2019 At First Glance – Hitters to Target

If you haven’t been paying attention to the #2EarlyMocks run by Justin Mason, check out the updated spreadsheet by @Smada_bb with the results and average draft position (ADP). While opinions and influences will change these numbers come spring, it’s a solid base to start with. I’ll look at a few hitters that I’m favoring based on the early ADPs for 2019. I’ll mention my new statistic that looks at power (40-40-25), that’s 40% fly ball rate, 40% hard contact, and 25% pulled fly ball rate. I’m still working on refining it, but that’s the baseline for now.

Michael Conforto (NYM – OF) ADP 98
Conforto missed the end of the 2017 season with a devastating shoulder injury. Following offseason surgery, he was scheduled to miss at least the first month of the season. Instead, he came back just three games into the season and managed to play 151 games. His .243 average leaves a sour taste in some people’s mouth but the 27 homers look pretty sexy to me. Consider for a moment that Conforto came back at least three weeks too early from his offseason surgery and struggled to regain his power. That’s completely understandable given the circumstances. Looking at Conforto’s batted ball profile, we can see when and where things started to change. From April 5th through May 26th, Conforto’s hard contact was just 26.6%. From May 27th through the end of the season, his hard contact jumped to 39.4%. His infield fly rate was basically cut in half showing me that his shoulder was finally healthy as he was able to square balls up with regularity.

Conforto is a patient hitter who will take walks but also swing and miss some. I don’t expect a .300 average, but the quality of his contact should keep his average around .275 or .280. Conforto will turn just 26 right before the start of the 2019 season and I’m predicting a huge breakout for the Mets outfielder. I believe a 35 homer, 100 RBI season is well within reach. In OBP formats, he’s a top 50 pick thanks to his stellar 13% walk rate. Think Eugenio Suarez from 2018. Suarez’s numbers from 2018 is a very realistic line for Conforto when the 2019 season concludes. If Conforto’s ADP of 98 holds close to what the #2EarlyMocks are telling us, he should provide nice value on draft day.

Travis Shaw (MIL – 3B) ADP 106
Shaw just completed his second straight 30-homer season and he feels so under-the-radar to me. Shaw was taken just inside the top 100 last year and it feels like he’s going to be just outside the top 100 (106 currently) in 2019 thanks to a .240 batting average. Yes, that was a drag for owners this year but what was the culprit? Let’s see, he hit fewer line drives, fewer ground balls, and more fly balls. His contact rates were good, in fact, he cut down his swinging strike rate and increased his overall contact. Do you realize he had a 13.6% walk rate and an 18.6% strikeout rate in 2018? Those are fantastic! So, why did his BABIP drop from .312 in 2017 to an ugly .240 in 2018?

xStats does a very good job of categorizing batted ball types into six buckets and is more precise than FanGraphs’ three batted ball types. xStats shows that Shaw was hitting far too many popups, 24% compared to the league average of 18%. Clearly, that’s going to decrease a player’s batting average and BABIP. However, he was hitting a ton high drives which are where the homers come from but not enough low line drives which help with batting average. This explains some drop-off in batting average and BABIP, but not all of it. So maybe we can expect Shaw to have a BABIP closer to his career rate of .286. That should help Shaw raise his average at least 30 points next year to around the .270-range. Unfortunately, his stolen base total went from 10 down to just three, so we can’t count on more than a handful there. With Cain and Yelich living on-base in front of Shaw, I’d expect him to drive in another 100 runs as he did in 2017. Oh, and by the way, he gains 2B eligibility in 2019. BONUS

Aaron Hicks (NYY – OF) ADP 119
Here were the players with a higher walk rate than Aaron Hicks in 2018: Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Joey Votto, and Carlos Santana. That’s it! Of that group, only Votto and Santana had a lower strikeout rate than Hicks’ 19.1%. He’s an on-base machine. Hicks is also one of 15 players to hit at least 25 home runs and steal at least 10 bases in 2018. It’s always been a matter of health and playing time for HIcks. With Brett Gardner’s declining athleticism due to his age, Hicks should see the majority of the work out in centerfield for the Yankees. He’s also a great candidate to hit in one of the top two spots in one of the Major Leagues most potent lineups.

