2019 Draft Kit

After 30 posts and some 300 prospects, we’ve reached the end of the minor league preview series for the year of our Lord Grey 2019. Our final preview is the Washington Nationals. This system isn’t all that strong, but it’s top heavy with two top 50 specs (one in the top ten) and a youngster who should rise quickly. The offseason prospect journey from the Astros to the Nats has been long and full of scotch. Good luck in your drafts and I’ll see you Wednesday for the beginning of our regular season prospect content.

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It’s been a messy couple of weeks for relievers. Shoulders, elbows, backs, oh my. We’re getting daily news bombs that feel like a gut punch. Welcome to baseball season! My tiers are aptly themed friends of March Madness this week. A good portion of the third and fourth tier are close to moving up, I just need more concrete confirmation on their roles once the real bullets start flying…

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As a Cubs fan in Braves country, I see a lot of similarities in the Braves to the 2015 Chicago Cubs team. They offensive pieces are falling in place as they have a couple MVP candidates. One being a veteran 1B in Freddie Freeman and the other is an exciting young player that is the future of the franchise, but the rotation may not be there yet. They have plenty of nice prospect arms coming from the minors, however, I’m not sure they are ready to carry the team yet. Atlanta does have the pieces in the farm system to make some trades if they need to as well.

The NL East is likely the most competitive division in baseball. It is the only division projected with 4 teams over 80 wins per the THOME projection system. Currently, the Braves are the front runner per THOME, the Nationals and Phillies are tied per PECOTA, and Vegas odds favor the Phillies. Regardless, it’s going to be a fun season for Braves fans and they have a lot to look forward to, not only in this season, but for the future.

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Ryan Braun battled injuries once again (insert steroid/herpes cream joke). But, the Hebrew Hammer had the 14th best hard hit rate last season. His stats don’t reflect this hard hit rate so we have to assume Brauny hit into some bad luck. He reportedly changed some things in his swing this offseason for the first time in his career. The goal of this is to elevate more balls to avoid that bad luck. Braun could be a sneaky fantasy asset this year if you’re willing to roll with him missing plenty of games. He’s currently coming off the board in the 16th-17th round which could prove to be a major steal…

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Matt Olson left Thursday’s game after fouling a pitch off his right hand. While we will have to wait until the Athletics return back home from Japan for a diagnosis, there’s been some speculation that the injury could be of the hamate bone variety, which would force Olson to miss months. Mark Canha was his immediate replacement during the game, so is he worth a pickup if Olson does indeed miss significant time?

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Happy week between sort-of-opening-day and actual Opening Day!  Last week we talked about starting pitchers to target in the deepest of leagues, and this week let’s switch the focus to hitting.  As always, we’re looking at players who may be off the radar in standard mixed leagues, but could be of use to those of us living in the world of AL-only, NL-only and other ultra deep fantasy baseball.  For now, we’ll concentrate on a handful of guys in the American League, looking for players who are likely to open the season getting at least some major league at bats, rather than minor leaguers who may make an impact later in the year.  I’m going to go right to the perceived bottom of the barrel:  all of the players on this list went for a mere dollar in the Tout Wars AL-only and/or the LABR AL-only auctions.

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This time last year, the baseball world was predicting the downfall of Chase Field as a hitter’s haven to the tune of a 25%-50% drop in offensive production with an uptick in pitching expected to benefit from the new humidor. After a season of the new Chase Field, I wanted to review the data and see where the drop off landed.

If you’ve been following me, you know that I was a bit skeptical that we would be looking at that kind of change in production. From my Chase Field article last year, “Home runs across the league were down, away teams actually hit more home runs in Coors in 2002 than 2001, and the culture in baseball was starting to turn away from the steroid era.” Basically, Coors was used as the case study for what would happen in Arizona, but there were a number of factors that came into play outside of the raw numbers.

I’m not going to rehash that article, but will examine the numbers to see where Chase Field landed on the scale of hitter friendly to pitcher friendly parks. If we start with the basics, we can look at how Chase Field finished in park factors for 2018. I typically utilize FanGraphs for their park factors, but they have not updated for 2018 yet, so, I looked at ESPN. As you can see below, home runs were down in 2018 compared to 2016 and 2017, but not compared to 2015. However, runs and hits were both 4 year lows in 2018 with the humidor.

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In last week’s article, we went over top-50 players that we want to fade. For this week, we’re going with players between 50-100 that we want to avoid. While these guys are much easier to fade, there are still noobs out there reaching on these players. Don’t be that guy! Be the guy who walks out of your draft and has a wonderful day. There aren’t many better feelings than walking away from a draft and knowing you killed it but we’re giving you that opportunity here. Drafting any of these players with give you prom night-like regrets and we don’t wanna go through that again. So, let’s start with the ugliest girl at the prom, Kimmy.

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Today concludes the fantasy baseball sleepers‘ portion of our program.  *nudges homeless woman sleeping on my couch that I tried to get Cougs to agree to a threesome with*  No more sleepers, Francine.  Meh, I’ll let her rest.  Like the outfielders to target, this post is necessary.  You need to target the right names at the end of the draft for starters.  Last year’s starters to target post included Jameson Taillon, Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, Miles Mikolas, Trevor Williams and Patrick Corbin.  All guys who this year are in the top 40 for starters, with two making the jump to my top 20 starters., and, one, well, can you believe ESPN ranked Snell 242nd overall last year?  Also, on a side note, Fantasy Pros recently talked about ‘perts who had foresaw breakouts last year, and they didn’t mention Blake Snell (or Jo-Ram or Acuña), but mentioned Jose Urena, Jared Hughes and Wade LeBlanc by three writers from sites that help or support them.  Not to get too aluminum-foil-hat-wearing here, but, if you don’t think they have an agenda with who they highlight, you’re not seeing the big picture.  As with other target posts, these guys are being drafted after the top 200 overall.  Anyway, here’s some starters to target for 2019 fantasy baseball:

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My draft season is over and two long-ass draft posts (LABR, Tout Wars) feels sufficient. So to cover my other 6 drafts (not including my RCL where I ended up with an auto-draft because I blanked) and summarize my draft season as a whole, I put together the below chart. I imagine I will be linking to this post either to gloat or mourn after the season ends (or mourn certain picks yet gloat because I out-managed my leaguemates in season because of our awesome yet affordable season-long tools).

***Tools update – Projections have been run for the first couple of games. You can see all the pitchers in Streamonator and all 3/28 hitters under Hittertron Tomorrow (points league variant available too!). Will shift all days forward so 3/28 is ‘Today’ sometime tonight. Tentative plan is to run the first ‘Next Week’ projections on Saturday night/Sunday morning.***

Here are the leagues I am participating in:

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