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2019 Fantasy Baseball Draft Recap: Fifth Round

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
Jan 18, 2020

Did Jack Flaherty become an ace in the second half?

We’re going to keep the motor running here, as we look at the fifth round of 2019 drafts. We featured our first, second, third, and fourth parts of a five-part series reviewing the 2019 draft round by round. Here are the breakdowns of Round 1, Round 2,  Round 3, and Round 4. We’ll keep the ledes short going forward, and we’ll hop right into the round reviews. In the fifth and final part of a five-part series, we’re going to review the fifth round of 2019 drafts and how those players performed for 2019 and where they are currently going in 2020 drafts.

We’ll be using FantasyPros 2019 ADP, and NFBC 2020 ADP (as of 1/16/2020)

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49. James Paxton (SP – NYY)

  • 2019 ADP: 49.6, 2020 ADP: 92.44
  • 2019 stats: 15 wins, 3.82 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 1.28 WHIP, 29.4 K%, 8.7 BB%

Maybe I’m selfish, but I wanted more than 150 innings from Big Maple in his New York debut. He was, overall, solid in his first season. If you remove June and July (we can’t), then he was exceptional. Those early summer months, really hurt Paxton, as he had a 7.15 ERA in 22.2 June innings and a 5.68 in 25.1 July innings where opponents averaged a .333 against the veteran southpaw. His FIPs were also terrible in those months, but his July xFIP was 3.24 – his second-lowest xFIP of any month last year. With the way pitchers are getting pushed up, I’m kind of surprised his ADP is at 92. I’d be more than happy with Paxton as my SP2.

50. Edwin Diaz (RP – NYM)

  • 2019 ADP: 50.8, 2020 ADP: 130.55
  • 2019 stats: 26 saves, seven blown saves, 5.59 ERA, 4.51 FIP, 1.38 WHIP, 39 K%, 8.7 BB%

Don’t ever pay up for saves in your draft. Especially don’t pay up for saves for the previous year’s saves leaders. It doesn’t end well. Diaz is still so young that you have to think brighter days are ahead, but with the signing of Dellin Betances, the leash is going to be short with Diaz this year. I’m still not willing to pay his current ADP for him.

51. Gary Sanchez (C – NYY)

  • 2019 ADP: 51.8, 2020 ADP: 85.09
  • 2019 stats: .232/.316/.525, 34 home runs, 62 runs, 77 RBIs, zero steals

Sanchez hit .299 in 2016, .278 in 2017, .186 in 2018, and .232 in 2019. Progress, I guess? While it was a nice rebound year for Sanchez, all he really helped you with was home runs, as he set a career-high with 34. Another career-high that he set, though, was a 28 K%, with a lower walk rate than he had in 2018. He’s still a top three catcher, just given the position, but I’m probably waiting for a Will Smith, Salvador Perez, or Carson Kelly instead of taking Sanchez inside the top 90 picks. 

52. Joey Votto (1B – CIN) 

  • 2019 ADP: 52.4, 2020 ADP: 266.97
  • 2019 stats: .261/.357/.411, 15 home runs, 79 runs, 47 RBIs, five steals

We threw Votto’s 2018 out the window, and it made sense! He’s been so good for so long, and he’s said that he purposely starts slow so that he can adjust later in the season. But after another terrible year, well, you see where his ADP is. He’s hit a combined 27 home runs in 1,231 plate appearances over the past two years, and his walk rate dipped down to 12.5 percent, which is his lowest mark since 2008. What stood out to me, even though it was tied for the fifth-lowest mark in baseball, is that Votto had a 2.6 IFFB%. That, too, is his highest since 2008. In 2018 and 2016, Votto had a 0.0 IFFB%. It’s sad to see the steep decline from Votto and, honestly, I was half expecting him to retire this offseason. I’m avoiding him unless I’m desperate for a corner infielder in a deep points league. 

53. Vladimir Guerrero (3B – TOR)

  • 2019 ADP: 53.4, 2020 ADP: 56.85
  • 2019 stats: .272/.339/.433, 15 home runs, 52 runs, 69 RBIs, zero steals

So, for some reason, people feel that last year was a disappointment for Guerrero. If you put him up against someone like Pete Alonso, I get it. Also, as a generational talent, I get it. But his ability to hit for power while not striking out (shout out to Eno Sarris for pointing this out), is astounding. He had the hardest hit ball last year (118.9 mph), but his Barrels, Exit Velocity, and Launch Angle leave a lot to be desired. But wait, did we mention he’s only 20 years old? Give me all of the shares for Vlad this year. All of them, though I’m disappointed there isn’t more of an acquisition discount on him.

54. Clayton Kershaw (SP – LAD) 

  • 2019 ADP: 55.4, 2020 ADP: 56.27
  • 2019 stats: 16 wins, 3.03 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 1.04 WHIP, 26.8 K%, 5.8 BB%

So Kershaw’s low ADP last year was because he was dealing shoulder inflammation. We had no idea when he’d be back, so it was a gamble to take him. The gamble paid off, though, even though we didn’t get peak Kershaw. But non-peak Kershaw is still pretty damn good. Fast forward to this year, Kershaw has … a lower ADP than he did last year? That … doesn’t make sense. Granted, Steamer has Kershaw throwing 202 innings this year, even though he hasn’t thrown more than 200 since 2015. We’re going to see the gradual decline with Kershaw continue with his rates and velocity (his fastball clocked in at 90.5 last year), but he’s a good SP2, still. 

