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Hitters to Buy in 2020 Using Earned Home Runs and Deserved Barrels

Earlier this offseason I introduced the earned home run metric (eHR). I explained it here and analyzed some of the largest outliers from 2019 here. The metric’s backbone is barrels but included other variables including directional fly balls, home park factors, and exit velocity on fly balls and line drives. I also ran some regression analysis from 2018 to 2019 to determine how well the metric correlated from year 1 to year 2. The results showed weak correlation so there’s more work to do, but that article can be found here. What I ultimately determined was that while the correlations were slightly better than using strictly home runs per fly ball and home run per plate appearance, the results, as a whole, are inconclusive. That is for extremely small samples and for the players where eHR and HR totals did not differ by a significant margin. Where the value lies in eHR is with outliers.

Alex Chamberlain of RotoGraphs developed a deserved barrel (dBRL%) metric this offseason which has been extremely helpful. His research is great and makes a lot sense so I found a way to use his analysis in conjunction with my earned home run metric. Chamberlain’s introduction to the deserved barrel metric can be found here. But, he refined the dBRL equation earlier this month and the results are much more reliable. In the second article, he explains that the adjusted r-squared (r^2) improved to 0.8 up from 0.68. That’s a huge bump in reliability. Please be sure you check the article out. He still uses a slight bit of caution in that the metric is more valuable when looking at outliers. The way I’ll be using the two metrics together is identifying players that extremely over or underperformed their actual barrel rate based on the deserved barrel percentage but also earned their home run total from 2019. OR, even better, in the rare instance when a player either over or underperformed both deserved barrel% and earned home runs.

That sounded confusing as I wrote it, so let me give you an example. Mookie Betts. His barrel rate in 2019 was 10.3%. Chamberlain’s dBRL metric pegged him for an 11.6% BRl% given his dBRL equation that includes exit velocity and launch angles (aka quality of contact). That’s great, so Betts deserved more barrels in 2019. More barreled balls mean better results. Looking at the earned home run metric, Betts earned an additional 4.68 home runs in 2019 compared to his actual total of 29 home runs. But, I use his actual barrels produced in 2019 in my equation, not dBRL. So Betts’ quality of contact did not directly reflect his bottom line so given his actual barrel rate he actually earned almost an additional five home runs. If the ball remains unchanged, Betts is a guy who could reach a new career-high in home runs in 2020.

Alright, let’s take a look at the players who have a nice buying opportunity in 2020 given this analysis. The second column is simply deserved barrel% minus barrel%. The third column is earned home runs minus home run. I’ve included each player’s HR/FB rate from 2019 as I’ll come back to this article to determine whether or not improvements were made.

Earned HR & Deserved BRL% Underachievers (Buys)

Up for 2020dBRL%-BRL%eHR-HRHR/FB%
Jose Ramirez2.50%0.9012.00%
Mookie Betts1.30%4.8613.10%
Byron Buxton2.60%5.7510.10%
Renato Nunez1.40%5.1516.70%
Shohei Ohtani-1.00%6.4626.50%
Matt Chapman1.20%3.9919.00%
Marcell Ozuna-0.50%7.4022.10%
Rafael Devers2.20%0.3417.70%
Lorenzo Cain2.40%0.629.90%
Andrew Benintendi0.40%5.767.90%
Josh Donaldson-1.30%10.3925.70%
Enrique Hernandez2.70%1.8412.20%
CJ Cron-2.70%14.4719.50%
Brandon Belt1.70%3.718.80%
Yoan Moncada0.30%6.5120.20%
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.0.20%5.8712.10%
Bryce Harper-1.80%10.9323.50%
Rhys Hoskins2.10%3.5214.30%
Aaron Judge0.40%8.2135.10%
Travis Shaw4.10%4.0510.10%
Howie Kendrick0.30%6.1817.90%
Matt Olson0.30%5.5423.70%
Jose Abreu-0.60%14.0921.00%

Source: Alex Chamberlain – RotoGraphs & BaseballSavant



2020 Players to Buy – Under-performed eHR & dBRL

If you’re looking for something positive in Travis Shaw‘s profile that might indicate a bounceback, this is it. Keep in mind, he only managed 270 plate appearances, so his sample is small and therefore, not as reliable. Even still, he maintained a high pulled fly ball rate and hit the ball. He needs to get his contact rate under control but if he gets 100% run at 1B in Toronto, he should get back to 25+ home runs. That’s a steal at his current ADP of 410.

