2020 Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft (Points)
It’s another cold winter day (at least for me in the Midwest), so why not do another mock draft? This time I went with a points format instead of the standard 5×5 rotisserie scoring league. You can check out my mock draft using 5×5 roto scoring here. Points leagues are very different than roto scoring because the main objective is to simply score the most points. The value of combo-players who can hit for power and steal bases drops to some degree. While they still hold value, the fact that a player steals bases doesn’t provide you with a huge boost in points. You’ll see that the scoring I’m using below values steals the same as a double. Whereas in roto scoring, steals are more valuable than even home runs due to the scarcity of the category. Additionally, pitching becomes more valuable. Not just pitching, but starting pitching because both wins and quality starts typically earn points in this format. For a full primer on Points leagues, check out Dan Harris’ recent article. It’s sure to get you up to speed.
For this draft, I used CBS Standard Points Scoring. The standard leagues over at CBS are points leagues, so it’s a good baseline to use. Keep in mind that most points leagues are custom, so before you draft make sure you know the point values in your league settings. For reference, here is how points are scored in this format that I used for this mock.
Roster construction looks like this: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3OF, UTL; 2SP, 2RP, 4P, and five bench spots
1.10 – Trevor Story (SS – COL)
I know I discussed earlier that power/speed players aren’t as sought out in points leagues as they are in roto formats, but here we are. Story is a beast regardless of the format. In addition to averaging 36 home runs and nearly 200 combined runs and RBI per season the last two years, he’s also averaged 40 doubles and almost six triples per year. Oh, and steals are still worth two points each in this format so netting 25 per year is still a nice bonus.
2.14 – Walker Buehler (SP – LAD)
Remember how I mentioned the value of starting pitchers in the introduction? Coming back to me in the second round, four starters were already gone. Without another pick until 33, I knew I had to grab an ace. Make no mistake, Buehler is now the undisputed ace of the Dodgers staff. Last year, his K/BB ratio was a pristine 5.81 ranking seventh among qualified starters, one spot ahead of Jacob deGrom. He pitched nearly 200 innings between the regular and postseason in 2019 and I think he surpasses that threshold in 2020. Innings earn points as well and he checks all the boxes in terms of strikeouts, quality starts, and wins while limiting walks.
3.33 – Jose Altuve (2B – HOU)
Cheating aside, Altuve has always had an elite strikeout rate which provides value in this format. He’s regularly among the hits leaders and his power really blossomed in 2019. I’m expecting regression back to the low-20s in terms of home runs, but I’m fine with that. Second base is a little more shallow than the other infield positions. He won’t steal many bases anymore but hitting in the top third of an elite lineup should net him 210+ runs and RBI.
4.39 – Blake Snell (SP – TBR)
The elite starting pitchers will outscore the best hitters in this format. If there’s one pitcher being taken outside of the top 10 that could finish as the number one pitcher, it’s Blake Snell. The 2018 Cy Young Award Winner is looking to bounce back after an injury-riddled 2019. Based on Alex Chamberlain of RotoGraphs Pitcher Leaderboard, Snell ranked second in all of baseball to Gerrit Cole in expected strikeout percentage (xK%) at 37.4%! He was also unlucky with a .341 BABIP against and his home run rate spiked despite hit barrel rate dropping by 2.5%. Snell’s a top-five SP for me in 2020, his skills are just off the charts.
5.58 – Eloy Jimenez (OF – CHW)
I believe Eloy Jimenez could mash 40 home runs in 2020. He’s going to be just 22 years old and in 2019, hit 31 homers across just 122 games. Of the 274 players who hit at least 100 combined line drives and fly balls, Jimenez ranked 18th in average exit velocity tied with Yordan Alvarez (96.6 mph) sandwiched between Christian Yelich and Pete Alonso. Not bad huh? The White Sox lineup is young and improving. I think there’s another level to his game and we could see it as early as 2020.
