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Fantasy Baseball – 2019 Rankings Recap: Hits and Misses

After each season comes to a close, I like to take a look back at my proverbial victory laps but also analyze where I missed on certain players and why. I use this time of reflection on my fantasy season to find flaws in my analysis to see where I can improve for next season. In some cases, there was nothing wrong with the process but rather an unexpected incident or variable that derailed a player’s season. One main variable was the ball. We were not privy to any information before the season starter that the ball would be more lively. From the limited information available, MLB does not plan on changing the properties of the ball for 2020 or at least to start the season. This means that valuing hit tool, high contact rates, and fly balls will be important yet again in 2020. It’s something I wish I had valued more in the preseason in 2019 but you’ll see below that I was able to identify players with these skills early on once data determined that the ball was extra bouncy.

I’ll have a complete assessment comparing my projections with the actual 2019 outcomes within the next couple of weeks. Of course, the juiced ball has really inflated offensive numbers while pitchers have taken it on the chin. I’m not expecting the results of the statistical analysis to be as close as they were last year, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. The list below is in no means to complete list of my hits and misses. If you’d like to check my preseason rankings, here’s the table. OK, let’s dive in!


Players I got right for 2020

Ketel Marte (2B, SS, OF)
I was extremely high on Ketel Marte coming into the season. I originally had him ranked around 150 overall until the D-Backs decided to sign veteran snoozer, Adam Jones to play Centerfield. I have nothing against Jones, he was a very good player for a long time and by all accounts a great guy. Marte was slated to play a lot of CF along with 2B and SS. That’s nice position flexibility which added to his overall value, especially in deeper formats. Assuming Jones would cut into Marte’s playing time a little bit, I knocked 10-15 games +/- off his projection which dropped him to 175 overall. Yahoo! Must have had a personal vendetta against Marte because they ranked him 274 overall!

When Marte was traded to Arizona in 2017, I was intrigued. His speed combined with high contact skills and developing power was too much to ignore. Going into his age-24 season and I noticed huge gains in hard contact, barrel rate, and extra-base hits in 2018. There was no reason to expect him to decline entering his age-25 season. High batting average and speed potential with moderate power were enough to skyrocket Marte up my ranks. I had him in over 50% of my leagues. I touted him all over, like here in the preseason, and here through two months of 2019, and here on Twitter. I love me some Marte! I’m most proud of this call if you can’t tell.

Xander Bogaerts (SS – BOS)
Don’t worry, the rest of my blurbs won’t be as in-depth as my Marte blurb. After a down year in 2018 due to a hand/wrist injury, Bogaerts was coming at a discount in 2019. Given his age and past performance, I compared Bogaerts to Bregman without the fanfare. Go ahead and take a look at both player’s final numbers. Not bad, right? I ranked Bogaerts 26th overall, which was probably higher than anyone (I think). Most big-box sites had him around 45 overall and he slipped to pick 50 in many drafts. On the Razzball Player Rater, he’s ranked 15th overall, so he was worth the lofty rank. I ended up with Bogaerts on many teams because I knew I could wait until the fourth round in most drafts.

Anthony Rendon (3B – WSH) and Eugenio Suarez (3B – CIN)
I’m pairing Rendon and Suarez together because they were both pushed down in the 3B rankings thanks to the helium of Vald Guerrero Jr. and the Kris Bryant believers. I had both Rendon over Bryant and Suarez over Guerrero. It sounds crazy now but almost everywhere you looked, both Bryant and Guerrero were ranked ahead of these guys. Rendon is ranked seventh on the Player Rater and Suarez is 32nd. Bryant is around 60 while Guerrero is much further down. I’ve always loved Rendon and he’s criminally underrated every year who also showed up on my HR/BRL underperformers this offseason. Well, he stayed healthy and finally delivered with an MVP-caliber 2019 season. Suarez just keeps getting better. I tweeted this last week. Players aren’t supposed to continue trending up like that! Can he do it again? I’d say no, but then again I have no idea. Either way, I’m just happy I Owned these guys in 67% of my leagues in 2019.


Trey Mancini (1B/OF – BAL)
I was encouraged by Mancini after diving deep into his Statcast Metrics after 2018. His barrel rate was fantastic but his results in power didn’t quite match up, especially with a favorable park for home runs. The Orioles had no depth on offense (or anywhere, really), so Mancini was going to be a fixture in the middle of their lineup. I thought we could see his first 30-homer season and here we are. Again, thanks in part to the juiced balls but Mancini has taken steps forward and ranks inside the top 40 on the Razzball Player Rater. However, he’s also improved his walk and strikeout rates along with his launch angle. His groundball rate has dropped nearly 10% boosting his expect batting average and home run totals. Sometimes guaranteed playing time and lineup spot matter. Also, in Mancini’s case, Camden Yards is a great place to hit. My analysis, while not all that analytical with Mancini but was correct for 2020.

Matt Boyd (SP – DET)
OK, so Boyd fell off in the second half thanks in part to an insanely elevated home run rate. The strikeouts certainly remained, so he wasn’t a total dud in the second half. While Boyd’s ratios did not improve from 2018, the league-wide ratios went up between 10-15%. Where Boyd improved was the whiffs. He struck out 238 batters this year after just 159 in 2018 with only 15 more innings. That’s a ton of value. He was being ranked between 70 and 90 on most sites and I placed him around the 60th SP. where is he in the Razzball Player Rater? The 43rd SP for 2019. Boom!

Matt Olson (1B – OAK)
Despite breaking a hamate bone in his wrist during the opening series in Japan, Olson has set a new career-high with 36 home runs.  Once again, Olson was yet another player I have interested thanks in part to my analysis on his unlucky home run per barrel rate. He had shown extremely promising Statcast metrics and was coming into his age-25 season. The surrounding lineup in Oakland was encouraging as well with improving stud Matt Chapman and Ramon Laureano combined with established veterans Khris Davis and Marcus Semien. Olson has 50-homer power in this environment and will likely be undervalued again in 2020.

Patrick Corbin (SP – WSH)
Corbin was a favorite of mine coming into 2018. I correctly projected him as a top 20 starter coming into 2018 based on past performance, pedigree, and being a second-year removed from Tommy John Surgery. His slider was the catalyst to his success in 2018 and he introduced a “slow slider” that was essentially a third pitch because of its change in velocity. The results against his slider were ridiculous. His chase rate on the pitch was over 50% with a swinging strike rate a hair short of 30% with whiff rates north of 50%! That’s crazy, over half the time hitter offered at his slider, they flat out missed it. While others were expecting regression, I didn’t see anything from 2018 that showed me that hitters were going to change their approach against his slider. And, they haven’t. His numbers are nearly identical in 2019 despite the league-wide jump in ERA.

