2019 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Rankings breakdown, No. 151-160
Learn why you should — and maybe why you shouldn't — draft players 151-160 in our consensus rankings.
Welcome to our 2019 Player Profiles series. We are going through the top-300 in Heath Cummings and Scott White's consensus rankings to give you the case for and the case against drafting each player. By the time you're done, you'll know everything you need to know for drafting in 2019.
151. DJ LeMahieu, 2B, Yankees
The Case For: Leaving Coors Field is never a good thing, but there are a lot worse places to go than Yankees Stadium, especially in that Yankees lineup. He should be surrounded by good hitters and should remain a decent source of runs and batting average, but his position in the Yankees batting order will determine how big the drop-off is. The other thing to watch is his batted balls. He had a career-high in hard contact rate (35 percent) and fly ball rate (29 percent) in 2018. Yankees Stadium is basically Coors' equal in terms of home runs for right-handed hitters.
The Case Against: It is a significant drop-off if LeMahieu finds himself in the bottom third of the order, and that seems likely. More worrisome is what happens around the All Star Break when Didi Gregorius returns. The Yankees will have too many infielders, and LeMahieu could find himself in a part-time role. The reward isn't worth the risks.
152. Kyle Schwarber, OF, Cubs
The Case For: Schwarber has elite power, he's on one of the best offenses in baseball and he walks at a very high rate. His RBI numbers have not been representative of his power, and considering this is still just his age 26 season, there's still breakout potential.
The Case Against: When you combine Joe Maddon's affinity for strategy and Schwarber's inability to hit left-handed pitching, you get a recipe for unreliable playing time. His 137 games played was a career high, but even that is overselling Schwarber's role. In 48 of those games he either pinch-hit or left the game before the ninth. That will keep his run and RBI numbers low, leaving him as a one-category contributor.
153. Jose Leclerc, RP, Rangers
The Case For: The Rangers have committed to him as their closer. In today's environment, what more do you need? That's not totally fair to Leclerc, because he was exceptional in 2018. His 1.56 ERA was backed up by a 1.90 FIP. He posted a 13.3 K/9. But the most valuable thing about Leclerc is his security as a closer and what that means in a category like saves.
The Case Against: Reliever ratios aren't exactly static. A year ago, Leclerc was coming off a season in which he walked 7.9 batters per nine innings and posted a 3.94 ERA. The Rangers are rebuilding and there's no guarantee they'll hold on to him if he has another spectacular first half of the season.
154. Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Twins
The Case For: He plays second base. How high could your expectations be? Schoop isn't as good as his All-Star 2017 numbers suggest, and he isn't as bad as he looked in 2018. His numbers cratered in 2018 due to an oblique injury, but he's fully recovered and should get back to his accumulating ways. Expect mid-20s in home runs, an average around .270 and 150 runs-plus-RBI. That'll play at second base.
The Case Against: Do you really want to settle for an accumulator? Schoop owns a career .738 OPS and has only been better than .752 for one full season. If he plays 160-plus games as he did in 2016 and 2017, he'll likely end up being ranked among the top-12 second basemen. That doesn't mean he is one.
155. Jose Quintana, SP, Cubs
The Case For: Even though Quintana had the worst season of his career, he still tied his career-high for wins with 13. While his peripherals suggest he was just bad in 2018, not unlucky, I'd still expect him to be better in 2019 simply because of his track record. There isn't a form of really smart analysis that will make you feel like Quintana is going to bounce back, but at this stage of the draft it's worth the risk.
The Case Against: There isn't really smart analysis to say that because he was really quite terrible. His FIP (4.43) and his SIERA (4.39) both make him look lucky as opposed to unlucky. His walk rate (9.2 percent) was the highest of his career. Quintana doesn't have enough upside to take the risk of his floor.
156. Mike Foltynewicz, SP, Braves
The Case For: Foltynewicz has never had velocity problems in the past but he turned it up another notch in 2018, with an average fastball velocity of 96.4 miles per hour. That translated to the highest K rate of his career (9.9 K/9), a 2.85 ERA and 13 wins on an improving Braves team. It looks like he finally came into his own just in time for the Braves to get good. He could easily surpass that win total if he pitches this well in 2019.
The Case Against: While his K/9 did go up, his increase in swinging strikes was not near as drastic. That makes me skeptical of his increase in Ks, but not near as skeptical as I am of his 2.85 ERA. It was largely a product of a .251 BABIP-against, a 77 percent strand rate and a 9.6 percent HR/FB rate. All three were outside of his career-norm. He's a fly ball pitcher who doesn't have great control or great swing-and-miss stuff. Don't expect anything close to 2018.
157. Brandon Nimmo, OF, Mets
The Case For: Nimmo was one of the few bright spots for the Mets in 2018, posting an .886 OPS in his first full season. His walk rate (15 percent) and hard-contact rate (45 percent) were both elite. He should slot in at the top of an improved Mets lineup, which will give him an outside shot at 100 runs with his good on-base skills.
The Case Against: The Mets have way too many bodies and I hate trusting the Mets to play the right guys. He hit .234 with a .742 OPS against left-handed pitchers, which is acceptable, but any decline could leave him open to a platoon with J.D. Davis, Keon Broxton or Juan Lagares. He's also not really a big stolen base threat and hits too many ground balls to be a great power hitter. Nimmo needs that every day spot at the top of the lineup to be a must-start Fantasy asset.
158. Ender Inciarte, OF, Braves
The Case For: He's a leadoff hitter for an emerging offense who looks like he was just a bad BABIP away from being a contributor in two of the most difficult categories to acquire. Inciarte hit .265 last year thanks largely to a BABIP that was 28 points lower than his career average. He also stole 28 bases and scored 83 runs. He doesn't strike out much at all, so as long as he's leading off he should be valuable in both formats.
The Case Against: The Braves didn't exactly stick with one batting order last season. Inciarte led off 54 times, but hit sixth or lower 78 times. That matters a lot because his full-season runs pace was just 62 runs when he hit at the bottom of the order. He also didn't run as often, with 15 of his steals coming in those 54 games he led off. The issue seems to be that he didn't hit in the leadoff spot, with a .559 OPS there. I don't really buy into that number, but I don't fill out the lineup card either.
159. Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers
The Case For: Before last season Andrus had been a solid contributor in batting average who hit in the top third of the order and played nearly every day. While everything did go wrong in 2018, you shouldn't hold one major injury in 10 years against him.
The Case Against: Were you ever that excited about him in the first place? He has one year in his career with double-digit home runs. He has one year in the past five with more than 75 runs scored or driven in. Andrus should give you good average and maybe steal 20 bases, but that's about it.
160. Odubel Herrera, OF, Phillies
The Case For: He just set a career high with 22 home runs and he's a career .279 hitter. Last year's batting average problems were mostly a result of his career-low .290 BABIP. If that bounces back he should be a good source of average with contributions in all five categories.
The Case Against: His BABIP problems may have been a result of his 25 percent hard-contact rate and his 18 percent line-drive rate. That type of batted ball data makes you a little bit leery of the home run total, which Herrera needs because he only stole five bases last year.
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