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What To Do With 2020 BABIP Overachievers

Typically, at the midway point of the regular season, I cover BABIP outliers to buy and fade for the second half. However, since we only had a 60 game season, I’ll cover buys and fades for 2021. During the 2019 season, I wrote this piece and by in large, regression set in for most of these hitters in the second half.  Let’s apply that same thinking to these hitters for 2021. Keep in mind that the expected BABIP (xBABIP) I calculated below is descriptive, so it doesn’t mean the player’s past performance is what we should expect going forward. That being said, outliers are where there’s a much higher probability regression to set in. There are a number of factors that may not be covered in the xBABIP equation that I’ll touch on in the player blurbs below.

  • Sprint Speed
  • Shift and pull rates
  • Park Factors

Now let’s cover the BABIP overperformers from 2020. I’m going to stay away from fully analyzing Rockies’ hitters as they regularly show up on these overperformers list when discussing BABIP. Coors Field boosts BABIP by 30-35 points on average and xBABIP does not include Park Factors in it’s equation. So, we can somewhat ignore Ramiel Tapia, Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon, and to some extent Nolan Arenado. But, more on him later.



2020 BABIP Overachievers

last_namefirst_namePlate ApperancesxBABIPBABIPxBABIP-BABIP
MullinsCedric1530.2580.350-0.092
TapiaRaimel2060.3050.392-0.087
VerdugoAlex2210.2940.371-0.077
MondesiAdalberto2330.2810.350-0.069
Bradley Jr.Jackie2170.2780.343-0.065
BohmAlec1800.3470.410-0.063
VazquezChristian1890.2830.341-0.058
SolanoDonovan2030.3430.396-0.053
PeraltaDavid2180.3190.361-0.042
ConfortoMichael2330.3710.412-0.041
CruzNelson2140.3190.360-0.041
AlbertoHanser2310.2760.314-0.038
AdamesWilly2050.3500.388-0.038
YastrzemskiMike2250.3330.370-0.037
BogaertsXander2250.2930.329-0.036
StoryTrevor2590.3210.354-0.033
WendleJoey1840.3050.338-0.033
ReyesFranmil2410.3230.355-0.032
SchoopJonathan1770.2850.316-0.031
WongKolten2080.2810.311-0.030
BlackmonCharlie2470.3170.347-0.030
McNeilJeff2090.3050.335-0.030
BrantleyMichael1870.3060.336-0.030

Cedric Mullins (OF – BAL)

Baltimore churned out some value especially late in the season with the addition of Ryan Mountacaste and to a lesser extent, Austin Hayes. Meanwhile, Cedric Mullins managed to quietly produce three homers and seven steals while hitting .270 in 153 plate appearances. However, he somehow managed a .350 BABIP with just a 31.7% hard-hit rate and an atrocious popup rate that was nearly double the league-average. Weak contact and popups appear to be Mullins’ MO early in his career. His defense could buy him some playing time, but I’m staying away from him as a sleeper in 2021.

Alex Verdugo (OF – BOS)

Verdugo has always been a high-contact hitter capable of carrying high batting averages. It was true in the minors and so far he has a .290 BA in 709 career plate appearances in the bigs. However, his xBABIP from 2020 was frighteningly low. His hard hit% declined from a year ago and his strikeout rate jumped by 7%. Typically, that combination doesn’t provide a higher batting average but for Verdugo, it did. Now, he does have one thing going for him, Fenway Park. Outside of Coors Field, Fenway allows the highest BABIP for hitters. Over the last three seasons, Fenway Park has allowed a BABIP of .327! I think it fair to say Verdugo is a strong candidate to outperform his xBABIP once again in 2021. I just wouldn’t expect a .300+ BA unless he cuts his K% below 15%.

