2019 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Rankings breakdown, No. 41-50
Learn why you should — and maybe why you shouldn't — draft players 41-50 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.
41. Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Cubs
The Case For: Bryant's shoulder clearly wasn't right in 2018, and that probably holds a lot of blame for his underwhelming season. It's hard to pinpoint exactly when the injury occurred, but Bryant had an OPS north of 1.000 in the first 40 games of the season, before falling off a cliff after mid-May. Bryant hasn't been quite the power hitter we expected since coming up as one of the most hyped prospects in recent years, with just one season over 30 homers, but he's turned into an average or even slightly-above-average contact hitter, and he still hits plenty of fly balls and line drives, so if the shoulder is right, Bryant still has a monster season in him.
The Case Against: Did the shoulder affect him in 2017, too? Because he sported just a 32.8 hard-hit rate for the season, even though the overall numbers were fine. It's possible Bryant's transformation into more of a contact hitter might have sapped some of his raw power, and I'm not sure that's a tradeoff I'd like him to continue. Bryant was supposed to have monstrous power, but we haven't seen that outside of his MVP season. Bryant didn't undergo surgery this offseason, so there's added risk that this shoulder issue will linger.
42. Carlos Carrasco, SP, Indians
The Case For: With three straight seasons with an ERA between a 3.38 and 3.29 ERA, it seems safe to assume Carrasco just is what he is, especially as he is set to turn 32 before Opening Day. However, 2018 was probably the best we've seen from him over a full season since 2015. Carrasco matched his career-best strikeout rate, matched his career-best walk rate, and would have posted the best numbers of his career with a little better luck on homers, something he's gotten in the past. Everyone in this range is going to be chasing upside with either injury risk or a limited track record of performance. You can get as much upside from Carrasco, without the risk.
The Case Against: He'll be 32 on Opening Day, to begin with, and despite making at least 30 starts in three seasons, he's only reached 200 innings once, on the nose. Carrasco's fastball velocity has dropped in four straight seasons, too, though it hasn't actually impacted his ability to get strikeouts or swinging strikes. Still, as with all pitchers, Carrasco faces the prospect of hitting the wall as he gets through his 30s, and sometimes it can come without warning.
43. Khris Davis, DH, Athletics
The Case For: The most consistent player in baseball in at least one respect -- Davis has hit .247 in four straight years. Beyond that statistical quirk you'll find a player who has been perpetually underrated in Fantasy. He his 42 and 43 homers with at least 187 combined runs and RBI in his previous two seasons, before breaking out in a big way with a 48-homer season, complete with a stunning 221 runs and RBI. Davis took a big step forward, but he didn't really change his approach much; he still struck out a bunch, he still hit the ball hard, and consistently in the air. He's been very good for a while, and it's nice the Fantasy community is starting to wake up to it.
The Case Against:
It was a lot easier to buy Davis' one-dimensional production when he was going later in drafts. Not that you might need to invest a third-round pick to land him means his flaws are going to stand out in starker contrast. I don't expect Davis to be bad in 2019 — an increased flyball rate means his power surge may be for real — but if he's just the 40-homer, 100-RBI guy he was in 2016, you might be a bit underwhelmed. The cruelty of heightened expectations.
44. Joey Votto, 1B, Reds
The Case For: Ignore the top-line numbers, and Votto was still one of the very best hitters in baseball. One of just three hitters to walk more than 100 times while striking out less than he walked, Votto was second in the majors in line drive rate at 31.4 percent (a career-high) and was in the top-40 in hard-hit rate too, with another career-high number (41.4 percent). What's wrong with Joey Votto? Depending on what you look at, nothing.
The Case Against: Of course, we could've said the same thing about Miguel Cabrera after 2017, as he slumped to a career-worst line despite still-elite batted-ball numbers. Cabrera's body absolutely fell apart in 2018, and at this point, it looks unlikely we'll ever see that elite version of him again. Votto's had better health than Cabrera, but at 35, that's no guarantee to remain the case. Votto looks like a bargain in the sixth-round range today, but we could be looking at 2018 as the start of the decline before long.
45. Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Phillies
The Case For: Hoskins couldn't sustain his outrageous 2017 pace, but he put in a great first full season nonetheless, sporting an .850 OPS despite a lowly .272 BABIP, a number Andrew Perpetua's xBABIP says should have been more in the .290 range. Hoskins clubbed 34 homers and put together 185 combined runs and RBI. If he gets that average back up into more respectable range, you're looking at a potential stud, because there might be room for even more growth in the power department — remember, he hit 47 in 2017 between the majors and the minors. And getting out of the outfield, where he was an unmitigated disaster on defense, can't hurt his mindset.
The Case Against: Hoskins was good, but overall, he was a little underwhelming. He can probably count on some BABIP regression, but with his heavy fly-ball emphasis and somewhat underwhelming hard-hit rate (34.5 percent) and average exit velocity (88.9 mph; 59th percentile) he may not be quite the power threat we thought. An outfielder who doesn't steal bases and doesn't stand out in batting average — or a first baseman who maxes out in the mid-30s in homers with a low average — just doesn't make a huge difference. Strip away pedigree and age, and is there that much of a difference between Hoskins and C.J. Cron heading into 2019?
