his high walk rate with his home ballpark and expect an ERA under 4.00. He’s a waiver wire add for strikeouts and nothing more.

Colorado Rockies – David Dahl, OF My Rank 110 ECR Rank 86

Like Pollock, I actually rank Dahl higher than some experts, but the ECR has me on the low side. Playing time is the obvious concern here. The Rockies have bigger contracts with Blackmon, Gonzalez, and Parra. The Desmond signing could lead to a few games in the OF for him as well. Dahl showed us last season he is deserving of an everyday role in Colorado, but don’t be surprised if he finds himself out of the starting lineup more than his fantasy owners would hope. For those reasons, I’m waiting a couple rounds latter than the consensus on Dahl.

Los Angeles Dodgers – Rich Hill, SP My Rank 163 ECR Rank 121

A K/9 over 10, a WHIP under 1, and a ERA just over 2.00 certainly points to an elite SP. Unfortunately for Hill, he only has 24 starts since 2010. In addition to that, it has been close to 10 years since he turned in a full season with 32 starts and 195 innings. He now heads into his age 37 season with a ton of injury concern. He is currently being drafted around the #30 SP. I have him at the #42 SP going 4-5 rounds later. Innings pitched are a very important stat in fantasy. The higher the innings pitched, the more they help your ratios and counting stats. Even if Hill can start 25 games and get 140 innings, his strikeouts are very limited in comparison to pitchers who will easily manage 190 innings or more, even if those pitchers have a less impressive K/9.

San Diego Padres – Wil Myers, 1B My Rank 57 ECR Rank 50

Wil Myers is the only Padres player going inside the top 200. But is he being ranked too high?

As mentioned before, Myers is the only Padres player being ranked inside the top 200 of ECR. I only have him 7 spots behind the ECR so this is a bit of a reach as a bust. That being said, Myers certainly has the potential to be a bust in fantasy depending on where he is drafted. Following the All-Star break, Myers hit .220/.309/.370 with 8HR and 12SB. That pace puts him at 20HR and 29SB. Former teammate of Myers, Melvin Upton, hit .238/.291/.402 with 20HR and 27SB in all of 2016. Upton was the #141 overall player in fantasy last year. If Myers declines to that level of play, he is still valuable, but fantasy owners are expecting much more from him if they draft him inside the top 50.

San Francisco Giants – Buster Posey, C My Rank 68 ECR Rank 54

Posey stands out as the Giants player which the ECR and I disagree on the most. This comes as no surprise because I am much lower on the catcher position as a whole. I understand the value of having a top 5 catcher. Posey certainly appears to be the safest bet among the bunch. That being said, Posey finished 2016 as only the #131 overall player in fantasy. I’m taking best available player at this portion of my drafts. Posey just doesn’t have the same overall value as Beltre, Polanco, or Carrasco, all of which Posey is currently going ahead of.

NL CENTRAL

Chicago Cubs – Kyle Schwarber, OF My Rank 88 ECR Rank 70

After a historic return in the World Series, people forget how Kyle Schwarber’s 2016 season began. Will he stay healthy in 2017?

The Cubs represent one of the most fantasy friendly rosters going into 2017. My ranking on the Cubs as a whole is mostly favorable. Schwarber is the only player I have more than 6 spots lower compared to ECR. The ceiling for him is through the roof. His power makes him a legit 40HR threat as soon as this year. Chicago seems committed to giving him enough playing time to do so. The depth on the team however, means there are multiple options the Cubs will have if Schwarber struggles. That’s without factoring in the injury risk he possesses. I’m taking a caution approach with Schwarber in 2017. I’m not ready to call him a guarantee top 20 OF just yet.

Cincinnati Reds – Jose Peraza, SS/OF My Rank 224 ECR Rank 185

The Reds are another team where I have most of their players ranked at or above their ECR. His ECR is 188 but his current ADP is around 150. Stolen bases are the only stat he will give you. Although he is capable of providing a high runs of steals, his current ADP feels like your paying for 50+SB guaranteed. Among base stealers, he is going ahead of Elvis Andrus and way before Keon Broxton, Tim Anderson, and Kevin Kiermaier. Not sure if Peraza is worth a draft pick 50 spots ahead of those guys.

Milwaukee Brewers – Keon Broxton, OF My Rank 213 ECR Rank 189

Speaking of Broxton, he comes in as a slight bust for my Milwaukee Brewers player. It’s hard to call a player going in the final quarter of most drafts a bust. Broxton lands here on the fear of him being sent down to the minor or losing significant playing time in 2017. He struck out in 42.5% of his AB in 2016. He’s a player to avoid if your league penalizes strikeouts. His power-speed combo is one of the more impressive in baseball but he needs to play in order for those to count. Hernan Perez, among a few others, is waiting to snatch up playing time if Broxton struggles.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Jameson Taillon, SP My Rank 198 ECR Rank 156

I was fully prepared to be writing about Andrew McCutchen here, but the ECR and I seem to agree on his value heading into the 2017 season. Taillon on the other hand, lands nearly 50 spots too high for my liking. His current ADP is even higher at 141. Taillon had a solid debut last season especially in terms of control. His 1.5BB/9 is very impressive for a rookie SP. His strikeout rate isn’t great and his FIP has him as more of a 3.70ERA pitcher than the 3.38 he posted in 2016. You also have to factor in injury and regression concerns. Taillon has yet to pitch beyond 150 innings, minors or majors. One who have to assume he would falter if push well beyond that in 2017. I have him ranked as a just outside my top 50 at SP but he certainly could fall into that group by March’s end. Current ADP has him going as the #35 SP.

