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Relief Pitchers Rankings for 2019

Well, here we are well into February and spring training is about to start. There are still some big free agents that haven’t signed and many teams have not made their decisions on their closers. That’s the reason I held off on these rankings but a man can only wait so long. Drafting and owning closers and relievers can be absolutely frustrating as all get out. I for one, try to grab one solid closer followed by a few of the best setup options with elite ratios and swing and miss skills. With the volatility of closers, this method seems to work fairly well. Between scouring the waiver wire and one of those setup men grabbing the closer’s role at some point, I end up with three closers. Awesome! Let’s get to the rankings!

Relief Pitcher Rankings 2019

RankPlayerTeamPositionsTier
1Edwin DiazNYMRP1
2Craig KimbrelFARP1
3Blake TreinenOAKRP1
4Aroldis ChapmanNYYRP1
5Felipe VazquezPITRP2
6Roberto OsunaHOURP2
7Josh HaderMILRP2
8Kenley JansenLADRP2
9Brad HandBOSRP2
10Sean DoolittleWSHRP2
11Kirby YatesSDRP2
12Corey KnebelMILRP3
13Raisel IglesiasCINRP3
14Ken GilesTORRP3
15Wade DavisCOLRP3
16Jose LeclercTEXRP3
17Cody AllenLAARP3
18David RobertsonPHIRP3
19Tyler GlasnowTBSP,RP4
20Arodys VizcainoATLRP4
21Will SmithSFRP4
22Jordan HicksSTLSP,RP4
23Shane GreeneDETRP4
24Hunter StricklandSEARP4
25Mychal Antonio GivensBALRP4
26Jose AlvaradoTBRP4
27Collin McHughHOUSP,RP4
28Andrew MillerSTLRP5
29Pedro StropCHCRP5
30Alex ColomeCHWRP5
31Matthew StrahmSDSP,RP5
32Brandon WoodruffMILSP,RP5
33Trevor HildenbergerMINRP5
34Bradley BoxbergerKCRP5
35Greg HollandARIRP5
36Drew SteckenriderMIARP5
37A.J. MinterATLRP5
38Dellin BetancesNYYRP5
39Zach EflinPHISP,RP5
40Wily PeraltaKCSP,RP6
41Sergio RomoTBRP6
42Jeremy JeffressMILRP6
43Domingo GermanNYYSP,RP 6
44Trevor CahillLAASP,RP6
45Seranthony DominguezPHIRP6
46Matt BarnesBOSRP6
47Archie BradleyARIRP6
48Adam ConleyMIARP6
49Blake ParkerMINRP6
50Mark MelanconSFRP6
51Zach BrittonNYYRP6
52Chad GreenNYYRP6
53Paul FryBALRP6
54Brandon MorrowCHCRP6
55Ryan TeperaTORRP6
56Ty ButteryLAARP6
57Ryan PresslyHOURP6
58Amir GarrettCINRP6

Tier 1: Shut down, lock down closers with elite level skills. These closers have the ability to strikeout 100+ batters in just 65-70 innings with elite ratios. All of these pitchers had a swinging strike rate over 16% last season and thus strikeout rates north of 31%. For reference, the league-average strikeout rate is just under 21% and the league-average SwStr% is 10.6%. Of course, as relievers, these numbers tend to be elevated. That being said, the final piece to this puzzle is the saves total. Kimbrel is yet to sign but Boston needs a closer. I could see each of these guys getting 40+ saves (no, I’m not projecting 40) but 35+ seems like a lock.

Tier 2: Closers and relievers are too damn volatile and that’s why I won’t be reaching for one. I’m waiting for a closer run and grabbing one of these guys in tier 2. Likely one near the end of the run, either Brad Hand, Sean Doolittle, or Kirby Yates. I understand Josh Hader isn’t a closer but his stuff is arguably the best in the business. Corey Knebel may struggle a bit and Hader could see 6-10 saves along with several multi-inning outings where he earns the win. I’ll take 5-8 wins and 6-10 saves with 130 strikeouts from Hader. Hell, that’s more strikeouts than Mike Leake will get with the ratios of Chris Sale (probably better actually). Given those numbers and my values, that’s a top 100 player. NOTE: I move Iglesias down a tier with the news that the Reds may be playing matchups and potentially use Iglesias in multi-inning roles if the situation warrants. He’s still the most highly skilled reliever the Reds have, so I’d still expect him to get more than 50% of the save opportunities. He may end up with more innings and strikeouts but his value takes a small hit.

Tier 3: OK, these guys are fine, they are solid but how confident are you they will keep their job all year? I think Kirby Yates and Jose Leclerc have the best skills of the bunch but also are hurt by the quality of their ball clubs. Corey Knebel seems like his job is safe because of how the Brewers deploy Josh Hader. He will lose some saves to Hader but because of the high number of opportunities, he should still reach the 30 save plateau. Ken Giles is the guy in Toronto, but he’s very risky. His projections are all over the map because he does have electric stuff. You just never know when he’s going to have multiple blow-ups and beat himself up about it.  Wade Davis pitching in Colorado will really hurt his ratios as we saw last year. Despite the 4.13 ERA last year, Davis compiled 43 saves. I’ll bet the under on that save total this year and a push on a 4.00 ERA.

Tier 4: Now I’m mixing in starters and middle relievers, what’s going on? Of this tier, only five of these guys are currently named the closer of their team. All of the pitchers below this tier are in some kind of twisted committee or limbo. Hopefully, in the next couple weeks, some of this gets cleared up. Hicks is a guy I’m very interested in grabbing. He’s essentially a unicorn in terms of his velocity and movement. He certainly has a shot at finishing inside the top 10 for closers in 2019. Outside of Hicks, if you’re looking for closers on terrible teams, this is your tier. Smith, Greene, Strickland, and Givens should at minimum be given most of the save opportunities from their respective teams (however few there might be). My favorite of this group in the lefty, Will Smith. I believe he has the best stuff and the most upside of this group. Keep an eye on Colin McHugh, he could be anything from a starter to a middle reliever, to an occasional closer and have sneaky value.

Tier 5: Well friends, I just hope you have at least two solid options at closer by the time you reach this tier if that’s the route you want to go. Pedro Strop should take over the closer’s role in Chicago until Morrow returns. The nice thing about drafting Strop is Morrow is about as reliable as a politician. Strop could be a dark horse to reach 25+ saves this year. Steckenrider, Hildenberger, and Boxberger (is this the berger tier or the long AF last name tier?) should see the majority of the save opportunities for their clubs. Note: The Marlins signed Sergio Romo who likely has the best shot to receive save opportunities over Steckenrider. Then again, outside of Minnesota, their teams are bad and there’s risk of a committee brewing with all of them. A.J. Minter is super talented and has a shot to overtake Vizcaino, so make sure you handcuff him with Minter if you go that route. I’m really hoping Strahm gets a shot to start for the Padres, he’s an interesting option late in drafts.

Tier 6: This tier is essentially the handcuff tier with some starters who have RP eligibility. I have a feeling the Red Sox will have to re-sign Kimbrel, so Barnes ends up in the setup role. This is a huge group but my favorites of this tier for potential saves include Peralta, Romo, Dominguez, Conely, Melancon, Parker and Garrett. I think the Marlins are going to turn to Romo for early save opportunities due to his past experience and the fact that they would like to flip him to a contender for prospect mid-season (aka raise his trade value). That being said, I like  Adam Conely as the darkhorse for saves in Miami, but we are talking about a low quantity of opportunities. Dominguez is talented but when the Phillies signed Robertson, it told me that Dominguez isn’t quite ready. As far as German and Cahill, we may only see 100 innings from each of these pitchers but I think there will be some value here. I threw Amir Garrett in the mix because of the Reds shake-up. I don’t believe Hernandez or Hughes are as talented as Garett. I could see Garrett end up with a valuable multi-inning role that fills in at closer a few times.


Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.

AP Photo: LM Otero

 

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Outfielder Rankings for 2019

I’ve decided to go 106 deep with my outfielder rankings. Here’s why. In standard 15-team roto leagues with five outfield slots, leagues start 75 outfielders. Every team will have one to two additional OF eligible players at minimum totaling 105. Oh, and I guess one for good measure.  OK, enough about that. The two best fantasy players in baseball are outfielders and personally, there are five first-round players (in a 15-team league) that play the outfield. The position is deep in terms of potential but as you go through my rankings, you’ll see many of the players after tier six might not play every day. Make sure you scroll down to see the blurbs for each tier where I highlight players from each tier. To see the rest of my rankings, click here.

Outfielder Rankings for 2019

Pos RankPlayerTeamPosTier
1Mike TroutLAAOF1
2Mookie BettsBOSOF1
3J.D. MartinezBOSOF2
4Christian YelichMILOF2
5Ronald Acuna Jr.ATLOF2
6Aaron JudgeNYYOF2
7Bryce HarperFAOF2
8Giancarlo StantonNYYOF2
9Andrew BenintendiBOSOF2
10Charlie BlackmonCOLOF2
11Whit MerrifieldKC2B/OF2
12Khris DavisOAKOF/DH3
13Starling MartePITOF3
14Juan SotoWASOF3
15Marcell OzunaSTLOF3
16Tommy PhamTBOF3
17Lorenzo CainMILOF3
18George SpringerHOUOF3
19Rhys HoskinsPHI1B/OF3
20Cody BellingerLAD1B/OF3
21Michael ConfortoNYMOF4
22Justin UptonLAAOF4
23Mitch HanigerSEAOF4
24Joey GalloTEX1B/OF4
25Nick CastellanosDETOF4
26Yasiel PuigCINOF4
27Aaron HicksNYYOF4
28Andrew McCutchenPHIOF4
29David PeraltaARIOF4
30Ender InciarteATLOF4
31Wil MyersSD3B/OF4
32Eddie RosarioMINOF5
33David DahlCOLOF5
34Eloy JimenezCHWOF5
35Stephen PiscottyOAKOF5
36Mallex SmithSEAOF5
37Michael BrantleyHOUOF5
38Nomar MazaraTEXOF5
39A.J. PollockLADOF5
40Ryan BraunMIL1B/OF5
41Victor RoblesWASOF5
42Jackie Bradley Jr.BOSOF6
43Ramon LaureanoOAKOF6
44Max KeplerMINOF6
45Dee GordonSEAOF6
46Jose MartinezSTL1B/OF6
47Harrison BaderSTLOF6
48Corey DickersonPITOF6
49Hunter RenfroeSDOF6
50Brandon NimmoNYMOF6
51Domingo SantanaSEAOF6
52Adam FrazierPIT2B/OF6
53Jesse WinkerCINOF6
54Trey ManciniBAL1B/OF7
55Ian DesmondCOL1B/OF7
56Chris TaylorLADSS/OF7
57Shin-Soo ChooTEXOF7
58Nick MarkakisATLOF7
59Randal GrichukTOROF7
60Cedric MullensBALOF7
61Austin MeadowsTBOF7
62Jake BauersCLE1B/OF7
63Adam EatonWSHOF7
64Franmil ReyesSDOF7
65Billy HamiltonKCOF7
66Brian AndersonMIA1B/OF7
67Manuel MargotSDOF7
68Kyle SchwarberCHCOF7
69Joey WendleTB2B/3B/OF8
70Kevin PillarTOROF8
71Jason KipnisCLE2B/OF8
72Gregory PolancoPITOF8
73Marwin GonzalezFA1B/2B/SS/OF8
74Kole CalhounLAAOF8
75Steven DuggarSFOF8
76Hernan PerezMIL2B/SS/3B/OF8
77Niko GoodrumDET1B/2B/SS/3B/OF8
78Ian HappCHC3B/OF8
79Odubel HerreraPHIOF8
80Lewis BrinsonMIAOF8
81Adam JonesFAOF8
82Enrique HernandezLAD2B/SS/OF9
83Teoscar HernandezTOROF9
84Alex VerdugoLADOF9
85Avisail GarciaTBOF9
86Mark TrumboBALOF9
87Jorge SolerKCOF9
88Jay BruceSEA1B/OF9
89Kyle TuckerHOUOF9
90Daniel PalkaCWSOF9
91Jake CaveMINOF9
92Brett GardnerNYYOF9
93Jason HeywardCHCOF10
94Matt KempCINOF10
95Kevin KiermaierTBOF10
96Steve PearceBOS1B/OF10
97Tyler O'NeilSTLOF10
98Eric ThamesMIL1B/OF10
99Ben ZobristCHC2B/OF10
100Joc PedersonLADOF10
101Delino DeShieldsTEXOF10
102Steven SouzaARIOF10
103Alex GordonKANOF10
104Jo AdellLAAOF10
105Yoenis CespedesNYMOF10
106Nick WilliamsPHIOF10

Tier 1: Mike Trout and Mookie Betts. These guys get their own tier. No other outfielder in the game could have realistic projections around .325-35-30 with 225 R+RBI. Both players have such high floors where they could finish inside of the top 10 for hitters. These are your clear-cut top to fantasy options in all formats. Nuff said!

Tier 2: I’ve expanded this tier to include Andrew Benintendi and Whit Merrifield because Merrifield will strongly contribute in four categories and isn’t a zero in home runs. It doesn’t hurt that he’s eligible at second base either. I feel like the 24-year-old Benintendi is being undervalued because of his 16 home runs in 2018. Benintendi actually increased his barrel rate by barreling up five more balls in 2018 than in 2017. Let me put it to you this way, in 2017 Benintendi had 47 extra base hits but in 2018 he had 63 extra base hits (41 doubles, 6 triples). I’m betting on 20-23 homers to go with 20 steals in 2018 and could lead the league in runs hitting in front of Betts, Just Dong, and Bogaerts. Christian Yelich won’t repeat his power output from 2018 but 25-27 homers with 20 steals and a .300 average is first round talent. I’ve seen Ronald Acuna Jr. go third after Trout and Betts. I don’t have him that high, but he’s a first rounder. This is the last year he won’t be a unanimous top three pick for the next seven to eight years. Judge, Harper, and Stanton all lack about 1.5 categories but could all lead the league in home runs and RBI.

Tier 3: The 2018 home run leader Khris Davis kicks of tier 3. Believe it or not, I have Davis hitting under .247 in 2019 at .242. That’s bold because Davis has hit .247 the last four years. Davis increased his fly ball rate by 6.5% while decreasing his HR/FB rate. He still maintains extremely strong power statistics, but fly balls that are not home runs are outs nearly 86% of the time. He’s still going to hit 40+ homers but with a slight decrease in average and no steals, give me Whit over Davis. I love Juan Soto, but he’s overvalued in fantasy for 2019. He will just be 20 and will be an absolute beast for the next decade plus, but I’m not projecting 30 home runs or much speed at all. He should combine for plenty of runs + RBI and batting average but for my money, he’s not going to be a top 30 fantasy asset.