Carlos Correa (SS – HOU)
Injuries. That’s the main reason for my skepticism on Correa, especially his back issues. I’ve always been a huge fan of Correa and it’s disappointing how injuries have derailed his last few years. Since the injuries started, he basically stopped running as well. In other words, Correa required the trifecta to provide value at his ADP of power, batting average, and health. I wasn’t going to risk spending a pick in the first four to five rounds on Correa given the low probability that all three would come to fruition. That and the depth at Shortstop was vast.

Matt Carpenter (3B – STL)
I highlighted Carpenter in the preseason as a third baseman to avoid coming into 2019 here at Pitcher List. Typically I stay away from older, established players coming off of career-years. Carp had a fantastic 2018 where he went nuts for about three months. He also was finally healthy. Previously, he had nagging injuries that either sapped his performance or forced him to miss time. I was not interested in betting on that to happen two years in a row given his age and history. This was kind of an easy call. However, you’ll see below when I discuss Josh Donaldson how this strategy backfired.




Brandon Nimmo (OF – NYM)
Fantasy baseball is funny because I was big on Nimmo’s breakout before the 2018 season. I tabbed his potential power riser after he began increasing his loft and fly ball rate in the preseason. Throughout the season his power played up and his patience made him a massive asset in OBP leagues. I noticed, however, that his contact rates were very poor to start 2019 and knew that he would struggle to keep his strikeout rate below 25%. I ranked him a touch lower than most big-box sites and quickly turned away completely after two weeks in 2019. I discussed how his elevated BABIP was not likely to remain and his contact rates continued to plummet. I didn’t own him anywhere but I recommended that all owners jump off the sinking ship early. 

Jurickson Profar (1B, 2B, 3B, OF – OAK)
The post-post-post hype sleeper finally delivered in 2018 with the Rangers. I, however, was not buying it. He popped up on my HR/BRL over-performers this offseason and was moving from friendly Globe Life Stadium in Texas to cavernous Oakland Colllusium. He also didn’t show great speed despite double-digit steals as well. His contact and K-BB rates were pedestrian and he didn’t have a position locked in with the Athletics. Ultimately, the juiced ball helped him reach decent power numbers but his batting average completely cratered. Besides, 20 homers aren’t as valuable as it used to be.

Early Season pivot due to performance

Austin Meadows (OF – TBR)
I wasn’t on Meadows in the offseason where I had him ranked between 150 and 200 but wasn’t completely out either. I realized early in the season that the Rays were not going to play games with platooning Meadows against lefties which was a concern coming into 2019.  Here’s what I said in a FantasyPros article on April 15th:

“He walked more frequently than he struck out last week, and his batted-ball profile is a thing of beauty. His hard contact via FanGraphs is 47.6%, and he’s hitting fly balls 42.9% of the time. His barrel rate (BRL%) is 17.9%, nearly triple his 6.4 BRL% from 2018.”

He was so hot at that point it would have been difficult to buy him from an owner but he lived up to the hype. He will be a target of mine in 2020 as I expect big things from Meadows for his encore. He’s an easy 35 homer 10-15 stolen base type of player hitting atop a good (not great) Rays lineup.

Eric Sogard (2B/SS – TOR)
I was able to identify Eric Sogard as a potential value through the first four weeks of 2019. It wasn’t his quality of contact or Statcast metrics but his elite contact rates and consistent playing time. He doesn’t even show up on the NFBC ADP list which covers nearly 1,000 players. The fact that Sogard was 15-team relevant for most of the season and even 12-team relevant for about half the season is pretty amazing. I think valuing guaranteed playing time and high contact rates are undervalued, especially in this era. Sogard was a huge plus in batting average without completely killing you in power and speed. It’s part of the reason I am interested in Luis Arraez next year.

Players I missed on for 2019 and why

Jesse Winker (OF – CIN)
I was really buying into the approach with Winker. He already had mastered plate discipline walking nearly as often as he strikes out. He was basically becoming a young Votto. Younger players with a good hit tool and approach can often develop more power as they age. I was expecting that jump in 2019 for Winker, but I was wrong. His hard contact rates dipped and he wasn’t walking as frequently. I think he’ll be dirt cheap and still young enough to improve. I’ll be back in is his ADP is after 250 for 2020.

Trevor Bauer (SP – CLE/CIN)
Trusting a pitcher with more than four years of MLB experience with one ace-level production was partially where I went wrong here. The other variable that clouded my judgment of Bauer was his constant tinkering. While I looked at his relationship with Driveline as a positive based on his performance in 2018, I failed to see it as a potential issue in 2019. Given his mentality, he’s always going to want to get better and improve even after a Cy Young caliber 2018. I think he’s also stubborn. My analysis of Bauer and his metrics was not wrong, but understanding the person behind the numbers is where I missed.


Jackie Bradely Jr. (OF – BOS)
I went in hard on JBJ this offseason and boy was I wrong. Sure, he improved on his power, but so did everyone! I fell in love with his power/Statcast metrics and figured it would translate into a huge bump in production. Combining 20+ homers with 15ish SB on one of the best offensive clubs in the league was intriguing to me this offseason. I failed to ignore the poor approach and contact rates and his slumps were just too deep to dig out of. After another sub-.230 season with under 10 steals, I’ll probably be out on JBJ next year. 

Jack Flaherty (SP – STL)
The youth of Flaherty is why I shied away. His walk rate was high, his BABIP was low, and his strand rate was high. I included those items in my negative regression article this offseason for FantasyPros. When comparing his season on a historical basis, he was bound for negative regression. So again, the process was not wrong. However, not realizing his true talent and youth/ability to improve was not factored into play. That’s my mistake. Flaherty was coming off an impressive season and was just 23 years old! To my surprise, Flaherty has cut his walk rate by over two percent, decreased his BABIP against, and increased the runners he’s stranded. Thanks in part to an increase in velocity and first-pitch strike rate, Flaherty has turned into an ace.

