2019 Fantasy Baseball: Left Field Steamer Projection Rankings

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. We can rank outfielders as a whole group or we can break them down position by position. It may seem counterintuitive, but it is easier to break them down by position and then adjust back to the generic than to do the reverse, so we are looking at left fielders first.

Theoretically speaking, each position should be relatively equal, but it doesn’t turn out that way. Left field is weaker than the other two spots for one reason or another. We are ranking them by their projection in the six categories (walks are the sixth category).

Juan Soto– Washington Nationals

Projection: .292, 26 HR, 84 Runs, 85 RBI, 6 SB, 82 BB

2019 might turn out to be the best outfield in franchise history for the Nationals and it will be without Bryce Harper. Soto and Victor Robles will be the reason why. The key for Soto is the patience he brings to the plate. It adds to his power and ability to hit for average.

Ronald Acuna– Atlanta Braves

Projection: .279, 28 HR, 95 Runs, 77 RBI, 24 SB, 56 BB

It was a battle back and forth between Acuna and Soto for the top spot in the Rookie of the Year race. It makes perfect sense that it would be that way in fantasy. Soto wins in six categories while Acuna wins in five.

Andrew Benintendi– Boston Red Sox

Projection: .286, 18 HR, 98 Runs, 74 RBI, 18 SB, 69 BB

Benintendi does a little bit of everything and as such has more value than the numbers immediately show. He also plays for the best offense in baseball. That counts for something when it comes to the counting statistics.

Joey Gallo– Texas Rangers

Projection: .225, 40 HR, 86 Runs, 98 RBI, 6 SB, 81 BB

We’ve talked at length about chasing single categories. How about when a single category chases you away. Sure, the batting average is horrendous and if you are playing total points the strikeouts will kill you. In five or six category leagues he is still worth it.

Marcell Ozuna– St. Louis Cardinals

Projection: .288, 26 HR, 75 Runs, 89 RBI, 2 SB, 45 BB

Ozuna had one magical season in 2017, but the rest of them have looked like this. Leave it to the Marlins to trade him after his one great season and they still didn’t get much for him. Adding Goldschmidt may help a little, but this is probably who Ozuna is.

Eddie Rosario– Minnesota Twins

Projection: .277, 24 HR, 77 Runs, 83 RBI, 8 SB, 33 BB

A team that added C.J. Cron, Nelson Cruz, and Jonathan Schoop will have to rely on the holdovers getting better. For most, that is Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. However, watching Rosario take another step forward might be more realistic.

Justin Upton– Los Angeles Angels

Projection: .243, 27 HR, 75 Runs. 84 RBI, 7 SB, 61 BB

Billy Eppler is the Ken Williams of the 2010s. He keeps trying to add that one key piece for a team that needs four or five. Upton is taking up a lot of money and he’s good, but he’s just not good enough. That describes most of the supporting cast for Mike Trout.

Khris Davis– Oakland Athletics

Projection: .240, 38 HR, 86 Runs, 102 RBI, 1 SB, 62 BB

Davis’ spot depends largely on whether you are playing left field specific or generic outfield. He suffers with batting average and stolen bases. Only four left fielders are projected to steal ten or more bases, so his output has to be seen in that context. Compared to other outfield spots that is very low. So, plan accordingly.

Kyle Schwarber– Chicago Cubs

Projection: .241, 28 HR, 69 Runs, 76 RBI, 4 SB, 74 BB

Sooner or later you come to accept players as they are. Schwarber looked like a better hitter than this early on, but he is what he is. He is an average outfielder defensively a little bit better than average offensively. Overall, that makes him pretty solid.

Michael Conforto– New York Mets

Projection: .244, 25 HR, 70 Runs, 75 RBI, 4 SB, 70 BB

Yoenis Cespedes would likely be a top five left fielder if he were healthy. He is a name to watch as he could come back at some point this season. Conforto is not nearly as sexy, but he puts up numbers when given opportunities.

Ryan Braun–Milwaukee Brewers

Projection: .265, 22 HR, 63 Runs, 70 RBI, 11 SB, 41 BB

Supposedly, Braun is altering his swing to work on his launch angle. That’s fancy talk for saying he is trying to hit more fly balls and therefore more home runs. It’s an interesting turn in a career that has seen a number of turns.

David Peralta–Arizona Diamondbacks

Projection: .281, 18 HR, 67 Runs, 62 RBI, 4 SB, 42 BB

Peralta hit 30+ home runs last year, so it is a bit of a surprise to see them knock Peralta down a bit. I guess they are going with overall career norms and he has had trouble staying on the field in the past. I suppose two consecutive healthy seasons is too much to bank on.

Shin-Soo Choo– Texas Rangers

Projection: .254, 17 HR, 73 Runs, 55 RBI, 6 SB, 67 BB

Money changes the perception of things and sometimes for the worse. For the most part, Choo has been a very good hitter. He’s been a crummy fielder, but when healthy he is always good with the bat. He is being paid as if he is a great player. He isn’t but that really hasn’t changed.

David Dahl– Colorado Rockies

Projection: .270, 18 HR, 59 Runs, 64 RBI, 9 SB, 33 BB

Dahl is ready to produce, but he never has been able to stay on the field. He is in a perfect ballpark and a perfect situation. He doesn’t have to produce big numbers because they already have four or five guys that do. He just needs to stay healthy.

Michael Brantley–Houston Astros

Projection: .282, 14 HR, 66 Runs, 61 RBI, 8 SB, 40 BB

If you are playing in a total points universe, he jumps up the rankings. If you are playing on a per game basis he might even be top five. The Astros will limit his exposure to lefties, so he isn’t a great bet on a full season basis, but if you can make daily lineup changes he could be an appealing platoon option.

Trey Mancini– Baltimore Orioles

Projection: .261, 23 HR, 68 Runs, 77 RBI, 1 SB, 41 BB

Mancini is an example of an NBA phenomenom. Even bad teams have to have someone that produces runs. Even if that player isn’t good himself, he will produce runs. He might not be around when the Orioles are good again, but that won’t be for another few seasons.

Tommy Pham– Tampa Bay Rays

Projection: .255, 16 HR, 60 Runs, 53 RBI, 13 SB, 56 BB

The Rays play platoons more aggresively than any team in baseball. It worked enough to get them 90 wins even with a mediocre roster. However, it doesn’t exactly help with fantasy value for guys like Pham. It’s the main reason you haven’t seen a ton or Rays players on this list.

Domingo Santana– Seattle Mariners

Projection: .237, 18 HR, 59 Runs, 60 RBI, 6 SB, 60 BB

There was a lot not to like in the Mariners offseason, but picking up Santana was a stroke of brilliance. He could easily be a 20 HR and 10 SB guy when it is all said and done and they got him for next to nothing.

Corey Dickerson– Pittsburgh Pirates

Projection: .275, 17 HR, 57 Runs, 60 RBI, 5 SB, 25 BB

Dickerson has had a few fascinating chapters in his career. His Pittsburgh chapter has been fun to watch. He is a maximum effort guy and never met a pitch he didn’t like. It makes him a very flawed player, but a very entertaining player to watch.

Brett Gardner– New York Yankees

Projection: .245, 9 HR, 48 Runs, 37 RBI, 9 SB, 39 BB

Gardner has forged himself a nice career. He is still an above average defender, but he used to be a great one. All told, he is a below average offensive player at this point, but he used to be a good one. He probably has one more season as a semi-regular before he gets relegated to the bench.

2019 Fantasy Baseball: Shortstop Steamer Projection Rankings

Shortstops aren’t as deep as they have been in the past, but there are some intriguing new names that could burst on the scene this year. Those names almost certainly didn’t make our last list. You have to put up at least a couple of seasons worth of performance to make those list.

So, we move to projection numbers. We use Steamer because everyone has a Steamer projection and they are about as good as any other. That is to say that they are a decent predictor. We use them to make sure we account for younger players and for where a player is going. Sometimes they are off and we acknowledge that. The best thing to do is combine the past three seasons with future projections.

Francisco Lindor– Cleveland Indians

Projection: .286, 30 HR, 103 Runs, 90 RBI, 20 SB, 62 BB

Lindor has elevated himself to a fantasy first rounder. He came up as a good offensive player and a great fielder. Now, he is a great hitter and great fielder. With all of the big time contracts people are throwing around it makes you wonder how much he would be worth on the open market.

Manny Machado– Free Agent

Projection: .288, 32 HR, 87 Runs, 94 RBI, 8 SB, 57 BB

Machado doesn’t know what position he is going to play much less where he is going. He could wind up at third or at short. He probably is a better baseball value at third because of the Gold Glove defense, but obviously short it a better fantasy value play.

Trevor Story— Colorado Rockies

Projection: .271, 30 HR, 84 Runs, 95 RBI, 18 SB, 49 BB

With Daniel Murphy in tow, the Rockies offense stands as one of the more underrated offenses in the NL at any elevation. Story is heavy on the strikeouts, so you have to make sure you study up on your format before making your final rankings list.

Trea Turner– Washington Nationals

Projection: .287, 17 HR, 92 Runs, 66 RBI, 39 SB, 53 BB

Turner finally has tuened in a healthy season last year and delivered on the promise he showed back in 2016. He led the NL in steals last year as as much as people love steals he ought to shoot up the rankings.

Xander Bogaerts– Boston Red Sox

Projection: .286, 19 HR, 80 Runs, 82 RBI, 9 SB, 54 BB

Bogaerts will be a free agent after the season. Like Machado, he will enter free agency at age 26. Will he fetch 150 million? 200 million? A lot of it depends on what he does this season. So, is he a guy that rises to the occasion or he is a guy that shrinks under pressure.

