Jon is a fantasy writer at Baseball Prospectus.
Jon Hegglund: It's snowing here in the inland northwest and I've got Reds-Mariners on the tube, picks in both Tout Wars and TGFBI coming up, and a hankerin' to talk some fake baseball with you people. Let us commence!
Colorado (Dusty): ?Javier Wander prospect Twins about me tell you can What
Jon Hegglund: Uh oh. There is a glitch in the matrix...
Redacted (Redacted): I'm a White Sox fan. Was. I don't know anymore. Talk me off the ledge.
Jon Hegglund: I totally get it after the tease of Machado (and I guess Harper to a lesser extent). But your pain is relative. I'm a Giants fan, I would trade my team for yours in 2019. I get to watch 30-something players break down while the roster is spackled with the likes of Cameron Maybin and Yangervis Solarte. But back to the White Sox. There's still hope for Yoan Moncada, eventually you'll have Michael Kopech, maybe Lucas Giolito comes good, and Luis Robert is coming down the pike. And your team doesn't hate BP.
Jack (Tinley Park): Paraphrasing something Tony Clarke mentioned in his rebuttal to Commissioner Manfred, there has been a "two year attack on free agency." Last time there was a collusion scandal, Jerry Reinsdorf was a central figure. The statements made by the ChiSox FO/BO guys, namely Kenny Williams, indicate they weren't willing to spend close to market for Machado (and likely Harper, at my time of writing this) despite the fact they are not a small or even moderate market team. The Marlins/Loria were blasted for their ridiculous antics. Shouldn't the MLB step in and remove owners (or take some action) who are doing this only for the financial gain, and not to put a winning product on the field (ChiSox, Pirates). #FindingANewTeam
Jon Hegglund: It's easy to see the symptoms of the problem in situations like you mention, but it's indicative of a much deeper problem called CAPITALISM. I think some fans may be coming to terms with the hard reality that their team is not a publicly-owned good and is a for-profit enterprise. And it sucks. (and other fans are happy to carry water for ownership, which also sucks.) So singling out individual owners probably isn't going to work, but short of a revolution leading us to a classless society, finding ways to pay minor leaguers and pre-arb players is the most urgent issue for the next CBA.
Vic (Baltimore): ML At Bats in 2019 for Bichette? Hiura?
Will they see 500+ ABs in 2020?
Jon Hegglund: The Moustakas signing suggests that the Brewers want Hiura to get a mostly-full season in AAA. So I'd say September for him, maybe 75-100 PA. Bichette could come up sooner, I'll give him 150 PA. 2020 is so tough to project, but I'll take the slight under on 500 ABs for both, just because development is nonlinear. (Unless you're Vladito, Acuņa, or Soto.)
CubbieBear (Chi-Town): Danny Jansen looks like a lock to start in Toronto. What are realistic expectations for his stat line in 2019?
Jon Hegglund: Yup, he's pretty much a lock. Conventional wisdom (and ADP) has a clear top-8 at the position, but I'm not so sure that Jansen doesn't outperform a Willson Contreras or Yadier Molina by season's end. PECOTA has .235/14/49/48/2 in 412 PA. I'll push the average up to .250, and the RBI up by 5-10, but otherwise this looks right to me.
BK (Toronto): Who is currently not a closer that you predict will be the closer mid season. Specifically, I am looking for the next Edwin Diaz.
Jon Hegglund: Well, the next Edwin Diaz will probably be someone who is in the role already but has a breakout and/or visit from the luck elves. Look at Jose Alvarado in Tampa Bay: the Rays are always near the top of the leaderboard for saves chances and while they may do a modified committee, Alvarado could run away with the job early. For committee situations where a closer hasn't been named, I like Trevor May in Minnesota a lot. Sleepers that could get into save roles: Joe Jimenez in DET, Trevor Rosenthal in WAS (an inevitable Doolittle injury away), Diego Castillo in TB, Reyes Moronta in SF.
Tommy (Atlanta): Who is someone outside the top 25 in prospects that could be a top 5 prospect next year?
Jon Hegglund: Wander Javier?
Really, I'm not a prospect guy. I wrote the comments for most of the Royals, so I'm biased toward MJ Melendez and Seuly Matias (aka right-handed Joey Gallo).
Me (Bulgaria): Seems like the industry is slowly coming around on Murphy's potential in Colorado as his ADP rises. Assuming his health isn't a big factor this year (helped by moving to 1b), do you see him returning to '16-'17 form?
