Player Profile – Jameson Taillon 2019 Outlook

Jameson Taillon (PIT – SP) – NFBC ADP 65

I love me some Irish Whiskey and this Jameson might be the highball I’m looking for. Can he really be an ace though? Well, based on the 2 Early Mocks run back in October, he went as the 23rd SP off the board. That’s firmly in the SP2 territory. Since then, NFBC has his ADP all the way up to 65 which means he’s somewhere between 15-20! Anyone not paying attention to the second half of 2018 might be a bit surprised about Jameson Taillon’s rank. It was more than a great second half for Taillon, here are his numbers since 6/1/18: 12 wins, 2.63 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 125 K in 133 IP. Oh, and he went at least 6 innings in 16 of those 21 starts. Taillon did introduce a slider into his pitch mix late in May which helped boost his numbers. While I expected additional strikeouts with the slider, his K rate remained unchanged. Let’s look under the hood with Taillon.

The slider yielded very good results with a 6.4 pitch value which is solid for only four months of use (pitch value is a cumulative stat and is results based). Personally, I believe the slider is much better than the pitch value indicates. The 49.8% chase rate means the slider has very good deception. However, the 13.7% swinging strike rate against the pitch is not what I’d expect given the extremely high chase rate. An elite strikeout pitch such as a slider should yield a swinging strike rate of near 20%. The slider can be a putaway pitch if he throws it for strikes less often. Here’s why; Taillon was inducing hitters to swing outside the zone half the time with a 54.9% contact rate on those pitches offered at outside the zone. Conversely, the slider had a 94.6% contact rate on in-zone pitches. That’s not good and Taillon threw nearly half of his sliders for strikes. Hitters are chasing the pitch, so let em chase, just ask Patrick Corbin.

Taillon already had a very good breaking pitch, the curveball, which is probably as good or better than the slider. In addition, and most importantly, Taillon’s fastball got better. It averages over 95 mph and produced a 10.8% swinging strike rate where league-average for the pitch is only 9%. It’s all about location. That’s how he managed a 24.7% K rate on the pitch compared to a 14.2% in 2017. Take a look at how Taillon attacked hitters with his fastball while ahead in the count.

Now that’s a thing of beauty! Almost all of the pitches are located up in the zone, that’s how he improved his strikeout rate with the fastball. The sinker, on the other hand, does not get swings and misses but got very good results. It induced ground balls over 60% of the time, so while I don’t love sinker, I think this pitch serves a purpose for Taillon and he’s obviously used it to keep hitters off balance. He tunnels all his really well which only adds to the effectiveness and deception. Taillon does occasionally throw a changeup but it’s a bad pitch, Luckily, Taillon knew that and only threw it 3% of the time during the last month of 2018. He certainly doesn’t need it and it seems like he’s phasing it out. If Taillon can continue to have four plus-pitches, he could be an absolute monster in 2019. I can see why he’s flying up draft boards.

For 2019, my projections for Taillon are 188 IP 11 Wins, 3.64 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 190 Strikeouts

For your viewing pleasure, here’s Taillon throwing his fastball, curveball, and slider. Notice how all the release points are nearly identical, great tunneling.

via Gfycat

Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images


Player Profile – Harrison Bader 2019 Outlook

Harrison Bader (STL – OF) – NFBC ADP 169

What to do with Harrison Bader? The Cardinals came into January of 2018 with an insane amount of depth in the outfield that included: Tommy Pham, Marcell Ozuna, Dexter Fowler, Stephen Piscotty, and Randal Grichuk. Oh and Tyler O’Neil and Bader waiting in Triple-A ready for a call at any time. So the Cardinals moved Piscotty to Oakland (a very classy move) and Grichuk to the Blue Jays. With Fowler struggling early, the Cardinals called upon Bader to fill in as the fourth outfielder. He was more than a fill-in, to say the least. In fact, per FanGraphs, he posted positive values offensively, defensively and on the base paths compiling 3.5 WAR. That ranked third among NL rookies behind only phenoms Ronald Acuna Jr. and Juan Soto, not bad(er) at all! After Pham was moved mid-season to the Rays, Bader will be given a full-time roll with the Cardinals.