Corey Seager– Los Angeles Dodgers

Projection: .284, 23 HR, 90 Runs, 74 RBI, 4 SB, 61 BB

People put way too much credence in what happened last year. With all of the big names around him in the rankings it is easy to forget about Seager. He is one of the best young shortstops in the game and he will show it again this season.

Javier Baez– Chicago Cubs

Projection: .269, 28 HR, 78 Runs, 93 RBI, 16 SB, 32 BB

Baez was the runner up in the MVP race last season. If you are playing in a standard 5×5 format he immediately jumps into the top five. He is a few extra walks away from superstardom. He will also play plenty of second base, so he is also eligible there.

Carlos Correa– Houston Astros

Projection: .265, 22 HR, 74 Runs, 78 RBI, 4 SB, 64 BB

Take someone six foot four and give them back trouble and its enough to scare anyone off. He is a talented as anyone above him on this list. If you could bank on 600 healthy plate appearances you can bank on him being top five.

Jorge Polanco– Minnesota Twins

Projection: .272, 14 HR, 79 Runs, 64 RBI, 15 SB, 48 BB

The Twins are a fascinating team moving forward. In many ways, they may be a model for the future. They keep adding guys to one or two year deals. When they don’t work out they just go in another direction. Polanco got busted for PEDs, but he came back and produced like he had before.

Jean Segura– Philadelphia Phillies

Projection: .284, 13 HR, 74 Runs, 60 RBI, 19 SB, 34 BB

Much like Baez, he moves up the list if you are playing in a standard 5×5 league. If you prefer a few extra steals you might even elevate him above Polanco now. After all, these numbers are just a guess.

Marcus Semien– Oakland Athletics

Projection: .251, 18 HR, 70 Runs, 67 RBI, 12 SB, 53 BB

Semien is one of those guys that gives you a little bit of everything. If you decide to punt shortstop on draft day you could do a whole lot worse.

Adalberto Mondesi– Kansas City Royals

Projection: .253, 22 HR, 76 Runs, 73 RBI, 43 SB, 31

How do we even begin to handicap this? He came up after multiple cups of coffee and finally produced a .276/.306/.498 slash line with 32 steals in almost half a season’s worth of at bats. The batted ball data and plate discipline issues point to regression. How much regression is the key question.

Jose Peraza– Cincinnati Reds

Projection: .281, 11 HR, 69 Runs, 61 RBI, 21 SB, 29 BB

Peraza put up 14 HR and 23 stolen bases last season. For now, he has the Reds shortstop job. Nick Senzel looks like the shortstop of the future, but they will give him a shot at center field next season. Ten plus home runs and 20 plus stolen bases is nice to have on a fantasy bench.

Lourdes Gurriel– Toronto Blue Jays

Projection: .266, 19 HR, 72 Runs, 65 RBI, 7 SB, 24 BB

There was one magical day last summer where Yuli and Lourdes both hit two home runs on the same day. The Blue Jays brought in Freddy Galvis to be his caddy, but I can’t imagine why they would want to waste at bats on him.

Andrelton Simmons– Los Angeles Angels

Projection: .277, 11 HR, 65 Runs, 63 RBI, 10 SB, 39 BB

Much like Matt Chapman in the last article, Simmons is one of those guys that you wished there would be a fantasy category for defensive runs saved. He is basically this generation’s Ozzie Smith. He’s solid offensively, but that plays up big time with his defense in real baseball. In fake baseball not so much.

Tim Anderson– Chicago White Sox

Projection: .252, 16 HR, 62 Runs, 64 RBI, 20 SB, 25 BB

Anderson has been up a couple of seasons and we know his modus operandi. He will hit the occasional dinger and steal the occasional base. That’s good. He won’t draw walks. That’s bad. There’s a reason the White Sox have been sniffing around Machado.

Paul Dejong– St. Louis Cardinals

Projection: .254, 22 HR, 62 Runs, 73 RBI, 2 SB, 24 BB

Where the Cardinals hit Dejong could make a lot of difference. If they put him in the lineup near Matt Carpenter and Paul Goldschmidt the lack of patience may not kill him. The smart play would be to put him down in the order though.

Willy Adames– Tampa Bay Rays

Projection: .248, 13 HR, 61 Runs, 59 RBI, 10 SB, 56 BB

The third of our young shortstops also came up last year and looks to be the Rays regular shortstop next season. They can mix and match guys with the best of them, so we aren’t as confident that he will get a full complement of at bats.

Brandon Crawford– San Francisco Giants

Projection: .255, 13 HR, 54 Runs, 60 RBI, 5 SB, 47 BB

I’ve always liked Crawford. He doesn’t do anything really well, but he doesn’t have any major weaknesses either. He is a testament to the value of an average player. Sure, average doesn’t sound good until you’ve experienced replacement level performance.

Elvis Andrus– Texas Rangers

Projection: .266, 9 HR, 58 Runs, 55 RBI, 11 SB, 37

Andrus had a huge 2017 season and then he spent a good portion of 2018 on the shelf. 2017 may have been a mirage. The numbers above represent what he has done for much of his career. Of course, he doesn’t have the speed he once did and that is while he has tumbled down the list.

2019 Fantasy Baseball: Third Base Steamer Projection Rankings

Third base and right field are the deepest positions on the fantasy diamond. It’s hard to explain why that is the case. Unfortunately, when you get to the point where you have this much depth, you get some considerable anger when someone’s guy is ranked lower than they think he should be.

The three year rankings do that for guys that haven’t played three seasons. So, we look at the projection data as a counterbalance. We are looking at the Steamer projections for the six main offensive categories. Again, we take these with a grain of salt.

Jose Ramirez– Cleveland Indians

Projection: .284, 27 HR, 93 Runs, 97 RBI, 23 SB, 77 BB

Ramirez has done it two seasons in a row and he was better last year than the season before. Yes, the Indians have less than they did before, but Ramirez is also eligible at second base. I’m not sure if he’s a first round pick given all that has happened, but you could do a lot worse.

Kris Bryant– Chicago Cubs

Projection: .275, 28 HR, 93 Runs, 86 RBI, 6 SB, 79 BB

Bryant has tumbled into the 30s in ADP. He was the former NL MVP and has multiple position flexibility. 2018 was a down season to be sure, but this guy is an elite player. He could end up being a bargain if he lasts until the third or fourth round in most standard 12 player leagues.

Nolan Arenado– Colorado Rockies

Projection: .286, 36 HR, 96 Runs, 106 RBI, 3 SB, 62 BB

I try to stay true to ideology. The key difference between Arenado and Bryant is patience and a little extra speed on the part of Bryant. The multi-positional flexibility is also a factor. Arenado just spits out runs and RBI by the bushel, so you can flip flop them if you wish.

Alex Bregman– Houston Astros

Projection: .279, 25 HR, 95 Runs, 89 RBI, 10 SB, 73 BB

Both Bregman and Bryant were number two overall picks. It would be interesting to flip flop them. After all, the Astros could have taken Bryant instead of Mark Appel. They may have won out here. Bregman is also eligible at short in most formats.

Eugenio Suarez– Cincinnati Reds

Projection: .257, 28 HR, 80 Runs, 90 RBI, 4 SB, 70 BB

The Reds are one of the deepest offenses in the National League. That includes teams like the Dodgers and Cubs. Suarez has quietly improved in each of the past three seasons. I’m not sure if he has another step in him, but even if he doesn’t he’s turned into a very underrated player.

Anthony Rendon– Washington Nationals

Projection: .287, 21 HR, 80 Runs, 80 RBI, 4 SB, 65 BB

Rendon will likely be the next 100+ million dollar guy coming out of Washington. This shows how deep third base is. Some will drop him once Harper signs elsewhere, but there are still plenty of hitters to drive in in Washington.

Matt Chapman– Oakland Athletics

Projection: .249, 28 HR, 84 Runs, 85 RBI, 4 SB, 60 BB

I wish they included fielding runs as a category. Chapman is definitely a top five overall third baseman in terms of absolute value, but as a hitter he doesn’t have the batting average to compete with the guys above him. He will draw walks though, so he’s a good bet in six category leagues.

Matt Carpenter– St. Louis Cardinals

Projection: .251, 25 HR, 96 Runs, 69 RBI, 4 SB, 98 BB

Carpenter is also eligible at first base. Usually that would be worse, but third base is deeper than first these days. There was a brief time in August when Carpenter looked like the NL MVP last season. Now, he’s ranked eighth. That’s how deep this spot is.

Travis Shaw– Milwaukee Brewers

Projection: .249, 27 HR, 72 Runs, 83 RBI, 5 SB, 64 BB

Shaw could be eligible at second base in some leagues and if the Brewers bring Mike Moustakas back he could move there permanently. Shaw is definitely a step below the top eight guys. This is similar to the index when we look at the gap between players.

Josh Donaldson– Atlanta Braves

Projection: .257, 25 HR, 75 Runs, 75 RBI, 3 SB, 74 BB

Every fantasy champion must roll the dice every once in awhile. Donaldson is a top five talent even at a deep third base position. The key will be health. Most projection systems are looking at 500 or so plate appearances. If he goes north of 600 he could be a stud.

Mike Moustakas– Free Agent

Projection: .257, 28 HR, 70 Runs, 83 RBI, 3 SB, 43 BB

Poor Mike Moustakas. He has to wait for the Manny Machado sweepstakes to sort itself out before the losers turn to Moustakas. A return to Milwaukee actually makes sense and in that lineup he could put up really good numbers. Stay tuned.

Justin Turner– Los Angeles Dodgers

Projection: .286, 18 HR, 71 Runs, 68 RBI, 3 SB, 52 BB

Turner missed almost half of last season. Projecting playing time is a dicey issue across the board. Does one season with a significant injury affect future durability. Maybe. I tend to think he will be back to 600 PA, so he will outproduce this in all likelihood.

