2018 Fantasy Baseball Players to Avoid: Unless Losing is Like… Your Thing

by Kyle Megrath
2018 Fantasy Baseball Players to Avoid

Okay, lets set the stage. One, this is my first article for public consumption. So, if you feel inclined to just gush about how amazing it is, post your fantasy baseball-loving heart out below. Or lie to me and say it is great even if you don’t think it is.

I talk a big game and I’m also very sensitive. Either way, remember the day this gets posted because you are on the ground floor of something very special. Way to go you and way to go me.

Secondly, let's talk about what this article is not. *Best if read like Tom Hanks telling Hooch which rooms are not his.*

This is not… an “overvalued” list. That would be a list of guys I actually like and just would take later than ADP.

This is not… a “bust,” list. Busts, to me, are guys that are not going to come close to last year’s production and/or their projections.

This is not… a “do not draft,” list. To an extent, I don’t think you should cross anyone off your draft list. That, to me, limits the opportunity for bargains.

Okay, now to what this article is.

Avoiding guys on this list is about steering clear because I see mostly bad outcomes due to some constellation of the following concerns:

Skills are declining and/or not assessed right in ADP
Injury concerns
They have playing time concerns
They are not priced right
Other players are near there or later that I like better

And when some of these powers/concerns combine into one person, you get something like Captain Planet (just make the movie already!). Only instead of a blue dude with green hair helping the world prevent pollution (try denying human-made climate change after watching just one episode… you can’t do it) you get a guy that is helping you cry by preventing you from winning. So, here’s to making you cry a little less.

2018 Fantasy Baseball Players to Avoid

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Noah Syndergaard, SP, New York Mets

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Skill: Unquestionable. His sinker and four-seamer are around 100mph. He can generate a ton of ground balls and get 10+ K/9 in the bank. His changeup is faster than some pitchers’ fastballs and his velocity on his all-plus-pitcher-arsenal is going up. His xFIP is under 3.00, and he is in the top 10 in ERA, WHIP, and K%...

Injury: When healthy. There it is. He’s 24 and pitched about 180 innings twice in his young career. Not good. Not terrible. He’s had a bone spur, torn lat, bicep tendinitis, split fingernail, and blisters. He decided not to have the bone spur removed. Remember, last year, after the tendinitis diagnosis, he refused an MRI, the Mets agreed!, then his next start he tore his lat. So, he may actually think he is Thor and the Mets kind of suck at managing injury.

The more I read about Thor the more I worry his response to injury is: try harder, throw faster, and get swole. And throwing hard and near max velo (industry guys call velocity velo and I am officially in the industry as of… three hours ago! I’m only through one guy in three hours. UGH! I should rethink this. Or spend less time researching when DiCaprio will make Captain Planet the movie) might be bad.

Playing Time: See Injury.

Value: I think an ADP around 32 assumes good outcomes where I see risk and risk early is not my style.

Who Else: I like Bumgarner and Severino more. I like a lot of hitters here, too.

Koz Projection: 120 IP, 130 Ks, 8 Ws, 2.90 ERA, and 1.08 WHIP.
Where I’d be Tempted: Avoiding Thor is less about where he is going. I get the price when the skills are undeniably awesome. I just won’t be drafting the risk that early.

Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, Los Angeles Angels

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Skill: He lit the world on fire in Japan as a pitcher and hitter. That can translate here. I just don’t know if it will this year. I think adjusting to America and MLB can be tough.

I’ve watched him this Spring and seen some good, some erratic and bad. He struck out eight b-siders. He is also missing his location, struggling to hit curveballs and inside fastballs, and no, I’m not reading that much into Spring Training. I am reading something into it, though.  When deciding if he will have the honor of being on my team: The Koz’s Zombie Attack Squad of Death Because We All Die and They Are Coming for Us (metaphorically speaking… and literally speaking) one must consider all factors.

Injury: Did you know he has a first degree UCL sprain? Did you know the UCL is the ligament that gets repaired when Tommy meets John for surgery and they both miss a lot baseball games?

Playing Time: Okay, so read this. I agree with 170 innings pitched. Except, this guy is pitching and hitting. So, maybe less?

Value: He’s going in the 70s around guys with more certainty. Drafting him here means he has to do some things to earn that price tag. I don’t think he will do those things.

Who Else: Nola, Cole, Berrios or wait for my faves: Castillo and Weaver.

Koz Projection: 140 IP, 150 Ks, 9 Ws, 3.60 ERA, and 1.19 WHIP
Where I’d be Tempted: I honestly don’t know. Late round upside guy around 140 with Samardzija and Bauer.

Eric Hosmer, 1B, San Diego Padres

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Skill: You vex me, bro. You totally vex me (I like to talk like I imagine Hosmer talks when I talk about Hosmer). So many ground balls and soft contact. He should be bad.

He does well because of good contact rates, BB%, and K%. He’s swinging outside the zone less. He’s moving to Petco which is not much worse than Kaufman. Yet, he can’t seem to hit more than 25 HRs when the rest of the league is catching fastballs with their bare hands and drop kicking them out of the park. He is around a worse lineup and had a career-high BABIP (some improvement and some luck).

