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2020 Fantasy Baseball Advice 2020 Fantasy Baseball Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy & Tips 2020 Fantasy Baseball Undervalued Draft Targets Editor Note Featured Baseball MLB Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Finding Over/Undervalued Outfielders Using Expected Draft Values

A couple weeks ago, we introduced our Expected Draft Values and explained how they would help us identify both over and undervalued players of all types. Power, speed, power+speed, batting average+power, and so on, with pitchers as well.

Today, we'll look at four outfielders and our site projections for them. Stay tuned over the next couple weeks as we bring you a deeper look at undervalued and overvalued players from each position using Expected Draft Values.

Generally, what we'll do in this series is identify players who will return positive or negative value, based on their NFBC ADP in Online Contests (Feb 1-March 9, 74 drafts), their Expected Draft Value (i.e. the average stat line typically produced at that ADP), and the player's projection. We'll adjust for any coronavirus-related season changes once they're announced, but let's assume 162 games for now.

 

How Expected Draft Values Help You Win Your League

It may be clear by this point already, but if you know the expected break-even stat-line of every draft slot, you can identify which of your draft picks are projected to return positive or negative value. Below, we look at four shortstops that are either over or undervalued based on their recent NFBC Online ADP, our RotoBaller projections, and Expected Draft Values.

Without further ado, here are some players that stand out at their current cost in 2020 drafts.

 

Mookie Betts - OF, LAD

NFBC Online ADP: 5
Expected Return for a Power+Speed+Average Hitter Drafted 5th: .313 BA, 36 HR, 112 runs, 101 RBI, 25 SB
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .291-30-118-78-17

Analysis: Now in a Dodger uniform, Betts shouldn’t experience a huge dropoff in production from his Bostonian ways. He has a monstrous lineup to drive him in, but he loses hits that clang off the Green Monster and he’ll have a pitcher hitting ahead of him. Some of those drives to left field are going to fall into a glove instead of hitting the wall, and his 80 RBI from each of the last two seasons may be optimistic.

For reference, Joc had 64 RBI in 441 PAs batting first in the LAD lineup in ‘19, and he knocked himself in with 33 HRs from that spot. It’d be rude not to note how hitting in LA should give him a few more homers compared to Fenway. The big wall helps the average, but blocks line-drive shots and Boston has a notoriously deep center and right-center wall. 

EVAnalytics brings us park factors from THE BAT, which shows us how the park affects wOBA, BA, HR, K, BB and BABIP. There’s some give on all categories here except for homers. I’ll include Coors for reference:

Betts is a beast and I highly doubt he busts, but there’s some volatility involved when a player switches teams. Mix in the slight average dip and lower RBI ceiling and then ask yourself if he’s really your fifth pick.

Verdict: Pass, Betts is overvalued at his current draft slot

 

Marcell Ozuna - OF, ATL

NFBC Online ADP: 94
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 94th: .252-32-79-87-6
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .274-32-95-104-8

Analysis: Ozuna is another fresh face on a new squad in 2020, only his draft stock remains modest despite the upgrade in surroundings. After five years as a Marlin and two with the Cardinals, Ozuna is Atlanta’s likely cleanup hitter just as their youth movement hits its stride. Josh Donaldson racked up 190 R+RBI there despite hitting “only” .259 in the role.

I say “only” because Ozuna should exceed that, and more batted balls means more Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies touching home. After posting BABIPs of .296 or higher in his first six seasons (career .314), a .257 BABIP dragged his average down to .241 on the year. He compensated with a career-best 11.3% walk rate to post an .800 OPS despite the poor fortune. Most projection systems agree on an average around .275-.280 for Ozuna in ‘20, which blows past the expectation here.

Then there’s the sneaky speed he tapped into last season, going 12-of-14 (85.7%) on the basepaths after a 14-for-25 (56%) start to his career. That’ll play! Going from an expectation of 2-3 bags to potentially 10 is clutch in today’s climate.

Verdict: Target, Ozuna is undervalued at his current draft slot

 

Austin Meadows - OF, TB

NFBC Online ADP: 35
Expected Return for a Power+Speed+Average Hitter Drafted 35th: .292-24-97-84-20
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .284-28-92-87-13

Analysis: Meadows’ 2019 breakout was a glorious sight to behold, but hopes may be too high for ‘20. You’ll note his projection falls short in all five categories. You can decide if that's a limitation of his youth versus projection systems or not.

Also, given Tampa’s depth it would not surprise me to see him sit against lefties more often than you’d like. Meadows hit .275 with a poor 53/9 K/BB ratio over 177 PAs against portsiders in ‘19, compared to .298 with a 78/45 K/BB mark across 414 PAs versus right-handers. The 123-point drop in OPS didn’t come with any real difference in batted-ball output -- no lag in flies or hard contact -- his plate discipline just plummets. This results in a lower R+RBI output and puts more strain on him to deliver HR+SB for you, unless you think he’s hitting .300 or greater.

So about those HR+SB, Meadows certainly has above-average pop and speed to spare, but just how much can you grind out? His 28.1 ft/sec sprint speed was 111th in the bigs (out of 415 w/ >50 opps) while his 4.24 home-to-first split was 85th. Good, but not great. We can get by on it if he ups his success rate (63.2%), but green lights may turn yellow if he can’t.

I’m less worried about the power, as he had the 20th best maximum exit velocity at 115.4 MPH with the 63rd-highest average exit velo at 90.4 MPH (among qualified hitters). But it is third-round power alongside the rest of this package? It doesn’t appear so.

Verdict: Pass, Meadows is overvalued at his current draft slot

 

Adam Eaton - OF, WSH

NFBC Online ADP: 196
Expected Return for a Speed+Average Hitter Drafted 196rd: .297-10-65-49-15
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .285-14-89-66-14

Analysis: After two injury-plagued seasons in 2017 and ‘18, Eaton turned in 656 PAs over 151 games last season for a career-high 103 runs, 15 homers and 15 steals. His average slipped to .279 after hitting .297 and .301 in the past two respective seasons, but the reason is clear.

Eaton bought into the power swing, for better or worse. Per Statcast, his fly-ball rate jumped to 23.3% with a 13.2-degree launch angle from 15.6% and 7.2 degrees in ‘18. But other power characteristics didn’t show up. His strikeout rate and swinging-strike rate dropped, his barrel rate barely moved, he swung at fewer first pitches and had a lower Meatball Swing rate according to Statcast.

I don’t want to get overly analytical just for the sake of data points, but that doesn’t read like a power hitter. I’d hope for a fly-ball rate somewhere in the middle, with 12-13 HRs and 12-15 steals on the table next to an average closer to .300. But I can’t put that on him. He was 4-for-16 with a double and a homer across eight Spring Training games before the Covid-19 lockdown.

And when it comes to his R+RBI production, health is the only barrier to his blasting through that expected return of 65 runs. The 49 RBI is fair given his assumed batting slot of second or in the lower-third, but hitting second in 102 games (455 PAs) last year yielded 78 runs. Another 24 came from 190 PAs as leadoff man, but I just want to show that he doesn’t need a Trea Turner injury to make good on a 100-run promise. He’ll miss Anthony Rendon hitting behind him, but Starlin Castro is no slouch and Juan Soto is a demigod. With roughly 40 R+RBI in hand above expectation, take the profits and dance near pick 200.

Verdict: Target, Eaton is undervalued at his current draft slot

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2020 Fantasy Baseball Advice 2020 Fantasy Baseball Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy & Tips 2020 Fantasy Baseball Undervalued Draft Targets Editor Note Featured Baseball MLB Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Finding Over/Undervalued Shortstops Using Expected Draft Values

A couple weeks ago, we introduced our Expected Draft Values and explained how they would help us identify both over and undervalued players of all types. Power, speed, power+speed, batting average+power, and so on, with pitchers as well.

Today, we'll look at four shortstops and our site projections for them. Stay tuned over the next couple weeks as we bring you a deeper look at undervalued and overvalued players from each position using Expected Draft Values.

Generally, what we'll do in this series is identify players who will return positive or negative value, based on their NFBC ADP in Online Contests (Feb 1-March 9, 74 drafts), their Expected Draft Value (i.e. the average stat line typically produced at that ADP), and the player's projection. We'll adjust for any coronavirus-related season changes once they're announced, but let's assume 162 games for now.

 

How Expected Draft Values Help You Win Your League

It may be clear by this point already, but if you know the expected break-even stat-line of every draft slot, you can identify which of your draft picks are projected to return positive or negative value. Below, we look at four shortstops that are either over or undervalued based on their recent NFBC Online ADP, our RotoBaller projections, and Expected Draft Values.

Without further ado, here are some players that stand out at their current cost in 2020 drafts.

 

Alex Bregman - 3B/SS, HOU

NFBC Online ADP: 15
Expected Return for a Power+Average Hitter Drafted 15th: .307 BA, 35 HR, 102 runs, 99 RBI, 8 SB
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .289-34-112-105-7

Analysis: At this point, you either believe in Bregman as a chronic overachiever against his expected metrics or you don’t. I won’t try to kick you into my corner of “don’t” but I will nudge you there. I was intrigued by his rebounding from a “down” 2017 where his average exit velocity and barrel rate had dropped off in favor of more grounders. But look at the “evolution” from 2018 to 2019:

The dip in barrel rate, sweet-spot rate, hard-hit rate, xwOBACON with a rise in launch angle frightens me. The drop in steals gives us a lower range of outcomes with more stock put into his shaky power metrics. If that falters and comes back to 2018’s 31 HRs even, then you’ll need his speed to giddy-up.

He’s benefited from volume as well, playing in 155 or more games in the last three years and going from 208 R+RBI in ‘18 to a whopping 234 in ‘19. New skipper Dusty Baker has already talked up veteran maintenance days, envisioning a 150-game cap on most. Take Breg’s counting stats down a tick, closer to the 650-PA range, and you once again lose some ceiling.

And then there's the whole "you cheated" thing, which may affect Houston players and create volatility. Regardless of how much you buy into that sort of thinking, you have to admit it's another unknown that's now thrown into the equation. I try to minimize risk and uncertainty this early in drafts.

Verdict: Pass, Bregman is overvalued at his current draft slot

 

Marcus Semien - SS, OAK

NFBC Online ADP: 90
Expected Return for a Power+Speed Hitter Drafted 90th: .262-23-82-82-16
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .271-26-101-82-12

Analysis: Folks appear hesitant to trust Semien’s 2019, and while he definitely maxed out his potential with a whopping 162 games played and 747 plate appearances, he can smash this valuation as Oakland’s leadoff hitter. He also topped 700 PAs in ‘18 as well, so the volume atop the order is relatively secure.

Despite today’s swing big, miss big climate, Semien’s power spike has come with a precipitous drop in strikeout rate:

 His ISO went from .149 in 2017 to .237 in ‘19, with the 22% strikeout rate falling to 13.7%. The fewer whiffs helped him bounce his 2019 average up to .285, the walk rate went up to 11.6% from 8.7% in '18 and you get a healthy chance at double-digit steals to boot. Further illustrating his foundation: His xBA rose by at least 20 points against fastballs, breaking balls and offspeed pitches.

No wonder he crossed the plate 123 times! And now he gets a healthy Khris Davis behind him too? I’m in. For reference, Semien’s production matches the expected value of a 50th pick. Ka-ching!

Verdict: Target, Semien is undervalued at his current draft slot

 

Carlos Correa - SS, HOU

NFBC Online ADP: 106
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 106th: .248-32-81-85-5
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .275-27-70-79-2

Analysis: Oh, but he’s such a steal! Remember when he hit .315 with 24 homers and 80-plus runs and RBI in just 109 games three years ago? Well, yeah. That’s great intel for your 2017 fantasy draft. Most knew his down 2018 (.728 OPS, 15 HRs in 110 games) would rebound, and a .926 OPS with 21 homers in just 75 games last year proved them right.

But it was yet another injury-tainted season, his third in a row, and counting on a full year feels reckless. So does taking 2019’s half-season sample and extrapolating it into a full year for 2020. Perhaps Correa is one of the few Astros to benefit from Dusty Baker’s veteran-rest program, but you need a lot of power without any steals or a .300 average.

At least there’s light at the end of the tunnel for health-truthers, though. Correa’s barrel rate nearly doubled, going from 7% in ‘18 to 13.5% in ‘19. The zone-contact rate fell from 84.8% to 82.9% with a rise in chase-swing rate, from 25.6% to 28.2% (per Savant).

The net aggression paid off in ‘19, but you need 35 homers to hit profitland with Correa at this spot. I recognize his average is above the expectation so that buys some wiggle room against the EDV, but the greater picture doesn’t illustrate the injury risk being baked in well enough.

Verdict: Pass, Correa is overvalued at his current draft slot

 

Paul DeJong - SS, STL

NFBC Online ADP: 193
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 193rd: .246-29-69-74-4
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .238-30-86-90-7

Analysis: DeJong’s first full MLB season yielded 30 homers, 175 R+RBI and nine steals for fortunate fantasy owners in 2019. You’re getting a nice speed contribution on top of stellar R+RBI stats given his position within the order at a draft pick done with the dollar bids.

DeJong had played in 108 and 115 games over his first two respective MLB seasons, but last year saw him hit 159 games and 664 PAs. He hit second in 25 games, third in 66, fifth in 52 and only 14 below that (not counting two pinch-hit appearances at nine for the pitcher). The Cards may inject Dylan Carlson into their lineup, but odds are strong that DeJong keeps his premier batting slot with Marcell Ozuna leaving.

The lineup around him may yield lesser RBI, but his average should rebound from last season’s .259 BABIP mark closer towards his career .292 rate unless he totally sells out for power. His fly-ball rate held steady around 28% last season (per Savant) though he did lose some “solid” contact -- around six percentage points off his line-drive rate. The BA projection here is on the conservative side, but know growth potential is there.

I’m cautiously optimistic we either get a 30-homer rate or a .260 average out of him, depending on 2020’s swing path. Either way, his heart-of-the-order job makes him a steal near pick 200.

Verdict: Target, DeJong is undervalued at his current draft slot

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2020 Fantasy Baseball Advice 2020 Fantasy Baseball Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy & Tips 2020 Fantasy Baseball Undervalued Draft Targets Editor Note Featured Baseball MLB Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Finding Over/Undervalued Third Basemen Using Expected Draft Values

A couple weeks ago, we introduced our Expected Draft Values and explained how they would help us identify both over and undervalued players of all types. Power, speed, power+speed, batting average+power, and so on, with pitchers as well.

Today, we'll look at four third basemen and our site projections for them. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we bring you a deeper look at undervalued and overvalued players from each position using Expected Draft Values.

Generally, what we'll do in this series is identify players who will return positive or negative value, based on their NFBC ADP in Online Contests (Feb 1-March 9, 74 drafts), their Expected Draft Value (i.e. the average stat line typically produced at that ADP), and the player's projection. We'll adjust for any coronavirus-related season changes once they're announced, but let's assume 162 games for now.

 

How Expected Draft Values Help You Win Your League

It may be clear by this point already, but if you know the expected break-even stat-line of every draft slot, you can identify which of your draft picks are projected to return positive or negative value. Below, we look at four players at the hot corner that are either over or undervalued based on their recent NFBC Online ADP, our RotoBaller projections, and Expected Draft Values.

Without further ado, here are some players that stand out at their current cost in 2020 drafts.

 

Anthony Rendon - 3B, LAA

NFBC Online ADP: 23
Expected Return for a Power+Average Hitter Drafted 23rd: .304 BA, 30 HR, 100 runs, 93 RBI, 10 SB
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .303-28-100-104-4

Analysis: Rendon is a premier hitter in the middle of a potent Angels order, but the venue is not power-friendly and his days of swiping enough bags to move the needle are gone. Per Baseball Prospectus’ Handedness Park Factors chart, right-handed hitters in Washington enjoyed the 14th-best HR Factor (of 60) while right-handed Halos were 32nd. It was also 32nd for overall runs factor, with Washington at 25th. Is it splitting hairs or seeking out edges?

Allow me to reiterate that the point of this series is not to bash or praise certain as must-have or must-avoid. I'm simply providing a tool that provides context against historical results, and your projection of Rendon may meet the EDV.

Hopefully, you put stock in our stats-y science, though. For us, you’re giving in both the power and speed departments for some RBI against the EDV. I can’t agree with major projection systems calling for an average between .280-.290 given his topping .300 for three consecutive years, but adjusting to new threads can cause volatility. But do be aware that most systems (Steamer: .284, THE BAT: .286) would have you believe his stock is far lower than the expected return here.

Verdict: Pass, Rendon is overvalued at his current draft slot

 

Josh Donaldson - 3B, MIN

NFBC Online ADP: 94
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 94th: .252-32-79-87-6
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .261-36-96-102-3

Analysis: Donaldson is ready to feast within a monstrous Minnesota offense, with greater power numbers than Rendon. Of course, you trade roughly 50 points of batting average for the 70-pick discount, but the added pop really helps. If you think the R+RBI projection is optimistic, Steamer calls for 199 R+RBI. The injury risk remains after shortened 2017 and 2018 campaigns, but a 155-game 2019 without the DH to hide away in is encouraging.

We aren’t here for on-base percentage leagues, but his average walk rate of 15% over the last four seasons could yield well over 100 runs in such a potent offense. Hitting in the heart of the order usually leaves you leaning on the 5-8 hitters to drive you in, but Minnesota has Eddie Rosario, Mitch Garver and Miguel Sano there. That could be several teams’ 3-5 in the order! Donaldson gets the best of both worlds at the cleanup slot. Draft a decent backup in case injury strikes, but the upside is enormous and the median makes him a strong buy.

Verdict: Target, Donaldson is undervalued at his current draft slot

 

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. - 3B, TOR

NFBC Online ADP: 58
Expected Return for a Power+Average Drafted 58th: .299-26-83-86-8
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .284-23-83-93-1

Analysis: Guerrero Jr. has a great shot at superstardom, but his price has barely shifted from 2019’s rookie hype despite disappointing fantasy owners last season. Toronto is growing and the top of the lineup is stout, but Vlad won’t chip in steals and his 24 HR+SB falls well short of the 32 expected. He needs to be a .300 hitter to boot, and it’s too early to crown him with that. His R+RBI tally should be healthy at the heart of the order, but his projected line better suits the 100th pick. 

I love targeting Bo Bichette given his many paths to success, and Cavan Biggio is a solid mid-round pick if you have a safe average foundation. But Vlad coming out hitting .300 with 30-plus homers is asking a lot as your median projection. If I’m aiming for young upside this early in drafts, it’ll be someone that could contribute both power and speed. He’ll only be 21 years old this season, he’s got plenty of time to grow into the incredible stud we all project him to become.

Verdict: Pass, Guerrero Jr. is overvalued at his current draft slot

 

Scott Kingery - 3B/OF, PHI

NFBC Online ADP: 160
Expected Return for a Power+Speed Hitter Drafted 160th: .258-23-69-69-13
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .252-22-68-71-16

Analysis: Kingery popped 19 homers with 15 steals and a painless .258 average over 500 PAs (126 games) after looking overmatched as a rookie in 2018. His overall average exit velocity is 88.2 MPH, but the split between his 93.5 MPH mark on flies and liners and the 83 MPH rate on grounders is stark. Starling Marte had a similar profile (93.8, 83.0) in 2019. Kingery’s FB/LD velo was tied with Anthony Rendon, Ketel Marte and Carlos Santana last season, with an 8% Barrel/BBE rate next to Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado.

Not only that, but check out his exit velo broken down by pitch type:

But I’m not trying to frame him as a star, his Barrels/PA rate was only 5%, while Arenado was 6%, which matters over 500-600 PAs. And obviously, non-barreled balls can do better at Coors. Anyway, Kingery’s metrics suggest more confidence and aggression, even if it meant more K’s. His first-pitch swing rate went from 21.9% to 33.8%, with a Meatball Swing% up to 83.2% from 66.5%. His chase rate dropped five percentage points while his zone-swing rate rose eight percentage points.

On top of the bat improvements, he had a sprint speed in the 93rd percentile and a 90-foot split time in the 88th percentile (despite the disadvantage as a right-handed batter there). While coronavirus has pushed the season back, Kingery was a candidate to leadoff with Andrew McCutchen recovering from ACL surgery. The opportunity may not be there, but the confidence in Kingery to have the conversation is a green light to me.

Verdict: Target, Kingery is undervalued at his current draft slot

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2020 Fantasy Baseball Advice 2020 Fantasy Baseball Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy & Tips 2020 Fantasy Baseball Undervalued Draft Targets Editor Note Featured Baseball MLB Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Finding Over/Undervalued Second Basemen Using Expected Draft Values

A couple weeks ago, we introduced our Expected Draft Values and explained how they would help us identify both over and undervalued players of all types. Power, speed, power+speed, batting average+power, and so on, with pitchers as well.

Today, we'll look at four "power" hitters, as identified by our site projections. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we bring you a deeper look at undervalued and overvalued players from each position using Expected Draft Values.

Generally, what we'll do in this series is identify players who will return positive or negative value, based on their NFBC ADP in Online Contests (Feb 1-March 9, 74 drafts), their Expected Draft Value (i.e. the average stat line typically produced at that ADP), and the player's projection.

 

How Expected Draft Values Help You Win Your League

It may be clear by this point already, but if you know the expected break-even stat-line of every draft slot, you can identify which of your draft picks are projected to return positive or negative value. Below, we look at five power bats that are either over or undervalued based on their recent NFBC Online ADP, our RotoBaller projections, and Expected Draft Values.

Without further ado, here are some players that stand out at their current cost in 2020 drafts.

 

Gleyber Torres - 2B, NYY

NFBC Online ADP: 32
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 32nd*: .284 BA, 33 HR, 91 runs, 98 RBI, 8 SB
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .271-34-88-95-6

Analysis: Mixing young talent with a strong season in the Bronx spotlight makes for quite the inflation in draft price! This is not to bash Torres, remember that. But his projected production falls short in average and R+RBI without big speed to fall back onto. This doesn’t have much of the Aaron Judge injury baked in, but we can’t ignore that Judge missing from the top of that lineup hurts the heart’s production.

Torres’ 7.1% Barrels/PA rate checks in at 61st out of 250 qualified hitters from 2019, but the percentage of batted balls of 95+ MPH was merely 35.8%. Only three others in the top-100 were below 36%, but I realize Yankee Stadium (and terrorizing Baltimore) goes a long way. His exit velocity and expected batting average reside around the league-average mark, with a 33rd-percentile hard-hit rate. He destroys fastballs, hitting .301 with 24 homers off of them. If pitchers ramp up the secondaries, we may be in trouble.

*And then there’s the issue with our HR cohort data only going as high as pick 34. The average “power-only pick” rarely returns production worthy of this pick. The ones that did were either topping 40 homers per season, chipping in nearly 10 steals, or clearing the 100-R/RBI marks by a healthy margin.

Verdict: Pass, Torres is overvalued at his current draft slot

 

Ozzie Albies - 2B, ATL

NFBC Online ADP: 33
Expected Return for a Power+Speed+Average Hitter Drafted 33rd .292-25-98-83-19
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .284-25-98-84-15

Analysis: When the ADP is this high, the smaller differences matter. I realize there’s price inflation when a player heads into their age-23 season with two stellar campaigns already on the books, but his price tag carries lofty expectations.  Even if he replicated 2019’s .295-25-102-86-15 line, you’re breaking even thanks to the speed lag. And that came on 702 PAs -- a mark that’s tough to meet or exceed.

I hate making these about splitting hairs, the currency exchange of a stolen base to a homer or BA points, but Albies projects to fall short on the average and speed fronts while "simply" meeting power expectations. Perhaps the .291 xBA from last season holds up and maybe he muscles up, adding ticks to the 22nd-percentile hard-hit rate, but the projections can’t go full send just yet.

I wholeheartedly understand the excitement, just be mindful of the helium. His NFBC Online ADP has gone from 36 from January 1-February 8, and that’s up to 33 from February 9 to March 9. Perhaps Torres and Albies simply signal that young players are forever misunderstood by projections, but the risk/return tightrope is thin in the 30s!

Verdict: Pass, Albies is overvalued at his current draft slot

 

Kevin Newman - 2B/SS, PIT

NFBC Online ADP: 191
Expected Return for a Speed+Average Hitter Drafted 191st: .297-10-65-51-15
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .289-14-70-72-19

Analysis: Aside from the slight average give, Newman offers fantastic profits across the board. And we just saw Newman hit .308 so we know he can exceed that. Pittsburgh is reportedly ready to “run wild” and I’m in for a dollar to see how far that can take Newman as their everyday shortstop.

After looking overmatched in a small-sample 2018, Newman posted said .308 AVG backed by a .291 xBA (top 10%). He doesn’t muscle up the ball, but does a great job at putting it in play. That 11.7% strikeout rate was fifth-lowest among qualified hitters, where the top-10 all hit .275 or better:

Let’s gloss over how Houston has four names on that list and hone in on Newman as the speedster. It wouldn’t shock me to see the power dwindle a bit, you must be ready for 8-10 homers. But the average and plus speed, which recently produced 28 steals across 109 Triple-A games in 2018, should provide draft profits in 2020.

He’s worth taking around pick 109 per the BA+SB chart, so flip that “0” and “9” around.

Verdict: Target, Newman is seriously undervalued at his current draft slot

 

Jose Altuve - 2B, HOU

NFBC Online ADP: 40
Expected Return for a Power+Speed+Average Hitter Drafted 40th: .292-24-93-83-20
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .300-25-98-81-11

Analysis:

Altuve is covered in scandal stench and stopped running last season. Is he selling out some of the average for power swings? Is he trustworthy in that department to cover all five categories here? Methinks not, though it isn’t some horrible play either. I understand going safe early and taking the floor, but Dusty Baker has also set out a veteran mandate that he’ll rest them here and there. With the aim being roughly 150 games played for each, the chances at 700 PAs and a huge ceiling dwindle.

When Dusty Baker was the manager in Washington, he only had runners steal second at a 6.8% and 7.8% clip. Altuve held an impressive 3.81 ft/sec split time to first base, tied for 25th in the MLB and down only 0.02 ft/sec from 2018. But only 11 steal attempts across ‘19 is discouraging.

And does 2019’s power the new norm? His HR/FB rate soared from the 10-15% range in 2016-18 up to 23.3%. His zone-contact rate dropped from 91% to 86.9% though his overall fly-ball rate held steady around 32%. He “only” hit .298, but many still think of Altuve as the automatic .300s hitter with a chance at sniffing .350. He’s a better hitter than David Peralta, but I’m worried this could be a 2018-Peralta spike where the 12.2% HR/FB rate from 2017 rose to 23.4% before tumbling back to 14.6% in ‘19.

Verdict: Pass, Altuve is overvalued at his current draft slot

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2020 Fantasy Baseball Advice 2020 Fantasy Baseball Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy & Tips 2020 Fantasy Baseball Undervalued Draft Targets Editor Note Featured Baseball MLB Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Finding Over/Undervalued First Basemen Using Expected Draft Values

A couple weeks ago, we introduced our Expected Draft Values and explained how they would help us identify both over and undervalued players of all types. Power, speed, power+speed, batting average+power, and so on, with pitchers as well.

Today, we'll look at four "power" hitters, as identified by our site projections. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we bring you a deeper look at undervalued and overvalued players from each position using Expected Draft Values.

Generally, what we'll do in this series is identify players who will return positive or negative value, based on their NFBC ADP in Online Contests (Feb 1-March 4, 55 drafts), their Expected Draft Value (i.e. the average stat line typically produced at that ADP), and the player's projection.

 

How Expected Draft Values Help You Win Your League

It may be clear by this point already, but if you know the expected break-even stat-line of every draft slot, you can identify which of your draft picks are projected to return positive or negative value. Below, we look at five power bats that are either over or undervalued based on their recent NFBC Online ADP, our RotoBaller projections, and Expected Draft Values.

Without further ado, here are some players that stand out at their current cost in 2020 drafts.

 

Danny Santana - 1B/OF, TEX

NFBC Online ADP: 142
Expected Return for a Power+Speed Hitter Drafted 142nd: .264 BA, 24 HR, 74 runs, 72 RBI, 12 SB
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .266-23-82-83-20

Analysis: I know, he's much more OF than 1B but the eligibility stands and I need to get this out. Santana is polarizing thanks to being a journeyman breakout in his sixth MLB season around a questionable, juiced-ball environment. I get that. But he hit 28 homers with 21 steals in just 130 games last year (511 PAs)! The last time he got consistent PT over a season was his 2014 rookie campaign, where he hit .319 with 20 steals and seven homers in 101 games (430 PAs). Then lofty strikeouts and cold streaks cast him to part-time duty or the minors, but 2019 jolted his stock to life.

His expected return is nearly blown away across the board, with the extra steals backing his case. I understand his 27.7 ft/sec sprint speed (108th out of 292, min. 100 opps) isn’t astounding, but his 3.86-second split to 90 feet is tied for 52nd (out of 446). That speed gives him the defensive range that inspires Texas to let him open 2020 as their everyday centerfielder.

As for the bat, he hit .268 or greater on fastballs, breaking, and offspeed pitches alike. His expected average of .275 and impressive .463 xwOBACON (top 10% mark) sweeten the pot. The 91.4 MPH average exit velocity ranked 23rd among 250 qualified hitters. I don’t love just throwing numbers out left and right, but his impressive stats warrant it. He hit above .275 against both left-handed and right-handed pitching, a true switch-hitter, but his spray charts from both sides are strong:

While I expect some regression for Texas hitters across the board given the new, air-conditioned venue, even modest give on the power leaves plenty of room for profit. His stat line projects closer to the 70th pick from the HR+SB cohort, but here we are in the 140s!

Verdict: Target, Santana is quite undervalued at his current draft slot

 

Pete Alonso - 1B, NYM

NFBC Online ADP: 35
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 35th: .283-34-90-99-7
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .256-39-94-101-1

Analysis: Honestly, power’s upward trend calls for lower standards by which one should measure overvalues in 2020. Alonso doesn’t offer much that Matt Olson doesn’t come 20-25 picks later, except that Alonso played a full season in ‘19 and won Rookie of the Year in New York. He finished ranked 22nd per Yahoo’s 5x5 scoring ranks, with his league-leading HR totals (rightfully) propping him up.

Chasing historic seasons is usually a bad idea. Again, Alonso is not bad, but you’re paying a name premium on him for great-not-legendary stats. If he isn’t going to hit above .260 or steal any bases, you need him to be the league leader in homers to cash in. Don’t count on it! 

Do note the expected return has 34 HR + 7 SB, with 41 HR/SB barely edging Alonso’s projected 40. And you could easily make the case that a stolen base is worth more than a homer in today’s economy, but that’s for another article.

And most of us in “the biz” agree that Alonso’s average will likely be closer to .250 than .260. He hit .280 with a .298 BABIP in the first half, dropping to .235 with a .258 BABIP in the second. Just because the cold came second doesn’t make it more valid, and he did have a .257 xBA per Statcast. But homers don’t factor into BABIP and unless you’re calling for 50-plus homers again, the average is going to also take a hit beyond BABIP regression.

Verdict: Pass, Alonso is overvalued at his current draft slot

 

Jose Abreu - 1B, CWS

NFBC Online ADP: 79
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 79th: .266-31-85-88-4
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .279-32-88-108-2

Analysis: Abreu has posted average exit velocities in the top 10% of the league over the past three years, with expected batting averages above .280 in his last four. His xBA of .283 last season was 49th out of 320 hitters (min. 250 PAs). All past indicators point to his exceeding the expected average return for a power hitter here, while meeting the strict power quota and providing more counting stats from within the ChiSox’s upgraded order.

It’d be foolish to take last season’s 123 RBI and simply add more due to improvements around him, but his floor is near triple digits. He blasts the ball -- his barrel rate shot up to 12.8% from 9.1% last season -- he plays in a hitter-friendly park, and gets two subpar rotations in his division (DET, KC). His value checks in closer to the 50-60 pick range, but here we are in ProfitLand.

And most of the time, there’s another side of the coin when there’s significant value within the top-80. Abreu has the park, the offensive environment, and the durability. He’s topped 550 PAs in each of his six MLB seasons, and that would’ve been at least 620 PAs if it weren’t for a frightful procedure to deal with testicular torsion. Man, I don’t enjoy typing that phrase. Bottom line: You are getting one of the safest bats in the game at a discount.

Verdict: Target, Abreu is undervalued at his current draft slot

 

Max Muncy - 1B/2B/3B, LAD

NFBC Online ADP: 78
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 78th: .267-31-85-89-4
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .249-30-88-91-3

Analysis: You’re paying up for Muncy at cost against a power-shorted three-year average from 2017-19, which triggers a “price-check call” to me. His batted-ball metrics settled down a bit after his breakout 2018 -- expected and understandable -- but in 5x5 formats where that walk rate over 15% isn’t generously rewarded then you may want to pivot elsewhere.

It’s tough assessing multi-eligible bats in a vacuum -- I get that flexibility has value -- but consider some similar bats first before telling me whether the added positions are really worth 2-4 rounds of draft capital?

I don’t see it. Just ask yourself if Muncy’s solid floor and versatility is what you’re buying, or if you think the numbers are actually worth the sticker price.

Verdict: Pass, Muncy is overvalued at his current draft slot

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Using Expected Draft Values to Find Over and Undervalued Speed Hitters

A couple weeks ago, we introduced our Expected Draft Values and explained how they would help us identify both over and undervalued players of all types. Power, speed, power+speed, batting average+power, and so on, with pitchers as well.

Today, we'll look at four "speed" players as identified by our site projections. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we bring you a deeper look at undervalued and overvalued players from each position using Expected Draft Values.

Generally, what we'll do in this series is identify players who will return positive or negative value, based on their NFBC ADP in Online Contests (Feb 1-March 4, 55 drafts), their Expected Draft Value (i.e. the average stat line typically produced at that ADP), and the player's projection.

 

How Expected Draft Values Help You Win Your League

It may be clear by this point already, but if you know the expected break-even stat-line of every draft slot, you can identify which of your draft picks are projected to return positive or negative value. Below, we look at five power bats that are either over or undervalued based on their recent NFBC Online ADP, our RotoBaller projections, and Expected Draft Values.

Without further ado, here are some players that stand out at their current cost in 2020 drafts.

 

Overvalued Speed Hitters

Mallex Smith - OF, SEA

NFBC Online ADP: 151

Expected Return for a Speed Hitter Drafted 151st: .287 BA- 12 HR- 68 R- 57 RBI- 20 SB

2020 RotoBaller Projection: .244-5-73-40-46

Analysis: Smith’s production is so skewed towards steals that it makes him difficult to analyze against historical data. I understand you may simply need his bags, but hopefully this sheds light on the value you’re surrendering. You’re trading seven homers and over 40 points of batting average, as well as 12 R+RBI for 26 steals. He becomes a singular point of failure for your bags. Ask yourself, is it worth it?

Well, no. I understand roster construction can demand it sometimes...but it remains a poor move. Just look at these crummy sabermetrics:

Don’t harangue your other hitting efforts just to keep steals afloat. His expected batting average from 2019 was a lowly .219, within the bottom 2% of the league. His average launch angle was 3.5 degrees and 2.6 degrees in 2017 and ‘18, but that rose to 7.2 degrees in ‘19. Accordingly, his fly-ball rate has gone from the 15-17% range in 2016-18 to 19.4% in ‘19. If the ball is not on ground for Mallex, then it’s almost surely suboptimal.