Tier 4: I might be higher on Michael Conforto than anyone. I’m projecting a breakout in a big way and believe he has a 35-40 homer season under his belt. I like the improved Mets lineup and Conforto should be primed to drive in runs in bunches. Justin Upton and Mitch Haniger are steady contributors in all categories (Upton less in batting average, Haniger less in speed) but I don’t think either provide the upside of Conforto. I have Upton over Haniger because he’s in the same lineup as Mike Trout. I am not projecting a huge bump in batting average from Gallo, my projections are in line with other systems but there’s value in that. Just make sure you have some other hitters with high batting average floors. The rest of the tier is filled with high risk/high reward players like Puig, Hicks, and Myers but also some floor guys I’ll be targeting like McCutchen, Peralta, and Inciarte.

Tier 5: Eddie “Money” Rosario is who he is at this point. I don’t love his approach or his power metrics. He could fall off similar to Jonathan Schoop in 2018, but I think he’s a bit safer. I’m not buying into David Dahl given his injury history. Earlier this offseason, he was going around pick 150, I was all in on that pick. Now that he’s cracked the top 100, I’m taking a step back. Eloy Jimenez is a beast, he will hit right away once he gets the call from the White Sox. Guaranteed Rate Field in mid-summer is a great place to hit. It all depends on how quickly Jimenez gets the call. Stephen Piscotty had been through a lot in his personal life the last year and a half but really showed some skill improvements in the second half of 2018 where he hit .272 with 15 home runs in just 63 games. The Statcast metrics back it up as his barrel rate jumped three percent along with his hard contact. I like Nomar Mazara to finally approach 30 homers. I think he falls short but 25-28 is not out of the question. If there’s anyone in this tier that could jump two tiers, it’s Victor Robles. The uber-prospect, overshadowed last year by Ronald Acuna and teammate Juan Soto and now by Vlad and Eloy, should see everyday at-bats provided Harper doesn’t resign with the Nationals. I could see 12-15 HR with 25+ SB this year from Robles.

Tier 6: I love this tier and will probably grab one or two guys from this group on all my teams. I’ve touched on most of these guys in recent posts, so check out Jose Martinez, JBJ, & Ramon Laureano here Check out Max Kepler Jesse Winker & Harrison Bader here.  Check out Hunter Renfroe here.

Tier 7: Markakis through Mancini are solid floor players who should contribute in two to 2.5 categories. They are safe plays. Randal Grichuk has 35 homer upside but he needs to see more than 550 plate appearances with Toronto. Cedric Mullins is an interesting sleeper who is getting some publicity because he has a solid combination of power and speed. I have former top prospect Austin Meadows with similar power/speed projections to Mullins but think Meadows could provide more upside if he’s given a chance to get everyday at-bats. Jake Bauers has all the tools to be a 25+ homer, 12-15 SB player but he may be a year away from that. I think he needs to prove he can hit lefties first. Given the Indians lineup is not all that deep after their top few players, he should see 450+ PA.

Tier 8: As it turns out 10 tiers is A LOT! I’ll keep it short from here on out. I like Steven Duggar’s upside with high-end speed and potential double-digit pop. Given to poor depth in SF, Duggar could be a quiet 10-12 HR, 20 SB player this year. Lewis Brinson is interesting because his numbers were so bad last year, but the metrics actually contradict his performance (in a good way). He ranks inside the top 30 for sprint speed (although, his burst isn’t great) and his hard contact was well above average. His 8.7% barrel per batted ball event (BRL/BBE) ranked right in between Robinson Cano and Mike Moustakas last year. If Brinson puts it together this year, we might be looking at a 20-20 type player after all, but I wouldn’t count on it just yet.

Tier 9: If you’re this deep, I suggest going with upside. Of course Statcast Hero Teoscar Hernandez is another Blue Jay outfielder along with Grichuk that could hit 30+ homers given the opportunity. He also has a little bit of speed that could provide 8-10 stolen bases. His contact issues are so bad though that he might see the bench more often than not. Kyle Tucker‘s debut did not go well in 2018 but a talented power/speed prospect still lies within. He doesn’t have a spot on the big league roster just yet but is a player to target on your bench of reserves to start the season.

Tier 10: Tyler O’Neil could hit 40 home runs at some point in his career but he seemed overmatched at the dish too frequently in 2018. I don’t believe he’s a 40% K rate player but does need to improve his contact and find a spot to play in St Louis before I completely buy in. 2020 might be the year for O’Neil to bust out. If Joc Pederson gets traded and finds a starting role, he jumps at least two tiers. He has a solid .842 OPS against right-handed pitching but cannot figure out lefties slashing just .181/.266/.317 in his career. Jo Adell could be this year’s Juan Soto. That statement is both bold and unlikely to happen, because how often does 19 or 20-year-old talent come out of nowhere to dominate in the Majors? Adell is a bit different in that he saw 17 games at Double-A in 2018. Adell is more of a 20 HR/30 SB type player at his peak, so if he gets the call at some point, he’s an immediate grab. Thanks for reading, your input is always welcome and look for the rest of my rankings coming out next week.


Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.

image via USAToday

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Player Profile – Max Kepler 2019 Outlook

Max Kepler (MIN – OF) – FantasyPros Consensus ADP 298; NFBC ADP 247

Wait I thought Kepler retired? Oh, we aren’t talking about the spacecraft that discovered thousands of planets? Hey, shut up NERD! Anyways, Kepler really underperformed in 2018 and I don’t believe he will be on many owner’s radars going into 2019 (pun intended). Sure, Kepler hit 20 homers but he hit a gross .224 with just four steals and 58 RBI. I’ll be upfront with you, I don’t think Kepler should be drafted in shallow 10-team leagues, but there is value here in deeper formats.


First off, Kepler managed just a .236 BABIP for the season, down from .276 in 2017. Part of the reason behind that is he increased his launch angle from 12.9 degrees to 16.1 degrees. The results were not pretty because while he did improve his high drive percentage (link), his popups also went up and the line drives went down.  Of course, line drives are a major factor in batting average. Kepler needs to adjust in terms of batted ball profile if he is going to hit for a high average. Kepler did improve his barrel rate and exit velocity of fly balls and line drives in 2018, but I still believe he needs to take another step forward if he’s going to become a 25+ home run hitter. His pulled fly balls went down from 34% in 2017 to 24% ion 2018. Kepler’s moderate power will play up more if he can generate more pulled fly balls.

He also struggled against right-handed pitching which is odd because Kepler hits from the left side. Including last year’s poor performance against righties, Kepler has a .448 SLG and a .204 ISO against them in his career. In 2018, Kepler went .403 and .187 in terms of SLG and ISO. That’s more a function of BABIP though with a .218 BABIP against righties. I expect regression to mean against RHP in 2019.

Enough with the negatives, let’s turn this rig around! Kepler was more selective at the plate as he chased pitches outside the zone nearly four percent less (28.5% to 24.9%) resulting in a swinging strike decrease from 9.1% to 7.1%. For most of 2018, Kepler was able to cut is swings outside the zone (O-Swing) and increase contact on pitches inside the zone (Z-Contact).




Those are near elite rates. The results are encouraging because his strikeout rate dipped to a career-best 15.7% and his walk rate jumped to a career-high 11.6%! While improving his plate discipline, As I mentioned earlier, Kepler managed to increase his exit velocity and maintain above average quality contact. Kepler is on the verge of a breakout, he just needs to adjust his percentage of fly balls and yank more of the fly balls he does hit to right field.

