Monday, March 11, 2019

Astrology 2019 Projected Rosters - Fire Division

Starting with the top team in the Fire Division, Aries has one fantasy astrology championship under their belt (way back in 2017), and they look primed to pick up another one with a stacked roster in both the offensive and pitching sides of the equation. Let's take a look at the players tier by fantasy tier - see the hub post for an explanation of the color-coding system; the numbers to the right of each player's line represent how that player's overall fantasy ranking compares to the other members of that player's sign.

The recently extended Nolan Arenado is the lone tier 1 batter on the Rams team, and he's earned his place amongst the game's top third basemen, Coors Field bonus notwithstanding. I should note that Alex Bregman was actually ranked among the second tier of third basemen, his primary real life position, despite the fact that he was fantasy eligible at shortstop last year. Not to wish ill on his Astros teammate Carlos Correa (a Virgo), but if Bregman doesn't get his minimum 20 games at short to qualify again next year, this team will take a huge step back looking ahead to 2020. Speaking of injuries, it's not unreasonable to expect Buster Posey to jump back into the top tier of fantasy catchers with a full, healthy season in 2019.

Skipping over Tier III (for now), the versatility of projected starting DH Travis Shaw (2B/3B) allows Aries to carry an additional first baseman on the bench behind starter Matt Olson. I picked Carlos Santana over Miguel Cabrera, not just because of the former's switch hitting ability, but also because I frankly doubt that the latter will bounce back to approach his mid-career form in his age 36 season. I think Daniel Murphy is getting the short shrift being stuck in Tier IV, since a) he's slated to move to a less challenging defensive position (1B), and b) he'll be playing his home games in the hitter-friendliest park in the majors.

Not one, but two Tier IV catchers are available to back up ther perennial All-Star Posey: Blue Jays prospect Danny Jansen, who is no longer blocked by Russell Martin following the Aquarian's trade back to Los Angeles, and power hitting Mike Zunino, who is no longer in Seattle following his trade to Tampa Bay. Lorenzo Cain headlines a surprisingly weak outfield for such an impressive overall sign; the only other outfielder of note is Tier V left fielder David Dahl, the third Rockie in the projected starting lineup.

On the pitching side, Chris Sale and Corey Kluber should continue to put up elite-level numbers after a winter filled with sensible extension discussions and surprising trade rumors, respectively. If you're going to pay for saves on your fantasy team, Edwin Diaz is a good bet, although it's still unclear how he'll perform under the bright lights and high scrutiny that comes with playing in New York. The only other tiered starter is Kluber's Cleveland teammate Carlos Carrasco, who signed an extension of his own after another quietly dominant season. Their fellow Indian Brad Hand should have a clear shot to racking up saves totals with Sagittarius closer Cody Allen now out of the picture.

The only two Tier III players on this roster are relievers with drastically different situations. Kirby Yates earned the Padres' closer role last year and should hold it down this coming season, barring any unforeseen circumstances. Conversely, Josh Hader is part of a three-headed bullpen monster in Milwaukee who's not guaranteed more than 33% of his team's save chances, but his lights-out stuff and tendency to be used in multi-inning stints makes him a good bet to put up impressive points totals. It's still not clear whether David Robertson will give way to youngster Seranthony Dominguez at the back end of the Phillies bullpen, but he's an established enough closer to easily land a Tier IV placement.

Ranking Gary Sanchez in the first tier of catchers (a tier in which he is joined only by Pisces backstop J.T. Realmuto) requires the optimistic assumption that he will be able to stay healthy and hit at his usual scorching pace for a full season, but the talent is undeniably there. When I saw Javier Baez ranked in the first tier of second basemen, I a) wholeheartedly agreed, and b) was worried about how his multi-position eligibility (he also qualified at 2B and 3B) would affect my highlighting system for this list. Reading ahead, my fears were allayed, since each player is listed only once. Nevertheless, he occupies shortstop for the Archers, where he will likely start 2019 for the real life Cubs while Aquarian Addison Russell is serving his suspension, leaving second base for AL Rookie of the Year finalist Gleyber Torres (who also qualified at shortstop for his time spent filling in for the injured Pisces Didi Gregorius). The other two Tier II outfielders had extremely impressive seasons in terms of hardware, as Christian Yelich won the NL MVP and Ronald Acuna Jr. was named the same league's Rookie of the Year.

