The Thursday schedules for the rest of the season are really sparse, so for the last four weeks of the 2018 slate, we’ll be using Thursdays to do some up/down stock watch pieces for those teams with off-days. We’ll be using 2018 average draft position data from the National Fantasy Baseball Championship’s 12-team leagues that were drafted between March 15 and March 30 this year (sample size of 108 leagues) to say whether we think a player is “way up,” “up,” “even,” “down,” or “way down.”
- SS Nick Ahmed went 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, and three RBI last night.
- 1B Paul Goldschmidt hit his 32nd home run of the year part of a three-hit night that also included a double, a single, and three runs scored.
- SP Anibal Sanchez has been getting cut short in recent starts, only going more than 5 2/3 innings once since August 3, but he struck out eight yesterday in five innings, allowing four hits, a walk, and three earned runs. Sanchez has struck out eight or more batters in four of his last nine starts.
- Stock Watch: 1B/OF Trey Mancini (ADP: 159) – Way Down: Mancini is likely to be locked in to full-time at-bats next season, but he hasn’t cracked the top 30 among first basemen this year despite already receiving more than 500 plate appearances. Mancini can’t crack the 30 percent rate for flyballs, an absolute death knell for his power at a position where you have to get bulk homers and RBI to have a successful team. He’s only 26, so we expect he’ll be drafted, but it’ll be a toss up in 12-team leagues. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 330)
Boston Red Sox
- Stock Watch: OF Andrew Benintendi (ADP: 39) – Up: This may seem like a conservative prediction for a player as young as Benintendi with as stable and diverse a skill set, but it primarily comes down to the fact that he’s an outfielder whose most impactful asset is speed. We also expect he’ll get some heat from experts for a high BABIP and low-ish hard hit rate, which will place him firmly in the second tier of outfielders. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 28)
- RP Jesse Chavez worked an inning and allowed two baserunners last night, but struck out two and earned his third save of the season. Chavez has thrown 27 innings since the All-Star Break and allowed only five earned runs (1.67 ERA), striking out 33 and walking only three.
Chicago White Sox
- Stock Watch: 2B Yoan Moncada (ADP: 132) – Even: There’s too much skill and prospect hype to expect Moncada to drop much, despite him ranking 26th at his position right now. The uptick in flyball rate and subsequent home run growth should give him some hype, as well, along with the fact that the White Sox are going to give him at-bats no matter how low his batting average dips. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 140)
- SP Luis Castillo was hurt by a mix of bad defense and his recurring battle with home run balls last night, allowing five runs, but only two earned, in five innings of work. An error by SS Jose Peraza kept Castillo in the fourth inning when he likely should’ve been out of it, and he ended up allowing a three-run homer. Dating back to August 12, Castillo has alternated starts with multiple homers allowed and no homers allowed, and has now allowed 27 on the season in 148 1/3 innings after only allowing 11 last year in 89 1/3 innings.
- SS Francisco Lindor went 3-for-4 with two solo home runs, a single, and four RBI last night.