In 2018, Bader hit a solid .264 with 12 homers and 15 steals in just over 425 plate appearances or about 70% of a full season. I’m not paying too much attention to the run/RBI total because he spent most of the season batting 7th-9th (pinch hitter). We know Bader has speed, his average sprint speed per BaseballSavant ranked top 10 in 2018 and is 17 of 21 on the bases in his MLB career. His stolen bases will be largely dependant on getting on base (obviously Max) which he did at a .334 clip in 2018. Solid, but what concerns me is his 29.3% K rate and below average walk rate. In other words, his .358 BABIP may have inflated his OBP a bit. My questions are the following: Can he maintain an elevated BABIP? Can Bader cut down on strikeouts and improve his walk rate?

When I dig into Bader’s BABIP I see that he maintained an insane .366 BABIP on ground balls in 2018 where league average is around .235-.240. Now, Bader is fast and isn’t affected by the shift, so I’d expect his BABIP closer to .280 on ground balls. That’s a difference of about 8-9 hits which puts his batting average at about .240. There’s good news though! His BABIP on fly balls was an impossible .055 where league average is about .138.

Take a look at this 30-game rolling average graph, Bader had an extremely high percentage of infield fly balls early but he cut down on them in the second half. As a result, his hard contact shot up. At the same time, he increased his percentage of fly balls. As we know, hard contact on balls in the air lead to good things like home runs and extra base hits. How about the quality of contact though? His exit velocities look middle-of-the-road to me but his maximum exit velocity of 113.6 MPH puts him inside the top 20% for 2018. There’s hope for Bader’s power with that information along with his 403-foot average HR distance.

Now the bad. Bader’s plate discipline is not great but he showed slight improvements across the board in 2018 from his cup-o-coffee in 2017. At the age of only 24, I think Bader continues his slight improvements at the plate and becomes a bit more patient. He does need to keep his chase rate in check and continue to make contact in the zone near 85% as he did the last month and a half of 2018. I’m going to expect a slight uptick in power but not much regression in batting average. The decreased BABIP will partially offset w/ a few more home runs. To be clear, Bader is far from a sure thing in terms of batting average. He also needs to improve his plate discipline if he wants hit in front of Goldy & Ozuna. Therein lies the risk, but given his current ADP, I can see owning a few shares of the Dude.

For 2019, I’ll give Bader a line of  .259/.323 19 HR, 21 SB, 75 Runs, 61 RBI        

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Photo Credit:David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Copyright:David Kohl


Fantasy Baseball Rankings – Top 100 for 2019

For those early drafters, here are my top 100 for 2019. There are still a few questions marks out there, like where will Bryce Harper and Manny Machado end up which could shake things up a bit. I don’t anticipate all that much movement in the rankings though. For reference, this is a standard 5×5 roto ranking, nothing fancy. I’m hoping to wrap up my projections in the next month or so. If you want to take a look at my projections for the top 25, here they are!

