Fantasy Baseball: Quarter 1 Report

Every baseball season, fantasy owners draft players based on both their past and potential ability. Players will rise to the occasion in an attempt to become the next wave of superstars while others fall short of expectations and lose their status as being elite. After a quarter of the MLB season has passed, some notable star players and breakout candidates haven’t quite delivered as expected, allowing others to take their place in fantasy lineups. I’ll look at the good and the bad by analyzing which players have been over and underrated thus far.

Catcher

Underrated- Josh Phegley (ESPN-19.5%,Yahoo-33%)
Though other great breakout candidates include James McCann, Mitch Garver, and Willians Astudillo, Phegley stands out as an everyday catcher who can flat-out hit. Coming into the season with a career .223/.264/.372 slash line, Phegley has already produced at a rate of .281/.311/.482, good enough to be a top 10 catcher at a position scarce of talent. If you’re in need of a catcher, Phegley offers 4 category potential while batting at the bottom of young, but talented Oakland lineup.

Overrated- Buster Posey (ESPN-82.2%,Yahoo-90%)
Coming from a Giants fan who has watched Posey since his rookie year, this simply isn’t the same player who was once an MVP and staple All-Star. After undergoing right hip surgery to fix his hitting in the offseason, Posey’s production at the plate has somehow got worse. The power numbers have disappeared, the injury problems have continued over the past few years, and a .252/.308/.403 slash line no longer suggests Posey as an elite level catcher. With the Giants looming closer to a full rebuild and unlikely to trade the face of their franchise, there isn’t much potential or hope of a rebound anytime soon.

First Baseman

Underrated- Josh Bell (ESPN-93.1%,Yahoo-86%)

Josh Bell has simply been an absolute power threat with 14 home runs, surpassing his total last year, ranks 4th in slugging percentage at .680, and tied for 1st in RBIs with 44. Likely drafted outside of the top 10 first baseman, Bell has proven his ability to hit like the cream of the crop and could easily finish in the top 5 if his production continues. Besides Cody Bellinger, there hasn’t been another first baseman producing anywhere close to his stats this year.

Overrated- Joey Votto (ESPN-87.4%,Yahoo-87%)

If you drafted Joey Votto with the hope that he would return to his 2017 form, you were instead greeted with an even worse 2018 version. Thus far, his slash line of .208/.323/.340 has made him possibly unstartable and even droppable at such a deep position. The once elite walk rate has declined and we might have to face the fact that Votto’s best days are behind him.

Second Baseman

Underrated- Tommy La Stella (ESPN-65.2%,Yahoo-66%)

After hitting 10 career home runs and owning a .264/.345/.366 slash line prior to this season, La Stella currently has 11 dingers and owns a .310/.386/.581 line in 2019. Hitting recently at the top of the lineup, he’s taken full advantage of having Mike Trout bat behind him and is putting up career best numbers across the board. No longer as a bench bat with the Cubs, La Stella has cemented his place in the Angels lineup and the only question that remains is whether he can keep up this level of production.

Overrated- Jose Altuve (ESPN-99.7%,Yahoo-99%)

Likely drafted with a first or early second round pick, Altuve has failed to live up to the expectations set by his fantasy owners so far. While the run, home run, and RBI numbers appear fine, Altuve’s batting average mysteriously sits at .243 despite encouraging peripherals. However, the most concerning part of Altuve’s game is his steals. After swiping 17 bags last year, a career low since his rookie season, Altuve has only gone 1 of 3 on stolen base attempts this year, possibly suggesting he may a good 4 category player rather than the 5 tool talent owners had hoped for.

Shortstop

Underrated- Elvis Andrus (ESPN-89.6%,Yahoo-83%)

Already playing in his 11th season, has stormed out of the gate with a career best .325/.373/.510 slash line. Before recently landing on the injured list, Andrus has returned to peak form with already 25 runs, 6 homers, 26 RBI’s, and 8 steals. If Andrus can continue hitting for power, this could become a career year for Andrus where he becomes a legitimate 5 tool player at the age of 30.

Overrated- Corey Seager (ESPN-93.2%,Yahoo-94%)

Coming off an injury plagued 2018, Seager was expected to continue his growth as a middle of the order threat for a contending Dodges lineup. Halfway through May, Seager’s fallen to the 6th spot in the lineup and even with a 0.51 ground ball to fly ball ratio, only sits at 4 home runs. He’s already been outperformed by Paul DeJong, Ketel Marte, Eduardo Escobar and could be replaced in your fantasy lineup if he hasn’t been already.

Third Baseman

Underrated- Hunter Dozier (ESPN–83.0%,Yahoo-73%)

Even though the Kansas City Royals lack the skills to win a lot of games and achieve a winning record, one thing they do have is speed. Luckily for Dozier, he hits behind Billy Hamilton, Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi who have combined for 33 of the team’s 47 steals, 12 more than any other team in the majors. With a favorable spot in the lineup and ability to put the ball in play, Dozier looks like a consistent provider of RBIs, batting average, and runs.

Overrated- Jose Ramirez (ESPN-99.2%,Yahoo-98%)

After spending a likely top 5 draft pick on Ramirez who posted career bests in 2018, he’s been flat out awful in 2019. Besides swiping 12 bags already this season, his power hasn’t been there and the .197/.293/.306 slash line seems pretty pedestrian. While Ramirez should improve on his current numbers, he doesn’t appear likely to repeat last year’s MVP caliber season and I’d be open to trading him for other assets that your team might need.

