2023 Fantasy Baseball: One bust candidate being overvalued from every MLB team
The term “bust” might be harsh for some, but the following players are being overvalued in fantasy baseball drafts. For sleepers, go here.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Jake McCarthy
McCarthy has clear fantasy appeal with stolen base upside, but realize he has a .235 career expected batting average with an ice cold Statcast batted ball profile. He’s also not a great defensive outfielder (unlike Corbin Carroll and Alek Thomas), and there’s a chance Kyle Lewis becomes the superior option at the plate.
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Atlanta Braves: Vaughn Grissom
Grissom has fewer than 100 plate appearances above Single-A in the minors and is being asked to play a new position and move to shortstop in Atlanta this season. There’s power/speed potential here, but Grissom will be hitting at the bottom of the Braves’ lineup and has a floor that includes a trip back to the minors.
Baltimore Orioles: Adley Rutschman
Rutschman is going to be incredibly valuable to the Orioles, with a high walk rate and outstanding defense, but he’s overvalued in being drafted as a top-five catcher (and in the seventh/eighth round). Among catchers, THE BAT X projects Rutschman to finish top-three in WAR but not top-10 in homers or batting average — and not top-five in runs scored, RBIs or stolen bases. His home park does him no favors, either.
Boston Red Sox: Kenley Jansen
Jansen is locked in as Boston’s closer but is in the decline phase of his career, and as one of the slowest pitchers in baseball, he could be affected by the pitch clock. Garrett Whitlock could emerge as a superior option to close in Boston at some point this season.
Chicago Cubs: Justin Steele
Steele is being drafted inside the top 250 picks despite incredibly shaky peripherals. He managed just four wins with a 3.18 ERA across 24 starts last year and will likely struggle in the category again this year still pitching for the Cubs and with an ERA almost certain to rise. Steele somehow has a higher Yahoo ADP than Tyler Mahle, Sean Manaea, Kodai Senga, Noah Syndergaard and Kenta Maeda, among others who should be drafted ahead of him.
Chicago White Sox: Dylan Cease
Michael Kopech is too deep of a pick, so let’s go with Cease as overvalued. He’s a very good pitcher who is now being drafted as a great one, as a borderline top-10 fantasy starter. Expecting some regression in BABIP and HR/FB%, THE BAT projects a 3.86 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP — neither of which would’ve been top 30 among starters last year. Similar fantasy pitchers are available multiple rounds later.
Cincinnati Reds: Hunter Greene
Greene is one of the hardest throwing starters in MLB history, and his inclusion here is no fault of his own. But playing for a Reds team projected to win the third-fewest games could be a real problem for accumulating wins, and pitching in arguably the most favorable hitter’s park in baseball won’t do any favors to his ERA (THE BAT projects 4.42). I have Dustin May ranked higher, and he’s available four or five rounds later.
Cleveland Guardians: Oscar Gonzalez
Gonzalez posted underwhelming numbers in Triple-A to go with walk and chase rates both in the bottom 1% of the league last season. A poor defender who doesn’t get on base (or steal), Gonzalez’s .345 BABIP would’ve been top-12 had he qualified despite a Hard Hit% in the 51st percentile.
Colorado Rockies: Daniel Bard
Bard is a 37-year-old coming off a career-best season who still has to pitch in Coors Field and for a team projected to win the fewest games in MLB this season. THE BAT projects a 4.87 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP, and that’s without the knowledge of Bard's velocity being down this spring.
Detroit Tigers: Riley Greene
This is more of an indictment of Detroit and the team’s lack of alternatives than Greene himself. But while the outfielder has shown signs of a possible breakout, he’s still stuck in a pitcher’s park that has decreased HR for LHB an MLB-high 39% the past three seasons. He's also in a bad lineup projected to score the second-fewest runs in baseball. Greene’s K% was in the bottom 10% of the league last year, when he also benefitted greatly from a .429 BABIP against lefties.
