2019 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Rankings breakdown, No. 181-190
Learn why you should — and maybe why you shouldn't — draft players 181-190 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.
181. Jed Lowrie, 2B, Mets
The Case For: Jed Lowrie's late-career renaissance has made him exactly the kind of player who tends to get overlooked in Fantasy -- an older player without much perceived upside, who derives much of his value from a solid all-around skill set that doesn't stand out anywhere. Certainly, none of that is an unfair characterization of Lowrie, but he also ranked as the No. 76 player in Fantasy and the No. 7 second baseman. If you get that from him again in 2019, he's a steal.
The Case Against: Lowrie will be 35 shortly after opening day, and without a single elite skill to fall back on, any dip in his skill set could be fatal for his Fantasy production.
182. Cesar Hernandez, 2B, Phillies
The Case For: You might not have realized this, but Cesar Hernandez was a top-100 Fantasy player in 2018. No, really. Another player who didn't really stand out in any one place, Hernandez was a plus in steals and runs, while chipping in enough average and power to provide plus value. And it should be noted: his .253 average was his worst for a full season yet. He could have been better.
The Case Against: Hernandez is another player who doesn't stand out in any one place. He has decent power and speed, walks a good amount, and plays in a good park, but you can see how slim the margin for error is. If he moves down in the lineup, or has another subpar BABIP season, or sees his strikeout rate continue to creep up, there might not be enough there for him to remain on your roster as a contributor.
183. Rick Porcello, SP, Red Sox
The Case For: The case for Porcello mostly doesn't have all that much to do with Porcello, actually. Even with a 4.28 ERA, he won 17 games. That'll happen with the best lineup in baseball backing you. If he can get his ERA back even into the high-3.00s range, he should continue to be among the league leaders in wins.
The Case Against: For the first time since 2012, Porcello didn't follow up a poor season with a good one. Despite that strikeout rate, Porcello was once again crushed by extra-base hits. Even when things are good for Porcello, he's often operating on a razor's edge, and with his inability to keep the ball in the yard, things may not get better.
184. Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres
The Case For: Renfroe has only been around for two years, but it seemed like Fantasy players had already given up on him last season. And with a .231/.305/.433 line through the end of July, Renfroe didn't exactly give you reasons to reconsider that. The last two months did, however, as he cut his strikeout rate to 21.8 percent and slugged 18 homers in 49 games. That's more like what we hoped for when Renfroe made it to the majors.
The Case Against: It's two months being weighed against nearly 200 prior games where Renfroe was pretty mediocre. If not for that two-month stretch, would he even have a guaranteed job this spring? The Padres are incredibly deep in the outfield, so a slow start could find him buried on the bench or back in the minors. That won't help your Fantasy team.
185. Sean Newcomb, SP, Braves
The Case For: He's a tall lefty who throws 94 mph and has the potential for two swing-and-miss secondary pitches. Tall lefties are notoriously slow developing, and Newcomb has the raw stuff that makes it worth continuing to believe in the flashes.
The Case Against: Newcomb really didn't show much progress in his second season; the .42 drop in ERA isn't matched up by the peripherals. The main issue, of course, remains his iffy control, though Newcomb also doesn't generate quite as many swings and misses as you might think; he was right around middle of the pack in contact and swinging strike rate. If the stuff isn't enough to generate whiffs consistently, it may not matter much if the control improves.
186. Jake Bauers, 1B, Indians
The Case For: The biggest issue for Bauers in his major-league debut was also his biggest strength in the minors: His strikeout rate. Bauers never had trouble putting bat on ball until he got to the majors, which is a pretty good reason to think he might be able to turn that around. And if he does, Bauers showed the ability to hit the ball in the air and to the pull side of the field, two skills that should benefit him in his move to Cleveland.
The Case Against: Beyond his strikeout issues, Bauers also just didn't hit the ball very hard. Sometimes, you'll see players sell out contact for power, but Bauers was well below average in both average exit velocity and hard-hit rate, per BaseballSavant.com. That doesn't sound like someone selling out for power; it sounds like someone getting exposed.
187. Will Smith, RP, Giants
The Case For: He's a closer with big-time swing-and-miss and strikeout stuff, playing half of his games in arguably the best pitching park in baseball. What's not to like?
The Case Against: An impending free agent pitching for a team likely to finish at or near the bottom of the division standings. He might be great for a couple of months, but you're not going to be thrilled when he's setting up for the Red Sox or Cubs come July.
188. Cody Allen, RP, Angels
The Case For: A pitcher with a career 2.98 ERA and 11.5 K/9, pitching for a competitive team with little competition for saves. What's not to like?
The Case Against: His 2018 wasn't a great free-agent showcase for Allen, as he posted a 4.70 ERA, nearly double his career mark. He still racked up plenty of strikeouts, but Allen's long-simmering homer issues and a spike in walk rate sunk him. Allen just didn't generate many swings on pitches out of the zone, and if that remains the case, it won't matter much that he doesn't have competition in L.A.
The Case For: Giles still throws incredibly hard, still has great control and still racks up tons of strikeouts. His struggles in 2018 weren't about a lack of talent, and we've seen him be an elite closer before. Even last season, his 3.08 FIP suggests better days are ahead. Don't be surprised if we're talking about Giles as a top-five closer this time next year.
The Case Against: The problem is, Giles' struggles seem largely mental, not physical. Too often, he seems to melt down when things go wrong, rendering his explosive stuff inert. He had real homer issues after his trade to Toronto, so a change of scenery didn't necessarily solve his problems.
190. Joe Musgrove, SP, Pirates
The Case For: The overall surface numbers weren't great, but there was a lot to like about Musgrove's first opportunity to start full time in the majors. Hidden behind the 4.06 ERA was a 3.59 FIP that suggests he pitched better than the results suggest. Musgrove will never be a big strikeout pitcher, but with a solid ground-ball rate and pinpoint control, he doesn't necessarily have to be.
The Cast Against: Musgrove might be more of a control pitcher than a command pitcher. He may not walk many batters, but the downside to working in the zone so often without electric stuff is, if you miss just a bit too often, you're going to get rocked. But the bigger issue might be a fatal flaw; Musgrove holds hitters to a .717 OPS as a starter with the bases empty, compared to an .867 mark with runners on base. Yikes.
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