Miguel Sano– Minnesota Twins

Projection: .237, 28 HR, 72 Runs, 80 RBI, 1 SB, 64 BB

Sano may be a scumbag. What does this have to do with the numbers? Well, he spent a good portion of last season with an abuse allegation hanging over his head. It was a huge step back on the diamond. Maybe being “cleared” lifts the cloud. He’s a borderline regular. I’m not sure that’s enough to overlook the fact that he might be a scumbag.

Rafael Devers– Boston Red Sox

Projection: .271, 21 HR, 63 Runs, 71 RBI, 5 SB, 38 BB

Devers is a good counterpoint to Sano. Devers plays in the best lineup in the American League and he is getting better. Whether he takes two steps forward or just one remains to be seen. The key for him will be whether he can take a few walks here and there.

Miguel Andujar– New York Yankees

Projection: .279, 23 HR, 69 Runs, 78 RBI, 3 SB, 28 BB

Andujar was worth -25 DRS last year as a third baseman. That might explain why the Yankees seemed eager to replace him this offseason. Fielding matters because it effects how often he gets on the field. With D.J. LeMahieu in tow, he might find itsef on the bench more often this season.

Kyle Seager– Seattle Mariners

Projection: .241, 22 HR, 66 Runs, 74 RBI, 3 SB, 48 BB

Seager used to be banked for 25 home runs and 90 RBI a season. The Mariners are going into tank mode and he took a steo back last season. Whether he returns to form or not, he isn’t likely to drive in all of those runs.

Jake Lamb– Arizona Diamondbacks

Projection: .245, 17 HR, 55 Runs, 58 RBI, 4 SB, 57 BB

Last season was a lost season for Lamb, but a move to first base might help him stay on the field long enough to produce some decent numbers again. At any other position he would be a definite top 15 guy, but third base is as deep as ever.

Eduardo Escobar– Arizona Diamondbacks

Projection: .252, 15 HR, 55 Runs, 59 RBI, 4 SB, 39 BB

Formats matter. Escobar is a doubles machine. Doubles don’t count any extra in standard leagues, but in total points leagues it makes him an intriguing play. The Dbacks are tanking, so it will be hard for him to put up secondary numbers.

Matt Duffy– Tampa Bay Rays

Projection: .271, 5 HR, 33 Runs, 29 RBI, 6 SB, 22 BB

This is all about projecting playing time. Betting on any Rays player is rough because they mix and match so much. If Duffy gets 500 plate appearances he is a decent add for a fantasy bench. He may also be eligible at shortstop.

Zack Cozart– Los Angeles Angels

Projection: .243, 15 HR, 63 Runs, 55 RBI, 3 SB, 45 BB

Cozart had a lost season last year, but there is no reason to expect him to suffer through more injuries this season. If he goes back to career norms he is a decent bench option. He could even get some games in at short if Andrelton Simmons gets hurt.

2019 Fantasy Baseball: Second Base Steamer Projection Rankings

Second base is actually one of the deeper positions in fantasy baseball. That could clearly be seen in the market this past winter as well. Like with catchers and first basemen, we get to deal with the tension between past results and future expectations. Some younger players were hurt because they had not put up enough numbers to beat out lesser players. Here, we get to see them move up the charts.

In our projection series we are using the six primary offensive categories to rank players (walks are the sixth category). The best course of action is probably to combine the two somehow. Projections are an inexact science due to all of the factors that are out of the player’s control. So, we do the best we can.

Jose Altuve—Houston Astros

Projection: .303, 17 HR, 89 Runs, 78 RBI, 17 SB, 54 BB

ESPN or the MLB Network did one of those lists that get you through the hot stove season where they listed players under 30 that look like Hall of Famers. They somehow left Altuve off the list. In Houston, the debate is already raging between Craig Biggio and Altuve for the top spot at second base. He played with a broken bone in his leg last season. He should be 100 percent again this season.

Ozzie Albies—Atlanta Braves

Projection: .273, 18 HR, 76 Runs, 72 RBI, 15 SB, 40 BB

Albies looks like a younger version of Altuve. Altuve grew when he learned to take the occasional walk. Albies doesn’t have Altuve’s freakish hit tool, but he has power and speed to burn. He also plays in a lineup that is considerably better than it was last year. If he learns to take a few more pitches he could be dangerous.

Gleyber Torres—New York Yankees

Projection: .257, 21 HR, 67 Runs, 71 RBI, 8 SB, 49 BB

As exciting as Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are, every team sees their fortunes rise and fall with their best young players. Miguel Andujar and Torres drove the Yankees to a 100 win season. Whether either are as good this season remains to be seen. Young players always take a step forward or a step back. They are rarely ever the same.

Yoan Moncada—Chicago White Sox

Projection: .236, 19 HR, 77 Runs, 63 RBI, 16 SB, 69 BB

Moncada struck out more than 200 times last season. Yet, he also had a healthy walk rate. Add in the power and speed and you have a fascinating package. Something will give in 2019. Either he will make more contact and take the next step as a player or he will take his first steps out of the league.

Daniel Murphy—Colorado Rockies

Projection: .306, 18 HR, 66 Runs, 70 RBI, 3 SB, 35 BB

People trash the Rockies because they haven’t done much this offseason, but this move was a stroke of genius. Murphy might not be much of a second baseman anymore, but he just might be the second or third best hitter on the Rockies. That’s saying something for a team with Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon.

Scooter Gennett—Cincinnati Reds

Projection: .262, 18 HR, 67 Runs, 72 RBI, 4 SB, 37 BB

The J.T. Realmuto saga has become its own soap opera with pitfalls and cliff hangers at every step. The Reds are supposedly in. Let’s assume he goes there. I dare you to find a hole in their lineup. Gennett could be a trade candidate depending on how their season goes, but I can’t imagine him doing any better anywhere else.

Robinson Cano—New York Mets

Projection: .277, 19 HR, 63 Runs, 67 RBI, 1 SB, 40 BB

Often when we throw things into a computer we don’t allow for context. I’m sure each projection system saw fewer PA last season and somehow spit out a lower number again. Cano has been a durable player over the years and likely will be again. I’d have to think he will produce better than this.

Whit Merrifield—Kansas City Royals

Projection: .275, 10 HR, 66 Runs, 48 RBI, 25 SB, 37 BB

The market has put players in a hard spot. You can keep getting paid peanuts from season to season and then cash in when you become a free agency or accept a lesser long-term deal in order to get security. If my employer came to me with a five-year contract I’d be hard pressed to say no. That’s even if I were leaving some money on the table.

Rougned Odor—Texas Rangers

Projection: .249, 22 HR, 63 Runs, 68 RBI, 13 SB, 33 BB

Odor actually started to draw a few more walks towards the end of last season. If that continues he could be a viable six category guy. As it stands, he just doesn’t steal first base often enough to be a top-tier guy. Who knows, if he finds himself at around 40 or 50 walks he could be something special.

Cesar Hernandez—Philadelphia Phillies

Projection: .256, 9 HR, 67 Runs, 47 RBI, 14 SB, 70 BB

When we get here we start to have a frank discussion about the difference between real value and fantasy value. Hernandez is a valuable player in real life. He gets on base and fields his position competently. In fantasy he doesn’t hit enough dingers or steal enough bases to be elite. Add in a pedestrian average and most people will just pass him by.

Brian Dozier—Washington Nationals

Projection: .242, 18 HR, 63 Runs, 54 RBI, 9 SB, 49 BB

These numbers sure do feel low. This was a guy that was hitting 30 home runs and stealing 20 bases a season until last season. As usually happens, he revealed that he was injured for part of last season. He signed a one year contract to rebuild his value. I’d bet the over here.

Jurickson Profar—Oakland Athletics

Projection: .259, 13 HR, 58 Runs, 55 RBI, 6 SB, 44 BB

Necessity is the mother of invention. The A’s are about as good as anyone in recognizing value. Profar was the number one prospect in baseball a few years ago, but it wasn’t until last year that he stuck. If he were a free agent he might be an eight figure guy annually. For now, he is under club control. 

Ian Happ—Chicago Cubs

Projection: .232, 16 HR, 48 Runs, 49 RBI, 7 SB, 50 BB

The Cubs are a team screaming for the DH. They have Happ penciled in center field for the moment, but he is naturally a second baseman. They have Ben Zobrist there. Zobrist can play everywhere and Happ is flexible too. When Addison Russell comes back it will be interesting to see how the pieces fit together.

Jason Kipnis—Cleveland Indians

Projection: .248, 13 HR, 58 Runs, 54 RBI, 6 SB, 44 BB

There was a day when Kipnis lived in the top ten at second base. Maybe it’s the pitching or maybe he just isn’t the guy he used to be. Either way, he is likely to take another step back as the Indians lineup is not nearly as deep as it used to be.

Dee Gordon—Seattle Mariners

Projection: .275, 3 HR, 60 Runs, 41 RBI, 30 SB, 18 BB

Stolen bases are fantasy baseball’s heroin. Fantasy players chase the dragon and it never seems to get them the high they were hoping for. Like the drug, speedsters always seem to regress over time (at least in terms of SB). You look up one day at a guy that steals 20 or 30 bases and does little else.

Jed Lowrie—New York Mets

Projection: .242, 13 HR, 54 Runs, 52 RBI, 1 SB, 52 BB

Lowrie certainly cashed in on a career season this year. He will be the Mets third baseman and should gain multiple position eligibility during the season. That makes him a viable bench piece, but if you or the Mets are banking on last season’s numbers you are looking in the wrong place.

Starlin Castro—Miami Marlins

Projection: .266, 12 HR, 52 Runs, 55 RBI, 4 SB, 31 BB

Castro will wind up on a Hall of Fame ballot someday. Let that sink in for a minute. He is the kind of player that rises and falls with the tide. He is on the worst team in the National League, so it’s low tide. They’d love to deal him, but I’m hard pressed to figure what contender would actually want him.

