2020 Fantasy Baseball: Busts

Dr. Roto breaks down eight players who will underperform this 2020 fantasy baseball season.
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A bust is a player who performs worse than expected. The key to a winning fantasy baseball season is to avoid players who are going to have bust-type seasons.

Here are some players who I think will be busts in 2020:

AL Hitters:

OF Justin Upton, Los Angeles Angels

At one time, Upton was one of the brightest stars in MLB. Now, after dealing with multiple lower-body injuries in 2019, his arrow is clearly pointing downward. Upton’s knee woes have rendered his speed practically non-existent. He went from 14 stolen bases in 2017 to eight in 2018 to one in 2019. I would expect that the Angels won’t let him run much (if at all) this season to ensure that he stays on the field. Upton’s lack of speed does not concern me nearly as much as his alarming strikeout rate. In 2019, Upton struck out 78 times in 219 at-bats (over 35%). His batting average was an abysmal .215 and his exit velocity was the lowest it had been in years. There is always someone at every draft who looks at a player like Upton and sees his past greatness; I look at Upton and see a player whose best years are behind him.

SS Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox

It might be unfair for me to call Anderson a bust because I think he will have a decent season. I just don’t see him having nearly as good a season as his 2019 campaign. Anderson hit a career high .335 which is simply not repeatable for a player who only walked 15 times. His hard-hit rate and exit velocity were below average, and perhaps the best word to describe his 2019 season was a fluke. In 2020, Anderson will once again lead off and should be in line for 15/15 with a potential for 20/20 if he can stay healthy—just don’t expect a batting average of more than .260.

AL Pitchers:

SP Hyun-Jin Ryu, Toronto Blue Jays

Prior to 2019, Ryu was thought of as a pitcher with potential, mainly because he was not able to remain off the disabled list. In 2019, however, Ryu made 29 starts for the Dodgers and finished the season with 14 wins, an ERA of 2.32 and a WHIP of 1.01. He took those incredible numbers and parlayed that to a four-year,$80 million-dollar contract with the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays are banking on Ryu not only staying healthy, but him dominating the AL East as easily as he did the NL West. And while Ryu is one of the top control pitchers in MLB, I do worry that he is going to see tougher lineups in the American League (especially with DH), and his home park will be far less pitcher-friendly than Chavez Ravine. Look for Ryu to be taken much higher in drafts than he should.

SP Kenta Maeda, Minnesota Twins

If it seems like I am picking on ex-Dodgers, you are probably right. However, Maeda might be stepping into a potential hornet’s nest coming to the American League and I recommend avoiding him this season. Maeda has never had pinpoint control. In fact, last season (arguably his best) he still had 51 walks in 153 IP. Now coming to the AL, I can easily see his walk rate continue to spike, as well as his ERA. Interestingly, I don’t think the Twins will be all too upset if Maeda has 10-12 wins and an ERA in the mid-4’s. They brought him over in order to solidify their playoff rotation specifically due to his experience in crucial games. I will be more than happy to use Maeda in DFS when it comes playoff time, but for regular season stats, I will gladly look elsewhere.

NL Hitters:

1B Eric Hosmer, San Diego Padres

Most fantasy baseball leagues use five categories for hitting and five categories for pitching in their scoring system. Ideally a player will excel in at least three categories for me to draft him. Hosmer only excels in one category—RBIs. In a time where power is critical, Hosmer has hit 40 home runs in the past two seasons combined (some first baseman can hit 40 in one year!). I am trying to figure out why people are interested in a player who hits .260 with no speed and below average power and the only thing that I can think of is that he was once a top draft pick. I will always choose game over name and for that reason I will let someone else choose Hosmer as their starter at first base.

1B/OF Wil Myers, San Diego Padres 

I apologize to all Padres fans if it seems like I am picking on them. I happen to really like most of their team apart from Hosmer and Myers. Myers is a monumental disappointment and the Padres have been trying to move him and his exorbitant contract this off-season. They almost found a taker in Boston, before the Red Sox decided to trade Mookie Betts to the Dodgers. The best word I have for Myers is overrated. He will barely hit .250 and had an exit velocity of 47th percent which means he’s not getting good wood on the ball. He is a defensive liability so he loses late game at bats, and if it weren’t for his stole bases, I would say that he is no better than a replacement level player. Talk up Myers’ speed pre-draft and then let someone else in your league draft him.

NL Pitchers:

RP Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals

Over the years I have changed my feeling on the saves category. At one time, I tried to draft closers early, hoping to forge ahead of my competition by finding safe closers who I thought could hold onto the job for the entire season. This plan began to backfire on me as closers were losing their jobs and teams were using committees more and more. Sean Doolittle is in the middle of a huge saves committee in Washington and I think he’s going to come out on the short end of it this season. Not only do I worry about Doolittle getting the ball in the ninth inning, I worry if his balky knee will hold up for an entire season as well. The Nationals must feel the same way as I do as they brought in Will Harris from the Astros to give the bullpen more depth. Fantasy baseball owners will look at Doolittle’s 29 saves from a year ago and see a possible top closer. I see a player who slowed down at the end of last season and who might be a huge bust in 2020.

SP Dustin May, Los Angeles Dodgers

Fantasy baseball owners love to draft rookies. Maybe it’s because they want the glory for “making a good pick” or maybe it’s because people always want to outsmart their opponents. Drafting young players can be treacherous because we never quite know when they are going to arrive in the Show and for how long they will stay once they get there. Take Dustin May, for example. May is a pitching prodigy for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is their top prospect and there are many who feel that if given a chance, his arsenal will play well in the majors. But as of right now, May is dealing with a sore side muscle in spring training and he is completely behind the other starters in the rotation. My best guess is that he starts the year on the injured list, then gets sent to the minors, and he won’t get the call to the majors until some time in late May or June if the Dodgers need someone in their rotation. While I like May, I think paying full price for a player who might not play all season could be a mistake.

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