Every single player in Fantasy Baseball has the potential to bust – yes, even Juan soto and Ronald Acuña and Mike the trout can go wrong. Each player has a risk of injury, and down years can happen to anyone at any time, even without warning.
But that is not to say that each player has the same amount of bust potential. It goes without saying that some players have several ways for things to go wrong for them, but some of them also have so much potential that you can not just ignore them. You have to embrace the risk in your Fantasy team to have a chance of winning – if each player on the list only hits their 50th percentile expected outcome, you’ll probably end up in sixth place. You need big hits, and sometimes that means taking big turns.
We talked about players with boom-or-bust potential on Monday’s episode of the Fantasy Baseball Today podcast, which you can listen to below – and go here to subscribe to apple, Spotify, gold no matter where you get podcasts:
Here are my picks for the biggest boom-or-bust players for the 2021 season, and what I think their chances of hitting both outcomes are. You probably do not want a whole series full of these guys, but you have to take a chance on at least a few of them if you want to bring home a title.
The All Boom-or-Bust Team
I’ve lost a lot of confidence in Sanchez in recent seasons. He undoubtedly has as much upside as anyone in the catcher position, and he is still the only player in the position with the potential to become the first since Javy Lopez in 2003 to hit 40 homers. But it’s too many times when it just seems like his turn is ruined – sub-.200 BABIP in two of the last three seasons is harder to write off when you see his drive rate of below 17% and the super high infield. flyball rate. Sanchez has also had some issues staying healthy in recent seasons, so there are non-performance issues as well. Sanchez is a classic boom-or-bust player, and given that he plays a position with so few potential batsmen, it’s easier to justify taking that risk here.
When my first round of rankings came out in early February, I had Bellinger as a first-timer, but he has been looking forward to the low teens since. Bellinger has not played in a game yet this spring, and he only started facing full-speed pitching last week when he recovers from a shoulder injury. If he is fully recovered, I think Bellinger has a pretty good chance of returning to being an elite hitter. However, shoulder injuries are tough for hitters, and it may take some time before he returns to full strength. I do not mind Bellinger with a late second round, because he is one of the rare players with 45-homer potential and 15-steal potential. But there are many ways that this can go wrong for him.
Hiura must find a way to solve the contact problems, because he had one of the lowest contact frequencies in baseball in 2020. When he makes contact, good things tend to happen for Hiura, who has a legitimate potential in five categories if everything clicks. . However, he was suspended last season, and the quality of the contact took a step back along with the plate discipline. I’m optimistic about Hiura’s chances, but I’ll admit I can ‘t point to anything as evidence – I just believe in talent. Sometimes you have to go with the gut, but if your gut does not agree with me, I can not argue with you.
A career of .279 / .354 / .399 in 461 minor league games, Hayes came up and smashed the ball in 24 games in 2020, hitting .376 / .442 / .682 with sterling shot ball quality to back it up. . The scout reports and prospect rankings usually indicated that Hayes had more potential than his numbers showed as a prospect, and it is possible that everything clicked for him in the alternative place, and he really made a leap. If that were the case, he could be a contributor in five categories and a potential elite Fantasy 3B. However, he only had a few good weeks and played over his head. Scott White buys Hayes, and a warm start to the spring should make him safer, but I’m a little more skeptical.
Mondesi could easily help you compete in stolen bases this season – he has 67 in 161 games the last two seasons, and the average sixth place in the 2019 12-team Roto leagues had 108 steals. And this is not quite one Billy Hamilton the situation, as Mondesi has 15 homers, 84 RBI and 91 R over that stretch, too. However, he has serious discipline problems, and it is not inconceivable that the bottom will fall out, and he has a .270 OBP this season. Tea Royals is suddenly quite competent offensively, so he may strike seventh or lower in the lineup, which can cost him as much as 100 PA compared to the leading position. Mondesis’ defense should be good enough to keep him in the lineup, even if the worst fall happens, but he can be a drag in four categories. Is stealing actually so hard to find?
What does the upside look like Luis Robert? Well, here’s his 150 pace based on how he played last August:
- .298 / .356 / .660 with 52 HR, 17 SB, 110 runs and 115 RBI.