There's also the fact that Smith is likely stuck in the nine-hole for Seattle, limiting his PAs. A burner like him needs volume to generate value, especially without a strong on-base percentage. If Kyle Lewis and Jake Fraley shine, Mitch Haniger returns later on, and Jarred Kelenic forces his way up then Seattle owes neither Mallex nor your fantasy team additional chances.

 

Dee Gordon - 2B/OF, SEA

NFBC Online ADP: 275

Expected Return for a Speed Hitter Drafted 275th: .266-9-64-51-18

2020 RotoBaller Projection: .270-3-39-31-17

Analysis: I promise I don't hate the Mariners! Since Gordon swiped 60 bags for the Marlins in 2017, his stock has fallen mightily. I’m here to tell you that despite the nearly-nonexistent price tag, you’re still overpaying. Gordon went 22-of-27 on steal attempts over the course of 421 PAs in 117 games last season, but the aging curve is showing.

Notice a pattern? His sprint speed, which sat at 29.6 ft/sec in 2016, has slowly dwindled to 28.5 ft/sec last year, which fell outside the top-100. And the aforementioned fly-ball trend for Mallex applies to Dee as well. Gordon’s launch angle sat between -1 and 1.5 degrees in 2015-17 before hitting 3.5 and 5.3 degrees in 2018 and ‘19, respectively. The exit velocity did climb a few ticks, from 80.6 MPH to 83 MPH, but that’s just the second percentile instead of the first, and you’re getting him for speed.

Then there’s playing time, as Shed Long is set to man the keystone (and leadoff) while the outfield is Kyle Lewis, Mallex Smith, Jake Fraley, Tim Lopes and Gordon. And while it’s far off now, Mitch Haniger may take a full-time role later on. Several projection systems have Gordon around 300 PAs, with ATC near 400. Similar speed lines can be found with Manuel Margot and Delino DeShields Jr. a whole 100 picks later.

 

Undervalued Speed Hitters

Byron Buxton - OF, MIN

NFBC Online ADP: 146

Expected Return for a Speed Hitter Drafted 146th: .289-13-69-56-21

2020 RotoBaller Projection: .265-17-71-67-24

Analysis: Look, the injury woes are baked into the projection here. I understand “the market” may have additional trepidation, but 10 HR/14 SB in only 87 games (295 PAs) last year underscores the potential. Let alone his place in a stacked Minnesota lineup. Systems like THE BAT and Depth Charts are even more bullish than us on Buxton’s power, with his plus speed respected across the board.

Even with some give on batting average, you’re scooping a sizable increase in the other four categories. After posting average exit velocities around 85-86 MPH with a launch angle orbiting 12-13 degrees from 2016-18, those figures jumped to 89.3 MPH and 19.5 degrees in ‘19.

Not only did the hard-hit rate jump from 27% to 38.7%, but his strikeouts fell from 29.8% to 23.1%. And of course, his sprint speeds over the past five years have checked in at first, first, second, first and third. Now at 30.3 ft/sec instead of 2015’s 30.9 mark, this is not an aging curve to fear in 2020. I get that most of you or either completely out or in with both feet, but those who are "out" may want to reconsider at this cost.

 

Niko Goodrum - 2B/SS/OF, DET

NFBC Online ADP: 296

Expected Return for a Speed Hitter Drafted 296th: .257-9-68-45-19

2020 RotoBaller Projection: .245-64-16-55-15

Analysis: Goodrum is on pace to start the year as Detroit’s everyday shortstop, but has insane versatility that allows him to fill in wherever needed. Goodrum delivered a 12/12 season in just 112 games last season, with 15/15 available on the cheap in 2020. If you’re taking a speed guy at this stage in the draft, your expectations are nonexistent in the power department.

I will note he's one of those that traded contact for an increase in power. He upped his average exit velocity from 87.7 MPH to 89.3 MPH while increasing his launch angle from 10.8 degrees to 13.2, but his strikeout rate rose from 27% to 29.2% as his zone-contact rate dropped from 83% to 80.6%. A bit of an aside, do take note Goodrum's wild splits by handedness.

In 221 career ABs against left-handed pitchers, he's hitting .321 with a .406 BABIP and only two homers, 12 doubles and five triples. Compare that with 663 ABs against right-handed pitchers, against whom he's hitting just .217 (.288 BABIP) but has 26 homers, 44 doubles and three triples, accounting for a 66-point ISO gap. Small-sample size alert, yes, but his fly-ball rate against right-handers (36.7%) is nearly double that against southpaws (20.9%), which corresponds with greater power and lower average. Pay attention early to his approach against pitchers and we'll see if he gets platooned, though Detroit currently has no obvious platoonmate.

All-in-all, Goodrum gives you both playing time and double-digit pop with the modest wheels. Given Detroit’s lack of infield prospects that could push Goodrum for playing time -- go away, Willi Castro -- it’s not shocking that many projection systems are calling for 600-plus PAs. I can see Travis Demeritte edging into the outfield, but not the middle infield. With 84th-percentile split times in the 90-foot window and strong success in picking his spots (24-for-31 in the last two years), the green light should be Goodrum's and yours.

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Finding Over/Undervalued Power Hitters Using Expected Draft Values

A couple weeks ago, we introduced our Expected Draft Values and explained how they would help us identify both over and undervalued players of all types. Power, speed, power+speed, batting average+power, and so on, with pitchers as well.

Today, we'll look at four "power" hitters, as identified by our site projections. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we bring you a deeper look at undervalued and overvalued players from each position using Expected Draft Values.

Generally, what we'll do in this series is identify players who will return positive or negative value, based on their NFBC ADP in Online Contests (Feb 1-March 4, 55 drafts), their Expected Draft Value (i.e. the average stat line typically produced at that ADP), and the player's projection.

 

How Expected Draft Values Help You Win Your League

It may be clear by this point already, but if you know the expected break-even stat-line of every draft slot, you can identify which of your draft picks are projected to return positive or negative value. Below, we look at five power bats that are either over or undervalued based on their recent NFBC Online ADP, our RotoBaller projections, and Expected Draft Values.

Without further ado, here are some players that stand out at their current cost in 2020 drafts.

 

Kris Bryant - 3B/OF, CHC

NFBC Online ADP: 59
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 59th: .264 BA, 33 HR, 85 runs, 91 RBI, 8 SB
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .273-29-106-79-3

Analysis: Bryant hasn’t topped 80 RBI since 2016, a trend likely to continue in 2020 with news that he’ll be Chicago’s leadoff man. The slight batting average gain on the draft slot doesn’t help me justify the R+RBI dip.  I feel better seeing his average exit velocity rebound back to 87.4 MPH from 2018’s ghastly 85.8 MPH, but a .246 xBA lurks behind the .282 average from 2019.

While Bryant still has above-average speed, he simply pulls weak grounders right into defender’s gloves. Just look at the cluster towards the third baseman per his Fangraphs 2019 spray chart:

His xBA slip has been gradual, from .272 in ‘16 to .268 in ‘17, .255 in ‘18 and then that .246. That said, he’s managed to outdo that mark throughout his career, but dropping below .250 enters troubling territory. His stellar plate discipline and spot atop the Cubbies’ order will yield triple-digit runs, but his contributions across the 5x5 board don’t match the inflated power prices of 2020.

His name and pre-injury track record help boost the perceived range of outcomes, but there’s more reason to worry. Some players deal with suboptimal average launch angles, but survive off a combination of weak grounders and hard-hit flies/liners. Bryant’s 92.3 MPH average exit velocity on flies/liners in 2019 ranked 162nd out of 250 qualified hitters.

Verdict: Pass, Bryant is slightly overvalued at his current draft slot

 

Nelson Cruz - UT, MIN

NFBC Online ADP: 81
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 81st: .264-31-85-88-4
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .283-41-92-116-1

Analysis: You can make DH-only work when it’s Cruz. His Statcast profile is painted red from wall to wall, with 99th percentile exit velocity and the best xSLG of 2019. His legs may be lumbery, but his xBA was .296 in ‘19 and Minnesota sports an even better lineup for 2020. You’re not in it for the sprint speed, but look at that bat:

There’s understandable trepidation given Cruz’s age and his missing time last season, yet those 120 games still yielded an incredible 41 homers, 189 R+RBI and a .311 average. That would be beautiful over 150 games, but 120?! The projections have baked in an IL stint and some potential ball dejuicing, but Cruz is worth the utility-only strategizing.

If we look at the top entry in the HR cohort, you’ll see a .284-33-91-98-8 line at the 35th pick. The average aligns well, Cruz stands to beat the counting stats on Minnesota, and if you roll the 33 HR and 8 SB together then the 42 HR+SB hold water. We can split hairs, but there’s a realistic top-40 case for Cruz and you’re getting him three rounds later. If you want to call that an UT-only tax, so be it. I call it $$$.

Verdict: Target, Cruz is quite undervalued at his current draft slot

 

Joc Pederson - 1B/OF, LAD

NFBC Online ADP: 216
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 216th: .241-29-68-72-3
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .246-25-71-66-2

Analysis: You might think any picks in the 200s are free from these chains, as you’re almost sure to profit with such a late selection. Not so fast, as power output from this tier is a bit more respectable than Joc is slated to generate. The Dodgers got an everyday stud in Mookie Betts, which may hinder Joc’s momentum in the lineup. Not only that, but rosters expanding to 26 players may increase LAD's propensity to micromanage PAs. It'd only be 10-15 or so to me, but every bit counts.

Pederson may still bat leadoff against southpaws for now, but if he loses that to Betts then his projections will really tumble. Mookie will hold down right field, with Cody Bellinger taking up first and center, A.J. Pollock covering left and some center, with Matt Beaty stepping into first and left field on top of utilitymen Chris Taylor and Kike Hernandez.

As it stands, folks are better off aiming for Justin Upton a round later, or the likes of Hunter Renfroe, Renato Nunez and Randal Grichuk 20-50 picks later. If you have deep benches to flex then you’ll get Joc’s production at a better cost, but most of us can’t swing it. I want upside on my bench, and we largely know who Joc is and isn't.

Verdict: Pass, Pederson is overvalued at his current draft slot

 

Khris Davis - UT, OAK

NFBC Online ADP: 174
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 174th: .249-29-71-75-4
2020 RotoBaller Projection: .247-42-90-112-0

Analysis: Khrush Davis, which my phone still tries to autocorrect to Khrushchev, is being written off in 2020. Hindsight is likely to kick many asses as a result, given how Davis was on pace for his traditional 40-homer season in 2019 until a wrist injury suffered in the outfield derailed his campaign. He collided with the wall on May 5 and eventually made his way to the 10-day IL on May 22. Let’s look at 2019 split into pre-IL and post-IL, with a healthy 2018 for context:

Guess what Davis was hitting prior to the IL stint? Yes, it was .247 over 174 PAs. His .247/.316/.494 slash with 12 homers in 43 games roughly projects to a 42-homer season, but he’d hit just .207 with 11 homers over 90 games upon returning. If you don’t want to pay a premium on Nelson Cruz, then wow, you need to score Davis.

Lest we forget that Davis tallied the fifth-most barrels in ‘16, third-most in ‘17, and the most overall in ‘18. This came while crossing the 150-game and 600-PA thresholds in those three seasons. Yes, the .247 thing is comical, but an age-32 season for someone that doesn’t rely on speed provides little reason for concern.

Verdict: Target, Davis is seriously undervalued at his current draft slot

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2019 Season in Review: Noah Syndergaard

The 2019 season was very uncharacteristic for Noah Syndergaard. Not only was it the worst overall season of his career, but it was markedly different from his performance just one season previously.

Syndergaard performed well within his career numbers in 2018, going 13-4 with a 3.03 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 24.1% strikeout rate. His record and ERA took a turn for the worse in 2019, as he went just 10-8 with a 4.28 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 24.5% strikeout rate over 197 ⅔ innings pitched.

Thor has always been considered a tier-two fantasy starting pitcher, but his 2019 numbers did not justify that. What happened in 2019 that caused Syndergaard’s lesser performance and should it be something to actually worry about in 2020? Let’s take a deep dive into his 2019 season to find out.

 

Thor’s Hammer Not as Strong

The major difference that stands out between Syndergaard’s 2018 and 2019 seasons was the use of his slider. His slider has been his best swing-and-miss pitch historically with an impressive 23.6% career swinging-strike rate. Syndergaard relied on his slider frequently in 2018 (20.9%) and for good reason; he had a career-high 25.1% swinging-strike rate with the pitch, which, while it only had about league-average movement, was thrown at a crazy 92 MPH. 

Syndergaard’s 2019 slider was a different story. First, he threw his slider less (15.2%) in favor of his four-seam fastball (29.3% vs 21.2% in 2018). Secondly, his slider had more movement on it (10% above-average in vertical movement, 20% above-average in horizontal movement), but was thrown with less velocity (89.1 MPH). The overall effect of the pitch was still good (18.1% swinging-strike rate), but was much less effective than it was in 2018.

The reasons for the change in his slider profile are hard to pinpoint. It could have been due to a change in the seams of the baseball. It could also have been a mental block. It has been documented that Syndergaard had lost confidence in the pitch and negatively focused on the pitch’s lack of velocity compared to previous seasons. Whatever the reasons, Syndergaard’s slider simply wasn’t as effective as it has been in his career and the lack of his dangerous weapon showed.

 

But Did Anything Else Change?

We identified Syndergaard’s change in slider as an explanation for his decreased performance, but what else would suggest cause for concern in 2020? After doing a deep dive into his advanced metrics, there really isn’t much there to indicate fundamental changes in his game. 

First, his batted-ball profile (31.2% hard-hit rate, 86.3-MPH average exit velocity, 9.3-degree launch angle), while not as spectacular as his 2018 profile (26.5% hard-hit rate, 84.9-MPH average exit velocity, 6.5-degree launch angle), was still well within his career profile. His hard-hit rate and exit velocity were actually in the 87th and 89th percentiles of baseball, respectively. His 4.02 SIERA also suggests that he was slightly unlucky throughout the season given his batted-ball profile.

Further, all three of Syndergaard’s expected metrics (batting average, slugging average, weighted on-base average) were above the league averages, sitting in the 65th, 78th, and 83rd percentiles, respectively. His strikeout rate and WHIP were in line with his 2018 marks as well as his career averages and his .313 BABIP was in line with his career mark of .314 and was actually lower than his .320 mark in 2018. 

The only other thing that does stand out was his home run-to-fly ball rate; Syndergaard had an outstanding 0.52 HR/FB rate in 2018, but that number doubled to 1.09 in 2019. Still, this wasn’t that far off from his career 0.79 mark, his batted-ball profile was still good, and, while his fly ball rate did go up from 2018 (26.7% to 32.1%) the fact that his HR/FB rate almost doubled seems unlucky given the rest of the evidence.

 

2020 Forecast

Syndergaard had a disappointing 2019 season and there are a few main issues to point to. The first was his less successful (but still strong) slider, which he ended up throwing less frequently. This issue could have been mental, meaning that it could hopefully be rectified relatively easily. The second was his jump in HR/FB rate. While this metric doubled, it was still reasonable and came despite a solid batted-ball profile. With all other underlying metrics in line with his 2018 numbers, it seems reasonable to expect some positive regression for Syndergaard in 2020.

Syndergaard is currently being drafted at about pick 74, which puts him as the 24th pitcher off the board. This puts him immediately behind Yu Darvish, Zack Greinke, and Tyler Glasnow, in that order. As such, fantasy players are drafting Syndergaard as a back-end number-two starter, which seems like pretty fair value even with positive regression considered. If Thor can pitch 180 to 200 innings with his numbers aligning closer to his career averages (3.31 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 26.4% strikeout rate), he could return equal or slightly better value than the above-named starters. Signs point to Syndergaard performing better than he did in 2019, but the high-60s to mid-70s seems like a reasonable spot to target him.

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Jeff McNeil - 2019 Season in Review

Jeff McNeil had quite the 2019 season for the Mets and, more importantly, for fantasy baseball owners. Never a major prospect in the Mets system, McNeil quietly joined the big club in 2018 and then blew up in 2019. Now, he is a major fantasy baseball draft riser in 2020 drafts, and there are a lot of questions involving where all the production came from for McNeil.

Jeff McNeil came into the 2019 season as a late-round flyer, going around pick 292 in NFBC drafts in March. He was coming off a 2018 season where he was a pure average hitter, hitting .329 in 63 games with the Mets. There was not a lot else in his stat package with only three home runs, 35 runs, 19 RBI and seven stolen bases. Outside of an excellent batting average, the other bit of intrigue was the fact he offers multi-position eligibility at 2B, 3B, and OF.

Fantasy owners that took McNeil late in drafts were well-rewarded in 2019. McNeil continued the high average, hitting .318, but surprised many in the power department. McNeil hit 23 home runs while scoring 83 runs, with 75 RBI and five steals. The increase in power was very impressive for the Mets’ top-of-the-order bat. In his seven seasons in the minors, McNeil only hit a total of 28 home runs. So, the 23 home runs in 2019 were a massive surprise. Heading into 2020, McNeil is now being drafted around pick 86, and he will have to keep showing that improved power to be worth that draft price.

 

A New Approach at the Plate Resulted in Increased Power

McNeil has always been a great contact player with a high average. In previous seasons, we saw McNeil take more first pitches and limit his chase rates. In 2019, McNeil changed that as he swung at 6.2% more first pitches, as well as increasing his chase rate by 5.1%. His chase contact decreased by 5.4%, and his overall swing rate rose by 3.9%. All of this resulted in an increase in McNeil’s strikeout rate to 13.2% from 9.7%, but attacking early pitches can also result in more power.

When looking for increased power, there is obviously more than just attacking pitches early in the count. His barrel rate also increased from 2.4% to 4.8%, and his hard-hit rate jumped from 28.9% to 36.6%. The increase in barrels and hard-hit rate also led to an amazing increase in his ISO from .142 to .214. That is just a crazy increase for a known batting average-only hitter with little power.

All these increases are great, but there are still some questions of how did McNeil’s home run totals improve from three to 23. The biggest take away from diving into his “new approach” at the plate is his pull rate. We have learned that pulled barrels results in many more home runs and McNeil improved his pull rate a lot in 2019. He improved his pull rate by a crazy 12%!!!! He also decreased his opposite-field rate by 6.8% and lowered his overall weak contact by 2.9%. His overall contact rates did not change a ton, but his quality of contact and a new approach at the plate resulted in so much more power.

 

Expectations for the 2020 Season

Most of McNeil’s power came in the second half of the season where he hit 16 of his 23 home runs. During that stretch, he only hit .276. His BABIP also decreased to .266 from .385 in the first half, while his K% rose to 14.9% and his ISO rose to .285. He only played 57 games in the second half due to his second stint on the injured list with a hamstring injury and then missed the last few games of the season after a hit by a pitch on his wrist. So, we have to ask ourselves whether McNeil will sacrifice some of his elite batting average skills for more power.

McNeil will still be eligible at 2B, 3B, and OF. Projections have him hitting slightly below .300, but still reaching 20 home runs. If the hamstring injuries stay away, we may see some slight speed as well, maybe close to 10 steals. He is currently being drafted around pick 86 overall, which is quite the asking price compared to the previous season. If drafting McNeil, he should be taken as a 2B or MI as you can find much more power at the third base and outfield positions at those points in the draft. He should be in for another nice season hitting atop the Mets lineup, but there will still be many questions on whether or not he can repeat his insane increase in power last season.

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Fernando Tatis Jr. - 2019 Season in Review

A year ago, though he was highly valued in dynasty leagues, Fernando Tatis Jr. was viewed merely as a late-round flier in redraft formats. At just 20 years old and with only 450 plate appearances above Single-A, there was a large degree of uncertainty around his 2019 outlook. Would San Diego's front office manipulate his service time? Whether or not they did so, was he ready to make an impact at the major-league level? He had posted some impressive numbers in 2018 at Double-A San Antonio (.867 OPS, 16 HR, and 16 SB in just 88 games), but he had also struck out in nearly 30% of his trips to the plate, thanks to a 16.5% swinging strike rate that ranked among the highest in the minor leagues. With fellow prospect Luis Urias and newly acquired veteran Ian Kinsler both in the mix, where Tatis Jr fit into the picture was an open question.

There was no doubt of his talent, of course. Tatis Jr. had appeared near the top of prospect rankings ever since joining the Padres in 2016 as a 17-year-old. In rookie ball that year, he swung and missed at a staggering 36.6% of the pitches he faced, but still managed an above-average season at the plate relative to his contemporaries, and swiped 14 bases in just 43 games. The following year, he hit .281/.390/.520 with 21 home runs and 29 stolen bases in 117 games with Class-A Fort Wayne. His raw physical ability and tools made it quite easy to dream big on his future, especially since he appeared likely to stick at shortstop for several seasons rather than fill out beyond viability at the diamond's toughest position.

Tatis Jr., in a mild surprise, wound up impressing enough in spring training to be installed as the Padres' Opening Day shortstop. In his first MLB contest, he went 2-for-3, though he also struck out and was caught stealing after one of those two singles. Four days later, he hit his first home run in the big leagues. By the time Easter rolled around, he had been moved from the sixth spot in the batting order up to the leadoff spot.

 

An Incredible Debut

In a season full of fantastic rookie performances - from Pete Alonso's 53 homers to Yordan Alvarez's 1.067 OPS to Mike Soroka's 2.68 ERA - Tatis Jr. still managed to stand out, despite two separate stints on the injured list that cost him about half of the 2019 season. In only 84 games, the Padres' shortstop hit .317/.379/.590 with 22 homers, 16 steals, and 114 R+BI. Per FanGraphs, his 3.6 WAR ranked fourth among all rookies, trailing the other three mentioned earlier in this paragraph. He finished third in National League Rookie of the Year voting behind Alonso and Soroka, placing on 26 of the 30 ballots issued. Had he managed to avoid injury, he would have had an excellent chance to become the first rookie and youngest player in MLB history to produce a 30/30 season.

As might be expected for a player who produced this kind of output and possesses rare physical gifts, Tatis Jr. was one of the most electrifying players to watch in all of baseball last season. In addition to his long drives and aggressive plays on the base paths, he routinely made highlight-reel plays in the field as well. He did rate poorly by publicly available defensive metrics though, thanks largely to an overabundance of throwing errors. Tatis Jr. has an absolute cannon, and is obviously still learning how to effectively harness it consistently. It's really the only area in which he even remotely looked like a rookie last season, and doesn't really matter for fantasy purposes. (Unless you are playing in a league that counts fielding percentage or errors, in which case you are advised to immediately stop reading this article and seek professional help.)

Fans of all stripes are no doubt excited to see what Tatis Jr. has in store for a follow-up. Does he have any hope of living up to the feverish hype?

 

Questions Remain

Tatis Jr. is naturally attracting a ton of love from fantasy owners in early 2020 drafts. With an NFBC ADP of 17.8 at the time of this writing, he is the only player with less than two MLB seasons of experience being drafted in the first two rounds. Considering his barnstorming rookie performance and the scarcity of stolen bases around the league, it's certainly understandable that his acquisition cost would be steep. But at this price, he presents arguably more downside risk than any other player.

For starters, by virtually any metric, Tatis Jr. overachieved last season. While he ranked among the elite in barrel rate and sprint speed, Statcast still pegged him for an expected line of .259/.321/.490, well below his actual results. Only four players with at least 100 plate appearances had a higher gap between their actual and expected wOBA than Tatis Jr.'s 53 points. His 89.6 MPH exit velocity was more good than great, ranking behind the likes of David Bote, Cheslor Cuthbert, and Maikel Franco. His .410 BABIP led MLB (minimum 350 PA), and despite his contact quality and speed, it's unreasonable to expect anything close to a repeat on that front. Likely regression in his batted ball fortune, combined with high strikeout and whiff rates, will drag down Tatis Jr.'s batting average.

Whether he can sustain the power he showed as a rookie is also up for debate. Tatis Jr.'s batted ball profile leaned heavily toward ground balls last year (30.9 FB%/46.6 GB%/22.4% LD), and he needed a 31.9 HR/FB% to accomplish his 22 bombs. The juiced ball likely helped, and we still don't know whether that will remain a constant in 2020. But Tatis Jr.'s career-best HR/FB% in the minor leagues was just 18.8%, and while at his age rapid development can and does occur, it's not easy to bet on a repeat. Only seven other hitters with at least 350 plate appearances also posted a HR/FB% of 30% or higher last season, and just 28 players have done so in the last 20 years. The list of repeat offenders is short: Aaron Judge, Ryan Howard, and Jim Thome.

Tatis Jr. almost certainly has a long and storied career ahead of him, and even factoring in regression is widely projected for a 30/20 season with solid run production and a decent batting average. But in 2020, fantasy owners may be taking a significant risk in paying the sticker price.

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2019 Season in Review: Sonny Gray

2019 was a pivotal season for starting pitcher Sonny Gray, both from a real-game and fantasy perspective. The 2018 season turned out to be a complete dud for Gray, who, in his first full season with the Yankees, posted a poor 4.90 ERA and 1.50 WHIP over 130 ⅓ innings pitched. With a move to a new team and new environment, 2019 offered Gray a chance to rebound and prove that he could still be an effective pitcher.

Gray not only proved himself capable, but thrived with the Reds; he compiled an 11-8 record with a stellar 2.87 ERA, tied his career-low in WHIP at 1.08, and racked up a career-high 29% strikeout rate over 175 ⅓ IP. Gray’s performance made him one of fantasy’s best bounce-back players and set him up as an intriguing option for 2020.

How did Gray turn things around to such a degree, and can he replicate his 2019 season? Let’s take a closer look at his performance from last season and what it could mean for him and potential fantasy owners this season.

 

From Weak Contact to Less Contact

There are a few things that stand out in terms of Gray’s underlying metrics, most of which seem to have stemmed from a change in his pitch mix. Gray has been known throughout his career as a pitch-to-contact groundball pitcher, relying primarily on a fastball-sinker combination with a career contact rate of 77.2%. This profile shifted in 2019 to that of a swing-and-miss pitcher. For comparison, Gray threw 57% fastballs and 39.5% breaking balls (curveball and slider) in 2018 but threw 46.5% fastballs and 45% breaking balls in 2019.

The change in pitch usage proved to be a great move for Gray. Both his fastball and breaking balls have a ton of spin on them (top-10 percent in baseball), but his fastball has never been overpowering at 93.3 MPH. His breaking balls, however, were quite effective due to the spin on them; Gray generated a 12.1% and 18.8% swinging-strike rate with his curveball and slider. Consequently, Gray’s contact numbers dropped (his 73.1% was a career-low) along with his hard-hit rate (33.3%) while his strikeout numbers jumped. His 3.97 SIERA suggests that Gray did get lucky in 2019, but his batted-ball profile, combined with his decreased contact, seems like a recipe for success. 

The interesting thing here is that Gray didn’t change his pitch mix because he developed a new pitch; instead, he merely threw his best swing-and-miss pitches more often while relying less on throwing fastballs to induce contact. While there is only one season’s worth of data for Gray’s new method, it was one of his best, suggesting good things to come in 2020.

 

New Team, Familiar Faces

The other set of circumstances to consider for Gray beyond his numbers were all the facets of leaving the Yankees to pitch on a new team, specifically the Reds. Many players have struggled playing in New York due to the atmosphere and relentless spotlight, so it was not necessarily shocking to see Gray perform the way he did. 

However, there couldn’t have been a better team for him to go to than the Reds. It has been documented that Gray grew up as a Reds fan and has been adopted by the fan base, rather than shunned like he was with the Yankees. Further, Gray’s move to the Reds allowed him to reunite with his college pitching coach, Derek Johnson. The relationship between the two seemed to have a positive effect.

It is difficult to measure exactly how much these conditions affected Gray. That being said, baseball is very much a mental game, so having a level of familiarity with your coaches, team, and city should not be ignored. Gray seems to have found his comfort zone in Cincinnati, much to the benefit of the Reds and fantasy owners.

 

2020 Forecast

In sum, Gray had an incredible bounceback season in 2019 and had encouraging underlying metrics to back it up. He threw more breaking pitches, which led to less contact, and the contact he did allow was just as encouraging, if not more so than what he has allowed in his career previously. Even if his ERA does regress some, his new strikeout numbers should make up for that. He is back with a familiar pitching coach and in a city that supports him and has a new method of pitching that works. With a team that has made some offseason moves to bolster their roster, Gray should be in a position to pitch well and earn some wins in 2020.

He is currently being drafted at about pick 102 overall, which ranks him as the 34th pitcher off the board. This puts him in the range of starters such as Corey Kluber, Shohei Ohtani, Mike Soroka, and Carlos Carrasco. Most of these pitchers have had success previously but are recovering from injuries or setbacks in 2019. Comparatively, Gray’s stock is clearly trending up from last season. As such, pick 102 seems like a reasonable spot for Gray, with upside closer to pick 90 if he can get closer to 200 IP.

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2019 Season in Review: Carlos Correa

Over the first five seasons of his career, Carlos Correa has demonstrated why the Astros chose him first overall in the 2012 MLB amateur draft. He captured American League Rookie of the Year honors in 2015, along with some down-ballot MVP consideration. In 2017, he made his first All-Star team, finishing 10th in the league in batting average. More down-ballot MVP votes followed, along with a world championship. He then successfully proposed to his girlfriend on the field in the aftermath, which goes into the books as a pretty good evening. Still just 25 years old, Correa has arguably not yet fully tapped into his considerable talent.

Of course, part of the reason for that is that he's been unable to stay healthy. Correa has missed significant time due to injury in each of the last three seasons, playing just 294 of a possible 486 regular-season games over that span. While he has largely remained productive nonetheless, as a result of these health issues the Astros' shortstop has never hit 25 home runs, scored 90 runs, or driven in 100. Additionally, after stealing 27 bases in his first two MLB seasons, Correa has only attempted seven thefts in the three years since (doing so safely six times).

The injury problems evoke another star shortstop from the previous decade: Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo remained a popular high draft pick in fantasy leagues because the position didn't offer many other players with his upside. At the time, even 100 games from him tended to outstrip a full season's worth of production from most of his peers. Today, the shortstop talent pool is perhaps deeper than at any other point in the game's history. Four players at the position are clear first-round locks, with at least 10 others worthy of consideration within the first 100 picks of a standard mixed-league draft. Where does Correa fit into the picture?

 

Rebound Year Marred By More Injuries

Last winter, Correa's stock was at its lowest point. Not only had he failed to accumulate 500 plate appearances for the second straight year, he struggled for the first time in his career when he did manage to suit up. After hitting .288/.366/.498 in his first three seasons, Correa slumped to a .239/.323/.405 line in 2018, with career-worst numbers essentially across the board. That performance was largely attributable to oblique and back injuries. Prior to landing on the injured list on June 26 of that season, Correa had hit .268/.352/.480 - below his usual standard, but within shouting distance of it. After his return on August 10, he put up a miserable .180/.261/.256, with a mere six extra-base hits in those 37 contests. He was a non-factor in the postseason as well, as Houston fell short in its bid for a repeat. In interviews, Correa resisted the urge to use health as an excuse, but also referred to it as "the toughest year of [his] career."

Along with the talent boom at shortstop, this disappointing showing was enough to drop him from a borderline first/second-round pick to the middle of the fourth round in 2019 drafts. Plenty of fantasy owners happily snapped him up at that price, betting that at just 24 years old, Correa could avoid another major injury and return to his prior level of elite production.

They were half right. Through 50 games, Correa hit .295/.360/.547, with 11 home runs and 61 R+BI. Then in late May, he suffered a fractured rib, apparently sustained during a massage at his home, and missed the rest of the season's first half. He returned two months later, and resumed his prior level of power production, though his batting average tanked. Toward the end of August, his back flared up again, and he played only three regular-season games after that. He played every game in the postseason, but again struggled, striking out 27 times in 18 games and only posting a .639 OPS as the Astros fell one win shy of their second World Series title in three years.

 

Risk vs. Reward

After three straight injury-plagued seasons, fantasy owners are taking a much more cautious approach with Correa based on early draft results. At the time of this writing, Correa is the 14th (!) shortstop off the board, with a 91.9 ADP. It's difficult to argue with that, given the immense talent of most of the names ahead of him and his considerable injury history. The Astros' sign-stealing scandal likely isn't helping matters much, either. But if Correa does manage to avoid the injury bug for the first time in four seasons, he's a virtual lock to earn fantasy owners a tidy profit at this discounted price.

Whether the risk justifies the potential reward comes down to how likely you think that outcome will be, and whether the warts of other players at the position strike you as dealbreakers. Perhaps you have health-related misgivings about Adalberto Mondesi (going 50 picks earlier) as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. Maybe you're reluctant to go for Manny Machado (30 picks earlier) after an underwhelming 2019, or are worried about the league adjusting to Bo Bichette (15 picks earlier) after his success in a small sample has the community paying an expectant price. Do you believe Marcus Semien (9 picks earlier) can repeat his career season?

If the downsides of any of those or other shortstop options strike fear in your heart, perhaps the prospect of gambling a later pick on Correa's physical wellbeing becomes attractive.

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2019 Season in Review: Danny Santana

One of the first articles I ever published with RotoBaller was a warning. Specifically, this column dissuaded fantasy owners from buying into Danny Santana's breakout 2014 season. (Yes, I've been doing this for a long time/am old.) That year, Santana had emerged from obscurity as a 23-year-old rookie to hit .319/.353/.472 with 70 runs scored and 20 stolen bases in just 101 games.

Virtually no one had heard of Santana prior to this performance. In prospect lists published before the season began, he generally ranked in the 15-20 range for the Twins. The consensus was that he looked more like a utility player than anything else. He had enough raw ability to play a passable shortstop and enough speed to swipe some bags, but didn't hit enough as he progressed through the minor leagues to convince talent evaluators that he would be an impact player at the major-league level.

Santana's dynamic debut turned out to be the mirage many (including yours truly) pegged it for, fueled mostly by an unsustainable .405 BABIP. When that mark cratered, his entire profile followed, and he hit a pitiful .215/.241/.291 in 91 games as a sophomore. The next few years weren't any kinder, as he bounced between the bench and the minors with Minnesota and then Atlanta. Santana seemed destined to become another in the long line of one-season wonders that dot the history of Major League Baseball.

 

A Shocking Twist

Of course, it didn't actually pan out that way. Otherwise, this article would have no reason to exist. Santana signed a minor-league deal with Texas last winter, and then proceeded to have another out-of-nowhere outstanding season. This time, he flashed power that had heretofore never existed in his bat. Entering 2019, he had hit a total of 13 home runs across 1,165 MLB plate appearances. So, naturally, he smashed 28 homers, while also stealing 21 bases, scoring 81 runs, driving in another 81, and hitting .283 in the first full season of his career at the highest level.

At the age of 28, five years after his only other instance of resembling a quality big-league player, Santana produced a season that qualified as a legitimate five-category effort, and did so while logging time at every position besides catcher. More than a few fantasy league winners had him playing a prominent role on their roster, which...well, Leela probably said it best.

So how did this happen? As you might expect, Santana began making harder, better (faster, stronger) contact. His barrel rate, exit velocity, launch angle, and hard-hit percentage all jumped substantially from his career averages. What's interesting is that this transformation actually appears to have begun in 2018, albeit in a comically small sample of 32 plate appearances that returned results more in line with Santana's underwhelming output in prior years. In the minors that season, however, Santana cranked 16 homers in just 82 games. It seems clear that he had already begun to make the adjustments which yielded his excellent 2019 campaign.