Ian Kinsler—San Diego Padres

Projection: .246, 12 HR, 50 Runs, 41 RBI, 11 SB, 34 BB

Kinsler will wind up on that same HOF ballot and he deserves some votes. However, there is nothing as dangerous as the memory of a good player. Kinsler has aged a lot more gracefully than some guys, but the signs of age are there. The Padres hope to get a useful season or two, but there isn’t much left in the tank.

Ben Zobrist—Chicago Cubs

Projection: .268, 8 HR, 46 Runs, 45 RBI, 3 SB, 45 BB

I make no bones about the fact that I have had a man crush on Zobrist for years. He plays nearly every position well and he gets on base. He has value on a fantasy bench, but there is no denying that he will have a hard time getting in the lineup consistently. There has been talk of dealing him and if that happens he could see an uptick in value.

Dustin Pedroia—Boston Red Sox

Projection: .272, 7 HR, 46 Runs, 42 RBI, 4 SB, 38 BB

It’s takes imagination and multiple dimensional thinking to be a good fantasy sports player. The element of time is crucial. There are players that won’t be effective for six months, but they might be effective for three or four. The trick is knowing which guys to draft and stash and which ones to wait on the waiver wire. 

2019 Fantasy Baseball: First Base Steamer Projection Rankings

We return from our detour through the index to look at the rankings for first basemen. These rankings are based on the Steamer projections in the six primary categories. Projections are never perfect because they are based on a number of factors that are impossible to predict accurately. Batted ball luck, durability, and actual ability is difficult to predict.

Yet, looking at them is still instructive because the younger players were invariably hurt by the three-year outlook we went with earlier. So, take these rankings for what they are worth. Like with the index, the real story is not in the absolute rankings, but the distance between one guy and the next.

Anthony Rizzo—Chicago Cubs

Projection: .281, 29 HR, 92 Runs, 90 RBI, 7 SB, 76 BB

A part of Rizzo’s charm is that he gives you a little bit of everything. There is someone that does each skill a little better, but he gives you the combination. He also happens to be on one of the most talented teams in baseball. We might say the Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees, or Astros are better, but that’s still a pretty short list.

Freddie Freeman—Atlanta Braves

Projection: .287, 26 HR, 89 Runs, 90 RBI, 8 SB, 78 BB

Freeman is moving up in the world a lot like the Braves are. They aren’t quite to the same level as the Dodgers and Cubs, but they are the defending NL East champs and you could argue they are even better. Of course, so are the Mets, Phillies, and Nats. 

Paul Goldschmidt—St. Louis Cardinals

Projection: .277, 27 HR, 92 Runs, 87 RBI, 11 SB, 92 BB

You could argue for Goldy as the top first baseman and wouldn’t argue too strenuously. Projecting runs and RBI is a fool’s errand. Even projecting stolen bases is hard. So, you leave yourself with the other numbers and he’s right there in all of them. Like Rizzo, he gives you a little of everything.

Rhys Hoskins—Philadelphia Phillies

Projection: .249, 35 HR, 87 Runs, 95 RBI, 5 SB, 80 BB

Funny how we pay so much attention to new faces in new places, but the best guys are usually the guys that are already there. As of this writing, neither Bryce Harper nor Manny Machado have agreed to a deal. Either may wind up in Philly and that would certainly change the perception, but Hoskins still might be the top bat in town.

Joey Votto—Cincinnati Reds

Projection: .278, 21 HR, 87 Runs, 78 RBI, 3 SB, 108 BB

Votto is the best first baseman in terms of pure offensive production, but most of those numbers don’t show up on a fantasy stat sheet. The rumor mill had the Reds adding J.T. Realmuto and if that happened you would have to take them seriously in the NL Central. I’m not sure how much that affects Votto though.

Cody Bellinger—Los Angeles Dodgers

Projection: .267, 30 HR, 80 Runs, 89 RBI, 4 SB, 67 BB

Bellinger has multiple position flexibility (as does Rhys Hoskins) and there is some doubt as to whether he will wind up at first or in the outfield. I’d bet on both. Either way, he is a flawed offensive player, but there is enough protection around him to give him some cover. The added flexibility will help throughout the year.

Matt Olson—Oakland Athletics

Projection: .244, 32 HR, 81 Runs, 90 RBI, 2 SB, 70 BB

The first AL first sacker is a relative newcomer. All positions go through ebs and flows like that. Like some of the guys above him, he is a flawed offensive player, but he is a gifted defender and he plays for a team without many other options. That has a way of boosting his plate appearances.

Jose Abreu—Chicago White Sox

Projection: .280, 27 HR, 77 Runs, 89 RBI, 2 SB, 40 BB

When you put a free swinger on a young team you see diminished returns. Pitchers know they can get him to chase, so he won’t be quite as good as when he first played for the Sox. There is always the chance he could move to a contender in a trade and if that happens we could see a slight uptick in performance.

Eric Hosmer—San Diego Padres

Projection: .265, 22 HR, 76 Runs, 75 RBI, 6 SB, 65 BB

Hosmer is a throwback to the old days of free agency. A fool and his money are soon parted. Yes, there are some really smart people working for the Padres, but either they were out of the room when that decision was made or their voices weren’t heard. He isn’t as bad as he was a year ago though.

Miguel Cabrera—Detroit Tigers

Projection: .283, 21 HR, 69 Runs, 74 RBI, 1 SB, 62 BB

There is a huge debate going in and around the game about the effects of toxic contracts. Make no mistake, Cabrera has a toxic contract. Still, is that as much of a barrier to spending as some contend? If healthy, Cabrera is still a top ten first baseman and if that is the case then he is still worth something.

Brandon Belt—San Francisco Giants

Projection: .253, 18 HR, 69 Runs, 66 RBI, 4 SB, 76 BB

Is Belt really a starting quality fantasy first baseman? That might be more of a philosophical question. If you could guarantee 600 plate appearances the answer is a resounding yes. Of course, that also assumes you are playing in a walks/OBP league. There might be too many caveats there.

Max Muncy—Los Angeles Dodgers

Projection: .236, 23 HR, 70 Runs, 69 RBI, 3 SB, 72 BB

Muncy might become eligible at second base this year. The Dodgers have a group of players capable of moving around the diamond. It makes them a better bet than the Cubs or anyone in the NL East moving forward. Muncy is likely to take a step backwards this season at the plate, so that hurts his value some.

Carlos Santana—Cleveland Indians

Projection: .251, 20 HR, 70 Runs, 66 RBI, 3 SB, 70 BB

Santana is clearly a better player than Yonder Alonso. Maybe if he had been in Cleveland last year they would have made it to the ALCS. Given how thoroughly the Astros kicked them that might be farfetched. Cleveland still has Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor, so they aren’t terrible, but they are a much thinner group this time around.

Jesus Aguilar—Milwaukee Brewers

Projection: .242, 27 HR, 69 Runs, 81 RBI, 1 SB, 52 BB

Most projection systems have a regression to the mean model. So, players like Aguilar have to prove themselves before getting the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes this pessimism makes sense and sometimes it’s just a hedging of bets. Take a look at his batted ball data if you like, but this feels like a “prove it” kind of projection.

Justin Smoak—Toronto Blue Jays

Projection: .239, 25 HR, 71 Runs, 77 RBI, 1 SB, 69 BB

There’s a reason why Steamer and other projections systems do what they do. Smoak and Logan Morrison were the toasts of 2017. Smoak took a step back and Morrison turned into a pumpkin. This feels right, but there is also the possibility that Smoak could join a contender via trade, so stay tuned.

Josh Bell—Pittsburgh Pirates

Projection: .270, 15 HR, 58 Runs, 60 RBI, 4 SB, 59 BB

Fans can make themselves wondering when a player will take the next step. Sometimes they never do. Pirates fans have been waiting for Bell to develop a little more power. This year might be the year. Maybe it happens in 2020. He’s not a bad guy to have around even if it never happens. You just have to accurately peg his value.

Kendrys Morales—Toronto Blue Jays

Projection: .249, 21 HR, 57 Runs, 62 RBI, 2 SB, 42 BB

The knee injury that derailed his career as a star didn’t completely kill him. Morales still has value in deeper leagues where he also qualifies at first base. In some leagues he will only qualify in the utility spot. He’s not good enough to stick there. Like in real baseball, there are fewer and fewer spots for pure DHs.

Edwin Encarnacion—Seattle Mariners

Projection: .238, 24 HR, 60 Runs, 68 RBI, 1 SB, 57 BB

It’s hard to fathom someone going from 100+ RBI a season to 68 overnight. I don’t buy that personally, but the Mariners are also in rebuilding mode. Maybe he gets dealt before Opening Day and these numbers change. I have to think he is good for 80 RBI just by virtue of the fact that he is who he is. I’d adjust accordingly.

Ryan Zimmerman—Washington Nationals

Projection: .263, 19 HR, 51 Runs, 62 RBI, 2 SB, 34 BB

We all know that person at work. Everyone feels for him or her because something is going on in their life that just keeps them from being at their best. Then, you realize that there always seems to be something going on. Emergencies cease to be emergencies when they are always happening. Freak injuries cease to be freak injuries when they always seem to be happening. It’s hard to call someone fragile when you haven’t walked a mile in their shoes. Maybe unlucky instead?

Ian Desmond—Colorado Rockies

Projection: .268, 14 HR, 47 Runs, 49 RBI, 12 SB, 30 BB

Desmond gets the nod over C.J. Cron because he potentially has multiple position flexibility. Cron may actually put up slightly better numbers, but when you have the thin air of Colorado and multiple position potential that has to count for something. He also gives us some speed that we don’t normally have at the position. 

