Analyzing Expert Consensus Rankings (2019 Fantasy Baseball)

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
Mar 11, 2019

Jameson Taillon’s dangerous slider has unlocked his ace potential

Making rankings is really hard. From the outside looking in, I get it. It’s easy to criticize and mock the fantasy experts for bad calls in their rankings. But until you sit down and rank more than 500 players, you don’t realize how hard it is. Plus, publishing them and being held accountable for every call you have is another thing to deal with.

I’m not complaining. It’s quite fun, actually. It’s just a nice hat tip to all of the experts who put their rankings on FantasyPros each year.

It’s the best source to identify how some of the top writers and, in turn, fantasy players in the world feel about certain players. It’s a great guide to use when preparing for your drafts.

But they are also up there to be critiqued and that’s what I, the person who had Zack Godley higher than anyone in the industry in 2018, am out to do.

The beauty of fantasy sports is that we all feel strongly and indifferent about different players. For every example you can give me about why a player may do well, I can give you a reason that they won’t. It would be quite boring if we all felt the same way about every single player.

I’m going to take a look at the expert consensus ranks on different players, let you know why I disagree with their placement in the expert consensus rankings, and show you where I have them ranked in my 2019 rankings as of March 9.

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Catcher

Jorge Alfaro (C – MIA)
Average ranking: 13
High ranking: 6
Low ranking: 26
My ranking: 16

So this is a reach, but that’s what you have with this position. Alfaro had all kinds of promise throughout the minor leagues, but he hasn’t shown the capabilities to make consistent contact at the big-league level. His power plays anywhere, but leaving Philadelphia for Miami hurts anyone. His strikeout rate last year was 36.6 percent, and there really aren’t too many encouraging signs that he’ll get it below 32 percent this year.

First Base

Peter Alonso (1B – NYM)
Average ranking: 36
High ranking: 22
Low ranking: 52
My ranking: 28

If you haven’t heard by now, first base isn’t as great as it once was. Having Alonso No. 38 at the position is extreme. General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen said that with a good camp, Alonso will be the Opening Day first baseman. Even if that’s GM-speak, he would likely get called up after a few weeks of the season.

There was a lot of hype and optimism around Rhys Hoskins when he debuted. There should be just as much around Alonso.

Second Base

Adalberto Mondesi (2B/SS – KC)
Average ranking: 8
High ranking: 4
Low ranking: 22
My ranking: 14

Mondesi is the most polarizing player in fantasy this year, and I’m just not going to have any ownership of him. Second base is rough, but there are 13 players I would rather have there than Mondesi. Sure, the steals are nice, but Mondesi can’t take a walk, and the stolen base rate that he had last year is unsustainable. Fewer stolen bases leaguewide means that you need fewer to compete. I’ll put my eggs in the Whit Merrifield or Billy Hamilton basket if I need steals.

Third Base

Asdrubal Cabrera (2B/SS/3B – TEX)
Average ranking: 32
High ranking: 20
Low ranking: 51
My ranking: 23

Like the position, the Rangers lineup is pretty good for fantasy. There’s a lot of positional uncertainty with some players, but one player who is locked into an everyday role is Cabrera. He’s been underrated from a fantasy perspective the past two years, and he’s moving to a full-time role in a great ballpark. His position versatility helps even more, as he can be slotted into second base or shortstop. You’re looking at a 15-homer guy who will hit .275. He’s a perfect corner infielder.

Shortstop

Jorge Polanco (SS – MIN)
Average ranking: 22
High ranking: 15
Low ranking: 39
My ranking: 18

Polanco missed 80 games last season with a suspension, but he picked back up and did Polanco things. He was a trendy sleeper heading into draft season last year, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t have the same helium behind him this year. He’s a great 15/15 option with a .272-.279 average who will help you in runs atop the Twins’ lineup.

Outfield

Cedric Mullins (OF – BAL)
Average ranking: 84
High ranking: 49
Low ranking: 151
My ranking: 61

If you settle for players whose main driving force is opportunity and value throughout your lineup, you’re going to struggle. However, having a player or two who are going to accumulate stats for you is just fine. That’s what Mullins is going to do. I expect Mullins to get 600 at-bats with 18 home runs, 18 steals, and a .263 average. The Orioles have nothing to play for and no competition. It’s the Mullins show.

Harrison Bader (OF – STL)
Average ranking: 50
High ranking: 36
Low ranking: 93
My ranking: 63

Read everything I wrote about Mullins and apply it to Bader. But, you can get Mullins at pick 275 overall compared to Bader at 170.

Max Kepler (OF – MIN)
Average ranking: 61
High ranking: 36
Low ranking: 98
My ranking: 50

Ben Kaspick of FanGraphs wrote an outstanding article on Kepler and how he broke out in a not-so-obvious way last year by raising his BB% (11.6 to 15.7), lowering his K% (20.1 to 15.7), and upping his Barrel% (4 to 6.6), launch angle (12.7 to 16.1), and wOBA (.306 to .322) from 2017 to 2018. I’m buying in, and I think this is the year we see the power start to show for Kepler as a result.

Starting Pitcher

Jameson Taillon (SP – PIT)
Average ranking: 18
High ranking: 12
Low ranking: 28
My ranking: 13

It’s all about the slider for Taillon, which he implemented at the end of last May. Since he added the pitch, his numbers took off as he improved his ERA (4.53 to 2.63), FIP (3.91 to 3.27), and raised his K% and SwStr%. By the end of the season, Taillon was throwing his slider 24.6 percent of the time. As Taillon and the Pirates move away from the pitch-to-contact philosophy, it opens up even more strikeout potential for Taillon. He had a rough run with injuries and a battle with cancer, but we are finally seeing the ace version of Taillon we expected since he was drafted out of high school.

Trevor Richards (SP – MIA)
Average ranking: 96
High ranking: 59
Low ranking: 129
My ranking: 72

Richards has one of the top pitches in the game with his changeup. If he can improve his curve, you’re looking at a pitcher who can be your No. 4 or No. 5 and costs next to nothing on draft day.

Relief Pitcher

Corey Knebel (RP – MIL)
Average ranking: 13
High ranking: 6
Low ranking: 21
My ranking: 26

Why are we just assuming that Knebel has the job? Milwaukee has a loaded bullpen with Jeremy Jeffress and Josh Hader in it. I see nothing but a three-headed monster, which will result in a headache for Knebel owners. Fade him.

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

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