Josh Donaldson (3B – ATL)
The analysis of Donaldson was strictly injury based. Given his recent injury history and age, I was not expecting 500+ plate appearances in 2019 from JD. I also was put off by his increasing strikeout rate which was backed by a trend of decreasing contact rates. Those may not have been skills deterioration but rather a result of his nagging injuries. So, I missed on Donaldson but hit on Carpenter. I will bet against injury and age more often than not and when they are combined, I’ll bet against it nearly 100% of the time. I just have to face the facts that I will be wrong every once and a while.

Travis Shaw (1B, 2B, 3B – MIL)
Ugh. I couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t higher on a guy in his prime coming off of two 30-homer campaigns with a shrinking K/BB ratio hitting in the middle of a very good Brewers lineup. It turns out, I was the idiot. Shaw was a disaster with contact rates as low as Joey Gallo without a fraction of the contact quality. He was a complete disaster. I’m not sure how I could have seen a 32.3% strikeout rate coming when his previous career-high was 25.1%. Aside from the extreme contact rates, his BABIP dropped to 0.060 points below his career rate and while a five percent jump in fly ball rate explains a portion of the decrease, it doesn’t cover it all. Either way, he’s a mess and I’m out on his next year.

Early Season pivot due to skills performance

Cody Bellinger (1B, OF – LAD)
So, as you can see in my preseason ranks, I was not a believer that Bellinger would recapture his brilliance from his rookie campaign. I had looked at Bellinger as a hitter with a hole in his swing which had been exploited, limiting him in batting average and some power. However, that assessment was wrong as he clearly made adjustments. After just two weeks of games, he had improved on his hard contact/barrel rates and saw massive improvements to his contact rate. Here’s what I said in April:

“We already knew he could mash but his plate discipline is on another level early this year. He’s swinging outside the zone less often and his contact rates have jumped up. As a result, his strikeout rate is down nearly 10%. If he can manage improved contact rates, Bellinger could provide first-round value and a huge profit for those who drafted him this offseason.”


Nick Pivetta (SP – PHI)
Like many “experts,” I don’t love that word, I was high on Pivetta coming into 2019 based on his K-BB rate and ERA-estimators. However, after just one start, I was able to identify an issue with Pivetta that carried over from 2019. His fastball location and pitch selection were poor. It was a little more clear to me that his elevated BABIP and possibly home run rate were going to continue to plague him. Here’s the blurb I wrote at FantasyPros in my Risers/Fallers article.

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


Photo by Fred Thornhill / The Canadian Press via AP

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2019 FreezeStats Bold Predictions (Mid-Season Review) – Fantasy Baseball

Well, last year I hit on two out of eight bold predictions. I guess my prediction on Ozzie Albies wasn’t terrible. I projected 25 homers and 30 steals. I hit on the power, but he did not run as much as I hoped. I’m most proud of my long-shot (at the time) that Patrick Corbin would finish the season as a top 20 SP. I had him ranked in the low-40s and most sites had him between the 60th and 80th SP off the boards, so this was extremely bold. Yes, I’m bragging about my one really good bold prediction, but I also had some really bad ones like Delino DeShields over Starling Marte… Whoops. Alright, enough intro. I want to focus my bold predictions within the fantasy realm and write a quick blurb as to why I feel there’s a chance they come to fruition. Now that we are approaching the All-Star break, it’s time to reflect on where these predictions stand. I’ll review all my preseason bold predictions in this maroon color below. Remember, these were meant to be bold, so I am hoping to hit on a few of them rather than most of them.

2019 BOLD PREDICTIONS – FREEZESTATS

Michael Conforto leads the National League in home runs in 2019

Conforto ended 2018 with 29 home runs but spent a good portion of the first two months recovering and gaining strength from his offseason shoulder surgery. He showed us he was healthy in the second half by hitting 17 home runs in just 68 games. I don’t love the prorating game as much as the next person but that’s 40 home runs across a 160 game pace. Last year, Nolan Arenado led the National League with 38 home runs. The other candidates Conforto will have to overcome include Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Trevor Story, Rhys Hoskins, and I suppose my guy Hunter Renfroe (see below). The BAT projects Arenado to lead the National League with 40 homers. Can a healthy Conforto reach 40 this year? I think so, especially with power down across the board last year, Conforto is my guy this year and I’ve ranked him inside the top 60 overall.

OK, so Conforto has just 16 home runs when everyone and their mother is pacing to hit 30+ bombs this year. Conforto hasn’t really gotten hot in any month hitting 6, 4, and 6 homers each month thus far. If you remember, Conforto mashed nine home runs in Sept/Oct last year, so he still has a shot at reaching 40 home runs with a hot second half. However, I was not counting on a juiced ball this year and 40 home runs will fall well short of the home run leader this year. Christian Yelich already has 31 followed by Cody Bellinger with 29 and Pete Alonso at 28. All of which I expect to surpass 40. Conforto hasn’t shown any growth in the power department as his HR/FB rate is in line with last season. I give this prediction a less than 5% chance as it would require a ton of things to fall his way to come to fruition. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. is a top 100 fantasy asset in standard 5×5 Roto

Bradley Jr. has modified his swing and is working with J.D. Martinez. I’ve been putting my money where my mouth is grabbing JBJ pretty much everywhere. I’ve got him in my PitcherList Best Ball draft, TGFBI, and my 12-team home league. Bradley finished 2018 with just 13 homers and a .234 average. As a result, he’s being drafted around 230 overall. However, he stole a career-best 17 bags on only 18 attempts. Yes, he’s faster than you think. He’s likely to hit seventh or eighth in a stacked Red Sox lineup which isn’t great but not a death sentence in a deep AL lineup. Bradley’s hard-hit rates and exit velocities are up with the big boys and he was extremely unlucky on his barrels last year. This is a guy who is still in his prime and hit 26 home runs while hitting .267 in 2016. If he gets back to 25 homers and 15 steals with a .260 average, that should be right near Aaron Hicks just inside the top 100.

Not a great start. He’s currently ranked 575 overall in Yahoo! but I don’t trust Yahoo!. On the ESPN Player Rater, Bradley is ranked as the 166th best hitter to date. That doesn’t include pitchers. I would suspect that at least 75 pitchers are ranked ahead of him, so Bradley is well outside the top 200 overall. I’m not even going to check the Razzball Player Rater. The point is, this one is going well. Although, Bradley’s been hot of late hitting .315 with five home runs and three steals in June. I can’t say for sure what JBJ will do going forward but hitting five home runs and stealing three bases per month is not out of the question. Given that production and a solid BA, he could finish with over 20 HR and 15 SB. That puts him in the conversation as a top 100 overall fantasy asset. I give this one a 15% chance of coming true.