What is probably as important as the changes he made, though, is the one he didn't. Santana has never been what you'd call a disciplined hitter, rarely drawing walks and striking out often. Among qualified hitters, Santana had the fourth-highest strikeout rate (29.5%) and fifth-highest swinging strike rate (15.7%), and was one of just a dozen players to earn a free pass in fewer than 5% of his trips to the plate. He also posted the worst chase rate and in-zone contact rate of his career.

 

Don't Pay For A Repeat

Based on NFBC drafts so far, fantasy owners appear to be cautiously buying into Santana's metamorphosis. Across the 85 drafts that have been conducted as of this writing, he's been taken 125th on average, making him the 34th outfielder off the board. He finished 13th at the position last year according to ESPN's player rater, so if he can maintain the gains he made, that price would have to be considered a bargain.

That, of course, is very much the question. With his free-swinging ways, even moderate BABIP regression from last year's .352 mark will likely send Santana's average plummeting, and he'll be more vulnerable to extended slumps than the average player. With Joey Gallo having proven he can handle center field and offseason signings perhaps pushing Nick Solak to the outfield, it's fair to wonder how long of a leash Santana's surprising performance last season will afford him in 2020. And as is the case for many players whose power exploded in 2019, whether MLB uses the juiced ball again will likely have an outsize impact on Santana's production. His 24.3 HR/FB% last season quadrupled his career 6% mark. Even with the tweaks he made to his swing, it's hard to believe that he won't give back a substantial portion of that improvement - especially if this season's ball is less lively.

A half-decade has passed since his first breakout, but I'm just as much of a skeptic this time around. 2019 has "career year" written all over it, and there are simply too many red flags to be comfortable with spending a mid-round pick on Danny Santana this spring.

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Don't Doubt Mike Trout: Why He's Still #1

It has become fashionable for fantasy owners to suggest that perhaps this is the year that Mike Trout should be supplanted as the consensus first overall draft pick. Not one, but two other players - Ronald Acuna and Christian Yelich - are being regularly selected in early NFBC drafts ahead of the 28-year-old Trout, who would be considered one of the greatest to ever play the game and a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame, even if he chose to retire tomorrow.

Truth be told, though, a certain subset of owners have been beating this drum for half a decade at this point. In 2016, it was Bryce Harper, coming off an absurd MVP season in which he hit .330/.469/.649. In 2017, it was Clayton Kershaw, whose worst ERA in the four seasons prior (2.13) was still better than anyone else's in that span outside of Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke's 2015 campaigns. In 2018, it was Jose Altuve, who had hit at least .338 in three of the four previous years, averaged 39 stolen bases during that time, and added 20+ HR power in the back half of that timeframe while also easily clearing 100 runs scored. Last season, it was Mookie Betts, who in 2018 had won a batting title, led the leagues in runs scored, and (along with Jose Ramirez) recorded the first 30/30 season in MLB since 2012.

Precisely none of these players followed up the seasons that launched them into the #1 pick debate with performances that deserved that distinction. Frankly, none of them have even come close to out-earning Trout in the years since. And yet here we are.

 

Going Fishing

To be fair, the arguments for either Acuna or Yelich aren't without merit. Chiefly, they center on the advantage they're likely to hold over Trout in one category: stolen bases. It is a truth universally acknowledged that speed is at more of a premium today than at any point in the history of the sport. Steals simply don't happen as often as they used to, a consequence of the sports' analytics movement. Outs are simply too precious to gamble against the potential reward of successfully swiping a bag; the research shows that anything less than a success rate in the range of 75 - 80% is actively harming your club's chances of winning. Acuna and Yelich both meet or exceed that threshold, and were two of just eight players to rack up at least 30 steals (only 13 other players even managed 20 thefts). They also both cleared 40 home runs, which only eight other players accomplished. Trout was one of them, and he also eclipsed the century mark in both runs and RBI despite missing time with injury. But he stole only 11 bases, after averaging 25 in his previous three seasons.

Health is another plank in the anti-Trout platform. After successfully avoiding the injured list in his first six MLB seasons, Trout has averaged 129 games played in the last three. That he has still managed to put up numbers that eclipse the vast majority of his competitors' full-season outputs is a testament to his greatness, but Acuna has yet to suffer any significant bodily harm at the age of 22. Yelich's health-based case is a little shakier, given that he missed time with back issues last season and then broke his kneecap after fouling a ball off of it, but he's still been on the field more often than Trout over the last few years.

These are compelling points, and because there are multiple viable alternatives to Trout at 1.1 instead of just one, it's more likely than in years past that someone else seizes the crown. In addition to the two players already discussed, you could make credible cases for Cody Bellinger, Trea Turner, Francisco Lindor, Gerrit Cole, and maybe even Juan Soto or Trevor Story. Furthermore, time being undefeated means that each successive season carries a higher probability of Trout failing to maintain his status as top dog, particular if the injuries continue to mount. It won't be a shock if, after so many years of fantasy owners trying to be too cute or clever by half, 2020 winds up being the year that one of the other studs identified as a potential usurper to the throne is a better choice. After all, Trout hasn't actually finished a season as the top player since 2014.

 

Consistency Matters

What's important to note that Trout also has only finished outside of the top 10 once, in 2017, when he only played 114 games and still finished 19th. The early rounds, especially the first, are about minimizing risk and maximizing return on investment. That the gap between Trout's ceiling and his floor is so small is what keeps him the best bet if you find yourself picking first overall.

Acuna fell three stolen bases short of a 40/40 season at 21 years old. That's insane, but he has to prove he can do it again. Only four players have ever achieved a 40/40 campaign, and only a handful of others have even come close. Trout put up a 30/49 campaign at age 20, and then spent the rest of the decade proving how much better he is at baseball than anyone else, but he's never sniffed 40/40.

Yelich is the same age as Trout, but has only performed at his level for the last season and a half. Prior to that, he was more good than great, and there were plenty in the game who were skeptical that he would ever hit enough balls in the air to be a big-time power bat. Both players possess much more downside risk than Trout, even if their fantasy ceilings are arguably higher.

Trout won't be the best forever. But we've got half a decade of evidence that suggests picking someone else before him is a bad idea.

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Rest-Of-Season First Base Rankings (September Update)

With the MLB regular season winding down, we begin to close in on the final stretch of your fantasy baseball championship run. We've collected some of the brightest baseball minds here at Rotoballer to deliver you our rest-of-season rankings analysis to help you secure your league title. Now that fantasy football is nearly in full swing, take advantage of distracted managers in your league by staying active on the waiver wire and staying on top of trending hitters.

Up next on the docket, we move over to an interesting mix of big boppers at first base.  The position is still top-heavy with Cody Bellinger and Freddie Freeman having had separated themselves from the pack a while ago but the real interest lies in the surprises below them. Rookie Peter Alonso and veteran Carlos Santana continue to make their move to the top tiers, while Rhys Hoskins continues to look for a home in lower and lower levels.

Let's jump on in.

 

Updated 1B Ranks - 5x5 Mixed Leagues (September)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was recently named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season. You can see his secret sauce below! 

Ranking Tier Player Position Nick Nick G Riley
1 1 Trevor Story SS 12 8 8
2 1 Francisco Lindor SS 10 15 14
3 1 Alex Bregman 3B/SS 16 18 9
4 2 Javier Baez 2B/SS/3B 26 14 19
5 2 Trea Turner SS 20 23 21
6 2 Xander Bogaerts SS 27 24 31
7 3 Gleyber Torres 2B/SS 43 36 55
8 3 Ketel Marte SS 55 33 49
9 3 Manny Machado 3B/SS 70 62 44
10 3 Eduardo Escobar SS/3B 75 69 54
11 3 Jonathan Villar 2B/SS 72 59 72
12 3 Elvis Andrus SS 80 84 73
13 4 Marcus Semien SS 124 96 100
14 4 Bo Bichette SS 78 103 151
15 4 Jorge Polanco SS 150 106 78
16 4 Corey Seager SS 99 124 119
17 4 Gio Urshela 3B/SS 126 105 153
18 4 Jean Segura SS 125 149 136
19 4 Tim Anderson SS 193 101 132
20 5 Didi Gregorius SS 128 138 207
21 5 Adalberto Mondesi 2B/SS 167 153 202
22 5 Amed Rosario SS 178 159 230
23 5 Willy Adames SS 180 216 #N/A
24 5 Nick Ahmed SS 200 157 249
25 6 Carlos Correa SS 277 232 204
26 6 Scott Kingery SS/3B/OF 289 265 162
27 6 Paul DeJong SS 402 145 186
28 6 Lourdes Gurriel Jr. 2B/SS 286 262 212
29 7 Tommy Edman 2B/3B/SS 280 277 #N/A
30 7 Andrelton Simmons SS 374 #N/A 210
31 7 Marwin Gonzalez 1B/2B/SS/OF 348 264 #N/A
32 7 Kevin Newman SS 382 #N/A 283
33 7 Freddy Galvis SS 411 282 #N/A
34 7 Ronny Rodriguez 1B/2B/3B/SS 349 #N/A #N/A
35 7 Dansby Swanson SS 432 #N/A 290
36 8 Yu Chang SS 375 #N/A #N/A
37 8 Orlando Arcia SS 415 #N/A #N/A
38 8 Brandon Crawford SS 420 #N/A #N/A
39 8 Eric Sogard 2B/SS 434 #N/A #N/A

 

Rankings Analysis - Top Tiers

Tier One

Forget about positional ranking, Los Angeles Dodger Cody Bellinger is top tier, period. Instead of some fancy analysis explaining just how good Bellinger has been this year, how about we just see how he's done compared to our consensus #1 player this year, Mike Trout?

2019 Mike Trout (567 PA): .293/.436/.651     43 HR   100 RBI   104 R   10 SB

2019 Cody Bellinger (550 PA): .309/.407/.648    42 HR   100 RBI   103 R   11 SB

Ummm...so...(He said, searching for reasons why he has Bellinger only ranked #5 overall) Cody Bellinger has been really, really good. Like, Mike Trout, really, really good.

The curse of having been a virtual metronome of fantasy production for so long is that no one is ever going to get all hyped about how awesome Freddie Freeman has been in 2019. As in, most people probably don't know that Freeman is having the best year of his career, from a fantasy standpoint. Leading all first basemen with 10 home runs in August, Freeman's 35 HR on the year are already a career-high, and with 105 RBI and 101 runs scored, Freeman should crest career highs in both categories within the week. Currently ranked #8 on Yahoo's Player Rater, Freeman just keeps crushing, whether we pay attention, or not.

Tier Two

It's really a shame that Peter Alonso's outstanding rookie year had to be derailed by the curse of the Home Run Derby because now Alonso only has 12 home runs since winning the Derby in July, tying him with Cody Bellinger for the third-most since then, among all first baseman. All of that is obviously ridiculous because the only thing cursed about Alonso are the metaphorical curses screamed by all the baseballs that he's crushing with maximum authority. The favorite for the National League Rookie of the Year, Alonso's 42 home runs on the year put him only one behind league-leader Mike Trout.

Tier Three

Everyone called then-catcher Carlos Santana a fool all those years ago after he proclaimed he would soon be the King of All Carlos Santanas, usurping the pretender who currently wears the crown. Forever weakened by his duet with Rob Thomas, the guitar-playing Santana may not be able to hold off the baseball-playing one, as Santana is in the middle of a career-year and is showing no signs of slowing down. Since the All-Star break, the once and current Cleveland Indian has 11 home runs, 27 RBI, and 35 runs scored, with a .280 AVG and 145 wRC+. All hail the one true king.

Now with 29 home runs on the year, including an electrifying six-game dinger streak at the end of July, Paul Goldschmidt is back, baby! Right? Except that he still only has a .258 AVG that's 40-points lower than his career average, as well as a miserable (for him) 108 wRC+. It's great and all that it looks like he'll get back to the same level of counting stats that he was at in 2018 (even those numbers were significantly down from seasons past) but for those who play in head-to-head formats, Goldschmidt's inconsistency is a likely bane on your existence.

 

Rankings Analysis - Middle Tiers

Tier Four

After the disaster of last year, in which he had a .199 BA and was ultimately demoted, it's hard to believe that Minnesota Twin Miguel Sano is back to being arguably a top-100 player. But numbers don't lie and since Sano returned from injury in mid-May, he's been an A+ smasher of baseballs, with 26 home runs and 57 RBI in only 341 plate appearances. And over his last dozen games, Sano has been on an even bigger heater, slashing .298/.389/.745 with six home runs and a 186 wRC+ in 54 PA.

Goodness Rhys Hoskins, what happened? The Philadelphia slugger has done a lot less slugging as of late, with only 25 HR on the year, after hitting 34 in 2018. But Hoskins has done most of his damage (to your team's power stats) in the months of summer, hitting only four home runs in July, and just two so far in August, as the month comes to a close.

Divergent opinions on Matt Olson and it looks like I'm the biggest hater, putting him all the way at # 16 among the first baseman. While he's had a solid year considering that he only returned from a broken hamate bone in May, Olson has put up pedestrian numbers since the All-Star break, relative to other first baseman. His seven home runs are tied for the 14th-most, while his 28 RBI (12th) and 18 Runs (21st) aren't exactly inspiring either.

Tier Five

So about home runs...Can-ha hit them? Yes, he can! The Oakland A's Mark Canha, that is. After hitting a quiet 17 home runs in 411 plate appearances last year, Canha has stepped his game up in 2019, hitting a career-high 22 HR in just 372 plate appearances. And just in time for the heat of the fantasy playoff season, Canha has been on fire in his last 10 games, slashing .439/.477.829 with five home runs and a .532 wOBA. Still only 51%-owned in Yahoo Leagues, there's a legitimate that you could go grab a top-150 player off the waiver wire in time for the stretch run of September.

At #179 overall, I should probably have Colorado infielder Ryan McMahon a little higher but I think the Rockies just have me conditioned to devalue their young players because you just never know when they might just demote them in favor of signing some has-been. But now McMahon has been playing regularly and has responded by posting a .920 OPS since the All-Star break, with 11 home runs and 32 RBI. Oh, he also plays 17 of his 29 remaining games at Coors Field. You know about Coors, right?

Tier Six

Welcome to the injured-Yankees portion of the first base rankings, with Luke Voit first on the agenda. The Bronx Bomber has been out since July 30 with a sports hernia but it appears that Voit has dodged the surgery bullet and should return to the major league club this weekend, after going 8-for-17, with two home runs in four rehab appearances. In 416 plate-appearances this year, Voit has 19 home runs with 54 RBI and 60 runs scored.

Even having been out since August 3 with a fracture in his wrist, New York Yankee Edwin Encarnacion is still #139 on Yahoo's Player Rater, having hit 30 home runs, with 76 RBI and 75 runs scored in his 451 plate appearances prior to being injured. Encarnacion has now resumed baseball activities and manager Aaron Boone claims that Yankee's June acquisition will be good to go "more sooner than later.

I may be from St. Louis but I just can't bring myself to rank Matt Carpenter in the top-300. The Cardinals third baseman is thus far #903 on the Yahoo Player Rater which is totally fair considering that he's slashing .217/.328/.370 on the year, with 12 home runs, 35 RBI and 52 runs scored, as well as a dismal 87 wRC+. And I just find it hard to believe that he has a patented Matt Carpenter hot-streak up his sleeve, seeing that he has a .224 AVG since returning from injury on August 4, with only two home runs.

 

Rankings Analysis - Lower Tiers

Tiers Seven And Eight

Age and decline have come for Joey Votto, whether he wishes to admit it, or not. Votto just returned from a short stay on the injured list for his hurt back, going 0-for-5 with two strikeouts. So, right back to the 2019 normal. On the season, Votto has a .259 AVG that's a 25-point drop from 2018, as well as being his lowest average since 2015. That bell is tolling for thee, Joey Votto. It tolls for thee.

Is there anyone who's been hurt more than their home ballpark in recent years, than Brandon Belt has been hurt by playing half of his games at the left-handed batter destroying Oracle Park?

2019 Brandon Belt (Home): .198/.326/.297   3 HR   75 wRC+

2019 Brandon Belt (Away): .253/.351/.456   11 HR   104 wRC+

Does anyone else daydream about Belt playing for New York, with Yankees Stadium league-leading 118 HR Park Factor for left-handers? Uhh, me neither.

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Rest-Of-Season Second Base Rankings (September Update)

With the MLB regular season winding down, we begin to close in on the final stretch of your fantasy baseball championship run. We've collected some of the brightest baseball minds here at Rotoballer to deliver you our rest-of-season rankings analysis to help you secure your league title. Now that fantasy football is nearly in full swing, take advantage of distracted managers in your league by staying active on the waiver wire and staying on top of trending hitters.

It's been an interesting year at second base in 2019, as it's been arguably the weakest position in fantasy - besides catcher, of course - but still contains plenty of talent, some old and some new. The old guard of Altuve, Baez, and others remain from last year, but the real story is the ascension of the young bucks littering the tiers, ascending to higher and higher levels.

It looks as if guys like Gleyber Torres, Keston Hiura, Yoan Moncada, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. are going to have something to say about strengthening the fantasy keystone going forward.

 

Updated 2B Ranks - 5x5 Mixed Leagues (September)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was recently named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season. You can see his secret sauce below! 

Ranking Tier Player Position Nick Nick G Riley
1 1 Javier Baez 2B/SS/3B 26 14 19
2 1 Jose Altuve 2B 9 19 42
3 2 Whit Merrifield 2B/OF 46 50 20
4 2 Gleyber Torres 2B/SS 43 36 55
5 2 DJ LeMahieu 2B 67 40 40
6 2 Ozzie Albies 2B 56 58 47
7 2 Yuli Gurriel 1B/2B/3B 50 54 58
8 3 Jonathan Villar 2B/SS 72 59 72
9 3 Keston Hiura 2B 73 73 83
10 3 Max Muncy 1B/2B/3B 107 79 74
11 3 Jeff McNeil 2B 86 102 106
12 4 Daniel Murphy 1B/2B 117 121 102
13 4 Yoan Moncada 2B 213 107 85
14 4 Nick Senzel 2B/3B/OF 123 186 110
15 4 Ryan McMahon 1B/3B/2B 109 179 192
16 4 Adalberto Mondesi 2B/SS 167 153 202
17 4 Matt Carpenter 1B/2B/3B 197 #N/A 193
18 4 Hanser Alberto 2B/3B 204 #N/A #N/A
19 5 Josh VanMeter 2B 242 #N/A #N/A
20 5 Luis Urias 2B 346 #N/A 141
21 5 Wilmer Flores 1B/3B/2B 248 #N/A #N/A
22 5 Lourdes Gurriel Jr. 2B/SS 286 262 212
23 5 Starlin Castro 2B 253 258 #N/A
24 5 Cesar Hernandez 2B 365 257 173
25 5 Cavan Biggio 2B 356 #N/A 175
26 6 Scooter Gennett 2B 398 253 154
27 6 Dee Gordon 2B/OF 370 219 221
28 6 Tommy Edman 2B/3B/SS 280 277 #N/A
29 6 Jason Kipnis 2B/OF 282 #N/A #N/A
30 6 Howie Kendrick 2B/OF 285 #N/A #N/A
31 7 Marwin Gonzalez 1B/2B/SS/OF 348 264 #N/A
32 7 Rougned Odor 2B 394 281 258
33 7 Nick Solak 2B 314 #N/A #N/A
34 7 Jonathan Schoop 2B 380 #N/A 255
35 7 Isan Diaz 2B 335 #N/A #N/A
36 7 Brian Dozier 2B 342 #N/A #N/A
37 7 Kolten Wong 2B 347 #N/A #N/A
38 8 Ronny Rodriguez 1B/2B/3B/SS 349 #N/A #N/A
39 8 Brandon Lowe 2B 364 #N/A #N/A
40 8 Neil Walker 1B/2B 373 #N/A #N/A
41 8 Robinson Cano 1B/2B 431 #N/A #N/A
42 8 Eric Sogard 2B/SS 434 #N/A #N/A

 

Rankings Analysis - Top Tiers

Tier One

It's lonely at the top, with Chicago Cub Javier Baez occupying the penthouse all by himself, even though he no longer plays second base. While not as monstrous as 2018's cartoon numbers, Baez still crushes in five categories with 29 home runs, 85 RBI, and 87 runs scored. The only disappointing aspect of Baez's season is in the stolen base department, as he's only swiped 10 bags entering September after stealing 21 bases last year.

Tier Two

Finally healthy after having lingering knee pain following offseason surgery, Jose Altuve appears to have regained his MVP stroke and has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball since the All-Star break. In 196 plate appearances since July 12, Altuve has 14 home runs, 35 RBI, and 46 runs scored while slashing .356/.410/.684 with 187 wRC+. Anyone who sold Altuve low in the early summer is surely kicking themselves now.

No sophomore slump for Yankee Gleyber Torres, as the 22-year-old has continued to grow into his power, now with 33 home runs on the year after hitting 24 bombs last year. But Torres has really been on a tear in the month of August, with 14 home runs, 21 RBI, and 21 runs scored in his last 101 plate appearances.

Raise your hand if you thought D.J. LeMahieu would be in contention to win a batting title in his first year away from Colorado. Ok, good. Now that we've identified all the liars, we can get down to business. LeMahieu has been spectacular in his first year in the Big Apple, slashing .335/.382/.537 while setting career highs with 23 HR, 89 RBI, and 93 runs scored. And that's with a month to go in the season!

Wow, Houston Astro Yuli Gurriel is having one of the most under-the-radar years in fantasy, his superb production being buried beneath the avalanche of Astro superstars. But believe it or not, the tri-eligible Gurriel is currently #34(!) on Yahoo's Player Rater. How? By hitting 27 home runs, with 95 RBI, 76 runs scored and four stolen bases, while slashing .308/.350/.553 in 535 plate-appearances, that's how.

Tier Three

I hated, hated, hated Orioles shortstop Jonathon Villar coming into this season and now I have him as our #59-overall player, the highest of our experts. And why not? His .277 AVG is his highest in three seasons, and he has 20 home runs, 61 RBI, 88 runs scored and 29 stolen bases. As players continue to run less and less, Villars's combination of speed and power becomes even deadlier now that his average is back to a respectable level. Want to guess how many players have at least 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases this year? Trick question...It's just Ronald Acuna Jr.

Talk about a successful rookie season for Milwaukee Brewer Keston Hiura. Actually, no one is talking about it because Hiura is being overshadowed by a Peter Alonso-shaped eclipse. Which is a crying shame considering that through 69 games Hiura is slashing .304/.373/.578 with 16 HR, 43 RBI, 44 runs scored and nine stolen bases. Not to get all crazy with "on-pace for" numbers but Hiura's numbers extrapolated out to 162 games are:
37 HR  101 RBI  103 Runs  21 SB
No one is saying that Hiura will automatically put up that hypothetical line over a full season in 2020 but when a barely 23-year-old puts up those numbers over almost half a season, then the fantasy world should pay more attention.

Forget about brass monkey, let's talk about Max Muncy. That funky Mun-cy. Besides just continuing to hit for plus-power over the course of almost two seasons now, Los Angeles Dodger Max Muncy's most impressive feat this year may be improving his defense enough to keep his bat in the lineup every day, going from a below-average defender to having a top-five UZR score among qualified second baseman. And that bat has been fantastic in the lineup of the National League-leading Dodgers, now with 33 HR, 87 RBI, and 89 runs scored in 534 plate-appearances. Although, there is now some caution in the air, as Muncy was hit on the wrist by a pitch on August 29. X-rays have come back negative but for now, Muncy is considered day-to-day.

 

Rankings Analysis - Middle Tiers

Tier Four

Looks like I'm the high man on White Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada and I'll tell you that I'm as surprised as you because I've never been very bullish on the 24-year-old ever fixing all that swing-and-miss in his game. But Moncada has dropped his K-rate by five-points this season, and while playing in only 104 games due to injury has put up the type of numbers that should place him with the other elite young stars of the game. In only 438 plate-appearances, Moncada has 22 HR, 63 RBI, 67 runs scored and seven stolen bases, with a .297 AVG. Since returning for the injured list on August 22, Moncada has two home runs, two RBI, and three runs scored in seven games.

With news that Adalberto Mondesi will be activated on Sunday, all the owners who have kept his premium speed stashed can now rejoice. While Mondesi has been instructed not to dive either in the field or on the basepaths, it shouldn't hamper his stolen base potential given that he seems to be just as adept as sliding legs-first as he is head-first. Mondesi has 31 stolen bases this year in 82 games and will return with 25 games left to play, which would put him at getting around 8-9 stolen bases for the rest of the year if he comes back thieving at about the same pace. And why wouldn't he want to make up for lost time on a non-contending Royal's team? In fact, in much of the exact same team situation as last year, Mondesi stole 14 bases in his last 25 games. In a season that has been so bereft of theft, that many bags this time of the year - in either roto or category playoffs - can be a championship-winning maneuver.

Tier Five

I want to believe that 22-year-old Luis Urias will be a good hitter. I've read the scouting reports of the hit-tool, I've seen the fantastic numbers from Triple-A this year - .315/.398/.600 over 339 plate-appearances. But I think we're getting spoiled by the insane numbers being put up right out of the gate by players like Ronald Acuna Jr., Juan Soto, and Urias's teammate Fernado Tatis Jr. That's not how it's supposed to go, people in their low-20's are generally going to struggle against major league pitching. Remember when Rafael Devers was a bust last year? For dynasty and for 2020 redrafts, I'm probably going to love him as a perfect buy-low, post-hype prospect because Urias has proved that he's a great hitter at every level he been at while facing much older competition. And great hitters eventually figure out how to hit. But that's probably not going to happen this year, with Urias slashing only .186/.314/.279 through his first 153 plate appearances. During fantasy playoff season and with players like Jon Berti, Jason Kipnis, and Kevin Newman available in around 25% of all Yahoo leagues, I find little reason to keep chancing that Urias will have a breakthrough in this last month.

Bringing our Gurriel coverage to a close, it's a shame that the younger (and once thought less-talented) brother, Toronto rookie Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has been limited to only 79 games due to injury because Gurriel the Younger was in the midst of a breakout season. In less than half of a season, Gurriel has 19 HR, 47 RBI, 50 runs scored and six stolen bases. Just marinate on that for a minute. Gurriel is now expected to begin a rehab assignment early next week putting him on track to return the second week of September. 20 or so games of the powerful little brother could be the boon that makes many a championship run a reality.

Tier Six

Much of what I said earlier about the value of a returning Mondesi, applied in a lesser sense to Seattle Mariner Dee Gordon before he returned from injury on August 10. A returning speedster in a depressed stolen base environment could be a big difference-maker down the stretch, said pro-Gordon stashers. Reasonable argument considering Gordon's flashy history on the basepaths, like in 2017 when he averaged 0.38 stolen bases-per-game, swiping a total of 60 in 158 games. But this Dee isn't that Dee, as Gordon dropped to 0.21 SB/G in 2018, stealing 30 in 141 games, staying at about the same pace prior to injury in 2019. And since returning, Gordon is accumulating stolen bases at an even slower pace, picking up three bags in 17 games for a rate of 0.18 SB/G. With only a 71 wRC+ since returning and not giving much in any other category, Riley and I may want to adjust our rankings of Gordon way down if Sweet Dee isn't going to finish this season running.

 

Rankings Analysis - Lower Tiers

Tiers Seven And Eight

This is the last time I put Texas Ranger  Rougned Odor on any list unless I'm trying to rank the best punchers of Jose Bautista's face, because Odor has straight-up stunk in 2019. A known streaky hitter, Odor is showing no real sign of saving his numbers this year by putting together an extended hot streak as he did for a few months in 2018, posting better than a 180 wRC+ from the middle of June to the beginning of August. But Odor then cratered again at the end of last season and has dropped even further in 2019, running a .192 AVG in 119 games with a career-high 31.4% K-rate. Hitless in his last 33 plate-appearances, Ranger manager Chris Woodward has publicly stated that Odor's job could be in jeopardy if he doesn't improve his approach in the month of September.

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Rest-Of-Season Third Base Rankings (September Update)

With the MLB regular season winding down, we begin to close in on the final stretch of your fantasy baseball championship run. We've collected some of the brightest baseball minds here at RotoBaller to deliver you our rest-of-season rankings analysis to help you secure your league title. Now that fantasy football is nearly in full swing, take advantage of distracted managers in your league by staying active on the waiver wire and staying on top of trending hitters.

Today we'll look at the brave souls who handle the hot corner. Third base has been known for its power producers over the last handful of years, and 2019 is no different. Four of the top six RBI leaders are third baseman, but if you're looking for speed, you're not going to find it at this position. With several breakout players, rookie call-ups, and the inevitable injury bug keeping some stars sidelined, it's a vastly different looking arrangement of talent than what we saw even at midseason.

Third base may have the deepest talent pool in the infield, but there's a vast difference from the top-tier players to those in the middle tiers and beyond. There's a lot of data to sift through so let's dive into the analysis.

 

Updated 3B Ranks - 5x5 Mixed Leagues (September)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was recently named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season. You can see his secret sauce below!

Ranking Tier Player Position Nick Nick G Riley
1 1 Cody Bellinger 1B/OF 4 5 4
2 1 Freddie Freeman 1B 15 9 12
3 2 Anthony Rizzo 1B 30 32 32
4 2 Pete Alonso 1B 34 30 35
5 3 Carlos Santana 1B/3B 53 44 60
6 3 Yuli Gurriel 1B/2B/3B 50 54 58
7 3 Paul Goldschmidt 1B 40 64 69
8 4 Josh Bell 1B 81 75 52
9 4 Jose Abreu 1B 82 72 61
10 4 Trey Mancini 1B/OF 76 78 82
11 4 Max Muncy 1B/2B/3B 107 79 74
12 4 Matt Olson 1B 51 133 95
13 4 J.T. Realmuto C/1B 102 90 108
14 4 Miguel Sano 1B/3B 93 100 127
15 4 Daniel Murphy 1B/2B 117 121 102
16 4 Rhys Hoskins 1B/OF 129 125 113
17 5 Eric Hosmer 1B 163 136 128
18 5 Mark Canha 1B 135 151 #N/A
19 5 Jose Martinez OF/1B #N/A #N/A 146
20 5 Ryan Braun 1B/OF 143 140 168
20 5 Christian Walker 1B 155 164 137
21 5 Ryan McMahon 1B/3B/2B 109 179 192
22 5 Ian Desmond OF/1B 142 209 144
23 6 Daniel Vogelbach 1B 146 198 174
24 6 Joey Gallo 3B/1B/OF 120 #N/A 237
25 6 Matt Carpenter 1B/2B/3B 197 #N/A 193
26 6 C.J. Cron 1B 222 213 180
27 6 Luke Voit 1B 259 214 201
28 6 Mitch Moreland 1B 227 #N/A #N/A
29 6 Justin Smoak 1B 235 220 233
31 6 Albert Pujols 1B 171 291 #N/A
32 6 Miguel Cabrera 1B 225 245 251
33 6 Edwin Encarnacion 1B #N/A 227 269
34 6 Wilmer Flores 1B/3B/2B 248 #N/A #N/A
35 7 Jesus Aguilar 1B 229 263 271
36 7 Josh Naylor 1B 257 #N/A #N/A
37 7 Brendan McKay SP/1B 265 266 243
38 7 Eric Thames 1B/OF 231 298 252
39 7 Sam Travis 1B 274 #N/A #N/A
40 7 Joey Votto 1B 281 286 270
41 7 Marwin Gonzalez 1B/2B/SS/OF 348 264 #N/A
42 7 Garrett Cooper 1B 404 #N/A 231
43 7 Adam Duvall 1B/OF 368 #N/A 286
44 8 Ronny Rodriguez 1B/2B/3B/SS 349 #N/A #N/A
45 8 Neil Walker 1B/2B 373 #N/A #N/A
46 8 Brandon Belt 1B/OF 383 #N/A #N/A
47 8 Buster Posey C/1B 396 #N/A #N/A
48 8 Tucker Barnhart C/1B 400 #N/A #N/A
49 8 Robinson Cano 1B/2B 431 #N/A #N/A
50 8 Brandon Dixon 1B/OF 433 #N/A #N/A

 

Rankings Analysis - Top Tiers

Tier One

It's a closely ranked group of players at the top of these rankings with all four of these bats sporting similar roto numbers. Nolan Arenado is the consensus number one here, but as far as second-best, I'm more bullish on Alex Bregman than our other experts. He's as consistent as they come and also offers positional eligibility at shortstop as an added bonus. He's already slugged a career-high 32 homers, and his 101 runs and 90 RBI will easily eclipse his previous bests of 105 and 103 respectively, with 30 games left in the campaign.

Rafael Devers has made the jump to elite status with his remarkable play this season. His 103 RBI lead the AL, plus his 78 extra-base hits lead all of baseball, and he's yet to turn 23 years old. Devers' most significant area of improvement from his rookie year has been his ability to cut down on his strikeouts from a 24.7% K-rate in 2018 to 16.0% this season. His knack to put the ball in play paired with his fifth-best 92.7 MPH Exit Velocity has made him one of the toughest outs in the majors.

Tier Two

After a brief stint with the Phillies in 2018, Carlos Santana has returned to Cleveland and is enjoying his best offensive season at age-33. Always known as a darling in points league, Santana has contributed more than a good K/BB ratio in 2019 by slashing a career-best .292/.414/.544 with 30 big flies so far in 2019. The switch-hitter continues to bat well on both sides of the plate, and is blowing his previous Statcast bests out of the water with a 45.4% Hard Hit%. 91.9 MPH Exit Velocity, and a 10.5% Barrel% this year. With Jose Ramirez out for the regular season, Santana's numbers may not flourish as much, but he's a safe bet to keep it going through September.

Tier Three

Eugenio Suarez has woken up his bat since a dreadful June where he hit a putrid .185 in 24 games. He's collected 20 long balls since then and currently sits tied with Mike Trout for the most homers in this span. With fewer men getting on base ahead of him this year, I'm not as high on the 28-year-old as he currently sits with 22 fewer RBI from 2018 despite having three more home runs already. Suarez' K-rate has also seen a gradual increase every month with a 31.3% mark so far in the second half. He'll remain an asset in the HR column, but he lacks in other categories compared to other players at the position.

Josh Donaldson's one-year prove-it deal with the Braves has paid off for both sides this season. He seems to get better every month as he sits with a crisp .288 average since the All-Star Game with 14 dingers and an impressive 15.8% walk rate. The best news of all its that he's at full health after a couple of down years and is contributing in abundance as the cleanup hitter in Atlanta. If the top three batters in that lineup weren't so capable at getting themselves home, Donaldson's 76 RBI would be a much richer number.

 

Rankings Analysis - Middle Tiers

Tier Four

After a breakout campaign a year ago, Max Muncy has silenced his critics from the preseason with an even more productive 2019. He's already surpassed his run and RBI totals from 2018 with 89 R and 87 RBI in nine fewer games, and sits two homers shy of last year's mark with 33. The left-handed slugger is surprisingly hitting southpaws better than right-handers this year with a .264 BA despite a 25% increase in defensive shifts against him. Muncy has been a bit sluggish so far in the second half, but he'll remain racking up stats as the primary two-hole hitter.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s second-half improvements have made me more convinced that he'll become an MVP in this league someday. Defying the myth of the "Home Run Derby Slump," Guerrero Jr. has done the exact opposite since the break turning a .249 batting average before the break to a .329 mark post-break. He's nearly doubled his home run total in this span with seven, while dialing back his strikeouts from an already outstanding 18.6% K-rate to an elite 14.3%. Not to mention his line drive-rate and Hard Hit% has also seen a gradual increase from month to month, making the 20-year-old a more threatening player in the batter's box with every AB he accumulates.

