2019 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Rankings breakdown, No. 211-220
Learn why you should — and maybe why you shouldn't — draft players 211-220 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.
211. Jon Lester, SP, Cubs
The case for: Jon Lester went 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA last year, making the All-Star team and finishing ninth in NL Cy Young voting, and the 35-year-old obviously has a long track record of doing that sort of thing. The 95-win Cubs return more or less intact, and he remains a steady innings eater at the top of their rotation.
The case against: Lester's 4.50 ERA in the second half was a fairer estimate of how he actually pitched. The velocity he lost in 2017, when he put together a 4.33 ERA, didn't return, and his swinging-strike rate plummeted, giving him his lowest K/9 since 2012 and one that ranked 43rd among 58 qualifiers. The FIP was above 4.00 for a second straight year, so it's no surprise the luck eventually ran out. Hard to imagine him reversing that trend at age 35.
212. Welington Castillo, C, Cubs
The case for: At this time a year ago, Welington Castillo was being touted as one of the great power-hitting catchers — a poor man's Salvador Perez, even — and his decision to sign with the White Sox was going to ensure he stayed that way. Obviously, his 80-game PED suspension ended that dream before it even started, but for the time he did play, his batted-ball profile was virtually identical to the one he had in 2017, other than a lower home run-to-fly ball rate.
The case against: Though we've rarely seen a player's power impacted following a PED suspension, Castillo didn't hit a single one of his six home runs after returning in September. Even more troubling is that his .147 ISO was more in line with career norms than the .208 mark that inspired so much enthusiasm prior to 2018. Realistically, he profiles as more of a 15-homer guy over a full season of at-bats -- and one with poor plate discipline -- which is probably still good enough to make him top 15 at a dreadful position. He's more of a symptom than the cure, though.
213. Jesse Winker, OF, Reds
The case for: Having more walks than strikeouts was just one of the ways the 25-year-old Jesse Winker resembled 35-year-old teammate Joey Votto last year. His line-drive rate, hard-hit rate and all-fields approach looked like a typical Votto season, so it's not surprising he benefited from the same sort of BABIP boost -- the kind that should routinely put his batting average in the .300 range. Most encouraging, though, was the late power surge that saw him hit six of his seven homers over his final 36 games. If he's the latest prospect whose supreme hit tool leads to better-than-expected power in the majors, the ceiling could legitimately be Votto-like.
The case against: That's a big "if" considering Winker hasn't hit even double-digit home runs in a season (majors or minors) since 2015, and it doesn't help that his momentum last year was interrupted by surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. It's an injury that had plagued him for years, which might help explain the loss of power in the minors, but it also presents more immediate concerns, especially now that the Reds have an overloaded outfield with the acquisition of Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp. Even if we assume Winker's performance isn't at risk, his playing time certainly is.
214. Ketel Marte, 2B/SS, Diamondbacks
The case for: After a miserable first two months in which he was pounding everything into the dirt, Ketel Marte hit .285 with 13 homers and an .877 OPS over the final four -- numbers that would have made him the 12th-best shortstop in Head-to-Head points per game if sustained over a full season. And seeing as his BABIP was an ordinary .304 and his home run-to-fly ball rate an unremarkable 15.1 percent during that stretch, there's no obvious reason why he can't sustain it over a full season.
The case against: It was Marte's third big-league season, and he had never before demonstrated usable power. Even if it was a case of a player breaking out in his mid-20s, he'll be working with a much sadder middle of the order now that Paul Goldschmidt is in St. Louis and A.J. Pollock in Los Angeles. He's a potentially useful player, but not one who'll stand out from the crowd in standard mixed leagues.
215. Kyle Freeland, SP, Rockers
The case for: Kyle Freeland was in the thick of the Cy Young race last year, doing a good enough job of preventing runs over a long enough stretch of innings to give him the fourth-best bWAR among all starting pitchers, right in between Max Scherzer and Blake Snell. And yet no one's really drafting him as an ace, setting up the possibility of a discount.