Houston Astros: Yordan Álvarez
Álvarez has a strong argument that he’s currently the best hitter in baseball when healthy, but injuries make him a risky first-round pick. He has a hand injury that has lingered from last season and prevented him from swinging throughout most of spring after dealing with a chronic knee issue for years. Álvarez is expected to be ready Opening Day, but there’s health risk to go along with a hitter whose fantasy upside doesn’t include stolen bases.
Kansas City Royals: Vinnie Pasquantino
“My Cousin” Vinnie is going to be a really good hitter for the Royals (and will benefit from the no-shifting rules), but he’s also going a bit too early in fantasy drafts as a top-100 pick. Pasquantino will be hurt by a shaky Kansas City lineup and a home park that destroys lefty power. THE BAT X projects Pasquantino for a modest 16 homers and 71 RBIs; Rowdy Tellez is projected for 29 homers and 83 RBIs and is available 100 picks later in Yahoo drafts.
Los Angeles Angels: Brandon Drury
Drury’s multi-eligibility is helpful, but he’s coming off by far the best season of his career. He saw his OPS drop 131 points after being traded out of Cincinnati (a hitter’s paradise) to San Diego last year and will likely hit toward the bottom of L.A.’s lineup. Drury is 30 years old with a 93 wRC+ over 2,276 career plate appearances, so regression could hit hard in 2023.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Tony Gonsolin
Fantasy managers were admittedly wary of Gonsolin (SP55 in Yahoo leagues) after he finished with the fifth-most wins in baseball last year despite pitching the 89th-most innings and sporting a K-rate outside the top 25, but he needs to be buried even further in fantasy drafts now that he’s sidelined indefinitely in addition to the inevitable regression.
Miami Marlins: Sandy Alcantara
Here’s my case against a Miami pitcher without a top-25 K rate last year being drafted as a top-five fantasy ace. Simply put, Alcantara’s team prevents him from racking up wins, and his low strikeout rate could lead to a real ERA spike with the no-shift rules. There are many ways to get hitters out, but those who rely less on strikeouts are inherently more vulnerable to greater ERA fluctuation.
Milwaukee Brewers: Devin Williams
Williams has the upside to finish as fantasy’s top closer with Josh Hader out of town, so this is all about health. There’s some concern that his nasty “Airbender” causes too much stress on his arm, and his injury history also includes cortisone shots in the knee, a calf issue, elbow soreness and shoulder problems.
Minnesota Twins: Jose Miranda
Miranda is being drafted as a top-12 fantasy 3B and multiple rounds ahead of others such as Alec Bohm, Anthony Rendon, Justin Turner, Josh Jung and Yoán Moncada — all of whom project for higher wRC+ and better fantasy production.
New York Mets: Brandon Nimmo
Volume was a big reason for Nimmo’s fantasy production last year, as he finished with fewer than 20 combined homers/steals despite 673 plate appearances. His walks are super helpful to the Mets and managers in OBP formats, but Nimmo’s game doesn’t translate great to traditional fantasy leagues. He also has a long injury history (Nimmo had never played in more than 140 games in any season of his career before 2022) and hits in one of baseball’s best pitcher’s parks.
New York Yankees: Clay Holmes
Holmes is the favorite to open the season closing for the Yankees, but Michael King could quickly emerge as the superior option. And World Series hopes this season, New York could be looking for an upgrade (or someone “proven”) at the trade deadline.
Oakland A’s: Esteury Ruiz
A player with 60+ SB upside who’s available around pick 250 is a fantasy dream, but Ruiz’s inability to hit the ball hard might be too much to overcome. The projections aren’t pretty for Ruiz, who didn’t exactly tear the cover off the ball in Winter League. It doesn’t help that Oakland has decreased homers for righties an MLB-high 28% the past three seasons and is also among the leaders in suppressing BA for RHB.