Tier Five

It's hard to argue against Gio Urshela after what he's done filling in at the hot corner for the Yankees this season, but I'm still a bit resistant. He's come out of literally nowhere to become a top-15 player at the position despite never before playing as an everyday starter over his previous four years in the league. Urshela has hit an unfathomable .331 with 18 homers in 112 games for the Bronx Bombers after entering the year as a .225 career hitter with eight HR in 167 games played. What stands out the most is that he's never once finished a minor league season hitting higher than .290, which came way back in Single-A in 2010. It's hard to believe Urshela's play has continued at this torrid pace, and you have to think regression will come knocking before the season ends.

Owners of Ryan McMahon need to sit his left-handed bat whenever he plays away from the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field. He's slashing an abysmal .223/.323/.340 on the road with an equally as ugly 31.3% K-rate compared to a .304/.369/.577 slash line and 25.7% K-rate at home. That's basically 2018 Matt Carpenter at Coors and 2019 Matt Carpenter everywhere else. It's never a good idea to rely on a player with such diverse splits, but luckily the Rockies have only six road games lined up over their next 20 contests so you can delay his inevitable roster snip for now.

Tier Six

J.D. Davis is having an underrated season for the Mets in 2019. Since becoming an everyday player near the end of July, he's hit an outstanding .337 with seven homers and 19 RBI batting right behind the meat and potatoes in the New York batting order. His 164 wRC+ in this timeframe would rank as the best number among all qualified third baseman, and it's a crime he wasn't handed the reigns as a starter much sooner. Davis' 48.2% Hard Hit% sits in the league's top 7%, and his 91.7 MPH Exit Velocity is following close behind in the league's top 8%. If you haven't bought in yet, now is the time.

Despite a healthy season, Will Myers' stat line has looked like that of an injured player. He's hit a miserable .223 with 14 homers, 49 runs, and 39 RBI in 126 games this season while his playing time continues to decrease. The Padres have recently been putting catcher Francisco Mejia in left field, muddying the outfield waters even more despite the departure of Franmil Reyes at the deadline. Myers is sitting on a career-low 35.3% K-rate, which is also the worst mark among hitters with at least 350 plate appearances. The 28-year-old has become droppable in all formats.

 

Rankings Analysis - Lower Tiers

Tiers Seven And Eight

Kyle Seager is looking more like himself than at any point over the last two seasons. He averaged 27 HR, 79 R, 89 RBI, and a .265 BA from 2014-17 and if we extrapolate his injury-shortened 2019, we get 36/87/102/.250. These numbers may be a bit inflated from a red-hot August that's seen him hit .333 with eight round-trippers, but his promotion to the cleanup spot will keep giving him opportunities to rack up stats. It appears like Seager is fully healed from a hand injury that kept him out the first two months of the season.

A player who might see his ownership fly through the roof shortly is Tommy Edman of the Cardinals. He's taking over starts at both third and second base while batting in the two-hole versus lefties. He's punished these hurlers so far with a .321 BA, and is no slouch against righties either with a .265 BA. As a switch-hitter, he's getting in the lineup every day and has already racked up five homers and nine steals in his first 218 PA as a big leaguer. Edman can help out in all five roto categories with an emphasis in the BA, R, and SB columns.

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Rest-Of-Season Shortstop Rankings (September Update)

With the MLB regular season winding down, we begin to close in on the final stretch of your fantasy baseball championship run. We've collected some of the brightest baseball minds here at Rotoballer to deliver you our rest-of-season rankings analysis to help you secure your league title. Now that fantasy football is nearly in full swing, take advantage of distracted managers in your league by staying active on the waiver wire and staying on top of trending hitters.

Today we'll analyze the dynamic talents that hold down the shortstop position. Youth continues to dominate this position with the bulk of the stars sitting at age-26 or younger. We find several five-category contributors at this position as well as some of the top basepath burners in the major leagues. Positional eligibility also overlaps a lot of these players, making them even more valuable.

The shortstop is the nucleus of the team in the major leagues, and having a skillful one in fantasy has the same effect for your fake squad. With a lot of players and data to comb over, let's get into the analysis.

 

Updated Shortstop Ranks - 5x5 Mixed Leagues (September)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was recently named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season. You can see his secret sauce below! 

Ranking Tier Player Position Nick Nick G Riley
1 1 Trevor Story SS 12 8 8
2 1 Francisco Lindor SS 10 15 14
3 1 Alex Bregman 3B/SS 16 18 9
4 2 Javier Baez 2B/SS/3B 26 14 19
5 2 Trea Turner SS 20 23 21
6 2 Xander Bogaerts SS 27 24 31
7 3 Gleyber Torres 2B/SS 43 36 55
8 3 Ketel Marte SS 55 33 49
9 3 Manny Machado 3B/SS 70 62 44
10 3 Eduardo Escobar SS/3B 75 69 54
11 3 Jonathan Villar 2B/SS 72 59 72
12 3 Elvis Andrus SS 80 84 73
13 4 Marcus Semien SS 124 96 100
14 4 Bo Bichette SS 78 103 151
15 4 Jorge Polanco SS 150 106 78
16 4 Corey Seager SS 99 124 119
17 4 Gio Urshela 3B/SS 126 105 153
18 4 Jean Segura SS 125 149 136
19 4 Tim Anderson SS 193 101 132
20 5 Didi Gregorius SS 128 138 207
21 5 Adalberto Mondesi 2B/SS 167 153 202
22 5 Amed Rosario SS 178 159 230
23 5 Willy Adames SS 180 216 #N/A
24 5 Nick Ahmed SS 200 157 249
25 6 Carlos Correa SS 277 232 204
26 6 Scott Kingery SS/3B/OF 289 265 162
27 6 Paul DeJong SS 402 145 186
28 6 Lourdes Gurriel Jr. 2B/SS 286 262 212
29 7 Tommy Edman 2B/3B/SS 280 277 #N/A
30 7 Andrelton Simmons SS 374 #N/A 210
31 7 Marwin Gonzalez 1B/2B/SS/OF 348 264 #N/A
32 7 Kevin Newman SS 382 #N/A 283
33 7 Freddy Galvis SS 411 282 #N/A
34 7 Ronny Rodriguez 1B/2B/3B/SS 349 #N/A #N/A
35 7 Dansby Swanson SS 432 #N/A 290
36 8 Yu Chang SS 375 #N/A #N/A
37 8 Orlando Arcia SS 415 #N/A #N/A
38 8 Brandon Crawford SS 420 #N/A #N/A
39 8 Eric Sogard 2B/SS 434 #N/A #N/A

 

Rankings Analysis - Top Tiers

Tier One

Trevor Story hasn't put up as magical of a season in 2019, but owners are undoubtedly satisfied with his results this year. Some of his projections for the rest of the season are a bit under his 2018 numbers, but his 29 homers, 75 RBI, and 19 stolen bases are all top-five figures at the position. Story has sacrificed a higher RBI total, thanks to a switch to the second spot in the order, but this has resulted in a career-high 97 runs as a consolation prize.

Tier Two

After playing a full 162-game slate a year ago, Trea Turner's 2019 season took a significant blow when he missed a month and a half with a broken finger. His 29 thefts this year would pace him for a career-high of 50 over a full season while he quietly sports his best slash line since his rookie debut (.298/.360/.488). Turner's 41.2% Hard Hit% and 90.0 MPH Exit Velocity are also new personal bests as he's arguably put up his best offensive season to date.

Xander Bogaerts continues to dominate in the batter's box this year as perhaps the most underrated shortstop in the league. He sits third in homers (30), second in runs (101), and first in RBI (100) while also leading the position in batting average (.309). The only thing restraining Bogaerts from being a top-three fantasy shortstop is the fact that he has only stolen four bases. He will fill up the remaining roto categories as good as anyone through the end of September as he looks to collect his third Silver Slugger.

Tier Three

Eduardo Escobar has taken his league-leading 48 doubles from a year ago and transformed them into more four-baggers in 2019. Not only has he set a new career-high with 31 long balls, but he's set new bests with 83 runs and 108 RBI with help from improved batted ball metrics. He's substantially increased his fly-ball rate and pull rate by nearly 5% and has yet to show signs of slowing up his home run tear. Escobar has unfortunately lagged in BA with a .221 mark in the second half, although his August 42.6% Hard Hit% is his highest of any month. It's possible these numbers even out over the final month putting him on an excellent path to continued production.

Jonathan Villar is on his way to iron man status with a perfect attendance record so far in 2019. His everyday at-bats have led him to an exclusive 20-homer, 32-steal season with Ronald Acuna Jr. serving as the only other member of this club. The switch-hitter is virtually the same batting as a righty (.275 BA) or a lefty (.280), and it makes no difference to him hitting at home (.277) or on the road (.280). Every day playing time allows Villar to contribute daily, and his even splits make it so you never have to worry about playing matchups.

 

Rankings Analysis - Middle Tiers

Tier Four

Bo Bichette got off to a torrid start in his MLB debut, but his play of late has made me a bit skittish. Over his first 28 games, the rookie hit a remarkable .341 with eight homers and 14 doubles as the club's primary leadoff hitter. Bichette has dialed his numbers back to a still respectable .274 BA over the past two-plus weeks, but his 30.2% K-rate and 1.6% walk rate are a cause for concern. As the book gets written on his free-swinging ways, the less likely he'll continue to get pitches to hit. We've already seen it happen with over a 17% decrease in first-pitch strikes, hinting the youngster may see some growing pains over the season's final four weeks.

Jean Segura has surprisingly posted better metrics this year than in his previous two seasons with the Mariners. Despite what appears to be an underwhelming 2019, his 23.8% line drive rate, 88.2 MPH Exit Velocity, and 33.4% Hard Hit% are all numbers slightly above or right on par with his career-marks with the M's. His .308 BABIP, however, sits nearly .030 points lower, giving him room for his .285 BA to approach the .300 mark before season's end. The Phillies don't run much, and that has hurt Segura's value the most, but he's still a reliable source for runs and a sturdy batting average as the two-hole hitter in that lineup.

Tier Five

In this tier of players, I'm a little more bearish on Didi Gregorius as our other experts due to his declining stats in 2019. His batting average has gone down every month so far with it bottoming out at a .233 mark in August. He's also seen his whiff-rate climb over 3% higher than in his 2018 campaign which has led to a 4% decline in both K-rate and walk rate and a career-low .257 BA. Gregorius' average isn't a significant drain by any means, but he's just another guy at this point especially with only one stolen base on the season. He'll undoubtedly improve on his 13 big flies, but he's not separating himself much from the rest of the players at the position.

Adalberto Mondesi is set to return as soon as this weekend, but his green light on the basepaths may not be as bountiful with his recovering shoulder. The Royals don't want the 24-year-old diving for balls, so his wheels could see a drawback with Mondesi turning to a feet-first slide on the basepaths. The 24-year-old will still post stellar run and RBI numbers the rest of the way, but be wary that he may not contribute at an elite pace anymore in the steal column.

Tier Six

Carlos Correa's return from the injured list is still unclear, but owners should hang on to the injury-plagued star unless he experiences a setback. He remains an enigma to see what a full season's worth of stats would look like if he could stay healthy as he's yet to play in over 110 games since his sophomore year. Correa's 162 game pace in 2019 is a staggering 43 HR, 126 RBI, 88 runs, and a .278 BA, salivating numbers for fantasy managers. He'll get planted right back in the heart of the Astros lineup upon activation, and you'll want a piece of that pie once it's fresh out of the oven.

Despite suffering a quad injury three weeks ago, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is the player I'm more bullish on in this tier. After a mid-April demotion due to some offensive woes and a case of the yips, the 25-year-old has slashed .295/.344/.591 with 19 homers and 48 runs in 66 games played since. His 11.0% Barrel-rate and 44.5% Hard Hit% are both superb numbers and a dramatic improvement from his slump in April. It appears that Pina Power Jr. has found his stroke at the big league level, and he will continue to rake when he returns from the IL in early September.

 

Rankings Analysis - Lower Tiers

Tiers Seven And Eight

Dansby Swanson is fresh off the IL this week and has returned to a middle of the lineup role with the Braves. He missed a month of action with a foot injury after putting up career-high numbers in 2019 with 17 bombs, 64 runs, and .260 BA in 102 games. Swanson was on a downward trend prior to landing on the shelf going 19 of 20 games without a home run with a season-low .242 BA in the month of July. It's hard to see the 25-year-old returning to his first-half form, especially after a lengthy absence, so don't feel the need to rush to the waiver wire to claim him.

In the wake of the injury to Jose Ramirez, Yu Chang has benefitted from his absence in the lineup. He's batted as high as sixth in the Indians lineup and is a humble 4-for-17 through his first handful of games. Chang should continue to handle starts all over the infield while finding some trickle-down fantasy value from the remaining offensive threats that surround him in the batting order. He's not a sexy prospect by any means, but the 24-year-old could provide some pop and a few counting stats that will help in AL-only leagues.

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Rest-Of-Season Outfield Rankings (September Update)

With the MLB regular season winding down, we begin to close in on the final stretch of your fantasy baseball championship run. We've collected some of the brightest baseball minds here at Rotoballer to deliver you our rest-of-season rankings analysis to help you secure your league title. Now that fantasy football is nearly in full swing, take advantage of distracted managers in your league by staying active on the waiver wire and staying on top of trending hitters.

Today we'll look at the broad landscape of the outfield position. It's no secret that this position has the widest range of talent, and it also happens to contain the most elite hitters in all of baseball. With several breakout players, rookie call-ups, and the inevitable injury bug keeping some stars sidelined, it's a vastly different looking arrangement of outfielders than what we saw even at midseason.

There's a lot of players to sift through, so let's dive right into the analysis.

 

Updated Outfield Ranks - 5x5 Mixed Leagues (September)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was recently named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season. You can see his secret sauce below!

Rank Tier Player Position Nick M Nick G Riley
1 1 Mike Trout OF 1 1 1
2 1 Christian Yelich OF 2 2 2
3 1 Ronald Acuna Jr. OF 3 3 3
4 2 Cody Bellinger 1B/OF 4 5 4
5 2 J.D. Martinez OF 7 11 11
6 2 Mookie Betts OF 8 13 15
7 2 Charlie Blackmon OF 18 21 13
8 2 Juan Soto OF 22 17 25
9 2 Starling Marte OF 24 22 28
10 2 George Springer OF 25 34 23
11 2 Aaron Judge OF 16 43 27
12 2 Michael Brantley OF 36 31 34
13 2 Kris Bryant 3B/OF 35 48 24
14 2 Bryce Harper OF 38 35 37
15 3 Whit Merrifield 2B/OF 46 50 20
16 3 Yordan Alvarez OF 39 38 41
17 3 Max Kepler OF 57 53 45
18 3 Eddie Rosario OF 68 55 46
19 3 Yasiel Puig OF 48 65 70
20 3 Marcell Ozuna OF 62 67 96
21 4 Michael Conforto OF 63 93 76
22 4 Trey Mancini 1B/OF 76 78 82
23 4 Danny Santana OF 64 68 131
24 4 Jorge Soler OF 108 89 67
25 4 Andrew Benintendi OF 96 118 86
26 4 Austin Meadows OF 104 111 87
27 4 Eloy Jimenez OF 100 120 93
28 5 Tommy Pham OF 87 113 134
29 5 Victor Robles OF 118 104 120
30 5 Nicholas Castellanos OF 115 132 99
31 5 Aristides Aquino OF 97 134 130
32 5 Franmil Reyes OF 79 123 163
33 5 Rhys Hoskins 1B/OF 129 125 113
34 5 Shin-Soo Choo OF 130 139 125
35 5 Oscar Mercado OF 132 144 140
36 5 Nick Senzel 2B/3B/OF 123 186 110
37 5 Hunter Dozier OF 116 127 188
38 5 Jose Martinez OF/1B #N/A #N/A 146
39 5 Hunter Renfroe OF 136 183 122
40 5 Avisail Garcia OF 138 170 139
41 6 Khris Davis OF 140 167 143
42 6 Ryan Braun 1B/OF 143 140 168
43 6 Lorenzo Cain OF 152 161 160
44 6 A.J. Pollock OF 106 191 181
45 6 Hunter Pence OF 134 174 172
46 6 Justin Upton OF 162 195 126
47 6 Alex Dickerson OF 169 173 150
48 6 Mike Yastrzemski OF 158 150 185
49 7 Ian Desmond OF/1B 142 209 144
50 7 Kyle Schwarber OF 165 187 156
51 7 Willie Calhoun OF 156 158 196
52 7 Kevin Pillar OF 207 135 #N/A
53 7 Joey Gallo 3B/1B/OF 120 #N/A 237
54 7 Kole Calhoun OF 174 162 216
55 7 Mike Tauchman OF 164 168 232
56 7 Joc Pederson OF 185 203 178
57 7 Leury Garcia OF 198 175 200
58 8 Alex Gordon OF 187 200 198
59 8 Jason Heyward OF 183 210 197
60 8 Brett Gardner OF 159 190 248
61 8 Adam Eaton OF 205 137 259
62 8 Manuel Margot OF 188 197 218
63 8 Bryan Reynolds OF 264 165 189
64 8 Corey Dickerson OF 199 271 166
65 8 Wil Myers 3B/OF 177 248 234
66 8 Raimel Tapia OF 216 230 #N/A
67 8 Jesse Winker OF 217 234 219
68 8 Giancarlo Stanton OF 122 275 292
69 8 Byron Buxton OF 173 290 #N/A
70 8 Scott Kingery SS/3B/OF 289 265 162
71 8 Nomar Mazara OF 324 217 177
72 8 Domingo Santana OF 273 224 223
73 8 Kevin Kiermaier OF 293 238 190
74 9 Anthony Santander OF 240 243 #N/A
75 9 Stephen Piscotty OF 262 226 254
76 9 Mallex Smith OF 339 221 182
77 9 Randal Grichuk OF 276 270 214
78 9 Tyler Naquin OF 260 #N/A #N/A
79 9 Ramon Laureano OF 333 152 295
80 9 Eric Thames 1B/OF 231 298 252
81 9 Jackie Bradley Jr. OF 255 249 294
82 9 Dee Gordon 2B/OF 370 219 221
83 9 Aaron Hicks OF 271 #N/A #N/A
84 9 Adam Jones OF 278 287 260
85 9 David Peralta OF 312 274 257
86 9 Jason Kipnis 2B/OF 282 #N/A #N/A
87 10 Teoscar Hernandez OF 284 284 #N/A
88 10 Howie Kendrick 2B/OF 285 #N/A #N/A
89 10 Trent Grisham OF 291 #N/A #N/A
90 10 Cameron Maybin OF 292 #N/A #N/A
91 10 Mitch Haniger OF 318 #N/A 267
92 10 Josh Reddick OF 295 #N/A #N/A
93 10 Delino DeShields OF 298 #N/A #N/A
94 10 David Dahl OF 321 297 287
95 10 Greg Allen OF 302 #N/A #N/A
96 10 Marwin Gonzalez 1B/2B/SS/OF 348 264 #N/A
97 11 Jarrod Dyson OF 385 295 239
98 11 Nick Martini OF 313 #N/A #N/A
99 11 Adam Duvall 1B/OF 368 #N/A 286
100 11 Alex Verdugo OF 377 #N/A 291
101 11 Dexter Fowler OF 334 #N/A #N/A
102 11 Ender Inciarte OF 336 #N/A #N/A
103 11 Derek Fisher OF 344 #N/A #N/A
104 11 Brian Goodwin OF 358 #N/A #N/A
105 11 Gerardo Parra OF 367 #N/A #N/A
106 11 Roman Quinn OF 369 #N/A #N/A
107 11 Ian Happ 3B/OF 371 #N/A #N/A
108 11 Melky Cabrera OF 376 #N/A #N/A
109 11 Brandon Belt 1B/OF 383 #N/A #N/A
110 11 Phillip Ervin OF 384 #N/A #N/A
111 11 Brandon Dixon 1B/OF 433 #N/A #N/A
112 11 Dwight Smith Jr. OF 435 #N/A #N/A

 

Rankings Analysis - Top Tiers

Tier One

Mike Trout has disappointed a bit in the stolen base column this year with ten thefts, but he's set a new career-high in home runs (42), and his 103 runs and 99 RBI have him on pace to eclipse his career-high run and RBI totals (123/111).  It remains extremely difficult to budge him off the top spot on any rankings board.

Ronald Acuna Jr. became the first 30/30 player this season over the weekend, although Christian Yelich will likely join him before the year ends. Yelich has played 15 fewer games than Acuna Jr., thanks to a lingering back injury, but you wouldn't know it looking purely at his stat output. The reigning NL MVP comes with a bit more injury risk down the stretch, but you can bank on all three of these studs to keep producing as long as they've got a bat in their hands.

Tier Two

Mookie Betts hasn't lived up to his 2018 MVP numbers, but he's still ranked the eighth-best outfielder on Yahoo this season. His 90.9 MPH Exit Velocity sits just over a tick lower than his 2018 mark, while his 45.9% Hard Hit% sits over 10 full points higher than the league average. These metrics have still provided him with a respectable .285 BA and a league-leading 118 runs. Betts continues to walk almost as often as he strikes out (14.5% BB%/14.9% K%), and still has an outside shot at a 20/20 campaign.

Juan Soto is tied with Trout for the second-most homers since the All-Star Game with 14, trailing only Acuna Jr. by one. His 12 thefts this year are welcomed, but if he ran a bit more, he'd undoubtedly be a first-round pick in 2020 drafts. Soto's 29 bombs, 88 runs, and 86 RBI are insane numbers for a 20-year-old, and with 30 games to go, his year-end results will be even more salivating.

Tier Three

After a 45-steal season in 2018, Whit Merrifield's 17 thefts this year has him shaping out to be a draft-day letdown in 2019. I wouldn't call him a complete bust as he still holds a shiny .298 BA and 86 runs, but he hasn't returned the value in the SB column that owners drafted him for in March. His 68% succession rate is bewildering, and he just recently snapped a 19-game stretch without a single steal. Merrifield's reputation has his stock elevated, but he can still be counted on for excellent production in the run and BA columns.

Max Kepler may be the biggest surprise in this grouping. He's set career-highs across the board with 35 round-trippers, 90 runs, 86 RBI, and a .254 batting average. After gradual progression in Statcast metrics since his debut in 2015, he's continued the trend with new personal bests in Hard Hit% (41.4%), Barrel% (9.1%), and Exit Velocity (89.8 MPH). The biggest gain that Kepler can attribute his success to in 2019 is in his 52.3% pull-rate, which has helped him lift fly balls over the right-field fence much more often.

 

Rankings Analysis - Middle Tiers

Tier Four

Regression has found its way to Trey Mancini in the second half, but not yet pertaining to his power numbers. His .296 BA in the first half has seen a significant drop to a .236 mark since the break, but his .529 SLG sits slightly above his .517 mark from the first half. Mancini's second-half 30.8% HR/FB mark is surely unsustainable, and with over a 5% increase in groundball-rate in this span, it could very well be a cold month of September for the 27-year-old.

Finally with a full healthy season to his credit, Jorge Soler has emerged as one of the league's top power threats. With 36 big flies and 91 RBI on the campaign, the former Cubs prospect has destroyed the baseball this year to a 16.1% Barrel%, the third-best mark among all major leaguers with 250 batted ball events. Soler’s .278/.423/.624 slash line and 13 homers since the break have us with little reason to believe he'll slow up anytime soon with a 40/100 season in his sights.

Tier Five

Since joining the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline, all Nicholas Castellanos has done is raked. He's belted eight homers while sporting a terrific .375/.406/.708 slash line batting out of the two-hole in a much-improved lineup than when he was with Detroit. He was only able to lift 11 balls out of the park with 37 RBI in 100 games in the Motor City, but is in a much more advantageous position to keep producing in Chicago. With superior hitters protecting Castellanos, we may see the 27-year-old hit his peak with just over a month remaining.

Aristedes Aquino has taken the league by storm in his first month as a big leaguer. After crushing 28 long balls in 78 Triple-A games, the 25-year-old hasn't skipped a beat in the majors with 12 more homers in his first 23 games. Although his video-game worthy 44.4% HR/FB mark is destined for regression, the drop off may not be as considerable with Great American Ballpark ranking as one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the league. Aquino also has power to all fields with half of his homers going to the opposite field, making him more challenging to pitch against. Pitchers will no doubt attack him differently moving forward, but it'll be difficult to neutralize his raw power.

Tier Six

After remaining one of the most consistent power producers over the previous three seasons, Khris Davis has fallen off a cliff fantasy-wise in 2019. He came out of the gate as hot as anyone with 10 homers through the team's first 17 games of the year, but it's been disastrous since then. He's managed to hit just eight home runs in his following 91 games while batting a frightening .205 with a 28.4% K-rate. Khris Davis has transformed into Chris Davis this season, and with no signs of an imminent turnaround, he's become droppable in mixed leagues.

 

Rankings Analysis - Lower Tiers

Tiers Seven And Eight

Willie Calhoun has the makings of a potential league-winner down the regular season's stretch run. An up-and-down season in between minor league demotions and injuries finally has the 24-year-old cemented into the everyday lineup. He's slugged eight home runs in August while cutting down his 19.0% K-rate to 14.4% this month, an encouraging sign to see from a youngster. Calhoun has also seen a recent promotion to the cleanup spot in the lineup giving him a superb opportunity to keep racking up the counting stats.

Giancarlo Stanton has been cleared to take batting practice after playing in only nine games so far this year. It's unclear when he'll return to the Yankees lineup, but you have to think they won't rush him back with a substantial lead in the AL East race. Stanton likely won't receive enough at-bats the rest of the way to contribute significantly.

Byron Buxton was having a tremendous bounce-back year before landing on the shelf at the beginning of August as he was on pace for a near 20/30 season. He's going to go on a rehab assignment this week and could be back in the Twins lineup the subsequent week after. Managers looking to catch up in steals could add Buxton if he's available on the waiver wire.

Tier Nine and Beyond

Surprisingly, the league-leader in steals is in tier nine with Mallex Smith only contributing to the SB column this season. His 36-steal total is commendable, but the ceiling would be much higher if he could improve his pedestrian .301 OBP.

Trent Grisham is a player to keep an eye on if an injury were to take place in the Brewers outfield. With Yelich's back woes and Lorenzo Cain recently missing games with an oblique injury, Grisham could swoop in as an under-the-radar mixed-league asset. The 22-year-old has hit four homers in 66 plate appearances which have mostly come as a leadoff hitter ahead of the Brew Crew's big boppers.

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Rest-Of-Season Starting Pitcher Rankings (September Update)

With the MLB regular season winding down, we begin to close in on the final stretch of your fantasy baseball championship run. We've collected some of the brightest baseball minds here at Rotoballer to deliver you our rest-of-season rankings analysis to help you secure your league title. Now that fantasy football is nearly in full swing, take advantage of distracted managers in your league by staying active on the waiver wire and staying on top of trending hitters.

Starting pitchers have been the bane of fantasy owners' existence this year. Whether you side with Justin Verlander or not, it's obvious that offense as a whole, especially home runs, are up. That's been bad news for many SP that were drafted in the first few rounds. If you are still in the thick of the race in your mixed roto league, it's critical to find the right pitchers to trust so your ratios don't tank.

Throw those preseason ADPs out along with any preconceived notion of how these players were going to perform - we've taken into account injuries, team context, Statcast metrics, and gameplay observations in order to provide you with the most current rankings possible. Check out our fantasy baseball rankings dashboard for the very latest rankings which are continually updated. Without any more delay, let's break down the 2019 SP rest-of-season rankings for September.

 

Updated SP Ranks - 5x5 Mixed Leagues (September)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season. You can follow his ranks all season long. Win big with RotoBaller in 2019! 

Ranking Tier Player Position Nick Nick G Riley
1 1 Justin Verlander SP 5 4 5
2 1 Gerrit Cole SP 6 6 6
3 1 Jacob deGrom SP 13 10 10
4 2 Walker Buehler SP 17 20 16
5 2 Luis Castillo SP 29 28 30
6 2 Clayton Kershaw SP 31 26 33
7 2 Hyun-Jin Ryu SP 23 46 26
8 2 Max Scherzer SP 47 29 22
9 2 Zack Greinke SP 28 41 29
10 2 Stephen Strasburg SP 32 27 43
11 2 Shane Bieber SP 45 25 38
12 3 Charlie Morton SP 37 37 36
13 3 Mike Clevinger SP 42 49 65
14 3 Patrick Corbin SP 52 63 59
15 3 Aaron Nola SP 41 51 94
16 3 Jack Flaherty SP 71 39 103
17 3 Lucas Giolito SP 69 77 88
18 3 Domingo German SP 77 74 89
19 4 Mike Soroka SP 111 86 50
20 4 Trevor Bauer SP 103 94 63
21 4 Jose Berrios SP 101 83 77
22 4 Noah Syndergaard SP 83 99 90
23 4 Madison Bumgarner SP 98 97 80
24 4 Lance Lynn SP 89 82 109
25 4 Yu Darvish SP 66 114 117
26 4 Sonny Gray SP 113 87 98
27 4 James Paxton SP 94 112 101
28 4 Mike Minor SP 119 91 97
29 5 Caleb Smith SP 133 95 84
30 5 Matthew Boyd SP 95 92 142
31 5 Masahiro Tanaka SP 112 115 115
32 5 Kyle Hendricks SP 137 88 129
33 5 Kenta Maeda SP 131 126 112
34 5 Zack Wheeler SP 144 142 116
35 5 Cole Hamels SP 141 171 111
36 5 Max Fried SP 147 147 161
37 5 Mike Fiers SP 189 129 138
38 5 German Marquez SP 151 143 171
39 5 Robbie Ray SP 201 148 118
40 6 Ryan Yarbrough SP 148 146 176
41 6 Wade Miley SP 153 141 179
42 6 Jake Odorizzi SP 210 156 123
43 6 Eduardo Rodriguez SP 166 177 148
44 6 Chris Paddack SP 202 182 114
45 6 Marcus Stroman SP 184 184 157
46 6 Zac Gallen SP 160 188 187
47 6 Andrew Heaney SP 161 205 #N/A
48 6 David Price SP 139 181 265
49 6 Miles Mikolas SP 194 178 213
50 6 Ian Kennedy SP 182 176 250
51 6 Jose Quintana SP 179 189 245
52 6 Dinelson Lamet SP 186 172 275
53 6 Cal Quantrill SP 270 163 #N/A
54 6 Zach Plesac SP 218 208 224
55 6 Joey Lucchesi SP 294 194 165
56 7 Joe Musgrove SP 212 206 236
57 7 Michael Pineda SP 245 199 217
58 7 Jeff Samardzija SP 303 207 167
59 7 Diego Castillo RP/SP 219 236 #N/A
60 7 Dallas Keuchel SP 309 231 149
61 7 Anibal Sanchez SP 272 193 229
62 7 John Gant SP 223 240 #N/A
63 7 Julio Teheran SP 244 218 241
64 7 Aaron Sanchez SP 226 251 #N/A
65 7 Chris Bassitt SP 317 160 #N/A
66 7 Colin Poche SP 237 241 #N/A
67 7 John Means SP 256 229 235
68 8 Kyle Gibson SP 322 211 195
69 8 Jon Lester SP 340 #N/A 152
70 8 Giovanny Gallegos SP 238 246 289
71 8 Brendan McKay SP/1B 265 266 243
72 8 Dakota Hudson SP 261 261 #N/A
73 8 Dustin May SP 311 268 206
74 8 Reynaldo Lopez SP 267 260 #N/A
75 8 Blake Snell SP 290 255 256
76 8 Brandon Woodruff SP #N/A 267 #N/A
77 8 Jose Urena SP 269 #N/A #N/A
78 9 Jose Suarez SP 275 #N/A #N/A
79 9 Merrill Kelly SP 338 #N/A 220
80 9 Corey Kluber SP 297 288 262
81 9 Anthony DeSclafani SP 308 269 #N/A
82 9 Steven Matz SP 310 285 278
83 9 J.A. Happ SP 316 #N/A 266
84 9 Dylan Cease SP 287 #N/A 299
85 9 Carlos Carrasco SP 332 256 #N/A
86 9 Homer Bailey SP 296 296 #N/A
87 9 Yonny Chirinos SP 301 293 #N/A
88 10 Alex Wood SP 323 273 #N/A
89 10 Chase Anderson SP 299 #N/A #N/A
90 10 Joe Ross SP 300 #N/A #N/A
91 10 Jakob Junis SP 306 #N/A #N/A
92 10 Jordan Lyles SP 307 #N/A #N/A
93 10 Amir Garrett SP 315 #N/A #N/A
94 10 Brad Keller SP 337 294 #N/A
95 10 Sandy Alcantara SP 319 #N/A #N/A
96 10 Trevor Richards SP 408 292 264
97 10 Marco Gonzales SP 325 #N/A #N/A
98 10 Vince Velasquez SP 327 #N/A #N/A
99 10 Jordan Yamamoto SP 328 #N/A #N/A
100 10 Adam Conley SP/RP 329 #N/A #N/A
101 10 Tyler Beede SP 330 #N/A #N/A
102 10 Tanner Roark SP 422 242 #N/A
103 11 Chris Archer SP 389 #N/A 288
104 11 Asher Wojciechowski SP 341 #N/A #N/A
105 11 Julio Urias SP 391 #N/A 296
106 11 Nathan Eovaldi SP 419 #N/A 279
107 11 Pablo Lopez SP 351 #N/A #N/A
108 11 Mitch Keller SP 423 #N/A 284
109 11 Matt Strahm RP/SP 354 #N/A #N/A
110 11 Rick Porcello SP 355 #N/A #N/A
111 11 Trevor Williams SP 357 #N/A #N/A
112 11 Zach Davies SP 361 #N/A #N/A
113 11 Mike Leake SP 363 #N/A #N/A
114 11 Tony Gonsolin SP 372 #N/A #N/A
115 11 Sean Manaea SP 388 #N/A #N/A
116 11 Ivan Nova SP 392 #N/A #N/A
117 11 Elieser Hernandez SP/RP 395 #N/A #N/A
118 11 Jake Arrieta SP 397 #N/A #N/A
119 11 Kevin Gausman SP 401 #N/A #N/A
120 11 Framber Valdez SP 403 #N/A #N/A
121 11 Drew Smyly SP 406 #N/A #N/A
122 12 Adam Wainwright SP 407 #N/A #N/A
123 12 CC Sabathia SP 409 #N/A #N/A
124 12 Mike Montgomery SP/RP 410 #N/A #N/A
125 12 Yusei Kikuchi SP 413 #N/A #N/A
126 12 Mike Foltynewicz SP 414 #N/A #N/A
127 12 Gio Gonzalez SP 416 #N/A #N/A
128 12 Eric Lauer SP 417 #N/A #N/A
129 12 Zach Eflin SP 418 #N/A #N/A
130 12 Andrew Cashner SP 421 #N/A #N/A
131 12 Martin Perez SP 424 #N/A #N/A
132 12 Drew Pomeranz SP 425 #N/A #N/A
133 12 Luis Severino SP 426 #N/A #N/A
134 12 Jesus Luzardo SP 427 #N/A #N/A
135 12 Spencer Turnbull SP 428 #N/A #N/A
136 12 Jose Urquidy SP 429 #N/A #N/A
137 12 Dylan Bundy SP 430 #N/A #N/A

 

Rankings Analysis - Top Tiers

Tier One

Justin Verlander continues to be impossibly good at age 36, with a 2.77 ERA and 35% K-rate over 179 innings. But Verlander is somehow getting better as the season goes on, going 5-1 with a 2.25 ERA and 43.7% K-rate since the All-Star break. And then there's Gerrit Cole, who has a 2.25 ERA since the break and a 39.7% K-rate that's second only to his teammate Verlander. Cole has now struck out double-digit batters in six of his last nine starts and is in the midst of one the great contract-year performances in sports history. Listen to Teddy KGB and pay that man his mo-ney.
Here's the simplest way to explain why the Astros are the prohibitive World Series favorites; in a seven-game series, Verlander and Cole will start at least four of the games…Good luck, everyone!