What do you know, another hitter with a low BABIP following the 2018 season, catch the trend? A .264 BABIP led to a sub-.250 average for Hicks who doesn’t profile as a guy who should have such a below-average BABIP. His fly ball rate is just below 40% and possesses above-average speed. I wouldn’t put Hicks’ BABIP over .300 but somewhere around .280-.285 sounds about right. An average near .260-.265 won’t hurt you and with Hicks being a switch hitter, the majority of his plate appearances come from the left side, and that’s as good as gold for hitters at Yankee Stadium. Hicks might be a late bloomer but his barrel% has gone up each of the last two years. He’s done that while improving his plate discipline. With an O-Swing of 20.9% in 2018, Hicks ranked 7th in MLB one spot ahead of Matt Carpenter.

Can Hicks give us a 30-10 season in 2019? Well, we will have to wait and find out, but at pick near 120 overall, there’s very little risk given his numbers, park, and lineup.

A.J. Pollock (ARI – OF) ADP 75
I know, I know, another often injured outfielder. It’s difficult to quit a guy who is capable of hitting 25 to 30 homers and stealing 25 bases. Pollock is going to be 31 next year and he has played more than 140 games in a season just once in his career. That was back in that magical 2015 season where he hit .315 with 20 homers and 39 steals. MMMMM Sexy. Even with his age advancing, Pollock has still shown plenty of speed on the basepaths with 33 steals in his last 225 games between 2017 and 2018. What has impressed me, even more, is his improvement in the power department.

Pollock set a career-high HR/FB rate at 17.1% in 2018 and backed it up with a pretty remarkable 44.5% hard contact rate! Pollock is also crushing fly balls to the tune of a 50% hard contact rate and while he just falls short of my 40-40-25 mark discussed above (Pollock is at 38% FB – 44.5% Hard contact – 23% Pulled-FB), he’s damn close, which completely justifies his improved HR/FB rate. There is a downside, there always is, but in this case, it’s not a killer. He has been more aggressive swinging at more pitches outside the zone BUT still maintained an elite level 90.5% zone contact rate. Pollock might start to show his age in the speed department but a 6.7 SPD Score on FanGraphs has me cautiously optimistic that he could swipe 20 bags in a full season.

Pollock has changed his approach and might not see the .300 batting average he once peaked at but Pollock looks a lot like Hicks with a little less power and a little more speed. The injury history of both clearly are major issues so I would not pair them together, but grab one, hope for a healthy season, and reap the benefits.

Jonathan Villar (BAL – 2B, SS) ADP 127
I suspect Villar’s ADP will rise as the calendar turns over to 2019. The Adalberto Mondesi hype is out of control and I (among other fan-alyts) have been comparing Mondesi to Villar. Mondesi had a pretty remarkable run in the second half of 2018, there’s no doubt. The difference is, Villar has actually done it for an entire season back in 2016 and in the second half of 2018. Why is Mondesi going more than 50 picks ahead of Villar then? Both are on bad teams, so being conservative on the basepaths is less likely. Villar hits in a better park, so what gives? Fantasy baseball is ageist. Oh, except Villar is only 27? The Mondesi backers don’t really have a leg to stand on. I would only favor Mondesi by that significant margin in keeper and dynasty formats, but not in redrafts.

Enough about Mondesi, let’s do a quick dive into Villar. Who is the real Villar? The 2016 and 2nd half of 2018 guy or the 2017 and 1st half of 2018? Well, for S&G, let’s look at Villar’s average season over that span:

.265/.335/.410 11 HR, 40 SB, 65 R, 50 RBI

When you steal over 60 bags in a year, it will boost your average SB total. I wouldn’t be so quick to project 40 SBs from Villar in 2019 but he’s also slated to leadoff for the sad Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles will once again be one of the worst teams in baseball and have no reason to be conservative. In addition, those averages above come out to less than 500 plate appearances per season (485 PA/Season). I’m taking the over in 2019 for Villar in terms of plate appearances.

