It is that time of season again, and as you gear up for your fantasy baseball season, it is always good to do some prep work. There are players to target in your league’s auction/draft, and there are players to avoid. The tricky part is figuring out which category every player falls into for 2019.
Every league is different, so it is good to know your draft, rules, and opposing owners as much as possible before settling in for six months of excitement. What scoring categories your league uses determined a lot about which players to draft and when, although this space is generally going to be focused on common scoring categories for both hitters (runs scored, home runs, RBI, stolen bases, batting average) and pitchers (wins, saves, strikeouts, ERA, WHIP).
Every Sunday night, starting April 1, we will provide a list of four players you should consider grabbing for your team—and four players you should consider parting ways with if they’re still on your team. No guarantees, of course, but hey, everyone’s got a go-to expert for this stuff. Let us be yours.
Onward and upward, with our preseason “special” edition …
Players to Draft
1. José Berríos, SP, Minnesota Twins: He may not be a true sleeper pick, yet he will put up pretty good numbers this year as he enters his third full MLB season as a starting pitcher. He is only 25 years old, and the sky is the limit. It would be a good idea to get on his bandwagon before everyone else in your league figures it out. His K/9 rates are going up, up, up.
2. Yasiel Puig, OF, Cincinnati Reds: Now that he is out of L.A., look for Puig to thrive. Forget his antics as well. If he stays healthy, he is going to put up monster numbers in Cincinnati. Look for a .300-plus average, 30-plus HRs, and 100-plus RBI. That is all that matters in fantasy baseball. Puig has hit four HRs in 16 career games in the Great American Ballpark—do the math.
3. Greg Allen, OF, Cleveland Indians: Theoretically, you never want to grab a guy just for stolen bases. However, Allen has a lot of potential to single-handedly win you the SB crown in your league without killing you elsewhere. He won’t reach double-digit HR totals, but he has some pop in his bat. Look for 5-10 dingers this year and close to 50 RBI playing on this team. Oh, and if he gets 50 steals, too, thank us later.
4. Vlad Guerrero, Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays: He is hurt and won’t start the regular season on the major-league roster. Does not matter. Grab him if others in your league do not, because he will pay dividends long term this season. A lot of owners do not like to “waste” a bench slot on a rookie who is not playing yet, but this is the one to do it for in 2019. He will hit .300-plus and approach 25 HRs and 90 RBI this season.
Players to Avoid Drafting
1. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers: Look, we know he’s a stud when he’s healthy. Yet Kershaw has averaged less than 162 innings a season for the past three years. He’s now 31 with a history of back problems, and rumors are there are potential arm issues now, too, which may have been inevitable with his delivery. Let someone else assume the risk.
2. Adam Jones, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks: He is 33 years old, and even though he hit .281 last year on a bad Baltimore team, there are red flags everywhere. The 2013 season was the last time Jones posted an OPS over .800, and while that may not be a category in your league, it’s indicative of his decline. Last season was also the first time since 2010 he did not hit at least 25 HRs, as he managed just 15 dingers in 2019.
3. Miguel Sanó, 3B, Minnesota Twins: He is coming off a bad, bad season, and now he is hurt. This is not a buy-low, sell-high situation. Sanó has never played a full MLB season, either, despite showing a lot of power (53 HRs combined in 230 games in 2016-2017). He also was an All-Star selection two years ago. However, things are not looking good for him in 2019 right now at all.
4. Madison Bumgarner, SP, San Francisco Giants: This is a similar case to Kershaw above. MadBum has just a 10-16 record the last two seasons combined, and he’s now 29 years old with a lot of mileage on his body and arm. He hasn’t been bad, despite the injuries that have kept him off the diamond a lot since the 2016 postseason. However, last year, Bumgarner had his lowest K rate since his rookie year (2010) and the highest walk rate of his career. Those are not good trends.
A four-year archive (2014-2017) of these MLB fantasy columns previously published on CBS Local Sports can be found here.