St. Louis Cardinals – Matt Carpenter, 3B/2B/1B My Rank 92 ECR Rank 73

Carpenter is a very interesting fantasy player. None of his stats from his previous seasons make him bad necessarily, but they scream low ceiling to me. Injury concerns are minor, but still present. I feel safe in saying Carpenter will probably end up around player 100-150 overall this season if he’s healthy. He’s a fine player, but for me he suffers in being limited with his upside. My approach through the first 10 rounds of a fantasy draft is to aim for players who contribute either across the board or are far and beyond better in certain areas. Carpenter doesn’t excel at any one category and doesn’t contribute enough speed for me to rank him any higher than the 10 round.
Bonus Bust Yadier Molina
Molina is currently going inside the top 200 in ADP. His 3 year average has him at just 6HR 52RBI 43R with a .288AVG. If I’m still without a catcher late in the draft, I’m taking a shot on Welington Castillo for power upside. I can also afford to wait several rounds and take Cameron Rupp or Sandy Leon for cheaper.

NL EAST

Atlanta Braves – Freddie Freeman, 1B My Rank 32 ECR Rank 23

Freeman had a career high 34HR in 2016. It’s possible this is the breakout Freeman fans have been waiting several years for. The increase in home runs can be attributed to career highs in fly balls and HR/FB percentage. If those ratios regress back to his career averages, his HR total will be back around 20-25 instead of 30+. Keep in mind, during a career season, Freeman was the #36 overall player in 2016. It will be tough for Freeman to return top 25 value if his batting ratios normalize and his power drops.

Miami Marlins – Giancarlo Stanton, OF My Rank 48 ECR Rank 36

Giancarlo Stanton can hit a lot of home runs when healthy. How many games can fantasy owners expect in 2017?

Stanton has a career average of 118 games per season since 2010. That average is only 96 games over the past two years. The power output is undoubtedly elite. Stanton is an easy 40 HR player if given 140 games. If Stanton is unable to get past the 120 games threshold, his power is limited. If the league power surplus continues, this devalues Stanton’s main skill set. I find it hard to value a player like that inside the top 40.
Bonus Bust A.J. Ramos
Ramos was the #16 RP in 2016 but only the #60 RP in my Pure Reliever rankings. His walk rate of 4.9BB/9 means he’s often playing with fire in crucial situations. His ADP of 137 is absurd for a borderline top 20 RP. Plus, Kyle Barraclough with his 14.0K/9 and former closer Brad Ziegler wait in the wings for save opportunities in Miami.

New York Mets – Jeurys Familia, RP My Rank 167 ECR Rank 141

The poster boy for the Pure Reliever rankings dark side, Familia led the league in saves last season. Without those saves, he came in as the #34 RP. Familia pitched much better in the 2nd half but still posted a 3.6BB/9. This says more 10-20RP than top 10. Unfortunately, you have to factor in the pending suspension forthcoming on Familia. It’s hard to predict the length that suspension will be. That being said, I was down on Familia before this news broke. In addition, Addison Reed was a top tier RP last season. He finished #6 in my Pure Reliever rankings last year. He appears to be the closer to begin the year. My bold prediction for the Mets this season is Reed takes the closer job and doesn’t let go.

Philadelphia Phillies – Vince Velasquez, SP My Rank 209 ECR Rank 173

Velasquez is coming off of a career high in innings pitched but had his season cut short due to injury. The numbers are pretty impressive with the exception of his WHIP. He gave up a bit too much stuff which makes his ERA of 4.12 seem pretty reasonable. One can assume he would improve with more experience but I’m not convinced he makes the jump into the top 40 or even top 50 at the position. Regardless of injury, his innings would most likely be capped on a team with no current playoff aspirations. This limits his counting stats and the team he plays on limits his potential for wins. Despite the positive environment of the NL East, pitching for the Phillies neutralizes this effect the most. He’s currently going around 3 rounds too soon for me.

Washington Nationals – Anthony Rendon, 3B My Rank 107 ECR Rank 75

His current ADP of 94 overall makes Rendon less of a bust candidate compared to his ECR. This team doesn’t present many other options for bust candidates though. Rendon may have stolen the ‘even year magic’ from the Giants. In 2013 & 2015 he averaged 89 games. In 2014 & 2016 he averaged 154.5 games. He delivers decent numbers across the board when healthy but doesn’t have anything that stands out. He reminds me a lot of his new teammate Adam Eaton. If healthy, Rendon probably finishes the season between player #90-#110 overall. That, combined with a high injury risk, keeps him outside my top 100 players and certainly outside the top 80.

There you have it. That is my rundown of busts for the National League.
Feel free to sound off in the comments. Who are some of your busts for the National League?
As always, thanks for the read and see you next time!