2019 Fantasy Baseball Draft Outline – Who To Target And When

It’s draft season, which means you better get prepped before you’re on the clock without an idea of who you should pick. Lucky for you (and everyone with whom I’m in a league), I’m going to outline my entire draft plan for 2019, from whom I’m targeting in each round to which positions I’m focusing on getting early in the draft and those on which to wait. All my favorite players are here in one place for each position, with a round-by-round outline at the end.

Before we begin, there are a few things to note:

  • This outline is meant for a redraft, 12-teamer 5×5 league with 23 rounds. It still applies to most variants, but obviously, it’s not a one-size-fits-all.
  • I have purposefully left some holes because drafts are fluid creatures that need affection and constant attention to nail down just right.
  • Don’t follow this so rigidly that when Carlos Carrasco falls to the eighth round you ignore him.
  • Round targets are created based around Fantasy Pros’ ADP, which merges NFBC, Yahoo, and CBS data. They are a rough estimation and should give you a general idea of when you should be looking to grab them.
  • There are certain players who have round labels well before or after their ADP. Either I want to reach or I’ve seen them fall consistently and will watch their stock mid-draft.
  • These aren’t the only players I’m looking to draft, but they are the ones that I’m hoping fall to the right place.

I’ve done more mocks this offseason than any other year, testing strategies from different positions, and I’m going to bring in more bullet points to go over the general approach I have in drafts:

  • The BIGGEST note I have is to be patient grabbing startersI know, this is Pitcher List, and my confidence in finding starters is not for everyone. I urge you to just follow along this guide, and you’ll have a fantastic staff to get you through the year and win your playoffs. There is so much more starting pitching depth than people realize.
  • First base is shallow at the top with its value bookended: Grab one of the elites or wait until late.
  • Outfield and second base value lies around rounds six to 12, i.e. the opposite of first base.
  • Closers are dumb, and I hate them. You’re better off solidifying your offense than feeling OK with a stat that makes up only 10% of your week-to-week and isn’t even a guarantee.
  • The final eight rounds or so will be shooting for upside starters and bats. There are so many to choose from. I have specific guys I like; you’ll probably have different ones, and that’s cool. Get your guys.

Alright, I think you understand the flow. Get tons of offense early, with two or at most three starters in the first 10 rounds and trust in the starting pitching depth. Let’s focus on the specific players to target during your drafts by position and later round-by-round.

 

First Baseman

 

One of the toughest positions right out of the gate as I love the first three options off the board and not a whole lot after. I’ve seen Paul Goldschmidt and Freddie Freeman fall to the middle or end of the second rounds, and I’d love to grab them there if I’m slotted in the front half of the draft, maybe slightly early in the second round if few starting pitchers are taken. I’m hoping to grab Anthony Rizzo at back end or front of the fourth if I have a later pick, then otherwise, I’m waiting a long time to find my first basemen if the current options go at their ADP.

Then it gets a bit fishy. I don’t love Cody Bellinger/Rhys Hoskins/Matt Carpenter/Joey Votto at their prices. Jose Abreu and Jesus Aguilar also bring risk at their price, pushing my first base options past Pick 100 with Matt Olson, Edwin Encarnacion, Max Muncy, Miguel Cabrera, and Luke Voit  yes, that Luke Voit. If I’m still searching deep in the draft, I’m all for taking chances on Pete Alonso, Justin Smoak, Jake Bauers, Justin Bour, and Trey Mancini  in that order  as I hope to find something stable.

 

Player Round
Paul Goldschmidt Middle 2nd
Freddie Freeman Middle 2nd
Anthony Rizzo Late 3rd
Matt Olson Rounds 9/10
Max Muncy Rounds 9/10
Edwin Encarnacion Rounds 9/10
Miguel Cabrera Rounds 13/14/15
Luke Voit Rounds 13/14/15
Peter Alonso Round 20+
Justin Smoak Round 20+
Jake Bauers Round 20+
Justin Bour Round 20+
Trey Mancini Round 20+

 

Second Basemen

 

I want Jose Ramirez third overall (2B-eligible in Yahoo leagues). If I miss out on JoRam, I’m not interested in Jose Altuve/Javier Baez/Whit Merrifield/Ozzie Albies unless they dramatically fall. Gleyber Torres is an intriguing option, but his ADP is currently too high as I’d be OK taking him around rounds six or seven. Daniel Murphy’s signing with the Rockies makes me intrigued in the sixth round as we begin getting to the meat of the 2B options. Scooter Gennett, Travis Shaw, Jonathan Villar, Robinson Cano, and Jonathan Schoop become the main targets, with one of them often falling outside the first 10 rounds. I’d also consider Rougned Odor and Brian Dozier if you miss out on all the above options. For the late snags, late value could lie in Ketel Marte, Luis Urias, and Garrett Hampson, who is ranked surprisingly low.

