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You can't win your league during the draft, but you can lose it. Therefore, your primary goal should be to walk out of the draft with a realistic shot to win the league. You'll need a few unexpected things to go right for you, but the late rounds and waiver wire are the places to find those guys. You shouldn't take any maybes inside the top-100.

Someone, perhaps multiple someones, will take maybes inside the top-100. Domingo Santana is commanding that type of price tag with no clear avenue to regular playing time. Byron Buxton will play, but it's extremely debatable whether he will play well.

Here is a closer look at two candidates for 2018 Bust of the Year.

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The Fantasy Jury is Out

Domingo Santana (OF, MIL) ADP: 92.8

Santana had one of those waiver wire seasons fantasy championships are made out of last season, slashing .278/.371/.505 with 30 bombs and 15 swipes. Unfortunately, his batting average isn't sustainable, his power isn't either, and his speed was a mirage.

Any discussion of Santana's batting average needs to begin with his 29.3% K%. That's a lot of strikeouts, and they're completely supported by a 13.7% whiff rate and low 78.9% Z-Contact%. His 12% BB% might provide some optimism that he knows the zone, but his underlying 26.5% chase rate is likely not low enough to support an elite BB%. If you play in an OBP format, know that Santana is ripe for regression in that category.

If you use batting average, you should instead be concerned by Santana's .363 BABIP. His 27.4% LD% is supported by his career mark of 26.8%, but more than half of his career PAs (607 of 1,093) took place last year. This means his career totals are unduly influenced by last year's stats. Nobody should be projected for a 27% LD% moving forward.

Santana was also fortunate on ground balls last season, posting a BABIP of .280 on them against a career mark of .252. That may not sound terrible, but remember that more than half of his career grounders were hit last year. His average ground ball exit velocity fell relative to 2016 (89.6 mph vs. 85.7), and his Statcast Sprint Speed suggests Santana as nothing more than an average runner (27 ft./sec).

It's not all doom and gloom for his BABIP. His 27.7% FB% and microscopic 2.1% IFFB% give him a batted ball profile that can sustain an elevated BABIP, especially if he can maintain some of his line drives. He needs a ridiculous BABIP to avoid hurting your average with his K% though, and something in the .320-.330 area won't cut it.

Batting average risk is acceptable in exchange for 30 bombs, but the very reasons that help his BABIP hurt his power projection. Sluggers generally look for FB% rates of 40% or higher, and Santana doesn't even have 30%. He masked this with a ridiculous 30.9% HR/FB last season, but his average airborne exit velocity (93.4 mph) and rate of Brls/BBE (9.7%) trend more towards above average raw power than last year's elite mark.

A pull-centric swing could inflate HR/FB, but Santana thinks that pulling fly balls is against the rules (10.3% Pull% on fly balls last year, 10.8% career). His HR/FB is likely to land in the upper teens in 2018, a rate that won't fly in fantasy given everybody's newfound ability to crack at least 20 HR.

Santana's speed last year came from nowhere, and it too is likely to return from whence it came. His raw foot speed is only average per Statcast, and he only broke double-digit SBs one other time in his professional career (12 in Double-A, 2013). He has a history of poor success rates in the minors, so continued success on the basepaths is far from guaranteed.

Finally, the Brewers have an OF log jam with Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain in the fold. Those two have to play, meaning that one of Santana, Ryan Braun, and Eric Thames cannot. Braun is the least talented of that trio, but his contract likely forces him on the field when healthy. The last spot probably goes to whoever avoids an April slump, a contest that Santana's questionable contact abilities leave him ill-suited for.

All told, Santana could be a batting average drain with average power, no speed, and playing time concerns. Why on earth would you spend an early pick on that?

Verdict: Chump

 

Byron Buxton (OF, MIN) ADP: 60.2

Buxton helped with SB last year (29-for-30 on steal attempts), but otherwise posted a pedestrian .253/.314/.413 line with 16 homers. His current price befits a stud, but Buxton has no clear path to get there.

To be clear, his speed is legitimately elite. He led baseball with a Statcast Sprint Speed of 30.2 ft./sec, and his success rate is obviously unquestionable. There is some chance the Twins let him run wild like Billy Hamilton this year, but it's not a guarantee. Even if they do, you'll get steals and nothing else.

Buxton strikes out too often to help with batting average. Last season's 29.4% K% was supported by a 13.6% SwStr% and 31.1% chase rate. Buxton's second half was strong (.300/.347/.546), but he made little progress on his K% during the hot streak (27.6%). This suggests that he will continue to struggle with contact in 2018.

It's a shame, because Buxton typically has a high BABIP (.339 last year, .330 career). Last season's 23.2% LD% may be too high to sustain (21.4% career), and a big part of his BABIP game comes from ground balls (.301 career BABIP, .304 last year). Buxton's elite wheels could make this sustainable for him, but even elite speedsters max out around .280 over longer sample sizes. Worse, Buxton pulled enough of his grounders last year (67%) that the shift could be used against him.

Buxton's contact quality on ground balls is very poor (77.2 mph last year, 78.6 mph in 2016), a fact he likely uses to his advantage by beating out hits before a fielder can throw him out. The shift could complicate this equation dramatically, or it could fail to hinder Buxton at all. There's really no precedent for somebody this fast to pull enough grounders to consider shifting him.

Buxton's airborne batted balls were also problematic last year. His 92.8 mph average airborne exit velocity was fine, but his FB% fell relative to 2016 (43.3% to 38%) while his IFFB% increased (13.5% to 17.7%). His rate of Brls/BBE (5.6%) isn't special either, though he pulls a ton of his flies (31.9% last year, 29.4% career). In an era where 20 bombs is league-average, Buxton is likely to disappoint with his power.

He struggled with pop-ups in the second half as well (14.5% IFFB%), again suggesting that he didn't fundamentally change despite his success. There's nothing in this profile for fantasy owners save speed, and Billy Hamilton is a more reliable way to get SBs at the expense of everything else.

Verdict: Chump

 

MoreĀ 2018 Player Outlooks





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