- Stock Watch: SP Jon Gray (ADP: 161) – Up: In the midst of a very strong finish to the season, we expect Gray will get lots of buzz in the spring as a potential emergent ace, which will offset the fact that he’s still barely cracking the top 70 among qualified starting pitchers on ESPN’s Player Rater this year. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 140)
- Stock Watch: 3B/OF Nick Castellanos (ADP: 92) – Up: Based on pure skill, Castellanos should probably be a top 50 pick next year, as he continues to hit the ball harder and harder with each season of experience, giving credence to his high BABIP rates. But the Detroit lineup isn’t likely to be much better in 2019 than it has been this year, which will continue to limit Castellanos’ RBI and runs scored opportunities, which will artificially depress his value when combined with his middling home run totals. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 75)
- Stock Watch: SP Justin Verlander (ADP: 36) – Even: The ninth-ranked overall and second-ranked starting pitcher on ESPN’s Player Rater this season will be hurt on the market by his age, which is why we don’t predict any serious growth in his ADP. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 32)
Kansas City Royals
- Stock Watch: 2B/SS Adalberto Mondesi (ADP: 459) – Way Up: Similar to Mets SS Amed Rosario, who we spotlighted last week, we expect Mondesi to be very, very popular next March as owners realize that he’s climbed in to the top 25 at shortstop this year with far less than a full-season of playing time (184 PAs as of Thursday) based simply on the fact that the Royals have given him an open green light, which has resulted in him racking up stolen bases. There’s a ton of danger here, starting with the absurdly-low walk rate (2.7 percent), but in a speed-starved market, Mondesi is likely to be one of 2019’s biggest spring risers thanks to what should be secure playing time and a unique power/speed skill base. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 162)
Los Angeles Angels
- Stock Watch: OF Mike Trout (ADP: 1) – Even: Trout is still the best player in the game, real or fantasy. He’s going to be the number one player again, though we do expect more competition than in recent years with the emergence of power/speed stars at more scarce positions like 2B/3B Jose Ramirez and SSs Trevor Story and Francisco Lindor. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 1)
Los Angeles Dodgers
- Stock Watch: RP Kenley Jansen (ADP: 35) – Even: We’ve been very big proponents of drafting Jansen and RP Craig Kimbrel early in the last couple of seasons, simply because of a trend that has continued in 2018 – a declining number of relievers who are guaranteed the bulk of their team’s save chances, either due to shifting front office mindsets, shaky skill sets, short track records, or some combination of the three. Jansen’s season started rocky and isn’t ending on the best note, but when you start to do your 2019 rankings, you’ll see just how few elite arms there are in save-heavy roles, which will ensure he’s once again a top-40 pick. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 39)
- Stock Watch: 3B/OF Brian Anderson (ADP: 489) – Way Up: Anderson is a top-40 outfielder in his rookie season, an impressive outcome considering his unexciting prospect stock. Regular readers know he’s been a favorite of the blog this season, thanks to his low-strikeout rate, all-fields approach with contact, and improving power signs. He needs to hit the ball in the air more, but that’s a factor we’ve seen a lot of other hitters figure out with experience, and Anderson’s professional approach in other aspects of hitting give us hope that he’ll take a big step forward next year. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 234)
- Stock Watch: RP Josh Hader (ADP: 286) – Way Up: Hader is going to be the new RP Andrew Miller, drafted in the early-teen rounds despite no guarantee that he’ll get more than 5-10 saves heading in to the season. We expect him to be drafted before at least a dozen relievers who will entering Opening Day 2019 as de facto closers. (Early 2019 ADP diction: 153)
- Stock Watch: OF Byron Buxton (ADP: 43) – Way Down: Buxton and the Twins are now feuding over the team’s decision to leave him in Triple-A for the rest of the year, for what Buxton’s agent is claiming is service time reasons (the Twins stand to gain an extra year of control is Buxton doesn’t play three more days in the majors this year). We expect both sides to be friendly again by March, which will give some unexpected draft helium to a guy who shouldn’t even be drafted next year based on his 2018 performance. That, combined with his hot finish to the year at Triple-A, will make him a volatile asset in drafts that you’ll once again have to jump on earlier than you’d like in order to get him. We weren’t that team this year, and we won’t be again next year. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 155)
New York Mets
- Stock Watch: SP Jacob deGrom (ADP: 30) – Up: deGrom is a couple of weeks away from likely winning his first Cy Young Award, and he looks to be on the same glide path as Nationals SP Max Scherzer, who has continued to improve in his early 30s to the point where he’s likely the number one pitcher off the board next year. We expect drafters to treat deGrom the same way next season, making him one of the first four starters off the board. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 17)
New York Yankees
- Stock Watch: SS Didi Gregorius (ADP: 126) – Even: His amazing April launched Didi to his current 67th-overall standing on ESPN’s Player Rater this year, but there has been enough emergence of new talent and, more importantly, scarce speed at the shortstop position that we don’t see him gaining much ground in drafts next year. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 117)
- Stock Watch: RP Blake Treinen (ADP: 137) – Way Up: See what we said about RP Kenley Jansen in the Dodgers blurb, and apply that to Treinen, who now has the track record, the managerial support, and the elite team to boost him in to the upper echelon of closers. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 47)
- Stock Watch: 1B/OF Rhys Hoskins (ADP: 47) – Down: Hoskins has not taken enough of a step forward with his power to think that he’ll be popular enough to retain this position next season. That said, there’s going to be the feeling that there’s still upside to be had in Hoskins’ skill set, and that will prevent him from falling much beyond the late 5th/early 6th round range. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 61)
- Stock Watch: OF Gregory Polanco (ADP: 136) – Way Up: With a career-high in home runs already established (23), and his stolen base ability as sharp as it has been in most seasons (12 this year after eight last year and 17 in 2016), Polanco is going to look once again like a major growth stock that owners are going to be looking to jump on as a value-laden league winner. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 85)
San Diego Padres
- C Francisco Mejia made an impact in his debut behind the plate with San Diego, going 2-for-4 with home runs in consecutive innings, a solo shot in the third and a three-run shot in the fourth.