 

Player Round
Jose Ramirez (yahoo) Third Pick
Daniel Murphy Rounds 6/7
Gleyber Torres Rounds 6/7
Travis Shaw Rounds 8/9
Scooter Gennett Rounds 8/9
Jonathan Villar Rounds 10/11
Robinson Cano Rounds 10/11
Jonathan Schoop Rounds 13/14
Rougned Odor Rounds 13/14
Brian Dozier Rounds 13/14
Garrett Hampson Round 18+
Ketel Marte Round 20+
Ian Kinsler Round 20+

 

Third Basemen

 

I’d get the aforementioned Ramirez at No. 3, with Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, and Alex Bregman as worthy consolation prizes in the first round or even second round if you’re lucky. Kris Bryant is a very worthy option in the middle of the third and beyond, while Anthony Rendon should be considered early in the fourth. I’d go for Eugenio Suarez in the fifth round, though take a small break thereafter. Matt Chapman and Josh Donaldson become solid grabs in the eighth round, with Mike Moustakas and Rafael Devers becoming steals in the 11th and beyond. Later, I’d consider shares of Nick Senzel, Jake Lamb, and Eduardo Escobar.

 

Player Round
Jose Ramirez Third Pick
Nolan Arenado Round 1
Manny Machado Rounds 1/2
Alex Bregman Rounds 1/2
Kris Bryant Round 3
Anthony Rendon Round 4
Eugenio Suarez Round 5
Matt Chapman Rounds 8/9
Josh Donaldson Rounds 8/9
Travis Shaw Rounds 8/9
Mike Moustakas Rounds 11/12
Rafael Devers Rounds 11/12
Nick Senzel Round 18+
Eduardo Escobar Round 18+
Jake Lamb Round 20+

 

 

Shortstops

 

With Francisco Lindor hurt, I’d still consider him at the end of the second round, though Trea Turner, Machado, Bregman, and Trevor Story should be considered first. I’m avoiding Carlos Correa and Corey Seager for their injury histories, while I like aiming for Xander Bogaerts in the late fourth or early fifth round. Gleyber Torress and Jean Segura are options in the sixth, and those who are worried about steals could consider Adalberto Mondesi as well, though I have too much skepticism of his small sample to trust it. Jonathan Villar and Jose Peraza are cheaper steals options who should suffice in the ninth and 10th (ninth for Villar here if you can smell SS getting thin, otherwise wait for 10th at 2B), with discount options following. Eduardo Escobar, Paul DeJong, Garrett Hampson, and Jorge Polanco could return solid value in the 16 round and later, while Ketel Marte and even Troy Tulowitzki could be sneaky picks at the end.

 

Player Round
Trea Turner Rounds 1/2
Manny Machado Rounds 1/2
Alex Bregman Rounds 1/2
Trevor Story Round 2
Francisco Lindor Round 2
Xander Bogaerts Late 4th/Early 5th
Jean Segura Round 6
Gleyber Torres Rounds 6/7
Jonathan Villar Rounds 9/10/11
Jose Peraza Rounds 9/10/11
Garrett Hampson Round 18+
Eduardo Escobar Round 18+
Jorge Polanco Round 18+
Paul DeJong Round 18+
Ketel Marte Round 21+
Troy Tulowitzki Last Round

 

Outfielders

 

With outfielders, don’t forget that you only have to fill in three slots. Most of the time, you’ll have at least one in as a UTIL, but it can limit you going elite OF in each of the first three rounds. Even so, going two early is not a bad call; just allow yourself to take advantage of rounds six to 12, where there are plenty of stellar options to grab. Early on, all of Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, JD Martinez, Christian Yelich, Ronald Acuna, Bryce Harper, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Charlie Blackmon, Andrew Benintendi, and Kris Bryant should be considered. All of them, it’s just a matter of what other positions are available, but I’d be picking these bats before any starter.