Hunter Renfroe becomes Khris Davis

I wanted to go extremely bold and have Renfroe finish the season ranked higher than Davis, but that would be nuts. Davis is so steady with 40+ homers and 100+ RBI. Unfortunately, I don’t think Renfroe will get the at-bats to reach 100 RBI. So, how can Renfroe become Khris Davis? First off, Renfroe hit 18 home runs in the second half of 2018, so we know he has elite power. I tweeted out a comparison of Davis from 2015 and Renfroe from 2018 back in January. Their results and Statcast metrics were nearly identical. The outfield in San Diego is crowded so something does have to give in order for this prediction to come to fruition. To qualify, Renfroe needs to hit over 35 homers and drive in 90 runs in 2019 and become a consensus top-100 player in 2020 drafts.

Finally! I nailed this one. At the halfway mark, Renfroe already has 24 home runs which are only two fewer than his previous career-high. He’s also getting more playing time as he’s pacing out for around 520 plate appearances which would also be a career-high. He’s hitting .248 so I guess I missed on this one unless he finishes at .247. That was a joke. His strikeout and walk rates are almost identical to Khris Davis’ as he’s sitting at a 26.8% K rate and an 8.4% walk rate. He is pacing for just 90 RBI but the Padres don’t have high OBP players in front of him. My only concern is Renfroe being a top 100 overall player next year. If he hits 45 homers, then yes he will be, but if he slows down in the second half, he may not make it. Either way, I’m giving this one a 60% chance of coming true.

Victor Robles is more valuable than Vladimir Guerrero and Juan Soto in standard 5×5 Roto value.

The hype on both Soto and Guerrero is understandable. Soto, at age-19, looked like a 10-year veteran and by all accounts, Vlad has the best bat in the Minors since Mike Trout. Both are going inside the top 42 overall since February 1st. Robles, while has seen a massive jump in ADP, is still going just after pick 100. Here’s my thinking, coming into 2018, Robles was the second-ranked prospect after Ronald Acuña but a shoulder injury derailed his season. Robles has elite speed, like 40 SB-type speed. His power hasn’t quite developed as he’s just 21 but has been graded out with 50-raw power. We’ve seen plenty of low-to-moderate power hitters come up and increase their home run production. Robles’ high-Contact, high-BABIP profile gives him a solid batting average floor. A high-end, realistic projection for Robles is something like .290 18 HR 32 SB. That’s extremely similar to Starling Marte’s 2018 who finished 29th on the Razzball Player Rater. Vladitio is already dealing with an injury, but Robles over Soto would be extremely bold based on ADP. I currently have Soto at 39 overall and Guerrero at 60, so there you have it.

Robles is currently ranked 72 among hitters per ESPN’s Player Rater and that’s not bad, but not quite what I had hoped for. Meanwhile, Vlad is all the way down at 235 among hitters. Vlad could very easily go nuts in the second half and surpass Robles but I don’t see it happening with the speed component of Robles’ game. Then there’s Juan Soto. Mr. Phenom himself is ranked 33rd overall among hitters this year. Despite a low SB total, he’s just mashing hitting for average, power, and a ton of run production. The metrics don’t paint an optimistic picture for Robles going forward and it would be a long-shot for him the catch Soto. Assuming health from all three players, I give this one a 10-15% chance of coming true.

Anthony Alford is fantasy relevant in 12-team leagues in the second half.

That means, he’s either a top 260 overall player or a top 175 hitter in the second half of 2019. The Blue Jays have a stacked farm system, we know that. Before Vlad and Bo Bichette, there was Anthony Alford. He’s still just 24 years old with only 28 plate appearances in the big leagues. The outfielders currently on the Major League roster are Randal Grichuk, Kevin Pillar, Billy McKinney, and Teoscar Hernandez. I’m not sold on McKinney or Hernandez and the Blue Jays are rebuilding. They need to see what they have in Alford. He’s had a nice spring which is nearly meaningless unless you’re like Alford trying to fight for a spot on the roster. He’s going 750 overall in drafts and therefore undrafted in 99% of leagues; that’s what makes this bold. He has good speed and some pop and was a top 25 prospect once upon a time. With playing time, he could hit a handful of homers and steal double-digit bases in the second half to make this prediction a reality.

I understand that this one is a prediction for the second-half but I would have hoped that Alford would have at least been up at the big league level for a few weeks heading into the break. Alford is hitting .256 with five homers and 17 steals at Triple-A but his strikeout rate is just a hair below 30%. I was optimistic we would see a power spike given the Triple-A ball but it hasn’t shown up with Alford. The good news for Alford is McKinney (just sent to Triple-A) and Teoscar are not performing well even though Teoscar has picked it up of late. Only Lourdes Gurriel Jr is playing well in that outfield and given Alford’s double-digit walk rates in the minors, he could see quite a bit of play in the second half. Like I said above, if he can hit 6-8 homers and steal 12-15 bases in the second half, he should be owned in 12-team leagues. I’m still not sold, let’s give this one a 20% chance.

Lewis Brinson is more valuable in Standard 5×5 Roto than A.J. Pollock

Now, this is BOLD! Brinson hit .199 with a 30% strikeout rate last year. Yikes. He was the top prospect from Milwaukee in the Christian Yelich trade before the 2018 season. His 2018 was brutal, there’s no doubt but he was a top 20 prospect as recently as one year ago. Brinson is crushing this spring but I’m not putting much weight into that. He’s modified his swing to stay in the zone longer increasing his probability for contact. That’s a small adjustment but one that could help vault Brinson to the next level. Last year he’s was very unlucky with a .257  BABIP. His xBABIP was .301 and xHR was 14 per xStats.org. Keep in mind, that’s in just over 400 plate appearances. Per BaseballSavant, he was just inside the top third of hitters on average exit velocity on fly balls and line drives (EV FB/LD). Where things really get interesting is his speed. He hasn’t stolen many bases but regularly stole 20+ bags in the minors. His sprint speed is in the top 96% of the league. If he can hit 22-24 HR with 15-18 steals, he will provide more value than an often injured Pollock. I like Pollock and I think if he’s healthy, he’s a top 50 player. I just don’t expect more than 400 plate appearances from him and believe these two players are more similar than you think. I need quite a bit of help here, but Pollock’s injury history gives this prediction some life.