San Francisco Giants
- Stock Watch: C Buster Posey (ADP: 64) – Way Down: This may seem obvious, because Posey could miss as much as two months next season as he recovers from hip surgery. But we’d have labeled him in this category even if he was entering 2019 healthy. We expect owners are going to be weary of Posey’s declining power numbers and gradual shift to first base, expecting a similar outcome to Twins 1B Joe Mauer. If he is healthy, we still expect him to go in the 90-100 range, but for now we’re assuming he’ll be on an unsure timetable when most owners draft, pushing him down to this prediction. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 142)
- Stock Watch: SP James Paxton (ADP: 67) – Even: Paxton is the 73rd-ranked overall player in fantasy despite another season where he’s missed time. That sort of defines why we don’t expect Paxton to jump up next season despite a consolidation of his skills that has seen him boost his already-elite strikeout rate despite essentially ditching his changeup as a fourth pitch. Owners are going to give up on expecting more than 160 innings out of Paxton, but they’ll know those innings are going to be ace-level. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 65)
St. Louis Cardinals
- Stock Watch: 1B/OF Jose Martinez (ADP: 223) – Up: Despite the Cards’ struggle to find Martinez playing time regularly in the second half, his hot stretch in August and ability to hit for power in a good lineup will boost his value next season. He hit .389 in August with 18 RBI and is currently at .309 on the year with 40 extra-base hits and 78 RBI. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 160)
Tampa Bay Rays
- Stock Watch: OF Tommy Pham (ADP: 56) – Way Down: Pham has been on a rollercoaster ride this season, from spring worries about his degenerative eye condition to his shocking midseason trade to the Rays, where he’s been very, very good when he plays. That last part is key, because Pham is over 30 and has suffered all sorts of random maladies, from a broken bone in his foot to a jammed thumb from sliding in to first to his current groin soreness that kept him out on Wednesday. Pham has hit the ball hard nearly 50 percent of the time this year and has shown the same good speed he did last year when he stole 25 bases. He’s on a team that will let him run. If his value is as depressed as we expect, he’ll be a bargain. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 149)
- Stock Watch: 1B/3B/OF Joey Gallo (ADP: 98) – Way Down: It’s probably fair to expect backlash now on Gallo, who, despite ranking third among third basemen in homers and ninth in RBI, is only 21st overall at the position because of a batting average that could single-handedly sink your ability to finish any higher than fourth or fifth in the category in roto leagues. Still, we’re believers in elite skills propping up draft stock, especially when it comes to speed or power, and nobody has more elite power than Gallo. He’s going to drop substantially next March, and if it is as low as we think, we’ll be making him a top target. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 186)
Toronto Blue Jays
- 1B Rowdy Tellez made his first major league start last night after being called up earlier this week, batting sixth and going X-for-X with two doubles, and RBI, and a run scored. The 23-year-old Tellez was a productive power source with good plate discipline early in his minor league career, but he struggled in 2017 and early in 2018 at Triple-A before starting to get a little momentum to end this season in Buffalo before his call-up. It’ll be interesting to see how the Jays use him this month and how they see him fitting in to their future with 1B Justin Smoak presumably having a few good years left in him.
- SP Stephen Strasburg threw 111 pitches last night, the most he’s thrown in a game since May 20, but he only lasted 5 2/3 innings, allowing six hits, three walks, three runs (two earned), and striking out six. He looks to be at full strength and is a must-start next week with two road outings at Philly and Atlanta.