I don’t love Villar’s approach and I don’t think he’s a great ball player, but he will compile stats given the opportunity. Camden Yards is hitter friendly and I believe Villar has a floor of 10 HR and 25 SB. My projection for Villar will likely be closer to 15-35. So while owners are spending a 6th round pick in Mondesi, I’m waiting until the 10th or 11th round to grab Villar.

Follow me on Twitter @FeeezeStats


Fantasy Baseball 2018 Recap – Players I Missed on

This is the part two of my 2018 fantasy baseball recap. In Part 1 I gloated about the picks I got right and now I can reflect on where I went wrong. I’ll go back to my 2018 rankings and look at players I completely missed on. I compare my preseason rank to the NFCB and Yahoo ADPs and finally to the ESPN and Razzball Player Rater final rankings as well. I do my best to explain my thought process in regards to the rankings I had but also discuss lessons learned. This process should help identify problem areas and ways to improve my projections. Oh, and I fixed this table so it’s easier to sort each column. I hope it’s a little more clear, the last table went sideways on me.

NameYahoo ADPNFBC ADPMy RankRazzball PRESPN PR
Xander Bogaerts68771374464
Didi Gregorious1091182004279
Starling Marte4147582928
Matt Carpenter1141811893276
Javier Baez117103212717
Cole Hamels167242280180159
Tommy Pham7356424974
Adrian Beltre10315364280265
Luis Castillo12210190204323
Chris Taylor1249383138164
Ian Happ148116107340350+
Chase Anderson192172136209280
Bradley Zimmer2511881769461033
Tanner Roark262239207278239
Delino DeShields299167205517455
Tim Beckham319255124611604
Luiz Gohara332300181594800
Orlando Arcia358178199738670

Luis Castillo (CIN – SP)
It was clear that I loved Castillo going into 2017 and I never really backed off. I held him all season in my home league and in my 20-team dynasty. I know, no one cares about my teams, but I did benefit in the second half where Castillo posted a 2.44 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and just over a strikeout per inning. The underlying numbers are there yet again and he’s going into his third MLB season. I’ll be back in if there is a discount at all. The long and short of it is, I missed on this one because his first half was so so bad. You either jumped ship or played catch-up all season. Overall I think my preseason analysis of Castillo was correct but trusting young pitchers is a fool’s errand.

Javier Baez (CHC – 2B/SS)
My other hometown bust pick was Baez. Bryant turned out to be correct but this one blew up in my face. Having watched Baez as often as I have over the last several seasons, it’s easy to see the immense talent he possesses but also the holes in his offensive game. His aggressiveness and swing-and-misses outside the zone pushed me away. I couldn’t help but think that the depth of scouting could exploit the holes in Baez’ profile, but alas, Baez broke the F*ck out! As an analyst, I’ll learn from my mistakes and try to stop just avoiding free-swingers, especially ones with the power/speed combo.

Matt Carpenter (STL – 1B, 2B, 3B)
This is where personal bias comes in. No, it’s not that he’s on the Cardinals. I was actually the highest on Carp going into 2017 because he had changed his profile to become a masher. A ton pulled fly balls and a ton of hard contact. I was expecting 30+ homers from Carp in 2017 but a nagging back issue cut into his playing time and power. At his age, I figured this would be a chronic issue and he wouldn’t hit 20 homers this year.  Basically, I was burned by him in the past and didn’t want the risk coming into 2018. Whoops, I should have stuck to my guns from the previous year. Oh well, this is another lesson. I liked him for a reason, I just need to remove the scabs, forgive and forget.

Gerrit Cole (HOU – SP)
The move from a pitcher-friendly NL Park to the AL was enough for me to dock Cole a few spots. On top that, his swinging strike rates have been below 10% the past two years. Then Cole went ahead and jumped to a 14% SwStr% in 2018. That was thanks to eliminating his sinker and increasing his slider and fastball. Cole’s sinker got almost no swings and misses and his improved fastball had a 14% SwStr rate. Cole was a top prospect who never lived up to his pedigree until 2018. While it would have been difficult to predict a K/9 jump of nearly 4.0/9 in the preseason, my lesson learned here is don’t give up on talent. Cole’s fastball velocity never dipped, maybe I should look at spin rates going forward?