Fantasy Baseball Rankings for 2019 - Top 100

1Mike TroutOFLAA
2Mookie BettsOFBOS
3Francisco LindorSSCLE
4Jose Ramirez2B/3BCLE
5J.D. MartinezOFBOS
6Trea TurnerSSWAS
7Christian YelichOFMIL
8Max ScherzerSPWAS
9Manny MachadoSS/3BFA
10Nolan Arenado3BCOL
11Ronald Acuna Jr.OFATL
12Chris SaleSPBOS
13Jacob deGromSPNYM
14Freddie Freeman1BATL
15Jose Altuve2BHOU
16Aaron JudgeOFNYY
17Trevor StorySSCOL
18Bryce HarperOFFA
19Alex BregmanSS/3BHOU
20Paul Goldschmidt1BARI
21Giancarlo StantonOFNYY
22Andrew BenintendiOFBOS
23Justin VerlanderSPHOU
24Javier Baez2B/SS/3BCHC
25Charlie BlackmonOFCOL
26Xander BogaertsSSBOS
27Anthony Rizzo1BCHC
28Anthony Rendon3BWAS
29Trevor BauerSPCLE
30Corey KluberSPCLE
31Aaron NolaSPPHI
32Gerrit ColeSPHOU
33Whit Merrifield2B/OFKC
34Marcell OzunaOFSTL
35Kris Bryant3BCHC
36Blake SnellSPTB
37Carlos CarrascoSPCLE
38Khris DavisOF/DHOAK
39Starling MarteOFPIT
40Juan SotoOFWAS
41Luis SeverinoSPNYY
42Walker BuehlerSPLAD
43George SpringerOFHOU
44Eugenio Suarez3BCIN
45Tommy PhamOFTB
46Joey Votto1BCIN
47Jose Abreu1BCHW
48Patrick CorbinSPWAS
49Vlad Guerrero Jr.3BTOR
50Lorenzo CainOFMIL
51Rhys Hoskins1B/OFPHI
52Noah SyndergarrdSPNYM
53Clayton KershawSPLAD
54Matt Olson1BOAK
55Stephan StrasburgSPWAS
56Daniel Murphy1B/2BCOL
57Robinson Cano1B/2BNYM
58Cody Bellinger1B/OFLAD
59Aldberto Mondesi2B/SSKC
60Mitch HanigerOFSEA
61James PaxtonSPNYY
62Edwin DiazRPNYM
63Justin UptonOFLAA
64Jean SeguraSSPHI
65Nelson CruzDHMIN
66Michael ConfortoOFNYM
67Craig KimbrelRPFA
68Joey Gallo1B/OFTEX
69J.T. RealmutoC/1BMIA
70Zach GreinkeSPARI
71Blake TreinenRPOAK
72Carlos CorreaSSHOU
73Gary SanchezCNYY
74Aaron HicksOFNYY
75Yasiel PuigOFCIN
76Aroldis ChapmanRPNYY
77German MarquezSPCOL
78Jesus Aguilar1BMIL
79Nick Castellanos3B/OFDET
80Travis Shaw2B/3BMIL
81Felipe VazquezRPPIT
82Ozzie Albies2BATL
83Roberto OsunaRPHOU
84Mike ClevingerSPCLE
85Matt Carpenter1B/2B/3BSTL
86Max Muncy1B/2B/3BLAD
87Corey SeagerSSLAD
88Jameson TaillonSPPIT
89Justin Turner3BLAD
90Miguel Andujar3BNYY
91Ryan Braun1B/OFMIL
92Andrew McCutchenOFPHI
93Matt Chapman3BOAK
94Zach WheelerSPNYM
95Josh HaderRPMIL
96Shohei OhtaniDHLAA
97Gleyber Torres2B/SSNYY
98David PeraltaOFARI
99Eddie RosarioOFMIN
100Jonathan Villar2B/SSBAL

Feel free to ask me questions on Twitter @FreezeStats

Image Credits:
Creator: Jae C. Hong Credit: AP


Fantasy Baseball – Top 25 for 2019

Top 25 for 2019 Including Projections

1Mike TroutLAAOF1033791210.3100.450
2Mookie BettsBOSOF1073193270.3130.402
3Jose RamirezCLE2B/3B1053198230.2890.388
4Francisco LindorCLESS1113684180.2880.361
5J.D. MartinezBOSOF/DH1033910930.3040.382
6Trea TurnerWASSS1001569480.2850.355
7Christian YelichMILOF10026103190.3050.387
8Max ScherzerWASSP182742.980.972130
9Manny MachadoFASS1013410290.2850.357
10Nolan ArenadoCOL3B983610420.2900.362
11Ronald Acuna Jr.ATLOF923294200.2800.357
12Chris SaleBOSSP152612.690.951820
13Jacob deGromNYMSP142482.891.012030
14Freddie FreemanATL1B98309680.3010.377
15Jose AltuveHOU2B951979210.3100.383
16Aaron JudgeNYYOF104409560.2710.392
17Trevor StoryCOLSS843399190.2780.336
18Bryce HarperFAOF1003595110.2650.405
19Alex BregmanHOUSS/3B992791120.2850.386
20Paul GoldschmidtSTL1B97329860.2820.380
21Giancarlo StantonNYYOF984010130.2670.350
22Andrew BenintendiBOSOF1021988200.2900.368
23Justin VerlanderHOUSP172573.281.051990
24Javier BaezCHC2B/SS/3B893095160.2720.310
25Charlie BlackmonCOLOF105287390.2850.350

You can follow me on Twitter @FreezeStats and can find my other work at Pitcher List and FantasyPros.

Image credits: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports


Luis Castillo 2019 Outlook: Are We Back In?

