It’s never too early to take a look at 2020, and with that in mind, we assembled a group to do just that. Our thanks to Peter Kreutzer, Bob High, Robert Mirshak, and Dylan White for taking the time to share their early thoughts on the first five rounds of a fantasy draft.
The rules were straight forward. We did five Rounds of a standard 5×5 League using rotating picks. The end result….fascinating, to say the least!
1. Ronald Acuna (Atl, OF)
Number one is no longer automatic. With Trout’s steals down, this youngster takes the top spot in fantasy.
2. Mike Trout (LAA, OF)
45 HR, 107 R, 102 RBI, and a .437 OBP says don’t let this big fish fall any further.
3. Christian Yelich (Mil, OF)
Currently the top player in fantasy baseball. I like the 3rd draft slot this year.
4. Cody Bellinger (LAD, OF/1B)
40-100 with 10-15 thefts. A great consolation prize when you miss out on the Top-3.
5. Mookie Betts (Bos, OF)
Last year’s number two pick is this year’s number five. Could there be value here?
6. Nolan Arenado (Col, 3B)
Consistently excellent at the hot corner and the plate.
7. Juan Soto (Was, OF)
At age 20, from 32 HR to 12 SB the future is now
8. Francisco Lindor (Cle, SS)
He missed the first 3 weeks of the season and was, therefore, slow out of the block. Yet, he’s still the best shortstop. Plus, he’s only 25. Very few true five-category guys.
9. Freddie Freeman (Atl, 1B)
Strong across the board at a position that is neither deep nor strong in talent.
10. Trevor Story (Col, SS)
Power, speed, Coors
11. Rafael Devers (Bos, 3B)
He’s young and really raked this season. The power and hit-tool look real, but the speed? Not sure…
12. Alex Bregman (Hou, 3B/SS)
33 HR, 22 more K’s than BB, position flex in a great lineup.
13. Gerrit Cole (Hou, SP)
Age concerns about Verlander and Scherzer have Cole on top of my pitcher list. Risk: Where will he sign?
14. Trea Turner (Was, SS)
The need for speed…
15. Justin Verlander (Hou, SP)
The ageless wonder might be getting better.
16. JD Martinez (Bos, OF)
Consistent year in and year out, though age starting to be a worry.
17. Pete Alonso (NYM, 1B)
The need for power….I’ll live with the potential low batting average to acquire 45-50 dingers at first base.
18. Jose Ramirez (Cle, 3B)
Improved 2nd half..back to normal? Did he just have a mental block or was hurt? The good news is he seemed to figure it out as the season progressed. He went as the fifth pick last year. Could he be a bargain this year?
19. Jake deGrom (NYM, SP)
One of the best pitchers in the game. At 31, he’s still on the younger size and still striking out batters in bunches (11 K/9)
20. Starling Marte (Pit, OF)
He’ll provide some speed with a nice power boost too.
21. Max Scherzer (Was, SP)
Last of the big four starting pitchers. 300ish strikeouts still plays. But is father time starting to catch up with him?
22. Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD, SS)
22 HR, 16 SB, as a 20-year-old in a pinch more than half of a season. 35-20 in 2020??
23. Walker Buehler (LAD, SP)
He delivered what was promised in 2019 and there should be more in the tank. More innings may mean he competes for the #1 overall pitcher. He still only 25.
24. Xander Bogaerts (Bos, SS)
He slugged 31 HR this season. He’s also tied for the Major League lead with 49 doubles. At 26, he has taken a big step in a potent lineup.
25. Vlad Guerrero Jr. (Tor, 3B)
I need speed, but I’m drawn to talent.
26. Bryce Harper (Was, OF)
Every year: “this will be the year!”
27. Jack Flaherty (Stl, SP)
The 2019 second half. That’s all.
28. Anthony Rendon (Was, 3B)
I’m an average freak. Batting .335. No longer a big injury risk. According to CBS, he’s the sixth-best hitter in Fantasy.
29. Jonathan Villar (Bal, 2B)
20 HR and 33 SB. He’s number 11on the ESPN player rater. Few players have his power-speed combo.
30. Javier Baez (CHC, SS)
Super consistent, and with health comes upside.
31. Clayton Kershaw (LAD, SP)
If you’re picking at the wheel in a traditional 15-team snake draft and don’t have your fantasy ace, you have to make that move now. Perhaps, Kershaw is not what he once was, but he’s proven more than capable, even with lower velocity.
32. Mike Clevinger (Cle, SP)
Mike Clevinger missed a lot of time but still managed to post a 2.71 ERA. That was supported by 2.38 xFIP, not to mention a 13 K/9 ratio.
33. Shane Bieber (Cle, SP)
He’s listed as the number three pitcher on CBS and is only 24. He’s third in Ks, FIP, AND xFIP showing the breakout is solid. However, the BABIP is low, implying there could be some modest correction next season.
34. Jose Altuve (Hou, 2B)
He’s not who he once was, but potentially a huge bargain in the third round.
35. Adalberto Mondesi (KC, SS)
He’s stolen 68 bags in last calendar year. Speed kills…but hopefully not the batting average.
36. Luis Castillo (Cin, SP)
Castillo stepped up in 2019 to post a 3.21 ERA with 14 wins. Perhaps there are other “ace” options here, maybe with a better team, maybe with a better ballpark. Maybe.
37. Eugenio Suarez (Cin, 3B)
Suarez enjoyed the juiced ball hitting 44 home runs and driving in 95 runs so far this season. That is a significant improvement over what he did in 2018. If the ball is changed, will his stats regress? Perhaps, but for now, he just gets better.