Injuries. That was part of the selling point for this one though. Even with Pollock missing 90% of the season so far, he still holds more value than Brinson. This one is a 50-50 toss-up but if I don’t want it that way.

Robbie Ray Wins the NL Cy Young

Ray’s walk rate was brutal in 2018 at 13.3% and over five walks per nine innings. Walks always seem to be an issue for Ray. Even in his breakout of 2017, his walk rate was over 10%. What he can do and always has been able to do is strike batters out at a high clip. Do you know who else had issues with walks but transformed into a Cy Young winner? How about Blake Snell? Snell’s walk rates the years prior to 2018 were 12.7% and 10.8%. Both pitchers throw hard and have good breaking balls. Snell ramped his fastball velocity up in 2018 averaging over 96 MPH. Ray, on the other hand, saw a slight dip in his velocity last season. I think for Ray, velocity is key because his fastball used to be a plus pitch for him with a 12.3 pitch value in 2017 but down to -3.2 in 2018. Obviously, Ray needs to get his walks under control as well but if his velocity looks good and he cuts down on the walk rate, we are a lucky BABIP away from a Blake Snell-type season.  

A 4.10 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. Boo. However, 129 strikeouts in 98.1 innings are pretty nice though! The O-Swing is good and his Z-Contact is a career-low. In 2017, he had a 2.73 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP in the second half. He’s not that far away from those numbers if the BABIP and LOB% fall his way. Given those ratios and about 110 strikeouts, he would at least be in the NL Cy Young conversation. The problem for Ray though is Max Scherzer. He’s running away and hiding in the NL despite Ryu’s insane first half. This one is down to a 5% chance.

Matt Strahm is a top 50 Starting Pitcher

It’s finally happening, Matt Strahm is likely joining the Padres starting rotation. He was a starter in Royals system in 2015 and 2016 and has never thrown more than 125 innings in a single season. But, Strahm put on a bunch of weight in an unorthodox way to help build strength to hold up over the course of a full season. He’s reportedly hitting 96 MPH on the gun this spring. He throws four pitches and has a great fastball and curveball. If he can develop either his change or curve, he could not only have great strikeout rates but go deeper into games. I’d only expect a maximum of 150 innings this year but with 160+ strikeouts and good ratios, that’s easily top 50. Now for part two.

Strahm is currently 131st among starting pitchers per the ESPN Player Rater. That’s not good and he was just blown up by the awful Giants. At this point, I don’t see Strahm turning it completely around to finish inside the top 50 for starting pitchers. His velocity and strikeouts are down as well as a starter, so I’m essentially burying this one giving it a 2% chance.

The Padres have 3 starting pitchers that finish inside the top 50 for SPs

This is a spin-off if the Matt Strahm bold prediction because I had the Strahm prediction, pegged about a month ago. Now, he’s being drafted just outside of the top 50 SPs. This is bold because the Padres don’t have a single pitcher drafted as a top 50 starter. Lucchesi is the closest at 55 and 195 overall. I love Lucchesi this year who was successful last year with two pitches and is adding a cutter this spring. The other possible top 50 options include extreme riser Chris Paddack (441), Matt Strahm (386), and Robbie Erlin (577). Paddack has had massive inflation with a dominant spring. He looks like a prime candidate to make the rotation out of spring. He’s just 23 years old and coming off of an injury. Don’t expect more than 125 innings, but he might just be good enough to sneak into the top 50.

Well, Strahm is basically out. That leaves us with Chris Paddack and Joey Lucchesi. Paddack is ranked 26th and Lucchesi is at 41 on the ESPN player rater for starting pitchers. That’s great and I believe both can maintain top 50 status, especially Paddack. We already discussed how far down Strahm is and the next Padre starter is Eric Lauer currently the 98th SP. That’s followed by Strahm at 131 and Cal Quantrill at 162. Lauer doesn’t possess the strikeout upside required to make that jump into the top 50 but at least he has an outside chance. Also, Dinleson Lamet returns to action this week but given his lengthy layoff, his innings will be limited. I also don’t believe his command will be consistent going forward in 2019. So while both Paddack and Lucchesi will likely exceed expectations, I don’t have the third SP to complete this bold prediction.

Zach Eflin outperforms everyone’s favorite sleeper and teammate Nick Pivetta

While I had this prediction drafted up about two weeks ago, I’ve got to give some credit to @BatflipCrazy for throwing this out first on his podcast this week. Great call! I get the hype on Nick Pivetta, I’m not even low on him as I have him as my 35th SP. His K-BB% is fantastic. He seemed to be unlucky in terms of ERA and BABIP last season based on all ERA-estimators. The Phillies had one of the worst defenses by Fangraphs DEF metrics last year. They upgraded by adding Jean Segura at shortstop and replacing Rhys Hoskins in left field with Andrew McCutchen and the aforementioned Hoskins moving over to his natural position, first base. So while I expect both to improve, let’s compare the two by the numbers.  

2018 K-BB% FIP SwStr% Soft% HR/9
Nick Pivetta 19.7% 3.80 12.0% 18.7% 1.32
Zach Eflin 15.7% 3.80 10.3% 20.5% 1.13

Pivetta has the better strikeout upside, that’s evident in the K-BB% and SwStr%. However, Eflin’s FIP matched Pivetta’s thanks to inducing more weak contact and limiting hard contact/home runs. Elfin has a good slider and changeup to go with a 95 MPH fastball. That sounds similar to Pivetta’s repertoire, doesn’t it? I actually think Eflin has some more strikeout upside in that arm as well. Given his well-above-average control and ability to limit hard contact, I think the strikeout rate could push Eflin over the top of Pivetta in 2019. I’ll add to this prediction that Eflin will be drafted above Pivetta in 2020 drafts as well.

Eflin 39th SP on ESPN Player Rater, Pivetta 173 SP. I give this one a 90% chance of coming true. Eflin would have to fall flat on his face in the second half and Pivetta would have to become Chris Sale. Eflin hasn’t quite had the strikeout ceiling I had hoped for but he’s also pitching with great command. I think he should limit terrible outings and maintain success even if he’s unable to keep such a low ERA. Pivetta has the skills to go on a second-half run but will still have the occasional outing that kills ratios. I don’t see him catching Eflin and Pivetta will not carry any inflated love going into the 2020 drafts. This one is close to being in the books.