The perception of the Hall of Fame vote

Occasionally, we get a cautionary tale in real time. Lance Berkman fell off the Hall of Fame ballot this year with less than five percent of the vote. Bobby Abreu will be on the ballot next year and many are already predicting the same fate for him. The Hall of Fame voting process is about many things, but the least of it may be actual value. To prove it, we will compare Berkman and Abreu to Hall of Fame outfielder Vladimir Guerrero.

Guerrero was voted in in 2018 with over 90 percent of the vote. It was only his second time on the ballot. His career and Abreu’s career overlapped exactly while Berkman came up a few seasons later. So, we will evaluate these three on four tests. The first one is the index itself. We will also look at advanced offensive metrics, fielding metrics, and finally we will look at how each performed in the MVP voting. We should always keep in mind that none of these tests prove anything. Heck, even if we take them in concert it doesn’t prove anything. What we are looking for is in how close they are in actual value.

Hall of Fame Index Test

Career Value

 bWARfWARWS/5Total
Vladimir Guerrero59.454.364.8178.5
Bobby Abreu60.059.671.2190.8
Lance Berkman52.156.062.6170.7

Keep in mind that we are looking for gaps in data. We put Guerrero on top because we are supposed to think he is the best of the three. That didn’t turn out to be the case according to the career value numbers. The largest gap is actually between Abreu and the other two. The thing is that these numbers aren’t designed to prove one is more fit than another. Actually, they show quite the contrary. Either all three should be in or all three should be out. If you had to pick one based only on what you see above then you would surmise that Abreu would actually be the second ballot Hall of Famer.

Yet, we shouldn’t affirm that Guerrero was a mistake. There is nothing here to suggest that. The point is that players like Berkman and Abreu deserve far more consideration than what they got or what they are likely to get. As anyone that has been following the index knows, we can’t really say anything until we see the peak value numbers.

Peak Value

 bWARfWARWS/5TotalIndex
Vladimir Guerrero52.650.152.4155.1333.6
Bobby Abreu48.952.352.2153.4344.2
Lance Berkman46.349.451.8147.5318.2

When we look at the peak value numbers we realize how similar these players really were in value. Unfortunately for Abreu and Berkman, that is where the similarities stopped. Guerrero had a cannon for an arm and could hit home runs off of his shoes. Berkman and Abreu were not nearly as gifted in the traditional sense, but both players brought secondary talent to the game. They got on base and they did it a lot. They were in many instances just as valuable defensively without the highlight reel plays.

The totals indicate all three players are equally defensible as Hall of Famers. They are also equally defensible as being on the outside looking in. Where the problem lies is when one gets a ton of support and the other two do not. However, we can’t say anything until moving on to the other tests.

The Offensive Test

 OPS+RbaserOW%wRC+wOBABPO
Vlad Guerrero140-3.665136.390.891
Bobby Abreu12816.662129.378.866
Lance Berkman144-23.719144.400.983

It has been awhile since we have used these numbers, so a reintroduction is in order. OPS+, wRC+, and wOBA are from the same family of statistics. Essentially, it compares a player with the league average and adjusts accordingly. They are all slightly different. OPS+ obviously takes only OBP and SLG and weights it while adjusting for the home ballpark. wRC+ is the same except it does include some elements of base running. Weighted on base average is the same concept except it converts the numbers into a number that resembles OBP.

Offensive winning percentage assumes all nine hitters hit like that player and then calculates a winning percentage assuming an average pitching staff. Bases per out is a particularly valuable metric. Essentially, outs are the blood currency of the sport. So, you want to produce as many bases as you can through slugging, walking, and getting hits.

We bring all this up to give these numbers some context. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Berkman was a better hitter than either of the other two. He may not have done it quite as long as they did, but he was certainly better while he did it. So, why did he get less than five percent of the vote again?

The Fielding Test

 RfieldDWARUZRDWSTZGG
Vladimir Guerrero7-10.010.828.61
Bobby Abreu-8-11.1-30.737.71
Lance Berkman-15-11.0-27.328.91

This one is a little harder to read because they did not play the same position. Berkman spent considerable time in all three outfield positions in addition to first base. Abreu played both left and right field while Guerrero spent almost all of his time in right field. Since DWAR and win shares measure against the replacement level player you could see why Berkman would come out looking better given his time in center field. That being said, Guerrero appears to be the better fielder here, but by how much realistically?

The MVP Test

 Top 25Top 10Top 5MVPPoints
Vlad Guerrero623137
Bobby Abreu70007
Lance Berkman024026

For those not up with the quick math, top 25 finishes are awarded one point, top ten finishes three points, top five finishes five points, and MVP awards are given ten points. We have to keep in mind that these scores don’t mean that Guerrero was better than the other two. It just means he was perceived to be better than the other two. This is where we get to the second part of the MVP test. That is where we compare their MVP voting totals to their rankings in single season bWAR.

 Top 10Top 5MVPPoints
Vlad Guerrero22016
Bobby Abreu50015
Lance Berkman22016

This turned out differently didn’t it? So, by actual production these three were actually very close. That is where the value numbers turned out as well. However Guerrero arrived at his reputation, that reputation got him in more than his actual production. I won’t begrudge him his spot, but it is clear that Berkman got the shaft and early indications are that Abreu probably will as well.

An Ode to Those that have Gone

A lot of people are focused on the players going into the Hall of Fame. We will focus on the players that are leaving the ballot. Of course, we can’t cover all of these guys. Perhaps, that’s part of the problem. There are so many guys on the ballot and after awhile it becomes surreal to think of some of these guys as a Hall of Famer.

After all, does anyone really think of Rick Ankiel as a Hall of Famer? Is anyone busting down the doors to get Juan Pierre there? Obviously, no one did because no one voted for them. So, we will ignore all of the players not getting votes and focus purely on those getting votes, but dropping from the ballot.

Fred McGriff– 169 Votes

I’ve talked at length about McGriff when talking about those on the outside looking in. I have no doubt that the new Veteran’s Committee will consider him and very well could put him in some day. 52.6 career bWAR is certainly not horrible and there are people in the Hall of Fame worse than McGriff. However, that’s not really the question we should be asking at this point. The big question is whether he is the best player not in the Hall of Fame.

Sure, we could focus on the 493 home runs, 1550 RBIs, and 1349 runs scored. Sure, he has almost 2500 hits. He also has only one top five finish in the MVP voting. He did have five top ten finishes, so he wasn’t a completely unrealistic choice. Again, it’s not whether he is qualified, but whether he is the most qualified.

Michael Young– 9 Votes

I get this on some level. He scored more than 1100 runs, had more than 2300 hits, and was a .300 hitter in his career. He won a batting title and led the league in hits twice. He had 200 or more hits five years in a row. Unlike McGriff, he had only two top ten finishes in the MVP award voting. So, the big question is why.

Well, in order to be an MVP you have to be a complete player. Yes, he won a Gold Glove, but does anyone take that seriously? He has negative ratings across the board with his glove. He might be the only Gold Glove winner in history to be moved out of his position because he wasn’t good enough to stay there.

Lance Berkman– 5 Votes

Every year there is a player that drops off the ballot that makes you scratch your head. This is where we start asking why. One problem might be a 35 man ballot where only 20 of them deserve votes. Another problem is that many in the BBWAA still don’t understand or care about advanced metrics. Berkman is second all-time amongst switch hitters in OPS. The only one better is Mickey Mantle.

Berkman had more career WAR than Jim Rice who got elected in. He was very similar to McGriff who got far more votes. He had four finishes in the top five in MVP voting. At the end of the day, I don’t think Berkman is a Hall of Fame player, but he deserved better than this. He probably needed one or two more seasons as a regular to clear hurdles like 2000 hits, 400 home runs, and 1400 RBI.

Miguel Tejada– 5 Votes

Unlike the others, he actually has an MVP award to his credit. That alone makes this a bit of a surprise. He was a prolific run producer for a shortstop, but like Michael Young, he wasn’t a complete player. He wasn’t as deficient defensively as Young, but he was not a great fielder either. He also wasn’t completely adept at stealing first base.

At the end of the day though, he just didn’t do it good enough for long enough. He wasn’t an everyday player until he was 25. He played nearly every day until he was 36 and then fell off the map. That’s 12 solid seasons and they were mostly solid. If he had fourteen or fifteen solid seasons he would likely be a Hall of Famer.

Roy Oswalt– 4 Votes

I love Roy Oswalt. He won that decisive Game 6 of the NLCS in 2005. That’s a magical date in Astros history. However, he is a borderline candidate at best. His 50.1 career bWAR is just not quite there. Add in that he has only 163 career wins to his name and you just can’t muster the wherewithal to argue too much for him.

He did have six top five finishes in the Cy Young voting and another top ten finish to his name. That’s impressive for a guy with only eight seasons with 180 innings or more. When he was healthy he was really good. He just wasn’t healthy enough for long enough.

Placido Polanco– 2 Votes

Two people voted for this guy? I demand they come out now and offer an explanation. True, he was better than I remember, but beyond having 2142 hits I’m struggling to figure out why he deserves to be on the ballot, much less getting a vote. Was it his two finishes in the top 25 in the MVP voting? Is it his two trips to the All-Star game? Maybe it was the three Gold Glove awards?

To be perfectly fair, he did finish in the top ten once in single season WAR and he did have a Silver Slugger to his name. Advanced metrics show he didn’t deserve any of those Gold Gloves. So, he was occasionally very good defensively and occasionally very good offensively, but rarely ever at the same time.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to get mad at individual voters for votes that don’t make sense. You could say that about players voted for or players not voted for. However, there are a couple of easy fixes beyond the voters themselves that would help streamline the process.

  1. Limit the Players on the Ballot

There were 35 men on the ballot. The rules dictate that you can only vote for ten. Most of those players were harmless, but occasionally you get some break through. You could argue that only Lance Berkman was possibly ever going to get into the Hall of Fame. Most people would even dispute that. If you cut the list from 35 to say 15 or 20 and then a limit of ten would make sense.