Continuing the theme of infield versatility, Matt Carpenter not only qualified for third base last season, but that will be his primary position in 2019 with the Cardinals' acquisition of star Virgo first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. However, not only was he ranked in the third tier of first baseman, that's where he'll play for the Archers, as they have both a Tier III and Tier IV third baseman on deck, in Justin Turner and Josh Donaldson, respectively. It was curious to me that ranked Khris Davis in the third tier of outfielders, since he played just 11 games in the field 2018, but luckily this astrolgoy team has an open DH spot for him. Tier IV right fielder Yasiel Puig rounds out the starting outfield, with a trio of Tier V players available as backups: A.J. Pollock for center field, Wil Myers, who is also fourth on the sign's 3B depth chart, and superprospect Eloy Jimenez, who likely won't see the White Sox's MLB roster until a couple weeks into the season for service time reasons. (The ^ next to his name denotes that he has yet to qualify at his listed position in the majors.)

Despite winning the AL Cy Young Award last year, Rays lefty Blake Snell has to be content with a Tier II placement heading into 2019. Maybe the pundits doubt his ability to repeat his impressive breakout season on a team that is increasingly shying away from the traditional starting pitcher. Tier III reliever Jose Leclerc's recent extension with Texas should allow him to hold down the closer's role all year, without the front office worrying about those pesky saves totals driving his salaries up in the arbitration process. If Tier IV starter Mike Clevinger can continue his impressive production from last season, the Indians should be in a good spot as far as the AL Central is concerned, despite a rather quiet offseason. If the Brewers continue their reliever usage pattern of 2018, Corey Knebel might be the most fantasy relevant of the star-studded bunch, since he got most of the traditional three-out save opportunities last year.

Leo has somewhat of a top-heavy lineup, but when the top is the consensus best player in baseball, you've got a good starting point. As if Mike Trout weren't enough to anchor a fantasy lineup, he's joined by another Tier 1 outfielder in J.D. Martinez, who, unlike Khris Davis, actually qualified as an outfielder last year, despite DH being his primary position. Add to those two a Tier II first baseman like Anthony Rizzo, and you not only have a solid middle of the order, but also a good lefty-righty balance. This is especially true when you consider Tier V outfielder David Peralta, whose 2018 breakout was apparently viewed as mostly smoke and mirrors by evaluators.

It remains to be seen whether Tier III catcher Wilson Ramos will be able to maintain the health of his knee over a full season in the DH-less National League (although rumblings are that this rule could be changing soon). In a speed-happy Royals lineup, Adalberto Mondesi should have the chance to pad his stolen base totals. I also want to say something about common sense defensive alignment vs. strict fantasy positional eligibility: either Mondesi or backup shortstop Paul DeJong could absolutely handle second base in a real life/simulation situation, which would keep this team from having to rely on unproven prospect Brendan Rodgers. Beyond that, Zack Cozart's injury status (denoted by the + next to his name, which also procs spellcheck on Google Docs) makes the infield picture even murkier at the moment.

It turns out that Leo's rotation is as top-heavy as its lineup, with the game's highest-ranked starting pitcher serving as their ace. But things get significantly less consistent behind Max Scherzer and his yearly strikeout totals that are all-but guaranteed to approach 300. Tier III sophomore Walker Buehler has tremendous potential, but he did throw a lot of innings last year, and has a Tommy John surgery under his belt. Madison Bumgarner is a playoff hero who has cemented his place in Giants lore, but injuries, both baseball- and recreation-related, have stalled his last two seasons. In the bullpen, it's not at all clear that Archie Bradley will win the D-Backs' closer job over veteran pickup Greg Holland (an un-tiered Scorpio). Brandon Morrow gets an unceremonious Tier V placement (despite his superior rank to Tier IV Bradley) because the hard throwing yet fragile righty will likely not be ready for Opening Day after missing most of the end of last season.

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