1. Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
Ramirez was arguably the best fantasy player during the first half of the season when he hit .302 with 29 home runs and 20 stolen bases. He did cool off during the second half of the season as he mustered a minuscule .223 batting average. Now with that being said, there shouldn’t be any concerns with taking Ramirez in the first round of your draft as a lot of his success this past season is backed by his peripherals. With a 34.7% hard contact rate, and 45.9% fly ball rate, we probably won’t see Ramirez hit 39 home runs again, but it is reasonable to expect 30. With this high fly ball rate, however, his BABIP will likely stay below the .300. Luckily with his low strikeout rate, his batting average shouldn’t suffer that much, and he is actually a rare type of player that can have a higher batting average than BABIP. Ramirez has the potential to be a 35/30 with a .300, which is nearly impossible to find in today’s game.
2. Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
Bregman had the breakout many of us expected him to have last season hitting .286/.394/.532 with 31 home runs. The most amazing part about Bregman is that even with a 157 wRC+ last season, he still has room to grow. Bregman is in a small group of players who I consider to be good at everything and bad at nothing. With the ability to make consistent hard contact, a healthy line drive rate, good fly ball to ground ball ratio, a good batting eye, and above-average speed that can lead to 20+ stolen bases Bregman joins an elite group of names like Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, and Jose Ramirez. That’s it, that’s the whole group of names you can basically expect everything from, so my fifth overall ranking of Bregman doesn’t seem so far fetched when you take into account his high ceiling and even higher floor.
3. Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
It’s crazy to think Arenado is not at least in the top two third basemen for next season, but I think it says more about the class of third basemen this season and less about Arenado’s skill set. With good raw power, good contact skills and the most hitter-friendly park in all of the major leagues, Arenado is a safe bet to give you at least a .280 batting average with around 35 home runs. It would be irresponsible of me, however, to not mention the fact that his contact rate has slowly been dropping over the past three seasons and that last season was the first season since his rookie year back in 2013 in which he had more ground balls than fly balls. This shouldn’t worry you too much as he still looks like he’ll give you another top 15 fantasy season in 2019, but maybe he isn’t the .300 batting average and 40 home run player many thought he was.
4. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
Bryant’s ADP has been dropped in many offseason mock drafts, which is evident by the 26.3 ADP he sports in Justin Mason’s Too Early Mock Drafts. This probably has more to do with the young talent available in today’s game and less about his overall skill set. There are actually many reasons to still be up on Bryant going into 2019. These attributes in an above-average sprint speed, better contact skills than we saw in his first two seasons and a 25.3% line drive rate that helped him post a .342 BABIP last season. He may not be the 40 home run guy we all were hoping for when he first made his major league debut, but a .280 with 30 home runs and 10 stolen bases is still good enough to go in the top three rounds of your draft.
5. Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds
Suarez was overlooked in many drafts last season and gave top 25 production back to those who were smart enough to take the young Reds’ third baseman. Looking at his 48.0 ADP in Justin Mason’s Too Early Mock Drafts, it seems like he will be going overlooked in 2019 drafts as well. With a 45.3% hard contact rate, an above-average fly ball rate, and a hitter-friendly home park, Suarez’s power looks like it was no fluke. He also posted a career-high 24.6% line drive last season and has had a contact rate of 77% in every one of his seasons as a major leaguer. I not only expect Suarez to give the same production he gave us last year, but I actually expect his strikeout rate to drop a little in 2019 which should help him have a batting somewhere in the .290’s for the first time in his career. With his floor/upside, I don’t see any reason not to be taking him as a top 30 pick in your drafts.
6. Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
Baez had a tremendous season in 2018 in fantasy and real life. With a .290 batting average, 34 home runs and 21 stolen bases, Baez seems under-ranked at the six spot among third basemen. Sadly, I don’t believe in Baez’s 2018 as much as others in the industry do. I believe he will have a batting average closer to .250 rather than the .290 he posted last season. His poor plate discipline makes him more vulnerable to soft contact than other players with the same hard contact rate as Baez. He still has 30/30 potential, but a 25/20 season with a .260 batting average seems more likely in 2019.
7. Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals
Rendon has been underappreciated by many come draft season. His lack of home runs and stolen bases are most likely why fantasy owners seem to pass over him nearly every season. The reality of the matter is that his line drive, fly ball and contact rates give him one of the highest floors among players going outside the top 50. Although we have seen him post at least a 140 wRC+ the past two seasons, we have probably yet to see his ceiling. If he can put everything together in 2019, then we could see a 35/10 season with the addition of a batting average above .300 from the 28-year-old third baseman.
8. Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Toronto Blue Jays
Guerrero had one of the best minor league seasons we have seen in a long time. Sadly, the Blue Jays opted to keep in the minors all season due to service time issues. This will most likely be the case to start the 2019 season as well, but we should expect to see him to see him up in the majors sometime in mid-April. With his pedigree, Guerrero could be a 35 home run player that posts a batting average over .300 at the major league level as a 20-year-old. The more likely outcome, however, will most likely be around a .280 batting average with 30 home runs to go with it. With that type of upside, drafting Guerrero inside the top 60 is probably what you will have to do in 2019 to get him on your squad this season.
9. Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals
Carpenter had a very interesting season that saw hit for an outstanding batting average of .323 in June and July, but he only hit .223 for the rest of the months. These hot and cold streaks led to him finishing off the season with a .257/.374/.523 slash line. His low batting can be mostly attributed to his patient approach at the plate and a ridiculous ground ball to fly ball ratio. His patient approach will often cause him to take the first strike, which naturally will lead to a higher strikeout rate. While his line drive rate is near elite, his massive amount of fly balls will make it hard for his BABIP to stay above .300. With his amount of raw power, however, we could see another thirty home run season from 32-year-old in 2019. Carpenter’s ability on the diamond is more suited for the real game rather than fantasy, but he still makes for a great pick somewhere in the fourth or fifth round.
