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Post-Playoff Fantasy Stock Watch - Hitters

The 2018 MLB postseason kept baseball fans on the edge of their seats, and also gave fantasy owners a new window into players as they begin to prepare for 2019. While the playoffs are a small sample, any chance to see players facing top talent from other teams, over and over, still has value for owners paying attention. Even more, players on postseason teams should be the best in the league, so this data gives owners the best insight into top match-ups and results.

For most batters, the postseason will serve to better frame endings to the 2018 season, as hot hitters tended to keep this up, and the cold hitters kept swinging for below-average results. While owners should not move these players on draft boards too much based on limited chances, they should take all of this into account when identifying their targets for drafts.

With that, fantasy owners should jump into their prep now, and learn from all the data at their fingertips. Welcome to the world of hot takes and quick fantasy reactions.

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Post-Playoff Reaction: Stock Up

Rafael Devers (3B, BOS)

Devers has been a bit of a mixed bag this year, with a rough start but a strongish finish to the year. As a whole, for 2018, Devers slashed .240/.298/.433 with 21 homers and five steals. These are admittingly passable numbers, but well below what most expected after a strong 2017 campaign. So then, onto the playoff numbers. In 34 ABs, Devers slashed .294/.371/.382 with one homer and nine RBI. The uptick in the batting line is good, and taking into account who Devers had to face, this is an even better sign. This does not mean that Devers will be the top-five player at the position next year, but rather, that Devers is not the bust that some thought back in May. Keep him on draft boards and still target in the middle rounds of redraft leagues. Devers only helped himself with the playoff performance.

Brock Holt (2B/SS/3B/OF, BOS)

Holt has been an exciting fantasy option for years, not because he can hit, but because he can play everywhere. He often appeared on our waiver wire team of the week articles for this fact, and when he does hit, that injury replacement plays up the value. And then, Holt jumped into the national spotlight with a cycle in the Divisional Series, and a few other good games. While the cycle is only so interesting for fantasy owners, the fact that Holt got 27 AB this postseason shows that even the Red Sox think he can be a valuable player. Add to that a .259/.375/.519 slash with one homer and six RBI, and Holt looks to be a bit better than just that utility option on the bench. Holt will not be a top fantasy option in 2019, but, if he is there at the end of a draft, this is a smart add, and with team context, shows the value that Holt offers to the Red Sox and fantasy teams. This is a clear target for owners looking to play the long game.

Marwin Gonzalez (1B/2B/SS/OF, HOU)

2018 was not the season most expected from Gonzalez, but he made it up to Astros fans with a strong postseason. After slashing only .247/.324/.409 during the regular season, Gonzalez pushed his playoff line to .333/.389/.576. To add to this, he drove in nine runs and hit two homers in 33 plate appearances. Gonzalez will always be a fantasy darling due to the unique positional eligibility that he offers, but after a strong finish to the season, also looks to be back in the conversation. For most owners, Gonzalez's value will be a bit down due to the rough season, but the small sample versus Cleveland and Boston should keep him on boards for owners willing to buy-in. In fact, if owners like Holt for the positional options, then Gonzalez is the upgrade over that profile as well.

Orlando Arcia (SS, MIL) 

Arcia had one of the biggest breakout performances of the playoffs with crucial homers and hits from a player without much to celebrate during the regular season. A former top prospect for the Brewers, Arcia started the season off so badly that he was sent down to the minors for 22 games until a reboot. His second half was much stronger than the first bringing him back into the conversation. Before the All-Star break Arcia was hitting .190, and after, that jumped to .290. In this case, the postseason was an extension of the strong finish, but the power was new. After hitting only three homers in the regular season, he matched that with three more in the postseason. The other key mark was only four strikeouts in 33 plate appearances. If owners were in on Arcia to start 2018, the end of the season should only encourage them to get back on the train.

David Freese (1B/3B, LAD) 

After his move to the Dodgers, Freese looked like a different player. While only playing in 19 games, Freese slashed .385/.489/.641 with two homers and nine runs for the Dodgers. This hot form continued into the postseason, as Freese slashed .364/.423/.733 in 22 chances, with two homers and six RBI. While Freese will be 35 to start the season, this run showed that there is still something left in the tank. Freese was a regular on the waiver wire team of the week this year and offers a nice bat in NL-only and other deep leagues. While he is not a high-average player, excellent contact skills support the profile, and Freese tends to score more runs than expected. This postseason should remind owners that Freese is still there to be had, and often, most teams can do much worse late in drafts for their bench.


Post-Playoff Reaction: Stock Down

Luke Voit (1B/DH, NYY) 

Voit took the nation by storm after his move from St. Louis hitting 14 homers in 39 games with the Yankees. Once the postseason started though, that power disappeared. In 17 chances, he failed to hit a homer, and in fact, hit only .235 after the season ended. What does this mean for fantasy owners? While 17 chances are not the season, the fact that he did not keep the power going should throw cold water on much of the hype as owners move into draft season. The other key stat was that in the playoffs, Voit only slugged .353, so not only did the homers dry up, but the rest of the power did as well. Voit is a player that owners reading this site should allow others to take, as opposed to pulling the trigger themselves. Settle for the other low-average first baseman if that is a position of need. At the very least, recognize that in two small samples, the fact that one was well below average, owners should take that into full account.

Nick Markakis (OF, ATL) 

2018 might have been the highlight of Markakis’s career, and at least to start the year, he looked have found the fountain of youth. In fact, in the first half, he hit .323, but in the second half, he slumped and hit only .258. Even more, the homers dropped from ten to four after the break. Like most others in the conversation, the postseason is more an extension of the trends that emerged later in the year, and Markakis watched the bad form continue. While only playing in one series, he slashed .083/.276/.083 versus the Dodgers. For owners who were in on the outfielder after the 2018 campaign, take a step back, and slot him in as a bench bat at best. At the very least, do not be willing to pay more than that next spring.

Manny Machado (SS, LAD) 

Forget the cheap play on Jesus Aguilar, forget the comments after games, and ignore the fact that Machado might now be the least liked player in the Majors after Roberto Osuna. Even taking all of that out, Machado had a dreadful postseason, after being added as the final piece to try bringing a title back to Los Angeles. For context, in 66 plate appearances, he slashed .227/.378/.394 with 18 strikeouts. While he did hit three homers, the overall offense was not there, and this will continue to dog him as he enters the offseason. Machado will still get paid, and perhaps end up in a good situation, but this should be a key factor for fantasy owners. Do not knock him out of the first few rounds, but if owners are drafting at the beginning, Machado should have to wait a bit to hear his name called. Do not be surprised if he is more of an early third-round value, as opposed to the first round where he's expected to go in most drafts based on early mocks. 

Yasmani Grandal (C, LAD) 

Grandal will be one of the most intriguing free agents this offseason. His performance in the regular season had him projected as one of the top backstops, and then, after a collapse in the postseason, this might not be in that case anymore. The main issue with Grandal was the lack of defense, and in today’s era for catchers, this might limit where he ends up. Passed balls alone might stop him from earning a starting role if this keeps up. For some, Grandal was a good fit in Boston, but after these appearances, perhaps not so much. Not only was the defense an issue, but Grandal also slumped at the plate, slashing .138/.265/.276 with 15 strikeouts in 29 plate appearances. A rough end to the season means that Grandal will perhaps be taking a Jonathan Lucroy-type deal somewhere to earn back some value; if he ends up on a mid-table team, that only hurts his fantasy value. Grandal saw his stock drop more than any others on the list, and this might be an interesting buy-low opportunity for owners as well. At the very least, this will show that even a small sample can hurt a player's fantasy upside. 

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