Luis Castillo (CIN – SP) –  NFBC Early ADP 113.5

I know, I know, we all got burned last year with Luis Castillo. Castillo ended the season with a 4.30 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP with 165 strikeouts in 169.2 IP. The overall numbers are not the main concern here. It’s the fact that, owners had to carry a 5+ ERA with a 1.40 WHIP through the first half. At that point, most owners jumped ship or were out of the race already. If you jumped ship or stopped paying attention, you missed out on a stellar second half. In fact, Castillo’s second-half was near ace-like with a 2.44 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP with a 26.3% K rate. Yes, I prefer K% to K/9 and 25% is the magic number. How about those walks? Well, for the season, Castillo dropped his walk rate from 8.9% to 6.9% with a tiny 5.3% walk rate in the second half.

Those are gorgeous numbers, let’s see if the plate discipline backs it up. In 2018, Castillo increased his chase rate by 5%, decreased his zone-contact against by 1% and increased his swinging strike to 13.5% up from an already impressive 12.6%. Those numbers are the sole reason I held on to him in 2018. Castillo’s velocity dipped overall but it did come back some in the second half averaging just under 97 mph the last two months of the season. Castillo’s sinker has not been good, there’s no way around that. He just needs to throw it less often or better yet, eliminate it. His fastball, on the other hand, is better when his velocity is up but he also needs to work on locating it up in the zone more to fully take advantage of its speed. That’s where he can fully utilize this pitch because unlike the sinker, it can get swings and misses.

Castillo owns one of the best changeups in the game that resulted in a 43.4% strikeout rate and an incredible 52.8% chase rate with a 25.9% swinging strike rate (nearly double the league average). Castillo did increase the usage of the changeup which is good, but that sinker, now with over 700 thrown has a 126 wRC+ against it without the threat of strikeouts. Per Alex Chamberlin’s K% Outliers from 2018, you can see that Luis Castillo tops the list. That’s largely because of his change. If you look at pitch values per 100 thrown on Fangraphs, its value was much better in 2017. However, and this is where pitch values can be deceiving, pitch values are ONLY results based. Castillo gave up more home runs on the pitch (still just 5 in total) and gained 100 points in BABIP. He did that while increasing his vertical drop on the pitch yet decreasing the ground ball rate against. Hmmm, that doesn’t compute. All of his other metrics on the change improved from the previous season. In other words, pitch value isn’t everything. I think he falls somewhere in between next year and the pitch generates a pitch value north of 12.

Enough about the changeup, because one pitch won’t make Castillo a stud. His slider is his second-best strikeout pitch. It’s good but it doesn’t generate enough swings outside the zone to make it a great pitch. It already has a sub-80% zone contact rate which means it’s very difficult to hit, even in the zone. Since the velocity of the change and slider are similar but move in opposite directions, it would help Castillo is if he tunneled these two pitches better. Take a look at his vertical release points of these two pitches.

In the first half, there was a pretty decent separation in vertical release points between the slider and change. But in the second half, he tightened it up a bit. I think a combination of his release points and fastball velocity with better location up in the zone are going to be the key to Castillo’s success in 2019. Here’s the deal, if he’s able to capture what he did in the second half of 2018 for a full season and locate his fastball better, he’s a top 10 pitcher. That is not something most pitchers being drafted outside of 100 overall can attain. This is where projections are difficult because while Castillo was both unlucky and deserved some of his struggles, he still has elite skills. He just needs to make adjustments. Will he make them or not. We have to monitor the velocity in spring training, hopefully, he’s around 95-96 and can ramp up during the season. Here are my projections for Castillo in 2019.

12 Wins 3.81 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 198 Strikeouts in 187 Innings

You can follow me on Twitter @FreezeStats

(Photo: Aaron Doster, Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)


Matt Chapman 2019 Outlook

Matt Chapman (OAK – 3B) – NFBC Early ADP 105

As the consensus was all over Matt Olson going into 2018, it was Chapman who made improvements and looks like the better Matt going forward. Chapman is most known for his defense and rightfully so, but this chap “can actually swing it” man. The power showed up big time in the Minors and because he “only” hit 14 homers in 84 games in 2016 compared to the insane 24 by Olson in only 58 games, Chapman was overshadowed. In addition, Chapman is an absolute wizard defensively, maybe the best fielding 3rd baseman in MLB. Chapman actually has a shot at being the AL MVP in 2019. Yes, you heard this right.

