Top Infielders to Avoid Drafting in 2024 Fantasy Baseball

Not every good player is worth drafting in Fantasy Baseball. Particularly if they are being overvalued in drafts. Here are some guys to avoid.

Luis Arraez
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 31: Luis Arraez #3 of the Miami Marlins bats against the New York Mets at loanDepot park on March 31, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Jasen Vinlove/Miami Marlins/Getty Images)

In a player field with so many options, stay away from these potential landmines.

One major lesson I’ve learned over the years when playing fantasy baseball; don’t reach for a mediocre player who owns a massively high ADP.

Many infielders are deserving of their draft day price, others not so much. I’m here to tell you which players you should be skeptical of when the time is ticking and you are on the clock. As many front offices look for high upside when selecting guys to insert into their farm system, you should also be doing the same when putting trust into certain players during fantasy drafts.

I’ve always been a big promoter of doing your own research beforehand. Just looking at this article won’t give all the answers but will give a good head start amongst your competition. A lot of fantasy baseball is the same as many things in life; value is vital.

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If you can manage to stay away from the combination of high cost with average production, your squad should be in good shape. The brunt of your production normally comes with your top selections so it’s important to spend time figuring out who you want to trust.

Kind of like big league teams needing to avoid horrible contracts in order to spend money in smarter ways elsewhere. Finding guys you have confidence in delivering at the highest level remains crucial. Consistency is often overlooked when it comes to fantasy baseball but over the length of a six month season, consistency wins championships. 

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. /Toronto Blue Jays / 1B

ADP: 25

You may think wow is this guy really telling me not to draft Vladdy?

At his ADP, that’s exactly what I’m telling you. Taking him around pick 25 shows you are investing in either your second or third overall pick depending on league size. This spot in the draft is only deserving for the players we know who will produce high numbers.

Based off last season and really for his whole career, Guerrero Jr. has been one of those guys who comes with great hype yet underachieves. 

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For example, take his 2023 stat line versus Christian Walker’s data.

In 156 games, Vladdy put up 78 runs, 26 home runs, and 94 RBI’s. In 157 games Walker spit out 86 runs, 33 home runs, and 103 RBI’s. Meanwhile Christian Walker is going nearly 60 picks after Vladdy. Every asset of Walker’s batting was better. Walker even stole 11 bags last year! Vlad’s chase rate is also higher than I’d like to see for a player already entering his sixth major league season.

Everybody seems to be expecting a bounce back for Guerrero Jr. but I guess my main question is bounce back to what? Besides his 2021 where he hit 48 homers, because the Blue Jays were playing in a minor league stadium, none of his stats jump out as eye-popping. And at his ADP it’s surprising how people still regard him so highly. I think it’s time we stop expecting him to be his dad and just accept him for who he is; a good player not a great player. 

Christian Encarnacion-Strand / Cincinnati Reds / 1B

ADP: 153

I want to preface this by saying I’m a huge fan of Christian Encarnacion-Strand. The only reason he’s featured here is the sheer depth of the Cincinnati Reds roster.

On pretty much every other team around the league CES would be starting and batting in the top of the lineup. He’s got real power and can flat out hit. 

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Fangraphs has predicted CES to get around 400 at-bats netting him 22 homers. So which spot in the lineup can he take in order to get that 400?

A Jonathan India trade really would’ve made sense. The Jeimer Candelario signing was a bit weird. The Reds love Noevi Marte at third base. I just don’t know how he’s going to surpass 400 chances at the plate.

Yes a freak injury could occur but it would have to happen to one of those three guys mentioned above, he has zero experience playing the outfield. And if nobody gets injured, CES playing one day and resting the next as a repeating pattern off the bench makes it hard for a player to get into a healthy groove. Remember consistency is the most underrated characteristic in fantasy baseball. 

All the Statcast numbers on Encarnacion-Strand check out, it’s just unfortunate he’s dealing with such lineup context. At an average ADP of 153, a part-time player seems way too expensive.

You could get the consistent power-hitting Rhys Hoskins three rounds later, someone who will most definitely be in the Brewers lineup everyday. CES is a great value in dynasty leagues because he will eventually have an everyday starting role. However for redraft leagues that only matter in 2024, I’d stay away.

Josh Naylor / Cleveland Guardians / 1B

ADP: 127

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Remember the guy who had 8 RBI’s against the White Sox and they all happened after the 7th inning? That was exciting sure but I don’t think it’ll ever get that spicy again for Josh Naylor.