Adalberto Mondesi (SS – KCR)

Mondesi went from an early-round bust to league winner in just two months. He’s certainly a flawed hitter but can provide fantasy gold in an era where steals are at a premium. I’d be lying if I told you I could predict where Mondesi’s BABIP will fall in 2021 but I can try! I have an issue with the .281 xBABIP spits out for him. His speed alone is an outlier that messes with the equation. In any season with over 200 PA, he hasn’t posted a BABIP below .335. He’s also improved his HH% and hit more grounders. Unfortunately, that came at the expense of line drives. In other words, his xBABIP docked him for a poor line drive rate. Line drive rates take forever to stabilize, so I’m not trusting the low mark from 2020. It’s, something to monitor but Mondesi seems safe for another .335ish BABIP in 2021.

Alec Bohm (3B – PHI)

Bohm’s rookie campaign went a bit under the radar. It’s probably because he only hit four homers and played in a Phillies team that really struggled. Obviously, a .410 BABIP is not sustainable (unless your TA), so that’s coming down. However, in the small sample, he still managed a very solid .347 xBABIP. I’ll be honest, I really like Bohm’s approach. He does everything well and he profiles as a high-BABIP hitter. If he can improve his launch angle, we are looking at a .280-.300 hitter with 25-30 HR pop. 

David Peralta (OF – ARI)

I think some people may look at Peralta’s .300 BA in 2020 and expect him to provide value there in 2021. It makes sense, he’s always been a solid BA source. But, I don’t see it that way. He’ll turn 34 next year and his quality of contact has faded the last two seasons. There’s no real upside here and he’s only attempted one steal over the last two seasons. A .270 BA with 12-15  HR and no speed feels like waiver wire fodder to me.


Michael Conforto (OF – NYM)

Did Conforto take a step forward in 2020? The simple answer is no. His barrel rate remained unchanged and his hard hit% dipped a little. He lowered his launch angle hitting more line drives and had a more all-fields approach but, come on. A .412 BABIP! Those pointing to his career sub-.300 BABIP is a bit lazy though. He dropped his pull% by 13%. That doesn’t seem like an accident. Of course, fewer pulled balls will result in fewer home runs. As a lefty though, fewer pulled pull balls with result in a higher BABIP as he’ll be able to beat the shifts. OK, so he wasn’t the same hitter in 2020. But, will he revert back, keep his changes, or fall somewhere in the middle? The latter is the most likely result. So, maybe we cant bank on 30 homers but I don’t think he’ll be a BA liability either. So, let’s say he goes .275 with 25 homers and 5-8 steals? Meh, his early ADP is around 70 so I think he’ll be over-drafted in 2021.

Nelson Cruz (OF – MIN)

Cruz goes against everything we know about aging curves. Expecting regression from a 40-year old seems obvious but we can’t simply just do that with Cruz. He’s a machine with an insane 57 homers over his last 173 games. He can’t do this forever, right? Well, there were some signs of decline. A slight dip in hard hit% and his K% increased for the second straight season. He’s always struggled against breaking balls and he took a step back against offspeed pitches as well. However, he still feasts on fastballs. His struggles against non-fastballs shows up in xBA which was his lowest in the Statcast era. There’s a real chance he strikes out 30% of the time and hits .250 with 25-30 homers next year. There’s also the possibility of hitting .300-40. For me, I’ll project .265-32.

Willy Adames (SS – TBR)

I was into Adames coming into 2020 as he was dirt-cheap in drafts. Given the depth at the shortstop position, it made sense. Adames doesn’t have great power or elite speed but coming into 2020 he was just 24 years old, showed progress in his quality of contact, and was locked in as SS for the Rays. Not much to lose at pick 300. While he did improve his barrel rate and hard-hit rate in 2020, his strikeouts went through the roof (36.1%). Strikeout rates seemed to be wonky for a lot of players in this shortened season, so I’m inclined to lean on the larger sample from 2019 in terms of K%.