And what does the disadvantage look like? Well, here’s his 150 pace from September / October:
- .136 / .237 / .173 with 7 HR, 33 SB, 72 R, 46 RBI
OK, his upside is probably not that high, and the downside is actually not that low. But Robert can legitimately be one of the best players in Fantasy, one without a doubt the first round with five category appeal. Or he can flirt with the Mendoza line and hack to the bottom White Sox lineup, pushing him out of the top 100 in the ADP this time next year. Both are on the table.
Stanton has lost zero bat speed in his 30s – he is the only player in the majors with a shot put over 120 km / h the last two seasons (he has two), and he added another in a spring match on Monday. If he’s on the field, he should be one of the best power hitters in the game, with legitimate 50-plus homer potential. Of course, he has played only 41 games in the last two seasons, and his injury history stretches as far back as his MLB career. If Stanton stays healthy, he should be a top-25 hit, but he has not done so since 2018.
Arozarena has a very similar profile to Robert, and at best he will be a game-changing power / speed combination. However, he had nowhere near the kind of power in the minors that we saw in 2020 – he had 17 homers in 43 games between the regular season and the post season. There is also potentially enough swing-and-miss in his game to track him even if the power is real – especially because he plays for Rays, a team that is not afraid to put even a promising young player in a part-time role if they think it maximizes the chances of winning.
I kind of think Scherzer is less of a risk than the general consensus – he only missed a start in 2020, with a hoarding problem, and he looked like his vintage self in the spring, having a 2.08 ERA with 14 strikes and just two innings 8.2 rounds. Of course, he is a nearly 37-year-old who coped with back and neck injuries in 2019 and was not his usual self in 2020. If he is healthy, Scherzer should be an ace – I have got him ranked as No. 4 among SP – but he is also well past the age where the bottom can fall out.
Snell’s ERA by season for his career looks like this: 3.54, 4.04, 1.89, 4.29, 3.24. Oh, and he’s had elbow problems the last two years and has thrown more than 180.2 laps just once. The Rays limited Snell’s innings and exposure to the lineup a third time in a way that was quite frustrating for Fantasy, but it’s worth asking if those limitations helped Snell’s relationship and health. We find out this season, which Padres will probably have a looser bond with his newly acquired ace. I’m careful about paying full price for Snell, but I can see the appeal.
Here are the last two seasons for Burnes:
- 2020: 59.2 IP, 240 BF, 2.11 ERA, 1,022 WHIP, 36.7% K rate, 10% BB rate, 0.3 HR / 9
- 2019: 49.0 IP, 235 BF, 8.82 ERA, 1.837 WHIP, 29.8% K rate, 8.% BB rate, 3.1 HR / 9
So basically identical sample sizes with vastly different results. He will definitely get a lot of strikes, but that’s just about all you can say for sure. However, Burne’s pitch mix adjusted last season for the better, so I’m optimistic about his chances of hitting closer to the 2020 form.
The risk became even more acute when Strasburg left Sunday’s spring start with a calf injury. Ironically, despite Strasburg’s extensive injury history, he has never been to IL for a lower body injury. He is returning from surgery in the carpal tunnel and now has this injury to contend with. When he’s right, Strasburg is one of the best pitchers in baseball, but you can not exactly trust him when he is not at the moment … you know … Right.
The assumption from most is that the Lamb will be very good as long as he is healthy, with the long-lasting elbows / biceps questions from the end of last season threatening him deep into the spring. I just want to point out that while Lamet was fantastic in 2020, he had 187.1 innings of a 4.37 ERA between 2017 and 2019. He is a two-pitcher with a history of command issues, so he is no guarantee of being an ace even if that elbow does not become a problem again.
I’m actually less worried about Diaz than anyone else, but Frank Stampfl had him like that poster boy for the boom-or-bust category on the podcast, so I’ll include him here. He’s really just had a bad season – though in fairness, it was a fucking, when he had a 5.59 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 2019. The bigger concern may be that short ties Food brought with him last season – he went from July 25 to August. 28 without getting a chance to save in the last round of a game, and then did not get another chance until September 9 after blowing another aug. 30.
If Yates is healthy, he will probably be one of the best reliefs in baseball – he had a 1.67 ERA with 191 strikes between 2018 and 2019. However, he was never right in 2020, and ultimately required season-ending elbow surgery. He should have many opportunities to close games for Blue jays, but if he can not do the job, Jordan romano to pick up the ball if 33-year-old Yates stumbles.