2024 Fantasy Baseball: Potential draft busts from every American League MLB team

The term “bust” might be harsh for some, but the following players are being overvalued in fantasy baseball drafts. Go here for my National League draft busts.

Baltimore Orioles: Corbin Burnes, SP

Consider Burnes more overvalued than a “bust,” because we're talking about a pitcher in decline who will likely soon cost a top-15 pick thanks to Gerrit Cole’s injury. Burnes has seen his K% drop and his BB% jump each of the last three seasons and recorded easily the lowest CSW of his career last year. He’ll now be drafted as fantasy’s SP2 despite having a 4.02 SIERA that didn’t rank top-20 among starters last season. Moreover, Burnes will be losing the league’s best defense after being traded to Baltimore — he had by far the lowest BABIP among starters last season, nearly 40 points lower than his expected BABIP. He’ll also be playing in a far tougher division and in a new home park that will help suppress homers but hurts in strikeouts — Milwaukee has increased Ks by 10% over the last three seasons.

Boston Red Sox: Brayan Bello, SP

Only five qualified SPs posted a worse CSW than Bello’s 25.5% last season, while just six finished with a worse K-BB% than he did (11.7) during the second half. Bello is a low-K pitcher with projections calling for a WHIP around 1.40, so it’s highly suspicious he has a higher ADP than Kyle Harrison.

Cleveland Guardians: Tanner Bibee, SP

Bibee’s 2.98 ERA wasn’t supported by his 4.19 SIERA last season, so he needs to take a big step forward to live up to his 2024 ADP; he’s being drafted as a top-25 (!) fantasy starter in Yahoo leagues, ahead of too many intriguing arms to name. Cleveland projects to have a bottom-five offense this season, so wins are going to be an issue even if Bibee avoids his expected ERA jump.

Chicago White Sox: Luis Robert Jr., OF

Robert is one of the best fantasy hitters when healthy, but he now costs a top-30 pick coming off the first season in which he reached 100 games played during his career. He sprained his MCL late last season, and while Robert should be fully healthy entering 2024, it’s yet another to add to a long list of injuries he’s suffered over the last few years. Hitting in a White Sox lineup projected to be right there with the A’s among the lowest-scoring teams in the league also won’t help, but health is the main reason Robert is a risky fantasy pick.

Detroit Tigers: Alex Lange, RP

Lange’s 4.41 SIERA ranked 141st among 162 qualified relievers last season, so it’s safe to question whether he’s Detroit’s answer to close again in 2024. His 15.6 BB% was the second highest among RPs, and his K-BB% (7.8) in the second half was downright scary. Lange is a ratio risk who plays on a team projected to finish under .500, so he’s a fantasy fade.

Houston Astros: Justin Verlander, SP

Verlander is a good enough pitcher to get by without his old stuff, but the cliff could be coming at age 41. He recorded his worst K-BB% (14.8) since 2014 and was hit harder than ever last season. His K rate fell to 7.98, and Verlander’s CSW (25.9%) ranked 38th among 44 qualified starters. Moreover, a shoulder injury will delay Verlander’s start to 2024 until “at least early April.” It’s wild he’s being drafted as a top-35 SP.

Kansas City Royals: Michael Wacha, SP

Wacha's 3.22 ERA came with a 4.43 SIERA last season when he also recorded an ugly K-BB% (11.4) outside of Petco Park. Wacha now moves to a favorable hitter’s venue in Kauffman Stadium, and his projections aren’t kind.

Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout, OF

Trout is going as a top-50 pick in Yahoo leagues, which is too high for someone in decline and with so many health questions. He’s coming off easily the worst season of his career, finishing with his lowest wRC+ (134) and highest K% (28.7) ever. Trout hasn’t appeared in more than 140 games since 2016 and has missed an average of 83 games over the last three seasons. He’s certainly capable of a bounce-back campaign at the plate, but the 32-year-old is a big risk at his ADP.

Minnesota Twins: Carlos Correa, SS

Correa is more affordable at draft tables coming off a down year, but there’s real concern his health issues continue. He’s played in 150 games and hit 25 homers just once during his nine-year career, hasn’t recorded a stolen base since 2019 and has long-term concerns regarding his ankle (that caused him to fail his physical after signing with the Giants). The Twins also have plenty of intriguing bats who could move Correa down Minnesota’s lineup.

New York Yankees: Aaron Judge, OF

Judge is baseball’s best hitter and is favored to lead MLB in wRC+, but just realize you’re accepting added health risk with your top-10 pick. Maybe reports of Judge requiring "constant maintenance" on his toe for the rest of his career were overblown, but he’s also currently banged up after wincing in pain during his last spring training game. Judge has missed 50+ games in three of the past five (full) MLB seasons (and more than half of the COVID year), so he shouldn’t be drafted ahead of Fernando Tatís Jr., Spencer Strider or Juan Soto.

Oakland Athletics: Zack Gelof, 2B

Gelof’s ADP (139.2) suggests he’s going to come close to maintaining his 30/30 pace (thanks in part to a .331 BABIP) over half a season last year. But he’s a major batting average risk who’s useless against lefties (38 wRC+), likely to hit in the .230s. Counting stats will also be a problem while playing in baseball’s worst lineup and in an extreme pitcher's park, so Gelof looks a bit overvalued in fantasy drafts.

Seattle Mariners: George Kirby, SP

There’s an argument Kirby has a wider margin of error given his immaculate control, but there’s a counter that things could go south given his inability to miss bats should his walk rate regress; Kirby’s 2.5 BB% last season was the best by a starter since 2014. He’s being treated as a top-12 fantasy SP despite ranking 30th in K% and 29th in CSW last season. THE BAT projects an 8.1 K/9 with a 3.73 ERA. There’s a good chance Kirby finishes as Seattle’s third or fourth-best starter in 2024.

Tampa Bay Rays: Ryan Pepiot, SP/RP

Pepiot somehow tallied a 2.14 ERA last season despite an 8.1 K/9 rate thanks to an almost unfathomable 99.2 LOB percentage (Blake Snell led the league with an 86.7 LOB%). Pepiot’s .189 BABIP was also 50+ points lower than MLB’s qualified leader. If that’s not enough alarm bells for major regression, Pepiot’s BB% (3.1) dropped dramatically from his career mark (10.0%). He now must pitch in the AL East while becoming a full-time starter and without LA’s run support.

Texas Rangers: Marcus Semien, 2B

There’s no particular reason to doubt Semien, but just realize that some of his substantial fantasy value comes purely through volume. He has an MLB-high five straight seasons (not counting the COVID year) with 700+ plate appearances — only one other player has that many in total since 2010.

Durability is a good thing! But Semien turns 34 years old this season, and he attempted 49% fewer stolen bases last year despite steals being way up across the league. Semien is a good, not great hitter — THE BAT X projects him to post a wRC+ on par with Brandon Lowe — so drafters spending a second-round pick on him are relying on the volume (and the fleeting bags). I’m fading a player at such a high ADP who needs to keep beating the injury odds while in his mid-thirties.

Toronto Blue Jays: Chris Bassitt, SP

Bassitt is a fine pitcher who’s projected to record a modest K rate (7.9) and an ERA in the low 4s. But fantasy managers seem to be pricing in him winning 16 games last year, drafting him in the first 10 rounds. Bassitt’s ADP (119.3) is ahead of Hunter Greene, Bailey Ober, Michael King, Chris Sale and Hunter Brown, all of whom I’d prefer straight up.