The case against: Let's see ... he's a below-average strikeout pitcher, a below-average control pitcher and no better than average in terms of ground-ball rate. How exactly was he succeeding again? By the looks of it, it was mostly strand rate, which may not be the greatest reflection of skill. Given Coors Field's tendency to ruin everybody who pitches there, Freeland may not be the one to bank on.
216. Carlos Rodon, SP, White Sox
The case for: Pretty much since his debut in 2015, we've been waiting for Carlos Rodon to ascend to acedom, and there have been flashes, oh so many flashes. He leans heavily on a swing-and-miss slider that delivered him 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings over his first three seasons, and though last season veered in the wrong direction, he deserves a pass given that he was coming back from shoulder surgery.
The case against: Maybe it was simply a case of him being rusty -- after all, the velocity was pretty much in line with career norms -- but Rodon didn't look like the same pitcher (or even just an effective one) last year. His ERA was only as low as 4.18 because of a string of good luck when he was fresh off the DL, but he crashed hard in September. At this point, there's no guarantee he's even an average strikeout pitcher, and we know he's a below-average control pitcher. Anything more than a late-round Hail Mary is probably too much of an investment.
217. Willy Adames, SS, Rays
The case for: On a team with a crowded middle infield picture, Willy Adames is the closest thing to a sure thing in terms of playing time, a true building block with a top prospect pedigree. And while it was a bumpy transition to the majors, he caught fire over the final two months, batting .329 with seven homers and an .886 OPS.
The case against: Adames' BABIP during that hot stretch was an absurd .431. His ground-ball rate would have been the fourth-highest in baseball if sustained over a full season, so it's equally amazing he put up the power numbers he did. In fact, scouring the batted ball data gives a pretty strong impression that pedigree is about all he has going for him. While he was a decent enough contact hitter who was thought to have some projectable power in the minors, the current state of the shortstop position doesn't require you to make a leap of faith for him.
218. Kyle Gibson, SP, Twins
The case for: Emphasizing his best swing-and-miss pitch, the slider, more than ever last year, Kyle Gibson delivered career-best numbers. Most notable was the strikeout rate, which jumped from 6.9 per nine innings to 8.2, and seeing as his swinging-strike rate ranked 27th among qualifiers, ahead of notables like Luis Severino and Aaron Nola, it could have been even better. At 31, he has shown the ability to pitch a third time through a lineup when the opportunity presents itself, and his ground-ball tendencies reduce the damage from home runs and other extra-base hits.
The case against: He's 31, yet last year was basically his first time being mixed league-relevant. Even then, the underlying numbers were better than the actual results, which only got worse as the season went on. His second half yielded a 3.89 ERA, 1.41 and 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings. Gibson has value, particularly in an environment when pitchers generally aren't trusted to go more than five innings at a time, but he's a better choice for deeper leagues where volume isn't always available on the waiver wire.
219. Kyle Seager, 3B, Mariners
The case for: It wasn't long ago Kyle Seager was regarded as a must-start third baseman across all Fantasy formats, making up for his modest ceiling through pure consistency. And even last year, he managed to continue his streak of seven straight 20-homer seasons. At 31, he shouldn't be on the decline yet, and his batted-ball profile has remained steady even as his other numbers have sagged.
The case against: It may be true that Seager hasn't changed all that much, but the league has sort of passed him by. Hitting 20-25 home runs isn't enough on its own anymore. Meanwhile, his batting average has gone the wrong direction with the increased use of infield shifts and, just last year, a rising strikeout rate.
220. Tucker Barnhart, C, Reds
The case for: He's a catcher who plays a lot, his 460 at-bats last year ranking fourth-most at the position. It's mostly because of his defense, but it's nonetheless a differentiator at a time when so few catchers stand out for their offense. And hey, judging by his high line-drive rate and low strikeout rate, he may have actually gotten a raw deal in terms of batting average last year.
The case against: If you're resorting to Tucker Barnhart, you've basically punted at the catcher position. Yeah, you could do worse than him as your second catcher in a two-catcher league, but you clearly haven't made the position a priority if that's what it comes to. And don't count on him taking another step forward as a power hitter. He doesn't elevate the ball enough for that.
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