6.63 – Tommy Pham (OF – SDP)
Pham moves from Tampa Bay to another paradise in San Diego. He should bat second given his high on-base approach and is once again reach projected to reach 20 home runs and 20 steals. His ability to take a walk (12.2% career BB%) gives him a slight edge over other hitters in this area given the points format. I think the Padres will be better in 2020 including a bounce-back from Manny Machado. There’s a good chance Pham ends up with close to 180 combined runs and RBI.
7.82 – Jose Abreu (1B – CHW)
Points leagues aren’t exactly where Abreu excels but he’s still a nice pick after 75 overall and I needed to fill my first base spot. He’s consistent year-to-year and showed very strong power metrics increasing his hard hit and barrel rates in 2019. As I just mentioned in the Jimenez blurb, the White Sox lineup has improved with the additions of Edwin Encarnacion and Yasmani Grandal and I expect, at a minimum, similar production from Abreu in 2020.
8.87 – James Paxton (SP – NYY)
I won’t be able to count on 200 innings from Big Maple but he’s still averaged nearly 200 strikeouts the last two seasons while keeping walks in check. One underrated asset that Paxton provides is avoiding loses which is worth negative five points in this format. He’s totaled just 12 losses over the last two seasons, and the Yankees will provide a ton run support to boost his win totals. I don’t love counting on wins and losses but Paxton’s setup is one of the best in the league from that standpoint. Paxton was an easy choice as my SP3.
9.106 – Josh Donaldson (3B – MIN)
I understand snagging Donaldson at this spot is unlikely in future drafts but I did this mock before he signed with the Twins. His stock will likely rise now that he has a home and should hit in the middle of a stacked lineup. Donaldson is a beast in this format thanks to his prodigious power and elite walk rate which ranked ninth in the league last season. So while knowing that he won’t available in this spot come March, I still believe that given this format, I’d be willing to go as high as the top-75 with JD.
10.111 – Nick Castellanos (OF – CIN)
While unsigned, Casteallnos was coming at a bit of a discount. He’s not a favorite in this format due to a low walk rate and moderate home run power, but those doubles! He set a record with 58 doubles last year and has averaged 52 over the last two seasons. Additionally, I expect his power to bump up next season. This isn’t a flashy pick but should provide value and will fill my final outfield slot.
11.130 – Zac Gallen (SP – ARI)
I was debating whether or not to draft a closer here but in a points format, starting pitchers are much more valuable. With three very good pitchers in tow, I elected to go with Gallen who I felt had more upside in this format than any of the closers that were out there. Dan Harris mentioned grabbing starters with great K/BB ratios and given Gallen’s elite control metrics in the minors, he should provide just that. He impressed with a 10.8 K/9 in 2019 and I think the walks come down significantly given his 67.4% zone rate and 35.3% chase rate. It seems I might be higher on Gallen than most as I also grabbed him in the 11th round of the categories mock draft two weeks ago.
12.135 – Lance Lynn (SP – TEX)
Lynn is a workhorse. He’s surpassed 175 innings pitched in six out of the last seven seasons including 208 last year. His added fastball velocity helped his strikeout rate reach a new career-high at 10.63 K/9. I expect some regression for Lynn as he’ll turn 33 this May but his strikeout gains seem mostly legitimate. I’d expect about 180 innings and 200 strikeouts from Lynn and the new ballpark in Arlington will provide a more neutral environment. He’s an SP3 for me at an SP4 price in this format.
13.149 – Taylor Rogers (RP – MIN)
Closers aren’t as valuable in points formats even with seven points per save. The lack of innings, strikeouts, and obviously no shot at earning points from quality starts hurts them. Even still, I need to fill my two relief pitcher slots and this was a good place to start. I believe Rogers has a stronghold of the closer position in Minnesota. The Twins once again appear to be the best team in the AL Central and Rogers should get plenty of save opportunities in 2020. He also bumped his strikeout rate to career-best 32.4% thanks to increasing the usage of his slider. The ERA-estimators back up his sub-3.00 ERA from 2019, and I think he can repeat.