However, his SwStr% and zone contact rates were atrocious. I think projecting him around his career mark of 29% seems reasonable for 2021. He’s been able to sustain moderate success despite elevated strikeout rates due to a .348 BABIP. We are talking about over 1100 plate appearances, so that’s a large enough sample to believe in his elevated BABIP profile. His Sweet spot% is very good as is his line drive rate. I do worry about his heavy-pull approach change this year but think that regresses some. If Adames isn’t going to use his 83rd percentile sprint speed to swipe bags, I think he’s just going to be a .240-.250 hitter with 20-25 homer pop. If he chips in 6-8 steals, he’s solid value. Early ADPs, per @SmadaPlaysFantasy has him going after pick 250 once again. This was a long-winded way of saying, Adames may once again be a nice value as your MI in 15 team formats.

Jeff McNeil (2B/3B/OF – NYM)

I’ve never been a believer in McNeil’s power. He was being drafted right near D.J. LeMahieu coming into 2020 and while similar players, I didn’t get it. Here’s what I said after the 2019 season.

McNeil took a step back in terms of barrel% and average exit velocity in 2020 yet still hit .311. What’s odd is that his career xBA is .286 but his career BA is a fantastic .318. Maybe there’s something that isn’t captured in the xBA or xBABIP equation that McNeil excels at. While his metrics are poor, the one thing he does well is put the bat in the ball. He has a sub-20% whiff% against all pitch types. So, while I think he’ll maintain a solid BA, I’ll take the under on .311.

Now, to the power. He has more home runs than barrels since the start of 2019. Anyone projecting him for 20-25 homers in 2021 may be disappointed. 23 of his 27 homers over the last two years have come from the pull side. His pull% declined in 2020 and maybe there’s a rebound in 2021 but what will the ball look like? Without the juiced ball, McNeil profiles as a 12-15 homer hitter. Speed? Don’t count on it. He’s managed Just five steals in his last 185 games. Fortunately, his early ADP in is between 100-110. That seems about right. If his ADP creeps up inside of 90 overall as it was in 2020, i’ll be out.

I mentioned Nolan Arenado earlier and found it interesting that his that he didn’t show up on the underachievers list despite a lowly .241 BABIP. In fact, his xBABIP was slightly lower at .236, second lowest among qualified hitters! He was awful in 2020 but the shoulder likely had something to do with it. I’m expecting a bounce back but to 100%. There’s also the real possibility he’s moved at some point in 2021.


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2019 FreezeStats Hitter Projections Revisited – Fantasy Baseball

Every year I run as many player projections as I physically can given my personal time constraints. I then compare each player’s final results to my projections at the end of the season to see how accurate (or inaccurate) I was. It also helps me determine where and why I was wrong to help correct these issues for the future. Of course, projections are extremely difficult due to the countless number of variables and the sheer length of the season. For reference, here is the link to my article from last year comparing my 2018 FreezeStats Projections to the final 2018 results. Additionally, here is the link to the Google Sheet.


You’ll notice that I use all positive values when I run my Z-Scores which is not the way your statistics professor teach you to run them. However, in this case, I’m running Z-Scores compared to the difference in a statistical category from my projection to what actually happened. So, using the absolute value of the difference is the most accurate way to go if I want to compare the accuracy of each categorical statistic for each player. In addition to the standard 5-roto categories, I also include OBP (for you OBP leaguers out there) and plate appearances. Why? Because you can’t even start a projection for a hitter without determining his plate appearances. Thus, it may be the most important statistic to project and will help determine the validity of a projection. Here is the complete Googlesheet with all the data goodness from my 2019 FreezeStats Projections. Without further ado, let’s dive into the best or worst projections.

Projections with High Categorical Correlations

Adam Jones (OF – ARI)
As it turns out, my most accurate projection (by sum of Z-scores) was veteran outfielder Adam Jones. I suppose projecting a durable veteran with consistent year-to-year numbers isn’t all that surprising. However, I overestimated a little in plate appearances. I had him for 575 PA and he finished with 528 PA. The rest looked almost identical. I pegged his home runs and steals, missed his RBI by three, runs by two, AVG by .005 and OBP by just .001. 

