2024 Fantasy Baseball: The biggest boom-or-bust draft picks

I like oatmeal. I eat it roughly once per week. But if I ate oatmeal for every meal, every day, I would lose my mind. After all, although it’s nutritious, oatmeal is one of the more boring meals I can think of.

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Drafting a fantasy baseball team that is full of boring players is the equivalent of eating oatmeal at all meals. You’ll survive, but you won’t really enjoy the experience. To get the most out of fantasy baseball, a manager needs to take some chances with boom-or-bust players.

The following players have issues that could cost you a few hours of sleep, but they also have the potential to be among the best 2024 value picks.

Elly De La Cruz (3B/SS, Cincinnati Reds)

Boom: After collecting 13 homers and 35 steals in 98 games as a 21-year-old, the sky is the limit for De La Cruz in his sophomore season. He will likely make year-over-year skill improvements at such a young age, and even if he doesn’t, he could still be a 20-50 player.

Bust: De La Cruz played well in his first month in the majors before hitting .191 with a 36% strikeout rate after the All-Star break. Failure to improve this year could lead to a stint in the minors. Given his early-round status (Yahoo ADP 34.2), De La Cruz is the biggest boom-or-bust player in the 2024 pool.

Royce Lewis (3B, Minnesota Twins)

Boom: Lewis needed just 58 games last season to produce 15 round-trippers and 52 RBI. He also hit .309. And he didn’t shrink on the biggest stage, going deep four times in six postseason games. Across a full season, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2017 MLB Draft could tally 30 homers, 100 RBI, 15 steals and a high batting mark.

Bust: Lewis can’t stay healthy. He endured three IL stints for separate injuries last year. He missed all of the 2021 season due to a torn ACL and appeared in just 34 games in '22. Managers are likely going out on a limb if projecting more than 120 games for the coming campaign.

Jazz Chisholm Jr. (OF, Miami Marlins)

Boom: Although the jury remains out on whether Chisholm is a good player or a great one, there is no doubt he is a terrific fantasy asset. In the past two seasons, the lefty batter has accumulated 33 homers and 34 steals in 157 games.

Bust: Like Lewis, Chisholm struggles to stay off the IL. In 2022, he missed more than half of the season with a back injury and last year endured separate IL stints for a sprained toe and oblique strain. The 26-year-old has been in the Majors for the entirety of the past three seasons but has not played in enough games to enjoy a 20-homer or 25-steal campaign.

CJ Abrams (SS, Washington Nationals)

Boom: The sixth-overall pick of the 2019 MLB Draft, Abrams finally produced in the majors when he registered 18 homers and 47 steals last season. The speedster owns a lifetime .331 average in the minors, which offers hope that he can improve on the .245 mark he posted in 2023. More base hits would translate to an even higher swipes total.

Bust: Although Abrams broke out from a fantasy lens in the second half of last season (11 HR, 33 SB), the same can’t be said from a real-life perspective (.246 BA, .733 OPS). Abrams doesn’t have much room for error and could fall to the bottom of the lineup if he endures a rough stretch.

Nolan Jones (1B/OF, Colorado Rockies)

Boom: Jones could be the latest in a long line of successful Colorado hitters. The lefty batter needed just 106 games to produce a 20-20 season while also batting .297. He hit well at home and on the road, and the incredible benefits of playing half his games at Coors Field should keep him from going into extended slumps. A 30-30 season is ambitious but not out of the question.

Bust: To say that Jones was lucky last season would be an understatement. The southpaw slugger enjoyed a BABIP (.401) and HR/FB rate (22.2%) that could experience significant declines this year. Statcast assigned Jones a .247 xBA in 2023, 50 points lower than his actual mark, which was the second largest gap of any player. A drop in his rate stats would certainly spill into his counting stat totals.

Tyler Glasnow (SP, Los Angeles Dodgers)

Boom: Glasnow is an excellent pitcher who produced a 3.20 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP and a 12.2 K/9 rate across 71 starts with the Rays. Now a member of a Dodgers organization that is known for getting the most out of its hurlers, he should continue to excel on a per-start basis. A recent five-year contract extension shows that Los Angeles has no significant reservations about the right-hander’s future.

Bust: Glasnow is among the least durable starters in baseball, as his 120 innings last season were the highest total of his eight-year career. And although Dodgers starters tend to pitch effectively, the organization does not have a magic wand in relation to durability. Glasnow is being drafted as a fantasy ace and could put his fantasy teams at a massive disadvantage if he makes fewer than 20 starts.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto (SP, Los Angeles Dodgers)

Boom: The Dodgers didn’t give Yamamoto $325 million by accident. The 25-year-old owns a lifetime 1.72 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP overseas, and the Los Angeles brass believes that he can produce a reasonable facsimile to those numbers in the majors. As a starter on one of baseball’s best teams, Yamamoto could be a top-five pitcher by pairing plenty of wins with solid ratios.

[2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP]

Bust: Yamamoto’s solid but unspectacular career 9.2 K/9 rate could decrease now that he is set to face better competition. Managers will need plenty of nerve to count on the right-hander as an ace, which is his current asking price in drafts. Because of Yamamoto’s ADP and strikeout rate, the best plan is to pair him with an SP2 who can get plenty of whiffs. Unfortunately, the men who fit that description have warts of their own.