Jon Hegglund: Man, I'm probably not the guy to ask about Murphy--he's going way too high for my comfort (though Vlad Sedler got a good value in the 6th round of the Tout Wars Draft & Hold). He's developed into a great hitter, but I have a hard time betting on a player in physical decline. I might prorate his projections to 450-500 PA and go from there.
Simon (Atlanta): Who is your sleeper breakout player. A non top 150 guy who will make the leap to top 25 value.
Jon Hegglund: Jeebus, Kyle Lewis just crushed one halfway to New Mexico.
That's a pretty high bar to clear--150+ to top 25. Excluding rookies like Kyle Tucker, Nick Senzel, or Peter Alonso, I'll give some 150+ names that could improve significantly (if not top 25): Amed Rosario, Jesse Winker, Luke Voit, Ramon Laureano, Hunter Renfroe, Manny Margot, Josh James, Tyler Skaggs. Off the top of my head.
Buddy (Peoria, IL): Does Nick Madrigal see the Majors this year? If so, what do you expect from him?
Jon Hegglund: Probably not. You will dream of Dustin Pedroia, you will get, I dunno, right-handed Joe Panik?
Jake (State Farm): How long can Charlie Blackmon be considered elite? Does he have 2-3 years left?
Jon Hegglund: Yeah, that sounds about right, provided he stays in Denver. He's aging gracefully from powerSPEED to POWERspeed. I'd expect more of this progression.
Bob (NJ): Jon,
Who gets the majority of the starts for the Orioles this year at SS, and does it matter? Is Rule 5 pick-up Richie Martin worth anything? Is there upside for any of their OF's, like Mullins or Hayes? Thank you!
Jon Hegglund: Oh, man, why does this feel like a sick joke whose punch line is "Alcides Escobar." It doesn't matter. Nothing matters. Eat at Arby's.
Richie Martin is an AL-only dart throw. Mullins could flirt with 15/15, he'd be the only Oriole OF I'd look seriously at in a mixed league.
Buddy (Peoria): Who are some fantasy sleepers this year?
Jon Hegglund: See Simon's question above. Also, apropos of nothing other than their presence in my draft queue in Tout Wars right now (look away fellow drafters), I'm kind of into Adam Frazier and Ji-Man Choi.
Mike (New Jersey): I'm having a hard time buying into Yates as a closer at his age, but the DRA rankings have him 3rd! He's up against Alvarado, Allen and Davis right now.
Jon Hegglund: Buy into Yates. I did last year, and I'd like to do so again if I get the chance in 2019. He's a target of mine after the first couple of tiers--I'd prefer him to all three names you list (though Alvarado would be close). DRA is smart.
Gary Mack (in the back): You have first pick in FYPD (2018 draft picks and 2018 J2 guys) - who you taking?
Jon Hegglund: Funny you should ask. I'm co-managing a team in TDGX with Mark Barry, and our FYPD began today. Assuming Kikuchi is not eligible, ours went India, Gorman, VVM. I don't think there's a consensus #1, so do your worst--but I like those three choices.
WickedCurve26 (BMore): Last week Scott Delp released an article saying Flaherty was a better fantasy arm than Buehler. While the article laid out his arguments for this, every other ranking I've seen indicates Buehler is more than barely ahead of Flaherty. Was this article divisive at all among BP writers?
Jon Hegglund: Nope, I like that Scott bucked consensus and made the case for Flaherty. They're pretty similar pitchers, but Buehler has a MASSIVE amount of helium right now. In a vacuum, I'd lean Buehler, but at their current prices, Flaherty is probably the better value.
Michael (California): What's the state of Clayton Kershaw? Is he on the decline, or do you see a bounce back to good health in his future?
Jon Hegglund: Oof. Yes, he's on the decline. But will there be plateaus of value where he figures out how to get outs with diminished stuff? One would think so. One would hope so. But we've already seen peak Kershaw, that's pretty clear.
Vic (Baltimore): Does Wil Myers likely rebound to his 2016/2017 self?
Jon Hegglund: His 2018 self was his 2016-17 self, performance-wise--he was just hurt a bunch. As ever, the question with Myers is health. If he plays a full season, book the 20/20 with a .240ish average.
Buddy (Peoria, IL): Which young SP's take big steps forward this year?
Jon Hegglund: Feels like there are a bunch...I think the secret's out on Taillon after the slider-fueled dominance in the 2H last year. Lotta hype on Bieber and Pivetta as well. I'm into a bunch of later-round arms: Josh James, Joey Lucchesi, Tyler Glasnow, Tyler Skaggs, Matt Boyd, and, as always, Jon Gray.
Jon Hegglund: OK, folks, that's the hour for me. Thanks, as ever, for your questions, and we'll meet again soon.