10. Wil Myers, San Diego Padres
Myers has always been a good source for home runs and steals, but he hasn’t had a batting average above .260 since his rookie season back in 2013. If his 27.4% line drive rate from last season is any indication of what’s to come in 2019, then his .327 BABIP from last season could be even higher in 2019. If he can get anywhere close to a .270 batting average, then we are probably looking at a top 50 fantasy player in 2019.
11. Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics
Chapman surprised many last season after hitting for the highest batting average he has ever had at any pro level. Although his batting average is most likely to drop around .020 points in 2019, we could see 30+ home runs from him as well. With his elite defense, Chapman should be in the lineup nearly every day. If Chapman can be a 30+ home run player with a .260 batting average getting everyday at-bats, then he should be an easy top 75 player in fantasy this season.
12. Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers
Turner has been one of the most consistent fantasy players when he is on the field. The problem is he has had problems staying on the field the past two seasons. Coming into the season at 34-years-old, these health concerns could cause him to get a couple extra days rest. With a strong fly ball rate, some of the best contact skills in the league, and a decent amount of raw power, Turner still gives fantasy owners the piece of mind due to his high floor. Due to that high fly ball rate, I would be expecting Turner’s batting average to drop a little bit. I believe that we will still see an above average batting average, probably somewhere around .280, with 20-25 home runs depending on how many plate appearances he gets. With his high floor, I still have Turner in the top 100, but his health concerns and age put him at the lower end of that spectrum.
13. Travis Shaw, Milwaukee Brewers
Shaw really struggled last season due to a .242 BABIP, but still hit 32 home runs in just 587 plate appearances. Although Shaw profiles to have a below average BABIP, his BABIP is likely to rise by about .040 points. Luckily this BABIP won’t effect Shaw too much as he has continued to improve his contact skills while also improving his home run rate. With these skills put together, Shaw should have a batting average above .260 while also hitting around 30 home runs next season. This would make Shaw a steal if you can grab him in the ninth or tenth round of your draft.
14. Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox
Devers may have the most significant difference between his ceiling and floor out of anyone on this list going into next season. His upside is that of 35/10 player who can post a batting average somewhere around .280. The downside is that of a player who may not even break the top 300 due to poor plate skills and horrendous line drive rate. With a 135.0 ADP in Justin Mason’s Too Early Mock Drafts, Devers could worth taking a flyer on in the middle of your draft.
15. Miguel Andujar, New York Yankees
Seen as a top 100 prospect coming into the season, some scouts questioned his power potential. Luckily due to a high amount of batted ball events and a hitter-friendly home park, Andujar was able to hit 27 home runs. With that being said, I fear that his batting average could drop around .025 points next season due to his poor plate discipline. We may have already seen Andujar’s ceiling, but he could be in for another fantastic offensive season as the Yankee’s third baseman.
16. Mike Moustakas, Free Agent
Moustakas will hit the free agent market this offseason, and he will do so after putting hitting a total of 66 in 1233 plate appearances over the past two seasons. With his amount of batted ball events, flyball rate, and raw power, it is likely that he will have another 30 home run season again in 2019. Although Moustakas has continued to maintain a low BABIP throughout his career, his low strikeout rate and decent home run rate should help him maintain a respectable batting average. He may not have the highest ceiling among his peers at the position, Moustakas gives you a relatively safe floor that could help provide your fantasy team some much-needed stability in your lineup.
17. Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers
Muncy was possibly the biggest surprise breakout last season as he hit 35 home runs and had an OBP of .391 in just 481 plate appearances. There is no questioning his raw power and plate discipline, but there are concerns, however, about him being a potential batting average drain in 2019. With a below average contact rate and a patient approach at the plate, Muncy will likely have a strikeout rate close to 30.0%. This added with the fact that Muncy profiles more of a low BABIP player could see his batting average dip below .250.
18. Josh Donaldson, Free Agent
I had my concerns about Donaldson going into last season, and he has done nothing to make me doubt those concerns. Those concerns included a declining contact rate, a below average line drive rate, and of course his declining health. His contact rate is most concerning to me as last season it dropped to a horrendous 69.1%, which ranks among the likes of players like Chris Davis, Yoan Moncada, and Brad Miller. For these reasons I put him just outside the top 150 fantasy players for 2019, which may be too low due to his upside, but I am very concerned that he could do more bad than good to your fantasy team next season.
19. Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers
After years of seeing Profar on top prospect lists and fantasy sleeper lists, he finally had that breakout season we have all been waiting for. With 20/15 potential, Profar will likely be a hot name going into a lot of drafts, but I do have my concerns. A lot of people will see that 37.3% hard contact rate on Fangraphs and fall in love with his power potential. Although he has a decent amount of raw power, it is worth noting that his hard contact rate according to Statcast is nearly 6.0% lower at 31.8%. He also stole ten bases in just 594 plate appearances last year, but without a tremendous speed in today’s environment, this is probably more like his ceiling rather than his floor. I am fine with Profar being drafted inside top 200, but I believe he will be heavily over-drafted due to the number one prospect tag people gave him just a few years ago.
20. Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners
I really liked Seager going into last season, and to say he had a disappointing season would be an understatement. Due to his worst BABIP and strikeout rate of his career, Seager his a pitiful .221 with his lowest home run total since 2013. Even though he has now had two straight disappointing seasons, in which he was unable to maintain a batting average above .250. With an above average line drive rate, a lot of fly balls, and a 39.4% hard contact rate, I still believe that Seager can get back to being a 30 home run guy who also sports a respectable batting average.