Starling Marte (PIT – OF)
Coming off his PED suspension, Marte showed almost no power in half a season in 2017. I figured his 19 home run season back in 2015 was a power fluke and would remain an outlier. I projected him for a batting average regression to .275 (hey nailed that one) but only nine homers and 30 steals. That’s still productive but not top 40 where he was going. Alas, Marte muscled up to a career-high 20 homers and played the second most games of his career. If Marte is top 40 again, I’ll probably fade him going into his age-30 season. Lessons learned here: not much, Marte rarely plays a full season and his counting stats should suffer.

Didi Gregorius (NYY – SS)
looking at Didi’s profile in the offseason last year almost made me sick. His hard contact was in the vicinity of a slap hitter and his average home run distance was lower than anyone with at least 15 homers (he had 25). Yes, being left-handed in Yankee Stadium can inflate those numbers a bit. However, Didi proved me wrong as he nearly doubled his walk rate, added some speed, and most importantly increased his hard contact from 23% to 36%! His numbers this year actually justified a near 15% HR/FB rate. I trust him more going into 2019 but feel like his 2017 was largely luck driven.

Xander Bogaerts (BOS – SS)
Maybe it’s the opposite of East Coast Bias, maybe it’s East Coast Envy. Either way, I was down on another AL East Shortstop. Bogaerts was another player with a weak looking batted ball profile in 2017. He only hit 10 homers in 2017 backed by a 31% hard contact and a 30% fly ball rate. Those were my concerns coming into 2018 where a .280-12-12 shortstop could be had on waivers. Well, looks like X gave it to me as he increased his FB% and hard contact blasting 23 bombs while missing about 25 games. I like the adjustments and will be looking to add X in 2019. I learned to not give up on young talent

Luiz Gohara (ATL – SP)
Big Luiz is one of about 50 talented pitchers in the Braves system and was given a shot to succeed early in the season to which he flopped. The Braves realized they could be contenders this year and quickly turned elsewhere to the likes of Mike Soroka and Max Fried. Both performed much better and Gohara was left behind. I’ll admit, I was a little too aggressive on Gohara coming into 2018 with a limited sample. My approach to 2019 may be ease off the gas with young pitchers who have less than half of a season if MLB experience.

Chad Kuhl (PIT – SP)
Not a whole to say here. Kuhl missed more than half the season, so there was no way to be would provide any value. Not Kuhl Bro! Kuhl has a very good slider in 2017 but struggled with location. His slider and curve were also good early in 2018 and he even cut his BB% and showed slight improvements in the K%. However, home runs did him in. I don’t think I saw enough to be fully back in on Kuhl for 2019 but in NL-Only and deep leagues, he’s a late round flier.

Chase Anderson (MIL – SP)
I believed in the changes and improvements made in 2017 from Chase Anderson. His increased velocity was one of the main reasons for his success. He also limited walks and home runs. Well, it all fell apart this year. His velocity went down, zone% down (therefore BB% up), strikeouts were down, and the homers came back. Chase was actually a but lucky with an 81% LOB%. That made his 3.93 ERA and 1.19 WHIP look good. He wasn’t good though. I’m out in Anderson for 2019. He might be overrated if people average his surface numbers from the last two years.

Chris Taylor (LAD – SS, OF)
An out-of-nowhere beast from 2017 that I believed in thanks to an approach change which created power. Plus the guy had speed! Potential 20-20 hitters drafted outside of the top 50 are my kryptonite.  Sometimes late bloomers maintain consistent success and sometimes they fade. For every Whit Merrifield, there’s a Chris Taylor. It’s funny because the underlying statistics look great. His hard contact, fly ball, and line drive rates all went up and his SPD score per FanGraphs is right in line with 2017. His issue starts and ends with contact. His contact rate inside the zone dropped 7.5% in 2018 which ranks 8th from the bottom, one spot ahead of Chris Davis. So, part of my skills analysis was correct but I didn’t account for a significant drop in contact rate. I still won;t shy away from late bloomers, but I could be a bit more cautious.

