BATTERS: 2019 Gambles

This column will help you identify batters who may be overvalued heading into draft day. We'll do so by looking at batters whose 2018 production was not backed up by strong underlying skill support.

Last year, this column helped you avoid down seasons from Tim Beckham (SS/3B, SEA), Ian Happ (CF/3B, CHC), Eric Hosmer (1B, SD), Michael Taylor (CF, WAS), and Cory Spangenberg (2B/3B, MIL).

Here are the batters with the worst skills in 2018 among those who earned at least $5 that season:

<25 BPV, 5x5 $5+, 2018*

Name                League  Pos     bb%  ct%  Eye   PX   HctX  xPX  Spd  5x5 $  BPV
==================  ======  =======  ===  ===  ====  ===  ====  ===  ===  =====  ===
Alfaro, Jorge           NL        C   5%  60%  0.13  113    83  102  130     $6  -19
Davis, Rajai            AL       CF   5%  76%  0.23   39    75   58  142     $5  -11
Engel, Adam             AL       CF   4%  70%  0.14   69    66   64  149     $8   -9
Garcia, Leury           AL       CF   3%  73%  0.13   63    81   63  136     $7   -6
Adames, Willy           AL    SS/2B  10%  67%  0.33   83    86   89  128     $9   -5
Villar, Jonathan        AL       2B   8%  70%  0.30   79    80   71  111    $23   -3
DeShields Jr, Delino    AL       CF  11%  75%  0.52   48    77   58  112     $6   -3
Kingery, Scott          NL    SS/3B   5%  72%  0.19   79    71  101  122     $5    0
Gordon, Alex            AL       LF   9%  75%  0.40   80   105  112   58    $12    3
Taylor, Michael         NL       CF   8%  67%  0.25   99    80   83  126    $10    3
Happ, Ian               NL    CF/3B  15%  57%  0.42  141    80  126  103     $8    4
Parra, Gerardo          NL       LF   7%  81%  0.43   55   102   96   67    $14    6
Duda, Lucas             NL       1B   8%  69%  0.27  115    98  135   71     $5    6
Chirinos, Robinson      AL        C  11%  61%  0.32  142    99  151   91     $7    8
Moncada, Yoan           AL       2B  10%  62%  0.31  123    84  113  128    $13    9
Davidson, Matthew       AL    1B/DH  10%  62%  0.32  142    90  120   82     $7    9
Allen, Greg             AL       CF   5%  78%  0.24   56   105   84  136     $9   10
Pirela, Jose            NL    2B/LF   6%  80%  0.34   64   101   61   86     $6   10
Russell, Addison        NL       SS   9%  76%  0.40   63    82   79  115     $5   10
Ervin, Phillip          NL       LF   8%  72%  0.33   97    92   86   84     $5   11
Dietrich, Derek         NL    LF/1B   5%  72%  0.21  103    97   88   98    $11   12
Maybin, Cameron         AL       CF  10%  78%  0.51   57    96   62  109     $5   12
Jones, JaCoby           AL       CF   5%  67%  0.17  108    89   88  153     $5   12
Guzman, Ronald          AL       1B   8%  69%  0.27  119    83   81   90     $7   15
Calhoun, Kole           AL       RF  10%  73%  0.40   98   120  132   78     $7   15
Harrison, Josh          AL       2B   5%  80%  0.26   67    97  114   99     $5   16
Hamilton, Billy         NL       CF   8%  74%  0.35   57    52   21  191    $16   17
Bader, Harrison         NL       CF   7%  67%  0.25  111    93   95  146    $14   17
Galvis, Freddy          NL       SS   7%  76%  0.31   85   112  118  105    $11   17
Rojas, Miguel           NL SS/1B/3B   5%  86%  0.35   51    85   45   72     $8   17
Hernandez, Gorkys       NL       CF   6%  73%  0.24   97   104  103  115     $7   17
Bour, Justin            NL       1B  15%  71%  0.59  108    97  109   56     $6   17
Jay, Jon                NL       LF   6%  82%  0.35   48   107   52  129     $9   18
Duffy, Matt             NL       3B   8%  82%  0.51   48    93   44  120    $17   19
Alonso, Yonder          AL       1B   9%  76%  0.41   99   106  105   53    $14   20
Crawford, Brandon       NL       SS   8%  77%  0.41   88   103   91   77    $10   20
Munoz, Yairo            NL S/2/3B/OF  9%  76%  0.42   89   103   85   84     $9   20
Adrianza, Ehire         AL    SS/3B   7%  76%  0.29   90   101   99  104     $6   20
Austin, Tyler           AL    1B/DH   7%  61%  0.20  175    81  124   67     $5   20
Gamel, Benjamin         AL       LF  11%  76%  0.51   66    74   50  130     $5   20
*min 50 AB

