5 Busts to Avoid in 2020 Fantasy Baseball Drafts

Jason Schandl
Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer on the mound against the Diamondbacks.
Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer on the mound against the Diamondbacks. / Norm Hall/Getty Images
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There are two sides to every coin, and there are two important bases to cover in fantasy baseball drafts. Here at the Duel, we've got what you need on both sides.

The obvious side is knowing which players you want to target, and there's no shortage of information available on that front, whether you're looking for top fantasy baseball player rankings or the top fantasy baseball sleepers for 2020.

Sometimes you miss out on your key targets, though, and you're left making tougher decisions. In situations like that, it's crucial to know who not to draft. With that in mind, here are the top five fantasy baseball busts to avoid.

Fantasy Baseball Busts

1. Trevor Bauer, SP, Cincinnati Reds

Trevor Bauer throws a pitch against the Cubs.
Trevor Bauer throws a pitch against the Cubs. / Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Trevor Bauer's sharp drop in production from 2018 doesn't look like it was a fluke. His ERA went from a career-best 2.21 in 2018 to 4.48 in 2019, which was paired with an according jump from 3.21 to 4.14 in skill-interactive ERA (SIERA). Digging deeper, he drew swinging strikes on 1.1 percent fewer pitches, seeing his strikeout rate drop by 3.0 percent while his walk rate climbed by 1.0 percent. All of that came with a sharp drop in his velocity as well, with Statcast data showing a drop from 92.5 miles per hour (MPH) on his average fastball in 2017 and 93.0 in 2018 down to 91.7 MPH in 2019.

2. Eduardo Escobar, 2B/3B, Arizona Diamondbacks

Eduardo Escobar runs the bases against the Mets.
Eduardo Escobar runs the bases against the Mets. / Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Eduardo Escobar's 2019 production was inflated by a 15.2 percent home run-to-fly-ball rate, which just isn't sustainable. For context, his career average is 10.5 percent, and he'd never finished a season with a mark above 12.8 percent. Landing on the right side of variance helps explain his jump to an uncharacteristically high .242 isolated power (ISO), as well as his .511 slugging percentage. He's being drafted like he has strong 30-plus-home-run upside again this year, but we can expect his power output to regress in 2020,

3. Corey Kluber, SP, Texas Rangers

Corey Kluber throws a pitch against the Marlins.
Corey Kluber throws a pitch against the Marlins. / Mark Brown/Getty Images

Corey Kluber has seen his average fastball velocity fall in each of the last two seasons, culminating in a weak 90.1 miles per hour in his injury-plagued 2019 campaign. That velocity checked in at just 445th among the 522 pitchers to throw at least 400 pitches on the season. Kluber is surrounded by uncertainty as he looks to return from injuries that held him to a career-worst 4.68 SIERA in 2019, and the 33-year-old arm is also moving to a more hitter-friendly home park as he joins the Texas Rangers.

4. Jonathan Villar, 2B/SS, Miami Marlins

Jonathan Villar watches a pitch against the Mariners.
Jonathan Villar watches a pitch against the Mariners. / G Fiume/Getty Images

In a 2019 season that saw hard-hit rates climb around the league, Jonathan Villar's fell to 29.0 percent — his lowest since 2015. Pairing weak contact with a high strikeout rate (24.6 percent) is rarely a recipe for strong production, which makes it tough to believe that Villar's 111 runs (more than double his 54 from 2018) or 73 RBI (10 more than his previous career-best mark of 63 RBI) are repeatable in 2020. The switch-hitter remains a massive stolen base threat, with 98 swipes in the last three seasons, but likely regression in power (his ISO was up from .124 in 2018 to .179 in 2019) means that Villar is not worth the hefty price tag he's commanding in drafts.

5. Luis Severino, SP, New York Yankees

Luis Severino prepares to throw a pitch against the Astros.
Luis Severino prepares to throw a pitch against the Astros. / Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

A torn rotator cuff limited Luis Severino to three starts in 2019, and it's a huge gamble to spend big on a pitcher returning from that kind of injury. There had also been some concerning trends in Severino's numbers in the previous seasons as well, with his hard-hit rate and fly-ball rate both taking significant jumps (to 35.2 and 33.0 percent, respectively) in 2018. He certainly has plenty of upside, and playing on a loaded New York Yankees' team should set him up to record a bunch of wins, but there are plenty of pitchers with similar upside that don't carry the same level of risk that his 2019 injury brings.


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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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