It’s a testament to Buster Posey’s struggles to start 2019 that he’s under Droppable consideration despite the shallowness of the catcher pool. There are few reliable producers outside of top tier of fantasy catchers in 2019—currently composed of Yasmani Grandal, Willson Contreras, J.T. Realmuto, Gary Sanchez and Wilson Ramos—but as the season’s third week draws to a close, the writing is on the wall with Posey.
The 2012 NL MVP has been dismal at the plate through his first 62 plate appearances, hitting .200/.290/.291 with 12 strikeouts, zero homers and just one RBI. He should progress toward the mean with his average and OBP, and his .256 BABIP is well below his career mark. Still, he’s not going to hit for much power, and these rate struggles weren’t hard to see coming. Posey’s isolated slugging was just .098 in 2018, ranking 200th among 214 hitters with at least 400 plate appearances. The effects of last season’s hip injury still linger, zapping Posey of what was previously modest pop. A return to double-digit homers is unlikely. Crossing 50 RBI would be an achievement.
Posey is likely regarded as the best catcher of his era. He’s a three-time World Series champion, six-time All-Star and a career .305 hitter. But don’t let his past excellence obscure the current reality. Posey’s best days are behind him, as is his standing as a viable fantasy catcher.
With that, let’s get to the rest of this week’s Droppables.
Ender Inciarte, OF, Braves
The 28-year-old centerfielder was one of the best table-setters in the league during his breakout 2017, reaching his first All-Star Game with 201 hits, 93 runs and 22 stolen bases. And even after an expected dip last season to a.265/.325/.380 slash line with 83 runs and 28 steals, Inciarte still projected to be a valued fantasy asset in 2019. He was slated to be Atlanta’s primary leadoff man, and with Josh Donaldson, Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña hitting behind him, he had huge run-scoring upside.
Inciarte’s production has fallen well short of expectations. He has just 11 hits in his first 62 plate appearances, with three extra-base hits and 13 strikeouts against six walks. That comes out to a .196/.274/.321 slash line. More concerning than the struggles, however, is his standing in Atlanta’s lineup. Ozzie Albies has hit leadoff for the Braves for most of the last two weeks, and while he has just a .250/.286/.400 line in that time, Brian Snitker seems committed to him in that role. The newly-extended second baseman should hold down the leadoff spot throughout much of 2019.
Inciarte could start losing playing time, as well. Johan Camargo has extended his super-utility status to the outfield, and is commanding more time in the lineup. Acuña is more than capable of manning center field, and those two facts could conspire to push Inciarte to the bench against lefties.
Ian Desmond, OF, Rockies
Desmond got on the board with his first homer of the season on Monday night, but that just speaks to how disappointing a player he has been this season. Desmond was a 20-20 player last year, and that ability had him on the draft radar this year, even though his rates were sure to be terrible. In a season that’s pacing for a homer record across the league, Desmond has just the one bomb and has yet to attempt a steal. Meanwhile, he’s hitting .164/.203/.279 in 64 plate appearances. Coors Field bump could guide him to 20 dingers (pun slightly intended), but his moderate power is unlikely to be worth as much as it was last season, especially if he isn’t running.
Jackie Bradley Jr., OF, Red Sox
Boston’s lineup would be completely lethal if the playoff version of Jackie Bradley Jr. appeared in April through September. Unfortunately for Boston, JBJ’s regular-season bat leaves a lot to be desired. He’s hitting .148/.190/.185 in 58 plate appearances, a continuation of last season’s struggles in the batter’s box. Bradley’s defense should earn him 500-plus plate appearances, and his name recognition likely lands him on a fair share of fantasy rosters. Don’t be fooled, though. Bradley is an offensive black hole, and should remain on the waiver wire in all but the deepest leagues.