Chapman was a big swing-and-miss guy through the Minors and in 2016 with the big club. Flirting with a 30% K rate along with 45+% fly balls and too many popups is not good for batting average. What did Chapman do then? He cut his K rate by 4.5%, chased pitches outside the zone less, decreased his swinging strike rate by 2.7%, and improved his contact fate by over 5%. Whoa, that’s a mouthful. His plate discipline in 2018 was well above average with a strikeout rate still a bit elevated and his walk rate below 10%. At age-25, he looks more like a 10-11% BB rate with a 20-23% K rate guy based on his ability to lay off bad pitches. That’ll play friends.

Ok, but how did that impact his batted ball profile? Per BaseballSavant, Chapman’s max exit velocity and FB/LD exit velocity (that’s average exit velocity of flyballs and line drives) were top 10% in the league. He also cut his ugly popup rate in the second half which actually “decreased” his launch angle. Yup, not all launch angles are created equal. Increasing launch angle is not always the right move. As a result, Chapman’s BABIP shot up almost 50 points! Cutting down on strikeouts and low-value air-balls pushed Chapman’s average up to a very solid .278. Remember, league average in 2018 was only .247.

The final topic I should mention is Chapman’s thumb injury. There wasn’t much talk about it during the season, but on 10/18/18, Chapman underwent left thumb surgery. We didn’t hear anything about this thumb issue during the season but check out this graph.

You can see around game 120 his hard contact fell while his ground ball rate shot way up. Chapman most likely dealt with this injury for the last month of the season. Chapman only hit 2 homers in September and was hitting everything on the ground (that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point). On the surface, the layman might just think Chapman was fatigued down the stretch. I tend to think that is false. A quick check in at shows Chapman did not “earn” all of his home runs and his hard drive percentage (xStats equivalent to barrels) dipped from his 2017. Chapman did curb his popup issue, so I think he’s headed in the right direction. Chapman also is a plus base runner and shows above average sprint speed, but unfortunately, doesn’t run much, or at all. As of now, Chapman slots in the three-hole which I absolutely love. 

For 2019 I’m projecting Chapman at

.268 AVG
87 Runs
27 HR
89 RBI
2 SB

Photo Courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


First Base Rankings for 2019

First Base Rankings for 2019

My first base rankings are listed below. At the bottom of the table, I’ll break down the rankings in terms of tiers and why players are in which tiers. These are standard 5×5 roto using batting average, but I will touch on some players who get a nice boost in OBP leagues because I think eventually, fantasy leagues will move in that direction. Also listed are player’s additional positions using 10 games played to be eligible. That includes Yahoo!’s ridiculous rule that a player needs only five starts or 10 games played to be eligible at a position. So, if you play in ESPN, CBS, or most other leagues, some of the multiple positions will not apply.

First Base Rankings for 2019 (AVG/R/HR/RBI/SB)

Pos RankPlayerTeamPositions
1Freddie FreemanATL1B
2Paul GoldschmidtSTL1B
3Anthony RizzoCHC1B
4Joey VottoCIN1B
5Jose AbreuCWS1B
6Rhys HoskinsPHI1B/OF
7Matt OlsonOAK1B
8Daniel MurphyCOL1B/2B
9Robinson CanoNYM1B/2B
10Cody BellingerLAD1B/OF
11Joey GalloTEX1B/OF
12Max MuncyLAD1B/2B/3B
13Ryan BraunMIL1B/OF
14Jesus AguilarMIL1B
15Matt CarpenterSTL1B/3B/2B
16J.T. RealmutoMIAC/1B
17Eric HosmerSD1B
18Edwin EncarnacionCLE1B/DH
19Jose MartinezSTL1B/OF
20Ian DesmondCOL1B/OF
21Jurickson ProfarOAK1B/2B/3B
22Yuli GurrielHOU1B/2B/3B
23Josh BellPIT1B
24Justin SmoakTOR1B
25Ryan O'HearnKC1B
26Luke VoitNYY1B
27Trey ManciniBAL1B/OF
28Jake BauersCLE1B/OF
29Brian AndersonMIA1B/OF
30Carlos SantanaCLE1B/3B
31C.J. CronMIN1B
32Brandon BeltSF1B
33Miguel CabreraDET1B
34Kendrys MoralesTOR1B/DH
35Buster PoseySFC/1B
36Yonder AlonsoCWS1B
37Ryan ZimmermanWAS1B
38Tyler WhiteHOU1B/DH
39Nate LoweTB1B
40Peter AlonsoNYM1B
41Miguel SanoMIN1B/3B
42Marwin GonzalezFA1B/2B/SS/OF
43Ronald GuzmanTEX1B
44Hunter DozierKC1B/3B
45Jay BruceSEA1B/OF
46Steve PearceBOS1B/OF
47Ryon HealySEA1B
48Justin BourLAA1B
49Mitch MorelandBOS1B
50Eric ThamesMIL1B/OF

