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Fantasy Baseball Hitter Rankings – Late-April Update

I plan on updating my rankings once every month but decided to split up hitters and pitchers. I feel like, given the small samples and some of the crazy stat-lines for many aces, I’m going to hold off for a couple of weeks. I’m not ready to drop certain pitchers based on a couple of bad starts because there are many early-season factors to consider. My updated hitter and positional rankings are shown below. Below the table, I’ll cover a few interesting risers and fallers for each position and the reason for their changing stock. Keep in mind that the +/- shown are based on Expert Consensus, not my preseason rankings. If you’d like to compare these rankings to my preseason ranks, feel free to check them out here.

Cover biggest risers and fallers with how many spots they moved

 

Third Base

Hunter Dozier (1B/3B – KC) – Movin’ on up
Dozier was somewhat of a forgotten man on draft day but has gone off in the first month of the season. He’s hitting .304 with seven home runs and batting in the middle of a surprisingly decent Royals lineup. I’ve written about him here and here. I wouldn’t just move him up over 100 spots without some sort of improvement. I’ve explained it in the linked articles but his plate approach and discipline has improved greatly without sacrificing any contact. He’s actually improved his exit velocity and barrel rates.
Note: Check he status because he left Monday night’s game with back spasms, sigh. 
Other risers: Matt Chapman, Josh Donaldson, Yandy Diaz, Maikel Franco

Travis Shaw (3B – MIL) – Get Low
It pains me to drop one of my preseason favorites in Travis Shaw but he has been straight up bad. It’s mostly a contact issue as his strikeout rate is up almost 14% from 2018! His contact rate is down by the same amount but he’s not expanding the zone or swinging less frequently. He’s just missing balls in the zone that he should be hitting. It’s too bad because his quality of contact is just fine, in fact, it’s better than in 2018. All is not lost but if I’m the Brewers, I might sit him down for a few days to clear his head.
Other negative movers: Justin Turner, Miguel Andujar, Wilmer Flores

Shortstop

Dansby Swanson (SS – ATL) – Movin’ on up
Yes, that’s right, Swanson is a post-post-hype sleeper. Let’s just compare his 2018 to his to-date metrics in 2019 because a picture says a thousand words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow! Not much to say here. He’s already barreled eight balls after just 15 in all of 2018 and his exit velocity is up four MPH. He’s also swinging a lot less often, especially outside the zone. These are astronomical changes that should yield significantly better results in 2019 for Swanson. I’m buying in for sure as he could be solid producer of power and speed from the MI position.

Jose Peraza (2B/SS – CIN)
I was off Peraza this preseason but obviously not enough. His approach has gone to sh&t. He’s swinging at everything outside the zone and has extremely weak contact. He’s dropped to the bottom third of the batting order and could be in danger of losing playing time going forward. He’s hit just one homer and stolen two bases thus far and has yet to draw a walk in over 60 plate appearances. He’s never walked much, but this is not a good sign. He can be dropped in shallow formats.

Catcher

Wilson Contreras (C – CHC) – Movin’ on up
Contreras has seemed to put his poor 2018 behind him as he’s hitting .321 with six home runs and ranks number one for all catchers in terms of wOBA at .483. His launch angle has improved and he’s never hit the ball harder in his career. Remember, he was the number two catcher off the board in 2018 drafts and he looks 100% back here in 2019. With how shallow the position is, Contreras looks like a great investment given hos draft-day discount.
Other positive movers: Omar Narvaez, Willians Astudillo, Mitch Garver

Negative Movers: Danny Jansen, Robinson Chirinos, Francisco Mejia

First Base

Trey Mancini (1B/OF – BAL) – Movin’ on up
My man Trey “Boom Boom” Mancini is looking like he’s breaking out in his age-27 season. His strikeout rate is down, walk rate is up, and launch angle is up. His power metrics are actually right in line with 2018 but he’s hitting the ball in the air more frequently. He underperformed based on his number of barrels last year but his luck is changing this year. No, he’s not a .300 hitter but could carry a .275 average with 30 Home runs.
Other positive movers: Cody Bellinger, Joey Gallo, Pete Alonso, Dan Vogelbach