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


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2019 Bold Predictions – Fantasy Baseball

Well, last year I hit on two out of eight bold predictions. I guess my prediction on Ozzie Albies wasn’t terrible. I projected 25 homers and 30 steals. I hit on the power, but he did not run as much as I hoped. I’m most proud of my long-shot (at the time) that Patrick Corbin would finish the season as a top 20 SP. I had him ranked in the low-40s and most sites had him between the 60th and 80th SP off the boards, so this was extremely bold. Yes, I’m bragging about my one really good bold prediction, but I also had some really bad ones like Delino DeShields over Starling Marte…. Whoops. Alright, enough intro. I want to focus my bold predictions within the fantasy realm and write a quick blurb as to why I feel there’s a chance they come to fruition.

2019 BOLD PREDICTIONS – FREEZESTATS

Michael Conforto leads the National League in home runs in 2019

Conforto ended 2018 with 29 home runs but spent a good portion of the first two months recovering and gaining strength from his offseason shoulder surgery. He showed us he was healthy in the second half by hitting 17 home runs in just 68 games. I don’t love the prorating game as much as the next person but that’s 40 home runs across a 160 game pace. Last year, Nolan Arenado led the National League with 38 home runs. The other candidates Conforto will have to overcome include Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Trevor Story, Rhys Hoskins, and I suppose my guy Hunter Renfroe (see below). The BAT projects Arenado to lead the National League with 40 homers. Can a healthy Conforto reach 40 this year? I think so, especially with power down across the board last year, Conforto is my guy this year and I’ve ranked him inside the top 60 overall.

Jackie Bradley Jr. is a top 100 fantasy asset in standard 5×5 Roto

Bradley Jr. has modified his swing and is working with J.D. Martinez. I’ve been putting my money where my mouth is grabbing JBJ pretty much everywhere. I’ve got him in my PitcherList Best Ball draft, TGFBI, and my 12-team home league. Bradley finished 2018 with just 13 homers and a .234 average. As a result, he’s being drafted around 230 overall. However, he stole a career-best 17 bags on only 18 attempts. Yes, he’s faster than you think. He’s likely to hit seventh or eighth in a stacked Red Sox lineup which isn’t great but not a death sentence in a deep AL lineup. Bradley’s hard-hit rates and exit velocities are up with the big boys and he was extremely unlucky on his barrels last year. This is a guy who is still in his prime and hit 26 home runs while hitting .267 in 2016. If he gets back to 25 homers and 15 steals with a .260 average, that should be right near Aaron Hicks just inside the top 100.

Hunter Renfroe becomes Khris Davis

I wanted to go extremely bold and have Renfroe finish the season ranked higher than Davis, but that would be nuts. Davis is so steady with 40+ homers and 100+ RBI. Unfortunately, I don’t think Renfroe will get the at-bats to reach 100 RBI. So, how can Renfroe become Khris Davis? First off, Renfroe hit 18 home runs in the second half of 2018, so we know he has elite power. I tweeted out a comparison of Davis from 2015 and Renfroe from 2018 back in January. Their results and Statcast metrics were nearly identical. The outfield in San Diego is crowded so something does have to give in order for this prediction to come to fruition. To qualify, Renfroe needs to hit over 35 homers and drive in 90 runs in 2019 and become a consensus top-100 player in 2020 drafts.

Victor Robles is more valuable than Vladimir Guerrero and Juan Soto in standard 5×5 Roto value.

The hype on both Soto and Guerrero is understandable. Soto, at age-19, looked like a 10-year veteran and by all accounts, Vlad has the best bat in the Minors since Mike Trout. Both are going inside the top 42 overall since February 1st. Robles, while has seen a massive jump in ADP, is still going just after pick 100. Here’s my thinking, coming into 2018, Robles was the second-ranked prospect after Ronald Acuña but a shoulder injury derailed his season. Robles has elite speed, like 40 SB-type speed. His power hasn’t quite developed as he’s just 21 but has been graded out with 50-raw power. We’ve seen plenty of low-to-moderate power hitters come up and increase their home run production. Robles’ high-Contact, high-BABIP profile gives him a solid batting average floor. A high-end, realistic projection for Robles is something like .290 18 HR 32 SB. That’s extremely similar to Starling Marte’s 2018 who finished 29th on the Razzball Player Rater. Vladitio is already dealing with an injury, but Robles over Soto would be extremely bold based on ADP. I currently have Soto at 39 overall and Guerrero at 60, so there you have it.

Anthony Alford is fantasy relevant in 12-team leagues in the second half.

That means, he’s either a top 260 overall player or a top 175 hitter in the second half of 2019. The Blue Jays have a stacked farm system, we know that. Before Vlad and Bo Bichette, there was Anthony Alford. He’s still just 24 years old with only 28 plate appearances in the big leagues. The outfielders currently on the Major League roster are Randal Grichuk, Kevin Pillar, Billy McKinney, and Teoscar Hernandez. I’m not sold on McKinney or Hernandez and the Blue Jays are rebuilding. They need to see what they have in Alford. He’s had a nice spring which is nearly meaningless unless you’re like Alford trying to fight for a spot on the roster. He’s going 750 overall in drafts and therefore undrafted in 99% of leagues; that’s what makes this bold. He has good speed and some pop and was a top 25 prospect once upon a time. With playing time, he could hit a handful of homers and steal double-digit bases in the second half to make this prediction a reality.

Lewis Brinson is more valuable in Standard 5×5 Roto than A.J. Pollack

Now, this is BOLD! Brinson hit .199 with a 30% strikeout rate last year. Yikes. He was the top prospect from Milwaukee in the Christian Yelich trade before the 2018 season. His 2018 was brutal, there’s no doubt but he was a top 20 prospect as recently as one year ago. Brinson is crushing this spring but I’m not putting much weight into that. He’s modified his swing to stay in the zone longer increasing his probability for contact. That’s a small adjustment but one that could help vault Brinson to the next level. Last year he’s was very unlucky with a .257  BABIP. His xBABIP was .301 and xHR was 14 per xStats.org. Keep in mind, that’s in just over 400 plate appearances. Per BaseballSavant, he was just inside the top third of hitters on average exit velocity on fly balls and line drives (EV FB/LD). Where things really get interesting is his speed. He hasn’t stolen many bases but regularly stole 20+ bags in the minors. His sprint speed is in the top 96% of the league. If he can hit 22-24 HR with 15-18 steals, he will provide more value than an often injured Pollack. I like Pollack and I think if he’s healthy, he’s a top 50 player. I just don’t expect more than 400 plate appearances from him and believe these two players are more similar than you think. I need quite a bit of help here, but Pollack’s injury history gives this prediction some life.

