Ranking players can be complicated (scattergrams, graphs, excessive sabermetric data) or simple (statistical analysis, career arc, team situation). I prefer the latter but for those who like the modern day “tools” I sprinkle in some sabermetric stuff and, at least today, a couple of tables. Note: ADP listed is from Fantasy Pros.
10. Matt Carpenter, Cardinals (ADP 65) – copied and pasted from my 1B rankings (he was ranked #8)
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. NOTE: OBP WIZARD ALERT= .377!
9. Vladi Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays (ADP 47) – not much hasn’t already been written about him. In summary, he’s very young (turns 20 on March 16) and he mashes the ball. Lifetime average in the minors (.323), OPS (.909) is elite, as is his ability to make contact (11% K rate). Power at this point is good, but not prolific (41 dingers in 1,397 at bats). By all accounts, he’s ready for the SHOW but is bound to spend some time in AAA to delay his “clock”. This caveat won’t mean a thing to keeper leagues but in redraft leagues in 2019 be cautious blowing the going price UNLESS YOU BELIEVE THAT THIS GUY IS ONE IN A MILLION AND GETS OUT OF THE GATE ON FIRE. Out of curiosity I delved into the record book to see what the other members of the top ten did in, by MLB standard, their rookie year.
|**Vladi SR**||22||354||11||40||.302||.833||HALL OF FAMER|
|Bryant||23||559||26||99||.275||.858||199 K’s but ROOKIE OF THE YEAR|
|Baez||22||213||9||20||.169||.551||44% K rate|
In summary, it was humble beginnings for the vast majority of these players. A 3B exception was mentioned last week, Evan Longoria won the R.O.Y in 2008 at only 22 years old (27-85-.275-.874 OPS).
8. Josh Donaldson, Braves (ADP 95) – if taking Vladi Jr. seems like a trip to the roulette wheel, taking this guy is Russian Roulette. He’s 33 now and in a new league – both attributes that add some risk. Oh, and there was last year’s injury plagued 52 games played abomination (8-23-.246). So the Braves took the leap of faith and his burdensome salary ($23 million) and planted him in the middle of a playoff worthy lineup. This guy is a gamer who, if healthy, can get somewhere near his lifetime averages of .274 , drive in 90 and slam close to 30 bombs. In closing, it’s all about health – monitor spring training closely and if he looks his old self keep the Human Mullet in your back pocket as a mid-round gem.
7. Eugenio Suarez, Reds (ADP 54) – every year the magazines and websites have rankings lists and the next year they brag about the great call(s) they made, What they don’t tell you is the boneheaded predictions. Last year, I was no different- while covering the 1B-3B rankings I stumbled badly on Josh Bell…..#11. Josh Bell (PIT) – rookie year and minor league stats offered no foreshadowing. But in 2017, the 6’2″ /230 lbs Bell got busy. Impressive debut overall and he even set a record for most HRs (26) by a rookie switch hitter. Will either bat third or cleanup and should challenge 30 dingers with strong peripherals. Pardon the pun: a cornerstone dynasty player. OUCH.
On the other hand check the call on Suarez….#10. Eugenio Suarez (CIN) – not even 26 years old, he took the leap from just a guy to a potential force. Strikes out a ton but if you believe that last year’s walk total (84) was not a fluke, bank on his passage to the vaunted 30 HR & 100 RBI plateau. BUY.
He did that and then some (34-104-.283-.892 OPS) while missing 19 games due to injury/rest. Classic example of the conventional wisdom that players peak from 26-28 years. In closing, other meaningful stars are aligning and add to the winning equation: PRIME TIMER+ GREAT HITTERS PARK + IMPROVED LINEUP = excellent choice at 3B this season.
6. Anthony Rendon, Nationals (ADP 44) – easily would have shattered career highs in HR and RBI if he didn’t miss 26 games. But still 24-92-.308 and 283 total bases ranked strongly at 3B. It’s a refreshing change to see a player in this day and age keep the K level low (only 82). On the downside walks were down (from 84 to 55) which also drove his OBP down from elite (.403 in ’17) to merely very good (.374). This is a really, really good player that quietly could be a key piece to a fantasy league championship team. In case you’re wondering – he’ll be fine without Harper especially if Robles is as good as advertised.
