Since the unique format of WorstBall sets us on a quest for the anti-Mike Trouts and Gerrit Coles, it’s important to identify which players may appear to fit the mold but in reality may turn in productive 2020 seasons. In other words, WorstBall busts. Productive seasons are not desired in the WorstBall world we’ve taken a visit to. If you are unfamiliar with these parts, I’d welcome you to take a look at Myles Nelson’s 2019 recap and also Collin Carlone’s hitter and pitcher draft prep for the 2020 season. Let’s take a look at six players I think have good chances to be busts in this WorstBall format.
Coming off a 134 wRC+ season in 2018, Jesus Aguilar failed to reach expectations in 2019 (88 wRC+). And if that didn’t whet your WorstBall appetite enough, he now plays for the lowly Marlins. But not so fast; there’s a decent chance his 2019 was derailed by injuries, which hindered his ability to tap into the power (35 HR) that fueled his breakout in 2018. After you get over the Marlins aftertaste, you can start to realize that maybe this is an excellent landing spot for the righty slugger as there should be plenty of plate appearances as long as he is healthy. He could easily bounce back in 2020, which would cast a dark cloud over your WorstBall squad.
Warning: unsexy profile alert. I would be surprised if 43 R, 7 HR, 46 RBI, 5 SB, and a .226 batting average gets many out of bed in the morning. And unfortunately for Mr. JP Crawford, that worse-than-vanilla line was what produced in 2019 (396 PA). Another dose of that sub .230 average may spell bingo for WorstBall owners, but the 25 year older may have other plans for 2020. A couple positives that could make him a bust for your WorstBall team is his K% isn’t a mega red flag at 21, and a 10.9 BB% shows he has some feel for the strike zone that could continue to develop with more major league reps. He also plays slightly above average defense which could help him retain some value through his youthful growing pains. On the surface he seems like a nice WorstBall asset, but there is a decent chance he produces value in 2020.
Looking for a player who strikes out often (160 K in 600+ PA), and fails to reach base at even an average rate (.280 OBP)? Then Randal Grichuk appears to be your guy! Let’s do another one. What if I told you a player produced a 75/31/80 R/HR/RBI line, but it only equated to a 90 wRC+ with a -12.1 offensive WAR? You’d tell me I’m nuts. But that’s 2019 Randal Grichuk!
Despite that rosy picture I just painted, I’d be staying far away from Grichuk in WorstBall. The strikeouts are alluring, but let someone else jump into that trap. Grichuk is projected to hit in the middle of the lineup, and coming Jays lineup, and he did improve his contact rate in the second half. If he can carry those gains into 2020 without sacrificing power, then watch out. Don’t let the strikeouts fool you.
If blue is your favorite color I’d invite you to go visit Albert Almora’s Statcast page. He had an absolutely atrocious 2019 at the plate finishing in the eighth percentile or lower in Exit Velocity, Hard Hit %, and xwOBA. That’s good for a 64 wRC+, and seventh-worst among hitters with 350 PA. Yikes. I mean this one is pretty juice in a WorstBall situation. So why in the world is he on the busts list and not on the first round pick list? Word is Almora has revamped his swing, and he’s showing some early signs of life in spring. With his above average defense and 82nd percentile sprint speed, the bat is really the only thing that is still undeveloped. If that can trend upward, we might actually get some fantasy viability out of Almora, and that would be an early-round WorstBall bust.
This poor guy spent more time in the training room than the field in 2019, with three different injuries (shoulder, back, wrist) limiting him to 333 PA for the depressing Tigers. JaCoby Jones figures to get plenty of time in the Detroit outfield, and his career .211 average, 31.9% K%, and 73 wRC+ makes for a lovely fit in this format. However, he did make strides in his plate approach which appeared to pay dividends for him (increased EV, less soft contact). Sprinkle in a little 81st-percentile sprint speed and we might have a power/speed combo that does more harm than good to your WorstBall team. Roll with Jones at your own risk.
Wait, Alex Cobb is still pitching in the bigs? Exactly. Two different strains (groin, and lumbar) essentially evaporated his 2019 season, and his 2018 season was… well… ninth percentile in xBA and Hard Hit %, 11th percentile in xSLG, and eighth percentile in K%. Whoof. My eyes are bleeding. Seems like a great WorstBall play given the launching pad Camden Yards is, especially during those hot summer months, right? But what if what was missing in 2018 resurfaces in 2020? Remember that nasty splitter he use to have? Rumor has it he has regained feel for it again, and if so, there could be a bit of fantasy relevance. We’re scrapping the bottom of the barrel here, so one pitch improvement could be enough to make him a WorstBall bust.
Featured image by Alyssa Buckter (alyssabuckter.com)