2019 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Rankings breakdown, No. 91-100
Learn why you should — and maybe why you shouldn't — draft players 91-100 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.
91. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Mariners
The Case For: Even the "in-decline" version of Encarnacion hit 32 homers and drove in 107 runs. That's seven straight seasons with 32 or more homers and at least 98 RBI. He's holding off Father Time as long as he can, and remaining productive all the while.
The Case Against: Nobody can outrun the aging process forever, and Encarnacion is already seeing it take its toll. His strikeout rate has risen three seasons in a row, and his homers and doubles were his lowest since 2011 and 2010. Currently part of the rebuilding Mariners, he is probably in his worst lineup in years, and a worse park, to boot. If ever there was a year it would all fall apart, this seems like it.
92. Jameson Taillon, SP, Pirates
The Case For: Taillon had never really gotten the credit he deserved in his previous two major-league seasons, but he earned it in 2018. He finished with a 3.20 ERA, but that doesn't quite capture how good he was once he figured some stuff out. He had a 4.56 ERA entering play on May 27, when he first really introduced his slider. From that point on, he ripped off 22 starts with a 2.71 ERA, with a 23.1 percent strikeout rate and 6.1 innings per start. That's not far off from what someone like Aaron Nola should be expected to do. And even if he can't sustain that: He had a 3.58 FIP in his previous two seasons.
The Case Against: Luck has not been on Taillon's side, as he has missed time with Tommy John surgery and then a serious abdominal injury in the minors, before sitting out several weeks in 2017 after a cancer diagnosis. As a result, 2018 was the first time he's ever thrown more than 150 innings in a season. With a big jump in performance as well as workload, Taillon could be a prime regression candidate.
93. Yasmani Grandal, C, Brewers
The Case For: The individual skills are all there for Grandal to be an elite Fantasy catcher. He's got good plate discipline and plus power, and he consistently hits the ball hard to back it all up. The results have tended to be slightly underwhelming every year, but if there were ever a year for Grandal to put it all together, 2019 would be it. His move to Milwaukee puts him in arguably a better lineup than the one he played in for the Dodgers, and now he gets to hit in one of the best parks in baseball for left-handed power. Thirty homers is not out of the question.
The Case Against: He was in a good lineup, with a pretty good park before. And he was always just about the sixth-best catcher in Fantasy every year. Why should this year be any different? At this point, shouldn't we just accept Grandal for what he probably is: A good hitter, with enough inconsistencies and holes to ever be much more than he has been? There's nothing wrong with that, but if you're reaching for a difference maker at catcher, Grandal could be the siren song who leads you astray.
94. Jose Berrios, SP, Twins
The Case For: You start with the stuff more than the stats with Berrios. Catch him on the right day, and it's hard to understand how anybody ever makes contact with him. He's got a fastball with tons of life, and one of the Bugs Bunny-est curveballs in the game. It's not hard to watch him and come away with the sense that Berrios is about as good as they come. The upside is that high.
The Case Against: And this is where the eye test vs. stats argument comes in. As impressive as Berrios looks, the overall numbers are pretty middling. Two years in a row of a high-3.00s ERA, with an overall mark at 4.47. Despite the impressive stuff, he hasn't put it all together yet. Someone is going to pay the premium for the upside, but it doesn't have to be you.
95. A.J. Pollock, OF, Dodgers
The Case For: Pollock re-worked his swing last offseason, and it made a big difference early on. In the first 41 games, Pollock looked like a superstar again, hitting .293/.349/.620 with 11 homers and nine steals, making him one of the best values of the Draft. Unfortunately, he just couldn't keep it up, hitting .236/.297/.407 in his final 73 games. The extenuating circumstances? Pollock suffered a thumb injury in mid-May, the kind of issue that can linger long after a player is actually back on the field. It's hard to shake the sight of what Pollock did before the injury, and Pollock landed in a much better lineup when he signed with the Dodgers, too.
The Case Against: Saying, "If Pollock can just stay healthy" is a bit like saying "If the Marlins can just figure out how to keep their good players…" It's a nice thought, but it's best not to bet on it. Since his breakout 2015 campaign, Pollock has played just 237 of a possible 486 games, with elbow, groin, and thumb injuries costing him significant time. The injuries have all be unrelated, so it's probably just bad luck, but do you want to bet on a guy with this injury history to suddenly stay healthy at 31?