5. Kris Bryant, Cubs (ADP 32) – lousy seasons happen even to a player as young (26 then) and as gifted as Bryant. Even in the 13-52-.272 boondoggle he managed a .374 OBA and a respectable .834 OPS. This year the Cubs W.S hangover is past them and Lanky will rebound. Fully healthy, expect nothing less than 32-100 and close to 300 total bases.
4. Javier Baez, Cubs (ADP 16) – qualifies also at 2B and SS. Hindsight being what it is, 2017 was the beginning of the metamorphosis from arguably the flashiest glove in the game to a player that could actually hit (23-75-.273). The swing and miss problems weren’t going away and inability to walk were still quite woeful. Flash forward to last year and his almost MVP season and with the exception of a cruddy OBP (.326) the stat line blew up. It was as big an improvement – 34-111-.290-20 SB as anyone outside of Puerto Rico could have dreamed. But can it happen again? Chances are no. But he has now what he never had prior to last year: SECURITY in the batting lineup (high) and on the field. Add to that teammates and fans that adore him and the fact that he is fast, he is powerful, and he plays the game at full throttle. I believe he will post at minimum a 25-25 season with a good shot at 100 runs and 100 RBI. The price this year will be great – see table at the bottom of this article, but I will tell you right now, I have the 13th pick in a 14 team draft, based on the three position eligibility I WILL SIGN HIM IN A HEARTBEAT.
3. Nolan Arenado, Rockies (ADP 7) – two way talent who isn’t very recognized unless you’re a fantasy baseball aficionado. The stats do not lie – average line the past four All Star seasons is: 607 AB- 104 RUNS- 40 HR- 126 RBI- .297- OPS .941. During that time the Rockies have won 68, 75, 87 and 91 games and overall are under .500. In total the guy whose nickname according to Baseball Reference is the Sandblaster has played five post season games. Naturally, it’s worth mentioning that Coors Field has had a predictably positive affect: HRS 108 at Coors, 78 ROAD and in AVG .320 at Coors .263 ROAD. Last year was a typical example: HRs at Coors 23, ROAD 15. This shouldn’t really mean jack as fantasy owners since we really don’t care when or where he “hits” as long as at the end of the year it’s a level above most players in the league. Money in the bank 1st round selection / $30 player.
2. Alex Bregman, Astros (ADP 14) – emerging superstar can only be stopped by injuries. Like a bad elbow that was operated on in January 11th? Although it is baffling that this wasn’t taken care of earlier I’m gonna believe in the medical reports that he’ll be back either close to, or in time for the season opener. That being said last years jacked up numbers (31-103-.286- .926 OPS) could just be a start for this hitting machine. The only “negative” were the 10 SB’s (17 in ’17). Qualifying at SS (Correa was hurt) is an added bonus. Gets the edge on Baez only because of his rare ability, at least in today’s age, of walking (96) more than he whiffed (only 85). Premier talent even at a premium price.
1. Jose Ramirez, Indians (ADP 3) – if you’re reading this you’ve probably scanned quite a few magazines, and/or websites already and you know all about the dastardly finish to a still remarkable 2018 season. For the record the splits were startling.
|1st half 94||29||70||.302||20|
|2nd half 63||10||35||.218||14|
Out of curiosity, I also checked splits from the time he started playing full force. In 2016, he actually was pretty consistent but slightly better in the 2nd half. In 2017 he had a power supercharge (from 11 to 29) but overall , slightly better numbers in the 1st half than the 2nd half. 2018 splits are listed above and the obvious conclusion is that little Jose (all 5’9″ and 180 lbs. of him) appeared to run out of gas. Either that or the opposing pitchers, who had mostly been battered for the previous 2 1/2 seasons, found a weakness. Your call entirely.
Even though Lindor will miss time, I will favor the back of the Jose Ramirez baseball card on this one (he’s only 26 years old) and fully acknowledge the five category dominance by installing Ramirez as the top dog at 3B, and if truth be told, also at 2B for this coming season.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday March 3rd, 2019 from 8-9:45pm EST for episode #142 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. Our topic this week is middle infield (2B/SS).
Our guest this week is Joel Gullo. Joel hosts a podcast at lennymelnickfantasysports.com.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore on Thursday March 7th, 2019 from 8pm – 9:30pm 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. This week we will discuss Starting Pitching for fantasy purposes.
Be sure to check out our Sunday night show March 10th from 8pm to 9:30pm EST. They will cover the Outfield.