Follow me on Twitter @FreezeStats


Fantasy Baseball 2018 is in the Books – Players I Nailed (Sort of)

I’ve highlighted a lot of players prior to the 2018 regular season. I’ve written sleeper posts, busts posts, player profiles and posted my rankings and projections. If you think I’m an arrogant prick for writing about players I was right about, I’ve got to solid reasons for it. #1, as a fantasy analyst, it’s always good to go back to the preseason and check in with where you ranked players and why for both right and wrong, wayyyy wrong (Javier Baez).  #2, I will be posting an article highlighting players I was wrong about following this one. The second article is more important because it will help me learn how and why I missed on them. This is always a great idea for all you fantasy players out there as well. Go back to your draft and do a recap on which players are still on your team and which ones are long gone. Figure out what happened.  Alright homies, let’s dive into this.

Understanding the table: Columns 2 & 3 are preseason ADPs, 4th column is my preseason rank, columns 5 & 6 are 2018 final rank

Players I Hit On    
NameYahoo ADPNFBC ADPMy RankPlayer RaterPlayer Rater
Francisco Lindor202112512
Jose Ramirez26201947
Alex Bregman5432281626
Anthony Rendon5355343855
Lorenzo Cain9277646036
Trevor Story10412278611
David Price107105848771
Joey Gallo1301097372165
J.T. Realmuto13511511052142
Eugenio Suarez2301831503461
Nick Castellanos12791874763
Eddie Rosario1521231115472
Charlie Morton1891681227154
Jameson Taillon15017714410070
Blake Snell171195160178
Mike Clevinger1971941757645
Ronald Acuna1951021275157
Ozzie Albies196120773963
Tim Anderson2241941978095
Jack Flaherty244346240142101
Patrick Corbin3162311526228
Shin-Soo Choo362262164127147
Mitch Haniger3752181903347
Cesar Hernandez37126119297113
Marcus Semien384226131106127
Players I wasYahooNFBCMyRazzballESPN
down onADPADPRankP RaterP Rater
Clayton Kershaw451611366
Kris Bryant121523301298
Corey Seager3040379481041
Brian Dozier383644146230
Buster Posey5659109253394
Robinson Cano5881103383332
Byron Buxton60487110121217
Dallas Keuchel6773102200181
Chris Archer655668323379
Miguel Cabrera6793100861787
Rafael Devers84112121219267
Kyle Seager115137187241350
Lance McCullers89135159173172
Gio Gonzalez146159215315366
Greg Bird152175185780946
Blake Parker187239260359

If you’re interested, I share the link to my preseason projections via google sheets.

Francisco Lindor (CLE – SS)
Lindor finished the season with a 5×5 line of .277/129/38/92/25! Um, yes, please!
That’s incredible and finished inside the top 10 overall any way you slice it. His teammate Jose Ramirez who I was also very high on largely overshadowed Lindor’s 2018 season but now that 2018 has concluded, they both finished with just about the same value. I think it’s safe to say that Lindor is an easy 30-20 performer with batting average upside. I’d even say there’s an argument to take Lindor #2 overall. Assuming Betts has some BABIP regression, what’s the difference between the two?

Alex Bregman (HOU – SS/3B)  
I received some pushback when I ranked Bregman inside the top 30 overall in my preseason ranks. He didn’t exactly come out like gangbusters but since May 18th, here’s the kid’s line .296/86/28/87/7. So he didn’t run as much but in those 4.5 months, he outperformed a full season of Anthony Rizzo. Bregman’s approach and profile are about as pretty as it gets. Think Jose Ramirez with less speed. Bregman is a top 15 pick next year, but like I said in my sleeper article, 2018 is the last time you’ll get a discount.

