Players to avoid: Mike Trout among names one analyst is steering clear of this fantasy baseball season

Players who bust will be more of a detriment to fantasy teams this year, as there will be little time to find effective replacements.

Here is a handful of players whom I am steering clear of.

[Still time to join or create a fantasy baseball league for the short season]

Jacob deGrom, SP (Mets)

deGrom may be the best pitcher in baseball, but I’m still staying away from him at his current draft cost of a first-round pick. Like all National League hurlers, the right-hander will be negatively impacted in three categories (SO, ERA, WHIP) by the addition of the DH. And my guess is that the Mets are below average among the 10 teams who will comprise the Eastern schedule. I currently have deGrom ranked as my fourth overall starter, and as someone who should barely squeak into Round 2.

Mike Trout, OF (Angels)

Like deGrom, Trout is an unquestioned talent who simply does not warrant his current ADP. The best player in baseball is going to miss anywhere from 5-12 percent of the season for the birth of his child, which would be the equivalent of 8-19 games in a regular year. Additionally, there is a chance that Trout could remain away from the team for an extended period. He won’t be a bust by any stretch, but Trout will fall short of expectations when he swipes fewer than five bags and misses several games.

Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The odds are against Mike Trout delivering another dominant fantasy season. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Matt Olson, 1B (A’s)

I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but Olson is the third straight player on this list whom I really like from a talent perspective. Still, power hitters are abundantly available in 2020 drafts, and Olson is set to wage an uphill battle from a park-factors perspective. The slugger owns a career .911 OPS on the road in comparison to a less-eye-popping .800 mark at his pitcher-friendly home venue. And his road matchups this year are almost entirely comprised of offense-suppressing stadiums. Olson has a rich ADP, and I can’t justify the investment.

Pete Alonso, 1B (Mets)

The research I completed during baseball’s hiatus strongly suggested that fantasy managers should be cautious with players who are coming off elite power seasons. Alonso is one such risky slugger, as he has just one year under his belt and enjoyed a 30.6 percent HR/FB rate as a rookie. Additionally, Alonso will play 67 percent of his games in an NL East division that doesn’t include a single pitching staff that finished in the bottom-10 in ERA last year.

Bryan Reynolds, OF (Pirates)

Reynolds’ 2019 fantasy value was fueled by a lofty .314 average that came mainly from a .387 BABIP. The 25-year-old lacks great contact skills (22.2 percent strikeout rate), and he should hit at least 30-50 points lower this year. Armed with below-average power and minimal speed (16 HR, 3 SB in 2019), Reynolds will also be hurt by playing so many divisional games on a club that is by far the weakest in the NL Central.

Mike Soroka, SP (Atlanta)

Although Soroka is coming off an excellent rookie season (2.68 ERA, 1.11 WHIP), there are statistical reasons to expect a sophomore slump. The right-hander enjoyed a .280 BABIP, which is a low mark for a groundball pitcher. His 79.9 percent strand rate is also a favorable mark, especially for someone without overpowering stuff.

Soroka is going to leave fantasy managers wanting for more in the strikeouts category (7.3 K/9 rate), and there is no guarantee that his ratios will be better than average.

Robbie Ray, SP (D-backs)

Fantasy managers continue to have a strange fascination with Ray, who is a helpful asset in just one category. The southpaw excels with whiffs (career 11.1 K/9 rate), but his lifetime 4.11 ERA and 1.35 WHIP paint an accurate picture of someone who can’t keep the bases clean and consistently struggles with his ratios and innings pitched. Ray’s habit of getting into jams makes him one of the Senior Circuit hurlers who is most adversely impacted by not being able to count on the pitcher’s spot as a nearly automatic out.

[Positional Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP]

Ken Giles, RP (Blue Jays)

Giles would have been traded last summer if not for an injury in July. The closer is now heading into the final year of his contract, and he is among the players most likely to be dealt in late August if his team is out of the race. The guess here is that the Blue Jays are not ready to contend, meaning that Giles will spend more than half of this abbreviated season on another club. And there is a significant chance that a contending team will slide the right-hander into a setup role. I need more job security than Giles can provide from a closer with a significant draft price.

Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP (Blue Jays)

Ryu was already hard-pressed to maintain his career 2.98 ERA and 1.16 WHIP after leaving the Dodgers pitcher-friendly system and signing with a Blue Jays organization that has traditionally been known more for scoring runs than limiting them. And the southpaw was dealt another blow when the schedule-maker set Toronto’s 2020 slate.

The Jays will play 46 of their 60 games at offense-inducing venues, with 12 of their other contests coming on the road against productive lineups (ATL, WSH, TB). The odds are high that Ryu will not have any substantially favorable matchups this year.

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