Take a look at the graph above. Much of Kepler’s struggles after game 55 came when his fly ball rate was elevated. Kepler closed out the season poorly and was hitting everything in the air with a very low hard contact rate. He may have been harboring an injury or he was pressing. Kepler is not going to be an elite power bat but his contact rates, plate discipline, and moderate power make him an interesting late-round target, especially in OBP formats. His well above-average defense should keep him the lineup and he will turn the prime age of 26 in 2019.

I’m expecting a line around .255/.338 with 23 HR, 5 SB, 85 runs and 77 RBI.

Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.


Featured Image by:Jim Mone
Credit:AP



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Player Profile – German Marquez 2019 Outlook

German Marquez (SP – COL): FantasyPros Consensus ADP 91; NFBC ADP 85

German Marquez is going off the board inside the top 100 overall as the 25th starting pitcher selected. There’s plenty to like about the soon to be 24-year-old Marquez. Yes, some may be surprised to find out that he is so young and has nearly 400 innings under his belt at the Major League level. In a year where only 13 pitchers reached the 200 inning plateau, an all-time low, Marquez finished 16th with 196 innings pitched in 2018. His 230 strikeouts finished seventh in all of baseball, and strikeouts are sexy! His ratios were solid and his peripherals stated that he underperformed. So why isn’t Marquez a top 12 pitcher in 2019? We all know the answer to that question, Coors Field.

Let’s get down to the nitty and find out if Marquez can tame Coors Field this year. The first thing that catches my attention is the first half/second half splits.

German Marquez - 1st Half / 2nd Half

SplitERAWHIPK%BB%HR/9FIP
1st Half4.811.3923.5%8.2%1.494.44
2nd Half2.611.0033.9%5.5%0.682.25

While just about everything was going wrong for Marquez in the first half, he completely pulled a 180 in the second half. The ERA estimators show that his second-half numbers were legit, in fact, he should have been even better! There doesn’t appear to be much regression one way or the other in terms of BABIP either (.310 first half, .313 second half). The league average BABIP in 2018 was just .293 and Coors typically inflates BABIP by about 20-30 points. The one concern I have with Marquez is the home run rate. He cut the home run per fly ball rate by nearly six percent while increasing hard contact against. Per BaseballSavant, other than the month of April, Marquez never had a barrel rate of under five percent in the remaining five months. Given the fact that he calls Coors home, I think the home run rate jumps up closer to 1.1 or 1.2 HR/9 for Marquez in 2019.

Flipping over to the pitch splits, prior to 2018, Marquez had already had an elite curveball. I understand that the pitch value of the curve was just 3.3 (0 being average), but check out the metrics. Marquez got batters to chase the pitch 41.2% of the time and induced swings and misses on 20.4% of the time he threw the curve. If that doesn’t excite you, how does a 54.1% strikeout rate with a .151 batting average and 23 wRC+ against sound? That’s fantastic! What Marquez added to his arsenal in 2018 was his slider. He increased the usage of the slider from 4% in 2017 to 18% in 2018. Remember the great numbers against the curve, well the slider got more swings outside the zone, more swinging strikes while being thrown in the zone more often. The results against the slider were even better. Marquez allowed just a 17 wRC+ and a .183 wOBA against. It’s safe to say that Marquez has two elite breaking pitches and he throws them nearly 40% of the time.

Now the negative. His fourseam fastball was not good last year. Marquez throws hard, 95+ mph, but batters do not seem to have issues catching up with it. Marquez was punished with a .385 wOBA and a 145 wRC+ against his fastball. The good news is, he decreased its usage in favor of his far superior breaking pitches in the second half. That’s part of what vaulted his success in the second half. What’s less known about Marquez was his fastball placement. Since the introduction of the slider, Marquez now had hitters off balance with breaking balls low in the zone. In order to counter, he needed to throw his fastball up in zone changing the eye level of the batter. In the first half, he did not do that. Take a look at the location of the fastballs while ahead in the count from the start of the season through 8/8/18.

Notice how Marquez was throwing the fastball middle-middle far too often while ahead in the count. Now let’s take a look at the fastball locations from 8/14 through the end of the season.


He elevated much more frequently! It also helps that Marquez bumped his velocity from 95 mph early in the season to nearly 97 mph in September. Throwing a 97 mph fastball up in the one has the effective velocity of around 100 mph, while his breaking balls were diving below the zone between 80 and 85 mph. That’s just unfair to the hitters. I’m a big believer in the skills of Marquez and at age 24 I’m confident he will continue to be successful. My hesitation in putting him in my top 15 overall for starters due to Coors Field. There will be the occasional blow up if his breaking balls aren’t as sharp. I also don’t believe Marquez has a first half as bad as it was in 2018. His stuff is nasty and he’s a lock for 200+ strikeouts. Coors will keep his ERA above 3.50 but Marquez is quickly turning into a power pitching workhorse. My projections for Marquez in 2019 are:

194 IP, 14 Wins, 3.66 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 223 Strikeouts

For your viewing pleasure, please check out this GIF of Marquez elevating his fourseasm fastball against Ronald Acuna Jr. courtesy of PitcherList.

Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.


Featured Image Courtesy of John Leyba/The Denver Post

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Third Base Rankings for 2019

It’s February already! I need to get moving on my rankings. This post completes my infield rankings and I plan on getting the outfielder rankings out early next week. If you want to see all my other rankings, CLICK HERE! 

Where were we? Oh, right, third base rankings. Third base is pretty deep this year. However, there’s a shit-ton of guys that are eligible at other positions (especially if you play in Yahoo leagues). If I’m being honest, in Yahoo leagues, I just draft the player with the best value and worry about positions later. The chances are, you can fill out a roster in Yahoo formats without worrying about positions. For the rest of us, I’ve put out my rankings with tiers to make things a little bit easier. The tiers are based on my projections and standard gain points. I write a blurb on each tier below the rankings. Here we go!

Third Base Rankings for 2019

Pos RankPlayerTeamPositionsTier
1Jose RamirezCLE2B/3B1
2Nolan ArenadoCOL3B1
3Alex BregmanHOUSS/3B1
4Javier BaezCHC2B/SS/3B1
5Anthony RendonWAS3B2
6Kris BryantCHC3B2
7Eugenio SuarezCIN3B2
8Vlad Guerrero Jr.TOR3B2
9Travis ShawMIL2B/3B2
10Miguel AndujarNYY3B3
11Justin TurnerLAD3B3
12Matt ChapmanOAK3B3
13Matt CarpenterSTL1B/2B/3B3
14Max MuncyLAD1B/2B/3B3
15Josh DonaldsonATL3B4
16Wil MyersSD3B/OF4
17Mike MoustakasFA3B4
18Rafael DeversBOS3B4
19Adam FrazierPIT2B/3B4
20Jurickson ProfarOAK1B/2B/SS/3B4
21Eduardo EscobarARISS/3B4
22Yuli GurrielHOU1B/2B/3B4
23Evan LongoriaSF3B4
24Nick SenzelCIN3B5
25Kyle SeagerSEA3B5
26Carlos SantanaCLE1B/3B5
27Jed LowrieNYM2B/3B5
28Asdrubal CabreraTEX2B/SS/3B5
29Jeimer CandelarioDET3B5
30Jake LambARI3B5
31Joey WendleTB2B/3B/OF5
32Maikel FrancoPHI3B5
33Colin MoranPIT3B5
34Hernan PerezMIL2B/SS/3B/OF6
35Niko GoodrumDET1B/2B/SS/3B/OF6
36Ian HappCHC3B/OF6
37Zack CozartLAA2B/SS/3B6
38Miguel SanoMIN1B/3B6
39Hunter DozierKC1B/3B6
40Renato NunezBAL3B6
41Scott KingeryPHISS/3B6
42Jedd GyorkoSTL2B/3B6
43Aledmys DiazHOUSS/3B6
44Todd FrazierNYM3B7
45Matt DavidsonTEX1B/3B7
46Matthew DuffyTB3B7
47Tim BeckhamSEASS/3B7
48Eduardo NunezBOS2B/3B7
49Johan CamargoATLSS/3B7
50Alen HansonSF3B7
51Miguel RojasMIASS/3B7
52Yangervis SolarteFA2B/3B7
53Austin RileyATL3B7
54Isiah Kiner-FalefaTEXC/2B/3B7

