We have reached our final recap of the fantasy baseball, and we’re going to end on a high note as we look at where I was right. Some seasons are more challenging than others, but I feel proud of the recommendations this year that have panned out. From waiver-wire targets like Cincinnati Reds Aristides Aquino to the players mentioned below, I’m confident I was able to help fantasy owners battle for a championship in 2019.

Where I Was Right

Avoid Drafting Toronto Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. So High — The hype machine was real for the 20-year-old, as he was being drafted in the fourth round despite never having an at bat in the major leagues. I cautioned fantasy owners against investing highly in Guerrero, as there was a chance he wouldn’t even make the big league team out of spring training. That’s exactly what happened as the youngster missed nearly the first month of the season. Guerrero didn’t hit his first home run until May 14 and finished with just 15 in 2019. Guerrero finished as the 179th hitter in ESPN Player Rater, which is a far cry from being drafted as the 38th hitter in March. The sky’s the limit for Guerrero, but if you avoided him in 2019 you were greatly rewarded.

Tampa Bay Rays’ Austin Meadows Undervalued — I’m declaring this a victory even though Meadows destroyed my preseason projections. I highlighted Meadows as an undervalued candidate, as he was being drafted 203rd overall and was once a top-tier prospect. The opportunity was there for Meadows heading into the season and he took full advantage. The outfielder hit .291 with 33 home runs, 89 RBIs and 83 runs scored. If there was one downside for Meadows, it’s that I thought he could steal 15 bases in 2019 but he finished with 12. Other than that, Meadows was the late-round target we need in drafts in order to fully compete for a championship.

Minnesota Twins’ Max Kepler Undervalued — Like Meadows, I underestimated just how good of a season Kepler could have. I thought 25 home runs was reasonable, which is why he was a perfect late-round outfield target. However, he finished with 36 home runs to go along with 90 RBIs and 98 runs scored. That is tremendous value for a player who was being drafted 259th overall in March. I was spot on with a .250 batting average, as he finished slightly above at .252. However, like Meadows, I thought more stolen bases could be had. Kepler only stole one bag, which was disappointing.

St. Louis Cardinals’ Jack Flaherty Breaks Out — There was a chance I’d be a year too early on Flaherty like I was on Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo, whom I recommended as a breakout candidate in 2018. However, Flaherty turned his season around in the second half to give fantasy owners a huge boost down the stretch. The starting pitcher finished the first half of the season with a 4.64 ERA, which was frustrating since he was striking out nearly 10 batters per nine innings. However, the light bulb came on in the second half, as the right-hander was nearly unhittable. He finished with 0.91 ERA in 15 starts. The strikeout rate was amazing as well, as he struck out 11.2 hitters per nine innings. This epic turnaround allowed Flaherty to finish as the sixth starting pitcher according to ESPN Player Rater. This is a huge win, and hopefully fantasy owners were able to benefit.

Phil Backert

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