Robbie Ray Wins the NL Cy Young

Ray’s walk rate was brutal in 2018 at 13.3% and over five walks per nine innings. Walks always seem to be an issue for Ray. Even in his breakout of 2017, his walk rate was over 10%. What he can do and always has been able to do is strike batters out at a high clip. Do you know who else had issues with walks but transformed into a Cy Young winner? How about Blake Snell? Snell’s walk rates the years prior to 2018 were 12.7% and 10.8%. Both pitchers throw hard and have good breaking balls. Snell ramped his fastball velocity up in 2018 averaging over 96 MPH. Ray, on the other hand, saw a slight dip in his velocity last season. I think for Ray, velocity is key because his fastball used to be a plus pitch for him with a 12.3 pitch value in 2017 but down to -3.2 in 2018. Obviously, Ray needs to get his walks under control as well but if his velocity looks good and he cuts down on the walk rate, we are a lucky BABIP away from a Blake Snell-type season.  

Matt Strahm is a top 50 Starting Pitcher

It’s finally happening, Matt Strahm is likely joining the Padres starting rotation. He was a starter in Royals system in 2015 and 2016 and has never thrown more than 125 innings in a single season. But, Strahm put on a bunch of weight in an unorthodox way to help build strength to hold up over the course of a full season. He’s reportedly hitting 96 MPH on the gun this spring. He throws four pitches and has a great fastball and curveball. If he can develop either his change or curve, he could not only have great strikeout rates but go deeper into games. I’d only expect a maximum of 150 innings this year but with 160+ strikeouts and good ratios, that’s easily top 50. Now for part two.

The Padres have 3 starting pitchers that finish inside the top 50 for SPs

This is a spin-off if the Matt Strahm bold prediction because I had the Strahm prediction, pegged about a month ago. Now, he’s being drafted just outside of the top 50 SPs. This is bold because the Padres don’t have a single pitcher drafted as a top 50 starter. Lucchesi is the closest at 55 and 195 overall. I love Lucchesi this year who was successful last year with two pitches and is adding a cutter this spring. The other possible top 50 options include extreme riser Chris Paddack (441), Matt Strahm (386), and Robbie Erlin (577). Paddack has had massive inflation with a dominant spring. He looks like a prime candidate to make the rotation out of spring. He’s just 23 years old and coming off of an injury. Don’t expect more than 125 innings, but he might just be good enough to sneak into the top 50.

Zach Eflin outperforms everyone’s favorite sleeper and teammate Nick Pivetta

While I had this prediction drafted up about two weeks ago, I’ve got to give some credit to @BatflipCrazy for throwing this out first on his podcast this week. Great call! I get the hype on Nick Pivetta, I’m not even low on him as I have him as my 35th SP. His K-BB% is fantastic. He seemed to be unlucky in terms of ERA and BABIP last season based on all ERA-estimators. The Phillies had one of the worst defenses by Fangraphs DEF metrics last year. They upgraded by adding Jean Segura at shortstop and replacing Rhys Hoskins in left field with Andrew McCutchen and the aforementioned Hoskins moving over to his natural position, first base. So while I expect both to improve, let’s compare the two by the numbers.  

2018 K-BB% FIP SwStr% Soft% HR/9
Nick Pivetta 19.7% 3.80 12.0% 18.7% 1.32
Zach Eflin 15.7% 3.80 10.3% 20.5% 1.13

Pivetta has the better strikeout upside, that’s evident in the K-BB% and SwStr%. However, Eflin’s FIP matched Pivetta’s thanks to inducing more weak contact and limiting hard contact/home runs. Elfin has a good slider and changeup to go with a 95 MPH fastball. That sounds similar to Pivetta’s repertoire, doesn’t it? I actually think Eflin has some more strikeout upside in that arm as well. Given his well-above-average control and ability to limit hard contact, I think the strikeout rate could push Eflin over the top of Pivetta in 2019. I’ll add to this prediction that Eflin will be drafted above Pivetta in 2020 drafts as well.

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


Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

FreezeStats Rankings vs ESPN Rankings – Fantasy Baseball

Part of my draft preparations involves comparing my rankings with the big box sites like ESPN and Yahoo!. Many fantasy players don’t expand their research beyond some of those big box rankings and as a result will only draft off of those cheat sheets. This is where you as an owner can gain an edge. In this article, I will compare ESPN’s site rankings with my rankings. If you want to see my complete rankings, just CLICK HERE! I just updated my Top 300 and positional rankings for the final time. Later this week, I’ll do the same with Yahoo’s rankings.

PLAYERS I’M HIGHER ON FOR 2019 – DRAFT AWAY!

FreezStats vs ESPN Rankings - Player I Like More

PlayerTeamPositionsFreezeStats RankingESPN RankingOverall Difference
Trea TurnerWSHSS6104
Ronald AcunaATLLF,CF10188
Aaron JudgeNYYRF,DH16215
Freddie FreemanATL1B14228
Trevor StoryCOLSS18279
Andrew BenintendiBOSLF,CF233512
Anthony RendonWSH3B273811
Carlos CarrascoCLESP36404
Xander BogaertsBOSSS254318
Eugenio SuarezCIN3B456015
Tommy PhamTBLF,CF407131
Jose AbreuCWS1B,DH497526
Michael ConfortoNYMLF,CF,RF597920
Robinson CanoNYM2B709121
Joey GalloTEX1B,LF,CF,RF719726
Aaron HicksNYYCF749925
Andrew McCutchenPHILF,RF8810012
Travis ShawMIL1B,3B,2B7810527
Adalberto MondesiKC2B,SS5111463
German MarquezCOLSP8411935
Matt OlsonOAK1B6212260
Stephen PiscottyOAKRF10913223
Max MuncyLAD1B,2B,3B8714760
Eloy JimenezCWSLF,RF10714942
Nomar MazaraTEXRF11615337
Shane BieberCLESP15416713
Andrew HeaneyLAASP14016929
Kenta MaedaLADSP16119029
Jackie Bradley Jr.BOSCF,RF14919344
Ketel MarteARI2B,SS17521439
Ross StriplingLADSP,RP15921758
Tyler SkaggsLAASP17421844
Hyun-Jin RyuLADSP19722831
Joe MusgrovePITSP14723184
Adam FrazierPIT2B,LF,RF18523348
Danny JansenTORC21224028
Ramon LaureanoOAKRF15525095
Domingo SantanaSEARF167282115
Garrett HampsonCOL2B,SS167294127
Anibal SanchezWSHSP190318128
Forrest WhitleyHOUSP213319106
Jesus LuzardoOAKSP201322121
Zach EflinPHISP,RP23932889
Julio UriasLADSP27133059
Welington CastilloCWSC26333673
Chris PaddackSDSP304414110
Matt StrahmSDSP,RP272N/R-
Steven DuggarSFCF,RF,DH269N/R-

