When heading into draft season, there are countless articles out there about sleepers, breakouts and busts. Sleepers, of course, are almost non-existent thanks to the amount of information we have out there. Breakouts are players who have shown us something that indicates a chance to take a big step forward. And busts are harder to quantify, because it really depends on who you ask. Some people consider busts to be players who will be horrible, while others define busts as players who will underperform their ADP significantly, even if they are still productive. I fall into the latter camp.
But there is one term or phrase that isn’t discussed enough, and that’s players on a do-not-draft list. These can include busts that will still be OK for Fantasy, but they can also include players that you just won’t take, at all, for any reason.
12 Players to Remove From Your Draft Lists for 2017.
Javier Baez – Baez has a consensus ranking of 158 on FantasyPros. The high ranker has him at 115. The low ranker has him at 286. Spoiler alert: I’m the low ranker. I love, love the future outlook for Baez, but he has a lot working against him. First and most importantly, he has no place to play. Ben Zobrist is starting at second base, folks. Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward and a Jon Jay/Albert Almora platoon are going to take most of the time in the outfield. Where is Baez going to get enough at-bats to matter? What’s more, he still strikes out 24 percent of the time, a high rate despite improving it by six percentage points. And, as we know it now, his best skill is his defense, which doesn’t matter in Fantasy. Yes, Baez has a lot of power and a lot of position eligibility, but if you can find me more than 400 plate appearances for him, even in a lineup that is often tinkered with, I’ll be impressed. Until then, he’s a late-round flier or preferred waiver wire guy for me.
Jean Segura – Since the trade to Seattle, I’ve been very vocal about my bust expectations for Segura. Most of that has to do with not buying into his power breakout from a season ago. Segura’s home run to fly ball ratio was at 13.5 percent, which was a career-high. Also, his hard-hit rate increased from 19.7 percent to 29.7 percent in one year.
His speed will still play, as that’s his go-to category. Considering speed is hard to find, he has value there as a starting option at second base or shortstop. However, how much will his speed decrease? He stole 33 bases last year in 43 attempts, but that was with a team that accumulated 137 stolen bases in 168 attempts, the third-most steals in baseball. The Mariners stole just 56 bases in 84 attempts. With his expected decreased power and hitting atop the Mariners lineup, he should still be good for 30 steals. However, I’m having a hard time seeing him eclipse 12 home runs this year. And if his average falls back to around to between .246 and .257, where it was in back to back years in 2014 and 2015, you’re looking at Rajai Davis-type numbers from a season ago. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt with a .270 average, making him more valuable than Davis, but he’s not worthy of his 53rd overall draft spot in NFBC drafts. I’d rather wait 113 picks and get Tim Anderson, who has a similar skill set.
Dee Gordon – Similar to Segura, his value is in his elite speed. In just 79 games last year, he still stole 30 bases. But man, did he look horrible after he came off his suspension or what? More often than not, when a player comes back from a PED suspension, they perform just fine. Not Gordon. It was a small sample size, but he didn’t provide the elite average that you were likely holding onto him for. He dropped from .333 in 2015 to .268 in 2016. Did he need the PEDs to be good?
He wasn’t as bad as he was with the Dodgers in 2013 last year, but he wasn’t worthy of his second-round price tag. I’ll watch from him from afar this year, and see if he can rebound for someone else’s team, especially since the position is so deep this year.
Jason Heyward – Even with an ADP of 250 in NFBC leagues, I’m still having a hard time taking Heyward on any of my teams. His 27-homer season was five years ago. His .230 average will increase, but the days of holding out hope that he’ll hit 20 homers again are done. At least in 2015 with the Cardinals, when he hit 13 home runs, he also provided 23 stolen bases and a .293 average. His steals dipped to 11 last year, and we already spoke about his average. But average is a good word to describe Heyward, because that’s all he is from a Fantasy point of view.
Michael Wacha – Wacha is the projected fifth starter for the Cardinals according to RosterResource.com. There were rumblings that Wacha was going to be headed to the bullpen, and he didn’t help his cause last year. However, with Alex Reyes now gone for the season due to Tommy John surgery, Wacha will get a chance to redeem himself. The question of whether you should draft him will depend on how he performs this spring. If he doesn’t return to his previous form or looks anything like last year’s model, you can skip Wacha on draft day.
