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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.
|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.
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 Mejia, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, John 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.
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 Aguilar, Max 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 Shaw, Daniel 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.
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 Muncy, Jurickson 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.
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 Baez, Matt Carpenter, Miguel 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 Freeman, Nicholas 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!
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 Torres, Jurickson Profar, and Adalberto Mondesi. Overall, shortstop is much deeper than it used to be four or five years ago. Manny Machado, Francisco 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!
Yahoo & Ottoneu Only: Joey Wendle
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 Martinez, Juan 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?