Lorenzo Cain (MIL – OF)  
Cain has been undervalued in fantasy circles since I can remember. No one is all that interested in 10-15 homers and 25 steals. However, when it comes with a .300+ average and boat-load of runs, I’m all in. Cain will be 32 years old in 2019 but his skills are as good as ever. I think his power numbers increase next year, but more on that in the offseason. Cain is worth rostering again in 2019 despite costing you a top 50 pick (most likely).

David Price (BOS – SP)
Price started 2018 a bit slow which is understandable considering his struggles in 2017 where he actually closed the season out of the bullpen. 2018 was a prime year to grab the former-Ace coming off his poor 2017. His overall line is solid but his rank is boosted a bit by the 16 wins. I don’t believe there will be much value going into 2019 after a successful 2018, so this was there year to own him. However, if his ADP slips, I might just have a share if the price is right.

Trevor Story (COL – SS)
This was a risky ranking on my end. I knew the downside was huge with Story’s elevated strikeout rate and the fact that Brendan Rodgers was lurking in the Minors provided plenty of questions. However, the fact that Story provided elite level power with some speed while playing in Colorado justified my ranking with some room for profit. I’ll take a talented 26-year-old who had already performed at a very high level for about 2/3rds of a season as a rookie. I actually projected 33 homers but never expected 25 steals! Or did I???

JT Realmuto (MIA – C)
J.T. was the only catcher I ranked above other outlets and it panned out. What’s interesting to me is the fact that he didn’t really run and still managed a very solid ranking at the end of the season. The reason ESPN’s rated Realmuto so low is the fact that they do not account for position scarcity as Razzball does. Realmuto’s power numbers since 2015 look like this 10, 11, 17, 21. I won’t have Realmuto below the #2 catcher in 2019, the only question is if he will be #1 or not.

Nick Castellanos (DET – 3B/OF)
Despite being on one of the worst offensive clubs coming into 2018 and losing a broken Miguel Cabrera early in the season, Castellanos has managed to put together a very solid campaign. The Statcast darling was at it again hitting 182 balls over 95 mph and finishes with a 47.9% hard contact rate per FanGraphs. I have to dig into his profile to figure out how his hard contact and pull% both went up but his HR/FB went down. I can see owning Castellanos again next year because he’s going to be once again undervalued.

Eddie Rosario (MIN – OF)
Eddie “Money” Rosario really faded down the stretch. He actually finished the season with slightly less value than he had in 2017 with a few more PA. It’s funny because I don’t actually like his profile but still felt he was undervalued coming into the year. I actually wrote about him on FantasyPros early in May as a sell candidate. He then went nuts for the next two months but this is where you have to stick your guns. The poor plate discipline and moderate batted ball profile ultimately did him in.

Eugenio Suarez (CIN – 3B)
I really have not been able to find any expert who ranked Suarez higher than I did coming into 2018 and he still outperformed that rank by nearly 100 spots. Suarez’s improvements both in plate discipline and launch angle provided the reasoning behind my optimism. Sure, he faded a bit down the stretch but Suarez maintained consistent quality contact all year with an insane 48.6% hard contact rate, 24.6% line drive rate, and only a 2.8% IFFB rate. Those are prime Joey Votto type numbers. Suarez is one of the picks I’m most proud of. Will people really be asking Suarez or Bryant in 2019??? Ok, I doubt that, but it’s not all that crazy.

Ronald Acuña (ATL – OF)
I can’t take much credit here. Yahoo’s rank for the 2018 preseason top prospect was criminally low. Obviously, the NFBC ADP paints a different picture. Acuna is an absolute beast to which I did not fully expect this early on. The power is already probably a 70-grade out of 80, he’s got easy power and he’s 20 YEARS OLD! I could go on and on, but I see myself projecting Acuna for 30-35 homers and near 20 steals. This is nuts!

