Going Deep: 2019 Changes in Eligibility

Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire

A few weeks ago, I started to create my 2019 top 300 rankings (look forward to that in November). The first step was to adjust each player’s eligibility for the following season. The following is a summary of that research. Whether planning for 2019 drafts or looking ahead at potential keepers, knowing where your players will be able to play is absolutely essential.

Before we get started, let’s take a look at each major fantasy baseball site and their respective position eligibility rules.

Pre-Season In Season
ESPN 20 games 10 games
Yahoo 5 starts or 10 games 5 starts or 10 games
CBS 20 games 5 games
Fantrax 20 games 10 games
Ottoneu 5 starts or 10 games 5 starts or 10 games

For the purpose of this piece, the middle column dealing with the Pre-Season eligibility is of the most importance. You’ll notice that Fantrax is the same as ESPN and Ottoneu is the same as Yahoo.

Let’s break it down by position. I’ll list notable additions and subtractions by position compared to last draft season.

 

Catcher

Notable Additions: Danny Jansen, Francisco Mejia, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, John Hicks, Willians Astudillo

Notable Losses: Evan Gattis

The biggest change here is the loss of Evan Gattis in all formats after he only played 2 games at catcher in 2018. His place is filled by Danny Jansen, Francisco MejiaIsiah Kiner-FalefaJohn Hicks, and Willians Astudillo. I’m not sure that the latter three will be drafted in many leagues, but catcher is so awful that they seemed worth including. On the other hand, Mejia will be a popular mid-round option for catcher, while Jansen seems like an interesting late-round option for those wishing to wait on drafting their backstop.

 

First Base

Notable Additions: Jesus Aguilar, Max Muncy, Jose Martinez, Tyler White, Jurickson Profar, Jake Bauers, Luke Voit

Yahoo & Ottoneu Only: Travis Shaw, Daniel Murphy, Robinson Cano

Notable Losses: Wil Myers

ESPN, CBS, & Fantrax Only: Rhys Hoskins

2018 was a down year at first base, a typically offense-oriented position. However, the position has been given a booster shot of new talent in all formats. 2018 breakouts Jesus AguilarMax Muncy, and Jose Martinez lead a class of seven new 1B eligible players that owners may be interested in drafting come March. In Yahoo and Ottoneu leagues, veterans Travis ShawDaniel Murphy, and Robinson Cano now feature multi-position eligibility after spending some time at first in 2018.

As far as losses go, there were really only two notable ones. Wil Myers played only 2 games at first since Hosmer joined the team. The story is similar for Rhy Hoskins, who was pushed off first by Carlos Santana but managed to play enough games (15) there to maintain eligibility in Yahoo and Ottoneu leagues.

First base looks to be a very, very deep position once again in 2019. One strategy that I’ll be interested to test in mock drafts is taking a first baseman late, possibly even after the 10th or 12th round. With a deep well of talent, I’m not sure it will be worth investing in the top end talent like Freeman, Goldschmidt, Rizzo, or Votto. They offer consistency, but the lower end 1B’s have the upside to achieve a similar line, 8-10 rounds later.

 

Second Base

Notable Additions: Travis Shaw, Gleyber Torres, Joey Wendle, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Ketel Marte

Yahoo & Ottoneu Only: Max Muncy, Jurickson Profar, Adalberto Mondesi, Yuli Gurriel, Willy Adames

Notable Losses: Anthony Rizzo, Jose Peraza, Paul DeJong, Scott Kingery

ESPN, CBS, & Fantrax Only: Jose Ramirez, Chris Taylor

Lots of additions to second base this year, especially in Yahoo and Ottoneu. Travis Shaw and Gleyber Torres are the major additions to everyone’s list, but Max MuncyJurickson Profar, and Adalberto Mondesi will make solid options at second and middle infield for Y&O players. Wendle, Gurriel Jr., Marte, and Adames are sure to grace sleeper lists this offseason.

In the loss column, Paul DeJong and Jose Peraza and the notable all formats losses, however, the biggest story here is Jose Ramirez. Ramirez played only 14 games at 2B this season and therefore will be only 3B eligible in 2019 in the ESPN, CBS, and Fantrax standard formats. In Yahoo and Ottoneu leagues, Anthony Rizzo will no longer be 2B eligible. Kingery and Taylor are included above, but I’m not sure anyone will be drafting them next year anyway.

Second base seems unusually thin in 2019. The loss of Jose Ramirez hurts quite a bit at the top end, but DeJong and Peraza will be missed as well. 2B will be one of the positions I look to fill early in my drafts, as it really does fall off fairly quickly.

 

Third Base

Notable Additions: Javier Baez, Matt Carpenter, Eduardo Escobar, Miguel Andujar, Max Muncy, Jurickson Profar, Wil Myers, Brian Anderson, Johan Camargo, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Yahoo & Ottoneu Only: Jed Lowrie, Carlos Santana, Joey Wendle

Notable Losses: Freddie Freeman, Nicholas Castellanos, Joey Gallo, Adrian Beltre (probably)

ESPN, CBS, & Fantrax Only: Manny Machado

There is a lot to talk about here at third base. Tons of names coming into an already deep position, as we see Javier BaezMatt CarpenterMiguel Andujar, and Wil Myers headline the new entries. I must say, I love seeing Max Muncy and Jurickson Profar on so many of these lists. They’ll make for fantastic mid-round, multi-eligible players that could be extremely useful in a daily format. I added Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to this list as well, since he will definitely be drafted in 2019. My guess is that his ADP will be in the 30s and that I won’t own him anywhere next season.

