2019 Fantasy Baseball: Chicago Cubs Team Preview
C Willson Contreras — Contreras was a monumental disappointment in 2018. With 100 more at-bats than he had in 2017, Contreras had 11 fewer HRs and 20 fewer RBIs plus his BA dropped from .276 to .249. From what I could see it looked like he was trying to hit too many HRs which caused him to strike out about 25% of the time at the plate. I think Contreras is young enough to improve on last year's nightmare season, but at the same time, I learned never to overpay for a catcher in drafts — unless his name is J.T. Realmuto.
1B Anthony Rizzo — Rizzo hit 25/101 last season, but he started so slowly that most people thought he was a disappointment until his final numbers came in. He's uber consistent and someone I like to target early on in drafts mainly since 1B is a weak position.
2B Ben Zobrist — As of right now, I would say that it's less than 50-50 that Zobrist starts the year with the team. While he still qualifies at 2B/OF his game has begun a steady decline, and I cannot imagine me ever calling out his name in drafts. (BUST)
SS Javier Baez — I am a massive fan of Baez. Not only does he qualify at 2B/SS/3B, but he is also one of the few players who can hit 30/20. Will he be as good as 2018? Probably not. But if he is 85% the player he was last season, that is still worth a late first/early second round pick.
3B Kris Bryant — A shoulder injury derailed Bryant's 2018 season, and many pundits are projecting 2019 to be a banner year for him. I think that he will have a solid campaign, but he is two years removed from his 39 HR season, and I wonder if he will ever hit more than 35 ever again. I think when it's all said and done, we are looking at a season of .275/31/90/80/5. Good numbers for sure, but is it much better than Travis Shaw who you can take five rounds later?
OF Jason Heyward — How the mighty have fallen. Heyward is rather useless in mixed leagues as he will barely hit 10 HRs and hasn’t shown any speed for the past two years. If someone bids $1 on him at your auction, tape your lips shut lest the auctioneer thinks you said $2.
OF Ian Happ — I think it’s more than fair to call Happ’s 2018 season Happless. He struck out almost 50% of his at-bats and had worse power and average numbers in 2018 than he did in 2017. Can he figure it out this year? I would not be willing to take him as more than my OF5 this season. I still like the potential power/speed combination, but his free-swinging ways could result in him hitting .230 once again.
OF Kyle Schwarber — Schwarber is going to hit 30 HRs soon (maybe even this year), but I need to see his understanding of the strike zone continue to improve, and his strikeouts go down before I am ready to commit. He seems to fit much better as a DFS play than someone I am prepared to trust on my seasonal teams.
U Daniel Descalso — If Zobrist is out to begin the season, keep an eye on Descalso who had a surprisingly decent year for Arizona in 2018. Descalso doesn't have much power or speed, but he could get 400 at-bats playing multiple positions for the Cubs, and he could end up being quite valuable as a plug and play in NL only leagues.
SP Kyle Hendricks — Hendricks is the epitome of what I like to call a pitcher who won't kill you. I might be underrating him a bit because his numbers are indeed far better than that. In general, though, I prefer pitchers who throw hard and can get strikeouts when they need as opposed to Hendricks who allows contact.
SP Jon Lester — Lester has thrown a ton of innings in his career, and at this point I see his arrow pointing downward. I still expect him to win about 14-18 games and have an ERA under 4.00, but I am not willing to roster him as much more than my SP3 in case the bottom falls off quickly.
SP Cole Hamels — Hamels is my favorite Cubs pitcher for Fantasy purposes as his return to the NL sparked the Cubs in the second half last season. Hamels is still capable of pitching close to 180-190 innings and could have 200 Ks if things go his way. He's a tremendous value as an SP3. (SLEEPER)
SP Jose Quintana — There's nothing wrong with Quintana, but I tend never to have him on my teams. I think I am still a bit worried about his K: BB rate and his letting up the long ball (especially in Wrigley Field). I guess my biggest problem with him is that 2016 was his peak season and he will continue to move away from those numbers with each passing season.
SP Yu Darvish — Is he healthy? At what point in the draft are you willing to take him to find out? And, if he returns, will he be anything more than a five-inning pitcher? I doubt that I will take the chance with him as I think there are better arms out there who I can snag late in drafts.
RP Brandon Morrow — Morrow will be the Cubs closer — when he returns from injury in June. Stash him away late in drafts and make sure to pair him up with Strop who will close in the meanwhile. (STASH and CASH)
RP Pedro Strop — Strop is a solid enough pitcher that the Cubs will use him as their primary closer until Morrow is ready to return from elbow surgery. Pairing them together seems to be the best strategic move, and I love the idea of taking them both back to back if I have a pick at the turn.
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