Potential Shortstop Busts for 2017

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Yesterday, we looked at potential breakouts at shortstop. Today, we turn our attention to the potential busts.

Identifying the next big star is undoubtedly more fun, but as any fantasy owner can tell you, steering clear of the players whose performances will disappoint may be even more critical to a successful season.

Editor's note: For even more draft prep, visit our awesome 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It has lots of in-depth staff rankings and draft strategy columns. You will find tiered rankings for every position, 2017 impact rookie rankings, AL/NL only league ranks and lots more. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.

 

Shortstop Bust Candidates

Jonathan Villar, Milwaukee Brewers (ADP: 21)

Villar was outstanding in 2016, hitting .285 with 19 home runs and 92 runs scored along with a league-leading 62 stolen bases. If he comes anywhere near that production again, he’ll earn his draft cost. There’s likely some regression on the horizon, however. Villar hits the ball on the ground a lot, which will make it tough for him to duplicate the surprising power he flashed a year ago. He hadn’t reached double-digits in homers since 2012, and that was at Double-A. The odds of another HR/FB% near 20% aren’t great. Also not great are Villar’s chances of hitting for average again. While his speed should help keep his BABIP from cratering, it’s difficult to hit for average when you either strike out or pop up in nearly 40 percent of your plate appearances as he did last season.

The likely pullback at the plate will cut into his opportunities for stolen bases. It’s worth noting that in the last quarter-century, a player has stolen 60 bases or more 26 times. On average, their total dropped by 19 the following year.

 

Eduardo Nunez, San Francisco Giants (ADP: 117)

Like Villar, Nunez is eligible at both third and short, and showed unexpected pop to go with a high number of stolen bases. The veteran’s 16 homers nearly equaled his output in the previous five years – all part-time seasons, but the point remains. While he doesn’t have the strikeout issues that Villar does, Nunez also doesn’t walk much, and he hits a lot of infield flies. His career OBP checks in at a pedestrian .314, meaning he’ll have to get the green light an awful lot to replicate his 40 swipes from a year ago. Despite his breakout performance at the plate, his run production didn’t move the needle, as he managed just 140 R+RBI.

Nunez struggled mightily down the stretch in 2016, hitting just .244/.297/.357 after the All-Star break. It’s fair to wonder if he can be productive over a full season, given his lack of a track record in that department.

 

Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers (ADP: 155)

Give Andrus credit for bouncing back from a three-year decline and his nightmarish inning in the 2015 ALDS. The veteran – still, somehow, just 28 years old – set career highs with a .302 batting average and eight homers, while also stealing 24 bases. Even with pedestrian run production (75 runs, 69 RBI), that was enough to put him in the top 10 at shortstop in standard leagues. However, a glance at his batted ball data reveals a hitter essentially unchanged from the previous season, when he hit just .258. Both his stolen base totals and attempts have declined in each of the last four years, and he hasn’t scored more than 75 runs since 2013.

Time for our old friend, the blind player comparison!

2014-16 averages AVG R HR RBI SB 2017 ADP
Player A .273 72 6 57 25 155
Player B .267 69 4 51 22 326

 

Andrus, of course, is Player A. Player B is Alcides Escobar. They’ve been basically the same guy the last few years, but you can get Escobar 170 picks later. Don’t pay a premium for Andrus.

 

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