Let's take a closer look at several guys in each league who are likely to be overvalued in 2019.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Tyler Austin (1B/DH, MIN) produced some value in bursts during his first extended MLB opportunity in 2018. His 17 HR in 244 AB might seem to suggest he's a power stock worth owning. Problem is, it was paired by an ugly 61% ct%. And most of his power at the MLB level has come against lefties. His only value to you is as a CI power speculation in very deep AL-only leagues.

Jackie Bradley (CF, BOS) carries both upside and downside heading into 2019. Those siding with optimism will note his big rebound in the 2H of 2018 (.818 OPS, 8 SB in 234 AB) that was backed by elite underlying power (167 xPX). Owners who perceive him as overvalued will note his declining trends in batting eye (0.44, 0.39, 0.34 Eye), speed (100, 96, 92 Spd), and expected batting average (.269, .246, .243 xBA). In sum, he's being drafted as a mid-tier OF (226 ADP), but is likely to continue his .240-BA, 15-HR baseline.

Lourdes Gurriel (SS/2B, TOR) had a pretty good first full season in the majors in 2018. He delivered $6 of value in 5x5 leagues due to a solid batting average (.281 BA) and some surprising pop (11 HR in 249 AB). However, his plate skills were pretty bad (3% bb%, 76% ct%, 0.15 Eye), and his power skills were below average (94 PX, 92 xPX).

Matt Duffy (3B, TAM) had some sneaky value for owners looking for BA/SB help in 2018. After all, he posted a .294 BA and 12 SB in 503 AB during 2018. But those marks have more downside than upside moving into 2019. His xBA has been stuck in the .260s the last two seasons, and his subpar SB% means we can't put double-digit SB in stone, especially given his injury history.

Jonathan Villar (2B, BAL) is being drafted as a top 100 player in most leagues (83 ADP) due to the fact that he has produced 30+ SB in two of the last three seasons. That said, he's far from a top 100 lock. He hasn't cracked a >70% ct% in the last three seasons, and his xBA trend is alarming (.264, .240, .235 xBA). He's also never posted back-to-back 500+ AB seasons during his career. There's a lot of risk here.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Jorge Alfaro (C, MIA) is a former top catching prospect who showed signs of that upside in 2018 (.262 BA, 10 HR in 344 AB). But that batting average was aided by a 41% h%, and as a ground ball hitter, he's reliant on a favorable HR/F to keep producing power. Given his new home park, that's far from a lock. Finally, he went from a low-contact bat in 2017 (69% ct%) to one who couldn't make contact at all in 2018 (60% ct%).

Harrison Bader (CF, STL) looked like a budding multi-category stud in 2018 (12 HR, 15 SB in 379 AB). But he's another bat whose plate skills leave a lot to be desired (7% bb%, 67% ct%, 0.25 Eye). And his underlying power skills temper hope for continued power (95 xPX). He was also not very good against RHers (.695 OPS, 65% ct%, 90 PX vR in 259 AB). Bader is being heavily overvalued in the market (178 ADP).

Derek Dietrich (LF/1B, CIN) long has been an intriguing end-game speculation due to the flashes of good power that he has shown in the past. He realized some of that upside in 2018 (16 HR in 499 AB). Unfortunately, he has posted impactful power skills just once (159 xPX) in the last four seasons. And his HR burst in 2018 was accompanied by the lowest contact rate (72% ct%) of his career. There are better $1 speculations.

Scott Kingery (SS/3B, PHI) was one of the better 2B prospects in the game a couple of years ago. On the surface, he held his own during his rookie season in 2018 (8 HR, 10 SB in 452 AB). But beneath those marks were shaky plate skills (5% bb%, 72% ct%, 0.19 Eye), and his 101 xPX suggests his power is a work-in-progress. However, there is some good post-hype value here in keeper leagues, given his 423 ADP and HR/SB potential.

Gerardo Parra (LF, SF) was a BA/SB contributor in 2018 (.284 BA, 11 SB), both of which helped him produce $14 of value in 5x5 leagues. Nonetheless, his .254 xBA suggests his yo-yo batting average from year to year likely will continue. And most of the value he has produced over the years has come in hitter-friendly home parks, an advantage he no longer has in SF.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.