I don’t need to go into my love for JBJ, I’ve gone on and on about him. I understand that we are only off by four picks with Trea Turner, but I’m not passing on Turner given his 60 stolen base upside. He showed his power hitting 19 homers last year and was unlucky with BABIP. His walk rate is improving and his contact rate and speed tell me he’s more of a .280-.290 hitter. I think ESPN is underselling Andrew Benintendi, which is odd because Red Sox and Yankees are usually ranked higher. His power will come back and his all-around skill set is perfect for a top 25 pick. Why does ESPN hate Tommy Pham? I get that he’s not the most healthy player but even in 130 games, Pham provides value inside of the top 50. What is going on with Adalberto Mondesi? I’m not even his biggest fan given his floor, but 114 overall? At that price, he could hit .220 with 10 homers and 25 steals and basically break even. Mondesi surpassed those numbers in half a season last year. I guess they believe he will struggle and be sent down to the minors at some point. Give me all the Max Muncy and Matt Olson in ESPN leagues. It seems like ESPN is devaluing power based on my analysis. Some other players with power I like more include Michael Conforto, Travis Shaw, and Domingo Santana. Then there’s Eloy Jimenez. ESPN has Vlad extremely high but a guy like Eloy who has more power at this point and great contact skills ranked near 150? I just don’t get it. Eloy could come up and hit .280 w/ 30 homers.

Over to pitching. ESPN is overvaluing pitching early. To some extent, I agree. I like to grab an ace and sometimes two top 15 pitchers in the first four rounds. However, ESPN has a ton of starting pitchers in the mid to late rounds that are ranked way too low. I can understand the German Marquez ranking because of Coors, but he’s a nice value and can be had as your number three or four SP in some cases. Some of my favorite pitcher values include Shane Beiber, Andrew Heaney, Ross Stripling, Kenta Maeda, and Joe Musgrove. These guys will most likely be on my teams in ESPN leagues. So will Chris Paddack and apparently they forgot about Matt Strahm, but I won’t. I’m a big fan of Zach Eflin and I have a feeling he might show up in my Bold Predictions.

PLAYERS I’M LOWER ON FOR 2019 – NO THANKS!

FreezeStats vs ESPN Rankings - Players I like Less

PlayerTeamPositionsFreezeStatsESPNOverall Difference
Corey KluberCLESP301911
Juan SotoWSHLF39318
Noah SyndergaardNYMSP473710
Cody BellingerLAD1B,CF48399
Carlos CorreaHOUSS664620
Ozzie AlbiesATL2B814833
Gleyber TorresNYY2B,SS855332
Clayton KershawLADSP1055451
Matt CarpenterSTL1B,2B,3B796118
Eddie RosarioMINLF917021
Corey SeagerLADSS977225
David PriceBOSSP1108228
Mike FoltynewiczATLSP1189226
Madison BumgarnerSFSP1489355
A.J. PollockLADCF1139419
Dee GordonSEA2B,CF1419546
Michael BrantleyHOULF,DH11410311
Willson ContrerasCHCC19411183
Buster PoseySFC,1B19211775
Carlos SantanaCLE1B,3B22112992
J.A. HappNYYSP18613353
Eric HosmerSD1B17813642
Rick PorcelloBOSSP256143113
Dallas KeuchelSP20915455
Billy HamiltonKCCF23916178
Jon LesterCHCSP23416866
Kyle SchwarberCHCLF24017169
Jonathan SchoopMIN2B24218755
Odubel HerreraPHICF29220389
Miguel SanoMIN1B,3B,DH28823454
Julio TeheranATLSPN/R249-
Jonathan LucroyLAACN/R281-
Tim TebowNYMLFN/R342-
Adam WainwrightSTLSPN/R361-
Kyler MurrayOAKCFN/R367-

As I mentioned, ESPN is very high on the elite starting pitchers which is why Corey Kluber, Noah Syndergaard, and Clayton Kershaw show up here. With Carlos Correa, I’m starting to come around on a bit now that he looks healthy, but I still likely won’t end up with him this year. If you scrolled to the bottom, you probably noticed that Tim Tebow and Kylar Murray are both inside ESPN’s top 400. WHAT!?!? Talk about lazy. It’s almost like the ESPN is using college football analysts to complete their fantasy baseball rankings. Either that or they ranked their top 300 and one guy decided to go to 400 overall but only plays in 12-team leagues. Come on ESPN, you’re better than this! Eric Hosmer is still being ranked because of name value, I will almost never draft him. ESPN is still valuing the rabbits (or speed only guys) like Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton. I just can’t draft any player that high while they will hurt me in three to four categories.

I suppose I should touch on Ozzie Albies. I was extremely high on Albies last year expecting a power/speed breakout. He showed more power but less speed than I expected but overall, my ranking was solid. The metrics don’t support 25 homer power for Albies, if he can’t take a step forward in speed and struggles to take walks, he could be dropped in the lineup. I am seeing more of a 20 homer, 16-steal season without great counting stats. That’s good but not top 50. Wow, do I hate old boring veteran pitchers without strikeout upside. Im not surprised that ESPN likes them, again the name value slides them up rankings. Enter Rick Porcello, Jon Lester, and Dallas Keuchel. These guys are over-the-hill and their past success is boosting their draft price. I won’t be owning any of them this year (or probably any year going forward).

Thanks for checking out these ranking comparisons. Make sure you refer back to this article when you draft in your ESPN league this weekend.

Follow me @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.

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