Skills may not be regressing at 28 and there is still a lot to dislike. I think he is a small tweak or nagging injury away from soft contacting the ball on the ground to the pitcher 72% of the time.

Injury: This dude is durable. 599, 605, 603 ABs in the past 3 years.

Playing Time: Every day, all day.

Value: These next two are the big ones for me. He is going in the 70s on average. That bakes in some regression. Just not enough, because I think he will have fewer Rs, RBIs, and HRs than most projections. So, around Miggy, Ian Desmond and Gallo: 115ish.

Who Else: After Wil Myers I’m out until Jose Martinez. If not him, it’s Ryan McMahon. If not him, I’ll be the one finishing the bottle of bourbon, placing ice cubes on my laptop’s keyboard, waiting to watch it die.

Koz Projection: 75 R, 20 HR, 80 RBIs, 4 SBs, .290.
Where I’d be Tempted: My teams feel constructed nicely when I have power 1Bs. I’d think about him as a CI: pick 120.

Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds

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With all the writing on SBs going down and SBs going down (kind of), people might feel like they have to draft Hamilton. So, before I write about Billy, I would say, generally, I don’t draft in a way where I need to put 60 stolen base eggs in one Billy basket.

Skill: His average decreased from .260 to .247. He struck out more (20.2% to 21%), walked less (7.8% to 7%), slugged less (.343 to .335), his his wOBA went from .294 to .278.

Am I cherry picking stats? Maybe. 57, 58, and 59 bags in the past three years. He scored more runs last year and his contact% is fine, which is important for speedsters. But he only stole 1 more bag in 2017 despite having 171 more at bats than in ‘16. He got caught stealing 8 in 2016 and 13 in 2017. Inspiring confidence?

Injury: He’s gone to the DL 6 times since 2015.

Playing Time: If he slips do they trade him? Give Winker more time? Tough with Hamilton’s defense and not impossible.

Value: He’s going around 61 in NFBC and 81 in ESPN. That is too high for a guy that will likely hurt your average, not provide any power, and has some interesting SB trends.

Who Else: I’m imagining speed is what your after. So, Segura, Cain, Albies, and Zimmer I like better at their ADP.

Koz Projection: I think Steamer has it right, though too many HRs: 470 ABs, 58 Rs, 4 HRs, 41 RBIs, and 45 SBs with a .242 average.
Where I’d be Tempted: I won’t. I just won’t. Okay maybe after Bradley Zimmer, like 200. I’ll admit this pick may reflect some biased dislike, on top of my assessment of his value and my draft strategy.

Alex Colomé, RP, Tampa Bay Rays

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Skill: His K% decreased almost 11% from ’16 to ’17. He had a xFIP of 4.32. BB% increased from 6.6% to 8.2%. Colome's HR/FB could regress to his mean (.54 to ~1). His velocity was down across the board. Also, his K% dip is in part related to going for more groundballs and using his cutter 20% more than in 2016.

What does this all mean? In a position where stuff, K%, and consistency matters… this guy’s stuff is getting worse, he is walking more people, and could give up more HRs. Expert analysis: BBs + HRs as a closer = getting promoted to a driver and sole proprietor of the struggle bus… and losing your job bus.

Injury: Nothing too wild here. Bicep Tendinitis in 2016.

Playing Time: This is a big one. The Rays were already shopping him in the offseason and are rebuilding. Likely trade candidate.

Value: He is the 13th closer off the board on average around 125. I think this does an okay job of factoring in his peripherals and the fact that he led the league in saves last year. It does not factor in him getting traded.

Who Else: Doolittle, Treinen, and Morrow have better stuff, though are not without risk. I just think their ADPs reflect their value or undervalue them.

Koz Projection: 67 IP, 63 Ks, 3 Ws, 20 Saves, 3.7 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
Where I’d be Tempted: I’d take him after Morrow around 190 and then trade him after 5-10 saves monitoring his velo the whole way.

Honorable Mentions (Dishonorable?)

Miguel Sano, Jake Lamb, Gio Gonzalez, Eric Thames, Tim Anderson, Avisail Garcia, Jose Peraza, Taijuan Walker, and Starlin Castro.

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Thursday, March 15, 2018 - Fantasy Baseball Links - FantasyRundown.com March 15, 2018 - 10:49 am

[…] believes fantasy owners need to avoid these five players in 2018 drafts, including Billy Hamilton and Noah […]

Dylan March 15, 2018 - 7:03 pm

Great article. Quality info while offering a few chuckles. Glad not to see any of my Yankees on this list. Hope to read more like this!

Kyle March 15, 2018 - 10:21 pm

Thank you!! It pains me to see so much talent in your lineup, as a Red Sox fan. I am not an a-hole fan. I think the Yankees and Red Sox are both really exciting this year. New managers, big bats, emergence of Severino, god-like status of Sale.


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