Philadelphia Phillies: All relievers
The Phillies have four co-closers listed on most depth charts, and all enter with questions. Craig Kimbrel has the most experience and upside, but he has also seen decreased velocity this spring. Moreover, manager Rob Thomson has stated that he plans to go without an official closer this season.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Bryan Reynolds
Reynolds is a very good hitter, but he’s being drafted as a top-20 fantasy outfielder despite still playing for the Pirates; he didn’t reach 75 runs scored or 65 RBIs in 600-plus plate appearances last year, thanks to a weak Pittsburgh lineup. He could be traded midseason, but Reynolds is being drafted aggressively for a 28-year-old who is in a bad situation (PNC Park also kills power) and has never hit 30 homers or stolen 10 bases in a season in his career.
San Diego Padres: Xander Bogaerts
Bogaerts is still being drafted as a top-10 SS and a top-75 pick despite suffering a major downgrade in parks moving from Fenway (which leads the AL in boosting BA and runs scored the past three seasons by wide margins) to Petco (which leads the NL in decreasing BA and runs scored over that span) after signing a $280 million contract as a 30-year-old. Moving to an extreme pitcher’s park and without a ton of power/speed upside (23 HR/SB combined over 630+ PAs last year in a much better hitting environment), Bogaerts is being overvalued in 2023 fantasy drafts.
San Francisco Giants: Joey Bart
Many are hoping for a Bart breakout in 2023, but the former No. 2 pick is a major BA risk with such an extreme strikeout rate. Bart’s abysmal defense also puts him at risk of losing playing time to the emerging Blake Sabol and/or Roberto Pérez. Even if the playing time is there along with improvement at the plate, Bart will be hitting toward the bottom of S.F.’s lineup in a park that has suppressed HR for RHB by 23% the past three seasons.
Seattle Mariners: Teoscar Hernández
Hernández almost certainly would’ve put up bigger numbers in Toronto’s new confines if he hadn't been traded to Seattle in the offseason. He gets a real fantasy downgrade with the move. The Mariners played in the game’s toughest pitcher’s park last year, according to Statcast. Hernández has a top-65 ADP in Yahoo leagues, but I’d prefer both Byron Buxton (92 ADP) and Taylor Ward (138 ADP) straight-up this season in fantasy leagues.
St. Louis Cardinals: Jordan Walker
Walker has seen the most “helium” among all fantasy players the past couple of months, as the rookie had been raking in spring training before suffering a minor shoulder injury. Walker has a bright future, but he’s not guaranteed to open the season as an every-day player in St. Louis. He’s also projected for modest production (93 wRC+) after posting good but not amazing Triple-A numbers last season (128 wRC+, .898 OPS). Be careful of the hype.
Tampa Bay Rays: Yandy Díaz
Díaz has seen his ADP jump more than 150 spots compared to last season after he (checks notes) hit nine homers with three steals over 550+ PAs in 2022. Unless wRC+ is a category in your league, Díaz’s high ground ball rate and lack of counting stats will continue to limit his fantasy upside.
Texas Rangers: Jacob deGrom
DeGrom is inarguably the best pitcher alive per inning right now, but his considerable injury risk is simply too high to spend a second- or third-round fantasy pick. I like to gamble on fantasy picks as much as anyone, but even I’m scared off by deGrom’s past health issues; I hope I’m wrong.
Toronto Blue Jays: Chris Bassitt
Bassitt was fantastic last season but now goes from one of baseball’s best pitcher’s parks in New York to one of the more favorable places to hit in new-look Toronto. That means he’ll also be pitching in the AL East, but even more concerning is Bassitt’s velocity and spin both being noticeably down during spring training.
Washington Nationals: Joey Meneses
Meneses is a career minor-leaguer who broke out last season at age 30. He benefitted from a .371 BABIP that would’ve been the highest in MLB had he qualified and hits in one of the toughest parks for righties. Meneses has a Yahoo ADP 50-pus spots higher than Triston Casas, whom I prefer straight-up.