46. Luis Severino, SP, Yankees
The Case For: Severino is the Yankees' version of Syndergaard, except he hasn't had the injury struggles. He's an elite swing-and-miss pitcher, who has topped a 28 percent strikeout rate in consecutive seasons, without control or home run struggles. He does basically everything you want from an elite pitcher, and even averaged six-plus innings per start in 2017.
The Case Against: Severino has seemingly run out of gas in consecutive seasons. In 2017, he managed to make it to the postseason before imploding, allowing 10 runs in 16 innings, with five home runs allowed. Severino's 2018 struggles started as soon as the All-Star break hit, and he posted an ugly 5.57 ERA in his final 12 starts. He still struck out a healthy amount of batters and kept his control, but Severino was getting hit hard all over the field, with his hard-hit rate spiking to 37.6 percent, and his groundball rate falling to 36.2 percent. Full season statistics are more predictive than splits, but Severino's late season struggles in consecutive seasons can't be ignored.
47. Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees
The Case For: There isn't a catcher with anything like Sanchez's upside around these days. All you have to do is look back to 2017, when he hit .278 with 33 homers, 79 runs and 90 RBI, finishing as the No. 56 overall player in Fantasy without taking into account position. He was the only catcher inside of the top-115 hitters. Positional scarcity isn't really a thing anymore, except at catcher. Sanchez has the potential to stand head and shoulders above the field.
The Case Against: Or he has the potential to shrink back into the crowd, as he did in 2018. A lingering groin injury may hold some of the blame for Sanchez's struggles, but his swing was also out of whack from the very beginning. He had an infield flyball rate of 20 percent or higher in each month of the season, a sure sign that he just wasn't right. There may be a thin line between the good version of Sanchez and the bad version, and the bad version doesn't look much better than your garden variety Mike Zunino season.
48. Patrick Corbin, SP, Nationals
The Case For: Corbin turned himself into a one-trick pony in 2018, but it was a heck of a trick. Corbin decided to use his fastball as a secondary pitch, with the slider and a new curveball taking center stage. It led to a massive jump in strikeout rate and swinging strikes and made him one of the most dominant pitchers in the league. Turns out, throwing your best pitches more than your bad pitches helps.
The Case Against: One potential problem with being a one-trick pony is, you might not have another trick if it gets figured out. Corbin's pushed his secondary pitch usage pretty close to the extremes of what major-league pitchers typically do, and his curveball especially was a surprise to hitters; he often used it in the spots he previously used his ineffective changeup. If hitters figure out how to lay off Corbin's breaking balls out of the zone, or pick up on his usage patterns better, does he have another adjustment left to make in response?
49. Jose Abreu, 1B, CHW
The Case For: All Jose Abreu does is hit, which is why 2018 was such an aberration. He finished with a .265 average, 22 homers, 68 runs, and 78 RBI, career lows in each category except runs (he eclipsed his previous career-low by just one). It's hard to know how much the abdomen and thigh issues that ultimately ended his season played a role in his down season, but Abreu didn't look like a much different hitter than the one we've gotten used to. He still hit a lot of line drives, he still hit the ball hard, and he still didn't walk or strike out very much. Given the well-established track record of a near-.300 average and 25-30 homers, it seems fair to give him the benefit of the doubt.
The Case Against: If I'm playing the Devil's advocate, I would point out Abreu is 32 years old, old enough that it's not a sure thing he'll bounce back. And, while much of the underlying skills held up for Abreu, he did see a spike in infield fly ball rate and out-of-zone swing rate, perhaps a sign that he's trying to make up for a slowing bat. With the lack of secondary skills, if Abreu's not a .300 hitter anymore, he's not far off from being a fringe option at first base.
50. Adalberto Mondesi, SS, Royals
The Case For: It's all about speed here. Mondesi ran at an absolutely outrageous pace in 2018, attempting a steal on 47.6 percent of the opportunities he had an empty base in front of him. That wasn't just the highest in baseball — nobody else was even close. The second-most likely player to attempt a steal was Jarrod Dyson, at just 27 percent. And Mondesi wasn't just running blindly — his 82.1 percent success rate left him well ahead of the point where it's a positive value for his team. Mondesi can do other things well — he hit 14 homers in 75 games, too — but his chances of being an elite Fantasy option are going to come down to those steals.
The Case Against: Steals are as much about desire as they are about skill, and it's hard to replicate the kind of pace Mondesi had last season. That is a problem because we're probably not looking at a guy who is going to get too many stolen base opportunities. His power actually works against him in that regard because relative few of his hits are going to be singles, the most likely opportunity to steal a base. He seems likely to be a low-OBP player, so if he falls back to the pack in his steal pace, you're left with a potential 40-steal, 20-homer guy who doesn't help anywhere else. That's useful, but it's not a star.
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