Kris Bryant (3B – CHC)
I was down on Bryant coming into 2019 and nearly nailed his projections. He was dealing with injuries in 2018 so there was a high probability for a rebound but I didn’t see the superstar numbers coming back and I was right. My projections matched three of Bryant’s final numbers in AVG – .282, home runs – 31, and steals – 4. I missed his plate appearance total by just six and was very close on runs, RBI, and OBP. Being a Cubs fan, I’ve seen enough of KB to know who he is. The juiced ball dwarfed his numbers a bit even though he still managed a very productive season.



Ryan Braun (1B/OF – MIL)
What do you know, another veteran! Braun always misses time. You can bank of 125-135 games from him every year. The lower plate appearance projection actually allows me to provide more accurate projections. He still has some power, speed, and decent contact rates. As I mentioned earlier, the projection starts with the PA total and goes from there. 

J.D Martinez (OF – BOS)
Martinez’s numbers did not appear to be aided by the juiced ball. This helped my projections match his final numbers. With almost five years of consistent metrics from JDM, is a player I can count on and feel confident with where his numbers ultimately lie. His elevated BABIP and high home run rate helped me peg his AVG and OBP. I slightly over-projected his home run total but the runs and RBI are once again very high hitting cleanup for a great Red Sox lineup.

Domingo Santana (OF – SEA)
This one is interesting. Domingo was granted a fresh start in Seattle making him a prime bounce-back candidate in 2019. However, I was not projecting a career-year that matched his 2017. I thought he played over his head a little bit that season. So, I lowered his home run total based on his low fly ball rate but given his quality of contact, kept his BABIP elevated. That’s how I nailed his average and home run total. Not knowing exactly where he would hit in the order threw off the run and RBI totals a some, but still relatively close. 

Adam Frazier (2B – PIT)
I was a fan of Frazier as a deep league option for batting average and runs in 2019. Unfortunately, he did not take advantage of the juiced ball and took a step back in xwOBA. I just about nailed his PA and rate stats but inflated his home run and stolen base totals expecting a step forward in those departments. 

Brandon Crawford (SS – SFG)
I’m surprised I even projected Crawford. I thought he might be too deep but he plays every day because of his elite defense. I was not a fan of his heading into the season and he actually performed worse than my projections but is was close. His metrics are extremely underwhelming and his skills are declining. I don’t expect more than 500 PA for Crawford next year and he may be out of the league by 2021.

Justin Turner (3B – LAD)
Like Braun, Turner is a veteran talent who regularly misses time due to injury. Turner’s skills are strong and extremely consistent year-to-year. I’ve said it before, if Turner could get 650 PA, he would be a borderline top-25 player. His contact rates are strong as are his quality of contact skills, so he’d be a beast in four categories IF he ever stays healthy. So again, being accurate on his PA turned out to be the main factor in Turner’s projection. 


Michael Conforto (OF – NYM)
Did Conforto disappoint in 2019? Of course not. He hit 33 homers, drove in 92 runs, and stole seven bases. That’s a great year if it was 2018 or 2015 but it was 2019. Remember, my projections were made prior to the knowledge that the ball was juiced, so I was expecting a step forward for Conforto but he didn’t quite deliver the breakout some (including myself) were hoping for.

C.J. Cron (1B – MIN)
Other than an absurdly low run total for Cron in 2019, I just about predicted his season numbers to a tee. Again, thanks to an accurate plate appearance projection, the rest of the numbers fell into place. The home run and RBI totals were just a hair higher but that may have been juiced ball aided. He’ll be an interesting sleeper in 2020 after posting a career-best 15% barrel rate and cut his strikeout rate by nearly four percent. The lineup in Minnesota remains stacked but unfortunately for Cron, Cruz still occupies the DH. If Cron can get 140 games at first base, we could be talking about a career-year that looks something like .275-32-95.