Fewer names are moving away from third, but notable names nonetheless. None of Freddie FreemanNicholas Castellanos,nor Joey Gallo played a single game at the hot corner this season, spending most of their time in the outfield instead. Adrian Beltre seems likely to retire after spending decades at the top end of 3B rankings. Meanwhile, Manny Machado managed to make enough starts at 3B to merely maintain eligibility in Yahoo & Ottoneu leagues, making ESPN, CBS, and Fantrax owners, mad, melancholy, and morose.

With players like Jose Ramirez and Nolan Arenado at the top, the high end of third is very high. Many owners will be able to fill their 3B slot early, but those who wait may be rewarded with a solid if not spectacular option in the mid-late rounds. The hot corner is seemingly just as deep as first base is nowadays. Corner infield owners rejoice!

 

Shortstop

Notable Additions: Gleyber Torres, Jurickson Profar, Adalberto Mondesi, Eduardo Escobar, Willy Adames, Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Yahoo & Ottoneu Only: Joey Wendle, Jonathan Schoop, Johan Camargo

Notable Losses: Luis Urias

So, this is interesting. There really aren’t any notable losses from shortstop going into next season. Luis Urias won’t have SS eligibility after he exclusively played 2B in his short stint in the majors this past season. Otherwise, all shortstops from 2018 draft season are still eligible options for 2019.

Meanwhile, there are many viable options joining the ranks of shortstop this draft season, including Gleyber TorresJurickson Profar, and Adalberto Mondesi.  Overall, shortstop is much deeper than it used to be four or five years ago. Manny MachadoFrancisco Lindor, and Trea Turner will easily be taken before the 20th pick, representing a very high ceiling for the position going into 2019. If you don’t manage to grab one of them in the first two rounds, fret not, for the crop is bountiful!

 

Outfield

Notable Additions: Kris Bryant, Jose Martinez, Juan Soto, Dee Gordon, Wil Myers, Brian Anderson, Mallex Smith, Jake Bauers, Harrison Bader, Tyler O’Neill, Franmil Reyes, Eloy Jimenez, Austin Meadows

Yahoo & Ottoneu Only: Joey Wendle

Notable Losses: Jurickson Profar, Nelson Cruz

ESPN, CBS, & Fantrax Only: Khris Davis

A lot of new faces at outfield since last draft season. Kris Bryant will once again go into draft season with OF eligibility. He’s joined by veterans Dee Gordon and Wil Myers as infielders-turned-outfielders. Also joining the ranks are newcomers Jose MartinezJuan Soto, and Mallex Smith, each of whom turned heads in one way or another this past season. I’ve included Harrison Bader &Tyler O’Neill along with Eloy Jimenez and Austin Meadows as I can see each of them making a significant difference for their respective teams and working their way onto draft boards come March.

The most notable losses at OF are Khris Davis, who played only 14 games in the field this season, and Nelson Cruz, who played only 4. As a result, Davis will be DH only in ESPN, CBS, & Fantrax leagues, and Cruz will be either DH or UTL only in all formats going into 2019. However, it seems fairly likely that Davis may regain OF eligibility at some point in-season. The question simply remains, when?

Austin Bristow II

Raised as an Atlanta Braves fan in central Illinois, Austin Bristow II attended Eureka College. Since cofounding his home league at age 16, Austin has been obsessed with fantasy baseball, always intent to stay ahead of the changes in player value.

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Comments


Alex

Nelson Cruz might be added to notable losses for OF eligibility in Yahoo/Ottoneu. It looks as if he only had 4 starts (as well as games) in the OF this year.

Dan

Jeff McNeil doesn’t merit recognition as a new 2B? His running stats will be low since he is on the Mets but seems capable to hit .300 with 10/10. Appreciate you doing stuff like this, sad state to be in fantasy baseball withdrawal.

theKraken

He was eligible in 2016/17… that is probably what you were thinking. That makes him a 1st rounder in my book. Also don’t forget that Maddon threw away a good chunk of Baez season hitting him 8th to start the year.

theKraken

I am not sure that you couldn’t plan to stream 1B and be pretty successful. Maybe something like allocating two roster spots to streaming 1B (who will also function as a capable U/CI/DH as well as a backup 1B) and I think you will find a guy or two that ends up being very solid – not to mention that you are not stuck suffering through the slumps. Of course, the best option is just drafting a beast early, but if you decide not to go that route, then try streaming. What I would never pay for is a speculative 1B at a high price. Either go the sure thing route or don’t waste the pick.

Chris in the ICT

With Gattis’ pending free agency, do you think a team signs him to get some catcher appearances in season for 2019? Or is he strictly a DH now? I know this requires predicting the future but so does most of fantasy sports.

Austin Bristow II

It’s so hard to say. His defense at catcher was never spectacular, and now he’s 32 and has barely played there in the past two years. I doubt it’s gotten better.

Teams that will lose a notable catcher to free agency this offseason: Dodgers (Grandal), Phillies (Ramos), Braves (Suzuki), Astros (Maldonado and McCann), Atheltics (Lucroy). The issue is, many of these teams have an in-house alternative at the backstop: Dodgers have Austin Barnes, Braves have Tyler Flowers, Phillies have Jorge Alfaro.

So it is not at all clear where he will end up. Until he signs with a National League team that says they will use him as a catcher, I will continue to look at him as a DH only player in fantasy.

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