The problem with having a transcendent year like the one that Mets starter Jacob deGrom had in 2018, is that anything but a repeat-performance is seen as disappointing. deGrom may not be as dominant as he was last year but he’s pretty close, posting a 31.9% K-rate that’s virtually identical and a 15.7% swinging-strike rate that’s actually increased by a half-point. And his 2.56 ERA might be almost a run higher than last year’s ridiculous 1.70 ERA, but it’s still a 2.56 ERA and 1.04 WHIP over 162 innings. So, no complaining allowed.

Tier Two

Welcome to the party, pal! After spending two years as an “ace-in-waiting”, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler is waiting no more after a dominant 2019 thus far. Buehler has only gotten better since his impressive rookie campaign, increasing his strikeout-rate by two points, while shaving two-points from his walk-rate and posting double-digit strikeouts in four games this season, including a 15 K shutout against the Padres on August 3. Ascend, young ace. Ascend.

In a tier full of the old-guard, it might be a 26-year-old Luis Castillo who’s one of the best of the bunch for the remainder of 2019. Over 154 innings this year, Castillo is 12-5 with a 3.04 ERA with 179 strikeouts. Castillo remains held back by a 9.7% walk-rate, but improvements may already be here; he has a 4.0% walk-rate in his nine starts since the beginning of July while keeping his K-rate steady.

Injury concerns are the only reasons that Max Scherzer is slumming it in Tier 2, instead of taking his rightful place near the top. Having spent nearly 50 days on the injured list this year, Scherzer finally returned on August 22 to pitch four innings ( and 71 pitches), allowing one run and striking out three. While there were no reported setbacks, Scherzer has said that he’s not out of the woods yet and will likely not be throwing with maximum effort in order to avoid reinjuring himself. Danger Will Robinson. Danger.

Looks like I’m the low-man on Dodger pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu but it’s not talent or performance that lands him in this tier, as his 12 wins, 2.00 ERA and 0.98 WHIP say that he obviously belongs higher. But this time of year, it’s less about what you’ve done, and more about what lies ahead. And that might be more rest for Ryu, as his 152 2/3 innings are the most for the 32-year-old leftie since 2014. With his worst performances of the year coming in his last two starts, in which he gave up a total of 11 runs in 10 innings – allowing five home runs – Dodger management could be very careful in managing his health and innings as September rolls around.

We’re all on the same page with rooting for Cleveland’s Shane Bieber to challenge Justin to a Highlander-style fight to the death, right? If there can only be one Bieber, then hopefully the one who has an 11.0 K/9 and 3.23 ERA over 175 innings will win. After an impressive rookie campaign, Bieber now has a 30.1 % K-rate on the season which is a six-point increase over 2018’s mark, while pitching the third-most innings in baseball in 2019.

Tier Three

Cleveland’s Mike Clevinger started the year off in spectacular fashion, going 1-0 in his first two starts with 22 strikeouts in 12 innings. But then injuries cost him over two months, and after allowing 12 earned runs in his first two starts back, the world seemed to forget about the breakout that was promised by his dominant start to 2019. But since those two bad starts, Clevinger has been all that was promised and more, going 8-0 over his last 10 starts, with a 2.11 ERA and 34.6% K-rate over 60 innings. If not for the early-season injuries, we could very well be placing him in the same conversation with Walker Buehler and Luis Castillo.

It’s been an up-and-down season for Philadelphia ace Aaron Nola, with his owners spending much of the first half of the season wondering what exactly was wrong, be it injuries or stuff. Through his first 15 starts, Nola was 6-1 with a 25.1% K-rate but had an unsightly 4.89 ERA and 10% walk-rate. But Nola seems to have turned a corner since the middle of June and is now 6-3 through his last 13 starts, with a 2.27 ERA, 28.4% K-rate, and 7.6% walk-rate.

Welcome to the official Jack Flaherty Hype Train section! And judging by our rankings, it’s clear to see that I’m the conductor. Why is Flaherty’s 3.32 ERA and 28.7% K-rate (which are almost identical to Flaherty’s marks in 2018) deserved of a hype train? Wasn’t Flaherty pretty bad after entering the season as a favorite to make the leap to Ace? Well, a 4.90 ERA in his first 17 starts wasn’t exactly good but Flaherty at least kept his strikeout stuff, posting a 26.4% K-rate over his first 90 innings pitched. But in his last nine starts, Flaherty hasn’t just turned a corner…He’s lapping a lot of the field. Since July 7, Flaherty is 6-1 and earned his only loss giving up only one earned run in seven innings against the Giants. In these last 56 innings, Flaherty has 70 strikeouts and a 0.80 ERA that's best in the majors over that period, crushing Jacob deGrom’s measly 1.04 ERA. It may have taken two-thirds of the season, but it’s now time to lay Jack and let the hype wash over you.

 

Rankings Analysis - Middle Tiers

Tiers Four

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Because this ranking for Cincinnati ne Cleveland pitcher Trevor Bauer might actually be too high, given his recent performances. Bauer started off the season fine, posting a 2.45 ERA through his first seven starts in April. But May didn’t bring flowers for Bauer, only horrors, as the Twitter commando has been on a swift decline ever since the calendar flipped. In 22 starts since (which includes a mid-season trade), Bauer has a 5.00 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and even threw a ball over the centerfield fence in a fit of rage. Not a great trifecta. And after giving up 18 ER in his last 11 innings, Bauer owners have to wonder what exactly they are in store for during September.

Another year for Mets starter Noah Syndergaard, and another year of a declining strikeout rate, with Thor’s 23.8% K-rate far from his peak of 29.3% in 2016. But while the avalanche of strikeouts hasn’t come back, Syndergaard has quietly been very effective since the All-Star break, going 3-2 over 54 innings, with a 1.82 ERA and 0.98 WHIP, along with a 9.11 K/9 that doesn’t exactly make him Brett Anderson.

Tier Five

When you play for the worst team in baseball, it’s easy to be overlooked. Enter, Matthew Boyd. The 28-year-old leftie has certainly had his problems this year, posting a 4.47 ERA over 159 innings for the hapless Detroit Tigers. But Boyd has unlocked his filthiest stuff this year, with a career-high 31.1% K-rate that’s backed by a 14.3% swinging-strike rate that’s the eighth-highest in all of baseball. Boyd, oh Boyd…That’s nasty.

As a St. Louis native, I can’t tell you how odd it is to be the only one of us that’s championing a Cub. Especially a boring old Cub like pitcher Kyle Hendricks. But Hendricks is a great example of a player being valuable in fantasy by being above-average across the board, as opposed to having one or two standout skills. Would anyone like to guess where Hendricks ranks on Yahoo’s Player Rater? I can’t read your mind, but I have to assume that no one was guessing #79. And definitely, no would guess that Yahoo projects him as the #53 player by year’s end. The #53 player, not the #53 pitcher. Since the beginning of May, Hendricks has a 2.75 ERA over 118 innings, with 98 strikeouts and a 0.95 WHIP. Boring? Yes. But are those ratios extremely valuable in an innings-eater like Hendricks? Also, yes.

 

Tier Six

Want to know a secret? I wanted to put Dinelson Lamet a lot higher than #172 but I’m going to try and keep my expectations in check… just for this year. Before being taken down by the nefarious Tommy John, Lamet was a popular breakout pick entering the 2018 season, carrying elite velocity and strikeout ability, with the 28.7% K-rate to prove it. And now that he’s fully recovered in 2019, Lamet has been even better than he was in 2017, posting a 30.1% K-rate and 3.83 xFIP through his first nine starts back. I’ll keep the hype in check for the remainder of 2019 but all bets are off in 2020.

 

Rankings Analysis - Lower Tiers

Tier Seven

I suppose we should talk about Chris Bassitt, considering that I'm clearly the only one who is a believer in the 30-year-old right-hander. Like a worse version of Kyle Hendricks earlier, Bassitt doesn't strike fear into any one category with his numbers but is rather a pitcher whose fantasy whole is greater than the sum of his mediocre parts. Bassitt is now 9-5 on the year, with a 3.59 ERA and 117 strikeouts in his 125 innings pitched, good for #134 on the current Yahoo Player Rater. And for the near future, Bassitt has a few plus-matchups on the likely horizon, facing Kansas City(twice) and Detroit in his next five starts.

Tier Eight and lower

Hey! Who let Anthony DeSclafani on here? Oh wait, looks like I did, seeing I'm the only one of we three who ranked him in the top-300. But I certainly don't like him all the time, because the key to getting value out of Disco Tony is knowing when to use him, as he is a man of extremes. In 25 starts this year, DeSclafani has allowed one run or less 12 times (including his last two starts)...And four runs or more in six of those 25 starts. So if you're confident in choosing your spots, DeSclafani could be a boon down the stretch, especially considering his upcoming schedule, as the right-hander goes to Miami on August 28, followed by three starts against Philadelphia and Arizona(twice).

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Rest-of-Season Third Base Rankings (Midseason Update)

The All-Star break has come and gone, as we now find ourselves on the downward portion of this roller-coaster ride. As we race towards the finish line, we here at RotoBaller felt it best to equip you for the journey ahead with a second-half, Rest-of-Season update of our mixed rankings analysis. RotoBaller writers Nick Mariano, Pierre Camus, Bill Dubiel and Scott Engel want you to crush the competition and know that rankings can't end on draft day. Check out our fantasy baseball rankings dashboard for the latest and greatest ranks at any time.

There is plenty of pop at third base, as the position seems deeper than ever. With young bucks like Michael Chavis, Austin Riley, and Nick Senzel barely scratching the top-20, it's hard to want more at the hot corner. 

Now, it's time to break down the 2019 third base rest-of-season rankings for July.

 

Third Base Tiered Ranks - 5x5 Mixed Leagues (July)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was recently named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season. You can see his secret sauce below! Additionally, industry legend Scott Engel recently joined the RotoBaller team and provides his insights as well. Scott is an FSWA Hall Of Famer and award winner.

Ranking Tier Player Position Nick Pierre Bill Composite
1 1 Nolan Arenado 3B 4 5 3 4.000
2 1 Alex Bregman 3B/SS 11 9 9 9.667
3 1 Javier Baez 2B/SS/3B 21 8 24 17.667
4 1 Anthony Rendon 3B 16 26 18 20.000
5 2 Kris Bryant 3B/OF 19 23 20 20.667
6 2 Manny Machado 3B/SS 40 16 33 29.667
7 2 Jose Ramirez 2B/3B 51 18 60 43.000
8 2 Matt Chapman 3B 61 38 65 54.667
9 2 Joey Gallo 3B/1B/OF 25 130 28 61.000
10 3 Mike Moustakas 3B 46 88 53 62.333
11 3 Eugenio Suarez 3B 103 64 61 76.000
12 3 Josh Donaldson 3B 73 105 76 84.667
13 3 Eduardo Escobar SS/3B 76 102 78 85.333
14 3 Max Muncy 1B/2B/3B 74 108 77 86.333
15 4 Rafael Devers 3B 88 80 93 87.000
16 4 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 3B 134 85 113 110.667
17 4 Carlos Santana 1B/3B 114 107 111 110.667
18 4 Justin Turner 3B 124 100 128 117.333
19 5 Austin Riley 3B 127 122 137 128.667
20 5 Michael Chavis 3B 140 166 129 145.000
21 5 Matt Carpenter 1B/2B/3B 157 159 162 159.333
22 5 Nick Senzel 2B/3B/OF 126 247 131 168.000
23 6 Yandy Diaz 3B 153 213 155 173.667
24 6 Yuli Gurriel 1B/2B/3B 175 175 175 175.000
25 6 Renato Nunez 3B 190 178 191 186.333
26 6 Wil Myers 3B/OF 128 316 127 190.333
27 6 Scott Kingery SS/3B/OF 158 251 163 190.667
28 6 Miguel Sano 1B/3B 205 205 205 205.000
29 6 Asdrubal Cabrera SS/2B/3B 205 283 202 230.000
30 6 Evan Longoria 3B 302 191 306 266.333
31 6 Niko Goodrum 1B/2B/3B/SS/OF 193 384 236 271.000
32 7 Ryan McMahon 1B/3B/2B 236 362 242 280.000
33 7 Brian Anderson 3B/OF 244 359 255 286.000
34 7 Maikel Franco 3B 297 250 316 287.667
35 7 Jurickson Profar SS/3B/1B/2B 286 355 246 295.667
36 7 Joey Wendle 2B/3B/SS/OF 305 305 305 305.000
37 7 David Fletcher 3B 332 346 332 336.667
38 8 Kyle Seager 3B 465 249 352 355.333
39 8 Todd Frazier 3B 434 281 448 387.667
40 8 Colin Moran 3B/1B 432 299 445 392.000
41 8 Tommy La Stella 2B/3B 201 466 205 400.000
42 8 Jung Ho Kang 3B 473 277 483 411.000
43 8 J.D. Davis 3B 358 536 360 418.000
44 8 Tim Beckham SS/3B 447 361 462 423.333
45 8 Travis Shaw 1B/2B/3B 442 376 456 424.667
46 8 Jake Lamb 3B #N/A 430 #N/A 430.000
47 8 David Bote 2B/3B 443 437 458 446.000
48 8 Johan Camargo 2B/3B/SS 450 #N/A 466 458.000
49 8 Gio Urshela 3B/SS 452 #N/A 468 460.000
50 8 Logan Forsythe 2B/3B #N/A 470 #N/A 470.000
51 8 Pablo Sandoval 3B 464 #N/A 479 471.500
52 8 Rio Ruiz 3B 466 #N/A 485 475.500
53 8 JaCoby Jones 3B 477 471 488 478.667
54 8 Jeimer Candelario 3B 491 488 497 492.000
55 8 Yolmer Sanchez 2B/3B 494 #N/A 498 496.000
56 8 Wilmer Flores 1B/3B/2B 483 532 491 502.000
57 8 Brock Holt 2B/3B/OF 505 #N/A 507 506.000
58 8 Miguel Rojas 1B/2B/3B/SS 506 #N/A 508 507.000
59 9 Ronny Rodriguez 1B/2B/3B/SS 499 #N/A 519 509.000
60 9 Eduardo Nunez 2B/3B 527 #N/A #N/A 527.000
61 9 Brandon Drury 3B/OF #N/A #N/A 530 530.000
62 9 Jedd Gyorko 1B/3B #N/A #N/A 534 534.000
63 9 Martin Prado 3B #N/A #N/A 539 539.000
64 9 Matt Duffy SS/3B #N/A #N/A 542 542.000
65 9 Chris Owings 2B/3B/OF #N/A 524 578 551.000
66 9 Matt Davidson 3B #N/A #N/A 561 561.000
67 9 Yairo Munoz 2B/3B/SS/OF #N/A #N/A 573 573.000

 

Rankings Analysis - Top Tiers

Tier One

Pierre is the most aggressive on Javier Baez, and while Baez is a bona fide fantasy stud, I can't bring myself to put him above guys at other positions like Freddie Freeman, Gerrit Cole or Charlie Blackmon. It's that simple--Baez is one of the top stars in the game, but if we're talking pure counting stats he's simply not up there with the guys in the top 10-15. Hitting .285 with 22 homers and 60+ RBI is terrific, but with guys going off like the aforementioned Freeman and Blackmon, Baez simply doesn't rank above them for me. They're just as likely to keep it going as he is.

Tier Two

Pierre is also much higher on Manny Machado and Jose Ramirez, and while I recognize that Machado has had an above-average season and Ramirez is starting to turn it around, a lot of the damage is already done for me. I don't see either doing a hard 180 in the second half and putting up MVP-type numbers, so it's truly difficult for me to rank them any higher than I have them. To be fair, it's not like I think they're going to be bums--Machado's at 33 and JoRam is at 60, so they're still up among the best fantasy players even despite their lackluster first halves.

Tier Three

Far be it from me to question last year's number one overall ranker, but I think Nick is sleeping on Eugenio Suarez here. The Reds third baseman was having a fine season before the All-Star Break, and with three homers in the five games since he's trending in the right direction. The big knock there is his contact--his batting average is unimpressive (currently below .250) and his strikeout percentage is a career-worst 27.5%. I'll take that trade-off for power--he's on pace to shatter his career-high homer total (34 in 2018).

Max Muncy's breakout 2018 appears to have been the real deal, as he's improved upon his stellar numbers from last season. Muncy is on-pace for 44 homers and over 100 RBI AND runs scored, and he's shaved four points of his strikeout percentage while also seeing a decrease in his walk percentage. With more contact and an OBP climbing towards .400 (.367 currently), I think Muncy is one of baseball's more legitimate power threats and should be moving forward.

 

Rankings Analysis - Middle Tiers

Tier Four

We may all be a little low on Devers given his incredible first half, but I am typically overly cautious with a player whose track record is as dodgy as Devers'. He's certainly making much better contact in 2019 (15.5 K% vs. 24.7%) and the power increase has been a by-product of that. I'm simply skeptical of how significant the jumps have been. I fully recognize that Devers has the pedigree for this to be 100% legitimate, and I'll happily eat crow if he maintains this pace in the second half.

At what point do people recognize that baseball is really hard and it isn't a disappointment that Vladito isn't the next Mike Trout at age 20? Drafted in the third (and some places second, if you can believe it) round this year, the expectations were far too high for a 20-year-old kid to live up to, and that's played out somewhat predictably. Guerrero's hype is mostly predicated on his prodigious power, and with just eight homers in 2019 that certainly LOOKS like he's underperforming. Nick and I agree that he likely isn't a top-100 hitter at this point in his career, but that does NOT mean he won't be in the very near future.

Tier Five

Austin Riley is a somewhat similar case. He lit up the first half with an incredible 16 homers in just 54 games, and was on plenty of Rookie of the Year midseason lists. But along with that power has come a 33.3% strikeout rate--Riley is literally striking out every third at-bat. If and when the power well runs dry, Riley all of a sudden has very little value when you factor in the strikeouts that could nuke your ratios and point totals.

Nick Senzel hasn't disappointed since his call-up, so not sure where Pierre's lower ranking comes from. With eight homers, nine steals and a serviceable .269 average, Senzel has an outside chance at a 20/20 season. Good enough to make him a top-150 hitter for me.

Tier Six

It's tough to get a read on Scott Kingery right now. He started off the season red-hot, and his overall numbers are great--he's hitting .288 with 13 homers and six steals, which is really useful for a guy who's primarily a middle infielder. However, he fell off a cliff in July, and while it's still early in the month I don't love that he's been striking out in more than a third of his at-bats. The sustained production in the first half has me cautiously optimistic though, hence my ranking.

 

Rankings Analysis - Lower Tiers

Tier Seven

Speaking of splits, how about that Maikel Franco? March/April--.271 with a respectable seven homers and 22 RBI. May--.170 with one homer and eight RBI. June--.267 with four homers and 10 RBI. He's hitting even better in July, so hopefully we're seeing a continuing upward trend here and not an on-going Jekyll and Hyde scenario. Franco has always been streaky, so it's hard to really rank him any higher than this. As good as his hot streaks are, the cold streaks are Arctic in nature.

Tier Eight

I so badly want to see David Bote get regular playing time somewhere. He's the Cubs' super-utility man at the moment, and he's performed admirably in that role with a .775 OPS, nine homers and four steals to go along with 36 RBI and 33 runs scored. It is certainly difficult to get into a rhythm when you aren't sure if you're playing or not every day, but Bote has legitimate 20/15 potential if he gets the opportunity. It looks like that will only come with an injury in 2019.

 

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Rest-of-Season Relief Pitcher Rankings (Midseason Update)

The trade deadline approaches and bullpen speculation is running rampant, with the battle for saves likely deciding which spot on the podium you'll stand on. We here at RotoBaller want to give you the inside track for a successful second half with a Rest-of-Season update of our mixed rankings analysis. RotoBaller writers Nick Mariano, Pierre Camus, Bill Dubiel and Scott Engel want you to crush the competition and know that rankings can't end on draft day. Check out our fantasy baseball rankings dashboard for the latest and greatest ranks at any time.

Only three RP-eligible players are within the top-50 on Yahoo's 5x5 standard scoring system, but then things really open up. Of course, the relief pool goes well beyond closers that accrue saves. I realize innings and roster spots are precious, but Scott Oberg and Ryan Pressly are top-100 players too. Keep an open mind and let's talk bullpens.

Without any more delay, let's break down the 2019 relief pitcher rest-of-season rankings for July.

 

Relief Pitcher Tiered Ranks - 5x5 Mixed Leagues (July)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was recently named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season. You can see his secret sauce below! Additionally, industry legend Scott Engel recently joined the RotoBaller team and provides his insights as well. Scott is an FSWA Hall Of Famer and award winner.

Ranking Tier Player Position Nick Pierre Bill
1 1 Kirby Yates RP 52 59 55
2 1 Aroldis Chapman RP 62 46 66
3 1 Josh Hader RP 47 45 83
4 1 Kenley Jansen RP 66 48 70
5 1 Edwin Diaz RP 90 49 72
6 1 Brad Hand RP 80 47 86
7 2 Felipe Vazquez RP 97 53 100
8 2 Roberto Osuna RP 96 58 99
9 2 Craig Kimbrel RP 92 60 112
10 2 Sean Doolittle RP 99 87 105
11 3 Ken Giles RP 119 106 121
12 3 Will Smith RP 173 65 175
13 3 Hector Neris RP 149 115 150
14 4 Shane Greene RP 183 92 185
15 4 Liam Hendriks RP 196 110 176
16 4 Raisel Iglesias RP 220 67 222
17 4 Alex Colome RP 206 117 209
18 4 Luke Jackson RP 176 138 223
19 4 Wade Davis RP 234 116 196
20 4 Greg Holland RP 218 131 220
21 4 Taylor Rogers RP 203 164 207
22 4 Hansel Robles RP 223 133 224
23 4 Jose Leclerc RP 221 149 221
24 4 Blake Treinen RP 174 150 271
25 5 Matt Barnes RP 224 204 226
26 5 Carlos Martinez SP/RP 228 272 200
27 5 Ryan Pressly RP 231 257 233
28 5 Emilio Pagan RP 245 245 245
29 5 Hunter Strickland RP 377 172 385
30 5 Blake Parker RP 299 203 298
31 5 Roenis Elias RP 301 207 304
32 5 Diego Castillo RP/SP 269 301 243
33 5 Brad Peacock RP/SP 294 256 266
34 5 Jeremy Jeffress RP 311 210 305
35 5 Reyes Moronta RP 328 163 351
36 5 Mychal Givens RP 355 142 358
37 6 Michael Lorenzen RP 327 209 335
38 6 Shawn Kelley RP 239 274 363
39 6 A.J. Minter RP 296 269 312
40 6 Nick Anderson RP 349 #N/A 238
41 6 Ty Buttrey RP 344 205 348
42 6 Pedro Strop RP 345 208 350
43 6 Adam Ottavino RP 305 293 309
44 6 Joe Biagini SP/RP #N/A 305 #N/A
45 6 Joe Jimenez RP 366 175 375
46 6 Andrew Miller RP 360 198 364
47 6 Zack Britton RP 353 236 356
48 6 Ryan Brasier RP 341 268 346
49 7 Lou Trivino RP 363 278 369
50 7 Jose Alvarado RP 207 310 211
51 7 Chris Martin RP 376 266 384
52 7 Matt Strahm RP/SP 350 350 350
53 7 Brandon Workman RP 362 352 368
54 7 Sergio Romo RP 401 292 410
55 7 David Robertson RP 364 404 371
56 7 Adam Conley SP/RP 385 #N/A 381
57 7 Sam Dyson RP 428 306 437
58 7 Mark Melancon RP 347 465 365
59 7 Seranthony Dominguez RP 391 #N/A 399
60 7 Marcus Walden RP 383 419 392
61 7 Kelvin Herrera RP 370 452 374
62 7 Dellin Betances RP 365 476 373
63 7 Cody Allen RP #N/A 405 #N/A
64 7 Brandon Morrow RP 386 447 382
65 7 Seth Lugo SP/RP 403 #N/A 412
66 7 Anthony Swarzak RP 368 484 377
67 7 Yusmeiro Petit RP #N/A 411 #N/A
68 7 Alex Reyes SP/RP 420 402 427
69 7 Brandon Kintzler RP #N/A 421 #N/A
70 7 Archie Bradley RP 498 265 502
71 7 Steve Cishek RP 423 416 431
72 7 Elieser Hernandez SP/RP 369 526 378
73 7 Kyle Crick RP 424 #N/A 433
74 7 Keone Kela RP #N/A 500 372
75 7 Sam Gaviglio SP/RP 480 425 407
76 7 Trevor May RP #N/A 439 #N/A
77 8 Yoshihisa Hirano RP 439 429 453
78 8 Brad Boxberger RP #N/A 441 #N/A
79 8 Trevor Rosenthal RP #N/A #N/A 442
80 8 Corbin Burnes SP/RP 426 475 429
81 8 Carl Edwards Jr. RP 437 #N/A 451
82 8 Craig Stammen RP 444 #N/A 459
83 8 Drew Steckenrider RP #N/A 453 #N/A
84 8 Anthony Bass RP #N/A #N/A 454
85 8 Nick Goody RP 448 #N/A 463
86 8 Jared Hughes RP 449 #N/A 464
87 8 Wily Peralta SP/RP #N/A 469 457
88 8 Joe Kelly RP 457 #N/A 473
89 8 Shawn Armstrong RP 445 497 460
90 8 Jeurys Familia RP #N/A 514 441
91 8 Cam Bedrosian RP #N/A 496 #N/A
92 8 Chad Green RP #N/A 506 #N/A
93 8 Alex Claudio RP #N/A 508 #N/A
94 8 Brad Brach RP #N/A 503 538
95 9 Pat Neshek RP #N/A #N/A 524
96 9 Robert Gsellman SP/RP #N/A #N/A 525
97 9 Luke Gregerson RP #N/A 485 565
98 9 Adam Cimber RP #N/A #N/A 526
99 9 Luis Cessa RP #N/A 527 #N/A
100 9 Fernando Rodney RP #N/A 507 553

Rankings Analysis - Top Tiers

Tier One

Yates, Chapman, Hader, Jansen, Diaz and Hand find themselves at the top, with Diaz being the clear grandfathered exception, whereas the others’ performances are worthy of top-five discussion in 2019. While I personally have Hader over Yates due to the insane strikeout rate and league-leading 1.66 SIERA, I can’t be upset at Yates winding up numero uno. His 30 saves lead the league, which has helped make him the top closer thus far.

Considering past save rate isn’t exactly predictive, I’ll take Hader’s absurd 50.3% strikeout rate and 42.3% K-BB mark. Chapman doesn’t casually touch 104 mph anymore, but his increased slider usage makes him a different kind of nasty. Jansen has rebounded from low-velo concerns in kind and Hand is fantasy’s third-best stopper in 5x5 formats.

Tier Two

Vazquez is filthy but the Pirates could ship him to a team that doesn’t use him in the ninth. It’s unlikely, but possible given Pittsburgh’s lot. Osuna is humming right along, though only 40 K’s in 38 ⅔ IP is surprising. Doolittle’s metrics have slipped since last season (1.95 SIERA in ‘18, up to 3.80 in ‘19) but he went from a career-low .196 BABIP last year to a career-high .351 thus far.

You’re likely most intrigued by Kimbrel, who has only logged five appearances in the majors through July 14. Two of the first three resulted in a combined five earned runs as he shakes off the rust, but he’s had a clean last two appearances for saves. Expecting peak Kimbrel right out of the gate is silly, but Craig has yet to post a SIERA south of 2.93 or strikeout rate below 36% in his career. Take whatever discount you can get here.

Tier Three

Giles is working through nerve inflammation in his right elbow, but remember Hader’s elite marks from before? Well, Mr. Ken’s 2.07 SIERA, 43.4% K rate and 36.1% K-BB mark are second only to Hader out of qualified relievers. Giles is a likely trade candidate and I’d knock him up to Tier Two if he retains a closing role.

Will Smith is all but gone at the Trade Deadline, so your gamble will be on whether the southpaw takes the eighth or the ninth on his new squad. Neris is a volatile arm that rides or dies with his splitter command, but most other options that Philly entered the year with are injured.

 

Rankings Analysis - Middle Tiers

Tier Four

An unfortunate facet of the RP ranks going last in the article rotation is that bullpens are the most volatile. You could subtract 100 from Hendriks for me and add it to Blake Treinen, putting him into Tier Three. I love what we’re seeing from Liam while Treinen simply doesn’t inspire any confidence right now.

Shane Greene and Alex Colome aren’t as strong a trade candidate as Will Smith, but they’re close. Wade Davis must deal with Coors and has quite the rocky season to date, while Jose LeClerc may never see the ninth this year. We still have to respect his top-10 abilities when on, but he seems to blow it whenever he nears the ninth.

Tier Five

It appears Carlos Martinez should hold onto the closer’s job in 2019, what with his 2.18 ERA/0.97 WHIP over 20 ⅔ IP. After posting an elevated 11.5% walk rate in ‘18, it’s nice to see an early 8.8% mark in ‘19. Jordan Hicks isn’t coming back this season and CarMart makes a nice RP2/3 in 12-team formats.

With Jose Alvarado on the shelf for roughly six weeks, Emilio Pagan could be on many first-place teams, though I think Diego Castillo works back into a 50/50 split. Both should be owned in most leagues.

I’m done speculating on Jeremy Jeffress -- it looks like any hopes of a split like last season are six feet under. Hunter Strickland is also nearing dump territory thanks to a setback already in the books on top of the lengthy injury. He’ll then need to show he’s game-ready again.

Tier Six

Kelley is the clear favorite for me in this group, with my feelings illustrated with Jose LeClerc’s tepid blurb. Lorenzen is the other name that can get you some saves, though he’s clearly still the 1B to Raisel Iglesias’ 1A at the back-end. Meanwhile, A.J. Minter has scooped some saves when Luke Jackson is resting, but Minter won’t produce enough value on his own to warrant playing without a regular closing role.

Since our ranks got put in, it was made fairly clear that Daniel Hudson has leapfrogged Joe Biagini as the heir apparent to Ken Giles’ ninth should a trade go down. Joe Jimenez has also looked better of late and warrants top-300 consideration for sure.

 

Rankings Analysis - Lower Tiers

Tier Seven

Obviously, you’re burying Alvarado in the ranks here. These are mostly dart throws that would require an injury, demotion or miraculous recovery to hit it big. Most require more than one of those. Rehabbers include Philly’s David Robertson and Seranthony Dominguez, the Cubbies’ Brandon Morrow and the Yanks’ Dellin Betances - who was recently cleared to start throwing.

Mark Melancon could be one of the last men standing in San Francisco after Will Smith, Sam Dyson and Tony Watson potentially fetch some prospects. I still think Moronta is the one to own, but the Giants may do their darndest to give Melancon and his awful contract some trade value.

The best value in this tier likely comes from Boston's Brandon Workman, but his .169 BABIP underscores the 4.06 SIERA behind the 1.74 ERA. Tread carefully.

Tiers Eight & Nine

If the dart throws came earlier than these are the weighted darts that will take even more effort to hit any sort of bullseye with. In fact, you should consider yourself lucky if you score any points with them at all.

Folks such as Yoshihisa Hirano could take the D-backs role from Greg Holland, though Yoan Lopez is impressing in the eighth. Corbin Burnes could reenter the rotation at some point, but we can’t lean on him until he curbs the longball issue. Fernando Rodney is Fernando Rodney, but Washington is desperate for bullpen help and their crumminess means Rodney is already Doolittle’s backup. Doolittle is great but is not known for his durability.

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Rest-of-Season Second Base Rankings (Midseason Update)

The second half of the fantasy baseball season is here and the playoff push is on. RotoBaller's expert staff has updated our fantasy baseball rankings for the remainder of the year in order to give you the most up-to-date advice. Rankers Nick Mariano, Pierre Camus, Bill Dubiel and Scott Engel want you to crush the competition and win that title!

The second base position is deep thanks to an infusion of young talent this year, including rookies Brandon Lowe, Jeff McNeil, Keston Hiura, Nick Senzel, and Cavan Biggio. If you whiffed on draft day or had the misfortune of drafting Scooter Gennett before his injury, you should have no problem filling that void. There are still questions as to which young star will shine brightest in the second half and whether vets like Gennett, Cesar Hernandez, or Daniel Murphy can turn things around.

By this point, you know those preseason ADPs are worthless. Our rankers have taken into account injuries, team context, Statcast metrics, and gameplay observations in order to provide you with the most current rankings possible. Check out our fantasy baseball rankings dashboard for the very latest rankings which are continually updated. Without any more delay, let's break down the 2019 second base rest-of-season rankings for July.

 

Second Base Tiered Ranks - 5x5 Mixed Leagues (July)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was recently named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season. You can see his secret sauce below! Additionally, industry legend Scott Engel recently joined the RotoBaller team and provides his insights as well. Scott is an FSWA Hall Of Famer and award winner.

