Hitter Busts for 2024

Hitters with significant risk of underperforming expectations in 2024

Let’s be clearI want every player to be successful. I gain absolutely nothing from players not meeting expectations, especially not joy. This article is not about players who I am rooting against. Instead, it is an article about players who I worry may not be able to attain the value that ADP suggests based on various risks.

I’ll be listing these players by their NFBC ADP based on drafts that were completed on or after February 1. The excerpts below come from my Top 300 Hitters for 2024, so if you want to see how I rank these players in a fuller context, check out that piece.


Trea Turner (SS, PHI), ADP 13 – It’s so hard to know what to do with a guy who just salvaged their entire season and reversed a consistent downward trend in a span of just over 30 games. In the 34 games between August 5 and September 12, Turner slashed .385/.429/.830 with 16 home runs (27 total XBH), six steals, and 74 combined runs and RBI. Roughly 40% of his counting stats and extra-base hits come in that single period. In the 108 games prior, Turner was hitting .236/.289/.367 with just 10 home runs and 95 combined runs and RBI, and in the 14 games after, he had no home runs, nine combined runs and RBI, and slashed .222/.300/.296. He showed us that he’s still capable of incredible production, sure, but I’m still very cautious after watching Turner be so awful for 122 games and feel there’s a lot of risk here.

Elly De La Cruz (3B/SS, CIN), ADP 25 – De La Cruz is undoubtedly one of the most electrifying athletes in the game, possessing 25+ home run power and 50 stolen base speed, but the 21-year-old infielder has some growing to do in the decision-making department. It might surprise you to know that Elly is actually good at making contact—our PLV contact metrics show that he makes contact more often than we’d expect on a pitch-by-pitch basis when he swings. The primary issue for Elly is that he swings far too often at pitches that no one can do anything with. The exciting part is that we saw Elly start to make this adjustment during the season, and even though the stats didn’t follow (he faded at the end of the season), the fact that his process was dramatically improving makes me very interested in jumping on board with Elly if the price is even remotely reasonable.


Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1B, TOR), ADP 33 – It was a very disappointing season for Vladito as he failed to reach 30 home runs, 80 runs scored, or 95 RBI along with a lower-than-expected .264 batting average. Oddly, the Statcast data suggests he made better contact in 2023 than he did in 2022 despite the dip in actual production. Guerrero should bounce back from the rough campaign, though the further we get from his 2021 breakout, the more we have to question what to reasonably expect from a full season. He should put up numbers that are equal to (or better than) guys like Riley or Devers, but until he does it a second time, we have to have a bit of caution.

CJ Abrams (SS, WAS), ADP 39 – For some reason, it took three full months before Washington realized that Abrams could steal bases and should maybe lead off for the Nationals. He stole just nine bags through the end of June, but after being promoted to the leadoff role in early July, he stole 16 bases that month, then 13 in August, and then nine more in September. Abrams has always been excellent at making contact, and in 2023 we finally saw some improvements in his decision-making ability. Abrams’ quick bat and aggression will always keep him from being an elite decision-maker by our metrics, but as long as he continues to make 90th-percentile contact, there’s a path toward 20 home runs and 50 stolen bases. The ratios will stink because he pops out a fair bit and tries to put too many balls in play, but his mix of power and speed will push him up a lot of boards as folks hope that the big spike in steal attempts sticks around.

By the way, this ranking is for his head-to-head categories value, which is highly variable based on your specific need for steals. He’s inside the top 50 in roto leagues as the volatility of steals has less of an impact.

Royce Lewis (3B, MIN), ADP 49 – Injuries are impossible to ignore when talking about Royce Lewis’s career. He missed all of 2020 and 2021 with injuries and appeared between the majors and minors in just 118 games over the last two seasons. The production has been outstanding when Lewis has been on the field since his return to the field in 2022, and the charts below are good signs of how he’s adapting to the majors. That said, his small major league sample size and extensive injury history make Lewis an extreme risk-reward play. The charts are INCREDIBLY promising, though. I mean, look at these beauties.



Nolan Jones (1B/OF, COL), ADP 53 – Jones was quite good for most of his 2023 debut (besides July), but he turned it on in September, posting a 16.4% walk rate, 21.1% strikeout rate, and a .349/.461/.651 line with seven home runs and 46 combined runs and RBI. The 21.1% strikeout rate is what stands out to me in this line, as Jones’s power was a known commodity from his prospect days, and landing in Colorado made it even more likely that his power would play to some degree. If Jones can take a step forward in his decision-making against breaking balls, we could see a new gear to his game that looks more like his September line, but I’m guessing we don’t get quite that good of a result. I’m thinking something like 25 home runs, another 20 stolen bases, and a volatile (but not necessarily bad) batting average with good-not-great counting stats on a bad Rockies offense.

Lane Thomas (OF, WAS), ADP 110 – Thomas exceeded my expectations for him in just about every category, and in the case of home runs and steals, he did it by almost double. While his quality of contact did improve to a degree and he did start pulling the ball significantly more, it doesn’t explain the improved numbers. If it did, our Pitcher List expected stats (which take into account batted ball direction) would show something better than a .237 xAVG and .446 xSLG. While I do think a 20-20 season is within reach and accept that none of his numbers seem especially dubious, I’m still a bit skeptical that Lane Thomas can wind up in the top-50 hitters. Top 60 or top 75 should be doable, though, and his floor should keep him from falling out of the top 100 (which is not true for many hitters in the tier below).

