We all love to pick up sleepers in MLB fantasy baseball – guys that nobody expected to excel yet did anyways. However, at the other end of the spectrum lies fantasy busts. These guys are considered some of the best in the game, yet do nothing more than let all of their fantasy owners down.
If sleeper picks are the holy grail of fantasy baseball, then busts are the Achilles heel. Every season, fantasy leagues rank the worth of each and every MLB player based on past performances and future expectations. Sometimes these rankings are true, like Mike Trout being #1 seemingly every year. Other times, these sites will rank someone too low, causing the player to far outperform their draft position: the sleeper pick. That situation is great for fantasy owners. The situation that isn’t so great is in the case of a bust.
These players are ranked high in the player rankings because they have consistently been able to produce outrageous fantasy numbers. Whether it be from age, injury, or a sudden dip in production, some of these guys end up performing more like a 20th round pick and less like a second rounder. This happens every year. It’s inevitable. There is a very slim chance that not a single highly touted player under-performs next season. Just look at last season’s Bryce Harper. Harper was easily a top five fantasy selection, yet performed barely inside of the top 100.
Not in every case will these guys be bad players by any means. Instead, they will fail to live up to their lofty expectations. Not to say that they won’t contribute; they merely won’t be worth the pick that you sacrificed for them. So with that being said, let’s look at some otherwise great options that you should avoid this fantasy season.
Trailing only Paul Goldschmidt and Anthony Rizzo, the former triple crown winner finds himself as one of the best options available not only at first base but in the entirety of baseball. Miguel Cabrera has consistently crafted together masterful seasons, and entering his 15th season in the big leagues, Cabrera will seek to continue his Hall of Fame career. While Cabrera actually statistically improved last season over the previous year, 2017 may not be as flattering.
Now, before I get butchered in the comment section, let me explain myself. Cabrera will still be awesome, will likely still be an All-Star, and will continue being Miguel Cabrera. However, I do not think he should be considered the third best first baseman and 14th best player in all of baseball. I’d personally put Freddie Freeman and Daniel Murphy over Cabrera (yes, Murphy may be considered a first baseman next season). That drops him to fifth among first basemen, and I can see him sliding lower on the list for all players. With age setting in, and the Tigers reportedly wanting to enter rebuild mode, Cabrera may fall of the edge a tad.
Cabrera would still be a steal in the first five rounds, but many people will use their first round pick on the Detroit first baseman. With injuries being even more prevalent due to his age, burning a first round selection on Cabrera seems very unwise. I love Miguel Cabrera and what he does for baseball, but fantasy owners should avoid taking him so early in the draft.
Zack Greinke was a massive letdown for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and if it wasn’t for Shelby Miller he may have been the Diamondbacks’ biggest regret. Greinke posted his worst ERAsince 2005 with a 4.37 mark, nearly triple what it was the year prior. Greinke’s flaws were slowly being revealed, and while many may argue it is one bad season, that can’t be the case. Sure, Greinke has had a good stretch of success in the big leagues, but his weaknesses are in the spotlight and his past credibility is the only thing keeping him in such high honor.
Greinke had a spectacular 2015 that was on the back-end of a solid six-year stretch. With a 1.66 ERA and a 19-3 record, Greinke cashed out by signing a six-year, $206 million contract. The Diamondbacks locked Greinke up until he is 37 years old, and were banking on the hopes that he would continue his dominance. The fact of the matter is that Greinke may not be the superstar that we all make him out to be, and that ranking him at the 19th best pitcher in baseball is absurd.
Greinke benefited from wearing Dodger Blue more than people think. First off, Greinke pitched the majority of his games at Dodger Stadium, a historically pitcher-friendly park that is hard to hit in due to the immense smog in Southern California. Also, Greinke took a massive hit in Arizona due to the lack of quality fielding. The Diamondbacks ranked 26th according to Fangraphs Def rating, a stat that saw the Dodgers rank seventh. Yes, A.J. Pollock returning will certainly help Greinke, but outside of Los Angeles he will not produce the same numbers that fantasy baseball experts predict.
Carlos Gonzalez being ranked 29th in baseball and the 8th best outfielder is honestly the most baffling out of this list. I have nothing but respect for Gonzalez. He has stayed faithful to Colorado and has proved to be a consistent performer at the big league level. However, nowadays other talents have surpassed Gonzalez and he no longer seems like the superstar he use to be. With so many better alternatives, having CarGo rank 29th is surprising.
The last three years Gonzalez has drifted far off from the superstar status he once had. In the last three seasons, Gonzalez ranks 69th in WAR according to Fangraphs. While WAR isn’t the best measure of fantasy contributions, his key fantasy stats haven’t been fantastic. In that same three-year stretch Gonzalez ranks 15th in home runs, 33rd in runs, and 17th in runs batted in. Those are respectable numbers, don’t get me wrong, but they aren’t necessarily the eighth best for outfielders.
There are several players that I would put in front of Gonzalez that aren’t already ahead of him. Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton and Yoenis Cespedes are three guys right off the bat that I would assert in front of Gonzalez. While he still is a very good asset for any fantasy squad, there should be no owner that considers Gonzalez within the top 30 in fantasy rankings.