TIER 1: I’ve discussed Ramirez (2B Rankings), Bregman (SS Rankings), and Baez (both 2B and SS Rankings). Nolan Arenado is the only player in tier 1 I have not discussed. Arenado is still just 27 years old and has averaged 40 home runs and 125 RBI the last four seasons while never hitting below .287 in that span. That’s incredible, bankable production, he’s great. However, his production did dip a little bit in 2018. His barrel rate was just 7.4% in 2018 behind hitters such as Kike Hernandez, Starling Marte, and Lewis Brinson. His previous elite level strikeout rate dipped three percent to 18.1%. Calling Colorado home, I still see Arenado around .290 with 35 homers and 100 RBI, but without any speed, I no longer feel comfortable grabbing him inside the top 10 (he’s 11 for me).

TIER 2: Rendon is criminally underrated every single year. His injury history past is far behind him as he’s averaged 616 plate appearances a year the last three seasons. I discussed Rendon in my HR/BRL under-performers, so you know I love him going into 2019. Bryant is due for a bounce back after suffering from injuries all year in 2018. That being said, I don’t see the MVP caliber season we saw in 2016 from Bryant. I think his numbers will be similar to Rendon’s with about 10-15 points lower in terms of batting average. Then there’s Vlad. It’s amazing that he’s in the second tier without playing a single game in the Majors. He profiles as a .300 hitter with good power. That’s why he’s here. His numbers could be as good or better than Rendon’s or similar to Andujar’s (on the low side).

TIER 3: This tier is filled with injury concerns and breakouts. Basically, I don’t anticipate that any of these players play enough games or perform at their peak level. For instance, Carpenter is 33 years old and is coming off a season where he hit 36 home runs, eight more than his previous career high. I know he’s a Statcast hero, but with a rising strikeout rate, a lower batting average and a home run total closer to 26-28, I’m not comfortable putting him inside the top 75. I’ll touch on Chapman because, at age-25, he has the power potential to hit 35+ homers. I still think he’s a year away from a monster season but still, think he’s worth a top 100 pick given the Athletics lineup and his improvements from 2018.

TIER 4: Josh Donaldson still harnesses power and solid plate discipline. That’s about where the positives end. He’s 33 years old, hasn’t had more 496 plate appearances since 2016, and his contact rates have plummeted the last three seasons. His strikeout rate is trending in the wrong direction, since 2016, and it looks like this: 17%, 22.4%, 24.7%. Donaldson is a .250 hitter with 25-30 homer power, IF (big if there) he can stay healthy for 140 games. Wil Myers is in the same boat as Donaldson because he can’t stay healthy. Myers is intriguing because he has speed. A 25-20 season is in the possible outcomes for Myers. It’s a good time to buy Rafael Devers after he flopped last year. He’s only 22 years old and hasn’t yet reached his raw power potential. 2019 may be the cheapest Devers will be for the next 10 years.

TIER 5: Nick Senzel has the talent to jump two tiers right now but he’s dealt with injuries and bouts of vertigo over the last season plus. Basically, he’s a high risk/high reward player in 2019. The Reds are giving Senzel a shot at Centerfield with Suarez and Gennett blocking him at 3B and 2B, respectively. If he struggles defensively in center during spring training, he may be in the minors to start the season. I could see anywhere from .285-22-12 to .250-10-5 given injuries, minors, etc. Seager seems like a major average drain similar to Carlos Santana. Seager’s 30 homer potential is now gone and the lineup around him in Seattle is not exciting. He’s the epitome of a boring, everyday veteran. He still has value in 15-team leagues, but I won’t be reaching for him. Jake Lamb is interesting because he’s moving to 1B with the departure of Goldy. Still, on the right side of 30, Lamb could still hit 25 homers while sitting against lefties.

TIER 6: This is truly the swiss-army knife tier. I’ve touched on most of these guys at other positions but should discuss Ian Happ. Happ was someone I was high on coming into 2018 but he completely flopped as his strikeout rate went through the roof after an elevated 31% K rate his rookie year. The positives include youth, improved O-swing, and extremely valuable contact (when he actually does make contact). The bad, while he offered at pitches outside the zone less often, his zone contact rate dropped over 7%! He does run some and could pop 25+ homers given improvements in contact rate, but still remains very risky in Chicago where he doesn’t have an avenue to play every day. The other guy that no one is talking about is Renato Nunez, Baltimore’s third baseman. He should play every day and has shown 30 homer power in the minors. There’s a lot of holes to his offensive game and will be some slumps but Baltimore is a great park to hit in for power and given the lack of depth on the Orioles, he could hit fourth or fifth in the lineup if he’s successful.

Tier 7: is cringeworthy. There’s a combination of over-the-hill veterans and a few young players without a starting job. Personally, I’m hoping Frazier doesn’t reach 300 at-bats this year with Alonso coming up and McNeil getting more playing time. Matt Davidson has power but no starting role. Austin Riley was a favorite prospect of mine last year, but he took a step back. That’s the reason the Braves gave Josh Donaldson a one-year deal. Not only that, Johan Camargo had a solid year in 2018 and can fill in at short as well. In my opinion, Riley requires more seasoning and even if Donaldson gets injured, Riley will stay in Triple-A with Camargo filling in at third base. Riley will be called up this year but it won’t be until August or later. What happened to Eduardo Nunez? I’ll give you one word, SPEED! His steals went from 40 in 2016 to 24 in 2017, to just 7 in 2018. He actually had more plate appearances in 2018 than in 2017. Sure, he can play all over the field, but 2B is likely where he sees the most playing time. His speed is on the severe decline and I can’t bump him up at all.

Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.

Cover Image by: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

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Shortstop Rankings for 2019

When I started playing fantasy baseball nearly a decade and a half ago, the shortstop position had long been a weak spot in fantasy lineups. Shortstop is the most important defensive position on the infield and typically, organizations are willing to lose a little with the bat as long as they get the elite level glove play from this spot. However, times have changed. After rummaging through the player pool, I found that there were some great options and even starter caliber players after 15 deep. While some of that may be attributed to the increasing number of teams that utilize a player’s flexibility defensively to get him in the lineup, but I also think its due to the amount of information available to the players. Hitters who were previously known as average hitters have now learned how to maximize their abilities by adjusting their approach and launch angles. OK, enough rambling Max. Let’s get to the shortstop rankings for 2019. I’ll continue with some more ramblings below as I discuss each tier. You can check out the rest of my rankings here.


