National League Position Battles to Monitor (2019 Fantasy Baseball)

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
Feb 28, 2019

Stripling was a monster for the Dodgers in limited innings last year

Where the American League lacks in positional battles, the National League makes up. Going position by position, there were many interesting choices that we could pinpoint (except shortstop, which you’ll see below). Like we did with the AL last week, let’s look at the battles happening in the senior circuit.

Dominate with our award-winning fantasy baseball draft software >>

Catcher

Francisco Mejia (C – SD) vs. Austin Hedges (C – SD)
Mejia failed to impress in his first stint in the big leagues, but his offensive profile is one to bet on. With the offseason rumblings of Hedges being a sought after piece in deals with the Indians or Marlins, it gave more of a clear path to playing time for Mejia. With the everyday job, he’s a top 12 catcher. But with Hedges being the superior defender, this looks like a 50/50 split.

First Base

Todd Frazier (1B/3B – NYM) vs. Pete Alonso (1B – NYM)
The most likely scenario is that Alonso comes up in late April. Frazier is the default first base option now, but perhaps there’s a slight chance that Alonso forces the Mets’ hand in Spring Training. He got off to a great start by hitting a mammoth homer in his first at-bat. Both players offer nice power upside.

Second Base

Travis Shaw (2B/3B, Mike Moustakas (3B), Cory Spangenberg (2B/3B – MIL) vs. Hernan Perez (2B/3B/SS/OF – MIL) vs. Keston Hiura (2B/OF – MIL), Eric Thames (1B/OF), Jesus Aguilar (1B)
This one is frustrating. We know that the Brewers already announced that Moustakas would be playing second base for them. Moose is too stalky to last over at second, which means at some point Shaw will probably move back there. The addition of Moustakas leaves a lot of questions around himself, Shaw, Aguilar, and Thames; making them all risky picks. Hiura is in contention for the best hit tool outside of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for minor leaguers. His power tool grew last year, and he projects to hit around 22 home runs as a big-league regular. Teams blocking young talent is frustrating, but the Brewers are one of the few teams going for it. His defense is suspect, and the Brewers will use that to justify keeping him down.

Shortstop

Erik Gonzalez (SS – PIT) vs. Kevin Newman (SS – PIT)
Yeah, there’s really not a lot of competition happening across the National League. This battle is relevant only for deep NL-only leagues. Look for a platoon here, and for San Diego to buck the trend and give Fernando Tatis, Jr. a shot to win the shortstop job out of Spring Training.

Third Base

Scott Kingery (SS – PHI) vs. Maikel Franco (3B – PHI)
The Phillies could have signed Manny Machado and made this a moot point, but with Machado in San Diego, the battle is between Franco and Kingery. Kingery disappointed in his first real taste in the bigs last year, and he was a fantasy bust. However, the Phillies locked him up long term, and it makes sense to give him everyday at-bats. Franco, who has underwhelmed in his own right since his big rookie season, is slotted in as the starter at third base, but he’s a guy that could use a fresh start. Whoever gets the job could be a starting corner infielder for your fantasy team.

Outfield

Matt Kemp (OF – CIN) vs. Scott Schebler (OF – CIN) vs. Yasiel Puig (OF – CIN) vs. Jesse Winker (OF – CIN) vs. Nick Senzel (3B/2B/OF – CIN)
The Reds could really, really use the universal designated hitter in 2019. Their offense is a playoff-caliber offense, but their pitching has too many question marks with it. It’s likely that this mess clears up by the All-Star break if the Reds are out of it. Both Puig and Kemp are in the final year of their deals and could be out the door. To start the year, though, Schebler looks to be locked into centerfield by default for the first month or so of the season because the other guys can’t handle it. Puig will start in right. The Reds will get Senzel involved this year. It could be a trade of Scooter Gennett, which would make it easy. If not, Senzel could start five games a week at five different positions – including centerfield. The Reds seem to want Senzel to earn the centerfield job, but because money talks, he’s unlikely to break camp as the starter. In left, Kemp’s addition hurts Winker, as you could be looking at a straight platoon there until the trade deadline. Kemp needs a trade to an American League team to be the primary designated hitter.

Franchy Cordero (OF – SD) vs. Franmil Reyes (OF – SD) vs. Wil Myers (OF – SD) vs. Hunter Renfroe (OF – SD) vs. Manuel Margot (OF – SD)
Why were the Padres linked to A.J. Pollock and Bryce Harper again? Wil Myers is locked into left field, leaving a four-person battle for two spots. Margot, coming off a down year, is the favorite to start in center field for his defensive capabilities. That leaves Reyes and Renfroe as the frontrunners for right field. Both are going in the first 215 picks in fantasy drafts, which makes things interesting. This battle reminds me of the year that Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty had a similar ADP, but only one would get the job. Piscotty ended up paying off, as Grichuk failed to return value. We’ll have a similar situation here, and this may be the most intriguing battle to watch across baseball in Spring Training.

Dexter Fowler (OF – STL) vs. Tyler O’Neill (OF – STL) vs. Jose Martinez (OF/1B – STL)
Marcell Ozuna and Harrison Bader are locked in, making it a three-person race for the right field job. O’Neill has the highest ceiling for fantasy, but he’s unlikely to reach that this year. It’s odd that the Cardinals haven’t trade Martinez yet, and even more odd that they locked him up to a two-year extension. He’s a man without a position, and he is horrible in the field. He, like Kemp above, would thrive in an everyday DH role. With Fowler on the books for a few more years, look for him to get the first crack at the job, despite hitting below the Mendoza Line a season ago.