Ranking Tier Player Position Nick Pierre Bill
1 1 Javier Baez 2B/SS/3B 21 8 24
2 2 Adalberto Mondesi 2B/SS 20 33 16
3 2 Whit Merrifield 2B/OF 28 42 27
4 2 Jose Ramirez 2B/3B 51 18 60
5 2 Jose Altuve 2B 69 82 22
6 3 Gleyber Torres 2B/SS 63 74 67
7 3 Ozzie Albies 2B 89 73 79
8 3 Max Muncy 1B/2B/3B 74 108 77
9 4 Yoan Moncada 2B 116 109 119
10 4 Brandon Lowe 2B 108 147 115
11 4 DJ LeMahieu 2B 112 129 166
12 4 Matt Carpenter 1B/2B/3B 157 159 162
13 4 Lourdes Gurriel Jr. 2B/SS 165 165 165
14 4 Nick Senzel 2B/3B/OF 126 247 131
15 4 Jonathan Schoop 2B 184 148 186
16 4 Yuli Gurriel 1B/2B/3B 175 175 175
17 4 Jeff McNeil 2B 202 128 215
18 4 Daniel Murphy 1B/2B 125 312 130
19 5 Jonathan Villar 2B/SS 141 295 142
20 5 Scooter Gennett 2B 161 259 167
21 5 Keston Hiura 2B 167 290 231
22 5 Cesar Hernandez 2B 180 252 181
23 6 Cavan Biggio 2B 160 336 165
24 6 Asdrubal Cabrera SS/2B/3B 205 283 202
25 6 Dee Gordon 2B/OF 199 315 200
26 6 Derek Dietrich 2B 189 337 190
27 6 Chris Taylor 2B/SS/OF 255 255 255
28 6 Marwin Gonzalez 1B/2B/SS/OF 265 265 265
29 6 Niko Goodrum 1B/2B/3B/SS/OF 193 384 236
30 7 Joey Wendle 2B/3B/SS/OF 275 275 275
31 7 Rougned Odor 2B 284 318 232
32 7 Howie Kendrick 2B/OF 250 340 250
33 7 Ryan McMahon 1B/3B/2B 236 362 242
34 7 Brian Dozier 2B 307 323 250
35 7 Jurickson Profar SS/3B/1B/2B 286 355 246
36 7 Kike Hernandez 2B/SS/OF 265 356 274
37 7 Kolten Wong 2B 359 253 361
38 8 Luis Urias 2B 251 457 292
39 8 Robinson Cano 1B/2B 427 161 436
40 8 Jose Peraza 2B/SS 476 226 487
41 8 Tommy La Stella 2B/3B 201 466 205
42 8 Garrett Hampson 2B/SS 441 396 #N/A
43 8 Travis Shaw 1B/2B/3B 442 376 456
44 8 Starlin Castro 2B 440 426 455
45 8 Eric Sogard 2B/SS 435 450 449
46 8 David Bote 2B/3B 443 437 458
47 8 Adam Frazier 2B 485 358 515
48 8 Johan Camargo 2B/3B/SS 450 #N/A 466
49 8 Jason Kipnis 2B/OF 430 518 439
50 8 Logan Forsythe 2B/3B #N/A 470 #N/A
51 8 Yolmer Sanchez 2B/3B 494 #N/A 498
52 8 Ian Kinsler 2B 484 513 493
53 8 Chad Pinder SS/2B/OF 497 493 501
54 8 Wilmer Flores 1B/3B/2B 483 532 491
55 8 Brock Holt 2B/3B/OF 505 #N/A 507
56 8 Miguel Rojas 1B/2B/3B/SS 506 #N/A 508
57 8 Ronny Rodriguez 1B/2B/3B/SS 499 #N/A 519
58 8 Jed Lowrie 2B #N/A 512 #N/A
59 8 Josh Harrison 2B 516 509 513
60 8 Neil Walker 1B/2B 521 #N/A #N/A
61 8 Eduardo Nunez 2B/3B 527 #N/A #N/A
62 8 Devon Travis 2B #N/A #N/A 527
63 8 Chris Owings 2B/3B/OF #N/A 524 578
64 9 Tyler Saladino 2B/SS #N/A #N/A 570
65 9 Yairo Munoz 2B/3B/SS/OF #N/A #N/A 573

 

Rankings Analysis - Top Tiers

Tier One

Maybe I screwed up the tiers by putting Javy Baez as the only second baseman inside the top 10 overall but I believe he is an elite player regardless of what position he plays. He's maintaining last year's pace in every category other than steals, where he has just five after last year's 21 SB total. In fact, his 14.7% barrel rate and .480 xwoBACON are higher than last year. If the Cubs can get it together and Kris Bryant can have that MVP-caliber season I predicted, maybe Baez elevates his value even further.

Tier Two

We know Mondesi and Merrifield will maintain their value despite being in a rebuild situation. Mondesi leads the majors in steals and Merrifield has proven he doesn't need to steal a ton of bases to still be a top option.

There's quite the discrepancy between Altuve and Ramirez in a certain's rankers column - intentionally so. As much as I love Altuve, if he's not stealing bases at all (he's not) then doesn't a .274 average make him just another guy? His xBA is .270 so it's not as if he's getting unlucky. Fantasy owners should be aware that since 2016, Altuve's xBA has dropped each year while his strikeout rate has climbed each year. Breaking balls in particular are giving him a hard time this season. He may still be an elite talent but that doesn't mean he's going to be an elite fantasy performer in 2019.

Some people were all over Jose Ramirez for his inability to hit breaking stuff last year but he corrected that problem. He should be a strong rebound candidate in the second half as someone who is underachieving based on expected stats. Contrary to Altuve, I expect last year's version of J-Ram to return.

Tier Three

If Gleyber Torres were on another team, his statline might be very different. On the one hand, take out those 12 games against the Orioles and his HR total is cut in half. On the other hand, he might be a mid-order bat anywhere else as opposed to hitting seventh or eighth for the Yankees like he's been doing lately. It's a mixed bag but one worth betting on based on his talent. We haven't seen the best of Torres yet and may not see it in the second half but I would take him over most other options at the keystone. Although their 5x5 stat lines are nearly identical, Albies gets the slight edge in my rankings because of the dearth of steals available, so every SB helps. Plus, his position in the Braves lineup will lead to more runs scored on a consistent basis.

 

Rankings Analysis - Middle Tiers

Tier Four

Rookie Brandon Lowe had an exceptional first half and exceeded expectations with his All-Star invitation. His hard-hit rate ranks in the 81st percentile and his position as the regular second baseman is cemented. Two small problems: he's currently on the IL with a bone bruise and his .236 xBA could decline at some point when he returns. These aren't major concerns but they are enough for me to keep him below veteran DJ Lemahieu, who is a consistent performer with great team context.

Jeff McNeil leads the majors with a .349 average, buoyed by an xBA in the 97th percentile. Why isn't he higher? The power has yet to fully bloom but it's in there. He hit 18 HR across 339 minor league at-bats last year. As a late-bloomer, his age-27 breakout could be accompanied by at least adequate power in the 18-20 HR range by season's end. McNeil and LeMahieu both play in the Big Apple but the only difference in their fantasy value hinges on team context.

I've dissed Daniel Murphy enough this year in my weekly Statcast analysis, so I'll simply direct you to my rendition of Biggest First-Half Overachievers.

Tier Five

I was consistently one of the lowest rankers on Villar in the preseason and he's done little to change my mind so far. He's got 17 steals and his run total of 55 is decent since the O's have been slightly better than expected.  The power numbers (10 HR, 37 RBI) are meh and his .262 average should be far worse based on expected stats. In fact, his xwOBA is down in the 20th percentile. Enjoy the speed but don't expect more than that throughout the second half.

Keston Hiura is the type of player that can deliver in every category. That's assuming he stays up for the duration of the year, which seems a safe bet since Travis Shaw is off to Neverland. Shaw is still toiling to get right at Triple-A but should be back at some point. It could be too late to earn his job back, however, and Hiura could stick as long as his strikeout rate of 32.3% doesn't keep spiking to Shaw-like levels.

For my thoughts on Cesar Hernandez, see Altuve, Jose (above). If he isn't stealing bases, which none of the Phillies seem to be doing, then he's not particularly interesting or valuable. Thoughts that he might reach the 20-20 mark have been dashed by now, as he has just seven HR and six SB at the midway point. The Phillies are 19th in steal attempts per game and losing Jean Segura for a while might make them even more conservative. Move on from Hernandez.

Tier Six

I love Cavan Biggio as a prospect but let's not pretend there isn't risk here. Biggio has flexed power with six bombs and has swiped six bags too but his average sits at .227. For a 24-year-old who just tasted Triple-A for less than half a season, a prolonged slump could get him sent down again for a spell. Keep him around even if that happens, as he'll be in the lineup regularly throughout September most likely. Still, I prefer more seasoned Jays infielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

I'm also quite pessimistic about Derek Dietrich maintaining his 27.1% HR/FB rate or his career-high 46.4% FB%. He's only gone deep once over the past month, so the predictable regression is already happening.

I love Niko Goodrum's versatility and own him in several leagues for that reason. He's left me wanting in the power categories, though, and that lineup isn't doing him any favors. He should serve as a utility player if needed on fantasy teams, not necessarily a starter.

 

Rankings Analysis - Lower Tiers

Tier Seven

Tired of waiting for Rougned Odor to turn it on? Same. He sits dead last among qualified second basemen with a .194 average. The power is still there but considering you could have gotten better production from Tommy La Stella or Derek Dietrich, there's no reason to hang on. I feel similarly about Brian Dozier. While his .230 average is less putrid, at least Odor has a handful of steals and 17 more RBI.

I'm still waiting for the light bulb to turn on for Ryan McMahon. He's got the tools and the opportunity, he just needs to make the most of it. It may not happen this year but I'm holding on just in case.

It seems as if Kike Hernandez's playing time isn't in question unless a Gavin Lux call-up happens and he steals the second base job away. Hernandez might be better suited to his normal utility role anyway. After a scorching start to the year, he's cooled considerably and is no more than an injury fill-in for fantasy teams.

Tier Eight and lower

It appears I'm the only one who hasn't given up on Robinson Cano. It hasn't been the best season, I'll admit. His hard-hit rate is still promising and he's going to stay in the lineup, so I'm hopeful he's got a little left in the tank. That said, maybe 161 is a little overly optimistic...

Luis Urias has the potential to be an impact bat but may leave fantasy owners wanting more. He has never been a speed guy and power will be limited too, especially in Petco. It's unclear when he'll get recalled and he's been overmatched in both previous Major League stints. All told, I'm waiting for next year rather than holding out hope he will help a contender.

Don't ask why I have Jose Peraza ranked so much higher than the others because I have no explanation. It must be misguided optimism leftover from draft season.

Normally, I'd recommend a few players to watch in the lower tiers that could ascend to relevance but this position has little to offer past the top 40. Stashing a minor league option such as Isan Diaz might be your best bet. Or maybe Mike Brosseau will keep it up (he won't).

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Rest-of-Season Shortstop Rankings (Midseason Update)

The All-Star break has come and gone, as we now find ourselves on the downward portion of this roller-coaster ride. As we race towards the finish line, we here at RotoBaller felt it best to equip you for the journey ahead with a second-half, Rest-of-Season update of our mixed rankings analysis. RotoBaller writers Nick Mariano, Pierre Camus, Bill Dubiel and Scott Engel want you to crush the competition and know that rankings can't end on draft day. Check out our fantasy baseball rankings dashboard for the latest and greatest ranks at any time.

Amazingly, 17 of the top 85 fantasy players are shortstop-eligible on Yahoo's 5x5 standard scoring system. It's a great time to have invested in the six, though the jostling of said 17 leaves lots of room for profiteering via trade and several more impact names lie beneath the upper crust. The top of this position is rich, but the dropoff can leave snakebitten owners scrambling for help.

Without any more delay, let's break down the 2019 shortstop rest-of-season rankings for July.

 

Shortstop Tiered Ranks - 5x5 Mixed Leagues (July)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was recently named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season. You can see his secret sauce below! Additionally, industry legend Scott Engel recently joined the RotoBaller team and provides his insights as well. Scott is an FSWA Hall Of Famer and award winner.

Ranking Tier Player Position Nick Pierre Bill
1 1 Alex Bregman 3B/SS 11 9 9
2 1 Trea Turner SS 24 10 17
3 1 Javier Baez 2B/SS/3B 21 8 24
4 1 Trevor Story SS 9 37 8
5 1 Francisco Lindor SS 22 13 26
6 2 Adalberto Mondesi 2B/SS 20 47 16
7 2 Manny Machado 3B/SS 40 19 33
8 2 Xander Bogaerts SS 31 52 29
9 3 Gleyber Torres 2B/SS 63 48 67
10 3 Elvis Andrus SS 79 57 84
11 3 Jorge Polanco SS 71 91 68
12 3 Ketel Marte SS 67 129 71
13 4 Fernando Tatis Jr. SS 82 119 87
14 4 Carlos Correa SS 123 71 102
15 4 Jean Segura SS 98 104 103
16 4 Eduardo Escobar SS/3B 76 156 78
17 4 Tim Anderson SS 169 38 104
18 4 Dansby Swanson SS 94 161 97
19 5 Marcus Semien SS 100 221 106
20 5 Paul DeJong SS 185 92 169
21 6 Jonathan Villar 2B/SS 141 285 142
22 6 Asdrubal Cabrera SS/2B/3B 205 193 202
23 6 Scott Kingery SS/3B/OF 158 280 163
24 6 Corey Seager SS 155 323 161
25 6 Lourdes Gurriel Jr. 2B/SS 237 168 259
26 6 Andrelton Simmons SS 219 248 203
27 6 Amed Rosario SS 198 291 198
28 7 Niko Goodrum 1B/2B/3B/SS/OF 193 367 236
29 7 Didi Gregorius SS 313 202 318
30 7 Brendan Rodgers SS 340 233 330
31 7 Kike Hernandez 2B/SS/OF 265 399 274
32 7 Jurickson Profar SS/3B/1B/2B 286 462 246
33 7 Willy Adames SS 460 184 370
34 7 Kevin Newman SS 240 454 386
35 7 J.P. Crawford SS 389 395 #N/A
36 8 Jose Peraza 2B/SS 476 267 487
37 8 Nick Ahmed SS 458 298 474
38 8 Garrett Hampson 2B/SS 441 381 #N/A
39 8 Tim Beckham SS/3B 447 339 462
40 8 Addison Russell SS #N/A 421 #N/A
41 8 Chris Taylor 2B/SS/OF 425 417 435
42 8 Joey Wendle 2B/3B/SS/OF 504 349 #N/A
43 8 Freddy Galvis SS 433 456 446
44 8 Orlando Arcia SS 462 410 477
45 8 Eric Sogard 2B/SS 435 474 449
46 8 Brandon Crawford SS 488 418 494
47 8 Daniel Robertson SS 509 389 509
48 8 Nicky Lopez SS 459 479 475
49 8 Johan Camargo 2B/3B/SS 450 498 466
50 8 Marwin Gonzalez 1B/2B/SS/OF 495 432 499
51 8 Gio Urshela 3B/SS 452 508 468
52 8 Chad Pinder SS/2B/OF 497 471 501
53 8 Carter Kieboom SS #N/A 496 #N/A
54 8 Cole Tucker SS 503 482 506
55 8 Ronny Rodriguez 1B/2B/3B/SS 499 #N/A 519
56 8 Jose Iglesias SS 512 #N/A 511
57 8 Troy Tulowitzki SS #N/A #N/A 512
58 8 Miguel Rojas 1B/2B/3B/SS 506 522 508
59 8 Matt Duffy SS/3B #N/A #N/A 542
60 8 Tyler Saladino 2B/SS #N/A #N/A 570
61 8 Yairo Munoz 2B/3B/SS/OF #N/A #N/A 573

 

Rankings Analysis - Top Tiers

Tier One

A friendly reminder that Trevor Story is still the No. 1 SS in 5x5 formats, coming in at 13th overall, despite a stint on the injured list due to a thumb injury. Knock on Coors Field all you want, but taking someone with elite pop and speed like him and plopping him a mile above sea level means you drop the too-cool-for-Coors act and fall in line. Story reigns supreme.

I will say that I need to nudge Lindor a bit higher -- I wouldn't bat an eye at someone taking him in the early second round if a 12-teamer redrafted right now. Despite the injury, he has 14 homers, 13 steals and a .296 average in 69 games. His season started on April 20 and he could still notch a 25/25 season!

There’s nothing terribly new in the lives of the other players -- you won’t go wrong with any of them. Trea Turner has seven homers and 17 steals in just 230 plate appearances in an injury-shortened ‘19 after recording 760 PAs in 162 games last season. If we pull those stats out over a 750-ish PA span then you get about 22 homers and 55 steals. Mm, magnifico.

Tier Two

Mondesi showed no signs of rust upon his return from the 10-day IL, as he’d swat his seventh homer of 2019 that night. In the six games post-injury, pre-ASB, Mondesi logged seven hits with the aforementioned dinger, a stolen base and 11 R+RBI. The top of the Royals lineup can fly and while Mondesi’s BA will likely fade a bit in the second half, the modest pop, high-end speed and great R+RBI production will keep him in the top-50.

Machado is ranked a healthy 70th overall in 5x5 formats with 20 homers, a .266 average, 51 runs scored and 58 RBI next to two steals. The increased speed he showed in ‘18 would’ve come in handy here, but there’s hope yet. After opening the season with a horrid contact rate around 70% and a rolling strikeout rate that hit 29% by late April, his current 15-game rolling contact average is back in the 80-85% range with a strikeout rate around 18%. This is palatable and allows Machado’s power to work for itself, and you!

Tier Three

Torres has really impressed me by growing into his power and nearly hitting .300 in this powerful Yankees lineup. The Bronx Bombers have helped him eclipse the 50-run and 50-RBI marks in 301 at-bats. I was worried about his Statcast metrics not supporting the power from last season, but he's clearly here to stay in one of the best offensive environments in the game.

Andrus is having the quietest successful season at this position, ranking 30th overall at the break with eight homers and 19 steals with a .303 average across 79 games. Marte earned his start in the All-Star Game and the only thing keeping me from ranking him higher is the lack of a track record. Polanco has been stellar in ‘19, but is nearing a month-long slump now. His .240/.288/.365 slash line in the last 105 PAs is chilling, but the Twins are a run factory and he’s only gone hitless in four of the 21 games in that stretch.

 

Rankings Analysis - Middle Tiers

Tier Four

This tier remains stacked, with me being the high man on Tatis, Segura, Escobar and Swanson. You could easily vault Tatis even higher, which I probably would’ve done had my ranks been submitted after Tatis proved that his power swing was still there post-injury. He returned on June 6 and only hit two homers in his first 16 games back before swatting six homers in the following 12. He’s more than fine.

Correa is way back in “prove-it territory” to me, not to mention he must avoid setbacks and a rib injury could really affect one’s swing. Anderson could also miss another month and was already lower in my ranks due to just five homers and five steals since May began. In fact, most of his combined stats in May and June fall short of his April numbers: 5 HR compared to 6 in April, 18 runs vs. 21, 19 RBI vs. 18 and five steals against 10.

Tier Five

Semien and DeJong are both solid players, though DeJong has really fallen off lately while Semien’s rebounded from a cold May. The cold streak was largely due to an unfortunate .232 BABIP and his gains in the batter's box have held throughout the season. It doesn't show up on most fantasy stat sheets, but he's upped his walk rate from 8.7% in '18 to 10.9% in '19 alongside a sharp drop in strikeout rate -- from 18.6% to 13.2%. Semien sits at 75th overall while DeJong is down to 149.

DeJong hit .342 with five homers and 39 R+RBI in March/April, and while his average sunk to .200 in May, he stayed level with 20 walks against 20 strikeouts. But then June saw the batting woes continue with a .218 average and he drew only five walks against 25 strikeouts. Extend the calendar through the All-Star break and he has a 30/6 K/BB mark since June began. He's still good for roughly five homers a month and could notch a 25-homer season, but lesser plate discipline lowers his floor.

Tier Six

Villar is essentially on the “Elvis Andrus Quiet Success” path but with a worse batting average at .259, though no one drafted Villar for average. He’s one-of-four shortstops with double-digit homers and steals, joining Story, Tatis and Anderson. Treat him accordingly.

Kingery is striking out like crazy but has nine homers and four steals with a .271 average in 170 ABs (44 games) since becoming a regular starter on May 19. He’d be the poster child for post-hype sleeper if it weren’t for Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who was demoted on April 14 and continued to stink at Triple-A, only to return on May 24 and catch absolute fire. In 170 PAs since then, Gurriel has popped 16 homers with for a crazy .335/.382/.716 slash line while settling into Toronto’s regular three-hole hitter.

 

Rankings Analysis - Lower Tiers

Tier Seven

I wish I could believe in Didi Gregorius becoming fantasy-relevant again but it’s hard to see him squeezing into that lineup. And even if he does, then his power will need to show up post-TJS. That said, I’d be fine speculating on him rather than deal with Jurickson Profar. I’d have lowered Profar more if we submitted ranks before the A’s decided to give Franklin Barreto the keys to the keystone position and shifting Profar to a backup, super-utility role.

Newman went 2-for-4 with a bag in the last game of the first half on July 7, which gives Newman a .360 average with five homers, five steals and an impressive 7/11 K/BB rate in the past month of play (June 7-July 7). That 122-PA stretch with a 9% strikeout rate and .202 ISO is music to my ears!

Tier Eight

I wouldn’t tread here, but you’ll get hot streaks out of players such as Freddy Galvis and Eric Sogard. Gio Urshela, Marwin Gonzalez and Chris Taylor have the tools to succeed but their playing time is so incredibly suspect that I can’t lean on them. Taylor has played more of late but had been playing shortstop with Corey Seager out, which will need to change.

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Rest-of-Season Starting Pitcher Rankings (Midseason Update)

The Midsummer Classic has come and gone, leaving us without baseball for what seems like the longest week of the calendar year. Before the second half of the 2019 MLB season gets underway, the RotoBaller staff has updated our fantasy baseball rankings for the remainder of the year. RotoBaller writers Nick Mariano, Pierre Camus, Bill Dubiel and Scott Engel want you to crush the competition and know that rankings don't stop mattering once your draft is over.

Starting pitchers have been the bane of fantasy owners' existence this year. Whether you side with Justin Verlander or not, it's obvious that offense as a whole, especially home runs, are up. That's been bad news for many SP that were drafted in the first few rounds. If you are still in the thick of the race in your mixed roto league, it's critical to find the right pitchers to trust so your ratios don't tank.

Throw those preseason ADPs out along with any preconceived notion of how these players were going to perform - we've taken into account injuries, team context, Statcast metrics, and gameplay observations in order to provide you with the most current rankings possible. Check out our fantasy baseball rankings dashboard for the very latest rankings which are continually updated. Without any more delay, let's break down the 2019 SP rest-of-season rankings for July.

 

Starting Pitcher Tiered Ranks - 5x5 Mixed Leagues (July)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was recently named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season. You can see his secret sauce below! Additionally, industry legend Scott Engel recently joined the RotoBaller team and provides his insights as well. Scott is an FSWA Hall Of Famer and award winner.

Ranking Tier Player Position Nick Pierre Bill
1 1 Max Scherzer SP 5 11 4
2 1 Chris Sale SP 8 15 7
3 1 Justin Verlander SP 7 18 6
4 2 Gerrit Cole SP 12 12 11
5 2 Jacob deGrom SP 13 26 12
6 2 Trevor Bauer SP 32 20 32
7 2 Luis Castillo SP 36 31 40
8 2 Jose Berrios SP 42 23 45
9 2 Clayton Kershaw SP 41 36 36
10 2 Zack Greinke SP 23 60 37
11 2 Blake Snell SP 30 58 35
12 3 Hyun-Jin Ryu SP 35 61 38
13 3 Walker Buehler SP 33 66 39
14 3 Stephen Strasburg SP 44 59 49
15 3 Aaron Nola SP 59 35 64
16 3 Patrick Corbin SP 77 49 52
17 3 Charlie Morton SP 55 77 58
18 3 Noah Syndergaard SP 58 75 62
19 4 David Price SP 72 81 75
20 4 James Paxton SP 70 86 74
21 4 Lucas Giolito SP 78 117 82
22 4 Mike Clevinger SP 87 108 91
23 4 Shane Bieber SP 95 99 98
24 4 Masahiro Tanaka SP 118 64 120
25 4 German Marquez SP 117 97 101
26 4 Mike Minor SP 105 93 118
27 4 Madison Bumgarner SP 102 110 107
28 4 Matthew Boyd SP 104 118 110
29 5 Mike Soroka SP 107 138 89
30 5 Jack Flaherty SP 144 95 135
31 5 Robbie Ray SP 147 84 149
32 5 Jake Odorizzi SP 129 135 124
33 5 Kenta Maeda SP 130 131 138
34 5 Cole Hamels SP 139 125 140
35 5 Chris Paddack SP 145 143 132
36 5 Zack Wheeler SP 138 160 139
37 5 Caleb Smith SP 164 114 159
38 5 Griffin Canning SP 150 165 151
39 5 Eduardo Rodriguez SP 186 120 188
40 6 Kyle Gibson SP 154 197 157
41 6 Yu Darvish SP 148 219 143
42 6 Jose Quintana SP 182 164 183
43 6 Liam Hendriks SP 196 #N/A 176
44 6 Yonny Chirinos SP 222 123 217
45 6 Max Fried SP 195 183 187
46 6 J.A. Happ SP 214 137 214
47 6 Domingo German SP 215 153 199
48 6 Brandon Woodruff SP 113 322 133
49 6 Nick Pivetta SP 177 236 179
50 6 Sonny Gray SP 209 194 206
51 6 Tyler Glasnow SP 292 190 136
52 6 Andrew Heaney SP 133 344 156
53 6 Carlos Carrasco SP 162 301 173
54 6 Kyle Hendricks SP 233 186 239
55 6 Joey Lucchesi SP 263 180 237
56 7 Steven Matz SP 259 179 244
57 7 Joe Musgrove SP 270 140 276
58 7 Chris Archer SP 271 154 275
59 7 Jon Gray SP 278 145 277
60 7 Rick Porcello SP 260 172 269
61 7 Trevor Williams SP 250 188 267
62 7 Jon Lester SP 243 211 254
63 7 Miles Mikolas SP 268 177 268
64 7 Rich Hill SP 171 379 172
65 7 Jameson Taillon SP 253 212 262
66 7 John Gant SP 211 222 300
67 7 Jake Arrieta SP 274 198 278
68 8 Anibal Sanchez SP 227 320 228
69 8 Corey Kluber SP 247 284 245
70 8 Ryan Yarbrough SP 257 271 #N/A
71 8 Lance Lynn SP 217 353 225
72 8 Zac Gallen SP 275 245 281
73 8 Tyler Mahle SP 277 258 270
74 8 Dallas Keuchel SP 295 250 263
75 8 Zach Plesac SP 279 252 260
76 8 Brad Peacock RP/SP 294 256 266
77 9 Spencer Turnbull SP 378 213 234
78 9 Mike Foltynewicz SP 374 148 307
79 9 Marco Gonzales SP 283 265 282
80 9 Trevor Richards SP 281 275 279
81 9 Pablo Lopez SP 266 317 258
82 9 Matt Strahm RP/SP 287 274 284
83 9 Sean Newcomb SP #N/A 282 #N/A
84 9 Ross Stripling SP 272 251 325
85 9 Jesus Luzardo SP 249 356 248
86 9 Julio Teheran SP 246 361 257
87 10 Michael Pineda SP 290 287 289
88 10 Marcus Stroman SP 276 306 287
89 10 Merrill Kelly SP 256 342 273
90 10 Framber Valdez SP 350 270 256
91 10 Diego Castillo RP/SP 269 374 243
92 10 Carlos Martinez SP/RP 228 308 362
93 10 Luis Severino SP 262 368 272
94 10 Jordan Lyles SP 280 336 288
95 10 Jason Vargas SP 315 354 293
96 10 Adrian Sampson SP/RP 291 330 291
97 10 Yusei Kikuchi SP 356 199 359
98 10 Scott Oberg SP 293 319 308
99 10 Julio Urias SP 321 277 327
100 10 Wade Miley SP 232 480 235
101 10 Tommy Milone SP 317 370 323
102 11 Sandy Alcantara SP 324 338 301
103 11 Michael Wacha SP 331 304 338
104 11 Martin Perez SP 248 477 265
105 11 Jeff Samardzija SP 329 326 337
106 11 Aaron Sanchez SP 322 348 334
107 11 Brad Keller SP 334 333 340
108 11 Freddy Peralta SP 337 329 342
109 11 Jalen Beeks SP 379 288 349
110 11 Peter Lambert SP 346 #N/A 333
111 11 Logan Allen SP 338 #N/A 343
112 11 Zach Eflin SP 300 428 299
113 11 Luke Weaver SP 402 229 411
114 11 Ian Kennedy SP 252 446 344
115 11 Trent Thornton SP 339 358 345
116 11 Zach Davies SP 288 481 285
117 11 Eric Lauer SP 326 340 389
118 11 Vince Velasquez SP 394 260 402
119 11 Dylan Bundy SP 282 488 286
120 11 Jhoulys Chacin SP 319 412 326
121 12 Jimmy Nelson SP 415 360 283
122 12 Felix Pena RP/SP 320 445 310
123 12 Mitch Keller SP 351 406 321
124 12 Jordan Yamamoto SP 388 331 366
125 12 CC Sabathia SP 390 312 395
126 12 Anthony DeSclafani SP 306 511 290
127 12 Reynaldo Lopez SP 372 403 339
128 12 John Means SP/RP 367 #N/A 376
129 12 Elieser Hernandez SP/RP 369 #N/A 378
130 12 Chris Bassitt SP 333 485 314
131 12 Chase Anderson SP 393 352 401
132 12 Adam Conley SP/RP 385 #N/A 381
133 12 Dereck Rodriguez SP 396 351 405
134 12 Josh James SP 330 411 414
135 12 Collin McHugh SP 398 371 394
136 12 Mike Fiers SP 335 501 329
137 13 Tanner Roark SP 325 519 331
138 13 Danny Duffy SP 399 370 408
139 13 Dylan Cease SP 384 #N/A 404
140 13 Cal Quantrill SP 418 362 425
141 13 Alex Wood SP 395 409 403
142 13 Kevin Gausman SP 410 404 397
143 13 Nathan Eovaldi SP 411 380 421
144 13 Jakob Junis SP 392 420 400
145 13 Robert Stephenson SP 400 #N/A 409
146 13 Seth Lugo SP/RP 403 #N/A 412
147 13 Cole Irvin SP #N/A 408 #N/A
148 13 Felix Hernandez SP 404 #N/A 415
149 13 Alex Reyes SP/RP 420 384 427
150 13 Adam Wainwright SP 405 #N/A 416
151 13 Corbin Burnes SP/RP 426 378 429
152 13 Homer Bailey SP 407 #N/A 419
153 13 Dinelson Lamet SP 408 #N/A 420
154 13 Sean Manaea SP 409 #N/A 424
155 13 Drew Pomeranz SP 406 427 417
156 13 Jose Suarez SP 511 #N/A 324
157 13 Derek Holland SP 416 #N/A 422
158 14 Corbin Martin SP #N/A 419 #N/A
159 14 Jon Duplantier SP 419 424 426
160 14 Wade LeBlanc SP 421 #N/A 428
161 14 Kyle Freeland SP 513 392 380
162 14 Trevor Cahill SP 387 505 393
163 14 Amir Garrett SP 382 517 390
164 14 Touki Toussaint SP 413 500 391
165 14 Jerad Eickhoff SP 412 515 396
166 14 Clay Buchholz SP 478 #N/A 406
167 14 Sam Gaviglio SP/RP 480 #N/A 407
168 14 Gio Gonzalez SP 417 497 423
169 14 Forrest Whitley SP #N/A 484 413
170 14 Nick Margevicius SP 520 355 495
171 14 Wily Peralta SP/RP #N/A #N/A 457
172 14 Jose Urena SP 519 #N/A 418
173 14 Zack Godley SP #N/A 492 #N/A
174 14 Drew Smyly SP #N/A 506 #N/A
175 14 Robert Gsellman SP/RP #N/A #N/A 525
176 14 Jaime Barria SP 526 502 557
177 14 Justus Sheffield SP #N/A #N/A 531
178 14 Ivan Nova SP #N/A #N/A 533
179 14 Dylan Floro SP/RP #N/A #N/A 541
180 14 Luiz Gohara SP #N/A #N/A 543
181 14 Kyle Wright SP #N/A #N/A 547
182 14 Jeremy Hellickson SP #N/A #N/A 551
183 14 Alex Cobb SP #N/A #N/A 554
184 14 A.J. Puk SP #N/A #N/A 572

 

Rankings Analysis - Top Tiers

Tier One

After pitching to an uncharacteristically high 4.12 ERA in the first month, Mad Max has been lights out ever since. We should be grateful that he's sitting out the All-Star game in order to stay fresh for the stretch run. He's locked in as the top fantasy SP for the rest of this year and that likely won't change.

Roller coaster enthusiasts, masochists, diehard Red Sox fans convinced the team is going to turn it around any day now and bring anotha' ring home. Those are the people enjoying their draft-day shares of Chris Sale at an average price tag of a first-round pick. His K-rate is still strong at 34.5% but his swing-and-miss rate has fluctuated wildly from month to month, as has his ERA.

After a horrible April, Sale posted a 2.82 ERA in May and 2.73 in June. Then he ruined it all by giving up five earned runs in each of his last two starts before the break. If you own Sale or bought low on him after the panic started, hold tight and enjoy the strikeouts, if nothing else.

Tier Two

Bauer isn't pitching to last year's level but I'm not discounting improvement in the second half. His 38.2% hard-hit rate has jumped back to 2017 levels, nine points higher than last year. That has led to an ERA that's a run and a half higher than last year too. I wouldn't be surprised if the recent trade rumors spark a resurgence, whether they come to fruition or not. A move to a contender would obviously help his win potential and could push him back into the elite once more.

My personal ranking for Zack Greinke and Blake Snell are about 20-30 spots lower than my compadres. This has nothing to do with those particular players. In fact, it's the start of a trend where I seem to have several starters in the top 25 lower than the consensus.

Tier Three

A 3.74 ERA and 1.30 WHIP aren't what we expected out of Aaron Nola. At least he's stayed healthy so far! Nola's hard-hit rate is in the 26th percentile and he's already allowed 15 HR in 19 starts after allowing just 17 all last year over 33 starts (cue Justin Verlander quote). So Nola may be a victim of the juiced ball to some extent but in a season where an ERA of 3.00 puts you on the top-10 leaderboard, we can't complain too much in this case. His strikeout rate is comparable to last year and he has a chance to match last year's 17-win total if the Phillies play up to their potential.

Patrick Corbin was thought to be a Cy Young dark horse coming into the season after his move to Washington. Last year's breakout was no fluke, as he's matched nearly every metric from 2018 and, aside from a few more longballs allowed, looks to be a strong SP2 in fantasy rotations. If the Nats keep pushing for a playoff spot, he will be a key factor. I see no reason to expect decline, unlike pitchers like Hyun Jin Ryu and Luis Castillo who have yet to hit a rough patch but could do so based on their history.

Speaking of the Cy Young award, maybe Noah Syndergaard won't ever win one after all. Early on, we blamed the ball and his lack of grip. Then it was injury. Now, we don't know what to make of the once-mighty Thor. Our own Scott Engel wrote a detailed profile on him early in the season and followed up with another Insider Report indicating he could still be a buy-low candidate based on several factors. It's hard to keep the faith at this point with a 4.68 ERA weighing him down. What's worse is that his K% has been dropping for three straight years. New rumors suggest he could be on the trade block but it's not certain whether the Mets would trade him. Either way, buying low has just become too risky at this point.

 

Rankings Analysis - Middle Tiers

Tier Four

Let's talk Cleveland. Shane Bieber was absolutely dominant in his one inning of labor at the All-Star Game, striking out the side. Sure, Aroldis Chapman did the same thing and earned the save but did he pitch the all-important fifth inning? I think not. Hometown conspiracy aside, Bieber has been one of the better pitching surprises of the season. He's walking just over five percent of batters faced and his ratios are inflated by a couple of disastrous starts earlier in the year. That said, it should be noted that his 45.6% hard-hit percentage is in the bottom 5% of the league. As a rookie, he may be prone to more disastrous starts in the future too, so be cautious.

Mike Clevinger gets a pass because he's been dealing with strains and sprains all year. His last outing of the first half was promising though, as he tossed six scoreless innings on July 3. There could be a buy-low window still.

If anyone should be highest on Lucas Giolito, it should be me. I mean, I wrote the book (article) on his breakout 2019 season. But I understand his inconsistency and control issues could continue to creep back. His latest outing, where he surrendered five walks and six earned runs, can be dismissed. The fact that he hasn't finished six innings in any of his last four starts is hard to ignore though. The Cubs seem to be his biggest problem lately but if he is tiring out or losing his command for whatever reason, it may be time to bail. Let's see if the break does him some good before pushing the panic button.

Tier Five

Upon reviewing these rankings, I've noticed I'm far higher on Jack Flaherty and lower on Mike Soroka than either Nick or Bill. I feel good about Flaherty showing improvement, especially because the K-rate is still strong and the Cardinals offense just has to get better, which will improve that 4-6 record. I feel pretty good about Soroka too so it must be natural fear of regression that drove me to rank him lower. Expected stats say that he is performing as he should but the fact he's striking out barely 20% of batters and has had some nice luck in the win column makes me leery.

