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2018 Outfielder Busts Who’ll Keep Junking It Up In 2019


The term “bust” in fantasy baseball can have a few different definitions. The distinct meaning is a player who does nothing more than stink up the place. Whether it’s not stealing bases, failure to find the bleachers with home runs, or just flat out not being able to hit the ball anymore, they are a burden to any roster. Maybe this player on your team was a late-round pick, so your investment wasn’t as costly. When it’s one of your first several selections, it’s a detriment to your team and your season is likely written off.

Another type of bust is the player who doesn’t stay on the field. Everything might look hunky-dory in April and May, but then a season-ending injury transpires, and your championship dreams go spiraling down the proverbial toilet. The third description is still a good player, but perhaps he didn’t quite live up to lofty expectations or match his numbers from his previous year's work.

Today we’ll look at last season's busts from these three types and identify who will continue to fall on this same career trajectory. Some of these players have fit into more than one of these bust categories during their career, and we’ll discover why it’s likely to continue. Focusing on outfielders, we must know the risks that come with these popular names on draft day.

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Charlie Blackmon (COL) - 26 ADP

Charlie Blackmon is not your prototypical 2018 bust, but he certainly didn’t follow up his 2017 campaign with a performance comparable with his draft value a season ago. Blackmon did have a strong season in Colorado last year batting .291 with 29 HR, 119 R, 70 RBI and 12 SB. A solid five-category contributor, but are these the numbers that we’ll see again in 2019?

We’ve now seen four-straight seasons where Blackmon has declined in his steals. His attempts also hit a personal low, and he has just a 65% success rate over the last two seasons combined. He’ll turn 33 in July making it hard to believe he’ll return to double digits again in 2019. He also set new career-worsts in K%(19.3%), and Whiff% (20.4%), which have both been trending up annually and ultimately limits his batting average.

Blackmon is very dependant on his home ballpark, Coors Field. Batting to a .334/.403/.567 career slash line at home compared to a .262/.315/.430 line on the road, it’s a little bit hard to trust someone so reliant on this variable. However, he does have a favorable home park on his side and a good lineup behind him so his numbers will stay inflated, but he’s not your genuine top-tier outfielder.

Despite his home/away splits, Blackmon is still a superb athlete and baseball player. Currently selected as a top-10 outfielder, it may be wiser to choose someone on the rise (e.g., Benintendi, Soto) rather than a player on the decline. He’ll still put up sterling numbers in the upcoming season, but he may disappoint owners and fail to live up to expectations as well as his draft day cost.

 

Marcell Ozuna (STL) - 75 ADP

In his first year with the St. Louis Cardinals, it appeared that the Miami Marlins might have sold high on Marcell Ozuna. After a breakout performance in 2017, Ozuna pulled back on his numbers batting .280 with 23 HR, 69 R, and 88 RBI. A respectable stat line, but once again not the production owners had anticipated for him.

Ozuna’s significant regression was in his power numbers. After clubbing 37 in 2017, it appears that this was an outlier as he’s now clubbed precisely 23 in his other three full seasons. It’s incredibly optimistic to presume that Ozuna will hit the 30-HR plateau again given his lengthy track history of staying under 25 dingers. He’s maintained his FB% in the same neighborhood over his career, including the 2017 season. His 23.4% HR/FB in this season jumped nearly 10% over his career rate (14.8%), while his 13.9% HR/FB last year was a more reasonable figure and the one expected moving forward.

The 28-year-old also underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason and was progressing slowly in the early part of spring training. The Cardinals have reiterated that their left fielder is still on track for Opening Day, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that some effects will linger during the early part of the regular season.

Ozuna’s .280 batting average from a season ago was right on par with his career .277 mark. He has maintained good barrel and hard hit rates over his career, so this pace should continue. He’s projected to remain in the cleanup spot in St. Louis, and he’s continually hovered in the same range of his runs and RBI totals consistently except for his one outlying year. A virtual repeat of last years numbers appears certain assuming he remains on the field for the duration of the year. Is this worth a top-20 outfield pick? There are players with higher ceilings going a couple of rounds later (e.g., Castellanos, Upton).