55. Eugenio Suarez (3B – CIN)

  • 2019 ADP: 55.4, 2020 ADP: 59.66
  • 2019 stats: .271/.358/.572, 49 home runs, 87 runs, 103 RBIs, three steals

Would you have guessed that Suarez would have been second in baseball in home runs last year? Hell, if someone asked you today who the top three in baseball were in homers last year, would you be able to name two of them? The ballpark definitely helped Suarez – as did the ball – but when evaluating him this year, I think it’s fair to expect more 2018 Suarez than 2019, which is still a damn good player. With third base so deep this year, I’m OK passing on Suarez.

56. Zack Greinke (SP – HOU)

  • 2019 ADP: 56, 2020 ADP: 68.80
  • 2019 stats: 18 wins, 2.93 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 0.98 WHIP, 23.1 K%, 3.7 BB%

Old man Greinke got it done again last year, and for points leagues, he’s just a fantastic pick every year, due to the innings he gives you. Now, we get to see him as the No. 2 guy in Houston, where we know pitchers go to thrive. For pitchers with at least 500 batted-ball events, here’s where Greinke ranked:

  • GB% (12th)
  • Average exit velocity (12th)
  • Hard-hit% (11th)

Since he joined the Astros in July, Greinke doubled his slider usage from July to September, in typical Astros fashion. There’s always a concern with age with Greinke, but I think that’s baked into his ADP. In points leagues, push him up a round.

57. Ozzie Albies (2B – ATL)

  • 2019 ADP: 56.2, 2020 ADP: 40.64
  • 2019 stats: .295/.352/.500, 24 home runs, 102 runs, 86 RBIs, 15 steals

Albies 2019 stats are above, so let’s look at his 2018 line: .261/.305/.452, 24, 105, 72, 14. So the same power, and similar runs and steals. But look at that average growth there for Ozzie. We’ll chalk that up to a higher BABIP (.285 to .325) but also an increased LD% (21.3 to 25.5 LD%). He’s still insanely young, and there’s a lot of room for growth, so let’s put him around .287 with 24 homers this year and call it a win.

58. Mike Clevinger (SP – CLE) 

  • 2019 ADP: 56.6, 2020 ADP: 23.50
  • 2019 stats: 13 wins, 2.71 ERA, 2.49 FIP, 1.06 WHIP, 33.9 K%, 7.4 BB%

Clevinger is going to be a fringe first-round pick by the time most drafts take place. He’s getting that much off-season helium, and for good reasons. As Frank Stampfl pointed out on Twitter, in 16 starts from July 2 to September 24, Clevinger put up the following numbers: a 1.76 ERA, 2.98 xFIP, 1.02 WHIP, 11.82 K/9, 2.21 BB/9, 15.4% SwStr, 66.9% F-strike, and 32.2% O-swing. Clevinger is going to be an ace this year. 

59. Stephen Strasburg (SP – WAS)

  • 2019 ADP 58, 2020 ADP: 29.36
  • 2019 stats: 18 wins, 3.32 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 1.04 WHIP, 29.9 K%, 6.7 BB%

It was a career year for Strasburg, and those who drafted him every year hoping for this production were finally rewarded. A lot of his value came from him staying healthy and throwing more than 200 innings for the first time since 2014, but he also had his highest GB% since 2013. Strasburg also set a career-high with a 13.4 SwStr% last year, while ditching his slider and throwing his four-seam 28.6 percent of the time, which is the lowest of his career. He, instead, relied on his curve more, throwing it a career-high 30.7 percent of the time and it was his biggest put away pitch at 26.7 percent. I’m a little hesitant to draft Strasburg based on last year’s numbers, but I’d be fine having him as my high-end SP2.

60. Jack Flaherty (SP – STL)

  • 2019 ADP: 59.8, 2020 ADP: 24.45
  • 2019 stats: 11 wins, 2.75 ERA, 3.46 FIP, 0.97 WHIP, 29.9 K%, 7.1 BB%

So, Flaherty was great last year. Well, actually, he was good last year, and he was historically great in the second half last year. But what if he doesn’t repeat that second-half success?  Spoiler alert: he won’t. I think it’s fair to question whether or not Flaherty should be closer to the 20th pitcher off the board instead of the 6th or 7th. Let’s look at Flaherty’s two halves per FanGraphs:

  • First half: 97 innings, 4.64 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 26.4 K%, 7.9 BB%, 75.3 LOB%
  • Second half: 99.1 innings, 0.91 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 33.9 K%, 6.3 BB%, 94.2 LOB%

His slider is incredible, and it played up as his biggest Whiff% and PutAway% pitch. There’s no doubting the skills, but if he just posted his 2018 numbers (3.34 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 1.11 WHIP, 29.6 K%, 9.6 BB%, 79.3 LOB%), then he’d be closer to a top 20 pitcher. Recency bias is one hell of a drug. 

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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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