In the latest installment of our 2019 Fantasy Baseball preview, Nick and I are giving out the guys we feel will likely not live up to their draft and preseason hype. It’s not a case of guys to avoid necessarily, but it’s definitely guys to not reach for despite the temptation that exists.
We’re each giving the guys that you should remain a bit leery of compared to the ADP’s they are getting along with the preseason hype.
Madison Bumgarner: Bumgarner will go down as one of the best postseason pitchers of All-Time. It’s crazy to think he hasn’t turned 30 yet…it feels like he’s been in the league forever. The problem is the millage on Mad Bum’s arm makes him much older than 30. In fact, he’s already thrown 1,700 innings in the MLB. His fastball velocity is also declining. His K% is also going down, while his hard contact rate is going up per FanGraphs.
Bumgarner will be lucky to pitch in 150 innings in 2019, making him a suspect selection in any fantasy baseball format.
Speaking of future Hall of Famers, Clayton Kershaw is also someone you should avoid in 2019. He hasn’t thrown 200 innings since 2015, and as long as Dave Roberts is the manager Kershaw will not pitch more than 150 innings in a season. He also has lingering injury issues that will make the Dodgers even more cautious. Hard pass.
Bottom Line: It’s 2019 people. Things change and drafting starting pitchers in the first round is a risky and pretty bad strategy if you ask me. Don’t be the person that loads up on pitchers in the first two rounds.
Manny Machado: I’ve been a huge fan of the guy since he first came up with the Orioles. I like guys with a little swag (or a lot of it). But there are red flags all over on this one. Petco Park is an absolute cavern compared to the launching pad Camden Yards can be in the summer. I’m not super high on his supporting cast at this point – Eric Hosmer does nothing for me; Hunter Renfroe and Manny Margot need to prove it; Fernando Tatis isn’t there yet. And there is the underlying worry that now that he got paid, what’s his motivation?
Ronald Acuna: This is not an indication of how I feel about Acuna’s talent. He’s a future star – no question in my mind. But I don’t think at this point his ADP of 8 overall is quite justified – yet. He’s like 12 years old (ok, 21, still you get my point) and battled some nagging injuries at times. He started blowing up in the second half of his rookie season with the Braves and while I think he will have a solid year, I don’t think I’d take him at 8 quite yet. I want to see a full season of dominance from him before I can put him in Betts/Trout territory.
Chris Sale: This one is driven solely in my fear of him not hitting 150 innings this season. The Red Sox will likely win 100 games. Their fifth starter is Eduardo Rodriguez – who’d be a three on a lot of squads. The Red Sox rested him in September when some nagging injuries flared up and he obviously was still affected in the playoff run as he was protected there too. He’s the best pitcher in baseball in my mind, but his usage – and his team’s ability to not need to rely on him – makes Sale a prime candidate to finish well below his ADP (15th).
J.T. Realmuto: I am not a fan of taking catchers at a high cost. They don’t play every day. Their bodies take a toll over the long season and often get more rest in late August and in September when rosters expand – which happens to coincide with the fantasy playoffs. The newly acquired backstop for the Phillies will be a prominent bat in what appears to be a stacked lineup, but the “Dream Team” approach doesn’t commonly work. He’s hit over 20 homers once – in 2018 when he hit 21. He’s never exceeded 75 RBIs or runs. He’s a career .279 hitter which is fine but the overall picture doesn’t scream top 50 fantasy player which is where many pundits are ranking him and drafting him. I’d invest in a thinner pitching market in that range well before a catcher.
Closers: All of ‘em I am #done with drafting closers in prime spots. The end-all-be-all for this was being a Kenley Jansen owner last season. I invested highly in him in my auction league and was thrilled to get him. I thought I could pair him up with one other moderate closer and take Saves in most weeks. He had the roughest season of his outstanding career in 2018 and it soured me on them all. SO many times these days a teams best relief pitcher is used in more key spots than just to close the 9th inning and justifiably so. Teams are employing the committee approach as bullpens are becoming a franchise cornerstone for some of the leagues best teams. But at the end of the day, if you can’t trust Kenley fucking Jansen – one of the nastiest ever to do it – who can you really trust?