Tier 1 – Studs
Freddie Freeman, Paul Goldschmidt
That’s it. Typically, first base produces at least a handful of studs, but not in 2019. If you haven’t been paying attention, the first base position has gotten shallow. Even Paul Goldschmidt is past his prime and I anticipate a small decrease in production in 2019, yet he remains in the top two overall. Both of these hitters can go .300-30-100-100-8 with a little upside. That’s the reason they are here. Although neither Freddy or Goldy are in my top 10 overall and should probably not be drafted in the first round.

Tier 2 – Fourish-Cat Guys
Anthony Rizzo, Joey Votto, Jose Abreu, Rhys Hoskins, Matt Olson
All of these guys have a weakness in addition to lack of speed. Rizzo is no longer a 30+ HR guarantee he once was but his elite contact rates tell me he will provide a .280+ batting average. Has Votto begun a steep decline or can he bounce back at age 36? I think his power gets back to 20 and his elevated line drive rate should keep him near .300.  Abreu is solid and consistent but is similar to a cross between Rizzo and Votto. xStats shows that Abreu was unlucky in terms of BABIP, I am hopeful for a near 100% bounceback from Abreu in 2019. Hoskins and Olson won’t provide the batting average of the other three in this tier, but I like their abilities to hit over 30 homers with 100 RBI which is why they are in this tier.

Tier 3 – Really? This is Tier 3?
Goes from Daniel Murphy to Joey Gallo
Murphy gets a massive bump playing in Colorado. We all know about the boost in home runs but for Murphy, it’s more about the bump in BABIP. In 2018, Rockies hitters had a .334 BABIP at home. If Murphy is a .300 hitter outside of Coors, he has a shot to hit .325 with 20 homers in 2019. Cano is similar to Murphy just not in a location that greatly benefits him which is why I prefer Murphy over Cano. Again, both are eligible at 2B but 1B might actually be more shallow.

Tier 4 – Put me in Coach
This tier goes from Max Muncy to JT Realmuto

I like all of these players, I really do, but there are either playing time concerns or injury concerns here. You can discount Realmuto because no one is playing the top catcher at 1B. Of this group, I like Muncy the most. His plate discipline is fantastic and his barrel rates were top 5 in all of baseball. Check out my piece over at Pitcher List on how he was attacked in the 2nd half. Unfortunately, Muncy has the most question marks such as playing time, adjustments, etc. He will produce if he plays every day and he’s eligible at three positions, so that’s a bonus.

Tier 5 – Mixed Bag of Meh
This tier goes from Eric Hosmer to Justin Smoak

I’m not a huge fan of this tier outside of Jose Martinez, but that’s only if he gets traded to an AL team to be the full-time DH. If that happens, his profit potential jumps up quite a bit, that being said, he likely moves up a tier. Hosmer’s ADP has dropped over 100 spots from 2018, so he’s a decent bounce-back candidate. E5 is clearly on the decline and while he still has 30 homer power, he could also hit .230. I do like Profar because of his position eligibility and the move to Oakland is a lineup upgrade but a park downgrade. Don’t sleep on Smoak either, he’s basically E5 at a discount.

Tier 6 – Corner Infield Spot
This massive tier goes from Ryan O’Hearn to Ryan Zimmerman

If you are drafting one of these players as your starting 1B, then you’re doing it wrong unless you’re in a 30 team league. I’ll highlight Brandon Belt because he’s been killed by playing at AT&T Park. If he gets traded to a team with a neutral or favorable park, I will be moving him up 5-10 spots and be grabbing him everywhere. His hard contact metrics are fantastic. The other player with upside is Luke Voit, but the Yankees still feel like Greg Bird is good. Voit is a beast and could hit 30 homers in Yankee Stadium given a chance. Keep an eye on this situation during spring training.

