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.

Rankings Updated 3/13/19.

Shortstop Rankings for 2019

Pos RankPlayerTeamPositionsTier
1Trea TurnerWASSS1
2Manny MachadoSDSS/3B1
3Francisco LindorCLESS1
4Trevor StoryCOLSS2
5Alex BregmanHOUSS/3B2
6Javier BaezCHC2B/SS/3B2
7Xander BogaertsBOSSS2
8Adalberto MondesiKC2B/SS3
9Carlos CorreaHOUSS3
10Jean SeguraPHISS3
11Gleyber TorresNYY2B/SS3
12Jonathan VillarBAL2B/SS3
13Corey SeagerLADSS4
14Jose PerazaCINSS4
15Elvis AndrusTEXSS4
16Amed RosarioNYMSS4
17Jorge PolancoMINSS4
18Marcus SemienOAKSS4
19Tim AndersonCWSSS4
20Paul DeJongSTLSS4
21Ketel MarteARI2B/SS5
22Jurickson ProfarOAK1B/2B/SS/3B5
23Garrett HampsonCOL2B/SS5
24Andrelton SimmonsLAASS5
25Eduardo EscobarARISS/3B5
26Chris TaylorLADSS/OF5
27Lourdes Gurriel Jr.TOR2B/SS5
28Asdrubal CabreraTEX2B/SS/3B5
29Marwin GonzalezMIN1B/2B/SS/OF5
30Jonathan SchoopMIN2B/SS6
31Willy AdamesTBSS6
32Nick AhmedARISS6
33Hernan PerezMIL2B/SS/3B/OF6
34Niko GoodrumDET1B/2B/SS/3B/OF6
35Enrique HernandezLAD2B/SS/OF6
36Brandon CrawfordSFSS6
37Dansby SwansonATLSS6
38Scott KingeryPHISS/3B6
39Fernando Tatis Jr.SDSS6
40Zack CozartLAA2B/SS/3B7
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.


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.

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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 on 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!

Rankings Updated 3/13/19.

Second Base Ranking 2019

Pos RankPlayerTeamPositions
1Jose RamirezCLE2B/3B
2Jose AltuveHOU2B
3Javier BaezCHC2B/SS/3B
4Whit MerrifieldKAN2B/OF
5Daniel MurphyCOL1B/2B
6Adalberto MondesiKC2B/SS
7Robinson CanoNYM1B/2B
8Travis ShawMIL2B/3B
9Matt CarpenterSTL1B/2B/3B
10Max MuncyLAD1B/2B/3B
11Gleyber TorresNYY2B/SS
12Ozzie AlbiesATL2B
13Scooter GennettCIN2B
14Rougned OdorTEX2B
15Jonathan VillarBAL2B/SS
16Brian DozierWAS2B
17Jurickson ProfarOAK1B/2B/SS/3B
18Garrett HampsonCOL2B/SS
19Adam FrazierPIT2B/OF
20Cesar HernandezPHI2B
21Ketel MarteARI2B/SS
22DJ LeMahieuNYY2B
23Yuli GurrielHOU1B/2B/3B
24Lourdes Gurriel Jr.TOR2B/SS
25Yoan MoncadaCWS2B
26Jed LowrieNYM2B/3B
27Asdrubal CabreraTEX2B/SS/3B
28Marwin GonzalezMIN1B/2B/SS/OF
29Jonathan SchoopMIN2B/SS
30Starlin CastroMIA2B
31Ian KinslerSD2B
32Joey WendleTB2B/3B/OF
33Jason KipnisCLE2B/OF
34Luis UriasSD2B
35Jeff McNeilNYM2B
36Hernan PerezMIL2B/SS/3B/OF
37Joe PanikSF2B
38Niko GoodrumDET1B/2B/SS/3B/OF
39Enrique HernandezLAD2B/SS/OF
40Kolten WongSTL2B
41Zack CozartLAA2B/SS/3B
42Ben ZobristCHC2B/OF
43Devon TravisTOR2B
44Josh HarrisonDET2B
45David FletcherLAA2B
46Keston HiuraMIL2B
47Dustin PedroiaBOS2B
48Eduardo NunezBOS2B/3B
49Bo BichetteTOR2B
50Hernan PerezMIL2B/SS/3B/OF
51Jedd 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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Player Profile – Jameson Taillon 2019 Outlook

Jameson Taillon (PIT – SP) – NFBC ADP 65

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

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

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

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

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

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

via Gfycat

Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images


Player Profile – Harrison Bader 2019 Outlook

Harrison Bader (STL – OF) – NFBC ADP 169

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fantasy Baseball Rankings – Top 100 for 2019

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

Fantasy Baseball Rankings for 2019 - Top 100

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

Feel free to ask me questions on Twitter @FreezeStats

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


Fantasy Baseball – Top 25 for 2019

Top 25 for 2019 Including Projections

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

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

Image credits: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports


Luis Castillo 2019 Outlook: Are We Back In?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can follow me on Twitter @FreezeStats

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