Byron Buxton really surprised me here. His approach completely changed last year as his launch angle jumped seven degrees. Additionally, his exit velocity shot up while cutting his strikeout rate. That’s huge. But, fewer ground balls portend to a lower BABIP and fewer stolen base opportunities, especially with his five percent jump in popup rate. The health cloud is always surrounding him, so he’ll remain an enigma for me.

Annnnnd just like that I’m back in on Rhys Hoskins. His stock has dropped like a rock after being taken inside the top 50 in 2019. He’s all the down at 115 but still has 35-40 homer power (given the juiced ball). Plus, the Phillies lineup is still very good. He’s not going to help in BA or stolen bases but 35 home runs with 200 R+RBI is gold.

It looks like Jose Ramirez is coming in at a discount in 2020 with an NFBC ADP of 18 as of today. Using dBRL%, he earned 10 additional barrels bringing him up to 36 barrels in about 3/4 of a season. While eHR only has him adding about one home run, he still deserved at least six to seven additional home runs in 2019. Assuming the ball remains unchanged and a full season, I’d expect 30-32 home runs from Ramirez in 2020.



I’m inclined to grab Renato Nunez as my corner infielder in all of my 15-team formats. His ADP is currently 277 after players like David Peralta and Joey Votto. He hit 31 home runs last year and actually earned 36. Chamberlain’s dBRL says he should have had five additional barrels. We are creeping dangerously close to 40 homers given these two metrics. His park is extremely favorable and the lineup is not as bad as advertised. I won’t project him for 40 home runs in 2020 but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a .250-35-95 season from him.

Based on my quasi-scientific calculation, Mookie Betts earned approximately 36 home runs in 2019. His stolen base total dropped but his power is as strong as ever. He was the same steller hitter, just unlucky. Fenway Park doesn’t help either and he’s staying put for this season. Unfortunately, the fantasy community is not buying Mookie’s “down” year as he’s the 4th player off the board in 2020. I would not be surprised if he finished 2020 hitting over .300 with 35+ homers, 20 steals and vying for the number one fantasy player next season.

As if we needed another reason to be giddy about the 23-year-old Rafael Devers, he deserved 12 more barrels in 2019. My eHR metric was neutral but go ahead and add those barrels onto his season total and you’ve got another eight homers! Now, remember, Fenway is difficult for power, so maybe his earned total is closer to 38 but still fantastic! Here’s a fun one for ya. Devers hit his first home run on May 3rd last year. From that point forward, here’s his line: .314/.357/.593 112 R, 32 HR, 105 RBI, 4 SB.

It’s nice to see that Jose Abreu, earned home run’s second-largest underperformer, deserved all but 2-3 of his barrels. He’s on the wrong side of 30, so expecting some performance decline is inevitable based on age. However, given these results, I don’t see why he can’t repeat his 2019 statline with maybe a few extra homers and natural regression in RBI.



Aaron Judge is still among the top one percent in all of baseball in terms of crushing baseballs. A healthy Judge can still hit 50 home runs and would be a lock for 40 bombs if he can manage at least 600 plate appearances. Nothing flashy, just simple analysis here.

Marcell Ozuna has under-performed his Statcast metrics two years running making his 2017 breakout seem like an outlier. Ya boy Max doesn’t see it that way. His home parks combined with some poor luck have held Ozuna’s numbers down the last two seasons. He remains unsigned this offseason and it looks inevitable that he’ll be back with the Cardinals. I’ll hold out hope that he goes elsewhere because Busch Stadium is one of the worst parks for offensive production.

