Finding a breakout star is great but just as important is avoiding the pitfall of drafting a bust. With fantasy drafts well underway, data is rolling in and there are several players being drafted well ahead of where they should be going. While the idea of a “bust” doesn’t necessarily mean that the player is “bad” at all, it indicates that their performance will not match their price tag. The following 10 players are currently being greatly overvalued. While they may perform well enough to be carried on rosters, there are superior assets to acquire given where these players are currently being drafted.
10. Jose Reyes (SS)
An easy player to avoid, Reyes is currently being drafted on average around the 120th player off the board. His preseason rank is similar. Therefore it’s not difficult to see why during the middle rounds, people are taking the big name they recognize. Unfortunately for all involved, Reyes has a domestic abuse case that is still active. The Rockies have indicated that Reyes will refrain from joining the team until his trial is over, which doesn’t even begin until April 4. A situation set to linger all season, there is a possibility Reyes doesn’t play a single game this year. The Rockies are quite content to allow youngster Trevor Story to take the reins and with Reyes’ declining performance, this is not a difficult decision for the team. With rumors of Reyes returning to the Dominican Republic, he is not worth a pick in redraft leagues, let alone a valuable pick in the initial 10 rounds of fantasy drafts.
9. Troy Tulowitzki (SS)
The player traded for Reyes in last summer’s blockbuster deal, Troy Tulowitzki is a player on a clear decline that also happens to possess alarming medical red flags. Playing in 128 games last season actually marked his highest total in four years, which is a comical thought. Even still, he struggled through his arthritic hip condition for months prior to suffering the standard Tulo-esque freak injury on a collision with a teammate, making him once again unavailable for the fantasy playoffs. Injury issues aside, this is a player that is reached for during drafts based on his perceived upside. Unfortunately, that upside is no longer realistic. With a strikeout percentage that skyrocketed and a walk percentage that plummeted to career-low levels, Tulo was far too aggressive last season and should not simply be given a pass. Deteriorating plate skills are a mark of a declining, aging player and Tulo’s mountain list of injuries makes him a very old 31-years old.
8. Joc Pederson (OF)
Two years ago, Joc Pederson topped the list of many prospect rankings based on his 5-tool ability. Being the heir apparent to Matt Kemp in centerfield for the LA Dodgers, his name was one of the more mainstream prospect names floating around as the large market he played for allowed the hype to grow. Since arriving in the Major Leagues, his speed has entirely vanished as he has only attempted 11 steals in 169 games! Even worse, he has only been successful on four of them. With below average defense at CF, his future may now be at first base. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with a power hitter at first, the problem is his complete inability to hit left-handed pitching. Already a platoon hitter, Pederson will hold even less value than anticipated as he is currently slotted to bat 8th on the team, ahead of the pitcher. Set to lose even more playing time if his plate discipline can’t improve, Pederson is a player to avoid in redrafts yet is often taken earlier than anticipated due to the ceiling he once possessed.
7. John Lackey (RHP)
During 2015, John Lackey held a gorgeous 1.91 ERA at St Louis’ Busch Stadium, which he called home. His road ERA of 3.82 was more in line with his career line. Now moving to hitter-friendly Wrigley Field in Chicago, it’s easy to see how Lackey’s value will decline. While he will be backed by an incredible offense providing him plenty of run support for “wins,” his overall value takes a hit. Holding an unsustainable 82.6 percent strand rate, Lackey was actually remarkably lucky last year. Over four out five batters he put on base did not come around to score. For context, the league average left-on-base percentage year after year is 72. The 37 year-old Lackey will surely find a repeat of his career-year difficult to accomplish. While these flags are factored into his ADP, the discount still isn’t great enough. Furthermore, during drafts his name will appear on the screen with that microscopic ERA in plain sight and he will be reached for. Don’t be that person.
6. Jaime Garcia (LHP)
Often touted as a rotation centerpiece if he could only stay healthy, the reality is that Garcia was always simply “ownable” rather than great. The fact he was always hurt and therefore left on free agency gained him a sizable following as he was always a great addition compared to the remainder of free agency (on the rare occasion he was healthy). Finishing 2015 as fantasy’s 28th ranked pitcher despite once again only firing 129 innings (which in fact was his highest total since 2011) only adds to the legacy that Garcia is a steal, health provided. However, that is not the case. 2015 was a clear overperformance, as the owner of a career 3.31 ERA and 1.26 WHIP posted 2.43 and 1.05 marks, respectively. These numbers are misleading as Garcia was a lucky man during 2015. With an incredibly low .270 batting average on balls in play (league average is .300), balls put in play were turned into outs more often than they should have been. Add in a very low 7 percent homerun-to-flyball ratio and 2016’s most obvious regression candidate has arrived. With modest strikeout totals at best, Garcia possesses very little upside while also presenting a checkered medical history of chronic injuries.