Shortstop Rankings for 2019

Pos RankPlayerTeamPositionsTier
1Francisco LindorCLESS1
2Trea TurnerWASSS1
3Manny MachadoFASS1
4Trevor StoryCOLSS2
5Alex BregmanHOUSS/3B2
6Javier BaezCHC2B/SS/3B2
7Xander BogaertsBOSSS2
8Adalberto MondesiKC2B/SS3
9Jean SeguraPHISS3
10Carlos CorreaHOUSS3
11Gleyber TorresNYY2B/SS3
12Jonathan VillarBAL2B/SS3
13Jose PerazaCINSS4
14Corey SeagerLADSS4
15Elvis AndrusTEXSS4
16Amed RosarioNYMSS4
17Ketel MarteARI2B/SS4
18Jorge PolancoMINSS4
19Marcus SemienOAKSS4
20Tim AndersonCWSSS4
21Paul DeJongSTLSS5
22Garrett HampsonCOL2B/SS5
23Jurickson ProfarOAK1B/2B/SS/3B5
24Andrelton SimmonsLAASS5
25Eduardo EscobarARISS/3B5
26Chris TaylorLADSS/OF5
27Lourdes Gurriel Jr.TOR2B/SS5
28Asdrubal CabreraTEX2B/SS/3B5
29Jonathan SchoopMIN2B/SS5
30Marwin GonzalezFA1B/2B/SS/OF6
31Nick AhmedARISS6
32Willy AdamesTBSS6
33Hernan PerezMIL2B/SS/3B/OF6
34Niko GoodrumDET1B/2B/SS/3B/OF6
35Enrique HernandezLAD2B/SS/OF6
36Brandon CrawfordSFSS6
37Zack CozartLAA2B/SS/3B6
38Dansby SwansonATLSS6
39Scott KingeryPHISS/3B6
40Fernando Tatis Jr.SDSS7
41Orlando ArciaMILSS7
42Freddy GalvisTORSS7
43Didi GregoriusNYYSS7
44Tim BeckhamBALSS/3B7
45Aledmys DiazHOUSS/3B7
46Addison RussellCHCSS7
47Brendan RodgersCOL2B/SS7
48Johan CamargoATLSS/3B7
49Yairo MunozSTL2B/SS7
50Jose IglesiasFASS7
51Miguel RojasMIASS/3B7
52J.P. CrawfordSEASS7

Tier 1 is led by Francisco Lindor and I love him. All three of these guys are first-round talents and  unsurprisingly, all will be drafted in the first round. All contribute in five categories. Both Turner & Lindor are no doubt, top 10 options but I’d hold off on Machado until 11-15 overall until I see where he signs. You don’t need any more information on these guys, they are great!

Tier 2
This tier is an interesting group. The oldest player in tier two is Trevor Story at 27. Believe it or not, none of these guys had ADPs inside of 40 last year. Bregman was the highest just inside of 45 overall but if you listened to me, you would have grabbed him inside the top 30. In 2019 however, Bregman’s off-season elbow has me concerned. That’s why I’ve dropped Bregman below Story plus I believe he may have maximized his power in 2018 and he’s started running less. I love the profile and Breggy has a super-high floor with a great lineup around him. That being said, Story’s a little bit volatile but absolutely has more power/speed potential than Bregman. Baez is similar to Story with his ceiling but has even more risk. I can imagine a repeat for Story, I just can’t see it for Baez. With playing time every day, Baez could still manage 25 homers with 15+ steals but hitting .290 again? No way. Finally, Bogaerts. I’ve expressed my thoughts about Bogaerts for 2019. Essentially, I feel you can get similar value with Bogaerts compared to Bregman but about 30 picks later.

Tier 3 has a massive drop off from tier two; there’s almost a full tier between Bogaerts and Mondesi who is just inside the top 60 for me. Mondesi has been a lightning rod this off-season and I understand that he has second-round upside but also could completely flop. So, that’s why he’s in this tier. Villar bookends the tier as he is the safer version of Mondesi without quite the upside or the hype. I will not be owning Correa or Torres this year because Correa has failed to stay healthy in three of the last four years and Torres is getting too much rookie hype inflating his value. Segura is priced just about right around 65-75 overall and he gets a park and lineup upgrade with the Phillies. If Harper signs there, watch out!

Tier 4 is a group of players that I love. Many of them are going well outside the top 200 overall but could have top 150 value. Peraza is similar to Segura but with less power and without the prime spot in the lineup. I’m not touching Seager, he may not be ready for Opening Day and I think his numbers take a dip this year. I’ll jump back in if the price continues to drop in 2020. If I miss out on one of the top seven shortstops, I’m looking to get Andrus (159), Rosario (146), Polanco (234), or Marte (270). Marte is my favorite and he’s going to gain OF eligibility. Each of the top seven shortstops are going in the first three rounds and I’m likely getting one SP and two hitters, so it’s far from a guarantee that I grab one. This tier is starting to look better and better.

Tier 5 does not excite me. Profar is valuable because he’s eligible everywhere but I see a decrease in production with the move to Oakland. The rest of these players are all solid and have value in between two and three categories. They are perfect for your MI slot in 12-15 team leagues. If I had to pick two, I’d go with Hampson and DeJong. Hampson has speed for days but its anybody’s guess how much time he will get because the Rockies hate their young players. DeJong is steady and after a disastrous first half, he rounded into form and improved his plate discipline. Hampson is a wide-awake sleeper so you won’t be able to get him on the cheap.

Tier 6 has a few gems but mostly due to multi-position eligibility. Marwin likely jumps a tier if he hooks on somewhere can get regular at-bats, but until then, he’s stuck at the top of this tier. The players that excite me in this tier include Willy Adames and Scott Kingery. Hernan Perez, Niko Goodrum, and even Kike Hernandez are interesting because of their multi-position eligibility and should see playing time at least 4-5 games a week. If you’re wondering why I didn’t mention Schoop, here’s why.

Tier 7 is a deep one. Fernando Tatis Jr. has the potential to be a monster but the Padres likely won’t be competing this year unless the rumors of Harper going there are true! I know they are making moves, but let’s face it, by the All-Star break, they will likely be out of it. In that case, the Padres won’t rush the 20-year-old, so he’s at best, an August call up with the possibility of a September cup of coffee. Brendan Rodgers is the other top prospect in this group. However, based on information from prospect experts more intelligent than I am, Rodgers is not ready for the big leagues. His plate discipline is terrible and his numbers have been inflated due to the hitter-friendly parks and inferior competition. Besides, he’s completely blocked, I like Hampson over Rodgers for now and the near future. The last two I want to touch on are Orlando Arcia and Aledmys Diaz. Arcia has elite defensive skills and should play nearly every day. Hitting eighth in an NL lineup isn’t great but he has double-digit power and speed combo and he’s done it before. Diaz is an injury away from being the new Marwin Gonzalez for the Astros. He unlocked some power last year with 19 homers and could be valuable if there’s an injury on the infield.

Hit me up on Twitter @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.

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Home Run / Barrel (HR/BRL) Under-Performers from 2018

The Statcast metric Barrels is largely becoming one of the best statistics that link a player’s power. Just glancing at the leaderboard will tell you all you need to know. The Barrel statistic came out in 2015 and we now have four years worth of data. I’ve looked into a simple metric that is simply a ratio of a player’s home run per barrel percentage. The reason I am using this measure is to determine the previous year’s over and under-performers. Also, Al Melchior and Alex Chamberlain of RotGraphs determined that not only do barrels per batted ball event (BRL/BBE) and barrels per plate appearance (BRL/PA) have very good year-to-year correlations but are also the best metrics for measuring power.

