Like most things in life, busts in Fantasy are not created equal. While some players have the potential of completely bottoming out, others are just overvalued. For example, Austin Riley is a top-50 player being drafted right now. Let's say he finishes the season as the 125th overall player in Roto leagues, that's a bust. He didn't completely sink you but he was also much worse than you expected him to be.
Like Breakouts 2.0, Busts 2.0 are players who didn't make the cut in Busts 1.0, which you can find here. They're a collection of individuals I discovered whilst doing research for our position previews on the Fantasy Baseball Today podcast. I'll be fading these players at their draft costs unless something drastic changes their average draft position over the next month or so.
I get the allure of Daulton Varsho. I really do. He's a catcher-eligible player who offers power and speed. If everything goes right, he could provide J.T. Realmuto-esque production nearly 60 picks later. In 259 minor-league games, Varsho hit 46 home runs with 49 steals. On top of all that, he should theoretically play more than your average catcher. Varsho is expected to split his playing time duties between the outfield, catcher and maybe even designated hitter. But what if it doesn't work out?
Varsho got off to an awful start last season and was banished to the minors in late May. He returned to the Diamondbacks on June 20 and, over his final 76 games, performed well. Varsho hit .259 with 11 home runs, six steals and solid plate discipline during that span. The problem was the underlying numbers. His batted ball data was uninspiring to say the least as he posted an average exit velocity of just 87.7 MPH (league average is 88.3 MPH). Even more worrisome was his 14.9% infield fly ball rate. Those are automatic outs and it's something he's struggled mightily with in the minors. If Varsho struggles to start, he could be sent back down. He still has two options left and the Diamondbacks have an outfield prospect in Alek Thomas on the way. Varsho has upside but I'm not sure his ADP factors in enough of his downside, going ahead of hitters like Willson Contreras, Josh Bell, Willy Adames and Lourdes Gurriel.
This next one causes me physical pain. If you followed my work last year, you know I was all over Austin Riley and he paid off in a major way. He hit .303 with 33 home runs and 107 RBI, finishing as the 23rd overall player in Roto and the fourth best third baseman in H2H points. The problem now is you're paying nearly full cost for him with an ADP at 43.6. I'll admit this might be a flaw in my Fantasy game but if I tout a player who's being drafted late and the next year he moves up 170 spots, I'm likely going to fade that player.
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I get it. Third base sucks. There's no way around that. However, I don't think that's a reason to elevate Riley over much more proven talent like George Springer and Pete Alonso. Plus, you should expect natural regression. Riley hit .303 but his expected batting average was .279. I get that he hits a lot of line drives but his .368 BABIP was third best in baseball and is likely to fall. Overall, I think he has a pretty high floor but the cost is just too much for me to invest in based on a player with his track record. That's especially true in points leagues where he averaged 3.1 Fantasy points per game. Somebody like Justin Turner average 3.0 Fantasy points and is going over 100 picks later.
Scott White, Chris Towers and myself don't always agree but when we do, that probably means something. Ryan Mountcastle is the unfortunate bust candidate that we all agree on. I was skeptical of Mountcastle even before the Orioles pushed the walls back in left field. Let's start with his plate discipline. Mountcastle posted just a .309 OBP last season with a 27.5% strikeout rate. His 16.2% swinging strike rate ranked sixth highest among qualified hitters. Next up we have the quality of contact, which was also uninspiring.
Mountcastle's hard-hit rate and average exit velocity ranked in the 41st and 45th percentiles, respectively last season. While he hit 33 home runs, his expected home run total was 28.9, according to Statcast. That's where the new left field dimensions come in. Not only are the moving the wall back 30 feet but they're also raising it about five feet. After they announced these new dimensions, Derek Carty knocked four home runs off Mountcastle's projection, which is quite significant. Now we're looking at a .250-260 hitter with 26-28 home runs in a bad lineup. It's a skillset you can find much later than his current ADP.
Jesse Winker has always flashed his talent but was better than ever last season, posting career-highs in home runs (24), runs (77), RBI (71), batting average (.305), OPS (.949) and a few other categories. He averaged 3.7 fantasy points per game, seventh best among outfielders and better than Mookie Betts, Kyle Tucker and Aaron Judge. There is no doubt Winker can play. The question is how much?
Winker was limited to just 110 games last season and has yet to exceed 113 games in a major league season. While his injuries may not be repetitive, he's dealt with some serious stuff. Over the past four seasons, Winker has missed time due to a strained hip flexor, a right shoulder subluxation, a cervical strain in his spine and an intercostal strain last year. On top of the injuries, Winker just cannot hit lefties. He's batting just .188 with a .600 OPS against lefties in his career and was even worse than that last season. I know Winker is talented but I just cannot trust him to stay healthy and I think eventually he could lose playing time against southpaws. I'll pass at his current ADP of 101.2.
Carlos Rodon put together a magical season in 2021, finishing as a top-12 starting pitcher in both Roto and H2H fantasy points per game in just 132.2 innings pitched. That speaks volumes to just how amazing he was. Along with posting a 2.37 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP, Rodon's 27.9% K-BB rate and 14.9% swinging strike rate ranked third and sixth, respectively, among starting pitchers with at 130 innings last season. A big part of his success came in a massive jump to his fastball velocity, seeing it go from 92.8 MPH in 2020 to 95.4 MPH in 2021. What did it cost him? In the words of the great Thanos… "everything".
Rodon dealt with a shoulder injury over the second half of the season. As a result, his fastball velocity dropped all the way back down to 92.9 MPH over his final four starts of the regular season. It ticked back up in one postseason start but perhaps he was just going full effort for that one outing. As great as he was, the White Sox did not extend the qualifying offer to Rodon this offseason, making him a free agent. It's worrisome whenever you see something like this because obviously the White Sox know more about his health than any other team. If they aren't willing to take the gamble, why should we? On top of that he's still a free agent, we have no idea where he's going to pitch and whether he's even healthy now. 2021 was an awesome season for Rodon but there are just too many unknowns for me at the moment.