Nick Ahmed (SS – ARI)
Um, so apparently, I projected Nick Ahmed’s mini-breakout? Had I known that I did this, I might have called it out on Twitter or something. I completely pegged his 19 homers (a career-high) and nearly nailed his AVG, OBP, and steals. He was coming off a career-high 16 home runs in 2018 at age-28 but he also cut his K-rate and improved his BB-rate with the metrics to back it up. There are two ways to project this type of performance. Call it career-year and negatively regress closer to the player’s baseline or trust the skills growth from the previous season and create a new baseline. I took the later. Maybe the juiced ball had something to do with his power but Ahmed took another step forward in terms of his plate approach as well. You better believe I’m expecting more of the same in 2020 from Ahmed at age-29.

Tyler Flowers (C – ATL)
T-Flow is an interesting case. It’s not difficult to project his stolen base total but I also nabbed his home run total and was very close on his OBP. My projections essentially had his playing time at a 50/50 split with declining skills, so the fact that this projection is a hit isn’t all that surprising from a 33-year-old catcher. 

Mitch Moreland (1B – BOS)
Moreland is another part-time veteran that is extremely consistent year-to-year. I was a little lower on his PA projection and the juiced-ball certainly helped aid in his 19 homers, but otherwise, this was a close projection. He’s been the same player for the last six years, so why would he change now? Same ol’ Mitch.

Mike Moustakas (2B/3B, MIL)
Unfortunately, Moustakas failed to reach the 40-homer plateau but still have a quietly productive season. I blame the juiced ball for the slightly inflated offensive numbers but you know what you’re getting from Moose. He had no business scoring 80 runs with under 600 PA and a .323 OBP but playing in Milwaukee with the juiced ball with do that for you. 

Projections with Poor Categorical Correlations

Travis Shaw (1B/2B/3B)
Boy was I off on this one. Not by a little but probably more than anyone was ever off about anyone. Who would have guessed that a player in his prime with back-to-back 30-homer seasons would end up with just seven! He only had 270 PA, was sent to the minors and hit an embarrassing .157. Wow, just wow. To be fair, no one could have projected a decline like this but I thought he would improve! Ugh, I apologize to anyone who listened to me on this one. 


Justin Upton (OF – LAA)
This can be chalked up to the toe injury Upton suffered literally right before the start of the season. Without a clear timetable, I only had him missing about two weeks. He ended up missing a total of almost four months between the toe injury and a knee injury that ended his season. He never really got going, but if you project his home run total out, you get very close to the 29 HR I projected. 

Pete Alonso (1B – NYM)
Here is an example of what a poor plate appearance projection can do. I never adjusted his plate appearances up after the Mets announced Alonso would start the season with the big club. I had him at 410 PA compared to his amazing 693! I projected Alonso for 24 homers in those 410 PA which projects out to 41 home runs in 693 PA. Considering my projection was pre-juiced ball, that isn’t an awful total. Also, I had his AVG in the .240s because I thought he would have a 29-30%% K rate in the majors. So kudos to Alonso for smashing even my relatively lofty expectations on the way to the 2019 Rookie of the Year.

Joey Gallo (OF – TEX)
Gallo is another injury case but also made a change in approach. He significantly lowered his launch angle (and fly ball rate as a result) which improved his BABIP and batting average. He maintained mammoth power and a strikeout rate far north of 30%. The injuries caused him to miss a ton of time so my projections pegged him for twice as many PAs. If you double his R, HR, and RBI, it’s a win on my end. I’ll take it, I guess. 

Aaron Hicks (OF – NYY)
This will be the last injury guy that I’ll talk about. Of course, I’m going to miss on guys that lose huge chunks of the season due to an injury. The difference between Hicks and players who were hurt after the season already began is number one, his history and number two, he was questionable to start the season due to a back injury suffered during spring training. Back injuries linger and I failed to adjust my plate appearance projection for Hicks docking him only two weeks of playing time. Going forward, in regards to players with injuries in the preseason (especially back, obliques, or arm injuries for pitchers) I’m going to downgrade and try to stay away from no matter how much I may love them. Other players I missed due to injury (after the start of the season) include Andrew McCutchen, and Mitch Haniger. 