Unfortunately, the juiced ball may have tainted some of the year-to-year correlations for this metric, but we can still find outliers. Let’s take a look at the league-wide averages for HR/BRL since 2015.

2015 2016 2017 2018
70.7% HR/BRL 70.5% HR/BRL 77.1% HR/BRL 66.1% HR/BRL

If you remember, the juiced ball made its appearance in the second half of 2015 but it seems like the ball was “extra” juiced in 2017. Then, last year in 2018, the ball was completely de-juiced. Without actual knowledge of how the ball will perform in 2019, I am going to assume, the ratio of barrels to home runs will be closer to 2018 than 2017. Today, I’ll look at players who underperformed their HR/BRL numbers in 2018.

Home Runs Per Barrel Under-Performers

Player2018 BRL2018 HRHR/BRL
Mookie Betts613252.5%
Nicholas Castellanos532343.4%
Matt Olson512956.9%
Trey Mancini502448.0%
Teoscar Hernandez492244.9%
Anthony Rendon472451.1%
Freddie Freeman462350.0%
Marcell Ozuna462350.0%
Jose Martinez411741.5%
Jackie Bradley Jr.351337.1%
Ramon Laureano12541.7%
2018 League Average66.10%

I’ll start with Mookie Betts because, HOLY HELL! Not only did Betts absolutely earn every single one of his home runs, he actually underperformed a bit. What’s not shown is that Betts only managed 25 barrels on his 24 homers in 2017. We know Betts had a “down year” (for him) in 2017 but bounced back in a huge way proving that he is, in fact, a power hitter in addition to everything else the 2018 AL MVP does well. I wouldn’t read too much into the below-average ratio of HR/BRL because I feel that the Green Monster may be turning a few of those barrels into doubles. Betts looks like a safe bet to reach 30 homers again in 2019 even if his barrel rate drops just a bit.

Jackie Bradley Jr., WOW! Maybe he was also a victim of the Green Moster taking away some home runs but his HR/BRL was about half of the league average. JBJ should have been right around 20 homers in 2018, rather than the pathetic 13 he posted. I should note that in 2017, he hit 17 homers on 27 barrels for 63% HR/BRL, so its possible, he could be a player who always under-performers based on this metric. I figured that I should dig a little deeper and sure enough, xStats had him at 17.5 xHR in 2018. I believe even that was low because his high drive (HD%) was an elite level 16.1%! For context, here are some other players who had 35 barrels in 2018: Cody Bellinger, Tommy Pham, and Nolan Arenado. I was already buying JBJ in 2019 and now I’m bumping him inside my top 150 with a likely 20-15 season in store. Take a look at all of JBJ’s barrels in 2018 overlaid on his home park (Fenway). I count at least 13 balls that could/should have been home runs (4 taken away thanks to the Green Monster), but that’s nine more dingers for JBJ.

Jose Martinez looks to be stuck in a tough situation in terms of playing time. I was optimistic that the Cardinals would move Martinez to an AL club where he could be an everyday DH. However, as of now, he’s a bench bat that can fill in at first base or a corner outfield spot. That’s a shame because he’s a professional hitter. For reference, his 41 barrels puts him the company of Jesus Aguilar and Travis Shaw, both of which hit over 30 homers in 2018. Keep an eye on Martinez if he’s traded, because, despite a low fly ball rate, he could still reach 25 home runs while hitting near .300 over the course of a full season.

Marcell Ozuna is an interesting case. After an absolute monster 2017 that included 37 homers and 124 RBI, Ozuna let owners down with only 23 home runs last year. Ozuna dealt with a shoulder issue in which caused offseason surgery, it’s probable that affected his production. When I check his batted ball profile, I don’t see a dip in his metrics. In fact, in 2017, Ozuna had 44 barrels on the aforementioned 37 homers, two fewer than in 2018. Keep an eye on how his shoulder progresses but if healthy, Ozuna is in line for around 30 home runs with a boatload of RBI (welcome Goldy).

Teoscar Hernandez shows up near the top of the Statcast leaderboards but his production seems to be lacking. Unfortunately for Hernandez, his contact rates are extremely low and only got worse as the season wore on. We are talking Joey Gallo-type contact rates here folks. Despite the poor contact rate, Hernandez still managed 22 home runs on an incredible 49 barrels. Given a full slate of plate appearances, Teoscar could reach 35 home runs in 2019. However, his inconsistent production and poor contact rates could limit his playing time going forward. A classic risk-reward play for 2019.

In case I needed another reason to push for Anthony Rendon as the 2019 NL MVP, here it is. It may seem like Rendon is a mid-20s homer hitter based on his last two seasons (25 HR in 2017, 24 HR in 2018), but there’s another level to his power. Rendon increased his barrel total by a whopping 19 in 2018 but was left with one fewer home run. I understand that juiced balls were a factor but Rendon should reach the 30 home run plateau in 2019 given the similar quality of contact. If you’re concerned about injuries, don’t be. Rendon has averaged 616 plate appearances the last three seasons. Given Rendon’s elite contact and the expectations I have for increased power, Rendon should provide second round value in the fourth round of fantasy drafts.

If you want to find a sleeper that could provide Top 50 overall value, Ramon Laureano is your guy. He’s been shooting up draft boards in NFBC and has crept just inside the top 200 overall, but still lacks popularity based on FantasyPors Consensus ADP going around pick 240. Laureano provided a small sample of just 176 plate appearances in 2018 but impressed with barreling up 12 balls and stealing seven bases. Speed was Laureano’s best-known attribute and he displayed 43 steals in the Minors in 2016. The power was expected to be around average but he popped a career-high 19 home runs across Triple-A and the Majors in 2018. Unfortunately, he swings and misses a bit too much but has a realistic shot at going 20-20 with 25-25 upside as soon as 2019.

Matt Olson showcased his immense power during his 59 game sample in 2017 smashing 24 homers! It’s too bad Olson didn’t play the whole season with the big club during the 2017 season with the juiced balls. He could have hit 50 home runs. He ended 2018 with “just” 29 home runs which disappointed owners who expected 35-40 across a full season. He wasn’t all that unlucky in 2018 but I bring him up because he only had 21 barrels on his 24 home runs in 2017. That’s a quite a contrast. Especially after I dug in and saw that his hard contact rates improved as did his contact rates and chase rate. I really think Olson is in for a career year at age 25. I fully expect 35 home runs with an improved batting average. His ADP is about 40 picks too late as he’s going just outside 100 overall.

I’ve lumped Freddie Freeman and Nicholas Castellanos together because both are very consistent in their hard contact and barrel rates from year to year. Both, however, saw their power production decrease in 2018. Juiced balls? Unlucky? Well, I think it’s a little of both. Freeman and Casteallos seem to underperform in terms of power every year. Freeman matched his 46 barrels from 2017 and Castellanos managed an increase of two barrels in 2018 from the previous year. Both saw a decrease in home runs, however so while I expect both get back to 25+ homers in 2019, I’d cap them both at around 30. You’re getting solid batting average and run production from both players so I like them but I’m not predicting massive power bumps for both players.