Tier 7 – Intriguing Young Talent
Goes from Tyler White to Hunter Dozier

Peter Alonso and Nate Lowe and my two favorites from this group. Both should be called up at some point during 2019, hopefully by June. They are both just about ready and Alonso is a top prospect with maybe the most power upside of a Major League ready prospect right now. There will be some swing and miss and lower batting average but should hit 4th or 5th once he gets the call. Lowe has a much more well-balanced approach and can hit for average, take walks, and has above average power. Keep an eye on these guys during spring training.

Tier 8 – The Rest
Goes from Jay Bruce to Eric Thames

I suppose I could see a bounceback from Jay Bruce. If E5 gets moved, Bruce could see a full slate of at-bats between 1B, OF, and DH. He was hurt most of 2018 and if healthy can still reach the 30 homer mark. Keep an eye on Thames, if he gets moved to a situation where can DH and/or play most days, his power is massive. Hopefully, you aren’t having to grab one the guys in this tier, but at this point try for upside.

Follow me on Twitter @FreezeStats

Image Courtesy of Scott Cunningham


Tommy Pham Player Profile

Tommy Pham (TB – OF) – #2EarlyMocks ADP 78; NFBC ADP 62

After Tommy Pham was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays at the end of July of 2018, he was one of the best hitters in the league. In the second half, Pham hit .331 with a .433 OBP, eight homers and six steals, good for a wRC+ of 177! That was only in 50 games. Pham doesn’t get the notoriety he deserves because of a late break in the big leagues and a slow start to 2018. Even given that slow start, Pham carries an impressive 138 wRC+ the last two seasons which is tied for 16th among qualified hitters. He hits for average, hits home runs, steals bases, and takes walks. So, why isn’t he being drafted like a top 20 hitter? Players like Adalberto Mondesi, A.J. Pollock, and Eddie Rosario have gone ahead of Pham in the 2 Early Mocks but is gaining steam in the NFBC drafts. I’d take Pham over all three players just mentioned, and here’s why.

Starting with plate discipline because I love a player who commands the zone. His O-Swing (or chase rate), zone-contact, and swinging strike rate are all above league average. In fact, his O-Swing is nearly 8% lower than the league average, which is in the top 10% of all players. Pham doesn’t get beat by pitches outside the zone. Some might look at his 24.6% K rate, which is worse than the league average, and think he’s a bit of a free swinger. It’s the actually the contrary, Pham is patient and sees a ton of pitches putting him deep counts. The downside is a higher strikeout rate, the upside is an elevated walk rate. It also allows Pham to wait for his pitch which is verified in his 48.5% hard contact rate! The elevated walk rate allows Pham additional stolen base opportunities. It’s a trade-off Fam (Pham?)

Speaking of hard contact and batted quality, Pham does not discriminate when it comes to hitting the ball. He sprays balls to all fields. Let’s take a look at his hard-hit rate to all fields compared to the league average. 

Hard Hit Percentage by Batted Ball Direction

 Pull SideCenterOpposite Field
Tommy Pham46.7%52.8%43.8%
League Average39.5%37.3%25.9%

I challenge you to find a player with a similar quality of contact to all fields. I’m mostly kidding, I should just do the work myself but I’m feeling lazy. Just kidding, no one compares, I just checked. Christian Yelich and Shin-Soo Choo come close with hard contact to center and the opposite field but fall short when including the hard-hit pulled rate. What this does is allow Pham to avoid shifts and will result in an elevated BABIP. Pham’s batted ball distribution is very diverse as well hitting just over a third of his batted balls to both the pull side (37%)  to center (35%), and over 25% the other way. What also contributes to a higher BABIP is his high line drive rate and his foot speed. So, his .342 BABIP from 2018 doesn’t seem out of place, especially when you consider his career .351 BABIP!

Pham does possess a near-50% groundball rate which will limit his home run upside, but he’s average 23.5% HR/FB the last two seasons. Pham is not all that different than 2018 MVP Christian Yelich, he just hasn’t been as healthy. If you miss out on Yelich, don’t sweat it. Just wait five rounds and grab ya boy Pham! I’ve projected Pham for 23 homers and 17 steals but that’s in just 574 plate appearances. Therein lies the discount when it comes to Pham. I anticipate Pham’s ADP to drop in Yahoo, ESPN, and CBS leagues as we approach draft season in full force the next couple months. If I had to guess, Pham’s ADP settles in around 78 overall where he was drafted in the #2EarlyMocks. If he can stay healthy for 650 PA, I could see a 25/20 season with over 100 runs and a solid batting average.

via Gfycat

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