Earned home runs pegged Matt Chapman for just about 40 homers in 2019 and his quality of contact was BETTER than his barrel rate indicates. Oakland Collusiem performs relatively neutral for home runs despite conventional thinking. I love Chapman and his price is reasonable. My only concern is his high variance in launch angle tightness. This high variance could mean a wild swing in production. A few of those deep fly balls could turn into popups or low line drives. That being said, the power is legit and I have no issue expecting a repeat of 2019 while adding a few points in batting average.

Similar to Abreu, Josh Donaldson is an aging veteran who had a very nice 2019. He was finally healthy and finished as one of seven players to surpass 60 barrels last season. Deserved barrels docks him five or so barrels and given his age and health history, it’ll be tough to repeat. Luckily for early drafters, his ADP hasn’t changed much over the last year (105 overall in NFBC drafts). I’m grabbing him at that price but it’ll be interesting to see how his value rises now that he’s with the Minnesota Juggernauts.

Deserved barrels dropped Bryce Harper BRL% to 13% which is still very impressive. Including dBRL to earned home runs cuts his eHR difference in half but 5-6 additional home runs in 2019 setting his home runs total at 40. Given Citizen’s Bank Park’s favorable right field, I am fully on board with Harper reaching the 40-homer plateau in 2020.

C.J Cron’s 15% barrel rate last year seemed to good to be true. As it turns out, it was. But, a 12.3% barrel rate is still among the elite. When we combine the two metrics, Cron should have eclipsed 30 homers for the second straight season instead of finishing with just 25. The move to DET is not great but he should play every day in the middle of that lineup, so he’s another nice late-round flier.



Yoan Moncada’s elevated strikeout rate may keep him from hitting .315 again but I’m projecting a power breakout in 2020. While his 2019 strikeout rate was high at 27.5%, it was a 6% improvement from the previous year. Growth from a young player is always a very good thing. As a prospect, his hit tool was rated well-above-average, so if he can continue to improve his contact rate the sky is the limit. Unless Moncada’s ADP settles inside the top 50 (currently at 68), I’m going to be all over him. Don’t be surprised if he reaches 35 home runs in 2020.

Nothing to see here. Matt Olson just earned 40 home runs in just 127 games! Look, Olson is being hyped by just about everyone. His ADP is soaring because of it, but as is he’s going 30 picks after Pete Alonso. I think they are very similar, so give me Olson over Alonso every time given the discount.

Despite a 50+% ground ball rate, Vlad Jr. still earned nearly six additional home runs last year. He just crushes the ball evidenced by hitting the hardest ball of 2019. Check out my piece at Pitcher List on his power potential. I can understand the lofty ADP. His combination of exit velocity and high contact could yield 35+ homers with a .300 batting average in the future.

Unfortunately for Kike Hernandez, the Dodgers have so much positional depth making him a utility option; a part-time option at that. Even still, he should have finished closer to 23-34 homers in 2019 instead of 17. The power breakout we saw in 2018 is real and he’s a nice option in NL-Only and deep-leagues for cheap power.

Normally, I’d been in on Lorenzo Cain with this data but he’s going to be 34 years old. His speed is dwindling and so is the power. While he deserved better in 2019, I don’t expect 15+ homers in 2020.

Here we go again with Brandon Belt. Oracle Park is brutal for left-handed power. Moving the walls in a bit could help but I’m still not buying unless he’s traded. Plugging in dBRL into my eHR equation, he still would have finished with 24 home runs in 2019 across 616 PA. That’s the first time he’s surpassed 600 PA since 2016 so the probability of a repeat is low. Besides, 24 homers in this era does not move the needle.

Andrew Benintendi needs to go back to what he does best. Using his elite hit tool and driving balls all over the field. The dream of 30 home runs for him may likely never come to fruition but eHR shows that he still has some pop. If he can get back to hitting .290 with 20 homers in the Red Sox lineup, he’s a good value at pick just after 100 overall.

Howie Kendrick’s age-35 season was so impressive when you consider his career. His zone contact rate was the best of his career while posting the second-best HR/FB rate. He’s still just a part-time player so his value will lie in NL-Only leagues and for streaming purposes.