Jesus Aguilar (1B – MIL) – Get Low
Aguilar is suffering from an extremely low BABIP but it’s his lack of power that is so surprising. He has yet to homer and his playing time is at risk. I debated moving him down even more but his plate discipline and contact rates are still solid. He’s not hitting the ball quite as hard, so there is some concern here. The Brewers are competing and have other options at first base (Eric Thames and Ryan Braun), so they may not be as patient with Aguilar to figure it out. He’s still inside the top 20 1B, but he’s in danger of dropping even further.
Other negative overs: Joey Votto, Mat Olson, Eric Hosmer

Outfield

Clint Frazier (OF – NYY) – Movin’ on up
This one is obvious because everyone on the Yankees is going down with injuries. The Yankees’ preseason starting outfield is entirely on the injured list and Frazier has finally gotten his opportunity. All he’s done is hit six bombs in only 17 games. The metrics look good so far and Yankee Stadium is certainly helping out. I think we will see an elevated strikeout rate from Frazier but as long as he continues to get playing time, he’s a must own.
Other positive Movers: Christian Yelich, Domingo Santana, Kike Hernandez

Greg Allen (OF – CLE) – Get Low
I know, he was largely undrafted but looked like he could be a solid source of stolen bases given the shallow depth in the Cleveland outfield. He’s really struggled to get on base and the Indians have signed Carlos Gonzalez and Jake Bauers is also getting some time in the outfield. Allen can play some defense and really run, so he’s still going to get playing time but sparingly. He’s a drop in all formats expect AL-Only.
Negative movers: Kris Bryant, Ender Inciarte, Jackie Bradley Jr.

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


2019 Fantasy Baseball Rankings powered by FantasyPro
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Low-Ownership Hitters to Add – Ramon Laurea-(k)no(ws) Best

All right fam, this is it! In many leagues, next week is Championship week or at last the Semi-finals. It’s now or never!  This will likely be my waiver wire article for hitters this season. I will be posting another starting pitcher streamer article on Sunday, so stay tuned. Also, follow me on Twitter @FreezeStats for helpful tidbits I’ll be throwing out there the final week of the season. Last week, I highlighted some guys and some of which are still widely available like Adalberto Mondesi (available in 70% of leagues), Harrison Bader (82%), Francisco Mejia (85%), Brandon Lowe (94%), and Ryan O’Hearn whom I lead with below.


Analyzing Low-Ownership Hitters – Last 30 Days

Ryan O’Hearn (KC – 1B)
I wrote about O’Hearn last week and his ownership has only jumped 3% from 7% to 10% in the past week. All he’s done in the last 30 days is hit .291 with 8 homers and 18 RBI. The Royals have 7 games next week, @PIT and @DET, not exactly the mecca for starting pitchers.  There’s no reason O’Hearn should be sitting on waivers for teams who are competing. I believe in this run for O’Hearn for a few reasons. As a young player, I love the patience, his 14% walk rate is fantastic and he’s providing plenty of power with a .365 ISO backed up by a 49.3% hard contact rate. It makes his 27% K rate more palatable. He’s a must add in all OBP leagues and should be owned in Standard 12-teamers and deeper.

Billy McKinney (TOR – OF), 7% owned
McKinney hasn’t been as hot lately, but over the last month, he’s been a hit machine batting .333 with 4 homers and 11 RBI.  McKinney likely won’t hit for a ton of power or steal many bases but all he does is hit. He’s sporting a 90% contact rate at balls in the zone (85% league average) and has always posted high line drive rates in the Minors. McKinney should provide a solid BA with great OBP and run into a few home runs. As long as the Blue Jays keep him near the top of the lineup, he’ll provide good run totals as well.

Dansby Swanson (ATL – SS), 18% owned
Swanson is not living up to his prospect hype early in his career but he’s made some positive changes recently. He’s been more aggressive at the plate attacking mistakes early and increasing his hard contact rate. In the last 30 days, Swanson has joined my 40-40-45 club. (That’s a club I’ve made up, still working on the name). That’s a 40% fly ball rate, 40% pull rate, and a 45% hard contact rate. That’s great and he’s produced 6 of his 14 home runs on the year in the last month. He’s also chipped in with 4 steals. Anyone in need of SS or MI help should add him immediately, especially with the Braves 7-game schedule next week. The power is starting to develop and the speed is a nice bonus. Swanson could be a potential sleeper next year with 20 HR 15 SB upside.