2. Lift the Limit

I have a feeling that some people would have voted for Berkman if they could have voted for more than ten people. Would it have been enough to get him into the Hall of Fame? Of course not. Would it be enough to keep him on the ballot? Probably so, and that would allow for more time to understand his career in its full context.

2019 Fantasy Baseball: Catcher Steamer Projection Rankings

We have been spending time on the past three seasons and the data it gives us, but ranking players based on the past always misses something. Projections miss something too. That’s why we separate the two and eventually give you both before you start your drafts. So, we will see some new players on the board this time around because offseason moves always dictate some changes.

Just like last time, we are focusing primarily on six category formats. Even though walks are not included in five category leagues, they are crucial in evaluating the overall quality of the player. Each category is weighted equally. Naturally, you may be wondering why Steamer? Steamer tends to be fairly accurate and unlike some sources, they have projections on every one of our players.

Buster Posey– San Francisco Giants

Projection: .287, 13 HR, 69 Runs, 69 RBI, 3 SB, 62 BB

MLB Network took some flack for ranking Posey first instead of Realmuto. With the exception of the first couple of months, Realmuto approached career norms and he’s currently playing on a terrible team. That might change in the next month.

Yadier Molina– St. Louis Cardinals

Projection: .266, 16 HR, 58 Runs, 62 RBI, 6 SB, 35 BB

Before you go nuts, Molina is projected to have as many home runs as Realmuto, the same number of runs, and more RBI. They are projected at around the same average as well. Molina plays in a good lineup. In fact, they are almost the same player projection wise.

J.T. Realmuto– Miami Marlins

Projection: .267, 16 HR, 58 Runs, 61 RBI, 5 SB, 34 BB

Occasionally, a player gets overhyped. Is Realmuto the best catcher in baseball? Perhaps he would be on a new team with a neutral hitting environment. At this point, he appears to be baseball’s answer to Schrodinger’s cat.

Gary Sanchez– New York Yankees

Projection: .245, 27 HR, 65 Runs, 75 RBI, 2 SB, 48 BB

We often put too much credence in the previous season good and bad. Sanchez was on the bad side of things. Heck, that malaise even went to his defense as well. He is not as good or as bad as he has looked over the course of three seasons.

Willson Contreras– Chicago Cubs

Projection: .257, 14 HR, 51 Runs, 55 RBI, 4 SB, 45 BB

As teams and fantasy players have learned, value is determined by the gap between two players. It isn’t that above are better than Contreras, but by how much. That makes a difference when the perception doesn’t quite meet the reality. You can wait and get exceptional value on a guy like this.

Yasmani Grandal– Milwaukee Brewers

Projection: .237, 18 HR, 47 Runs, 51 RBI, 2 SB, 52 BB

No, you do not get extra credit for fielding. However, good fielding tends to keep players in the lineup and the fact that the Brewers’ depth chart is not as strong as the Dodgers depth chart makes some difference. These numbers might be a little conservative.

Danny Jansen– Toronto Blue Jays

Projection: .256, 11 HR, 44 Runs, 43 RBI, 3 SB, 33 BB

So, we get our first newcomer. The Blue Jays basically gave Russell Martin away because they wanted to fit a spot for Jansen. He may drop further then this because few casual fans have heard of him. Make sure he is somewhere on your list.

Salvador Perez– Kansas City Royals

Projection: .251, 20 HR, 50 Runs, 62 RBI, 1 SB, 16 BB

As per our usual caveat, bump him up a couple of spots in standard five category leagues. However, someday his lack of plate discipline will get him. Who knows when that day will come? That is all part of the fun of being a fantasy baseball player.

Francisco Cervelli– Pittsburgh Pirates

Projection: .256, 7 HR, 39 Runs, 38 RBI, 3 SB, 44 BB

Sometimes the musical chairs game works in reverse. The Pirates dangled Cervelli out on the trade market but no one bit. Considering that almost every team of need found someone. he might be stuck in Pittsburgh. There are worse places to be though.

Tucker Barnhart– Cincinnati Reds

Projection: .246, 7 HR, 38 Runs, 38 RBI, 2 SB, 37 BB

There are always comps at every position. The main difference between Cervelli and Barnhart is health. Others would say Barnhart is a better fielder as well, but that makes little difference to you and me (at least here in fantasy land).

Wilson Ramos– New York Mets

Projection: .261, 12 HR, 34 Runs, 42 RBI, 1 SB, 21 BB

This seems light for someone as accomplished as Ramos, but they do have Travis d’Arnaud, so maybe there will be fewer plate appearances available. Of course, the first time d’Arnaud sneezes, he will likely go on the ten day disabled list.

Mike Zunino– Tampa Bay Rays

Projection: .209, 16 HR, 38 Runs, 43 RBI, 1 SB, 27 BB

Elite power only gets you so far. If you can afford to hold your nose and go with a low batting average then he will give you nearly everything else. Of course, who knows how long the Rays can hold their nose.

Welington Castillo– Chicago White Sox

Projection: .241, 13 HR, 36 Runs, 40 RBI, 1 SB, 22 BB

He spent most of last season suspended for PEDs. So, the lack of playing time is not due to durability per se, but you do have to wonder how much he really has. He is worth a late round pickup as a backup though.

Jorge Alfaro– Philadelphia Phillies

Projection: .234, 11 HR, 36 Runs, 42 RBI, 2 SB, 19 BB

It’s often tempting to take an improved offense and extrapolate to the other members of that offense. This isn’t like basketball where you get more open shots or football where you get single blocked more often. You still have to hit no matter who else is on the lineup card.

Omar Narvaez– Seattle Mariners

Projection: .249, 6 HR, 35 Runs, 33 RBI, 2 SB, 37 BB

This was an under the radar add for the Mariners. He gets on base at a much better clip than Zunino. In real baseball, that outweighs the power that he gives up. In fantasy baseball it makes him a pretty decent fantasy bench option.

Jason Castro– Minnesota Twins

Projection: .225, 7 HR, 38 HR, 38 RBI, 0 SB, 44 BB

In real baseball, Castro is a pretty valuable catcher. He calls a good game behind the plate, has a strong throwing arm, and is a better than average pitch framer. All of those skills put him in the top third defensively at the position. None of them are fantasy categories.

Austin Barnes– Los Angeles Dodgers

Projection: .233, 6 HR, 31 Runs, 29 RBI, 5 SB, 35 BB

Remember the whole idea of comps? Barnes is essentially Jason Castro with good wheels. He had a huge 2017 rookie season, but inexplicably came back to the pack last year. He would be a decent add in case he bounces back.

Kurt Suzuki– Washington Nationals

Projection: .264, 8 HR, 28 Runs, 32 RBI, 1 SB, 15 BB

I promise I compared him to Yan Gomes (the preseason favorite to start). Suzuki was the source of a huge offseason argument on some message boards I frequent. Overall, the Nats are probably just as good going with one over the other when defense is included, but Suzuki is clearly the better offensive player.

2019 Fantasy Baseball: Integrated Non-Closer Reliever Rankings

We finally come to the end of the integrated fantasy ranking series. We are picking the top 24 pitchers that are not exclusively closers (we will see a couple of notable exceptions). There are two schools of thought of adding setup men and middle relievers towards the end of a draft. The first has fantasy players target pitchers that are backing up weaker closers. The idea is to pounce on a guy likely to close games at some point in the year.

The second school of thought is relatively new. It involves drafting relievers that will put up dominant numbers. If you draft two really good middle relievers you will end up equaling the production of one dominant starter. In leagues that count holds you will end up coming out ahead, but even in standard five category leagues it is a good strategy. Just like with the closers, we are ranking these pitchers according to their three year projected numbers in the six categories along with their rankings in total points.

Total Points: (3) Wins + (2) Saves + (2) Inn + Holds + SO – ER – Hits – BB

Dellin Betances—New York Yankees

Points: 599 (1st)

Projection: 3 Wins, 8 Saves, 21 Holds, 2.89 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 15.42 K/9 (3rd)

These numbers are projected over 60 innings. Betances normally pitches closer to 70 innings per season, so the numbers are a bit conservative. He is the perfect example of the second strategy. Aroldis Chapman isn’t likely to go anywhere, but his 100+ strikeouts would match up well with one other dominant reliever like a Josh Hader. Imagine what those two would look like on the same fantasy roster.

Andrew Miller—St. Louis Cardinals

Points: 559 (3rd)

Points: 5 Wins, 6 Saves, 21 Holds, 2.00 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 13.84 K/9 (1st)

Miller is the original. He was a closer at one time and when he was traded to the Indians we all thought he would become their closer. Instead, Terry Francona used him as a sort of “relief ace” like in the days of yore. If he is healthy he could reprise that role again with the Cardinals or he could return to his role as closer. Either way, he will put up dominant numbers.

Alex Colome—Chicago White Sox

Points: 563 (2nd)

Projection: 4 Wins, 30 Saves, 10 Holds, 2.78 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 9.47 K/9 (7th)

Colome fits the mold of the first strategy. Odds are really good that he will share the closer’s role with Kelvin Herrera, so you will likely see between 10 and 20 save opportunities. Guys like him can be really valuable in leagues that also include holds. His other numbers are still very good, but not elite like some of the other guys we will see.

Chris Devenski—Houston Astros

Points: 528 (4th)

Projection: 4 Wins, 2 Saves, 13 Holds, 2.75 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 9.72 K/9 (8th)

Okay, this is where the rubber meets the road. Did Devenski have a down year because he was injured or has the league figured him out? There was talk of him tipping his pitches at the end of 2017. If he returns to form he is on par with Betances and Miller. If he isn’t then he might not even be worthy of a roster spot on the Astros.

