2019 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Rankings breakdown, No. 161-170
Learn why you should — and maybe why you shouldn't — draft players 161-170 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.
161. Danny Jansen, C, Blue Jays
The Case For: This is a lofty ranking for someone with 95 MLB plate appearances under his belt, but it makes sense when you remember how shallow catcher is at this point. Jansen hit just .247 in his major-league debut last season but did pretty much everything else right; he hit for power (.185 ISO), and had good plate discipline (17.9 percent strike rate, 9.8 percent walk rate), in line with what we've seen from in the high minors of late. He's still relatively unproven, but Jansen could quickly pull away from the pack of also-rans at catcher.
The Case Against: We'll keep it short: He's a catcher without much experience. There's a lot that can go wrong here, from injuries to a slow adjustment while handling a pitching staff.
162. Nomar Mazara, OF, Rangers
The Case For: We're going to keep chasing Mazara, because there's no denying the talent. He'll still be just 23 on Opening Day, and he's already established himself as a consistent 20-homer player with solid contact skills. It's a nice foundation, and all Mazara must do is start elevating the ball a bit more to tap into his true potential.
The Case Against: Unfortunately, he went in the wrong direction in that regard in 2018, with his already high ground-ball rate jumping up to 55.1 percent. Part of the issue there was a thumb injury that derailed his season right around the All-Star game, however he was still hitting the ball on the ground entirely too much to sustain his early start. When Mazara figures it out, it's going to be incredible, but it's hard to bet on this being the year.
163. J.A. Happ, SP, Yankees
The Case For: Happ is never going to have the upside of some other mid-round pitching targets, but he probably deserves more respect from the Fantasy community at large than he gets. He's now posted four straight seasons with an ERA below 3.65, with two seasons with a WHIP below 1.20, including 2018. He's also seen his strikeout rate spike over the past two seasons, giving even more reason to like him.
The Case Against: Happ sported a 2.69 ERA with the Yankees, but there were some ominous signs there. His strikeout rate dropped after a hot start in Toronto, and he started allowing way more fly balls than he had before. He still induces plenty of infield popups, but that can only take you so far with an average strikeout rate and a ton of fly balls. This could come apart quickly.
164. Kyle Hendricks, SP, Cubs
The Case For: This is the part of the draft where good pitchers nobody wants to take will go, I guess. All Hendricks does is go out year in and year out and help you out in ERA and WHIP while pitching for a good team. What's not to like?
The Case Against: "But he doesn't get strikeouts!" OK, fine. He doesn't get strikeouts.
165. Shohei Ohtani
The Case For: You aren't getting Ohtani as a pitcher this year, but that might be a good thing. Once he's healthy enough to play, he's expected to handle most of the DH duties for the Angels, and we saw what he could do last season when he hit .285/.361/.564 in 367 plate appearances with 22 homers. What's exciting, however, is this: He stole nine of his 10 bases in 52 starts after he stopped pitching. If he plays somewhere close to everyday, Ohtani is a legitimate 30-20 threat.
The Case Against: Of course, we don't actually know when Ohtani will be cleared to play, let alone every day. We know he won't be ready for Opening Day, He hasn't yet been cleared to swing a bat, which means he's not particularly close as of early February. If he's back in April, Ohtani is going to crush this draft price; if his recovery lingers into June, you may not be able to roster him that long.
166. Josh Hader, RP, Brewers
The Case For: With starters pitching less and closer situations more tenuous than ever, middle relievers are suddenly fashionable in Fantasy. And Josh Hader led the way, emerging as an absolutely dominant force in 2018, throwing 81.1 innings with a 2.43 ERA and 0.811 WHIP. He even struck out 143 batters, good for 68th among all pitchers, ahead of the likes of Danny Duffy, Mike Fiers, Jake Arrieta, Alex Wood, Matt Harvey and many more starters. Hader was a legitimate starting option in Roto Leagues, and was useful enough in points, especially when he was getting saves.
The Case Against: Hader did a lot of the heavy lifting early, throwing 33 innings and racking up 66 strikeouts in the first two months of the season. He certainly wasn't bad from that point on, but he was used much more a typical reliever from that point on. If that's the case, while he can still be very useful, Hader's edge among his peers starts to shrink.
167. Zack Godley, SP, Diamondbacks
The Case For: To say "The Godley breakout didn't come" would be an understatement, but Godley still did a lot of things well. Godley still racked up healthy amounts of strikeouts and ground balls, and his curveball remained a real weapon. He's still searching for the right pitch mix, but it's not hard to squint and see Godley taking a big step forward after this step back.
The Case Against: He would have to really improve to take a step forward, and there are reasons to believe that won't happen. After working mostly in the 92-93 mph range with his fastball in 2017, Godley rarely topped 92, with his average fastball velocity dipping under 90 mph over the last two months of the season. If Godley can't reclaim some of that lost velocity, it's probably going to be hard for him to improve.
168. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Padres
The Case For: If all Hosmer does is stay the course, he still has a pretty good chance of being a value here. Consistency has obviously been an issue, but in two of his past four seasons, he's hit at least .297 with 18 homers, and he'll still be hitting in the middle of what should be an improved Padres lineup. The upside comes from the potential that Hosmer might finally fix his swing. It's a long shot – he hasn't exactly given us a sign, of course – but if Hosmer ever started elevating the ball more (his 60.4 percent groundball rate was the second-highest among qualified hitters), he could take a Christian Yelich-esque leap into superstardom. That potential makes him worth this gamble.
The Case Against: We've been given no indication Hosmer might change his swing. In fact, when asked about it in the past, he's largely dismissed the notion. And, while there is still upside if Hosmer stays the course, last season was a good reminder that on the lower end of his range of outcomes, Hosmer is barely worth owning in Fantasy.
169. Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox
The Case For: Power-speed threats are rare, and Anderson is coming off a 20-homer, 26-steal season. And in an improving White Sox lineup, Anderson has a good chance to improve on those counting stats.
The Case Against: Anderson needs to get some of the swing-and-miss out of his game to improve on that batting average. If he could hit just .270, Anderson could be a top-75 player with his skill set, but as is, he's too big a drain on your average to be much more than a MI option.
170. Cole Hamels, SP, Cubs
The Case For: Sometimes, all it takes is a change of scenery. Hamels looked pretty much washed up over the past two seasons with the Rangers, but a move to the Cubs reinvigorated him. And it wasn't just some good-luck fluke: He added a tick to his fastball, reversing a few years of apparent aging and saw his fastball and cutter become real weapons again in Chicago. Still armed with that tough changeup, Hamels went from a no-trick pony in Texas to a legitimate plus pitcher almost the minute he landed in the North Side.
The Case Against: If what Hamels did post-trade was real, you can't really poke many holes in him. However, 35-year-olds don't generally turn the clock back like that, so it's possible this was just a two-month-and-change fluke. The price isn't high, but Hamels is at an age where it could all fall off immediately.
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