As per tradition, I made some bold calls at the beginning of the season. Knowing that FanGraphs has built its reputation on reasoned and measured analysis, I used my preseason column as an opportunity to go out on a ledge that I would not usually walk out on during my regularly scheduled writing. A few of them actually came true. Here’s how I did:
I win this one by the skin of my teeth. Devers (32) and Bogaerts (33) just edge Harper (35) and Hoskins (29). Devers broke out and Bogaerts sustained the gains he made in 2018 while staying healthy all year. A down(ish) year from Hoskins makes the difference here.
Brandon Drury is a top-15 Second Baseman
This was a huge miss. Drury, who wasn’t even eligible at second at the beginning of the season, struggled mightily (although he did gain second base eligibility in Yahoo formats). While Drury managed to hit 15 home runs in 120 games, he did it with a .218 batting average and a .642 OPS.
Domingo Germán Finishes the Season as the Yankees’ Most Valuable Starter
James Paxton owned a slightly better ERA (3.82) and much better strikeout rate (11.11 K/9) than the still solid German (4.03 ERA, 9.63 K/9). Surprisingly, Paxton even threw more innings (150-143). Luckily for me, German’s 18 wins meant he was still the highest ranked Yankee starter in 2019.
2019 Is the Last Season Shohei Ohtani Isn’t a Top-5 Player…For a Decade
We can’t judge this one just yet. But Ohtani continued to hit well, slashing .286/.343/.505 with 18 home runs and 12 stolen bases in part-time duty. He also boosted his wRC+ against lefties to 112, a perceived area of weakness heading into 2019.
A Pair of 36-Year-Olds Win Batting Titles
None of the Top-5 Starting Pitchers Being Drafted Finish in the Top-10
Justin Verlander (1), Jacob deGrom (3) and Max Scherzer (barely, at #10) prove me wrong here. I still don’t know how Verlander is doing what he’s doing at age 36. This prediction was one of my biggest stretches. I think a more measured version of this call is “elite pitching can still be risky given the length of time pitchers miss due to injury”. That’s exactly what happened to Corey Kluber and Chris Sale. But elite pitching can also be very valuable – which is exactly why Scherzer was still a top-10 option despite missing time to injury.
Jake Bauers Goes 25/20 While Hitting at Least .250
Nope. And going 12/3 while hitting .226 doesn’t produce much fantasy value. Given that Cleveland traded for Franmil Reyes and is thinking about bringing back Yasiel Puig, his path to playing time does not look great heading into 2020.
Aaron Sanchez is a Top-30 Starting Pitcher
The only nice thing I can say about Sanchez’s season is that the Astros liked him enough to trade for him. If you’re a pitcher that Houston sees something in, that’s usually a positive thing. He battled control issues (4.66 BB/9) and injuries yet again in 2019, and was shut down for the season in late August when a torn capsule in his right shoulder required surgery.
Cody Bellinger Wins the National League MVP Award
We don’t know the results of the vote, but Bellinger most certainly provided value to fantasy owners this season. With an ADP of 43rd overall, Bellinger was the third best hitter in fantasy this season, behind only Ronald Acuña Jr. and Christian Yelich. He finished the season tied with Yelich for the National League lead in WAR at 7.8.
Assuming I hit on the Bellinger prediction, that’s 3-8 (with the Ohtani prediction still outstanding). Maybe I need to go bolder. And not make so many Blue Jays predictions. In any case, on to 2020.
Nick thinks running a Major League or fantasy baseball team is incredibly easy. Until he is handed one of those coveted GM positions, his writing at RotoGraphs will illustrate how to do it properly. Fantasy baseball trade consultations and anything else can be sent to email@example.com or tweeted to @nickdika.