Didi Gregorious – What a great season for Gregorious in 2016. Too bad that will be the best one of his career. Gregorious lucked his way into 20 homers last year, after hitting a previous career-high of nine the previous season. I say luck because, well, he doesn’t hit the ball hard at all. Only five players had a lower hard-hit rate than Gregorious last year. His 24.5 percent was higher than only Angel Pagan, Alexei Ramirez, Ender Inciarte, Alcides Escobar and Jose Iglesias among qualified hitters. Those five guys combined for 32 homers, with Pagan having 12 of them. He’s the 17th shortstop off the board, so he’s deep-league material as it is, but don’t expect him to even come close to sniffing 20 homers again this year.
Tyler Naquin – There really isn’t a lot to say about Naquin, except that last year was a mirage. He had a nice run in June and July, but ended up with just one homer in August and September. Oh yeah, his value directly came from his .411 BABIP, which, if he qualified, would have led all of baseball.
Michael Brantley – I’m fine with taking risks in Fantasy drafts, but when it comes to injuries, I tend to be risk averse. Even with injury-plagued guys, I’ll take a shot on them, despite the semi-true adage that if you’ve been injured before it means that you’ll be injured again. But when a guy is coming into the season with an injury, I’m all but out. The shoulder has been a killer for Brantley, and if – a big if – he’s fully healthy, he’s going to be a steal at his 216 ADP. But unless he falls to me in the late, late teen rounds, he’s not worth the risk. There are other healthy players with high upside going around him such as Max Kepler and Nomar Mazara.
Jung Ho Kang – There’s a lot to say about Kang. The talent is there. We’ve seen it before. But his off-field issues are one of the things that give me pause. He’s getting treatment after his third DUI incident in South Korea, and he still has an open sexual assault allegation in Chicago. If you draft him, you’re inheriting the risk that comes with him off the field. Don’t forget, the Pirates turned to David Freese often last year at third base and even rewarded him with a nice contract extension. Kang hit 21 homers in 371 plate appearances, and there’s no denying the talent. But if he isn’t going to get full-time at-bats and you have to worry whether he’s one strike away from being irrelevant, is it worth it?
Andrew Cashner – Cashner is like the word fetch. Stop trying to make it happen. The raw stuff is there, but he’s not going to give us the strikeout numbers we keep hoping for. Had he qualified last year, his 35.8 percent hard-hit rate would have been the sixth-worst in all of baseball. Enjoy him, Texas.
Aaron Nola – It pains me to put Nola on here, because I really do like him. I just have some concerns that make me uncomfortable taking him at his ADP as the 57th starter off the board. If there’s one pick on this list I feel like I’ll look the worst for, it’s Nola.
Which Nola is the real Nola?
In his first 12 starts, he had a 2.65 ERA and a .99 WHIP. In his last eight starts, he had a 9.82 ERA and a 2.06 WHIP. That’s someone who went from a must-start option to drop him right now in the blink of an eye. He maintained his strikeout rate throughout the season at 9.8 per nine innings, which is great. But his 9.6 percent whiff-rate puts him with the J.A. Happ, Brandon Finnegan and Dallas Keuchels of the world. He relied a lot on having batters chase out of the zone with his 32 percent O-Swing%. I’m just not buying the strikeout rate when he’s sitting in the low-90s with his fastball. Add to it the elbow strain he had last year, and I’d rather go after Vince Velasquez, or even teammate Jerad Eickhoff.
A.J. Ramos – Since the day that Don Mattingly arrived in Miami, it seemed like Ramos was doomed. From Carter Capps threatening his closer’s role in Spring Training, to the addition of Fernando Rodney last season, it seemed like Mattingly almost wanted Ramos to fail. Despite his outrageously high walk-rate last year, Ramos was mostly good for the Marlins and for Fantasy owners. But he’s looking over his shoulder again this year with Brad Ziegler and Kyle Barraclough lurking. Ramos will start the season as the closer, but he’ll ultimately lose the role to Ziegler or Barraclough, with the latter having the more upside. I’d rather take Francisco Rodriguez, Sam Dyson or Tony Watson, who are all being drafted after Ramos on average.