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3 Potential Second Base Busts For 2023 Fantasy Baseball

In fantasy baseball, second base has been one of the least productive roster spots over these past few years. Outside of Marcus Semien, Jose Altuve, and Ozzie Albies, the position’s production outlook is bleak.

With such little depth at the position, fantasy baseball players have no choice but to either reach wildly for one of the few elite second basemen or take a shot in the dark in the late rounds. Neither situation is ideal.

To avoid either situation, read through to see a couple of second basemen who profile as busts in 2023. If you want to know some second basemen to look out for, check out a previous article on the four second basemen set for breakout 2023 seasons.

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Jake Cronenworth, San Diego Padres

Current ADP: 128.3

Jake Cronenworth is being set up for failure by unusually high expectations. His ADP should not be 70 picks above Thairo Estrada, and it definitely should not be only three picks behind MLB The Show cover athlete Jazz Chisholm Jr.

The Padres' new starting first baseman has never been anything spectacular on the offensive end. Cronenworth had a wOBA of .318 this past season with a barrel rate of just 5.6%.

While Cronenworth did have All-Star nods in 2021 and 2022, those are not indicative of sustained success but rather well-timed injuries to better second basemen (ex. Mr. Chisholm in 2022).

Cronenworth’s profile gets worse when you remember the signing of Xander Bogaerts. The signing of Bogaerts pushes Ha-Seong Kim to second base and Cronenworth to first base. Despite his appointment as the starting first baseman, Cronenworth still has to compete for playing time with Nelson Cruz and Matt Carpenter.

Carpenter was incredible in a bench role for the Yankees, with a wOBA of .472 and an OPS of 1.139, all while hitting 15 homers. Cruz had a disappointing 2022 with the Nationals, but the veteran slugger can still hit the seams off a baseball (the 42-year-old's average exit velocity is still in the 90s).

Just to add another wrinkle, Fernando Tatis Jr. already looks like a ticking time bomb in the right field.

The Padres may see value in rotating Tatis, Cruz, Carpenter, and Cronenworth at DH/1B. Cronenworth is the worst offensive option in that rotation, a fact that may lead to decreased playing time. Cronenworth is an incredible defender and a decent bat, but there are much better options available in the 120s (once again, think Jazz Chisholm Jr.).


Jeff McNeil, New York Mets

Current ADP: 146.3

Jeff McNeil was the MLB batting champion in 2022. Predictably, his ADP has risen according to that prestigious title. I hate to hate, but McNeil’s 2022 season was an anomaly. His 2022 season may be the anomaly of all baseball anomalies.

A nearly 46-point difference between expected and batting average (.280 expected vs. a .326 batting average) shows that McNeil had an unusually blessed 2022 season. But his 2021 season proves that McNeil can be smitten by the baseball gods. In 2021, McNeil slashed a mediocre line of .251/.319/.360. Clearly not as eye-popping as his .326/.382/.454 stat line from this past season. But get this, his expected batting average in 2021 was only three points less than his 2022 season.

Expectations should meet somewhere in the middle of his 2021 and 2022 seasons. ATC projects a reasonable, yet unenticing line of 288/.349/.409 for McNeil in 2023.

Don’t let recency bias get the best of you. Temper your expectations for McNeil.


Whit Merrifield, Toronto Blue Jays

Current ADP: 166.7

Whit Merrifield, known by many as the 2010s’ baseball Iron Man, missed his first game last season. It was only part of a series of stepbacks and regressions in Merrifield’s play.

Merrifield had the worst season of his career, batting .250/.298/.375 with an OPS+ of 90. Merrifield’s calling card has disappeared, with his steal numbers falling from an AL-leading 40 in 2021 to only 16 in 2022.

His 2023 projections are not looking too good, as ATC projects a line of .260/.308/.384. Merrifield’s projected steal total is only being boosted to 20 — despite a projected league-wide uptick in steals.

Merrifield has a great lineup surrounding him, which should remedy some of his hitting problems, but he is still not who he once was. His 166.7 ADP only makes sense if the clock was somehow turned back three years.

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