Last but not least, Trey “Boom Boom” Mancini. At first glance this offseason, I didn’t think Mancini had much power upside other than what he’s shown us the last two seasons. Mancini now has two straight seasons on 24 home runs but he actually bumped his barrel total to 50 in 2018, nine more than in 2017. Mancini is a guy who hits too many ground balls but really smokes the ball when he gets it in the air. Could he have a Christian Yelich type season? LOL, no, he cannot. To me, he feels like Castellanos but with less batting average upside. Mancini could blast 30 home runs in 2019 but he could also be a player that feels the de-juiced balls more than others.

You can follow me on Twitter @FreezeStats

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Second Baseman Rankings for 2019

Let’s dig into one of the deeper positions in fantasy baseball for 2019. Yes, believe it or not, second base is deep this year. It’s not quite as deep as shortstop but the additions of Travis Shaw, Max Muncy, Yuli Gurriel, and Zack Cozart have certainly helped make this one of the deepest classes in recent history. It doesn’t hurt that Jose Ramirez retains 2B eligibility for at least one more year. My ranks are loosely based off my projections, but not completely. I also am using standard 5×5 roto scoring for my rankings as well. I’ll breakdown the tiers below and highlight a few interesting players for 2019. So, here we go!

Second Base Ranking 2019

Pos RankPlayerTeamPositions
1Jose RamirezCLE2B/3B
2Jose AltuveHOU2B
3Javier BaezCHC2B/SS/3B
4Whit MerrifieldKAN2B/OF
5Daniel MurphyCOL1B/2B
6Robinson CanoNYM1B/2B
7Travis ShawMIL2B/3B
8Adalberto MondesiKC2B/SS
9Matt CarpenterSTL1B/2B/3B
10Max MuncyLAD1B/2B/3B
11Gleyber TorresNYY2B/SS
12Ozzie AlbiesATL2B
13Scooter GennettCIN2B
14Rougned OdorTEX2B
15Jonathan VillarBAL2B/SS
16Brian DozierWAS2B
17Ketel MarteARI2B/SS
18DJ LeMahieuNYY2B
19Cesar HernandezPHI2B
20Adam FrazierPIT2B/3B
21Jurickson ProfarOAK1B/2B/3B
22Yuli GurrielHOU1B/2B/3B
23Lourdes Gurriel Jr.TOR2B/SS
24Jed LowrieNYM2B/3B
25Yoan MoncadaCWS2B
26Asdrubal CabreraTEX2B/SS/3B
27Jonathan SchoopMIN2B/SS
28Starlin CastroMIA2B
29Marwin GonzalezFA1B/2B/SS/OF
30Ian KinslerSD2B
31Joey WendleTB2B/3B/OF
32Garrett HampsonCOL2B/SS
33Jason KipnisCLE2B/OF
34Luis UriasSD2B
35Keston HiuraMIL2B
36Joe PanikSF2B
37Niko GoodrumDET1B/2B/SS/3B/OF
38Enrique HernandezLAD2B/SS/OF
39Zack CozartLAA2B/SS/3B
40Jeff McNeilNYM2B
41Kolten WongSTL2B
42Devon TravisTOR2B
43David FletcherLAA2B
44Ben ZobristCHC2B/OF
45Dustin PedroiaBOS2B
46Josh HarrisonFA2B
47Eduardo NunezBOS2B/3B
48Bo BichetteTOR2B
49Hernan PerezMIL2B/SS/3B/OF
50Jedd GyorkoSTL2B/3B

Tier one starts with Jose Ramirez and goes to Whit Merrifield. It consists of the only player to hit 35+ homers and steal 30+ bases in 2018. A poor second half where Ramirez hit just .218 has some experts left with a sour taste in their mouths. Despite the poor average, Ramirez still hit 10 HR and stole 14 bases in just 63 second-half games. For those wondering at home, that’s a 26 HR-36 SB pace over 162 games. The low average was partially due to some poor contact but also an unlucky .208 BABIP. Ramirez will either hit .270 with 30 homers and 30 steals or revert back to a line drive machine and hit .300 with 22-25 homers with 30 steals, both sound great to me! Yes, I like a bounce-back for Altuve, but more of an 18 HR – 22 SB type season with a .300+ average. Merrifield belongs in this tier. He hits for average, lead the league in steals last year and is not completely devoid of power.

Robinson Cano and Daniel Murphy are old and underrated. Hitting .300 has become a rare feat, just 16 qualified hitters reached that mark in 2018. Both Cano and Murphy should end up right around .300 with Murphy getting the edge thanks to Coors Field. Adalberto Mondesi is in this tier, but he already gets so much pub. I have him around 60 overall because he could go 20-45 but also go 10-20 with a .220 average and back in the minors #RISK. I love Travis Shaw and adding 2B is great for flexibility. I wrote about Shaw earlier this offseason and see him as a potential value pick coming into 2019. Give it a look.

The third tier goes from Matt Carpenter to Brian Dozier and is actually pretty exciting. I’m a little lower on Matt Carpenter than most because he had a career year at age 32 and has dealt with back issues in the past. Carpenter’s metrics are off the charts, but then again so are Max Muncy’s. Muncy is five years younger and not getting the same love. My projections have Muncy outpacing Carpenter but Muncy’s playing time is not guaranteed. He’ll get 450+ plate appearances, but needs close to 600 to surpass Carpenter, hence the rank. Gleyber Torres and Ozzie Albies seem to be overrated this year thanks to outpacing their projections in 2018. I was all over Albies last year (here) and (here), so I was able to benefit, but he will regress in the power department in 2019. Once his value drops, I’ll be back in.

In the fourth tier, which goes from Ketel Marte to Starlin Castro, there is some solid value. The ADPs in this group range from the low-100s to around 250 overall. The players I love from this tier are Ketel Marte, Cesar Hernandez, Adam Frazier, Jed Lowrie, and Asdrubal Cabrera. If I’m playing in a 15-team league or deeper, I might wait to grab one of these guys as my starting second baseman and get depth elsewhere. In shallower formats, these guys are great middle infielders, especially with some of the multi-position eligibility. Marte is going to earn OF eligibility early in the season as the Diamondbacks will try him out in center field. 

Tier 5 goes from Marwin Gonzalez to Keston Huria. There are a few old veterans in this tier who can still be fantasy relevant. That’s why they are in this tier. I’m not interested in many players beyond this tier. You’ll also notice a bunch of young guys/prospects in this group. Keston Huria might be my favorite of this group longterm because I think he has 20-25 HR power with 15 steal speed and high-end batting average. For this year, I think he gets the call around June 1st, which limits his value. Garrett Hampson is now partially blocked by Daniel Murphy who will likely slide over to second base against righties to get Ryan McMahon playing time at first base, limiting his upside. However, an early-season injury ( I hate projecting injuries) could provide massive value for Hampson. Keep an eye on him, he’s got 10+ HR power with 30 steal speed given the opportunity.

I’ve made the last tier extra long and will make this quick because you’re either bored, left the site already, or don’t play in a 20-team AL/NL Only League. Bo Bichette is awesome, I love him, but the Blue Jays have no reason to call him up. He might just be a September call-up, but keep him on your watch list if the Blue Jays change their mind. Niko Goodrum has an interesting power/speed combination and is eligible at a million positions, so I like him as an injury and deep-league fill-in. RIP Dustin Pedroia, it’s been a hell of a run. Even if he’s relatively healthy, don’t expect any power or speed. The next time we talk about Pedroia will involve whether or not he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

Peace out Fam! Do people still say peace out?

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