Fantasy Baseball: Electrifying Elly De La Cruz a draft fade at ADP in 2024?

Today's assignment is to talk about some of my 2024 fantasy baseball fades, and we're going to focus on big names. No one needs help avoiding a heavily flawed player who carries an ADP of 270. My goal is to identify big-name players who concern me at their current ADPs, and you can decide what the advice is worth.

Don't feel bad if I'm panning one of your favorite players or banked draft picks; you'll have no trouble finding other sharp analysts who see things as you do.

[Join or create a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league for the 2024 MLB season]

Alas, it's a game of opinions, and we're not always going to agree. Here are four big-name players I'm looking to avoid in those early rounds.

SP Tyler Glasnow, Los Angeles Dodgers

It's scary to print a fade on Glasnow — let's start with that. Since he put things together at the front of the 2019 season, he's compiled a 3.03 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. The K/BB ratio is a glittering 4.5, he whiffs 12.5 batters per nine innings, and he keeps the ball in the park (1.1 HR/9). And he's passionately endorsed by several fantasy writers I admire; three of them include colleague and friend Dalton Del Don and industry buddies Gene McCaffrey and Michael Salfino, but there are many others.

Pitching guru Eno Sarris of The Athletic invented a metric called Stuff+, and Glasnow is one of the fire-breathing dragons who breaks that formula. Several times I've watched Glasnow pitch on TV and thought, "Good lord, nobody has the raw stuff this guy does." Throw in Glasnow's 6-foot-8 frame and shift to the Dodgers — one of two absurd rosters ready to crush 2024, along with the Atlanta group — and all the dots seem to connect, right?

Well, there's one rub with Glasnow. He's obviously had trouble staying healthy. If we ignore the truncated pandemic season, Glasnow has made just 38% of his expected starts over the last four years. His career high for innings in any MLB season is a modest 120, posted last year.

To be fair, lower workloads are part of the game these days. Shutouts and complete games are rare. It's common to see a pitcher work on a no-hitter and then hand off the game to the bullpen because he's reached his targeted workload for the day. So we can argue that a partial season of Glasnow would carry more weight than it might have in an earlier era.

Still, there's a heavy price tag attached — his Yahoo and Global ADPs both settle into the mid-40s. I view that as too expectant given Glasnow's history of breaking down. I also suspect the move to the Dodgers is mostly a feature but could also offer a sneaky bug; because the Dodgers are already an overwhelming favorite to make the playoffs, it's likely they'll treat their star pitchers extra carefully as they try to prepare for October. There's no reason to go crazy with summer workloads. Legacies are written in the playoffs. If an elbow hiccups even a little bit, use the injured list.

Interestingly, the projections community forecasts Glasnow to take on more work than usual — his six projections on Fangraphs range from 118.3 innings to 154 innings, with an average of 137. But given that Glasnow is entering his ninth professional season, I'm not comfortable expecting him to reach an innings threshold he's never landed before. If this is the season he magically stays healthy and races past his established workload average, so it goes; then he beats me. But I'm not going to bet that way.

OF Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

Trout has already made his case as the player of his generation. He's bagged three MVPs and perhaps should have one or two more. He's a five-tool talent who can provide a highlight at any second. If Trout retired tomorrow, he'd already have a ticket punched for the Hall of Fame, it's just a matter of working on the speech and waiting five years.

But the second phase of Trout's career hasn't been nearly as much fun. He's missed 34% of his possible games over the last seven years, he's stopped running over the last four years and even his batting average fell to .263 last year. Trout's slugging percentage also fell to .490 last season, after six straight seasons over .600.

Sure, he's still good. But this isn't the Superhero Trout we've long been accustomed to.

OK, so Trout is merely entering his age-32 season. Sometimes Hall of Famers break aging patterns or post strong comeback years. The stolen bases can't be counted on, but the full pop could return. It's possible.

That said, Trout won't get much help from his Anaheim supporting cast. The top of the LAA lineup is depressing; the three bats flanking Trout all carry fantasy ADPs outside the top 500. I don't see any buoyancy to this offense. Trout won't get a lot of help padding those run-production columns.

Trout's getting more Yahoo draft respect (48.2 ADP over the last week) than respect from the writer ranks (OF17). I think the scribes have this one called properly.

3B José Ramírez, Cleveland Guardians

Although Ramírez had his worst season in four last year, it's not like he fell on his face. A .282/.356/.475 slash still hashes out to a 131 OPS+. He knocked 24 homers, stole 28 bases. He was a mild disappointment with an ADP in the top five, but you didn't lose your league through this pick. You just wanted a little more.

The run production was an issue. Ramírez drove in 80 runs, a 46-run drop from the previous year. Some regression was to be expected, but the final tally certainly stung.

[2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP]

Now Ramírez starts the back nine of his career (age-31 season) and is surrounded by the same mediocre Cleveland lineup that finished bottom five in scoring last year. Your early fantasy picks should excite you, both for isolated talent and for the healthy environments they're tied to. Do you have the stomach to grind six months of Cleveland offense and Cleveland box scores? It's too depressing for me. Even if Ramírez slips into the second round, he's not in my draft plans. Context matters.

SS/3B Elly De La Cruz, Cincinnati Reds

It's no fun scripting the De La Cruz fade because it's like you're shouting down fun. De La Cruz's game is joyous, like an endless supply of rainbows and newborn puppies. He swings for the fences, he tries to steal every base he can and he plays with an undeniable joie de vivre. He could be the face of baseball in a year or two.

Of course, De La Cruz could also be in the minors by May. The Reds have a glutted infield, and De La Cruz has kinks to iron out. He slashed just .184/.231/.263 against lefties last year, and the league solved him in the second half (.191/.272/.355). Even if the Reds are content to let De La Cruz learn on the job, his first-year profile does not support a lofty batting slot. He'll probably open the year in the second half of the lineup, costing him some volume.

I grant you that at some point in any fantasy draft, upside is all that matters. But De La Cruz gets taken in the early rounds, where floor still needs to be considered. De La Cruz carries a Yahoo ADP of 33.0 over the last week, a lofty ticket to punch when you consider his canyon-wide range of outcomes. I'll gravitate to a safer pick in that pocket.