 

A.J. Pollock (LAD) - 113 ADP

A.J. Pollock has been a bust in nearly every one of his seasons. His calling card is his inability to stay on the field as he's failed to play in over 115 games in each of the past three years, and four out of the last five. When he's on the field, he is productive. In 2018 he hit .257 with 21 HR, 61 R, 65 RBI, and swiped 13 bags in 113 games. Decent stats considering the games played, but should we expect a vast improvement this season?

Pollock has hit .261 over his last two season combined. Nothing spectacular about that, especially seeing his 21.7% K% soar well above his 16.2% career mark. Pollock also started to hit more fly balls last season which doesn't forecast well into seeing his average return close to the .300 range. It does help out his home run ceiling, but even with a full season, a 25-HR campaign would be the stratosphere. His stolen base attempts were down again, and he's another year older, so a number exceeding last years would only come with a considerable amount of games played.

Expected to bat in the top third of the Dodgers lineup, Pollock will be sure to rack up some solid counting stats when he's on the field. That is the glaring concern though, as his extensive history of being on the shelf will forever linger over him. At his price tag, we're not given much of a discount, if any, so he would have to play 150 games to return his draft value. The fact that he landed with the Dodgers as a free agent has put rose-colored glasses over the eyes of many people, and we should know better than to assume a full year's worth of playing time.

 

Chris Taylor (LAD) - 216 ADP

Continuing with the L.A. Dodgers theme, Chris Taylor didn't entirely live up to fantasy owners' pre-draft assumptions in 2018. He failed to eclipse any of his 2017 numbers as he batted .254 with 17 HR, 85 R, 63 RBI, and nine thefts. The book was out on Taylor, and his stats certainly showed it.

Taylor upped his strikeout rate to an unappealing 29.5% as he struggled to hit breaking pitches with a 44.6% Whiff%. His K% rose even higher in the second half to a 32.5% mark, and unless Taylor makes some adjustments this season on these types of pitches, his batting average remains limited. The 28-year-old also got caught stealing an alarming six times in 2018. This 60% success rate was the third-worst mark in the majors with his amount of attempts. If this trend continues, the Dodgers won't be keen on having Taylor give away free outs.

After seeing nearly half of his at-bats as the team's leadoff hitter a year ago, he will likely bat sixth or seventh with Pollock in town and Corey Seager returning from injury. This spot in the order won't have him repeat his valuable 2018 run numbers or his home run total, as he needed 604 plate appearances to reach these figures. A .260/15/70/60/10 season is a best-case scenario, but an injury to Pollock could adjust these numbers slightly. It's a fair price at his ADP if these numbers come into fruition, but our expectations need to be held in check when building our rosters.

 

Manuel Margot (SD) - 277 ADP

When the San Diego Padres acquired Manuel Margot from the Boston Red Sox in 2016, it appeared that they had their stud center fielder of the future. It hasn’t entirely played out that way so far in Margot’s career as he batted .245 with eight homers, 50 R, 50 RBI, and 11 SB in his second full season in 2018. A once promising prospect mainly because of his potency on the basepaths, he’s failed to live up to even these expectations.

Margot had a startling 10 caught stealing attempts a year ago, making his success rate second-worst in the league with his number of attempts. He also only holds a 63.8% SB% for his career, and he hasn’t been able to get on base enough to improve on these numbers. Holding a 6.2% BB% in 2018, he could only produce an OBP of .292 which is less than ideal. Margot manages his strikeouts well for a 24-year-old, but he hits too many fly balls for a speedster, especially in the infield with a robust 17.2% IFFB%.

With nothing to brag about in the power game, Margot’s a one-trick pony who's yet to saddle up on this skill in the majors. He’s still young, but with the depth of the Padres outfield and newer big-name prospects on the cusp of breaking with the team, it’s possible Margot becomes a part-time player midseason. The signing of Ian Kinsler will keep his right-handed bat in the eighth spot, further restraining a boost in counting stats. It appears Margot may have missed his opportunity to become an everyday productive major leaguer. For fantasy purposes, he's only worth rostering in hopes of a boost in the SB column.

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