5. Francisco Cervelli (C)
Francisco Cervelli proved a very competent starting catcher last year, adequately replacing the production of Russell Martin for the Pirates at a fraction of the cost. For fantasy owners he finished as the 8th-ranked catcher in standard leagues on the strength of his high batting average and consistent 130 starts. Cervelli is a fine player and provides the Pirates with plenty of value. But for fantasy owners, he should be an afterthought. Currently pre-ranked as a top-12 starting option on the majority of league platforms, Cervelli in actuality is a low-end second catcher and certainly not someone ideally suited to have slotted into a starting position. Firstly, a .359 batting average on balls (BABIP) in play is unsustainably high, indicating a fall in his average is to be expected. Secondly, Cervelli was incredibly injury-prone prior to staying healthy during his breakout 2015 season. Betting on a repeat is unlikely. Finally, while catcher lacks top-end talent, there are plenty of superior late fliers with far more upside being drafted in his vicinity such as Devin Mesoraco, Miguel Montero, Jason Castro, and Yasmani Grandal.
4. Francisco Lindor
This one is difficult, as Francisco Lindor is one of the more exciting young players in the league and will be a mainstay atop the Indians lineup for years to come. However, the hype has gotten out of control and Lindor’s price is now a top-100 pick in fantasy drafts this season. The shortstop position appears to be quite weak but that does not justify reaching a premium pick on Lindor. The main source of his tremendous breakout last season was the strength of his 12 homeruns, easily topping any number he put up in the minors. Lindor showed no hints of this unexpected power. Also the owner of an awful 68 percent stolen base success rate in the minors, Lindor managed to steal 12 of 14 attempts in the majors. His 12 HR’s and 12 SB’s in only 438 plate appearances hint at a potential MVP candidate. Known throughout his minor league days as a defensive-minded player, the offensive upside was expected to be Erick Aybar rather than this. While the biggest leap in terms of development occurs at his current age of 22, the likelihood that his gains prove legitimate rather than lucky are likely not worth his current price tag in redraft leagues.
3. Adrian Gonzalez
Steady rather than flashy often wins fantasy championships but that is due to steady generally being undervalued and drafted late. In the case of Adrian Gonzalez, he currently costs a top-50 selection in fantasy drafts, a ranking he did not achieve last season despite hitting the most HR’s of his career since 2010 and holding his highest OBP since 2011. His current average draft position actually requires improvement on his fantastic 2015 season in order to turn a profit. That seems unlikely, thus making Gonzalez rather overvalued this spring. The majority of his value is tied up to the RBI category. Assuming a slight dip in homeruns, this is a very one-dimensional player that could quickly fall off a cliff. Projected for less than 25 HR’s on the majority of forecasts and a relatively low run total, this is a soon-to-be 34 year-old who could soon become obsolete if father time hits him this season.
2. Jordan Zimmermann (RHP)
Moving from the National League (NL) to the American League (AL) is never a good thing for a fantasy pitcher, as the AL is known to add approximately 0.50 to a pitcher’s season ERA due to facing the designated hitter rather than a pitcher. With Jordan Zimmermann, not only is he heading to the AL, he is also leaving the cozy NL East, the weakest division in baseball in terms of offensive power and possessing many of the league’s largest ballparks. Zimmermann, never a big strikeout pitcher, sees the view painted bleaker with his diminished velocity last season. Even so, Zimmermann is being drafted in the top-100 players this spring despite finishing last season at 135 overall. This is a contract the Detroit Tigers will likely come to regret rather soon, as this aging pitcher is about to be on the wrong side of 30 with diminished velocity. His skillset is not ideally suited for the AL where his pitch-to-contact approach may get exposed in a fashion that had yet to catch up to him.
1. Carlos Gonzalez (OF)
Carlos Gonzalez was nearly dropped in many leagues during a pathetic first half campaign that saw him appear lost and over-the-hill. Then from July onward, Gonzalez was the best player in baseball, leading countless head-to-head owners to league championships. He finished the season with 40 HR’s, shattering his previous-high of 34 and completely erasing the memory of his brutal first half. Once again being drafted in the top 40 players, Gonzalez has clear red flags that should steer educated owners away from him. Known as “Mr. Glass,” Gonzalez had never played a full campaign until last season. As well, with swirling trade rumors abound, Gonzalez may leave hitter-friendly Colorado at some point this season, a ballpark he has posted a career .324/.382/.604 slash line compared with a rather disturbing .255/.310/.441 line on the road. Finally, Gonzalez can no longer hit lefties and deserves to be platooned. He posted an atrocious .222 OBP against them in 2015 and only hit five of his 40 HR’s against lefties. This is a player in decline who should not be drafted anywhere near his current ADP. There are certainly worse players to own but spending such a high pick on a player owners need to bench whenever he faces a lefty is not ideal.