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9 Offseason Fallers (2019 Fantasy Baseball)

Jan 16, 2019

Wilson Ramos moving to the pitcher-friendly Citi Field hurts his fantasy value

While the two big fish, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, remain unsigned, we saw two other notable hitters, Yasmani Grandal and D.J. LeMahieu, find new homes on Monday with the Brewers and Yankees, respectively. Other noteworthy acquisitions that occurred since our offseason risers article were Jed Lowrie heading to the Mets, Zach Britton returning to the Yankees, and Russell Martin going back to his first team, the Dodgers, via trade.

With other big names like A.J. Pollock, Dallas Keuchel, and Craig Kimbrel still floating around out there, MLB free agency is certainly not over just yet. Examining the plethora of deals that have already come and gone though, which players are most set up to disappoint because of their new digs? Our featured pundits are here to tackle this question and give you the skinny on who you should temper your expectations for.

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Q1. What pitcher that has changed teams will be the most negatively impacted in fantasy due to their new home?

Alex Wood (SP – CIN)
“Wood went 16-3 for the Dodgers in 2017 and, despite his ERA rising nearly a run and his hard-hit rate jumping over 10 percentage points due to performance slips and injury woes, the southpaw still went 9-7 in LA last year. Like it or not, wins are still part of the traditional 5×5 fantasy scoring system and Wood going to CIN is just bad. Caesars Casino put out their over/under win totals for the 2019 season prop bets a few days ago, and they set the Dodgers line at 95 while the Reds sit at 77. Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark is ranked fourth best for HRs per FantasyPros’ Park Factor tool while Dodger Stadium is 17th, and GABP is 12th overall against Dodger Stadium sitting at 27th. Mix in Cincinnati’s inferior bullpen and I’m quite pessimistic on Wood bouncing back in ’19.”
– Nick Mariano (RotoBaller)

Ivan Nova (SP – CWS) 
“Nova has been a moderately useful back of the fantasy rotation guy in 15-team mixed leagues the past three years in Pittsburgh with an eerily consistent ERA/WHIP of 4.17/1.28 and a K/9 (~6), and HR/9 (~1.5) that were barely tolerable. He was traded to the White Sox which has doubly negative impacts — it’s an easier park for hitters and he now has to face DHs instead of SPs. Our Razzball/Steamer projections have him at 5.00/1.38 for 2019, which is a statty way of saying there is no reason to own Nova in any mixed league format anymore.”
– Rudy Gamble (Razzball)

James Paxton (SP – NYY) 
“Paxton is leaving the relative pitcher’s haven that is T-Mobile Park for the deadly confines of Yankee Stadium, and that could be disastrous given his propensity for giving up fly balls last year. Paxton struggled with keeping the ball down all season, eventually posting the lowest ground ball rate of his career (39.6%) en route to an abysmal 14.4% HR/FB ratio. While that is by far the highest rate of his career, if he doesn’t get that fly ball habit back under control, he could have many a short outing in the Bronx.”
– Bill Dubiel (RotoBaller)

Tanner Roark (SP – CIN) 
“There has not been a lot of notable pitchers that have moved this offseason. That said, Roark’s move is the worst for his fantasy value. Roark has gone in the wrong direction in the last two seasons. Fly-ball rate has increased, which has also led his HR rate to increase as well. This is not good when he moves to a more hitter-friendly park in Cincinnati. He is a streamer at best in the right matchup, on the road mainly, this season.”
– Joe Bond (Fantasy Six Pack)

Patrick Corbin (SP – WSH) 
“I’m worried about Corbin in Washington. It isn’t as though he will be pitching in Coors Field, but Washington was the third-best back for hitters last season. Not only that, but once Arizona added the humidor, Chase Field went from being Coors-lite to one of the best parks for pitchers in baseball. Granted, I’m expecting his win total to jump from 11, but the ratios should both take a hit.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Q2. What hitter that has changed teams will be the most negatively impacted in fantasy due to their new home?

Wilson Ramos (C – NYM)
“D.J. LeMahieu should stand out to everyone, but I’ll give an under-the-radar move. Ramos has been exceptional every time he’s been healthy, but last year he played in Philadelphia which was the second-most hitter-friendly ballpark for right-handed power. He’ll be playing in Citi Field this season which is where righties go to die. I’ll still be glad to add him in the middle of drafts, but if it weren’t for this move, I’d be targeting him everywhere.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

“Bypassing the obvious one (D.J. LeMahieu), I’d say Wilson Ramos who went from TB/PHI to the Mets. There are two aspects at play. One is that Citi Field is a pitcher-friendly park, which should limit some of Ramos’ power. But the move to the NL also robs Ramos of getting DH ABs, which will likely mean less playing time than he had in 2018 given his health issues.”
– Rudy Gamble (Razzball)

Edwin Encarnacion (1B/DH – SEA) 
“Encarnacion may find himself struggling to reach the high benchmarks he’s set for himself in recent years. Over the last seven seasons, Encarnacion has averaged over 100 RBIs and 38 homers, but I see him struggling to muster 100 RBIs playing his home games in Seattle, which rated 27th in the MLB in park factor for runs scored, versus Cleveland which rated fourth. Combine that with the fact that he has a significantly less awe-inspiring lineup around him and I think that something like a .265-30-85 line is more reasonable — still a fine stat line, but nowhere near the lofty expectations that Encarnacion has established over the last decade.”
– Bill Dubiel (RotoBaller)

Jurickson Profar (1B/2B/3B/SS/OF – OAK) 
“I was excited about Profar after health and opportunity finally merged in a breakout 2018 campaign, but this trade to Oakland dampens my spirits. Looking at Baseball Prospectus’ Park Factors By Handedness chart, we can see Texas right-handed bats were first in the Majors while lefties were fifth (out of 60). Meanwhile, the Coliseum was 52nd for righties and 55th for lefties. That means the switch-hitting Profar, whose average fly-ball distance was 314 feet (good for 183rd out of 255 hitters with 50+ fly balls), may endure another round of growing pains in Cali.”
– Nick Mariano (RotoBaller)

D.J. LeMahieu (2B – NYY) 
“LeMahieu worries me this season now that he has moved away from Colorado. First off, over the course of his career, his numbers at home destroy his numbers on the road. So moving away from Coors is a huge concern. The biggest issue is where does he get regular playing time? The Yankees signed Troy Tulowitzki to start at shortstop. With Miguel Andujar at third and Gleyber Torres at second, there is a lot of talk that LeMahieu is a utility player to start the season, at least until Tulo gets hurt. It gets worse for DJL when/if Didi Gregorius returns midway through the season.”
– Joe Bond (Fantasy Six Pack)

Thank you to the experts for giving their offseason fallers. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and check out our latest podcast below. Subscribe to get updates each time a new episode is available.

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