Ozzie Albies (ATL – 2B)
The day before Opening Day I wrote an article predicting power breakouts and Albies was on my target list thanks to an approach change increasing his launch angle. This change starting in Triple-A in 2017, but no one seemed to notice. The comparison to a 21-year-old Mookie Betts is a lofty one but he still has some work to do. I did project 20 homers as early as 2018 and thanks to his insane first month and a half, he’s reached that total and more. The steals remain an enigma to me. Again, this kid is still only 21, I think the sky’s the limit.

Patrick Corbin (ARI – SP)
Even though my overall rank did not reflect this, one of my bold predictions had Corbin inside the top 20 starting pitchers. Nailed it! Yahoo Had Corbin around 90th overall and even the NFCB had Corbin drafted around the 65th SP off the board. If Suarez was the hitter I was most proud of, Corbin was just that in terms of the pitcher’s that I projected. While I did not foresee the massive jump in strikeouts for Corbin, I did notice solid improvements to his control and most importantly, health. His slider was very good in 2017, so I anticipated increased usage, but not to the extent Corbin used his slider in 2018. Either way, Corbin could even be better in 2019.

Shin-Soo Choo (TEX – OF)
No one ever seems to be on the Choo-Choo Train (except maybe myself and @BatFlipCrazy). Criminally underrated again, Choo continues to post respectable fantasy numbers despite being left for dead on draft day. Maybe it was because of the Willie Calhoun hype or the scared on Delino DeShields (guilty) of stealing some playing time. Early in his career, Choo was a solid 20/20 threat with good batting average. While the speed is basically gone, the 20-homer pop is still there along with the ability to get on base. Choo batted in the two-hole quite a bit so his run total was fantastic. Choo just keeps chugging along.

Mitch Haniger (SEA – OF)
Haniger probably had one of the quietest top 50 fantasy seasons I’ve seen in a while. Go and ask the average fantasy player how high Haniger’s season rank was and I bet you get something around 100 overall. Haniger was finally healthy in his age-27 season and he was rock solid. His rate stats are almost right in line with his injury-shorten 2017. Haniger will net nearly 700 plate appearances this year so unfortunately, there isn’t much room for upside based on his 2018 results. That doesn’t mean he won’t carry value, but it will depend on his 2019 ADP.

Players I was down on and was right about

Clayton Kershaw (LAD – SP)
Simply put, it’s not the talent with Kershaw, it’s the health. The back scares me and it appears to be a chronic issue for Kershaw. I just can’t trust more than 150-160 innings from him going forward. Those innings will be top-5 in terms of starting pitcher ratios but for me, he’s no longer in the elite group.  I only had him below Scherzer and Kluber in my 2018 rankings, but it was late enough to where I knew I wouldn’t own him. Looking forward to 2019, he will not be in my top 5 and will probably settle in towards the back end of the top 10 for SPs.

Kris Bryant (CHC – 3B, OF)
Bryant was hurt this year. His shoulder landed him on the DL for a good portion of the season and never seemed to regain any power upon his return. I don’t know what the offseason will bring, he may even need surgery. Either way, Bryant was a different hitter in 2017 which is why I was down on him coming into the year. As a Cubs fan, I had seen the noticeable changes to his approach. Still very patient, increased contact, hitting the ball to all fields, but less power. I knew he was not the 40-homer hitter he was two years ago and without much speed, I couldn’t rank inside the top 20 overall.

Buster Posey (SF – C)
Posey’s time as an elite offensive backstop is over. I wrote a bust post on him prior to the 2018 season comparing him to Joe Mauer. Posey has simply caught way too many innings in his 20s and I did not want to be the one left holding the bag with him. His health and power will continue to be my concerns moving forward. The catcher position is so thin, I don’t know if I can rank him inside the top 5 at the position in 2019. I can tell you one thing, I won’t be drafting a catcher inside of the top 200 picks.

Dallas Keuchel ( HOU – SP)
I was down on Keuchel because of how razor-thin his margins were based on his pitching profile. There are concerns with his low strikeout rate and extreme ground ball rate. With hitters continuing to find ways to elevate the baseball, I saw regression in Keuchel’s ground ball rate which was 66.8% in 2017! Then there were concerns with his health, only averaging 156 innings the last two seasons. Alas, he stayed healthy all season and made 34 starts! Even with the longevity, his numbers still disappointed based on ADP. The ground ball rate was down to 54% and the strikeouts dipped as well.