The lineup surrounding him could be one of the worst offenses in baseball. Outside of Jose Ramirez, will anyone hit a home run for the Guardians this season? That might be a bit of an exaggeration but it’s a reality Josh Naylor will have to live with. 

Besides his poor lineup support, Naylor just isn’t all that appetizing to me. Out of all players featured on this list, his ADP may just be the most confusing.

How in the world is he getting taken at pick 127?

The guy has never played a full season in his first five years so I already don’t like him. The most homers we’ve seen from him is 20 in 122 games. 30 more games and that turns into 25 I guess?

With little counting stats from a horrible Cleveland offense? And oh yeah that’ll never happen since he doesn’t play against lefties as he has been awful against LHP.

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It’s fair to say that I see negative value from Naylor if he is drafted as high as 127th. I’d much rather have Vinnie Pasquantino going 25 picks later. 

Even with his poor past you could still ask about Naylor’s underlying numbers. Got some bad news for you, those aren’t impressive either. He boasts a 44th percentile average exit velocity, 48th percentile barrel rate, and 53rd percentile hard-hit rate. Naylor is one of those guys that doesn’t do anything particularly great which can result in mediocre production across the board. And mediocre production that only appears in the lineup half of the time is a recipe for disaster.

Luis Arraez / Miami Marlins / 2B

ADP: 125

The hit king. With batting average making a comeback in the baseball landscape and front offices reverting back to respecting such a stat, Luis Arraez was seen as a great value add by the Marlins. He was fantastic for them in 2023, hitting .354 with an OBP of .393 and 203 total hits. 

If Arraez could add even a little power to his game he would be a top 75 selection in fantasy baseball, maybe even top 50. I value the home run as the most valuable statistic when evaluating players for my potential team.

As a result it’s obvious that a player like him will not get much respect from me. He is indeed a magnificent singles hitter and there’s no question about it. But when it comes to fantasy, 10 home runs with 3 steals in 2023 just isn’t cutting it no matter what your batting average is. Plus it doesn’t look like the metrics will change with that 3rd percentile hard-hit rate. 

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Simply put, he is who he is. If you are in desperate need for batting average help, his cost comes relatively cheap at an ADP of 125 since you are really only adding one category.

Additionally he is more useful in points leagues with the high OBP and miniscule strikeout rate. But if you’re looking to add in roto or head-to-head category leagues, you’d probably be better off steering your team in a different direction.

Andres Gimenez / Cleveland Guardians / 2B

ADP: 129

Here we go again with the Guardians. Last season Gimenez slashed 15 home runs and stole 30 bags, not a bad line. His 2022 is even better because of that .297 average. Those are the positives.

The negatives?

In 2023 he didn’t repeat any of those special contact numbers and all of his expected numbers regressed back to where everybody expected. Nobody seems to believe he can get back to his 2022 level.

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Then you stare at that 129 ADP. Why not go after the high upside of Zack Gelof or Edouard Julien or the sturdy consistency of Jorge Polanco at second base?

All of them are being drafted well after Gimenez. The second base position is top heavy and after the elite come off the board, most of the guys in the following range are projected very similarly.

If nothing has convinced you so far please go and look at his Statcast page. You might change your mind fairly quick. 

Xander Bogaerts / San Diego Padres / SS, 2B

ADP: 96

I’m not your typical ‘He’s old so he won’t get numbers’ type of analyst. In fact I enjoy taking advantage of the reduced price when it comes to old dudes. Let me be clear; Xander is not old entering his age 31 season, his numbers just seem to be on a steady decline.

No question about it, Xander was one of the most consistent performers in baseball while in Boston. He holds a career batting average of .291 and will even be eligible at second base this year. He would not be in this article had it come out just one year ago.

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But things are different now in San Diego.

Even though he’s in the lineup almost everyday, Xander has only slapped 23, 15, and 19 homers in his last three seasons. I feel people still hold onto his juiced-ball 2019 when he hit 33 dingers.

And for a guy who is a career 20/10 performer, the ADP is outrageous. Nobody with a ceiling of 25-10 should be going inside the top 100.

Going 96th overall is a slap in the face to many shortstops. I’ll offer a hot take and claim Trevor Story will have better offensive numbers than Xander in 2024. Story is going around pick 226 near the end of your drafts. Cash in while you can and make somebody else fall into an early trap of Bogaerts manning the keystone.