Esteury Ruiz (OF, OAK), ADP 130 – NFBC players will take Ruiz a lot earlier than this due to the fact he’s almost certain to lead the AL in stolen bases after swiping 67 bags in 2023, but keep in mind that Ruiz fell short of 50 runs scored and 50 RBI and that the .254 batting average and .309 OBP are just about as good as it’s going to get due to his aggressive approach and complete lack of power. He will steal a boatload of bases and not hurt your ratios that much, which is not super valuable in head-to-head categories formats, but those in roto leagues will probably have him in a tier or two above this.

Jackson Chourio (OF, MIL), ADP 135 – After signing an 8-year $82 million contract, Chourio is all but guaranteed to be on the Opening Day roster. Chourio ranks as one of the game’s top prospects and has an incredibly high fantasy ceiling. This past season, he hit 22 home runs and stole 44 bases between Double-A and Triple-A. He showed noticeable improvements to his contact skills helping ease some of the worries for his transition to the Major Leagues. He projects as a 24/45 player at his ceiling and could easily post 15 home runs with 30+ stolen bases this year.

Here is what Martin concluded in our composite article from November:

“Chourio is a no-brainer elite prospect. His power/speed blend is virtually unmatched and he’s just 19.”

Cedric Mullins (OF, BAL), ADP 147 – With Henderson usurping the leadoff role from Mullins, the range of outcomes for the speedy outfielder is now much wider than in years past. Mullins finished well outside the top 100 hitters in 2023 thanks to a poor batting average, injuries, and then being forced into a platoon to end the season.

Mullins will get another shot at full-time plate appearances in 2024, though it will likely be lower in the order than in 2021 and 2022 (maybe sixth or so) and the leash will be short due to the up-and-coming outfield talent Baltimore has in the minor leagues. If Mullins can solidify his role in the lineup, there should be a path to 20 home runs and 30-35 steals that would put him inside the top 50. If he isn’t able to get into a groove, though, there’s the risk that he will post yet another finish outside the top 100, and possibly even outside the top 150.

Wyatt Langford (OF, TEX), ADP 159 – There might not be another prospect in baseball with more hype than Wyatt Langford. Langford dominated professional pitching after being drafted by the Rangers in the first round of the 2023 MLB Draft. Langford looks like the complete package and is already banging on the door of the major leagues. The reason he ranks in Tier 17 on this list is that the Rangers do not have a clear opening for him on their roster. Evan Carter, Leody Tavares, and Adolis García profile to be the Opening Day starters for Texas making it likely Langford will start in Triple-A. Langford also only has 44 professional games under his belt.

Here is what Steve concluded about Langford from our composite article:

“Langford projects as a power-over-hit prospect with good speed but has shown that all can be elite tools. To avoid projecting Langford as a top 10 MLB player, I would expect 30 home runs, and 15-20 steals with a .270 average as he begins his career. These numbers still put Langford at the top of the league and will be a fun kid to watch paired with Evan Carter in the Rangers outfield.”

Trevor Story (2B, BOS), ADP 176 – I remain pretty low on Story, unfortunately, as he’s simply been unable to find any health or consistency since moving to Boston. Strikeouts continue to plague him as he’s maintained a strikeout rate of over 30% since joining the Red Sox, and while injuries may be partially to blame, I expect health will remain an issue going forward.

This ranking respects that a healthy Story could certainly hit 20 home runs and steal 25 bases in 140 games or so, but that version of Story has been fleeting of late. It’s a big-time risk-reward pick that could work out very well, but I wouldn’t make this bet unless I also intended to take a second player with second-base eligibility. For what it’s worth, this ranking would be considerably lower in draft-and-hold formats and other deeper leagues, but the replacement level in standard leagues is high enough that it can’t hurt you that much if it’s a swing and a miss.

Nolan Gorman (2B/3B, STL), ADP 180 – The 27 home runs in 119 games isn’t that surprising for those who followed Gorman as a prospect, and neither is the 32.3% strikeout rate he’s shown in 208 career games in the majors. Gorman’s extreme contact issues make him a wildly volatile player in both real life and fantasy, especially since he’s not especially good at making contact even when he’s not chasing pitches. The Cardinals weren’t afraid to bench him against lefties and shuffle their lineup around to cover for it, and I do expect that to continue until Gorman adjusts.

Christopher Morel (2B/3B/OF, CHC), ADP 198 – Morel is still without a regular position due to his subpar defensive skills, but his raw power suggests he could hit 30 or more home runs in a season if he managed to make contact on a more consistent basis. Morel’s strikeout woes are well-documented, though, and his decision-making skills declined as the season went on (see below). The low contact ability means Morel needs to make good decisions at all times, and until he can pull that off, he’ll remain an extremely volatile player.


Feature image by Michael Packard (@artbymikep on Twitter) | Photo by John Cordes & Joe Robbins / Icon Sportswire

Scott Chu

Scott Chu is a Senior Fantasy Analyst here bat Pitcher List and has written about fantasy baseball since 2013. He's also the inventor and mascot for Fantasy Curling (as seen the Wall Street Journal) and a 3x FSWA Award Finalist. In addition to being a fantasy analyst, he's a dad, animal lover, Simpsons fanatic, cartoon connoisseur, amateur curler, a CODA, and an attorney.

2 responses to “Hitter Busts for 2024”

  1. Whatchu Talkin' Bout, Willis? says:

    Title seems sus considering tat a lot of the blurbs seem to be lauding players

    • Scott Chu says:

      Fair point – the blurbs come from my Top 300 overall and I try to focus on the positive. Each player does have a degree of risk, though, and that’s where the bust comes from. I rank many of these guys well below adp/projections.

      I have good things to sya about them, sure, but my rankings vs the consensus will generally indicate that I won’t be drafting many of these guys.

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