Brandon Nimmo (OF – NYM)
I wasn’t expecting another step forward from Nimmo even though I projected his 2018 breakout. I thought he was good in 2018 but out-performed his metrics. Nimmo is technically an injury case but he was healthy through the first two months of the season and he was terrible. I expected a little bit of negative regression but what we got was a strikeout rate north of 30% and no power to speak of. He’s a curious case for 2020 as he’ll only be 27 and be dirt cheap. I suspect I may be back in after pick 250. 


Ian Kinsler (2B – SDP)
Nope, nope, nope! It’s safe to say Kinsler’s career is over. I’m not entirely sure what I saw in Kinsler’s profile that made me think Kinsler could hit .250 with 17 home runs at age-36. This was a poor projection and I’ll be the first one to admit it. 

Jorge Soler (OF – KCR)
Here is a projection that I was far too low on. I would imagine, most people were. I mean, he led the AL with 48 home runs for crying out loud! One issue for me was his strikeout rate that improved in 2018 but I wasn’t fully buying it. Also, his previous HR/FB rates were relatively pedestrian. There was nothing in his profile that showed an improvement that would result in a 20%+ HR/FB. Now, to my credit, I noticed his increased launch angle in the spring and I projected a potential power breakout, just nowhere near the final results. I guess I should have listened to myself but ended up with only one share.

Jose Peraza (2B/SS – CIN)
I was fading Peraza in 2019 and I owned him nowhere, that’s the positive side of things. His metrics were awful in 2018 and he “lucked” his way to 14 home runs. I dropped him to just nine HR which was correct but still projected him for 25+ stolen bases which is where I missed. That and the batting average. He just straight tanked. 

Cody Bellinger (1B/OF – LAD)
Ranking Rhys Hoskins over Cody Bellinger was a huge mistake. Where I missed with Bellinger is making the determination that his true skill level fell closer to 2018 than in 2017. I failed to realize that we were dealing with a 23-year-old phenom who hit 39 home runs as a rookie. He made strides from year-1 to year-2 by cutting his strikeout rate but made an unpredictable jump from year-2 to year-3. That’s my mistake. I projected him closer to a 25% strikeout rate and he finished with an impressive 16.3%! Amazing. That will add about 30 points to one’s batting average. Combine that with the juiced ball and you have the 2019 version of Cody Bellinger. I don’t expect 47 homers again, but 40 seems about right.

Rafael Devers (3B – BOS)
Devers is another young player where I failed to project significant improvements. While I did expect improvements in batting average and home runs, it was nowhere near the jump he made in 2019. So while I wasn’t completely out on Devers, I just missed on his superstar breakout. Oh well. My lesson learned is that maybe year-three is the time to buy into a young prospect who had high pedigree regardless of the previous year’s performance. 

Ryan O’Hearn (1B – KCR)
After a hot final two months of 2018, I expected better numbers from O’Hearn. He showed that his power was real even if it would come with a low batting average. His power was just OK and boy was he ever a batting average drain finishing below the Mendoza line. He’s a guy where I fell in love with the Statcast metrics (12.5% barrel rate, 44.2 hard hit%, solid batted ball profile, etc). I failed to notice that he was extremely poor against offspeed and breaking pitches where his whiff rate was north of 42% on both pitch types. A few good outcomes boosted the small sample numbers against those pitches for O’Hearn in 2018. In 2019, larger samples and regression set in. He actually made a few slight improvements and was unlucky against fastballs. He might just be a deep-league option in 15-team and deeper formats in 2020. Maybe.

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




Photo by: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

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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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2019 At First Glance – Hitters to Target

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

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


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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Follow me on Twitter @FeeezeStats