Kyle Seager (SEA – 3B)
Seager’s profile from 2017 did not give me any optimism in terms of a bounce back for 2018. His extreme flyball rate completely damaged his batting average and Seager only maintained moderate power numbers. For me, it was one or the other. Either he maintains the power with a poor batting average or loses the power and gets back to .275. Well, he struggled in both categories with a .221 average and only 22 homers. Seager is only 30 years old but it feels like he’s going on 36. I’m glad I got off the Seager train a year early.

2018 Preseason Projections


2018 Starting Pitcher Streaming Results

Well, here we are.  The 2018 fantasy baseball season has come to an end. I’m sure we are all feeling that deep void now that we don’t have regular season baseball games every day. No?? Is it just me? Anyways, I wrote a steaming article every week (with the exception to the short 3-day week after the All-Start Break) for the entirety of the 2018 season. The threshold I used for the streamers was 25% owned and under using FantasyPros combined Yahoo/ESPN ownership rates. What that means is that the pitchers I selected were widely available in all 10 and 12 team leagues but were likely gone in 15-team and AL/NL Only leagues. However, most people play in 12-team leagues, so the 25% ownership rate makes sense for the masses.

The results of every single pitcher I choose to stream is listed and totaled. There were three pitchers that started a game and left due to injury, not performance. I still included them in the overall numbers but maybe I could have eeked out another win or two had they continued, but I digress. Either way, here is the link to the spreadsheet.

FreezeStats Starting Pitcher Streaming Results

Here are the results of all 120 pitchers I chose to stream this year.

Season Totals 665.96 3.57 1.15 615 41

Overall, not bad! The win total may be a bit low, but we are talking about pitchers who are probably either somewhat volatile or on a bad team. We all know the win is a poor statistic to analyze a pitcher’s performance, take Jacob deGrom’s 10-win season in 2018 with an ERA that finished at an insane 1.70! Yes, it’s a fantasy category, so we want the best opportunity to receive wins. However, many of those pitchers who receive run support are likely scooped up. Check out the ERA and WHIP though! I sorted all starting pitchers with a minimum of 130 innings pitched this year and the 3.57 ERA from our streamers would rank 31st overall, one spot ahead of David Price. In terms of WHIP, using the same criteria, we are tied for 29th overall with Kyle Hendricks.

I’m not a genius, but those are definitely fantasy relevant numbers, especially in a 12-team league. If we assume our “streamers” were actual starting pitchers, let’s assume our fictional SP averaged 165 innings for the season which would rank between 50-60 overall in MLB in terms of innings pitched. Again, that’s just a reasonable assumption. Based on that assumption, our “Streamer” would have averaged:

10.25 Wins, 3.57 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 152.4 Strikeouts in 165 IP

Based on the ESPN’s Player Rater, our most similar pitchers by 5×5 results are James, Paxton, Sean Manaea, Jhoulys Chacin, Jack Flaherty, Kyle Gibson, and Jose Berrios. Kind of a mixed bag but the highest ranked SP in that group is Chacin at 28 and the lowest is Kyle Gibson at 46. Even the 46th rank SP is rostered in all 10 and 12 teams leagues.  Our streamer is a bit better than that as he would fall in around the 40th SP overall. Essentially, if you steamed all of the streamers I choose this year, you would have a solid #4 starting pitcher. In other words, you should have drafted 3 SPs and streamed the rest. If you had hit on your top 3 SPs, you would have definitely benefited from this strategy.  Maybe this can be a strategy going forward?

Unfortunately, every single one of these pitchers is unlikely to be available when I suggested to stream them, so it’s not quite a slam dunk.  At least I can feel pretty good about my streaming efforts and I hope to improve on these numbers next year. If you took my advice, I hope it helped you win matchup or better! Thanks for reading.

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