Fantasy: Bold predictions for 2019 MLB season

Behold our boldness!

As you put the finishing touches on your fantasy baseball draft preparations, it’s likely there are certain names popping out at you as you scroll through rankings, mock drafts, and a variety of other pieces.

We’ve developed our own lists of players we’re fond of, individuals worth pursuing in drafts no matter the cost. Conversely, we’re wary of certain players who aren’t setting our fantasy hearts aflutter. As such, we’ve saved our hottest, boldest takes for last. Here are five bold predictions for the fantasy baseball season.

ADP courtesy of FantasyPros as of March 14.

Healthy Pollock returns to 2015 form, dominates fantasy

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A.J. Pollock had his fantasy managers smiling in 2015 after he authored an incredible 20-homer, 39-steal campaign that included 111 runs scored and a .315 average. He hasn’t been able to replicate that success since then because of injuries, but looked to be on the right path last year before a thumb injury derailed a hot April.

Playing in a new home with the Dodgers in 2019, Pollock will return to fantasy dominance, stay healthy, and be a run-scoring machine hitting in front of Corey Seager, Justin Turner, and Cody Bellinger. Expected to be the 27th outfielder off the board with an ADP of 95, the 31-year-old should be a 7th- or 8th-round steal in 12-team leagues. Bryan Mcwilliam

Pham finishes as a top-10 hitter

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After a second straight spectacular latter half of the season, Tommy Pham finds himself being taken as the 47th hitter off the board (ADP 73). He looked phenomenal with the Rays last year after being traded from the Cardinals. The outfielder slashed an absurd .343/.448/.622 with seven homers, five steals, and 35 runs in 39 games with Tampa Bay.

He’s going to put it all together over a full season for the first time in his career, finishing with 205 combined runs and RBIs, 30 homers, 30 steals, and a .290 average – similar numbers made Javier Baez a top-10 hitter in 2018. If that’s not bold enough, Pham is also my dark horse for American League MVP. – Andrew Brennan

Marquez finishes as NL West’s best pitcher

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Move over Clayton Kershaw, there’s a new horse in town. Of course, that’s a bit hyperbolic as Kershaw’s accolades are unimpeachable. But Rockies right-hander German Marquez is a rising star in the division, one who’s being drafted behind a host of NL West starters who will finish worse than him in five-category leagues. Marquez is the 23rd pitcher off the board right now, going 83rd overall. That trails fellow NL West stalwarts Walker Buehler (ADP of 39), Kershaw (52), and Zack Greinke (61), with Madison Bumgarner close behind at 90.

After the All-Star break last year, the 24-year-old Marquez posted a remarkable 2.61 ERA and 0.90 WHIP thanks to a 35 percent strikeout rate and 6.1 percent walk rate. Was it just a lucky stretch outside of Coors Field? Eight of those final 14 starts were away games, a stretch in which his worst performances took place at Los Angeles and San Francisco. Marquez was nails no matter the air density. – Michael Bradburn

DeGrom won’t be a top-5 pitcher

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Jacob deGrom’s 2018 campaign was a masterpiece as he put together one of the modern era’s best seasons by a starting pitcher. Expecting deGrom to post those numbers again is wishful thinking. The electric right-hander is going to put up All-Star stats, but he won’t make history.

The 30-year-old’s second-lowest single-season ERA was 2.54 in 2015, significantly higher than last year’s 1.70. In 2017, it was 3.53 as he pitched over 200 innings for the first time in his career. Every major pitching stat was a career best last season including a 1.99 FIP. Regression is inevitable for deGrom. Taking him in the first round – or as a top-3 pitcher – is asking for trouble. Tom Ruminski

Acuna is the best player in fantasy, Castillo returns best value for ADP

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Here’s a bit of a twofer. Ronald Acuna Jr. is entering the season with ample hype and it’s not like he’s being selected all that late. In fact, if you wait he may not be available for your second-round selection; he’s typically going within the first 10 picks as the fifth outfielder drafted. It’s not hard to see why. His talents make him a potential five-category superstar who could supplant Mookie Betts and, yes, even Mike Trout atop the fantasy baseball rankings.

If that’s not bold enough for you – Acuna is a first-rounder, after all – then how about Cincinnati Reds ace Luis Castillo. If you listened to the most recent edition of our “Expand the Zone” podcast, you already know I’m bullish on Castillo thanks to his ever-improving command and the filthy nature of his fastball-changeup combination. He’s the 126th player drafted on average, behind the likes of Charlie Morton, Robbie Ray, Miles Mikolas, and Mike Foltynewicz. Castillo will be a bargain in the 10th or 11th round, providing returns comparable to a fourth-round pick. He doesn’t get hurt, he throws gas, and he’s ready to break out in a big way. – Jason Wilson