Starting Pitcher

Mike Soroka (SP – ATL) vs. Touki Toussaint (SP – ATL) vs. Luiz Gohara (SP – ATL) vs. Max Fried (SP – ATL) vs. Bryse Wilson (SP – ATL)
Look at the names above. With all of them major players – not even including Kolby Allard and Kyle Wright – it’s hard to get behind the Toussaint pre-draft price right now. Right or wrong, Sean Newcomb, Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz, and Kevin Gausman are all locks for the rotation, leaving a lot of quality names for one spot. Soroka and Toussaint are the headliners here, but banking on more than 20 starts from either is going to come back to bite you. Soroka is my favorite of the group for both short- and long-term value, but his shoulder stiffness could put him behind Toussaint early on.

Ross Stripling (RP/SP – LAD) vs. Julio Urias (SP – LAD) vs. Kenta Maeda (RP/SP – LAD)
Like the Braves, the Dodgers have too many rotation options. They’ve manipulated the disabled list the past few years, and we should expect the same this year. With Clayton Kershaw being shut down early in camp, another door opens for one of these guys to grab a rotation spot if Kershaw isn’t ready for Opening Day. All of these guys will contribute and help, but they have more value in roto leagues where you care about the end-of-season contributions instead of trying to manage your rotation with them all year.

Brandon Woodruff (RP/SP – MIL) vs. Corbin Burnes (RP/SP – MIL) vs. Junior Guerra (RP/SP – MIL) vs. Freddy Peralta (RP/SP – MIL)
The Brewers’ rotation isn’t great on paper, but four of the spots are accounted for. Guerra looks like he’s headed to the bullpen, which leaves the three young guns for the last spot. Burnes has the most upside of the three, if not for the fact that Peralta is a fastball-only pitcher, which is a red flag for his future as a starter.

Prep for your draft with our award-winning fantasy baseball tools >>


SubscribeiTunes | Google Play | SoundCloud | Stitcher | TuneIn

Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

What's your take? Leave a comment

1Saquon Barkley (NYG)RB
2Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)RB
3Christian McCaffrey (CAR)RB
4Alvin Kamara (NO)RB
5Melvin Gordon (LAC)RB
6DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)WR
7Davante Adams (GB)WR
8David Johnson (ARI)RB
9Le'Veon Bell (NYJ)RB
10James Conner (PIT)RB
 View All Rankings 
11Julio Jones (ATL)WR
12Todd Gurley (LAR)RB
13Joe Mixon (CIN)RB
14Odell Beckham Jr. (CLE)WR
15Travis Kelce (KC)TE
16Michael Thomas (NO)WR
17Nick Chubb (CLE)RB
18JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT)WR
19Dalvin Cook (MIN)RB
20Antonio Brown (OAK)WR
21George Kittle (SF)TE
22Mike Evans (TB)WR
23T.Y. Hilton (IND)WR
24Marlon Mack (IND)RB
25A.J. Green (CIN)WR
26Keenan Allen (LAC)WR
27Amari Cooper (DAL)WR
28Derrick Henry (TEN)RB
29Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
30Adam Thielen (MIN)WR
1Mike Trout (LAA)CF,DH
2Christian Yelich (MIL)LF,CF
3Mookie Betts (BOS)CF,RF
4Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
5J.D. Martinez (BOS)LF,RF
6Max Scherzer (WSH)SP
7Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL)LF,CF
8Alex Bregman (HOU)3B,SS
9Cody Bellinger (LAD)1B,CF
10Trevor Story (COL)SS
 View All Rankings 
11Javier Baez (CHC)2B,3B
12Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
13Justin Verlander (HOU)SP
14Jacob deGrom (NYM)SP
15Trea Turner (WSH)SS
16Paul Goldschmidt (STL)1B
17Gerrit Cole (HOU)SP
18Chris Sale (BOS)SP
19Jose Altuve (HOU)2B
20Bryce Harper (PHI)CF,RF
21Jose Ramirez (CLE)2B,3B
22Blake Snell (TB)SP
23Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
24Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B
25Manny Machado (SD)3B,SS
26Whit Merrifield (KC)1B,2B
27Adalberto Mondesi (KC)2B,SS
28Rhys Hoskins (PHI)1B,LF
29Trevor Bauer (CLE)SP
30Anthony Rendon (WSH)3B
1Anthony Davis (NOR)PF,C
2James Harden (HOU)PG,SG
3Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)SF,PF
4Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)C
5Kevin Durant (GSW)SF,PF
6LeBron James (LAL)SF,PF
7Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
8Nikola Jokic (DEN)PF,C
9Damian Lillard (POR)PG
10Russell Westbrook (OKC)PG
 View All Rankings 
11Victor Oladipo (IND)PG,SG
12Paul George (OKC)SG,SF
13Joel Embiid (PHI)PF,C
14Kawhi Leonard (TOR)SG,SF
15Chris Paul (HOU)PG
16Jimmy Butler (PHI)SG,SF
17Kemba Walker (CHA)PG
18Kyrie Irving (BOS)PG,SG
19Ben Simmons (PHI)PG,SF
20Jrue Holiday (NOR)PG,SG
21Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
22Andre Drummond (DET)PF,C
23John Wall (WAS)PG
24Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
25Khris Middleton (MIL)SG,SF
26Donovan Mitchell (UTH)PG,SG
27Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
28Kevin Love (CLE)PF,C
29Draymond Green (GSW)PF,C
30LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS)PF,C
Follow the Pros!

Follow us on Twitter @FantasyPros for exclusive advice and contests