Dansby Swanson / Chicago Cubs / SS

ADP: 122

There is a large drop off in ADP going from Bogaerts to Swanson. From 96th to 122nd is a few rounds but still a bit expensive for my taste. Dansby, much like Josh Naylor, does everything fine but does nothing excellent.

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This type of player is the one who will drive you crazy because throughout the season you never really feel as if he’s breaking through to reach his maximum potential. I will say he does make a good fantasy trade candidate being in the middle of a strong Cubs lineup while his numbers are always somewhat respectable. 

I never enjoy writing against someone who tries playing all 162 games each year. The best ability is availability correct? But as stated earlier his stats are just enough to upset his owners and leave us wanting more.

Gone are the days of Swanson hitting atop the best lineup in baseball down there in Atlanta.

In 2023 Dansby hit .244 with 81 runs, 22 home runs, and 80 RBI’s on his way to a .744 OPS. As you can see without the comfort of a Braves offense the counting stats just aren’t there and his power regressed to true size.

His highest OPS in a single season is .809 in the shortened 2020 season. And for a player of his skill-set I’d like to see more steals.

Unfortunately Swanson’s ceiling of 25 homers and 15 steals is just not enough for me to invest in while the upside of Anthony Volpe is much higher while coming much cheaper.

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Nolan Arenado / St. Louis Cardinals / 3B

ADP: 81

Arenado has been one of the most consistent players in the league and a staple at 3B for the past 10 years. This is another question of where he lands in most drafts.

I thought there would be some type of discount after his lesser than normal 2023. This did not hold true since he’s going as early as 65th overall. Okay, you could still argue that’s not really an issue if you truly believe in a rebound from Arenado.

What is a problem are the chase rates and hard-hit figures compared to earlier in his prime when he was mashing. The exit velocity and amount of barrels were way down while the WOBA plummeted. His launch angles also slipped in contrast to pretty much every season he played before 2023.

I am not in the majority since I won’t blame this on age as mentioned before with Mr. Bogaerts. In fact if Arenado does have a bounce back season I wouldn’t be surprised, remember he’s only 33.

I’d be crazy to tell you one of the most durable hitters in the game has lost it when he’s far from retired. Stats like chase rate can be fixed and a veteran like Arenado may do just that.

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But for some odd reason the other underlying numbers took a dip and unless he can fix those more difficult exit velocity and hard-hit figures in 2024, the high pick isn’t worth it. On top of it all if the mojo around the Cardinals is much the same as it was last year, I don’t like the momentum or chemistry this team gives to Arenado moving forward. 

Josh Jung / Texas Rangers / 3B

ADP: 124

Josh Jung blew away my expectations last season after putting up 23 home runs in just 122 games. I would’ve predicted less in about 75% of a full season in which he played.

However, I’m just not sure if we can trust him yet. He’s 26 and I’m curious to see how an older prospect performs with much left to prove.

One questionable trait I found while searching up Jung was his chase and whiff percentiles. Both of them were around the 24th percentiel in the league which leaves room for major concerns about the amount of holes in his swing.

He bested his xBA which also raises my eyebrow. I don’t have much of a problem with his ADP, 124th is a good cost paying for Jung in the middle of this Texas lineup. It’s more a matter of swing path and poor launch angles that leave me skeptical.

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He also struck out 151 times. He had similar K numbers in his small majors sample back in 2022. Yikes! Be cautious with Jung because if he doesn’t practice better selection and recognition skills, the floor could fall even lower.

Isaac Paredes / Tampa Bay Rays / 1B & 3B

ADP: 157

Simply put, the data gives me little hope for Isaac Paredes. The back of his baseball card presents strong selection and walk numbers only for 2023, while most of the career numbers show an average and OBP which have remained below acceptable levels.

The power support just isn’t there even after he hit 31 homers last season. Plus every player on the Rays seems to be viewed as a platoon type according to their front office. 

For a player with such a track record, you’d think his ADP would be somewhat cheap. Not true at all, in fact his homer total alone seemed to boost his draft position higher than I could’ve ever imagined.

He’s going right around pick 157. When a player like Jake Burger is getting drafted after Paredes, you know the consensus just isn’t that smart.

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Yet this is a good thing since you’ll be able to invest wisely come draft day. Burger’s underlying numbers and Miami’s willingness to submit his name on the lineup card everyday are so much more valuable than anything Paredes could offer.

Are we really trusting of a guy who before 2023 owned a .212 average and .295 OBP throughout his first three years in the league? Either invest with caution or don’t invest at all.