Outfielders

Underrated- Franmil Reyes (ESPN–48.8%,Yahoo-67%)

Reyes entered the season battling for a spot in a crowded Padres outfield and has cemented himself as the everyday right fielder. With playing time concerns gone, there’s upside for 30 home runs and becoming must-start in five, or even three, outfield leagues. Hitting before Machado in the 2 hole doesn’t hurt either as pitchers will likely favor pitching to Reyes than a 4x All-Star.

Underrated- Jarrod Dyson (ESPN-9.7%,Yahoo-26%)

Likely a player for daily leagues, Dyson predominately only starts against righties as he’s only registered 102 total at-bats this year. However, he’s made the most of it with a .261/.361/.391 slash line against right handed pitching while being tied for third with already 12 steals this year. With a low ownership percentage, Dyson’s likely still available on the waiver wire and a few steals per week could be the difference between winning or losing.

Overrated- Bryce Harper (ESPN-99.5%,Yahoo-99%)

Even before signing for $330 million this past summer to play for the Phillies, Harper was often rated as one of the most overrated players in baseball and arguably, still is. After his 2015 MVP season which now seems like the outlier year, he has yet to replicate anywhere close to that level of success. Over 47 games, Harper has only batted .229/.367/.465 while striking out already 63 times.

Overrated- Andrew McCutchen (ESPN-94.2%,Yahoo-81%)

Playing in his 11th season, it seems like McCutchen’s best days appear to be behind him. Once a five tool player in his prime, Cutch’s diminished skillset have left him with a .244/.375/.401 slash line that currently ranks as one of the worst in his career. The majority of his value relies on hitting at the top of the Phillies lineup where McCutchen could score 100 runs simply by getting on base.

Starting Pitcher

Underrated- Caleb Smith (ESPN-89.3%,Yahoo-83%)

On a team likely to finish last in the major leagues in wins, Smith represents a bright spot and potential ace for a Marlins team that’s searching for the next wave of stars. Originally dealt in a minor trade with the Yankees, Smith’s success has continued from the end of last year as he’s posting career highs in 12.0 K/9 and limiting batters to 2.6 BB/9 and 5.6 H/9. If the success continues, Smith could become a reliable number 3 or even 2 pitcher for your rotation.

Underrated- Lucas Giolito (ESPN-36.4%,Yahoo-56%)

Once ranked as the top pitching prospect, Giolito has looked to finally put it together in 2019 with a 3.35 ERA and 1.163 WHIP with strikeouts jumping from 6.5K/9 last year to 10.5K/9 now. Though a matchup with Houston looms later in the week, Giolito is someone to keep an eye on. In 8 starts this year, he’s been roughed up by non-divisional opponents while finding success against divisional foes Kansas City and Cleveland.

Overrated- Walker Buehler (ESPN-98.2%,Yahoo-98%)

Coming off a strong rookie campaign, many expected Buehler to take the next step and become the next Dodger’s ace after Clayton Kershaw. With a 3.83 ERA and 1.054 WHIP, he’s been able to replicate most of last year’s success but remains unlikely to match the production of the starting pitchers drafted around him. Whereas pitchers like Noah Syndergaard and James Paxton have their own concerns, Buehler simply lacks the ace potential. With extra innings added to his arm from postseason play and the fact that no Dodgers pitcher has gone 200 or more innings since 2015, Buehler simply might not get enough opportunities to give you the return you hoped for on draft day.

Overrated- Madison Bumgarner (ESPN-96.8%,Yahoo-88%)

Possibly the most talked about trade asset, Bumgarner is an intriguing pitcher who likely remains one of the best postseason pitchers in recent history. While the strikeouts have gone up and walks down, Bumgarner has yielded a hit per inning while seeing his home run rate slightly jump up. Factoring in his career-high 4.21 ERA and the fact that he pitches in one of the best pitcher-friendly environments in all of baseball, it might be time as a fantasy owner to do the same thing the Giants will do, trade him. When the time comes where Bumgarner dons a new uniform, he will lose the friendly confines of Oracle Park and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a rise in ERA, hits, and home runs.

Relief Pitchers

Underrated- Felipe Vazquez (ESPN-98.1%,Yahoo-98%)

Though Vazquez is almost universally owned, his peripherals point him as having a chance to be the best closer of the year. Coming off an All-Star season, he has only improved with 13 saves, 35 strikeouts over 21.2 innings, 1.25 ERA, and 1.062 WHIP. Drafted in the latter part of the top 10 closers, Vasquez now looks to be on the top of that list. If the Pirates fall out of the playoff race and Vasquez becomes expendable, look for more more save opportunities on a playoff contender.

Overrated- Shane Greene (ESPN-92.6%,Yahoo-85%)

Coming into the year, the Detroit Tigers were an obvious rebuild candidate and looked to deploy Greene as the opening day closer with Joe Jimenez as his eventual replacement. That might not be the case as Jimenez has struggled out the gate and Greene’s 15 saves ranks him second among closers. A likely trade candidate, Greene appears to be a sell high asset who if traded, may risk losing the closer role on his new team.

*Ownership Percentages, Stats, and Rankings as of 5/21/19


  
Originally from San Francisco, California, Justin Yeung has grown up as an avid Giants and Warriors fan, watching them both through the good and bad times. Currently, he is a junior attending the University of California, Irvine majoring in business economics and minoring in management. When he’s not in class, you’ll often find Justin at various sporting events and pursuing his goal of visiting all 30 Major League stadiums.

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