96. Chris Archer, SP, Pirates
The Case For: Even if you are an Archer agnostic, you must acknowledge his strengths. He's a near lock for 200-plus strikeouts, and typically posts the kind of strong peripherals that make it easy to believe he'll put together an ace-level season. The stuff remains incredible, and Archer made some tweaks with the Pirates that suggest he could put his troubles with extra-base hits to bed and figure it all out.
The Case Against: Archer might be the current president of the "He Should Be Better Than This" club. He racks up huge strikeout numbers, doesn't walk many batters, and gets a reasonable amount of ground balls. He's supposed to be better than this. But he hasn't had an ERA below 4.00 since 2015 and didn't really show much concrete improvement after his trade to Pittsburgh. For all the hopes we've pinned on Archer over the years, he hasn't delivered.
97. Max Muncy, 1B/3B, Dodgers
The Case For: If you're the kind of Fantasy player who likes to get deep into the advanced statistics, there aren't a lot of holes you can poke in Muncy's breakout. He sported an elite hard-hit rate, an elite walk rate, and even managed to more than hold his own against lefties. It came out of nowhere, but there are plenty of reasons to believe Muncy was no fluke.
The Case Against: How out of nowhere was this from Muncy? In 245 plate appearances in the majors prior to 2018, he had a .190/.290/.321 batting line, and was just a low-.800s OPS bat for most of his minor-league career. The batted-ball data may back it up, but batted-ball data is prone to fluctuation from year to year just like anything. If he does it again, Muncy will be a second-round pick next year, but there's absolutely no guarantee he'll even be on your roster by June.
98. Wilson Ramos, C, Mets
The Case For: Some catchers are Fantasy relevant by default, but Ramos is one of the great ones. He's sported an OPS of at least .845 in two of the past three seasons, with the one exception coming in 2017 when he was recovering from knee surgery; he hit .343/.371/.593 in the final 29 starts after a slow start. Ramos makes consistent contact, hits for some power, and will hit in the middle of an improved Mets lineup. Ramos looks like a bargain at this point.
The Case Against: Injuries have been a real issue. He had the season-ending knee injury in 2016 that hampered him the following season, and then missed an entire month with a hamstring injury in 2018. As a 31-year-old catcher, Ramos is a major injury risk, and it's not uncommon for catchers to hit the wall as they enter their 30s.
99. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Braves
The Case For: When Donaldson has been healthy, he's been elite. He wasn't healthy at any point in 2018, but in 2017, he hit .303/.407/.697 over his final 55 games after a slow start due to injuries. The injuries are piling up, but he mashed in 16 games after getting traded to Cleveland, so the signs are still there. Before 2017, this was a consistent early-round pick, so if there's any bounce back coming, he represents a huge steal at his price.
The Case Against: It's impossible to say how much of Donaldson's collapse in 2018 was about injuries, and how much was the natural decline of a now-33-year-old – and how intertwined those things are to begin with. As mediocre as Donaldson was, he might have gotten lucky; Baseball Savant's Expected wOBA based on his batted-ball data was .331, compared to his actual mark of .345. That's a bad sign for those of us hoping for a bounce-back.
100. Eddie Rosario, OF, Twins
The Case For: It's gone largely without fanfare, but Rosario has established himself as a solidly above-average hitter at this point. He combines solid contact skills with enough pop to sustain 25-plus homer power. With an improving Twins lineup around him, there's a good chance Rosario breaks the 100-mark for runs or RBI for the first time in 2019. Oh, and he hit .288/.323/.479 while playing through a calf injury for most of the last month of the season.
The Case Against: Rosario started to hit the ball in the air more in 2018, and while that could lead to more power production, he also got into the bad habit of hitting infield flyballs, something he did about as often as he homered. He's become increasingly pull-heavy as a hitter, and his swinging strike rate went back up after falling in 2017. With how much he swings at pitches out of the zone, it's not inconceivable that pitchers might begin to exploit him more and more as he becomes a more extreme version of himself.
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