Pitching every sixth game is going to limit Shohei Ohtani‘s value as a hitter. Then again, Joe Maddon claims he could use Ohtani as the team’s DH when he pitches. So, there’s that. Ohtani is a unicorn. If he managed 600+ PA, he would hit 35 home runs and steal 12-15 bases. If he threw 200 innings, he’d be a top 10 arm. Neither will happen but we can still enjoy his talent wherever he’s at on the field.

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





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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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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

Comparing FreezeStats Rankings vs Yahoo! Rankings (Fantasy Baseball)

Earlier this week I covered players I was higher/lower on compared to ESPN rankings. Today, I’m looking into Yahoo! rankings and comparing where we differ. After reviewing both sets of rankings, I think Yahoo! is a little bit more accurate with their rankings compared to ESPN. I’ll be highlighting a few players on each end of the spectrum to help you prepare and find values in your draft this weekend. First, let’s start with players I’m higher on and the guys I’m targeting in Yahoo! leagues.

FreezeStats vs Yahoo! Rankings - Players I'm Higher On

PlayerFreezeStats RankYahoo RankDifference
Jose Ramirez, CLE3107
Francisco Lindor, CLE12219
Manny Machado, SD132310
Xander Bogaerts, BOS263913
Trevor Bauer, CLE254621
Patrick Corbin, WSH486113
Marcell Ozuna, STL406424
Adalberto Mondesi, KC516514
Justin Upton, LAA597415
Matt Olson, OAK639128
Luis Severino, NYY529644
Michael Conforto, NYM589739
Joey Gallo, TEX719827
Matt Chapman, OAK8910314
Robinson Cano, NYM7011141
Aaron Hicks, NYY8211230
Max Muncy, LAD8711932
Eloy Jimenez, CWS10512015
Craig Kimbrel,6212159
German Marquez, COL8412945
Stephen Piscotty, OAK10913627
Travis Shaw, MIL7714063
Yadier Molina, STL13516126
Nick Pivetta, PHI13616226
Ryan Braun, MIL12017050
Kenta Maeda, LAD16018222
Max Kepler, MIN15018838
Domingo Santana, SEA16620337
Jackie Bradley Jr, BOS14920455
Hunter Renfroe, SD16120948
Jesse Winker, CIN16821446
Ramon Laureano, OAK15421763
Shohei Ohtani, LAA13923293
Tyler Skaggs, LAA17423965
Joe Musgrove, PIT147250103
Ketel Marte, ARI17527499
Trey Mancini, BAL19028393
Danny Jansen, TOR20428480
Jimmy Nelson, MIL191291100
Anibal Sanchez, WAS201N/R-

This is the second straight year Yahoo has disrespected Jose Ramirez. He was WAY down in the 60s last year believe it or not. I guess a jump to 10th overall is an improvement. There’s a lot of talk about his second half because he hit .218 on a .208 BABIP. I’m sorry, but that BABIP won’t happen again. He might not reach .300 but a .275-.280 BABIP makes a lot more sense. Besides, even with the poor BABIP his full season pace using his second-half numbers comes out to 25 homers, 35 steals, 104 runs, and 88 RBI! You know I love Trevor Bauer, no surprise there, but Yahoo doesn’t seem to like Patrick Corbin either, gimme that slider! Marcell Ozuna and Justin Upton are guys who are slipping in rankings but shouldn’t be. They have not shown any signs of decline in their profiles, I’ll take both as my number two OF but could finish borderline top 12. Maybe Yahoo is devaluing power a little bit with their rankings of Matt Olson, Michael Conforto, and Joey Gallo. Did they know that power was down across the board last year? Kimbrel is low because he doesn’t have a job, so I’ll gladly grab him at his ranking.

I will gladly take 220 strikeouts from German Marquez at pick 129 overall. Thank you! Looks like I’m waiting until Ryan Braun through Ramon Laureano to grab my third outfielder. There’s a ton of talent there with power and/or speed there. I have another question. Why does Yahoo! hate players with multi-position eligibility who hit cleanup for one of the best lineups in the league and have back-to-back 30 homer seasons? Hi Travis Shaw. If you think I hate catchers, just look at Yadier Molina and Danny Jansen. Looks like those guys are my catchers in Yahoo leagues!

