If you are reading this you are a hard core baseball fan. You probably have a favorite team and actually may even blow some hard earned cash at an MLB ballpark. But the sport is in trouble. One of the top players ever to hit free agency, Bryce Harper, cannot find a home. The games are too long, the batting is lousy, salaries are out-of-control, and fundamentals on the field- a thing of the past. But there are lots of homers and dozens of pitchers humming the ball at 95+. MLB is worried to the point of making changes soon. Adopting DH in both leagues. Banning the shift. Making pitchers face three batters minimum. These are all good ideas and with the exception of the shift thing need to be enacted now.
In closing, last year there was quite a stats slope in the following areas: stolen bases dipped to an average of barely 1 a game, batting average sunk to .248 (lowest since 1969) and runs and homers, whereas still astronomical, slumped. As far as this, and last week’s, article you’ll notice in quite a few thumbnails that HR’s and RBI’s declined compared to the year prior. Makes sense now that I studied the numbers and noticed that there were 520 less homers and almost 1,000 less RBI last year than in 2017. It will be interesting to see if this was a blip or a trend
NOTE: baseball card atop this article was cut from a box of cereal back in the day when men were men – quite unlike today’s overpaid and pampered lot.
ADDED BONUS after the rankings: links to a few serious stats sources used, in part, to formulate my rankings
TOP CHOICES- note (+) indicates player conceivably worthy of a bump in OBP leagues
TIED #10 Edwin Encarnacion, Seattle Mariners (+ until last year) – like the year before, was mostly a DH (23 games at 1B in both years). Although last year’s numbers (32-107) still flashed, the peripherals declined. Walk rate was still better than average but declined significantly from 104 to 63. The good news is that a lot of drafters see an aging player (36 now), in decline and now having to play in a lousy hitters park. Take advantage of the hoards abandoning ship on this guy – he still plays with exuberance and smashes the ball deep regardless if at home (184 HRS) or on the road (196). Be patient, if this guy slips to one of the last 1B’s taken in a 12 teamer- DO IT.
TIED #10 Ian Desmond, Colorado Rockies – will be moving back to OF this year (see below). Good outweighs the bad due to ability to swipe bases – 20 or more are assured. Disappointing HR total (22) in 160 games considering playing in Coors. Expect BABIP (.279) to bounce back to normalcy (.350 and .345 prior to last year). Despite not being a main power cog on your team will check the other boxes well enough to be a reputable 1B.
#9 Daniel Murphy, Colorado Rockies – maybe a bit of a reach this high due to missing over 60% of the last three seasons. But after radical knee revision last year Murphy showed the sweet swing of old. At a new position, in Coors Field and with his bulldog attitude – I’m banking on a return to relevance along the lines of 25-93-.310.
Note: May take a few weeks to gain eligibility in most leagues. Played only 14 at 1B last year.
#8 Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals (++) – Mr. Versatile has made his mark at four positions (2B-3B-OF-1B). With the arrival of Goldie will be shuttled to 3B. Surprisingly, had the highest hard hit rate (49%) than anyone on this list! Consider last year’s 36 homer explosion as an aberration but if you covet a guy that’ll blast 25 and score close to 100 runs look no further.
#7 Jesus Aguilar, Milwaukee Brewers – came onto the radar prior to last year thanks to a solid 16-52-.837 OPS in 2017. And then came last year’s barrage 35-80-.890. What a great story for a guy that toiled six years in the minors. Still is only 28 and should be able to continue the rise up the rankings and, if things broke right, make a run at the coveted 40-100 benchmark.
#6 Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox – really hurt owners last year who paid a premium based on the previous four years composite averages (31-103-.301). Missing over thirty games contributed to the mediocre 22-78-.265 line. Just turned 32 years old and batting cleanup, expect him to return to All Star form. A solid addition as a 6th or 7th round pick or in auction $25.
#5 Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers – qualification at OF enhances value. Sophomore slumps beleaguer lots of players, the Big Bell was one. At a glance last years numbers (25-76-14-.260- .470 slugging), especially for one of the few to play the whole enchilada (162 GAMES) were so-so. But this guy got mega-respect last year after the 2017’s storybook rookie line (39-96-10- .581 slugging) and subsequently under-performed. The good news is that this is still one of today’s youngest players (23 in July) in a potent lineup. Consider last year a low water mark- this guy is simply too good not to get back to 30-100 with 20 swipes. If last year’s swoon drives price down to what you conceive to be a reasonable level don’t hesitate to scoff him up.
#4 Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds (+++) – like Bellinger and Abreau had some major slippage compared to 2017. Missing seventeen games didn’t help but a meager 12 homers in arguably baseball’s best hitters park? That is UGLY especially when combined with 67 RBI and a Punch and Judy like .419 slugging percentage. To top it off, batting average sunk almost forty points despite a high BABIP (.333).
So why the “stud still” ranking”? There are two reasons: A. he played through injury and B. the Reds have a retooled lineup that will give him plenty of RBI chances. Combine the fact that he’s 35 now and coming off last years train wreck and I can see a draft day discount in the making. I’ve ranked him four but don’t pay up that way. If he slips to round 5 or 6 or can be had for less than $20 grab and then get the polish out for the Comeback Player of the Year trophy.
#3 Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs (+) – took him a month to shake off a back ailment and some rust (April stats 1-9-.149) but after that back to one of the most consistent hitters around. Kris Bryant is bound to return from the doldrums and that will help for sure. Probably will never reach the top ten in MVP voting heights he posted earlier in his career but still a dynamic talent that easily can serve as a pillar player on your team.
#2 Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves (+) – arguably the best year of his career coincided with the Braves return to the playoffs. Homers, strangely like all players in my top six, dipped last year (23). Quite a bit of an outage actually for Freddie when you consider that in 178 more at bats he hit five more homers! Still I have utmost confidence that he’ll be a solid third round choice that will bat close to .300 with a high OBP, clobber at least 25 and drive in and score 100.
#1 Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals (+) – the advent of the humidor at Chase Field (see SOURCES CITED below) caused a lot of warning track outs last year. And Goldie was no different, in fact he hit 21 on the road and only 12 in Zona. Batting average was affected even more so – road .339/ home .238. Oddly, and Ttaking it a step further, career road homers (110 versus 99) and career average (.304 versus .290) were better on the road.
The point being that the move to St. Louis, which over the past three years ranks as one of the tougher places to jack one out, won’t phase this lumberjack. Great player overall who is generally in the rarified air of 30+ dingers (4X), 100+ runs (4X), 100+RBI (3X), 300+total bases (4X) in seven superlative seasons. Oh, and his career average is .297. Oh, and he’s stolen 124 bases in that time! Overall a great player on a mission this year easily worth, in a standard 12 team league, a 2nd round pick/ $33.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for Part 1- 3B options
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Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday February 17th, 2019 from 8-9:45pm EST for episode #138 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. This week we will break down the N.L. Central.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore on Thursday February 21st, 2019 from 8pm – 9:45pm EST for the Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show. Call in number is 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. Our topic for tonight will be the A.L. West.
Be sure to check out our Sunday night show February 24th from 8pm to 9:45pm EST. They will cover the N.L. West.