I’m ignoring the next tier of outfielders for the most part, though I’d consider Starling Marte, Khris Davis and Juan Soto in the fourth rounds. Entering the sixth, Tommy Pham, and Lorenzo Cain should be considered, with Yasiel Puig, Marcel Ozuna, Mitch Haniger, and Eddie Rosario in the following rounds. At the ninth and 10th, Aaron Hicks, and Eloy Jimenez should be heavily considered as well.

At this point, I expect to have three outfielders and turning to pure upside later in the draft. Options here include Stephen Piscotty, Brandon Nimmo, Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes, Domingo Santana, Austin Meadows, Ramon Laureano, Cedric Mullins, and even Lewis Brinson.

 

Player Round
All Outfielders through Kris Bryant Rounds 1 through mid 3rd
Starling Marte Round 4
Khris Davis Round 4
Juan Soto Round 4
Tommy Pham Rounds 5/6
Lorenzo Cain Rounds 5/6
Yasiel Puig Rounds 6/7/8
Marcell Ozuna Rounds 6/7/8
Mitch Haniger Rounds 6/7/8
Eddie Rosario Rounds 6/7/8
Eloy Jimenez Rounds 8/9
Aaron Hicks Rounds 9/10
Stephen Piscotty Round 15+
Brandon Nimmo Round 15+
Franmil Reyes Round 16+
Hunter Renfroe Round 16+
Domingo Santana Round 16+
Austin Meadows Round 16+
Ramon Laureano Round 16+
Cedric Mullins Round 20+
Lewis Brinson Round 20+

 

Catchers

 

The catcher game is simple as ever  either get JT Realmuto or Gary Sanchez at a discount or wait until the final rounds for a decent backstop and call it a day. If Realmuto falls to the sixth, I’m fine grabbing him there, with Sanchez needing to fall into the seventh for me to consider him.

Otherwise, my primary target is Danny Jansen around the 16th round, with backups in Wilson Ramos, Yasmani Grandal (both likely won’t drop), Francisco Mejia, Yan Gomes, and Francisco Cervelli, backstops who you most likely can wait past the 18th round to snag.

Let’s move on.

 

Player Round
JT Realmuto Round 6
Gary Sanchez Round 7
Danny Jansen Round 16+
Wilson Ramos Round 16+
Yasmani Grandal Round 16+
Francisco Mejia Round 18+
Yan Gomes Round 20+
Francisco Cervelli Round 20+

 

Starting Pitchers

 

The draft really opens up if you buy into my SP plan, which comes in two forms: Either you get great value in the third and fourth rounds, or you go a little early in the fifth and sixth and back it up with two in ninth and 10th. Either way, you’re going to grab four of my top 40 through the first 13 rounds, then grab another four or five in the final eight rounds. That’s the idea, and you’d be surprised how formidable your staff will be as you tout around one of the best offenses in the league.

Getting specific with pitchers, I’m looking to see if Trevor Bauer or Noah Syndergaard are falling to me at the end of the third or early fourth round. If not, I look to the fifth or sixth for Jameson Taillon or Mike Clevingercoming back around the eighth for Zack WheelerAround the 10th and 11th, I’m aiming for Miles Mikolas and Yu Darvishthen turning to Ross Stripling, Nick PivettaAndrew Heaneyor JA Happ to round out the first four.

Now it gets fun. There are so many options. You could shoot for ceiling in Alex Reyes, Jimmy Nelson or Joe Musgrovea bit more stability in Yusei Kikuchi, Tyler Skaggsand Kyle Freelandor wait plenty and fill your team up with a ton of intriguing names  Michael Fulmer, Derek Holland, Collin McHugh, Matt Strahm, Reynaldo Lopezand Merrill Kelly often find their way on my teams. Jesus Luzardo, Justus Sheffield, Forrest Whitley, and even Chris Paddack make for fun final-round prospect targets, and I could also see myself grabbing Jerad Eickhoff, Jeff Samardzija, Luke Weaveror Brad Peacock if other leaguemates are aggressive at the position.

There are plenty more in addition to these names, and the goal is to have about eight starters  nine if you’re a bit lacking at the top and need to spend another bench spot on shooting for upside (take one of the prospect names in this case!). Don’t go chasing too early as the upside bats get taken earlier than the starters.