FreezeStats vs Yahoo! Rankings - Players I'm Lower On

PlayerFreezeStats RankYahoo RankDifference
Nolan Arenado, COL936
Javier Baez, CHC24177
Corey Kluber, CLE32257
Juan Soto, WSH392712
Starling Marte, PIT39309
Carlos Correa, HOU573522
Vladimir Guerrero Jr, TOR674918
Jack Flaherty, STL1005149
Corey Seager, LAD975443
Jameson Taillon, PIT865531
Jose Berrios, MIN986335
Gleyber Torres, NYY856817
Eddie Rosario, MIN916922
Matt Carpenter, STL79709
Jonathan Villar, BAL957817
Josh Donaldson, ATL1247945
David Price, BOS1068719
AJ Pollock, LAD1079512
Dee Gordon, SEA14110635
Tim Anderson, CWS17710968
Cesar Hernandez, PHI18413252
Kyle Schwarber, CHC23113893
Miguel Cabrera, DET245143102
Willson Contreras, CHC18814444
Billy Hamilton, KC23914891
Eric Hosmer, SD17914930
Dallas Keuchel,20815256
Buster Posey, SF18215527
Rick Porcello, BOS25516392
Jonathan Schoop, MIN24316578
Byron Buxton, MIN25417678
Jake Arrieta, PHI24618363
Odubel Herrera, PHI293187106
Gregory Polanco, PIT26019466
Jon Gray, COL29519798
Kyle Seager, SEA26720265
Alex Colome, CWS325222103
Arodys Vizcaino, ATL30822583
Miguel Sano, MIN28923851
Brandon Morrow, CHC340240100
Chris Paddack, SD30524758
Julio Teheran, ATL34127764

Oh my goodness Juan Soto! Yahoo! is extremely high on Soto expecting him to finish inside the top 30 overall. For reference, last season on the Razzball Player Rater, Paul Goldschmidt finished as the 28th player overall. Goldy hit .290 with 33 homers, 7 steals, and over 170 combined runs + RBI. Do we really expect Soto to pull that off this year? I’m out on Soto (for this year at least). So Jack Flaherty is an ace now? There are way too many question marks with Flaherty and quite a bit of regression in his numbers. He managed a .257 BABIP with a 9.6% walk rate, 79.3% strand rate, and a 1.19 HR/9. His zone rate was only 41.8% nearly four percent below league average and he didn’t induce swings outside the zone at an above-average rate. I don’t see a decrease in his walk rate and once the BABIP and strand rate stabilize, those home runs are going to hurt a lot more. Other 2nd & 3rd tier pitchers like Jameson Taillon and Jose Berrios are also being inflated in Yahoo’s rankings, I’ll be passing there as well. I’d much rather have Trevor Bauer and Patrick Corbin in the 4th and 6th rounds and basically have two aces.

Josh Donaldson and Miguel Cabrera are two old/broken veterans that I will be avoiding in my drafts. I think they both still have some of their skills intact but I just can’t trust them to stay healthy at all. Cesar Hernandez is a guy I really like but with the additions of Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen, he’s likely relegated to the bottom of the lineup where his counting stats will take a big hit. Tim Anderson is simply too high. He will be at the bottom of a not so great White Sox lineup. He should provide solid power and speed, but I’d rather have Yoan Moncada at a cheaper price. I mentioned how I don’t like the rabbits the other day and again, I’m the low man on them.

I’m not buying back into Byron Buxton this year. Hitting ninth is not good, I don’t care if he has a ton of homers this spring. Why is Gregory Polanco ranked inside of the top 200 overall? He’s out at least through May and likely to be sluggish upon his return. I’m not paying top 200 for a player who might just give you three months of production. Yahoo! has clearly bought into the Chris Paddack hype but is he going to give more than 100 innings?  I doubt it. I like him a ton and he’s shown his skills this spring but give me teammate Matt Strahm or Joe Musgrove instead.

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



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.

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