Fantasy Baseball

2019 Fantasy Baseball: This Year’s Max Muncy

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Seemingly hundreds of other articles with titles like this have surfaced over the last month. While I don’t enjoy following a crowd, this is an exercise and article that I’ve enjoyed writing for the past two years and I don’t want to stop doing it now because it’s cliché. Not only does this give more opportunities for the reader looking for those late values in drafts, but it’s a nice, imagination-boosting experience for me in an offseason that is full of mindless number-crunching.

Now that I’ve qualified my reason for writing, which is a nervous twitch of mine when I get anxious about overeager Redditors, let’s find us a 2018 Max Muncy for 2019!

What made Muncy so special last year? Well, just about everything but speed. Once an uninspiring platoon bat in Oakland, Muncy flipped the switch in Los Angeles. In 137 games, the 28-year-old popped 35 homers and hit for a 0.391 OBP. He basically had a Justin Turner-esque revelation. Should we call it a ‘Turn-around’? I’ll show myself out now.


Criteria

  • With Muncy going undrafted in the largest of dynasty leagues, we are looking for an unnoticed player. To make things less impossible, we are going to open our search to players outside of the top 350 of NFBC ADP. For some other late bats to grab in drafts, check out Dennis Sosic’s super sleepers hitters article.
  • Plus-power is a must. Muncy’s 35 homers were good for 14th in the league. That’s an absolute game-changer off of the waiver wire. Because 35 is a high number, I’m going to focus on players that could hit 30 homers or more.
  • Preferably, we would like someone with an average to above average walk rate. It’s very unlikely that Muncy repeats his 0.391 OBP from 2018, so it’s unfair of us to base the standard on that. However, we could expand our search to players who could reasonably hit for a 0.330+ OBP. For players inside of the top 350 that are great for OBP leagues, check out my OBP targets article from a couple of weeks ago. Is there a shameless plug GIF out there somewhere?
  • Finally, let’s look for some unheralded players. Whether they are a post-hype prospect or an unheralded platoon bat, we aren’t going after the big names. I believe limiting our search to 350+ ADP guys will accomplish this goal, but just wanted to be sure.

My list turned out to be an interesting one! You don’t necessarily have to draft any of these guys – just keep them on the radar once the season begins.

This Year’s Max Muncy

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Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (ADP: 371.9)

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We don’t have to travel far to find the first candidate on the list. While we’ve met Young Joc on the trail before, it’s never quite gone down the way we thought it would. He was a highly touted prospect with 30/30 potential as seen by many fantasy experts back in the day. Now, he’s largely a platoon player with flashes here and there.

With that in mind, he’s got a very similar profile to Muncy. The power is very apparent with three straight seasons of 25 homers. His career ISO of 0.228 is outstanding relative to league average and that’s not going away anytime soon considering his batted ball profile. While that leads to a low BABIP and, in conjunction, batting average, his 13% career walk rate makes up for it.

The Dodgers definitely opened up the outfield after a couple of trades this offseason, so Pederson could hit more against righties. That likely hurts you given his 0.221 wOBA versus southpaws in 2018, though. Therefore, this is one of those players that is much better in a format that allows daily or even biweekly roster updates. However, what Pederson gives you in addition to an outfield bench player to platoon him with could easily get you 35 homers and a 0.350+ OBP. You just need to be diligent in your weekly roster moves.

Jorge Soler, OF, Kansas City Royals (ADP: 376.4)

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Remember when Jorge Soler was a top 25 prospect back in 2015? Pepperidge Farms remembers. I do too! Since then, it’s been nothing but injuries and strikeouts. So what makes 2019 a different story for Soler? And, more intriguing, how can he have a Muncy-type breakout?

Many people forget that Soler battled a toe injury before finally just calling it quits for 2018. Before June, he dominated to the tune of a 0.278/0.372/0.478 triple-slash. Even his overall 0.820 OPS with his June slide is impressive. Anyway, while injury seems to plague him every year, his production last year definitely hinted at some power upside and you’re getting him cheap.

If you are worried about the platoon woes, perhaps you should match him on your roster with his potential KC platoon-mate…

Ryan O’Hearn, 1B, Kansas City Royals (ADP: 420.1)

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It was very interesting to find both of these guys on the list! O’Hearn was a monster at the end of the 2018 season, but he was not highly regarded coming out of the KC system. His 153 wRC+ and 11 dingers in August/September came out of nowhere and assisted some fantasy teams to league titles.

The disparity between his performance between lefties and righties is staggering though. He rolled out a 0.458 wOBA (!) against right-handers while southpaws made him look like a high schooler (0.209 wOBA). That’s going to be a hard one to get over, especially with the Royals having a plethora of right-handed hitters to platoon him with, including Soler.

So, for those in daily roster formats, buying both Soler and O’Hearn at their current values is a fantastic move. If you are getting half that performance from O’Hearn against righties plus Soler’s career 0.342 wOBA against lefties, you are absolutely in business in your UT slot. If I had to pick just one of the two, Soler would be my choice for the upside while O’Hearn would give me the floor as a strong-side platoon option.

Justin Bour, 1B, Los Angeles Angels (ADP: 423.5)

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Still hanging around, eh? Bless your soul. Now, you get to hear me Bour you with my next player. Why am I trying to drive away my diehard readers with even more terrible, unnecessary jokes?

Bour is a little misunderstood in 2019 because of his 2018 experience. Between 2015 and 2017, he was wondrous with the Marlins, slashing 0.272/0.344/0.496 in almost 1200 plate appearances. His 63 homers in 327 games breaks down to a 30-homer single-season pace. Back and shoulder injuries have plagued him in the past, but he played a full season last year, which gets me to my next point.

He wasn’t that bad before getting traded to Philly in August. His slash numbers were down, but he still had a 110 wRC+ and had 19 homers in 112 games. Sure, these were far off of his career numbers, but it’s still useful as a corner infielder. The Phillies used him as a bench bat in their stretch run, which hurt his overall numbers in the end.


With a new organization believing in him and safe playing time at first base, Bour could bounce back to his pre-2018 numbers. Those numbers are just an iteration off of what Muncy put up last year and could provide a late steal in drafts in deep leagues. Or, say you drafted someone like Miguel Sano and need a fill-in for a couple of months, Bour could certainly be of assistance.


2019 Fantasy Baseball Position Previews
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Check out the rest of our great Fantasy Baseball content as the 2019 season approaches.

About Tyler Thompson

Follow me on Twitter at @therealwody. For all the latest news and best advice out there, like us on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.

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