14.154 – Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (2B/SS/OF – TOR)
Offensively, I’ve filled all my starting slots except catcher and utility, so I went for the best value on the board. Gurriel seems a little under-rated to me at this spot. He’s just 26 years old and hit 20 home runs in just 84 games in 2019. The power is real. His hard hit% (balls hit over 95 mph) ranked in the top 15% of the league while his barrel rate ranked inside the top 20%. With above-average speed, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him steal eight to 10 bases either. He’ll hit in the middle of a talented young Blue Jays lineup and I expect him to outperform his ADP.
15.173 – Ryan McMahon (1B/2B/3B – COL)
I may have reached a little with this pick because McMahon doesn’t have a guaranteed starting role with the Rockies. However, I wanted some multi-position flexibility, especially on the infield. The rumors of Nolan Arenado being traded continue to swirl and if that happens, McMahon would like slot in as the everyday third baseman. His strikeout rate is an issue but could be aided a little bit playing half his games in Coors. Additionally, he hits the ball very hard (top-10% in the league) and is still just 25 years old with room to grow.
16.178 – Andrew Heaney (SP – LAA)
The projections love Heaney. Steamer Projections has him pegged for a 4.01 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP, 183 strikeouts, and 11 wins in 168 innings. He’s only reached that innings total twice in his career, 2015 in the minors, and 2018 with the Angels. If he reaches those projections, he’s a steal at this price. He’s interesting because he throws a high-spin sinker that acts more like a fourseam fastball. He’s able to generate whiffs with it, which is great! He also has decent secondaries that can induce strikeouts but were also hit hard in 2019. I can’t quite figure him out, but he has an SP2/3 ceiling, so he’s worth the gamble.
17.197 – Carson Kelly (C – ARI)
If you remember, I failed to grab a serviceable catcher in my previous mock draft, so I got my guy here just before pick 200. I have Kelly ranked as the ninth overall catcher. Typically, I wait until one of the last two or three rounds to get a backstop in one-catcher formats but I didn’t want to be stuck with someone like Yadier Molina. Kelly is still young (just 25 years old) and hit 18 home runs in just 365 plate appearances. He looks like a potential top-five catcher for the next half a decade.
18.202 – Ryan Yarbrough (SP/RP – TBR)
I need to fill out my second RP slot and Yarbrough is the perfect candidate. He has been strategically used following an opener by the Rays over the last two seasons and has yielded great success. Over the last two years, he’s managed to earn 27 wins despite starting just 20 games. He’s not going to give you many quality starts but that’s OK, the wins and strikeouts will be more valuable than any closer available on board at this point in the draft.
19.221 – Keone Kela (RP – PIT)
Kela should be given the first crack at closing for the Pirates and he’s got the makings of a potential top-10 closer. He throws hard (97 mph), gets a ton of strikeouts (11.2 K/9 last three seasons), and has a very good breaking ball. He’s had some issues inside the clubhouse with former teammates so as long as he can keep those issues at bay, he should thrive.
20.226 – Yandy Diaz (1B/3B – TBR)
Yandy is great for points leagues now that he’s elevating the ball with more frequency. He has a career 10.4% walk rate and a strikeout rate of 17.8% which is nearly five percent below the league average. He’s going to start for the Rays at third base but may also occasionally DH due to his poor defensive skills. If he can continue to drop his ground ball rate, which he’s done each of the last three years, he can mash 30 homers. Take a look at his profile.
21.245 – Adrian Houser (SP – MIL)
For my last pick, I elected to go with Adrian Houser. As I mentioned in my previous mock draft article, I feel comfortable finding starting pitching to stream on the waiver wire. If Houser doesn’t work out, I’ll be searching for someone else to take his place. But, I do like Houser for 2020. He’s locked in as a starter for the Brewers given their lack of depth in the rotation. He had a 25.3% strikeout rate last year and averages 95 mph on his fastball. His secondary pitches are lacking but there is some potential in his changeup. If he can figure out a secondary offering, he more than justifies this pick.