 

Player Round
Trevor Bauer Late 3rd/Early 4th
Noah Syndergaard Late 3rd/Early 4th
Jameson Taillon Late 5th/ Early 6th
Mike Clevinger Late 5th/ Early 6th
Zack Wheeler Rounds 7/8
Miles Mikolas Rounds 9/10
Yu Darvish Rounds 9/10
Ross Stripling Rounds 12/13/14
Nick Pivetta Rounds 12/13/14
Andrew Heaney Rounds 12/13/14
JA Happ Rounds 12/13/14
Alex Reyes Round 14+
Yusei Kikuchi Round 15+
Tyler Skaggs Round 15+
Kyle Freeland Round 15+
Jimmy Nelson Round 16+
Joe Musgrove Round 16+
Michael Fulmer Round 18+
Derek Holland Round 18+
Collin McHugh Round 18+
Matt Strahm Round 18+
Reynaldo Lopez Round 18+
Jesus Luzardo Round 18+
Forrest Whitley Round 18+
Merrill Kelly Round 20+
Jeff Samardzija Round 20+
Justus Sheffield Round 20+
Jerad Eickhoff Round 20+
Luke Weaver Round 20+
Chris Paddack Round 20+
Brad Peacock Round 20+

 

Relief Pitchers

 

Now for closers. I don’t like closers. I will not be one to grab an elite one as there’s too much value elsewhere to spend time on saves. The rule of thumb for grabbing a closer is easy: “If there isn’t anything you like on the board, grab a closer.” This usually happens around the 11th round which means I’ve found myself with a good amount of Jose LeClerc and Kirby Yates shares. It could also mean Wade Davis as well.

Later in drafts, I’ll take a chance on Andrew Miller getting saves for the Cardinals, as well as Corey Knebel grabbing the job back in Milwaukee. Matt Barnes, Hunter Strickland, Mychal Givens, and Will Smith are all in good positions to steal the saves in their ballclubs, making for solid late-round choices as well. I’d grab two total  maybe three if they are sitting there at the end of the draft  and bank on grabbing one off the wire during the year.

 

Player Round
Jose LeClerc Round 11
Kirby Yates Round 11
Wade Davis Round 11
Corey Knebel Round 15
Andrew Miller Round 17
Matt Barnes Round 18+
Hunter Strickland Round 18+
Mychal Givens Round 18+
Will Smith Round 18+

 

All Targets Round By Round

 

Instead of just doing one long table, I instead made this handy chart for you to reference through your draft:

 

Nick Pollack

Founder of PitcherList.com. Rotographs and Washington Post contributor and has worked with CBS Sports, Grantland, and SB Nation. Former pitching coach and Brandeis alum.

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Comments


Mark Trosslear

Great article as always Nick. Another article written on the site mentioned Shaw’s value takes a hit after the Moustakas signing. Do you forsee any PA’s being taken away? I was thinking his value would rise, if anything. Thanks!

Nick Pollack

I actually think adding Moustakas *helps* Shaw as the better the lineup gets, the more production there is for everyone – even if a small shift in the lineup comes with it.

Not to mention, it’s possible Shaw still hits about Moose.

I’m still in.

Nick Pollack

I see it as a cold streak. I don’t think he’s washed up suddenly and he’s performed at his elite level for a much longer amount of time.

Sean

Thanks for this, super helpful.
In your spreadsheet that you posted, is your first starting pitcher block supposed to say “Trevor Bauer, Noah Syndergaard” instead of having Clevinger? Same for the 4th round.

Anonymous

I’m in too many leagues (all non-standard) and was about to drop my Public 5×5 because I didn’t get to do exactly this amount of fanatical prep. I owe you one, Nick!

Cesar

Great stuff, Nick. Thank you.

Allow me to put your Patient SP Strategy to the test. Keep 3 of these 4 in a 14-team 6×5 roto (regular 5×5 + OPS):

Arenado
Story
Goldy
deGrom

Ross

Hey Nick – great article.

Where on the list is the division between season-long stick-with-em pitchers and churn-and-burn drop them if they’re cold? Maybe at 39 between Happ and Skaggs?

theKraken

Great work. I thought the current mantra has been to grab some aces early because of the glob… I completely agree that you should wait on starters. I have also done a boatload of drafts this year and the more I do, then more I am sure that waiting till round 4 is the right move, at which point you might want to grab 3 or 4 in a row and have a top staff along with 3 elite hitters. At round 4, the elite bats are gone… unless they are not, in which case you should buy another.