Ramon Laureano (OAK – OF), 15% owned
This previously unknown outfielder for the Athletics has a pretty solid .304 average with five homers and four steals over the last 30 days. His 49% hard contact in that span ranks him inside the top 15 in MLB. In the Minors, Laureano’s best skill was his speed, the power was just moderate but has really improved this year. His plate discipline is actually above-average despite a high-strikeout rate. His patience should provide some walks which is likely to lead to a few steals. Laureano is a great power/speed option I could see hitting a few homers and stealing a few bases down the stretch.


Greg Allen (CLE – OF), 6% owned
This is strictly a deep league speed option. Allen has stolen seven bases in the last month, tied for fourth in baseball. Allen is a very good defensive center fielder, but because of his below-average stick, he may only play 4-5 games a week. That’s OK, just add Allen to your bench for depth and throw him in there if you have the need for speed in your weekly match-up. Remember, with expanded rosters, teams are giving more players opportunities which means more days off for all players. I think it’s goidmove to expand your bench on the offensive side.

Adam Frazier (PIT – 2B/OF), 7% owned
Frazier is a high-contact hitter and has begun showing a bit of power with 4 home runs in his last 89 plate appearances with eight HR on the season. Over the last month, Frazier has displayed fantastic ball striking with a 49% hard contact rate, same as our man Laureano above. Personally, I prefer Laureano thanks to the speed but Frazier is eligible at 2B. If you’re looking for MI help, Frazier has a nice batting average floor and is showing some serviceable pop.

Statistics Last – 14 Days

Ji-Man Choi (TB – 1B), 5% owned
Choi is another first baseman owned in far too few leagues, but all he’s done is hit .324 with 4 homers and 12 RBI in the last two weeks. Choi is currently on the strong side of the 1B platoon with ice-cold Jake Bauers flanking the short side. The Rays have a 7-game slate next week against the Rangers and the Blue Jays who both offer weak pitching staffs and should see at least four to five matchups against righties next week. I don’t love Choi’s contact rates, but he’s another guy that hits the ball hard (45%) when he does make contact. Choi is hitting .296 with a .397 wOBA against RHP, so make sure he’s in your lineup against them next week.

Kevin Kiermaier (TB – OF), 26% owned
Has everyone forgotten about the power/speed combo of Kiermaier? He hasn’t shown the speed since he’s been back off the DL but he’s hitting a blistering .452 with 3 homers and 8 RBI in the last two weeks. Forget the season stats for KK, it’s been a lost year but he’s actually healthy coming off an illness this week that has caused him to miss a couple games. But, he’s back, hitting his fourth triple in the last month. He’s being ultra-aggressive, so watch him and make sure he doesn’t start getting out of control with his strikeouts. If that happens, go ahead and drop him. I’ve already mentioned the seven-game slate next week for the Rays, so he’s a great add.

Alex Gordon (KC – OF), 4% owned
This is a blast from the past! Gordon has been nearly useless for about two seasons now. Yet, he’s hit 2 homers and has 4 steals in the last two weeks with 8 steals in the last month! He’s only hit .230 the last month, but he’s been sporting a near 47% hard contact rate this month. Is this for real? I believe that it is, kind of, at least for the rest of this season. He’s actually been a bit unlucky with a .254 BABIP despite the consistent hard contact and a 29% line drive rate. With his strikeout and walk rates looking healthy, there’s no reason he shouldn’t hit .275 the rest of the way. The Royals are obviously letting him run wild and are batting him in the #3 spot behind Merrifield and Mondesi who have been on fire. Gordon is my favorite deep-league add next week.




Robbie Grossman (MIN – OF), 1% owned
This is more of a speculative add for super-deep 15-team and AL-Only leagues. He’s hitting .359 with a 20% walk rate and only a 6% strikeout rate in the last two weeks. He’s also been playing every day, good things are coming. His 36% hard contact in that period isn’t anything special (still just above league average), but it’s an improvement from his 32% hard contact thus far in 2018. If you’re in contention, and the waiver wire looks barren AF, give Grossman a look, he could turn a nice profit down the stretch.