Josh Hader—Milwaukee Brewers

Points: 404 (14th)

Projection: 4 Wins, 6 Saves, 15 Holds, 2.30 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 14.72 K/9 (2nd)

No projection or ranking system is perfect. I stay true to methodology where others will interject their opinion where necessary. Hader is the second best pitcher on this list and might very well be the best, but because he doesn’t have three years of numbers he falls a little behind. Feel free to adjust accordingly. I’d probably pick him right after Betances.

Chad Green—New York Yankees

Points: 444 (10th)

Projection: 5 Wins, 0 Saves, 6 Holds, 2.79 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 11.79 K/9 (9th)

I’m not sure how wise it is for the Yankees to load up on relief pitching. Between their top five relievers, they are spending about 60 million dollars. That doesn’t even count Green. He definitely is a category two reliever as there are at least three or four prominent relievers in line in front of him to close games. 

Carl Edwards—Chicago Cubs

Points: 387 (17th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 1 Save, 21 Holds, 3.04 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 12.45 K/9 (4th)

With Brandon Morrow on the shelf, Edwards actually fits both molds. The Cubs are in a unique position of having several good relievers, but none of them have closing experience. Edwards might or might not stick in that role. In leagues with holds he might be better off sticking in middle relief.

Kyle Barraclough—Washington Nationals

Points: 434 (11th)

Projection: 4 Wins, 3 Saves, 20 Holds, 3.29 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 11.55 K/9 (11th)

This was an under the radar trade towards the end of 2018 that could end up paying huge dividends in 2019. Barraclough has some warts, but they might have been attributable to his team more than him. We will certainly find out. If he can do a better job of limiting base runners he could be an elite setup man.

Addison Reed—Minnesota Twins

Points: 451 (9th)

Projection: 2 Wins, 6 Saves, 20 Holds, 2.97 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 9.09 K/9 (16th)

Reed has an outside shot of closing games in Minnesota, but he earns the spot here above Matt Barnes and Jeremy Jeffress because he has been a consistently good reliever. I always prefer guys that will help the rate statistics and add to the strikeouts than blindly chasing wins and saves.

Jeremy Jeffress—Milwaukee Brewers

Points: 430 (10th)

Projection: 5 Wins, 12 Saves, 9 Holds, 2.70 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 8.19 K/9 (13th)

Craig Counsell is a new age general manager that likely will turn to Jeffress to close out games before turning to Hader if Corey Knebel should falter. If you take his numbers only as a Brewer you can see why he should be a prime target regardless of your draft day strategy. Arlington has a way of fudging with any pitcher’s numbers.

Matt Barnes—Boston Red Sox

Points: 422 (13th)

Projection: 5 Wins, 1 Save, 21 Holds, 3.86 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 11.36 K/9 (12th)

Barnes might be the Red Sox closer if they had to pick one today. I’m betting they add someone better and even if they don’t I tend to shy away from weak closers. I say that here in order to keep from having to reiterate it later. There are weak closers that will wind up here. That isn’t by accident.

Adam Ottavino—New York Yankees

Points: 396 (16th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 6 Saves, 21 Holds, 3.36 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 11.96 K/9 (10th)

It’s lazy analysis to simply assume Ottavino will be dominant now that he is at sea level. His home ERA in his career is actually lower than the road ERA. Still, if you remove a rough 2017 campaign, he has been a solid middle reliever or setup man in some rough conditions. Who knows what his final role will be in New York though.

Keone Kela—Pittsburgh Pirates

Points: 335 (22nd)

Projection: 6 Wins, 13 Saves, 14 Holds, 3.92 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 11.76 K/9 (5th)

Kela was better in Pittsburgh last year than in Texas, but had a better ERA at home than on the road in his career. Go figure. He’s been really good in three out of four seasons and the one bad one came in 2016. He has closing experience, but it isn’t likely that Felipe Vazquez will vacate that role any time soon.

Jeurys Familia—New York Mets

Points: 461 (8th)

Projection: 4 Wins, 26 Saves, 3 Holds, 3.05 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 9.93 K/9 (19th)

Cover up his name and his saves over the last several seasons and simply look at the other numbers. Familia is a good pitcher. Is he worth huge money or the fuss that has been made over him? Probably not. This is the folly of the saves rule and the importance that has been attached to it. With Edwin Diaz in tow, he’s not closing many games.

Ken Giles—Toronto Blue Jays

Points: 489 (5th)

Projection: 1 Win, 25 Saves, 6 Holds, 3.64 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 12.02 K/9 (22nd)

Wait, isn’t a closer? Well, we can’t get everything past the reading public. The reality is that I don’t want to put Giles on my list anywhere. It is also equally obvious that he shouldn’t be left off the list because he will close games. I don’t know how long he will do it or how well he will do it, but he will do it none of the less. 

Zach Britton—New York Yankees

Points: 399 (15th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 20 Saves, 4 Holds, 1.86 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 8.22 K/9 (14th)

Speaking of overhyped. Britton’s ERA is artificially low. It’s hard to justify it based on his WHIP and relatively low strikeout rate. Eleven million annually is pretty pricey for a guy that will be a glorified lefty specialist. He will put up decent rate statistics, but he likely won’t log enough innings to add the counting ones.

Seranthony Dominguez—Philadelphia Phillies

Points: 169 (25th)

Projection: 2 Wins, 16 Saves, 14 Holds, 2.95 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 11.48 K/9 (6th)

Again, having only one season under his belt is killing his ranking. He would rank somewhere near the top in reality. He and David Robertson will likely share some closing responsibilities. That means he gets both saves and holds. Guys that fill up all six categories are especially valuable.

Fernando Rodney—Oakland Athletics

Points: 479 (7th)

Projection: 4 Wins, 29 Saves, 5 Holds, 3.65 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 10.17 K/9 (24th)

Rodney has 325 career saves and counting. So, he will be on a HOF ballot someday. This is for a relief pitcher with a 48-66 record, 3.70 career ERA and ERA predictive stats even higher. He has 8.6 career fWAR. Despite all of these numbers some in the BBWAA will cast a vote for him. It won’t be many, but it will be enough to make you scratch your head. 

Archie Bradley—Arizona Diamondbacks

Points: 482 (6th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 1 Save, 12 Holds, 3.83 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 9.21 K/9 (27th)

Bradley’s 2017 and 2018 seasons are a lot more indicative of the pitcher he is likely to be. Still, he is in line to be the closer after having 4 saves and 14 official blown saves. The blown save statistic is more ludicrous than the save statistic. Still, you have to be concerned coming into the season if you are a Dback fan.

Joakim Soria—Oakland Athletics

Points: 385 (18th)

Projection: 4 Wins, 6 Saves, 18 Holds, 3.66 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 10.24 K/9 (17th)

Soria has seen a recent uptick in strikeouts per nine innings that gives everyone cause for optimism. His FIP the last two seasons has been excellent and the A’s might be the best fielding team in baseball. At least they are individually. It all adds up to what? He gives them another potential closer if Blake Treinen goes down.

Blake Parker—Minnesota Twins

Points: 340 (21st)

Projection: 2 Wins, 9 Saves, 8 Holds, 3.10 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 10.19 K/9 (20th)

The Twins will be a fascinating team this season. They are using the tried and shaky strategy of employing several setup men and hoping one of them can close. It’s not a terrible strategy really. It makes sense financially and it works some of the time. Of the candidates, Parker might be the best one.

Trevor May—Minnesota Twins

Points: 151 (26th)

Projection: 5 Wins, 3 Saves, 10 Holds, 4.50 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 12.71 K/9 (15th)

ERA is usually a good metric, but sometimes it can be deceiving. May has a decent WHIP and a very healthy strikeout rate. If you look at ERA predictors like FIP, xFIP, and SIERA they all predict ERAs in the mid threes based on his numbers. He could end up being a sleeper a lot like Ryan Pressly was last season.

Craig Stammen—San Diego Padres

Points: 314 (23rd)

Projection: 4 Wins, 0 Saves, 13 Holds, 2.94 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 9.17 K/9 (18th)

Stammen has a decent shot at getting some save opportunities. Kirby Yates will get the first crack at the spot, but he was very shaky last season when he got the opportunity. Stammen doesn’t have any experience there either, so he could be just as ineffective.

Ryan Pressly—Houston Astros

Points: 385 (18th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 1 Save, 12 Holds, 3.61 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 9.96 K/9 (25th)

Pressly was far better than this last season following his trade to the Astros. Was that a harbinger of things to come or simply a hot streak? I’m betting enough on the idea that he has taken another step forward to put him on the list over guys like Joe Kelly and Mark Melancon. In 26 games in Houston he had a 1-0 record with a 0.77 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 23 innings. Parlay that out into a full season and he would be top five middle reliever territory.

2019 Fantasy Baseball: Integrated Closer Rankings 1-24

Ranking relief pitchers is difficult at best. Yet, drafting multiple relievers is become a lot more popular in season long fantasy leagues. Of course, from here it depends on the categories that count. Some six category leagues include holds. That absolutely changes the reliever landscape. So, from here we are ranking closers and other relievers separately. We are including six categories (including holds) and total points as we have in the other positions.

However, we are changing things up a bit to handle the inevitable questions that come up with relievers. Primarily, we are shifting from strikeouts to strikeouts per nine innings. All other estimates are based on 60 innings pitched. As you might imagine, some will pitch more than that, but usage is so unpredictable that there really is no other way to go. As you will see, rate statistics are a lot more valuable. Just like with the other positions, projections and total points are based on the past three seasons.