I named Chris Paddack as the top sell-high SP about a month ago and am holding true to that. He's already been sent down temporarily once and will probably see more time off in the near future. He's got the stuff, even if his pitch mix is limited, but this isn't the year to trust him down the stretch of a fantasy playoff race.

Zach Wheeler has also been linked to trade talks and could wind up in San Diego or Milwaukee before the year is up. This would be a boon to his value, although that would involve trusting him. He's looked bad at times but all his xStats are above average, with a fastball velocity that ranks in the 95th percentile. That will play anywhere.

Time to represent my Marlins! Caleb Smith was one of the best pitchers in the majors before he hit the injured list and should rightfully have been nominated as the team's All-Star representative. Now that he's back, people seem have forgotten about his elite strikeout numbers and 1.01 WHIP. The wins are even more promising now that the Marlins are playing .500 ball since May. The fact he's even available in more than a third of fantasy leagues disturbs me.

Tier Six

I'm done with Yu Darvish. Done. I mean, I still own him in about six leagues so technically not completely done but you get the drift. He's been a hard pill to swallow even on a discounted draft price this year. Glimmers of hope, like his strong start against the Dodgers a couple of weeks ago, are immediately erased by four-run and five-run outings. He's only tossed four quality starts out of 18 this season. If you have aspirations of winning your league, move on from him now.

Is there still hope left for Nick Pivetta? He seemed to get it together for about a one-week span after being recalled from Triple-A and then continued to implode time after time. He is a lost cause at this point and doesn't belong in the top 200 overall.

Out of sight, out of mind? That seems to be the mentality of many fantasy owners. Young studs Domingo German and Tyler Glasnow are both similar to Caleb Smith in the sense that they were sensational to start the season and then hit the shelf with injuries and became devalued. I have personally been able to buy German and Smith at discounted rates over the past couple of weeks and may soon pull the trigger on Glasnow. His forearm strain isn't indicative of other major issues and he said he expects to pitch again this season. Reevaluate the situation in a week and see if he can help sooner than later.

 

Rankings Analysis - Lower Tiers

Tier Seven

I know I'm still too high on Jon Gray and always will be. He is what he is at this point - a hard-thrower who isn't fazed by Coors but is also prone to getting hit hard at times. He is and will remain a low-end rotation arm in fantasy.

On the other end of the velocity spectrum, Miles Mikolas isn't worth your time outside of points leagues - I'll have to slide him way down my personal rankings.

Trevor Williams isn't going to blow anyone away but he has shown the ability to limit opposing offenses. That said, he's been outright terrible in three starts since coming off the IL. For that reason, he's been dumped in many leagues. Take a wait-and-see approach to determine whether he can get back on track after the break. He could be a worthy streamer if nothing else, at least for your ratios.

Tier Eight and lower

Many busts reside here, such as Mike Foltynewicz, Yusei Kikuchi, and Ross Stripling. Starters don't typically post dramatic turnarounds midseason so taking a chance on a young pitcher like Zac Gallen, Jesus Luzardo, or Zach Plesac might be a better strategy.

Buy-low candidates worth considering for those in the middle of the standings include: Luke Weaver, Sandy Alcantara, Eric Lauer.

Regardless of standing, I'm not holding my breath waiting on Corey Kluber or Luis Severino to return in an effective way. Chalk it up as a lost season and move on.

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2020 Fantasy Baseball Advice 2020 Fantasy Baseball Projections & ADP Analysis Editor Note Featured Baseball MLB Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Rest of Season Starting Pitcher Rankings (May Update)

The calendar's turned to May and we're heading out to the mound for a Rest-of-Season update of our mixed rankings analysis. RotoBaller writers Nick Mariano, Pierre Camus, Bill Dubiel and Scott Engel want you to crush the competition and know that rankings can't end on draft day. Check out our fantasy baseball rankings dashboard for the latest and greatest ranks at any time.

Starting pitching is necessary to claim a title in most leagues, but you can take many routes to get there. Those who invested in aces may be hurting early, but lots of them are simply suffering from noise. Whether you're hunting insight on whether to abandon ship on some top arms or seeking out lower-owned hurlers to buy into, we've got you covered here with ranks that go 175 arms deep.

Without any more delay, let's break down the 2019 starting pitcher rest-of-season rankings for May.

 

Starting Pitcher Tiered Ranks - 5x5 Mixed Leagues (May)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was recently named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season. You can see his secret sauce below! Additionally, industry legend Scott Engel recently joined the RotoBaller team and provides his insights as well. Scott is an FSWA Hall Of Famer and award winner.

Rank Tier Player Position Nick Pierre Bill Scott
1 1 Max Scherzer SP 9 10 5 21
2 1 Justin Verlander SP 12 15 17 11
3 1 Jacob deGrom SP 10 19 9 23
4 1 Trevor Bauer SP 14 14 18 17
5 1 Gerrit Cole SP 15 21 22 13
6 2 Chris Sale SP 32 31 16 25
7 2 Blake Snell SP 19 22 35 30
8 2 Carlos Carrasco SP 31 54 32 32
9 2 Aaron Nola SP 54 33 34 43
10 2 Jose Berrios SP 45 27 66 35
11 2 Patrick Corbin SP 35 38 38 71
12 2 Noah Syndergaard SP 48 48 39 49
13 3 Clayton Kershaw SP 42 36 93 33
14 3 Zack Greinke SP 47 71 51 42
15 3 Walker Buehler SP 44 69 43 59
16 3 James Paxton SP 66 62 45 52
17 3 Stephen Strasburg SP 62 65 50 50
18 3 Luis Castillo SP 67 82 62 48
19 4 Jack Flaherty SP 63 80 55 94
20 4 German Marquez SP 79 86 77 75
21 4 Tyler Glasnow SP 64 52 85 138
22 4 David Price SP 86 77 88 90
23 4 Zack Wheeler SP 97 112 65 84
24 4 Jameson Taillon SP 161 64 64 73
25 4 Madison Bumgarner SP 113 114 104 70
26 4 Charlie Morton SP 82 99 133 95
27 4 Masahiro Tanaka SP 125 96 106 113
28 4 Robbie Ray SP 110 101 139 106
29 5 Caleb Smith SP 114 122 148 87
30 5 Chris Paddack SP 121 141 111 127
31 5 Mike Foltynewicz SP 129 129 128 117
32 5 Matthew Boyd SP 120 139 153 128
33 5 Rich Hill SP 103 142 136 161
34 5 Chris Archer SP 144 118 155 134
35 5 Mike Clevinger SP 154 211 54 148
36 5 Cole Hamels SP 147 127 167 130
37 5 Kyle Hendricks SP 169 124 126 176
38 5 Hyun-Jin Ryu SP 131 168 170 133
39 5 Joe Musgrove SP 146 149 183 129
40 5 Collin McHugh SP 151 157 161 139
41 5 Shane Bieber SP 155 103 192 159
42 6 J.A. Happ SP 213 147 118 140
43 6 Yu Darvish SP 166 144 131 187
44 6 Mike Soroka SP 138 164 200 137
45 6 Kenta Maeda SP 149 135 173 189
46 6 Jose Quintana SP 135 169 143 209
47 6 Domingo German SP 136 180 165 198
48 6 Eduardo Rodriguez SP 190 121 169 212
49 6 Miles Mikolas SP 244 133 233 152
50 6 Steven Matz SP 254 178 217 135
51 6 Sonny Gray SP 172 198 196 221
52 6 Trevor Williams SP 262 183 199 149
53 6 Luke Weaver SP 196 181 185 238
54 6 Max Fried SP 184 209 214 200
55 6 Jon Gray SP 222 158 223 214
56 7 Kyle Freeland SP 253 190 163 241
57 7 Luis Severino SP 214 240 212 201
58 7 Jake Arrieta SP 255 200 194 267
59 7 Jon Lester SP 257 285 175 207
60 7 Pablo Lopez SP 237 226 231 #N/A
61 7 Rick Porcello SP 234 268 144 283
62 7 Brad Peacock RP/SP 311 222 235 171
63 7 Joey Lucchesi SP 247 173 268 255
64 7 Kevin Gausman SP 193 250 267 234
65 7 Marco Gonzales SP 249 277 145 282
66 7 Mike Minor SP 261 182 298 219
67 7 Jake Odorizzi SP 336 197 218 #N/A
68 7 Martin Perez SP 226 #N/A 276 #N/A
69 8 Zach Eflin SP 370 207 230 220
70 8 Marcus Stroman SP 366 219 197 249
71 8 Yusei Kikuchi SP 296 186 310 266
72 8 Tyler Skaggs SP 260 282 240 284
73 8 John Gant SP 252 #N/A 283 #N/A
74 8 Corey Kluber SP 390 237 258 188
75 8 Jerad Eickhoff SP 292 247 #N/A #N/A
76 8 Ross Stripling SP 356 292 168 277
77 8 Jordan Lyles SP 318 253 252 #N/A
78 8 Anthony DeSclafani SP 300 #N/A 256 #N/A
79 8 Anibal Sanchez SP 331 324 179 #N/A
80 8 Andrew Heaney SP 264 345 251 275
81 8 Brandon Woodruff SP 267 289 308 #N/A
82 8 Frankie Montas SP/RP 302 349 #N/A 215
83 9 Reynaldo Lopez SP 324 300 284 250
84 9 Matt Strahm RP/SP 285 228 358 #N/A
85 9 Vince Velasquez SP 385 204 288 #N/A
86 9 Spencer Turnbull SP 323 232 367 268
87 9 Carlos Rodon SP #N/A 210 415 269
88 9 Jimmy Nelson SP 281 311 315 #N/A
89 9 Jeff Samardzija SP 378 342 246 252
90 10 Alex Wood SP 314 351 262 #N/A
91 10 Merrill Kelly SP 271 354 302 #N/A
92 10 Yonny Chirinos SP 412 212 #N/A #N/A
93 10 Julio Urias SP 360 290 317 #N/A
94 10 Diego Castillo RP/SP 227 326 450 287
95 10 Dereck Rodriguez SP 364 333 281 #N/A
96 10 Kyle Gibson SP 319 338 326 #N/A
97 10 Michael Wacha SP 381 298 304 #N/A
98 10 Nathan Eovaldi SP 462 258 266 #N/A
99 10 Michael Pineda SP 309 293 411 #N/A
100 10 Carlos Martinez SP/RP 445 294 282 #N/A
101 10 Forrest Whitley SP 353 278 399 #N/A
102 10 Trevor Richards SP 310 337 389 #N/A
103 11 Aaron Sanchez SP 368 346 331 #N/A
104 11 Jhoulys Chacin SP 332 376 338 #N/A
105 11 Jesus Luzardo SP 250 440 371 #N/A
106 11 CC Sabathia SP 362 401 303 #N/A
107 11 Lucas Giolito SP 298 362 419 #N/A
108 11 Derek Holland SP 258 480 349 #N/A
109 11 Dallas Keuchel SP 328 387 373 #N/A
110 11 Gio Gonzalez SP 468 260 #N/A #N/A
111 11 Nick Margevicius SP 350 365 386 #N/A
112 11 Brad Keller SP 313 430 359 #N/A
113 11 Corbin Burnes SP/RP 406 325 374 #N/A
114 11 Nick Pivetta SP 474 456 178 #N/A
115 11 Lance Lynn SP 457 #N/A 289 #N/A
116 11 Drew Pomeranz SP 441 378 314 #N/A
117 11 John Means SP/RP 380 #N/A #N/A #N/A
118 11 Danny Duffy SP 423 327 403 #N/A
119 11 Jose Urena SP 392 #N/A 385 #N/A
120 11 Alex Reyes SP/RP 483 370 321 #N/A
121 11 Ian Kennedy SP 397 479 300 #N/A
122 12 Clay Buchholz SP 416 431 347 #N/A
123 12 Sandy Alcantara SP 377 388 434 #N/A
124 12 Josh James SP 430 371 405 #N/A
125 12 Jakob Junis SP 393 377 447 #N/A
126 12 Dylan Bundy SP 428 442 352 #N/A
127 12 Freddy Peralta SP 431 323 479 #N/A
128 12 Mike Fiers SP 422 483 334 #N/A
129 12 Tyler Mahle SP 415 404 428 #N/A
130 12 Julio Teheran SP 451 392 408 #N/A
131 12 Trevor Cahill SP 386 488 391 #N/A
132 12 Mitch Keller SP 448 #N/A 397 #N/A
133 12 Wei-Yin Chen SP #N/A #N/A 423 #N/A
134 12 Robert Stephenson SP 424 #N/A #N/A #N/A
135 12 Zach Davies SP 382 420 473 #N/A
136 12 Sam Gaviglio SP/RP 425 #N/A #N/A #N/A
137 12 Amir Garrett SP 481 399 398 #N/A
138 13 Seth Lugo SP/RP 484 #N/A 372 #N/A
139 13 Sean Newcomb SP #N/A 444 414 #N/A
140 13 Jonathan Loaisiga SP 469 484 340 #N/A
141 13 Drew Smyly SP #N/A 433 #N/A #N/A
142 13 Zack Godley SP #N/A 455 413 #N/A
143 13 Felix Hernandez SP 434 #N/A #N/A #N/A
144 13 Tyler Anderson SP #N/A #N/A 435 #N/A
145 13 Wade Miley SP 387 498 424 #N/A
146 13 Marco Estrada SP #N/A #N/A 439 #N/A
147 13 Griffin Canning SP 439 #N/A #N/A #N/A
148 13 Felix Pena RP/SP 438 #N/A 451 #N/A
149 13 Chase Anderson SP 399 482 456 #N/A
150 13 Tanner Roark SP 447 #N/A 457 #N/A
151 13 Taijuan Walker SP 479 426 #N/A #N/A
152 13 Jon Duplantier SP 482 423 #N/A #N/A
153 13 Robbie Erlin SP #N/A #N/A 453 #N/A
154 13 Mike Leake SP #N/A #N/A 454 #N/A
155 13 Chris Devenski SP/RP #N/A 428 492 #N/A
156 13 Dinelson Lamet SP 461 #N/A #N/A #N/A
157 13 Jason Vargas SP #N/A #N/A 461 #N/A
158 13 Wily Peralta SP/RP #N/A 425 498 #N/A
159 14 Adam Conley SP/RP 420 #N/A 510 #N/A
160 14 Justus Sheffield SP #N/A 406 531 #N/A
161 14 Jalen Beeks SP 470 #N/A #N/A #N/A
162 14 Framber Valdez SP 497 #N/A 459 #N/A
163 14 Sean Manaea SP 480 #N/A #N/A #N/A
164 14 Brent Honeywell Jr. SP 488 #N/A #N/A #N/A
165 14 Matt Harvey SP 466 #N/A 520 #N/A
166 14 Antonio Senzatela SP 494 #N/A #N/A #N/A
167 14 Adam Wainwright SP 440 #N/A 559 #N/A
168 14 Touki Toussaint SP 463 487 550 #N/A
169 14 Wade LeBlanc SP 489 #N/A 521 #N/A
170 14 Robert Gsellman SP/RP #N/A 500 525 #N/A
171 14 Jaime Barria SP 498 485 557 #N/A
172 14 A.J. Puk SP 464 #N/A 572 #N/A
173 14 Tyson Ross SP #N/A #N/A 518 #N/A
174 14 Kyle Wright SP 493 #N/A 547 #N/A
175 14 Ivan Nova SP #N/A #N/A 533 #N/A
176 14 Eric Lauer SP 495 #N/A 574 #N/A
177 14 Dylan Floro SP/RP #N/A #N/A 541 #N/A
178 14 Luiz Gohara SP #N/A #N/A 543 #N/A
179 14 Jeremy Hellickson SP #N/A #N/A 551 #N/A
180 14 Alex Cobb SP #N/A #N/A 554 #N/A

 

Rankings Analysis - Top Tiers

Tier One

Being a top-tier pitcher has led to mixed results thus far, but these five arms still demand respect and should be viewed as true SP1’s. Scherzer is battling ridiculously poor luck despite gains in his strikeout rate and a trimmed walk rate for beautiful peripherals. Verlander continues to stave off Father Time and deliver quality starts on command. Some of deGrom’s turbulence can be blamed on injury, yet he still has 49 strikeouts in 32 innings. If healthy, he’s a pitching god. Bauer and Cole are both putting any doubts of being a one-year wonder to bed.

Tier Two

Sale’s April sent off the loudest of alarms, as reduced velocity and shoddy command led to horrid results and an admission that he’d “never felt so lost on the mound.” I remain cautious, but he’s started to look better lately and his ceiling remains the No. 1 pitcher in baseball.

Carrasco and Nola also own cold starts, though Carrasco is one of the better buy-lows out there. The 5.60 ERA/1.33 WHIP obscure a beautiful 2.94 SIERA -- better than 2018’s 3.03 mark -- and the 50 strikeouts in 35 ⅓ IP (33.1% K rate) point to a 250-strikeout season. Compare that to Nola, whose SIERA has risen from 3.40 in ‘18 to 4.40 in ‘19. Nola’s poor 8.3% swinging-strike rate is way down from 2018’s 12.4% clip and mixed with more walks and more homers for a heartbeat-inducing 1.61 WHIP and average 22.8% strikeout rate. We know he’s got more in the tank, but you can see I’m the low man here.

Tier Three

Syndergaard reminded everyone of his godlike talent by twirling a complete-game shutout and making his own offense with a solo homer. Still more thrower than refined pitcher, Thor is still a high-end SP2 with the raw ability to one day become more. Kershaw is healthy now and can be an anchor for as long as health holds, decreased velocity and all. Greinke remains one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball, especially with Chase Field’s humidor in tow.

Paxton’s ranking came as the injury news was developing and he’s not supposed to miss more than a few turns, so I still buy the double-digit strikeout performances that we saw in late April. Castillo continues to ascend the ranks, though his walk rate sits around 10% and he entered May with a mere 50% first-strike rate. He leads the league in pitching from behind in the count, something that’s tough to bank on moving forward. Obviously, I (and we) still view him as a stud but don’t be surprised as that 1.97 ERA creeps towards the 3.52 SIERA.

 

Rankings Analysis - Middle Tiers

Tier Four

I have Flaherty and Glasnow ranked ahead of Castillo, for instance. Not by much, but I like that Flaherty has brought his walk rate down from 9.6% in ‘18 to 6.5% here while increased his swinging-strike rate by a hair (13.4% to 13.6%). The longball has done him dirty thus far, taking a career trend and injecting steroids into it with the ‘19 HR surge, but the 3.42 SIERA has me buying in long-term.

And Glasnow, well he’s just a Georgia peach, ain’t he? Despite this being the year of hard contact, Statcast grades him with a 29.9% hard-hit rate yielded after that sat at 38.2% in ‘18. Joining that is a mere 4.4% walk rate (11.1% in ‘18), which creates a star.

For our ranking purposes, most were in before the extent of Taillon’s injury was known and I dropped him towards Mike Clevinger as a result. We’re still in the intel-gathering phase here, but I lean pessimistic with elbow injuries.

Tier Five

I went head-to-head with Derek Carty’s THE BAT projection system before the season began, with Caleb Smith being someone he liked a lot more than me. Our resident (and possibly only remaining) Marlins fan, Pierre, claims he totally called this in his preseason evaluation of the Marlins' young staff. Smith's inability to work deep into games and accrue wins on Miami scared me off, as well as a likely innings cap since he threw just 77 ⅓ IP in ‘18, though I liked his talents. Now, even Smith’s own mother wouldn’t have predicted how red-hot the southpaw would scream out of the gates with a 0.83 WHIP and a 26.9% K-BB% that ranks fifth out of qualified starters. He won’t last all year, at least in the rotation, and so I can’t go top-100, but he is no fluke either.

In fact, he also liked Matthew Boyd more than me...but I liked Cole Hamels more, so I promise I have something to offer! I’ve also been higher than most on Collin McHugh throughout the preseason, which paid off handsomely through his first four starts but then Texas happened. Oy. I still believe in that sick slider that he brought back in the bullpen last season even as his .229 BABIP regresses -- hopefully, the low 63.3% strand rate regressing helps balance it out as Houston wins many games behind him.

Tier Six

Here’s where the question marks start to rise up, but the upside remains startable in most matchups. I won’t blame anyone for moving on from Darvish since he seems to have caught whatever Tyler Chatwood had last season -- 27 walks in 32 ⅔ innings! -- and an MLB-worst 17.8% walk rate for qualified starters. The 13% swinging-strike rate offers some light at the end of the tunnel, but this rank only reflects what he could be again. I’m treating him like a guy in the Minors that I’m stashing as he stays far from my starting lineup.

Ignoring the injury-related Steven Matz low rank for me, the widest “low gap” that I can speak to is Trevor Williams. I respect his ability to outperform peripherals by suppressing hard contact (career 0.86 HR/9) but it makes for a tightrope act. Pittsburgh is unlikely to make him into a 15-game winner in 2019 and the 18.1% strikeout rate is 69th out of 85 qualified SP. No, that’s not nice -- the added whiffs this season means these low-K guys burn extra. Even with a healthy 3.74 ERA/1.11 WHIP through 43 ⅓ IP this season, Williams is ranked 322nd in 5x5 leagues.

 

Rankings Analysis - Lower Tiers

Tier Seven

What I said for Williams goes for Mikolas as well. And the injury pessimism is cranked to 11 on Severino, who is expected to be gone through the All-Star break, but we still dream of that August/September boost.

Looks like I’m a big ol’ Eflin hater, especially after he just tossed seven frames of one-run ball on Sunday night. While that trimmed his ERA to an even 3.00 through seven starts (42 IP), the 4.32 FIP and 4.68 xFIP rose a bit. His 31 K’s in the 42 frames are in Trevor Williams territory yet Eflin’s 1.50 HR/9 is aligned with the 1.55 career mark. Fangraphs has his hard-hit rate dropping from 29.1% in ‘18 to 21.2%, but Statcast has it rising from 33.2% to 34.5% with a slight rise in average exit velocity yielded. I side with Statcast and SIERA, so I’ll let you guys have all the Eflin fun.

Tier Eight

I don’t want this piece to be soaked in Haterade, but I can’t ignore being 120 slots lower on Stroman than the next-lowest ranker. The 2.20 ERA/1.20 WHIP is great and he’s even upped his strikeout rate to a healthy 22.8% (17.2% in ‘18) -- but his 3.81 xFIP and 4.19 SIERA are nearly identical to 2018. Statcast has his average exit velo up half a tick and after yielding an average launch angle lower than 0.5 degrees in his last four seasons, it’s up to five degrees in ‘19. Despite that, he’s yet to give up a homer. I accept being slow to accept Stroman, maybe I’m mistaken, but I just don’t see sustainable growth. Odorizzi is in the same camp, with a 4.48 xFIP and 4.34 SIERA behind his 2.78 ERA/1.09 WHIP.

In SP-eligible-but-not-really-SP news, John Gant has been a beast so far. Out of 223 pitchers that have had at least 40 batted balls off of them, Gant’s 83.5 mph average exit velocity on flies and liners is the lowest figure. Hitters simply aren’t getting good wood on his filth and I’m digging it. And in other news, my bold prediction about Anibal Sanchez being awesome is aging so very poorly, sigh.

Tier Nine

This tier has serious upside and I probably should have Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Woodruff, Spencer Turnbull and Martin Perez a little higher. DeSclafani has allowed just one run in his last three starts combined, yielding just nine hits with 20 strikeouts over 17 ⅔ IP. Woodruff has a beautiful 45/12 K/BB rate and 3.33 FIP/3.53 xFIP/3.63 SIERA underneath the 4.71 ERA, he just needs to get that command right. Turnbull’s turned in one poor start out of seven thus far, allowing two earned runs in his last four starts (24 innings) despite facing Boston and Philly alongside easier KC and Pittsburgh matchups. Perez had to open the season in Minnesota’s bullpen but eight shutout frames against the Astros is a strong signal that he’s hitting a stride.

Tier 10 & 11

Tier 10 kicks off with a Jimmy Nelson stash and ends with a Forrest Whitley stash. Nelson’s first rehab appearance came at Triple-A on Sunday, where he allowed three runs on two hits and four walks with three strikeouts in 3 ⅓ innings. Let’s hope that control comes back to him in short order and the 2017 Nelson rears his head. Don’t count on Nelson to reliably start for you before June. Whitley continues to show strikeout stuff at Triple-A (18 in 14 IP) but a 7.71 ERA/1.43 WHIP is rough, so a promotion isn’t pressing.

Tier 11 has my favorite stash, though, in Mr. Luzardo. The early-season shoulder injury doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the 21-year-old southpaw, as he was never going to pitch a full season’s worth of frames. The A’s have little rotation depth and all Luzardo did at age-20 was post a combined 2.88 ERA with 129 strikeouts in 109 ⅓ innings between High-A, Double-A and Triple-A in ‘18. He’ll get to call Oakland’s spacious park home and I can’t wait to see him in the show.

Tiers 12, 13 and 14

There’s little to see here in terms of upside, but Tier 12 has potential in Mitch Keller and Jonathan Loaisiga. Keller may take Taillon’s rotation spot down the road, but Pittsburgh has stated they don’t want to rush his development until he’s ready rather than forcing the majors due to injury needs. Loaisiga is stepping into James Paxton’s rotation slot, but he shouldn’t be needed for long.

Unlucky Tier 13 can bring you some other injury stashes in Taijuan Walker and Dinelson Lamet, as well as Arizona’s Jon Duplantier, who may step into Zack Godley’s rotation spot. Houston’s Framber Valdez has some appeal should he get a crack at the bigs again, which I’d anticipate since McHugh and Brad Peacock can’t stay in the rotation all year long (innings) and Wade Miley is Wade Miley.

You don’t want to venture into Tier 14, but those who still believe in Touki Toussaint making it as a starter rather than reliever are free to buy in for a penny. I think he joins fellow Tier 14-er Luiz Gohara in Atlanta’s bullpen someday, though the Braves could trade one or both of them for reinforcements elsewhere. Their rotation pipeline is sick. Other intriguing names would another couple of rehabbing A’s in Sean Manaea and A.J. Puk. It saddens me that we’ve been robbed of so many great pitching performances in lieu of Aaron Brooks box scores to open ‘19, but I dream of warmer days with sharp curveballs.

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Rest of Season Catcher Rankings - May Update

We wrap up our midseason rankings update for mixed leagues with the catcher position. RotoBaller writers Nick Mariano, Pierre Camus, Bill Dubiel and Scott Engel recently updated their rest-of-season ranks and we're here to break it all down.

Unfortunately, catcher is still an utter cesspool when it comes to fantasy production, so don't convince yourself otherwise. If you're in any two-catcher league, please petition the commish for a change.

Check out our fantasy baseball rankings dashboard for the latest and greatest ranks at any time. When you're done reading about catchers, you can catch up on our analysis on some of the other positions here: first base, second base, third baseshortstop, outfield, starting pitcher, and relief pitcher.

 

Catcher Tiered Ranks - 5x5 Mixed Leagues (May)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was recently named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season. You can see his secret sauce below! Additionally, industry legend Scott Engel recently joined the RotoBaller team and provides his insights as well. Scott is an FSWA Hall Of Famer and award winner.

Ranking Tier Player Position Nick Pierre Bill Scott Composite
1 1 Gary Sanchez C 76 67 73 66 70.50
2 1 J.T. Realmuto C/1B 119 83 94 58 88.50
3 2 Willson Contreras C 95 162 228 158 160.75
4 2 Yasmani Grandal C 188 153 226 184 187.75
5 2 Wilson Ramos C 287 191 137 162 194.25
6 2 Yadier Molina C 224 220 188 190 205.50
7 2 Buster Posey C/1B 342 319 264 273 299.50
8 3 Jorge Alfaro C 346 244 380 292 315.50
9 3 Willians Astudillo C 411 347 261 #N/A 339.67
10 3 Francisco Cervelli C 335 398 325 #N/A 352.67
11 3 Mike Zunino C 372 357 343 #N/A 357.33
12 3 Tucker Barnhart C/1B 433 373 344 300 362.50
13 3 Omar Narvaez C 337 348 493 293 367.75
14 3 Christian Vazquez C 371 #N/A #N/A #N/A 371.00
15 3 Welington Castillo C #N/A 367 379 #N/A 373.00
16 3 Robinson Chirinos C 465 343 323 #N/A 377.00
17 3 Yan Gomes C #N/A 379 384 #N/A 381.50
18 4 James McCann C 383 #N/A #N/A #N/A 383.00
19 4 Mitch Garver C 413 380 #N/A #N/A 396.50
20 4 Josh Phegley C 396 416 #N/A #N/A 406.00
21 4 Kurt Suzuki C #N/A 417 410 #N/A 413.50
22 4 Danny Jansen C 472 465 330 #N/A 422.33
23 4 Austin Hedges C 446 381 464 #N/A 430.33
24 4 Tyler Flowers C #N/A 435 #N/A #N/A 435.00
25 4 Austin Barnes C 347 443 522 #N/A 437.33
26 4 Carson Kelly C #N/A 452 #N/A #N/A 452.00
27 5 John Hicks C/1B #N/A 429 488 #N/A 458.50
28 5 Francisco Mejia C 496 464 430 #N/A 463.33
29 5 Isiah Kiner-Falefa C/2B/3B 490 445 501 #N/A 478.67
30 5 Grayson Greiner C 491 476 #N/A #N/A 483.50
31 5 Jonathan Lucroy C #N/A 446 546 #N/A 496.00

 

Rankings Analysis - Top Tiers

Tier One

The resurgence of Gary Sanchez has been spectacular and honestly wasn't that hard to see coming. Sanchez was limited to just 374 plate appearances in 2018, and I think it's fair to assume that the injuries that caused him to miss time can also be blamed for his ghastly numbers. After hitting just 18 homers in 89 games last season, Sanchez is already up to 12 in 26 games in 2019. He's also improved his batting average almost 80 points, partially as a result of a more aggressive approach at the plate (his walk rate is down to just 8.4% this year). I believe that the Gary Sanchez from this year and 2017 is the "real" Gary Sanchez, and he should be treated as such moving forward.

Tier Two

Just as the veteran backstop was written off by fantasy experts everywhere, Yadier Molina has burst back onto the scene and is having maybe the best fantasy season of any catcher so far. Yadi is already almost halfway to last year's RBI total, he's hitting a healthy .276 and he's shaved nearly five percentage points off his strikeout rate to get to his current (and best mark since 2011) 8.5%. Another 20-HR season is well within his grasp, and I don't see any reason to doubt Molina's performance. At 36, he's likely not going to finish as the top fantasy catcher this season. But in the top five? I don't see why not.

Tier Three

I fully admit that prior to this year, Omar Narvaez barely registered with me as an actual fantasy option. He was that empty jersey that sometimes played catcher for the White Sox and wasn't the worst hitter ever--nothing exceptional about him. A change of scenery has proven otherwise. Narvaez has always made above-average contact for a catcher, but that word "empty" rings true again. In 2018 with the White Sox, he hit .275 over 322 plate appearances, but registered just 30 runs scored, 30 RBI, and nine homers. He's almost matched all of those totals in just 137 plate appearances this year: .308 BA, 24 runs scored, 18 RBI and seven homers here in mid-May. Narvaez is getting more loft on the ball this year, and he's barreling the ball up more than he ever has before--his 33.7% hard-hit rate is easily the best of his career. Narvaez has shown the potential to finish in the top seven at the position this year, and he's an extremely valid starting option right now in any format.

La Tortuga is here to save the game of baseball. Willians Astudillo is the heir-apparent to Bartolo's heavy-set throne, and he has the resume to back up the demigod status he's earned among the intelligent and initiated. The man just does not strike out--but he doesn't walk either. So far in 167 major league plate appearances, Astudillo has a total of three walks and five strikeouts. No typos there. He's got as much power as you'd expect for a guy swinging with a lot of weight behind him, but it's the batting average that's the main factor here. Catcher is a black hole where your batting average goes to die, so a guy like Astudillo who puts the ball in play consistently can be a big boost there. He's never hit below .267 at any stop in professional ball, and I think we can expect that to continue as long as he keeps making contact as often as he does. Right now he's a C2 in most formats, but the ceiling is there for C1 status if he continues to see more consistent playing time (likely away from the catcher position).

 

Rankings Analysis - Lower Tiers

Tiers Four and Five

Mitch Garver is MAH DUDE right now. A shame about his recent injury, but it's looking like it will cost him no more than two or three weeks at most. Prior to that unfortunate Shohei Ohtani slide, Garver was absolutely mashing. In just 91 plate appearances he had already popped nine homers, and was holding strong with a .329 batting average as well. Perhaps more impressively than those numbers is the improvement he's shown with one of his already-strong traits--his plate discipline. Garver was posting a 12.1% walk rate when he went on the IL, which is phenomenal for a catcher in any format. The 28-year-old has earned regular playing time, and he's a terrific option in any format right now, but especially in OBP leagues.

Danny Jansen, what's going on, bro? After tearing up the minor leagues over the last two years, everyone (myself very much included) had Jansen pegged as one of the best non-elite catchers in fantasy for 2019. Above-average plate discipline, little bit of pop, little bit of speed--it all seemed like it was going to line up for the player I had taken to calling "BabyMuto" in the preseason (shout out to the real five-tool catcher, J.T. Realmuto).  But Jansen simply hasn't adjusted to big league pitching yet. He's hitting a miserable .163, he's not yet put a ball over the fence or stolen a bag, and he's striking out at a higher rate than he has at any stop in the minors (26.9%). As of right now he's unrosterable, and there are no signs of a turnaround any time soon. I still believe that we'll be talking about Jansen in a positive light in the near future, but this might not be the year it happens.

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Rest of Season Third Base Rankings - May Update

Now that we are midway through May, it's a perfect time to update our Rest-of-Season mixed rankings and provide some analysis. RotoBaller writers Nick Mariano, Pierre Camus, Bill Dubiel and Scott Engel want you to crush the competition and know that rankings can't end on draft day.

Third base has been hit-and-miss in the early goings. A lot of the predictable studs are being studly, a few surprises have risen through the ranks. I'm most fascinated by some of the guys who were drafted early but who have severely underachieved--is a bounce-back in store or is this what 2019 will look like for them?

Check out our fantasy baseball rankings dashboard for the latest and greatest ranks at any time. Also, you can read our analysis on the other positions here: first base, second base, shortstop, outfield, starting pitcher, and relief pitcher.

 

Third Base Tiered Ranks - 5x5 Mixed Leagues (May)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was recently named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season. You can see his secret sauce below! Additionally, industry legend Scott Engel recently joined the RotoBaller team and provides his insights as well. Scott is an FSWA Hall Of Famer and award winner.

