2022 Biggest Hitter Busts

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

For this I used the Auction Calculator which includes the ADP pulled from the NFBC and focused on the guys who weren’t complete injury washouts. Adalberto Mondesi was indeed a bust, but he managed just 54 PA so you had a replacement all year. Injuries certainly play a role in bust seasons, whether it’s something that costs a player time or a nagging injury that compromises their play but doesn’t take them off the field. I used a 300 PA cutoff here which is admittedly arbitrary and does include guys who hit the IL, but figured it gave us a better group of guys whose bust status is more performance-based.

Wander Franco | 58.9 ADP 

-$2 in 344 PA – .277 AVG, 6 HR, 8 SB, 33 RBI, 46 R

Among the hitters drafted in the top 100, Franco was the only negative value who eclipsed 300 PA. He did have a pair of IL stints that essentially cut his season in half, but the production while on the field didn’t really match his draft price. The 22-year-old shortstop still has incredible upside, and the market definitely won’t run away from him based on this season. He went 89th in the one draft I’ve done so far and I expect him to slowly rise up the board over the winter and wind up around the Top 75 come draft season in March.

Ketel Marte | 78.9 ADP 

$2 in 558 PA – .240 AVG, 12 HR, 5 SB, 52 RBI, 68 R

Marte was heavily impacted by the leaguewide power outage as his HR/FB was halved to 8%. As we move further away from his 32-HR barrage of 2019, it might be time to reassess the 29-year-old 2B. His career worst .276 BABIP should regress (.311 career mark) and bring the AVG back up, but will there be enough with it? He should be firmly outside the Top 100 so I’m not out on a buyback, but I’m paying for upper-teens HRs and a .280-type AVG.

Javier Báez | 63.8 ADP

$6 in 590 PA – .238 AVG, 17 HR, 9 SB, 67 RBI, 64 R

A strong September/October softened the blow here (assuming you didn’t cut him in shallower formats) as he hit .293 with 6 HR and 20 RBI, but it was still a slog overall for his first year in Detroit. Interestingly, he shaved his K rate down to 25%, but still lost 27 points of AVG due to his BABIP sinking 60 points off 2021 mark. It seems American League righties had been paying attention to Baez’s weakness against sliders and fed him an unending diet of them. The result was a career worst .217 AVG v. righties and an insane -11.3 Pitch Value v. sliders, easily worst in the league and a complete 180 from last year’s 12.4 against them. He went 100 picks cheaper than his 2022 ADP in that draft I did and while that is a 1-off sample, I expect him to live in the 140-170 range.

Tyler O’Neill | 48.0 ADP

$6 in 383 PA – .228 AVG, 14 HR, 14 SB, 58 RBI, 56 R

O’Neill salvaged his season a bit with 9 HR/SB from August 1st on, but how many of his drafters got that surge considering he hit .233 with 5 HR and 8 SB through July? I will give him credit for the improved plate skills as that was my biggest concern about him coming into the season. He cut his K% by 4 points to 27% while boosting his BB% by 3 pts to 10%. I’m just never going to pay full price for a profile like this as the plate skills breed volatility so he was always a fade for me coming into 2022, but now he could be back in play after the tough season. He went 107th in my draft which isn’t a bad discount, but that late-season surge definitely cost a really nice price on the buyback.

Nick Castellanos | 56.5 ADP

$7 in 558 PA – .263 AVG, 13 HR, 7 SB, 62 RBI, 56 R

There’s no way Casty was 100% this year, right? Sure, some of it was the league’s power dip, but that alone doesn’t explain the colossal 141-point drop in ISO. His 9% HR/FB rate was his lowest since 2015 and well below the 23% from season-plus with Cincinnati. Perhaps most importantly and why I feel like he had to have been dealing with nagging injury/injuries is the 12-point drop in Hard-Hit rate, down to 35% (26th worst among 130 qualified hitters). Only Jesse Winker (-13 pts) suffered a larger drop among hitters with at least 400 PA in 2021 and 2022, but he also had the most severe park change a lefty can suffer while Casty went from the #1 HR park for righties to #5 so it wasn’t his move.

He did put up a career high 7 SBs to mitigate some of the pain, but it wasn’t nearly enough considering he gave back 21 HR, 38 RBI, and 39 R off his 2021 marks. I’m curious if Castellanos will say anything about his season after the World Series and whether or not he played through anything. It also could’ve been him pressing to make a strong impression and “earn” his contract. Either way, I’m going to buy back into this profile. This fall-off looks like a clear anomaly. If it’s injury, I’ll take the bet that he’s healed for ’23 and ready to get back to the guy we saw emerge once he left Detroit. From the time he was traded to the Cubs at the 2019 deadline through his two seasons with Cincinnati, he had the 18th-best wRC+ among qualified hitters. He is going 117th in early NFBC drafts, but he will likely creep back into late-Top 100 by the spring, a price I’m completely comfortable paying.

Whit Merrifield | 33.6 ADP

$8 in 550 PA – .250 AVG, 11 HR, 16 SB, 58 RBI, 70 R

Through May 10th, Merrifield was the worst player in baseball with a -8 wRC+, easily the lowest among qualified hitters and 33 points below the next worst (Jonathan Schoop, 25 wRC+). A .158 BABIP was causing most of the pain. But then a 4-hit game on May 11th turned the tide, spurring a 10-game hit streak and hits in 18 of 19. His 69-game run from that point through August 2nd saw Merrifield get back being himself with a .280 AVG, 6 HR, and 12 SB in 307 PA.

And then he was traded to Toronto.

He continued to hit just fine with the Jays, posting a .281/.323/.446 line with 5 HR (18 full season pace) but just 1 SB in three tries and a part-time role ravaged his fantasy value. He started 34 of the 44 games he played. He didn’t play in 13 of Toronto’s 57 games down the stretch. Volume and speed were the calling cards of Merrifield and Toronto undercut both. He is under contract for 2023 and if they don’t move him, there is some concern that his SB rate would remain suppressed. An SB-reliant 34-year-old on a team that doesn’t run much is a scary proposition but the upside is that his price has cratered so you won’t have to pay full freight to buy back in.

Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and Content Director for OOTP Perfect Team. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

Great analysis on TON – a lot of people will just lazily assume that he busted because of plate discipline but his 600PA pace was 88/22/91/22/.228, which is close to what we should expect with the exception on BA being a little too low.

1 year ago
Reply to  Gregg

I’d expect more homers from him, as well, but yes, just staying healthy was his biggest problem this year.