WHICH PLAYERS WILL DISAPPOINT AND WHICH WILL POSITIVELY SURPRISE IN 2019?
1. SP CHRIS SALE, BOSTON RED SOX
The Boston starter had injury issues to close out 2018 and his four-seamer declined to 90.2 MPH. There’s also his dangerous delivery, that is too reminiscent of Mark Prior. Part of the reason why I don’t expect Boston to be nearly as good in 2019 as they were in 2018 is because I see Sale heavily regressing and not being the ace that they need him to be. He will be entering his contract year and usually players do better in those years than others, but I could easily see the opposite taking place. The worst part is he’s the #2 drafted SP in fantasy and regularly goes for $40 in fantasy auctions.
2. SP JOSE BERRIOS, MINNESOTA TWINS
He’s not an ace, but it seems that many people think that he is. His strikeout rate rose from 7.6 in 2016 to 8.6 in 2017 and finally 9.5 in 2018. This would imply that he might turn into an ace right? Not quite. His FIP went from 6.20 in 2016 to 3.84 in 2017 and finally 3.90 in 2018. Players are also hitting him harder, as his HardHit% went up from 27.9% in 2017 to 34.2% in 2018. His fastball velocity went the opposite direction every year as well, going from 94.2 in 2016 to 94.0 in 2017 and finally 93.8 in 2018. The kicker is that Steamer is really unimpressed: 4.26 ERA and 8.96 K/9 in 193 innings. Does this sound like someone who should be going for $17 in fantasy auctions and getting drafted in the 8’th round in fantasy drafts?
3. 1B JOEY VOTTO, CINCINNATI REDS
Votto used to be one of the elite first basemen in the game, but those days are over and Cincinnati’s lineup needs someone else in the middle of the batting order. Votto managed only 12, yes 12 home runs and only 67 RBI in 2018. He had 503 AB in 145 games, so it wasn’t a shortened season that led to these results. His Z-Contact% went down from 88% in 2017 to 86.7% in 2018 and his BABIP actually increased from .321 in 2017 to .333 in 2018. He’s also 35 now. Why is he going for $21 in fantasy auctions and is drafted in the 5’th round of fantasy drafts?
4. 3B JOSE RAMIREZ, CLEVELAND INDIANS
Ramirez was phenomenal in 2018, but he may not be the same in 2019. He was never projected to be a power hitter and many experts saw his 2017 power burst as a fluke. He seemed to make them all look bad in 2018, but he just doesn’t hit the ball as an elite power hitter: 34.7 Hard Hit% in 2018 when he hit 39 home runs and 34.5 in 2017 when he hit 29; (the home run difference is just too big to be sustainable); His EV was 88.8 MPH in 2018. Steamer projects a batting line of .284/.374/.513 with 28 home runs, 98 RBI, 98 runs and 24 stolen bases. That’s good but not great and certainly not worth $44 in fantasy auctions or a first round pick in fantasy drafts.
5. 2B JOSE ALTUVE, HOUSTON ASTROS
Houston never should’ve given him a contract extension after he already was locked up to a team-friendly deal. His power and speed are in decline and that leaves him as just a very good contact hitter. He only managed to hit 13 home runs in 534 AB’s in 2018 and steal only 17 bases. Steamer projects him to have a batting line of .303/.368/.451 with 17 home runs, 81 RBI, 93 runs and 17 stolen bases. He’s not worth the $38 he goes for in fantasy auctions or to be drafted in second rounds of fantasy drafts.
6. DH J.D. MARTINEZ, BOSTON RED SOX
Another reason why I don’t think that Boston will win the division for the fourth straight season. Martinez had an abnormally high BABIP (.375) and slashed a remarkable .330/.402/.629. There’s no chance that he comes close in 2019. He only played in 121 or more games once before 2018 (back in 2015). Steamer projects a batting line of .297/.372/.569 but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was worse than that. He just isn’t worth $44 in fantasy auctions or s first round pick in fantasy drafts.
7. LF RONALD ACUNA JR., ATLANTA BRAVES
Acuna is going to be a top 5 player, just not in 2019. Sophomore slumps are real and Acuna has a long slump in 2018 already. Steamer projects him to hit .279/.347/.491 with 29 HR, 81 RBI, 96 runs and 24 stolen bases. It’s a good year, but he’s not worth $40 in fantasy auctions or a first round pick in fantasy drafts.
1. SP GERMAN MARQUEZ, COLORADO ROCKIES
A pitcher who calls Coors Field his home Park used to be the last player expected to be a Cy Young candidate, but Marquez just might be one. His FIP has improved from 4.40 in 2017 to 3.40 in 2018. His K/9 improved from a lowly 6.5 in 2016 to 8.2 in 2017 and an excellent 10.6 in 2018. I see him turning into a legitimate ace in 2019 and helping Colorado to a third straight playoff appearance. In fantasy he’s not exactly a sleeper, but $13-15 in auctions and the 10’th round in drafts is a bargain.
2. SP JON LESTER, CHICAGO CUBS
Lester is in decline and no longer an ace. In fact, he may finally fall apart this upcoming season. The signs are all there: a 5 year decline in FIP from 2.80 in 2014 to 2.92 in 2015 to 3.41 in 2016 to 4.10 in 2017 and finally 4.39 in 2018. His K/9 also hit a low of 7.4 in 2018. Make no mistake about it, the Cubs are in trouble if they expect him to be their ace in 2018. That said, he’s never pitched for less than 180 innings in a season and managed a 3.32 ERA in 2018. It’s possible that at 35 he can still pull out one last good season. He’s going for $2 in fantasy auctions and is drafted in the 17’th round in fantasy drafts. He’s worth a gamble at that price.
3. 2B BRIAN DOZIER, WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Dozier can be a difference maker for Washington in 2019. Is that a surprise? He was pretty subpar (by his standards) in 2018, but it was only 2 years ago when he hit 42 home runs. The shocking part is that he actually hit the ball harder in 2018 (37.3%) than he did in 2019 (34.7%). His HR/FB% was also a suspiciously low 11.2%, while his BABIP was a below average .240. Dozier is a bargain, going for $6 at fantasy auctions and while getting drafted in the 14’th rounds in fantasy drafts.
4. 2B JONATHAN SCHOOP, MINNESOTA TWINS
Schoop is going to improve Minnesota’s farm system at the upcoming trading deadline? Schoop had a down 2018, but he also had a below average BABIP (.261). He typically gets drafted in the 18’th round of fantasy drafts and goes for $2 to $3 in fantasy auctions.
5. RF RANDAL GRICHUK, TORONTO BLUE JAYS
What if I told you that Toronto’s best player in 2019 is going to be Randal Grichuk? Grichuk always had power and after a horrible start in 2018, went on a tear to close out the season. Steamer projects him to break out in 2019 and hit 30 HR, drive in 85 RBI, score 73 runs and add 5 stolen bases. You can get Grichuk in the end of your fantasy auction for a $1 and in the end of your fantasy draft.