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Fantasy Baseball Busts Who'll Keep Junking It Up - Infield Edition (2024)

carlos correa fantasy baseball rankings draft sleepers MLB injury news

One key component of fantasy baseball drafts is finding a player coming off a down year who is set to have a bounce-back season. With a lower-than-expected average draft position (ADP), you can get greater value from these players. To do so, you need to identify what caused their struggles and whether or not they will be able to return to some semblance of a productive player.

Of course, if a player was a bust last year, there's every chance they could do the same again in 2024. This article will look at three infielders who fit that profile. Players who failed to provide value at their ADP last year and are set to struggle again this year.

To be included, players needed to have had at least 400 plate appearances in 2023 and currently go inside the first 300 picks of NFBC drafts this year. Don't forget to keep up to date with all your preseason fantasy baseball needs by following RotoBaller on X . Without further ado, here are three 2023 infield busts set to struggle again in 2024.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

Ke'Bryan Hayes, Pittsburgh Pirates

2023 ADP - 173
2024 ADP - 172

Hayes managed to salvage his season with a solid second half. Across the entire year, Hayes hit .271/.309/.453 with 15 homers, 61 RBI, 65 runs, and 10 stolen bases (525 plate appearances). If we look at his first-half and second-half splits, it's easy to see why fantasy managers are hoping (and expecting) a rebound year in 2024.

Split PA HR RBI R SB AVG OBP SLG wRC+
1st half 307 5 32 34 9 .252 .290 .393 81
2nd half 218 10 29 31 1 .299 .335 .539 129

Hayes missed time with a back injury and his splits can be attributed to that given his second-half numbers came after a five-week stint on the injured list (IL). The concern is that it was the second straight year in which Hayes has had a back issue. It's not to say he has a chronic back problem, but two consecutive years with a troublesome back does give pause for thought.

In 2021, Hayes missed two months with a wrist injury and has now averaged just 119 games over the last three seasons. And he isn't helped by his surroundings. The Pirates ranked 22nd in runs scored (692) last year. Despite some improvements this offseason, it's difficult to see them being anything better than a league-average offense.

Hayes has totaled 102 RBI and 110 runs over the last two seasons (260 games), so can we realistically expect more than ~70 of each over a full and healthy season? ATC projects Hayes for 16 homers, 67 RBI, 72 runs, and 14 steals while hitting .266 over 137 games. That feels like a best-case scenario considering what we've seen since his 2020 debut.

Hayes is 27 years old, so he has lost that 'post-hype prospect' tag and while he's been a fine fantasy option, there's been little to get excited about. Even at his current ADP, to get value from Hayes, he'd need to do something he's never done: stay healthy. Then, he'd have to have his best offensive season. I'd rather gamble on one of the other corner infielders going at a similar or later ADP.

 

Jonathan India, Cincinnati Reds

2023 ADP - 174
2024 ADP - 218

After emerging as a pillar in 2021 that the Reds could build their future around, it's been a tough couple of years for India. Last year was a bit of a bounce-back following his 2022 disaster, but still not what fantasy managers hoped for. In 119 games (519 plate appearances), India hit .244/.338/.407 with 17 homers, 61 RBI, 78 runs, and 14 stolen bases.

As the 2023 season progressed, rumors continued to swirl around the Reds trading India, given the emergence of Matt McLain and Elly De La Cruz to fill the middle infield. That logjam extends to the corner infield spots with Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Jeimer Candelario, Spencer Steer, and Noelvi Marte all vying for game time. Even with the designated hitter, there are more players than positions.

There's already been talk about India moving around between first base and left field as well as the DH spot. It's fair to say that the majority of players would not want to move around the infield and outfield regularly. India will need to learn multiple positions as well as improve his hitting, which has been below average the last two years (98 wRC+).

While India's plate discipline was very good last year, the quality of his contact was not. And it showed in the results. A look at his Statcast profile below shows us where he ranked among hitting metrics.

You can attribute some of that down to injury as India suffered plantar fasciitis in 2023. That too is a red flag given the nature of the injury and coupled with the seven months missed in 2022 with a hamstring injury, there are concerns about his health over a full season. At his ADP last year, India wasn't a complete bust, but fantasy managers are drafting him for more than what he's produced over the last two seasons.

Even going two or three rounds later than he did last year, it's tough to draft India and feel good about it. He's offered hope of a 20/20 season. But back-to-back seasons with significant injuries and below-average hitting make that more of a dream than expectation. The possibility of being a utility bat or traded away just adds to the doubt about India being able to perform as he did in 2021.

 

Carlos Correa, Minnesota Twins

2023 ADP - 120
2024 ADP - 252

Maybe a normal offseason will help Correa regain some form. Maybe the 2015 Rookie of the Year has already peaked and is now in a gradual decline. A look at his ADP last year and this year tells us that the majority of fantasy managers believe it's the latter.

In 135 games (580 plate appearances), Correa hit .230/.312/.399 with 18 homers, 65 RBI, 60 runs, and no stolen bases. Last year was Correa's fourth consecutive year without a stolen base and he's only attempted one in that time. With speed no longer a factor, it's the other four categories in which Correa needs to contribute to maintain fantasy relevance. Since joining the Twins, Correa has hardly been a big provider in those.

Over the last two seasons, Correa has a total of 40 homers, 129 RBI, 130 runs, and a .261/.339/.433 slash line. Far from dreadful but also nothing to get excited about. Projections have Correa set for a similar 2024 with ATC having him set to hit .260/.340/.442 with 21 homers, 71 RBI, 70 runs, and no stolen bases. With an ADP of ~252, that wouldn't be a bad return. But there's caution here.

Last year's chaotic offseason centered around Correa's surgically repaired ankle. The fact teams balked at giving him a big contract tells us that is a very real concern. And while Correa might not have issues with it for the remainder of his career, it could also be a major problem at any moment. Then there's a matter of the plantar fasciitis he experienced last season, which lingered throughout the year.

While that's impacted his left foot rather than the right (where Correa had the ankle surgery), it's an issue we've seen linger for a long time and flare up after players have said they feel great. The demands of being an everyday shortstop won't help any lingering health problems.

His ADP means there's little risk in drafting Correa. But the possible outcomes appear to be a lost season or something matching his projections. Whatever it is, there are better options at shortstop. If you've waited at the position, gambling on one of the prospects with a similar ADP could have a considerably bigger payoff.



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