Ranking Tier Player Position Nick Pierre Bill Scott Composite
1 1 Nolan Arenado 3B 7 11 4 4 6.500
2 1 Alex Bregman 3B/SS 13 12 13 8 11.500
3 1 Jose Ramirez 2B/3B 20 7 8 15 12.500
4 1 Javier Baez 2B/SS/3B 23 13 28 9 18.250
5 2 Manny Machado 3B/SS 33 23 15 22 23.250
6 2 Anthony Rendon 3B 24 24 33 28 27.250
7 2 Kris Bryant 3B/OF 57 26 26 36 36.250
8 2 Eugenio Suarez 3B 41 44 41 46 43.000
9 2 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 3B 60 60 47 53 55.000
10 3 Joey Gallo 3B/1B/OF 26 59 90 65 60.000
11 3 Matt Chapman 3B 53 74 53 85 66.250
12 3 Matt Carpenter 1B/2B/3B 102 75 76 91 86.000
13 3 Justin Turner 3B 106 85 75 86 88.000
14 3 Josh Donaldson 3B 69 113 78 107 91.750
15 4 Mike Moustakas 3B 89 120 91 105 101.250
16 4 Wil Myers 3B/OF 101 94 102 119 104.000
17 4 Miguel Andujar 3B 128 98 89 175 122.500
18 4 Travis Shaw 1B/2B/3B 159 140 113 147 139.750
19 5 Rafael Devers 3B 162 236 134 72 151.000
20 5 Carlos Santana 1B/3B 170 163 115 180 157.000
21 5 Max Muncy 1B/2B/3B 115 215 159 141 157.500
22 5 Maikel Franco 3B 163 189 189 99 160.000
23 6 Yandy Diaz 3B 132 203 182 155 168.000
24 6 Nick Senzel 2B/3B/OF 173 146 187 168 168.500
25 6 Ryan McMahon 1B/3B/2B 176 170 205 227 194.500
26 6 Tim Beckham SS/3B 174 165 206 246 197.750
27 6 Asdrubal Cabrera SS/2B/3B 186 255 191 182 203.500
28 6 Michael Chavis 3B 142 #N/A 277 #N/A 209.500
29 6 Eduardo Escobar SS/3B 178 213 350 195 234.000
30 6 Niko Goodrum 1B/2B/3B/SS/OF 248 242 255 202 236.750
31 6 Jurickson Profar SS/3B/1B/2B 275 301 225 264 266.250
32 7 Brian Anderson 3B/OF 280 269 311 244 276.000
33 7 Yuli Gurriel 1B/2B/3B 349 344 263 278 308.500
34 7 Tommy La Stella 2B/3B 388 273 287 #N/A 316.000
35 7 Renato Nunez 3B 204 252 512 #N/A 322.667
36 7 Miguel Sano 1B/3B 278 391 366 289 331.000
37 7 Evan Longoria 3B 303 369 342 #N/A 338.000
38 8 Jeimer Candelario 3B 334 328 361 #N/A 341.000
39 8 Wilmer Flores 1B/3B/2B 341 355 376 #N/A 357.333
40 8 Joey Wendle 2B/3B/SS/OF 400 424 278 #N/A 367.333
41 8 Scott Kingery SS/3B/OF 391 390 322 #N/A 367.667
42 8 Ronny Rodriguez 1B/2B/3B/SS 374 #N/A #N/A #N/A 374.000
43 8 Jung Ho Kang 3B 394 332 429 #N/A 385.000
44 8 David Bote 2B/3B 455 331 #N/A #N/A 393.000
45 8 J.D. Davis 3B 471 395 324 #N/A 396.667
46 8 David Fletcher 3B 348 374 475 #N/A 399.000
47 8 Todd Frazier 3B 404 359 460 #N/A 407.667
48 8 Jake Lamb 3B 487 441 305 #N/A 411.000
49 8 Johan Camargo 2B/3B/SS 351 494 406 #N/A 417.000
50 8 Kyle Seager 3B 485 419 395 #N/A 433.000
51 8 Yolmer Sanchez 2B/3B 365 #N/A 528 #N/A 446.500
52 8 Ian Happ 3B/OF 449 489 407 #N/A 448.333
53 8 Rio Ruiz 3B #N/A 449 #N/A #N/A 449.000
54 8 Colin Moran 3B/1B 477 397 476 #N/A 450.000
55 8 Patrick Wisdom 3B #N/A 460 #N/A #N/A 460.000
56 8 Logan Forsythe 2B/3B 476 #N/A #N/A #N/A 476.000
57 8 Isiah Kiner-Falefa C/2B/3B 490 445 501 #N/A 478.667
58 8 Eduardo Nunez 2B/3B #N/A 477 504 #N/A 490.500
59 9 JaCoby Jones 3B #N/A 492 #N/A #N/A 492.000
60 9 Hernan Perez 2B/3B/OF/SS #N/A 501 #N/A #N/A 501.000
61 9 Zack Cozart SS/2B/3B #N/A #N/A 502 #N/A 502.000
62 9 Martin Prado 3B #N/A 493 539 #N/A 516.000
63 9 Brandon Drury 3B/OF #N/A #N/A 530 #N/A 530.000
64 9 Jedd Gyorko 1B/3B #N/A #N/A 534 #N/A 534.000
65 9 Chris Owings 2B/3B/OF #N/A 497 578 #N/A 537.500
66 9 Matt Duffy SS/3B #N/A #N/A 542 #N/A 542.000
67 9 Matt Davidson 3B #N/A #N/A 561 #N/A 561.000
68 9 Yairo Munoz 2B/3B/SS/OF #N/A #N/A 573 #N/A 573.000

 

Rankings Analysis - Top Tiers

Tier One

The most fascinating case in all of third base is, to me, Jose Ramirez. The fantasy monster form 2018 has been a shadow of his former self; as of this writing he is under the Mendoza Line, with a batting average sitting at .195. The ten steals he's contributed are all well and good, but it's impossible not to be disappointed given that you likely used your first pick or paid absolute top-dollar for the 39/34 fantasy juggernaut from a year ago. At just 26, it's not like there is any real decline here. I'll not speculate about an injury hampering him either (that's been done plenty). Pierre and I believe strongly in a bounce-back as the season wears on, and I'll stand by that ranking as long as Ramirez stays healthy. He didn't all of a sudden get worse after two MVP-level seasons.

Tier Two

Most of the usual suspects here as well. Vlad Guerrero, Jr. is, shockingly, not setting the world on fire so far. Insane that a 20-year-old is struggling a bit against major league pitching, I know. This is very much a case of sticking with a stud, because that's very much what Vladito is. He just hit two bombs in one game this week, and I am very confident (more so than my colleagues) that he will figure things out sooner rather than later. He's been called up, he's entrenched in the lineup--the breakout is coming.

Kris Bryant is somewhat quietly having a really nice season. He hasn't come close to his MVP season from a couple years ago, but he's making some legitimate strides in improving as an overall hitter. His walk rate is currently the highest of his career (15.6%) and at the same time he's got his strikeout rate down to just 17.2%, another career best. One hot streak could have Bryant back in the MVP discussion again, but the very real improvements he's showing are why I have so much optimism for the rest of the season.

Tier Three

I'm apparently still low on Joey Gallo, and perhaps I shouldn't be. The same reasons I believe Kris Bryant is showing some real, sustainable improvement apply to Gallo, as Kyle Glaser notes here:

I have been a big Debbie Downer on Gallo's profile as a hitter thus far in his career--tons of strikeouts, the whole "more homers than singles" thing, all of that. My current ranking stands as a significant improvement over where I had him in the preseason, and when we check back in again I'll likely have him up higher if he continues to prove he's more patient at the plate. That power certainly isn't going anywhere...

 

Rankings Analysis - Middle Tiers

Tier Four (Note - rankings were published prior to the news that Andujar's season is over)

Boy, I really wish Wil Myers would turn things around but it's simply not looking great for him. In the two seasons in which Myers has played at least 155 games, he turned in a 28/28 season and a 30/20 campaign. The gifts have always been there for the former blue-chip prospect. So far in 2019 health hasn't been Myers' biggest issue--it's been contact. The 28-year-old is currently posting the worst swinging-strike percentage of his career by far (14.8%) which has led to a career-worst 36.8% strikeout rate. Myers is trending in the wrong direction this year, and if his .342 BABIP doesn't hold we may not have even seen the worst of it yet.

Tier Five

I think my colleagues are sleeping on Carlos Santana so far in 2019. Santana has always been an OBP machine, but he's never emerged as a true star thanks to a typically low batting average. A large piece of that may have to do with his BABIP, which is consistently, remarkably low. His career average sits at .266, and last year was as low as .231. That number is starting to normalize a bit (.301), and his batting average has risen to a healthy .271. I'm trusting that the shift back to the comfy confines of Cleveland, where he spent all of his early career, is enough to revitalize this corner infielder. The 25+ bombs certainly won't hurt either.

 

Rankings Analysis - Lower Tiers

Tier Six

Michael Chavis has been a revelation for the Red Sox offense since his call-up. In just 22 games, Chavis has smacked seven homers, driven in 21 runs, scored 15 times and is hitting a robust .296. That power may very well be real, as he's posted pretty good ISO marks at every stop in the minors, and it never hurts to have that big old monster in left field to bang balls off of. I expect some regression in just about every metric, particularly his stellar current walk rate (14.6%), but I expect Chavis to remain in the fantasy mix as long as he's got a roster spot.

Tier Seven

Tommy La Stella is one of the bigger surprises of this entire season, and I'm not sure I've got a great explanation as to why. The counting stats speak for themselves--11 homers already, 24 runs, 25 RBI and a .301 batting average that is 30 points higher than his career average. The peripheral stats are completely confounding though; La Stella has cut his strikeout rate by more than half since last year to an absurd 6.0%, and he is very nearly DOUBLING his slugging percentage from 2018. In fact, La Stella's current .245 BABIP indicates that he's been unlucky this year, and that he might be capable of hitting even better than he already is. I think it's fair to assume he'll regress closer to the mean over the course of the season, but this is very much a situation where I'm holding on and enjoying the ride while it's happening.

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Rest of Season Relief Pitcher Rankings - May Update

We are more than six weeks deep into the 2019 MLB season, so we're whipping it around the horn for a Rest-of-Season update of our mixed rankings analysis. RotoBaller writers Nick Mariano, Pierre Camus, Bill Dubiel and Scott Engel want you to crush the competition and know that rankings can't end on draft day.

After the first month and a half of the season, most of the top relievers have remained where expected or drafted. There have naturally been some changes in a few roles, but the best guys have not been usurped or lost, making owners feel better about their reliever picks so far. In the middle and lower rungs of the ladder, though, there have been some alterations that may be even more reflected when we do this exercise again in June. So far, though, for the most part, if you spent up on a closer before the season began, you are content that you did so.

Check out our fantasy baseball rankings dashboard for the latest and greatest ranks at any time.

 

Relief Pitcher Tiered Ranks - 5x5 Mixed Leagues (May)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was recently named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season. You can see his secret sauce below! Additionally, industry legend Scott Engel recently joined the RotoBaller team and provides his insights as well. Scott is an FSWA Hall Of Famer and award winner.

Ranking Tier Player Position Nick Pierre Bill Scott Composite
1 1 Edwin Diaz RP 51 47 49 57 51.000
2 1 Blake Treinen RP 60 73 61 68 65.500
3 2 Kenley Jansen RP 76 78 81 77 78.000
4 2 Brad Hand RP 91 87 105 81 91.000
5 2 Aroldis Chapman RP 98 81 98 102 94.750
6 2 Josh Hader RP 103 79 116 83 95.250
7 3 Kirby Yates RP 79 111 109 88 96.750
8 3 Roberto Osuna RP 94 105 96 104 99.750
9 3 Felipe Vazquez RP 101 106 108 93 102.000
10 3 Sean Doolittle RP 107 128 97 110 110.500
11 3 Jordan Hicks RP 164 115 92 121 123.000
12 3 Ken Giles RP 119 137 142 160 139.500
13 3 Wade Davis RP 117 143 125 177 140.500
14 3 Jose Leclerc RP 157 126 121 262 166.500
15 3 Shane Greene RP 182 152 222 131 171.750
16 3 Greg Holland RP 217 192 171 116 174.000
17 4 Craig Kimbrel RP 236 174 122 169 175.250
18 4 Raisel Iglesias RP 216 119 227 150 178.000
19 4 Jose Alvarado RP 200 227 156 192 193.750
20 4 Will Smith RP 222 166 294 125 201.750
21 4 Alex Colome RP 201 230 254 208 223.250
22 4 Pedro Strop RP 246 225 202 233 226.500
23 4 David Robertson RP 284 264 154 225 231.750
24 4 Brad Peacock RP/SP 311 222 235 171 234.750
25 4 Hector Neris RP 306 194 257 191 237.000
26 4 A.J. Minter RP 241 217 312 181 237.750
27 5 Ryan Brasier RP 226 187 382 170 241.250
28 5 Blake Parker RP 231 218 285 235 242.250
29 5 Shawn Kelley RP 340 245 242 193 255.000
30 5 Matt Barnes RP 234 238 272 276 255.000
31 5 Andrew Miller RP 243 307 244 286 270.000
32 5 Ty Buttrey RP 269 322 236 258 271.250
33 5 Nick Anderson RP 242 #N/A 306 #N/A 274.000
34 5 Hansel Robles RP 299 272 286 254 277.750
35 5 Archie Bradley RP 327 335 193 #N/A 285.000
36 5 Matt Strahm RP/SP 286 228 358 #N/A 290.667
37 5 Frankie Montas SP/RP 314 349 #N/A 215 292.667
38 6 Mychal Givens RP 336 316 291 263 301.500
39 6 Sergio Romo RP 423 271 275 247 304.000
40 6 Jeremy Jeffress RP 244 303 416 270 308.250
41 6 Ryan Pressly RP 232 296 417 #N/A 315.000
42 6 Emilio Pagan RP 282 #N/A 351 #N/A 316.500
43 6 Adam Ottavino RP 277 321 354 #N/A 317.333
44 6 Dellin Betances RP 304 314 336 #N/A 318.000
45 6 Diego Castillo RP/SP 225 326 450 287 322.000
46 6 Anthony Swarzak RP 418 297 360 259 333.500
47 6 Lou Trivino RP 272 234 495 #N/A 333.667
48 7 Seranthony Dominguez RP 298 336 368 #N/A 334.000
49 7 Carlos Martinez SP/RP 439 294 282 #N/A 338.333
50 7 Trevor May RP #N/A 385 293 #N/A 339.000
51 7 Roenis Elias RP 285 393 #N/A #N/A 339.000
52 7 Cody Allen RP 415 306 387 271 344.750
53 7 Joe Jimenez RP 308 363 392 #N/A 354.333
54 7 Dakota Hudson RP #N/A 394 333 #N/A 363.500
55 7 Corbin Burnes SP/RP 402 325 374 #N/A 367.000
56 7 Taylor Rogers RP 328 295 491 #N/A 371.333
57 7 Chad Green RP #N/A 368 381 #N/A 374.500
58 7 Zack Britton RP 300 472 369 #N/A 380.333
59 7 Drew Steckenrider RP #N/A 340 426 #N/A 383.000
60 7 Brad Boxberger RP #N/A 408 363 #N/A 385.500
61 7 Alex Reyes SP/RP 474 370 321 #N/A 388.333
62 7 Marcus Walden RP 390 #N/A #N/A #N/A 390.000
63 7 Luke Jackson RP 364 #N/A 441 #N/A 402.500
64 7 Keone Kela RP 397 364 470 #N/A 410.333
65 7 Reyes Moronta RP 301 438 497 #N/A 412.000
66 7 Mark Melancon RP 366 467 432 #N/A 421.667
67 7 Seth Lugo SP/RP 475 #N/A 372 #N/A 423.500
68 7 Kelvin Herrera RP 411 366 494 #N/A 423.667
69 7 Hunter Strickland RP 446 #N/A 412 #N/A 429.000
70 7 Felix Pena RP/SP 430 #N/A 451 #N/A 440.500
71 7 Kyle Crick RP 435 410 482 #N/A 442.333
72 7 Joe Kelly RP #N/A 451 436 #N/A 443.500
73 7 Yoshihisa Hirano RP #N/A 411 487 #N/A 449.000
74 7 John Brebbia RP #N/A 450 #N/A #N/A 450.000
75 7 Steve Cishek RP #N/A 421 489 #N/A 455.000
76 7 Brandon Morrow RP 434 447 485 #N/A 455.333
77 7 Jared Hughes RP #N/A 427 484 #N/A 455.500
78 7 Carl Edwards Jr. RP #N/A 418 496 #N/A 457.000
79 7 Chris Devenski SP/RP #N/A 428 492 #N/A 460.000
80 7 Wily Peralta SP/RP #N/A 425 498 #N/A 461.500
81 8 Adam Conley SP/RP 419 #N/A 510 #N/A 464.500
82 8 Trevor Rosenthal RP #N/A #N/A 468 #N/A 468.000
83 8 Joakim Soria RP #N/A 384 555 #N/A 469.500
84 8 Will Harris RP #N/A 437 515 #N/A 476.000
85 8 Jeurys Familia RP #N/A 496 458 #N/A 477.000
86 8 Craig Stammen RP #N/A 471 483 #N/A 477.000
87 8 Seunghwan Oh RP #N/A #N/A 503 #N/A 503.000
88 8 Yusmeiro Petit RP #N/A #N/A 506 #N/A 506.000
89 8 Nate Jones RP #N/A 499 516 #N/A 507.500
90 8 Ray Black RP #N/A #N/A 511 #N/A 511.000
91 8 Robert Gsellman SP/RP #N/A 500 525 #N/A 512.500
92 8 Tony Watson RP #N/A #N/A 513 #N/A 513.000
93 8 Justin Miller RP #N/A #N/A 514 #N/A 514.000
94 8 Justin Anderson RP #N/A #N/A 519 #N/A 519.000
95 8 Pat Neshek RP #N/A #N/A 524 #N/A 524.000
96 8 Adam Cimber RP #N/A #N/A 526 #N/A 526.000
97 8 David Hernandez RP #N/A #N/A 535 #N/A 535.000
98 8 Brad Brach RP #N/A #N/A 538 #N/A 538.000
99 9 Dylan Floro SP/RP #N/A #N/A 541 #N/A 541.000
100 9 Hector Rondon RP #N/A #N/A 544 #N/A 544.000
101 9 Jose Castillo RP #N/A #N/A 545 #N/A 545.000
102 9 Nick Goody RP #N/A #N/A 548 #N/A 548.000
103 9 Addison Reed RP #N/A #N/A 552 #N/A 552.000
104 9 Fernando Rodney RP #N/A #N/A 553 #N/A 553.000
105 9 Matt Bush RP #N/A #N/A 558 #N/A 558.000
106 9 Jacob Barnes RP #N/A #N/A 560 #N/A 560.000
107 9 Jace Fry RP #N/A #N/A 562 #N/A 562.000
108 9 Luke Gregerson RP #N/A #N/A 565 #N/A 565.000
109 9 Ryan Tepera RP #N/A #N/A 569 #N/A 569.000
110 9 Bud Norris RP #N/A #N/A 571 #N/A 571.000

 

Rankings Analysis – Top Tiers

Tier One

This is a two-man club consisting of Edwin Diaz and Blake Treinen. In his first season in the National League, Diaz has remained the premier closer in the fantasy game even though his overall numbers are slightly down from last season. He has not blown any saves, but he has allowed an occasional HR in some key non-save situations. The ERA is up to 2.30 from 1.96 and his K and BB rates have been down a bit, but there is no major cause for concern. Treinen is a bit more concerning, as he has already blown two saves while his ERA has shot up to 2.70 from last season’s 0.78. He is not looking as dominant as he did last season, with a lowered K rate and a BB rate that has gone up to 4.95. Maybe that is why Pierre is the one to have him outside of his overall Top 70. Treinen could soon fall out of this tier and leave it to Diaz by himself.

Tier Two

Kenley Jansen is still racking up the strikeouts, but a 56.5 percent strand rate has led to a 4.42 ERA. His xFIP of 3.37 points to hope ahead and none of our experts have seemingly started to panic about him yet. Brad Hand has been perfect in 11 save chances and has a 1.53 ERA while stranding 89 percent of the runners on base. But Bill is not quite convinced on his dominance as everyone else, as he is the only one ranking Hand outside of the Top 100 overall. Maybe Hand’s 3.19 xFIP is the reason. Aroldis Chapman has the same ERA as last year (2.45) but he has also cut his walk rate to 1.84. Pierre holds him in higher regard than the rest of the staffers, 17 overall spots ahead of any other analyst. He is also highest on Josh Hader, who now has an unreal 19.09 K/9.

Tier Three

Nick and I are highest on Kirby Yates, who has converted 16 of 17 save chances to lead the majors so far. He has his K rate up to 16.65 per nine and his 1.35 ERA is backed up by a 1.84 xFIP. He could see himself in the next tier in June. Roberto Osuna has a 0.52 ERA so far even though he is striking out less than eight batters per game again this season. Felipe Vazquez is also off to a great ERA start at 0.48 and I may consider him more of a Tier Two starter than the others. Both Osuna and Vazquez will see ERA regression, but it may hit Osuna a bit more than Vazquez. Jordan Hicks has arrived as hoped, with a 1.88 ERA and nine saves in 10 chances. Bill is most sold on him with an overall rank just outside the Top 90 overall. Jose Leclerc fashioned a 7.27 ERA and lost his job. I seem to be the only one who believes he will not get it back any time soon. Shane Greene may be in this tier based on reputation only, as he leads the AL with 15 saves and has trimmed nearly four runs off his ERA. His advanced stats point to Greene being a true breakout closer rather than a fluke. Bill is not convinced though, ranking him outside of the Top 220 overall. Greg Holland has revived himself yet again to slip into the bottom of this tier.

 

Rankings Analysis – Middle Tiers

Tier Four

Craig Kimbrel leads this tier as some analysts have hope he will swoop in and reclaim his fireman role for a closer-needy team, but at this point, he may not be as effective if and when he returns. Rasiel Iglesias has openly complained about being used in non-save situations as he has endured some bumpy outings recently. Pierre strongly believes he will remain reliable, ranking him over 30 spots ahead of the next analyst. Will Smith is somewhat underrated and has already been perfect in 10 save opportunities. He could lose the job via trade later in the year, though. Alex Colome has converted all eight of his save chances, but they seem to be occasional more than consistent. He nearly went two weeks without a save in April. Hector Neris is the guy in Philly right now, but that could change at any time.

Tier Five

Here is where we start to see a drop-off in the quality of closers. Blake Parker has been the best guy in the Minnesota pen, with six saves and three holds. Ryan Brasier has emerged as the preferred closing option in Boston over Matt Barnes. Ty Buttrey was expected to move into the closer’s job when Cody Allen went down, but Hansel Robles has recently taken over the job and has been very effective so far, whereas he was very shaky as a setup guy and middle reliever in the past. Buttrey has been a top setup man with eight holds. Bill is much higher than the rest on Archie Bradley, but he is also second-highest on Holland, so his evaluation is apparently not based on him expecting Bradley to necessarily take over the closer’s job.

Tier Six

After a horrific spring, Mychal Givens has re-emerged to claim the sporadic save opportunities in Baltimore. Sergio Romo has become the same type of infrequent save guy in Miami. Ryan Pressly has yet to allow an earned run in 18 IP and has totaled eight holds. Adam Ottavino has eight holds as well with a 1.77 ERA. Diego Castillo has been a real model of versatility, tying for the league lead in holds with nine, adding four saves and fashioning a 1.71 ERA.

 

Rankings Analysis – Lower Tiers

Tier Seven

Seranthony Dominguez and Roenis Elias are hanging around as possible desperation closer types for the Phillies and Mariners, respectively. Trevor May was expected to contend for a closer’s job, but has performed well enough with five holds and a 2.37 ERA. Joe Jimenez has eight holds and 26 Ks in 16.1 IP, so his 4.41 ERA should drop soon. Chad Green has been such a disappointment so far the numbers are too ugly to even include here. Perhaps a recent stint in the minors will get him back into 2018 form. Luke Jackson has emerged as Atlanta’s new fireman and will be much higher in this space next month. Kyle Crick has been a pretty good bridge to Vazquez when needed, with six holds so far. John Brebbia may continue to rise, as he has 25 Ks in 22.2 IP and seven holds with a 1.99 ERA.

Tiers Eight and Nine

Wily Peralta was a frontrunner for the Kansas City closer’s job as the season opened, but it has become apparent you cannot trust anyone at the end of the Royals pen. Has anyone noticed Craig Stammen is tied for the league lead with 12 holds? Well, he also has four blown saves, so that is holding him down here. Tony Watson has been solid with seven holds and a 2.57 ERA, and you have to wonder if he would get some save chances if Will Smith is dealt. David Hernandez still continues to perform respectably in Cincinnati, with 23 Ks in 19.2 IP and six holds.

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Rest of Season First Base Rankings (May Update)

The next stop in our Rest-of-Season rankings update is first base. Recently, RotoBaller writers and rankers Nick Mariano, Pierre Camus, Bill Dubiel and Scott Engel updated their 2019 fantasy baseball rankings, available on our dashboard. We always give our readers the very latest rankings, which are continually updated based on injuries, playing time, and performance trends.

If you recall from draft day, first base is largely devoid of high-end talent this year. Those who chose to forego a top-flight 1B pick like Cody Bellinger, Freddie Freeman, or Rhys Hoskins are likely kicking themselves. Many of the later options like Joey Votto, Jesus Aguilar, and Miguel Cabrera just haven't produced, while Matt Olson remains on the IL. Luckily, a few sleepers have emerged and you can see a dramatic shift in these rankings from just one month ago.

Since you're already here, why not stay a while and check out our analysis on updated rankings for second base, shortstop, outfield, and starting pitchers? Now, with no more delay, let's break down the 2019 first base rest-of-season rankings for May.

 

First Base Tiered Ranks - 5x5 Mixed Leagues (May)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was recently named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season. You can see his secret sauce below! Additionally, industry legend Scott Engel recently joined the RotoBaller team and provides his insights as well. Scott is an FSWA Hall Of Famer and award winner.

Rank Tier Player Position Nick Pierre Bill Scott
1 1 Cody Bellinger 1B/OF 3 9 19 6
2 1 Paul Goldschmidt 1B 16 20 21 19
3 2 Freddie Freeman 1B 29 18 20 18
4 2 Rhys Hoskins 1B/OF 22 28 40 24
5 2 Anthony Rizzo 1B 43 29 30 29
6 2 Jose Abreu 1B 52 58 68 47
7 3 Joey Gallo 3B/1B/OF 26 59 90 65
8 3 Matt Carpenter 1B/2B/3B 102 75 76 91
9 4 Daniel Murphy 1B/2B 72 107 60 114
10 4 J.T. Realmuto C/1B 119 83 94 58
11 4 Pete Alonso 1B 68 70 152 64
12 4 Luke Voit 1B 71 88 135 80
13 4 Edwin Encarnacion 1B 109 104 84 122
14 4 Robinson Cano 1B/2B 148 97 103 109
15 4 Joey Votto 1B 96 138 63 174
16 4 Josh Bell 1B 127 110 138 112
17 4 Travis Shaw 1B/2B/3B 159 140 113 147
18 5 Christian Walker 1B 137 136 158 145
19 5 Matt Olson 1B 100 175 157 167
20 5 Jesus Aguilar 1B 156 134 150 173
20 5 Carlos Santana 1B/3B 170 163 115 180
21 5 Max Muncy 1B/2B/3B 115 215 159 141
22 5 Trey Mancini 1B/OF 134 216 172 146
23 5 Ryan McMahon 1B/3B/2B 176 170 205 227
24 6 Ryan Braun 1B/OF 195 206 147 236
25 6 Miguel Cabrera 1B 212 248 129 213
26 6 Daniel Vogelbach 1B 152 249 209 229
27 6 Justin Smoak 1B 251 241 239 204
28 6 Niko Goodrum 1B/2B/3B/SS/OF 248 242 255 202
29 6 Jose Martinez OF/1B 269 196 201 285
31 6 Eric Hosmer 1B 229 284 219 226
32 6 Ian Desmond OF/1B 286 312 247 211
33 6 Jay Bruce OF/1B 153 265 362 281
34 7 Rowdy Tellez 1B 277 259 260 #N/A
35 7 Jurickson Profar SS/3B/1B/2B 275 301 225 264
36 7 C.J. Cron 1B 295 261 297 237
37 7 Jake Bauers 1B/OF 307 263 299 261
38 7 Mitch Moreland 1B 272 383 237 #N/A
39 7 Buster Posey C/1B 342 319 264 273
40 7 Ryan Zimmerman 1B 376 315 213 #N/A
41 7 Yuli Gurriel 1B/2B/3B 349 344 263 278
42 7 Eric Thames 1B/OF 233 270 437 295
43 7 Ryan O'Hearn 1B 312 266 383 #N/A
44 8 Ronald Guzman 1B 398 287 301 #N/A
45 8 Miguel Sano 1B/3B 278 391 366 289
46 8 Brandon Belt 1B/OF 352 353 318 #N/A
47 8 Ryon Healy 1B #N/A 309 444 299
48 8 Tyler White 1B 358 375 328 #N/A
49 8 Wilmer Flores 1B/3B/2B 341 355 376 #N/A
50 8 Tucker Barnhart C/1B 433 373 344 300
51 8 Ronny Rodriguez 1B/2B/3B/SS 374 #N/A #N/A #N/A
52 8 Nate Lowe 1B 265 490 #N/A #N/A
53 8 Marwin Gonzalez 1B/2B/SS/OF 408 463 279 #N/A
54 8 Justin Bour 1B 384 453 335 #N/A
55 8 Yonder Alonso 1B 499 330 467 290
56 8 Kendrys Morales 1B 402 481 309 #N/A
57 8 Neil Walker 1B/2B 359 414 421 #N/A
58 8 Chris Davis 1B 297 474 452 #N/A
59 8 Albert Pujols 1B 403 459 422 #N/A
60 8 Matt Adams 1B 407 454 #N/A #N/A
61 8 Colin Moran 3B/1B 477 397 476 #N/A
62 8 Steve Pearce 1B/2B/OF #N/A 439 471 #N/A
63 8 John Hicks C/1B #N/A 429 488 #N/A
64 8 Dominic Smith 1B #N/A #N/A 466 #N/A
65 9 Greg Bird 1B #N/A 470 477 #N/A
66 9 Adam Duvall 1B/OF #N/A #N/A 500 #N/A
67 9 Tyler Austin 1B #N/A #N/A 532 #N/A
68 9 Jedd Gyorko 1B/3B #N/A #N/A 534 #N/A

 

Rankings Analysis - Top Tiers

Tier One

It's Cody Bellinger's world - we're all just living in it and waiting for the natural regression of a player who hit in the .260s his first two years and is enjoying an even K-BB rate, despite striking out at a rate 10 points higher than his current 14.3% K%. This isn't to say Bellinger will be a second-half flop but if you have him on your team and need help elsewhere, it wouldn't hurt to try selling at peak value.

Tier Two

Like most Cubs, Anthony Rizzo was slow out the gate this year but is starting to heat up. He's logged four multi-hit games in the last seven and has slugged four homers since the calendar turned to May. As a reliable run-producer who's seen more than 600 plate appearances in six straight seasons, Rizzo is a solid top-five player at first base.

There were some concerns about Jose Abreu being in decline after a rough 2018 filled with slumps and injuries. I'd say he has allayed those concerns fairly well after one month. Abreu ranks in the 99th percentile in hard-hit rate, ranking fourth at 57.9%. He's also second in Barrel rate, ranks in the 95th percentile for xSLG and 91st for xwOBA. So he's doing OK.

Tier Three

I won't get too deep into Gallo's profile here because a) we know what he is by now, and b) you may not necessarily be using him at first base. I will note that the top fantasy baseball ranker in all the land last year, Nick Mariano, has him 27 overall, higher than Hoskins, Rizzo, and even Freeman. Maybe we should learn to love Gallo and live with the strikeouts.

Matt Carpenter is the only other 1B-qualifying player in this tier and if you're using him at this position rather than the middle infield, things have gone wrong somewhere along the way. He's supposed to be the type of player you don't need to use at the corners because he's better off giving you a power boost at second base, because that position is thinner in fantasy. At least it used to be.

 

Rankings Analysis - Middle Tiers

Tier Four

In this tier, it's a matter of which New York slugger you prefer. Both Pete Alonso and Luke Voit have lived up to their preseason sleeper status so far, although Bill Dubs is not buying it just yet based on his bearish ranking. They each have posted elite xSLG numbers and have locked down a starting job the rest of this season, barring injury. Between the two, I give the slight edge to Alonso because of lineup position. Both primarily reside in the second spot of the lineup but Voit could get pushed down once the Yankees actually get their main players like Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge back.

Is Joey Votto still on here? He's only two years removed from nearly being the MVP but since then it's just been downhill. Votto remains a top-100 player for Nick, while Bill may be having flashbacks to 2017 with a ranking of 63 overall but I'm done with him for good. The Reds as a team may improve their offense (they have nowhere to go but up) but that doesn't mean Votto will be a big part of that. As Kanye once said, "You can't tell me nothin'!"

I am totally buying the Josh Bell renaissance. A sophomore slump soured us all on the former top prospect in the Steel City, reflected in his 249 preseason ADP. Despite an increased strikeout rate, he's posting elite Statcast numbers in the 95th percentile or higher of exit velocity, hard-hit rate, xSLG and xwOBA. He could end up being the best value pick at this position by season's end.

Tier Five

Matt Olson is back in the A's lineup and went 2-for-4 with a double on the 9th. We heard the cautionary tales of how his wrist injury might affect his swing for a while even when he's cleared to play. Doesn't seem that way. Olson is someone I'll be moving back up the rankings soon.

It was pretty exciting when Jesus Aguilar went yard thrice in two days and we immediately assumed he was back. He hasn't homered since May began but at least his average has inched back up to .181! Believe it or not, his plate discipline is better than last year and there aren't any big red flags to worry about so keep exploring a buy-low scenario if possible.

Tier Six

In the same vein as Votto, I'm all but throwing in the towel on a pair of former MVPs. Miggy and Braun aren't recapturing their former glory and should be viewed as CI options in 12+ team leagues. Braun can still drive in runs in that Brewers lineup and Cabrera is hitting for average but that's about it. One look at the overall profile shows that these two rank 24th and 41st respectively in terms of overall value in 5x5 leagues among players who qualify at first base.

Can you ride with Daniel Vogelbach the rest of the season? Nick definitely thinks so, ranking him inside his top 150 while nobody else has him as a top-200 player. Since his amazing week, he's only homered once since April 20th (coincidence?) which is a span of 16 games. He's struggling hard against lefties with a .118 average, so don't be surprised if his ABs start to be limited, especially once Kyle Seager comes off the injured list in late May or early June.

 

Rankings Analysis - Lower Tiers

Tier Seven

Jay Bruce is doing his best Jay Bruce impression this year in Seattle. The power will play in roto but at the expense of batting average, which currently sits at .186. The fact that his BABIP is .164 isn't encouraging, it's downright scary.

I'm keeping the faith in Ronald Guzman as a less-frightening source of power among lower-tier first base options. He just came off the IL and should resume duties as an everyday starter. He is a lottery ticket at this point but one I'm willing to invest a roster spot in.

Same goes for Ryan O'Hearn, whose Statcast numbers suggest he's due for some better luck soon. He's got a tremendous 51.3% hard-hit rate, so if he can stop hitting the ball on the ground so much, the numbers could rise. Hear that, Rafael Devers?

Tier Eight and lower

Nate Lowe was a popular waiver add 10 days ago because of his mammoth raw power. 35 at-bats and zero homers later, he's already being dropped everywhere. As long as he doesn't embarrass himself at the plate, which he hasn't so far, the Rays will give him every chance to keep playing.

Yonder Alonso isn't exciting and never has been, but he's been at least a 20-HR guy the last two seasons that won't kill your average. This year, he's killing your average. For a young, non-contending team like the White Sox, Alonso might be cast aside if he doesn't turn things around quickly.

Kendrys Morales might also become a victim of the numbers game, as Oakland has plenty of young prospects ready to take his place.

I wish there were more young 1B prospects on the cusp of making an impact this year, but as of right now the best we can do is hope that Yordan Alvarez gets called up and sees enough time to qualify at the position. As you may know, I'm a big fan.

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