38. Ketel Marte (Ari, OF)
Marte will finish with around 35 hrs, 12 steals, and a .325 avg. He is 25 years old. Plus, I believe there is upside in the steals department.
39. Josh Bell (Pit, 1B)
There is only a handful of first baseman that stands out. If you can get two on one team, that spells trouble for someone(s).
40. Yordan Alvarez (Hou, DH)
Sophomore jinx? More like sophomore jacks!
41. Charlie Morton (TB, SP)
Our definition of ace is changing a bit. Morton is a late bloomer but proven effective. I debated about one other starter, and I could be wrong.
42. Gleyber Torres (NYY, SS/2B)
At just 22, 35 HR, 84 RBIs with position flex in a powerful lineup.
43. Aaron Judge (NYY, OF)
He’s been injured the last two years and yet the metrics continue to show great things. The oblique injury lingered this year. With health and that lineup…
44. Lucas Giolito (CHW, SP)
It took a while, but Lucas Giolito is starting to live up to his draft hype.
45. Whit Merrifield (KC, 2B)
He took a step back this year, but at the end of the third round, options for stolen bases are quickly diminishing.
46. Charlie Blackmon (Col, OF)
He’s a Coors phenomenon and provided he stays there, he’s solid.
47. Bo Bichette (Tor, SS)
The total package. Bo knows baseball!
48. Austin Meadows (TB, OF)
Good things are happening to players who get out of Pittsburgh. Meadows power really broke out, thanks in part to the ball. However, there’s an interesting power-speed profile here.
49. George Springer (Hou, OF)
In a full season, his numbers equate to 47 home runs and 125 runs and RBI; with a .385 OBP.
50. Carlos Correa (Hou, SS)
Assuming he’s healthy, he’s got to be considered post-hype at this point. But he’s 25 and it’s time for him to put it all together.
51. Anthony Rizzo (CHC, 1B)
When did Rizzo get boring? The middle of the fourth round for this level of consistency has significant value.
52. Patrick Corbin (Was, SP)
Back-to-back 200+ strikeouts with a low 3 ERA. There’s no reason to believe it shouldn’t be more of the same.
53. Gary Sanchez (NYY, C)
I’ll take 40 home runs from the catcher in the fourth round. He has also been unlucky with a .240 BABIP. His XBA shows a .259 average.
54. Blake Snell (TB, SP)
The 2018 Cy Young winner had 3.16 xFIP in 2018, a 3.24 this year. Plus, he’s striking out 12 per nine. That spells Ace in my book.
55. Amed Rosario (NYM, SS)
He’s already showing speed and power and I believe the hit tool will continue to improve. It better, as a .300 OBP hurts in some league formats.
56. Stephen Strasburg (Was, SP)
He stayed healthy this year and returned to ace status. Will health continue? Was his ability to opt-out a motivator for pitching through things? Time will tell, but when he’s out there, he’s a fantasy ace.
57. Victor Robles (Was, OF)
One of the last power-speed players and we are only in the fourth round. He’s young and should only get better. 20-30 is still the ceiling.
58. Noah Syndergaard (NYM, SP)
Look at his 2nd half numbers…
59. Giancarlo Stanton (NYY, OF)
Yes, 2019 was a disaster, but in 2017 and 18, he averaged 48 home runs and 116 RBIs. If he’s healthy, it’s a huge bargain at the back of the fourth round.
60. Michael Brantley (Hou, OF)
Batting average in this day and age has value when it comes with production.
61. JT Realmuto (Phi, C)
Having one excellent catcher is a big help.
62. Jose Abreu (CHW, 1B)
He’s not flashy, but I’ll take 31 home runs and 112 RBI to fill a very weak position in the fifth round.
63. Manny Machado (SD, 3B/SS)
He qualifies at both third and short next season. The average is down a tad but I will bet it comes back in his second year in San Diego.
64. Aaron Nola (Phi, SP)
Getting 220+ K’s in the fifth round. Sold!
65. Shohei Ohtani (LAA, DH/SP)
Even if he’s just a hitter, I’m ok with this spot.
66. Eddie Rosario (Min, OF)
He swings at everything, but it’s working as he should hit 30 home runs in 2019 with a solid .273 average. You know, it looks a lot like Adam Jones in his prime.
67. Matt Olson (Oak, 1B)
The hamate injury didn’t sap this 25-year old’s power, 31 home runs in 111 games
68. Paul Goldschmidt (Stl, 1B)
Terrible start to the season but after May he has been really good minus the stolen bases.
69. Ozzie Albies (Atl, 2B)
Power-speed combo at second, and I believe there is still upside.
70. Keston Hiura (Mil, 2B)
.280 25-15 at second base? Sold. Yeah, I know that he struck out 30% of the time, but he’s only 23 and assuming the Brewers give him the job outright out of spring training, I’m expecting better contact.
71. Andrew Benintendi (Bos, OF)
He shattered a lot of fantasy dreams this year as he didn’t build on his sophomore year. Hopefully, there are better things coming next season.
72. Tyler Glasnow (TB, SP)
2.15 ERA with an 80-grade fastball. If healthy, he could be an elite pitcher in 2020.
73. Kris Bryant (CHC, 3B)
It’s the second year in a row that injuries have caused missed time and regressive stats. Is this a trend? I’m hoping not. With health, this is a huge bargain in the fifth round.
74. Joey Gallo (Tex, OF)
Juiced ball, dead ball, ping pong ball. It doesn’t matter. He’ll launch 40+ into the stands.
75. Chris Sale (Bos, SP)
PRP or not. I can’t let him fall past 75. Even in the post-Dombrowski-firing haze of Beantown.