Total Points= (2) INN + (3) Wins + (2) Saves + Holds + SO – ER – Hits – BB

Craig Kimbrel—Free Agent

Points: 710 (2nd)

Projection: 4 Wins, 35 Saves, 1 Hold, 2.45 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 14.92 K/9 (1st)

It says something that the best closer in baseball is still unsigned in mid-January. It’s not so much about Kimbrel himself although his demands for a five-year contract are definitely chilling the market. Closers just don’t have the shelf life. He looked human in the last postseason which probably also doesn’t help.

Kenley Jansen—Los Angeles Dodgers

Points: 775 (1st)

Projection: 3 Wins, 36 Saves, 0 Holds, 2.08 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 12.76 K/9 (3rd)

Grading out players according to wins, saves, and holds just seems so silly. Kimbrel is one tick better in all three categories. Predicting future performance in those metrics makes about as much sense as predicting the behavior of a rabid raccoon. I’d pay much more attention to the rate stats.

Aroldis Chapman—New York Yankees

Points: 582 (6th)

Projection: 4 Wins, 34 Saves, 1 Hold, 2.38 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 14.26 K/9 (2nd)

Again, we can throw a small blanket over the counting numbers of these three closers. Kimbrel doesn’t have a home yet, so predicting the future is cloudy. We assume he will hold the closer role even though Dellin Betances may be a superior pitcher. That’s another in a long line of peculiarities of evaluating closers.

David Robertson—Philadelphia Phillies

Points: 593 (5th)

Projection: 7 Wins, 17 Saves, 9 Holds, 2.84 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 11.88 K/9 (5th)

Okay, this doesn’t make much sense. This is what happens when you rank players partially based on wins, saves, and holds. Remove holds and he drops below the next few guys. His obscene wins total probably is more responsible than anything. Wins for relief pitchers are completely unpredictable.

Brad Hand—Cleveland Indians

Points: 660 (4th)

Projection: 2 Wins, 14 Saves, 12 Holds, 2.63 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 12.04 K/9 (7th)

Let’s start with the assumption that he will be the closer. That might not be a perfect assumption given how Terry Francona uses his relievers. Cody Allen is currently a free agent. If he were to come back the job might go back to him, but those odds seem long at this point. Hand gets the nod because he has been more prolific than Diaz in terms of use.

Edwin Diaz—New York Mets

Points: 678 (3rd)

Projection: 1 Win, 34 Saves, 5 Holds, 2.64 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 14.18 K/9 (9th)

This is not an exact science, so if people really feel strongly they can throw Diaz in front of Hand. I won’t be offended. The numbers dictate my rankings so my emotions aren’t in it. What I can say is that Diaz was likely overused last season and that has a way of lingering. Look at the history of 50+ save seasons and look at the following one. It’s not pretty.

Felipe Vazquez—Pittsburgh Pirates

Points: 576 (7th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 16 Saves, 11 Holds, 2.85 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 10.95 K/9 (10th)

If we have learned anything from the Hall of Fame portion of our site it is that we learn more when we look for gaps in the data and not simply at rankings. Vazquez is a cut below the other closers. There is nothing wrong with that but every draft sees closers go and go fast. You want to resist giving into that hysteria if at all possible.

Blake Treinen—Oakland Athletics

Points: 572 (8th)

Projection: 4 Wins, 14 Saves, 8 Holds, 2.25 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 9.36 K/9 (12th)

We go back three years because we can drive ourselves nuts chasing single season phenoms. Treinen may have been the best closer in baseball last season, but is that likely to continue? The peripherals are not kind. He should be solid, but even if he is just as good, the A’s may not be.

Sean Doolittle—Washington Nationals

Points: 434 (16th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 24 Saves, 9 Holds, 2.53 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 11.13 K/9 (4th)

These numbers kind of jump off the page. Unfortunately, attendance is part of the grade. He just hasn’t been consistent in his durability, but he is an underrated pick at this point. The numbers after wins, saves, and holds are better predictors of future performance.

Roberto Osuna—Houston Astros

Points: 553 (10th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 33 Saves, 1 Hold, 2.86 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 10.07 K/9 (14th)

Can you check your humanity at the door? Osuna may very well be a scumbag and every fantasy player has to make up their own mind about whether they want to support a scumbag. On the pure numbers angle, give him his half season back and he would be a top five closer. Some fantasy players may take him off the board completely. If you can stomach it you could have quite a value pick here.

Wade Davis—Colorado Rockies

Points: 530 (11th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 37 Saves, 0 Holds, 2.91 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 10.99 K/9 (15th)

Remember when he was a starting pitcher? Chasing saves could be compared to chasing the heroin dragon. You get the saves, but what do you give up in the process? In the case of Davis you likely give up ERA and WHIP. You have to decide how much those saves are worth.

Pedro Strop—Chicago Cubs

Points: 411 (18th)

Projection: 5 Wins, 5 Saves, 18 Holds, 2.64 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 9.81 K/9 (8th)

Strop has been a better pure pitcher than about half of the guys above him over the last three years. He just hasn’t been a closer. This is where the debate will rage. Can anyone close games or does it take a special person? I suppose we will find out in Chicago next year. Everything is set up for him to put up big time numbers if he can handle the pressure.

Raisel Iglesias—Cincinnati Reds

Points: 554 (9th)

Projection: 2 Wins, 17 Saves, 2 Holds, 2.47 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 10.15 K/9 (18th)

Iglesias is a throwback to the closers of the 1970s. He was a failed starter, but has an elite enough fastball to dominate one time through the order. That gives him a few extra innings and some more counting numbers (like strikeouts) that make picking relievers an effective long-term strategy.

Corey Knebel—Milwaukee Brewers

Points: 492 (12th)

Projection: 2 Wins, 21 Saves, 11 Holds, 2.96 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 13.83 K/9 (16th)

Now we get to the fun part of the list. Knebel is a talented reliever and in a league with holds he is a safe pick. In saves only leagues it is a bit of a risky proposition. Will they go to Hader in the 9th? Does Jeremy Jeffress get opportunities? Knebel has the talent, but if he struggles early it could get interesting.

Kirby Yates—San Diego Padres

Points: 403 (19th)

Projection: 4 Wins, 5 Saves, 14 Holds, 3.52 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 12.75 K/9 (11th)

Yates was a brilliant pitcher until Hand was dealt to the Indians. Maybe there is something to this whole “only certain guys can close games.” In holds leagues he still has value as a high strikeout reliever.

Will Smith—San Francisco Giants

Points: 243 (25th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 9 Saves, 19 Holds, 2.90 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 11.52 K/9 (6th)

I used rosterresource.com to pick the 30 closers to compare. It’s a great site I wholeheartedly recommend, but occasionally I’m not sure how they pick certain guys. Mark Melancon has closed before and done it well. Using him would open up the Giants to use Smith more creatively, so stay tuned.

Arodys Vizcaino—Atlanta Braves

Points: 327 (22nd)

Projection: 4 Wins, 18 Saves, 8 Holds, 3.09 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 10.34 K/9 (10th)

Supposedly, the Braves are one of the few teams in the hunt for Kimbrel. The Braves have made finding a better closer than Vizcaino an annual affair. Every year he ends up being the closer by the end of the season. Like a bad penny he always turns up.

Mychal Givens—Baltimore Orioles

Points: 490 (13th)

Projection: 4 Wins, 2 Saves, 14 Holds, 3.29 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 10.29 K/9 (20th)

The main upside here is that there really is no one else. The downside is that the Orioles aren’t going anywhere. If Givens is bad they will keep giving him the ball anyway. If he’s good he is likely to be dealt to a contender at the deadline.

Jose Leclerc—Texas Rangers

Points: 292 (23rd)

Projection: 2 Wins, 7 Saves, 13 Holds, 2.52 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 12.20 K/9 (13th)

I still can’t stop laughing at the Rangers rotation. Leclerc is no laughing matter. Unfortunately, that doesn’t create save opportunities out of thin air. Teams are already asking about Leclerc and if they struggle again it will become increasingly more difficult not to listen.

Kelvin Herrera—Chicago White Sox

Points: 429 (17th)

Projection: 2 Wins, 19 Saves, 11 Holds, 3.19 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 9.26 K/9 (24th)

Rosterresource.com has both Herrera and Colome as the closers. I suppose I could have included Colome, but decided to go with Herrera on the coin flip. We will see Colome in the next list. Herrera seemed to turn a corner last season before his season ending injury.

Jose Alvarado—Tampa Bay Rays

Points: 220 (26th)

Projection: 1 Win, 5 Saves, 25 Holds, 2.81 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 10.55 K/9 (17th)

Perhaps the Rays position in the financial hell of the game makes them freer to be more creative. Either way, they are entertaining to watch for those with a more analytical bent. Alvarado is the best relief pitcher they have right now, but whether that makes him the closer is anyone’s best guess.

Anthony Swarzak—Seattle Mariners

Points: 278 (24th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 3 Saves, 13 Holds, 3.83 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 10.81 K/9 (22nd)

Is he the best the Mariners have? Does it really matter? On the one hand, we could go with the ol’ adage that someone has to close games in the Pacific Northwest. Yet, odds are that it will be two or three guys doing it, so none of them are really all that viable. The fact that he is more viable than some closers really says something about closers.

Drew Steckenrider—Miami Marlins

Points: 215 (27th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 4 Saves, 18 Holds, 3.36 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 11.64 K/9 (21st)

Steckenrider is not bad. If you removed the counting numbers he would probably fall somewhere in the middle of the pack. He allows too many baserunners, but he also strikes out more than some other pitchers. When the Marlins deal Realmuto they will seal their fate as the worst team in the National League.

Ty Buttrey—Minnesota Twins

Points: 40 (30th)

Projection: 0 Wins, 15 Saves, 23 Holds, 3.38 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 11.25 K/9 (20th)

He’s really at the mercy of management at this point. Will they think he’s good enough to be a closer on a contending team? I could see this is a logic landing spot for Cody Allen. If that happens then Buttrey tumbles off of the board.