The only point where you and I disagree is Corey Seager. At his ADP, he is the only potential top 10 guy in that range. Everyone has risk. IMO he is the biggest bargain in the draft if he is not broken. I mean , some guy with an ADP of 200 will be the biggest bargain, but as far as a realistic and clear path to elite potential, Seager has done it before.

For closers, I am buying Cody Allen. Sure 2018 wasn’t great, but that is baked into the price. He has the job and a track record so I think that is a pretty good play at his ADP. Wade Davis also has a deathgrip on the role, which makes him a decent buy. Speculating on closers is a sucker bet – take the guys that have the job for a team that actually uses closers. Last note for NFBC players – having to start 5 OF means you should lean OF if it is a tossup between any other bat and an OF. That roster requirement actually creates some scarcity.

Beau

Hey Nick,

I appreciate your insight here. What aren your thoughts on Adalberto Mondesi and the OF’s: Conforto, Dahl, and Pollock? Where are drafting these guys if at all?

Ro

Yeah it works, took it even further. Yesterday we drafted. Got Taillon in 12, Mikolas 13, Darvish 14, Luis Castillo 15

Pointman

I just want to say Nick you are one of the special Fantasy writers out there. I’ve been doing this since the 80s. There are only couple others that I follow closely and put a lot stock in their words -you have now made it a trio.
Having said that im wrestling with decision for my one eligible keeper this year. We keep one keeper from previous year that we drafted in 10th rd or acquired in free agency . We keep only for one year. I’ve narrowed it down to Corbin or Buehler. My heart says Buehler but head says Corbin. H2h league. Opinion please.

Nick Pollack

Wow, thanks Pointman!

I’d be keeping Buehler there. Higher ceiling and floor, only question is innings. If it’s slightly uneven this year, keeping him past this year would make up for it.

ME

This is great. Do you plan to do this type of sheet for auction style too? Or is there a way to adapt this with auction value ranges?

Nick Pollack

No plans for auction, though I think next off-season I’ll be my own hand projections + dollar values.

I don’t like projections, but I think it’s what y’all want.

Dan McCabe

Love your work Nick. Took home 1st place last year as a rookie using your rankings. Do you have a higher resolution of the chart? Also, how much would you change your strategy in a 6×6 with tb and qs?

Nick Pollack

I don’t think that changes a whole lot, maybe a slightly higher focus on power and late guys like Reynaldo/Samardzija/Kelly

If you click the image, it returns a much larger resolution. Hope that helps!

Kevin

This is awesome. I must be reading too much PitcherList this yr! Had my 14 team draft last week and ended up with a lot of your possible targets you listed:
Batters:
Betts, Lindor, Murphy, Schoop, KMarte, Lamb

Pitchers:
Carrasco, Clevinger, Darvish, Pivetta, Musgrove, Stripling, Strahm, Weaver, AMiller

Basically the only area I ventured differently was OF. Ended up with Betts, Castellanos, Dahl, Dickerson, Buxton. Always have a hard time drafting RPs. Went with Miller and May as main saves potentials, will be waiver hunting this season.
Hoping to compete early, make trades later. Keep up the great work!

James

Love this article! My big question for you…. do you think in your generic fantasy league (like ESPN), do you think pitching or batting is going to win you your weekly matchup?

I have had people in my league focus on pitching and seen a lot of success. Just wondering if I need to cave into this trend or keep to a healthy mix.

Thanks!

Nick D

Hey Nick, Nick here. There is no mention of George Springer in the OF section here. I know it’s because you likely will not be targeting him redrafts. Is he someone you are avoiding altogether? I might consider him if he falls to round 5 of a 12 team OPS keeper im in. Curious if you would rank him above or below guys like Ozuna, Puig, Cain, Pham.

Thanks and keep up the outstanding work!

Nick Pollack

I think he’s a bit too hold/cold for me as his speed has tapered off over the years and he’s not the healthiest option out there.

I’d rank it: Cain, Pham, Puig, Springer, Ozuna.

j

Hi Nick, awesome article, you are my go to.
any chance you can post a link to the actual chart so I can download?
thanks again for all your work

Fantasy Swami

I want to take a non -starter approach winning saves , era, and ratio and all the hitting categories. I plan to take hitters for the first 10 spots and focus on batting average with every selection as it applies to homeruns and steals. I will give up k’s and wins for the other 8 categories. With this approach who are my best targets 1-10 rounds.

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