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Early 2020 Fantasy Baseball Rankings + Top Draft Targets

Jan 9, 2020

Trea Turner has the potential to finish the 2020 season as fantasy baseball’s best player

The MLB regular season is still a couple months away, but it’s never too early to get ahead and start preparing for your 2020 draft. Even though the draft for many is the most enjoyable part of the season, it’s only the first step in building a championship-caliber team. Regardless, nailing the draft and starting hot out of the gate can set you up for success in the summer.

We asked our featured fantasy baseball analysts to give their early top-10 rankings. While everyone has Ronald Acuna, Mike Trout, and Christian Yelich among their top three, the rest of the names listed have less of a consensus regarding where they should be taken. With that in mind, we also asked the guys which player outside the top three has the best chance of finishing the season as the best fantasy baseball performer. Lastly, the experts name one player outside the first round they’re eyeing in drafts this spring.

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Featured Pros:
Michael Waterloo – FantasyPros
Mick CiallelaFantrax
Dan HarrisFantasyPros
Bobby SylvesterFantasyPros
Max FreezeFreeze Stats
Andrew GouldFantasyPros
Nick MarianoRotoBaller
Pierre CamusRotoBaller

2020 Top-10 Players (5×5 League Scoring) – View full expert consensus rankings

Rank Player Position Team Best Rank Worst Rank
1. Ronald Acuna OF ATL 1 2
2. Mike Trout OF/DH LAA 1 3
3. Christian Yelich OF MIL 2 3
4. Mookie Betts OF LAD 4 5
5. Cody Bellinger 1B/OF LAD 5 9
6. Francisco Lindor SS CLE 5 9
7. Gerrit Cole SP NYY 4 N/R
8. Trea Turner SS WSH 6 10
9. Trevor Story SS COL 7 N/R
10. Nolan Arenado 3B COL 8 N/R

Also receiving top-10 votes: J. deGrom (#11), J. Soto (#T-12), A. Bregman (#T-12), J. Verlander (#14)

2020 Fantasy Baseball Draft Advice

Each expert answered two questions about the players they like next season. Here are their suggestions for who you should target.

Q1. Which player outside of your top 3 has the best chance of finishing No. 1 and why?

Trea Turner (SS – WSH)
“There are quite a few players that could slide in here, but I’m going to go with Turner if he finally puts together the season we’ve all been waiting for and runs like he did before breaking his finger last year. Turner is already vastly underrated — even for a first-rounder. His 162-game career average is .291/.348/.467 with 21 homers, 112 runs, 73 RBIs, and 53 steals. Looking at 2019, that’s a combination of Mike Trout’s average, Whit Merrifield’s on-base percentage, Yasmani Grandal’s slugging, Tommy Pham’s power, Charlie Blackmon’s runs, Nicholas Castellanos’ RBIs, and, well, no one’s speed, but Mallex Smith came the closest with 46 steals.”
– Michael Waterloo (FantasyPros)

“One of these years, Trea Turner is going to put it all together and break fantasy baseball. Last season, he finished 25th in FantasyPros’ Value Based Rank despite a wrist injury limiting him to 122 games. Doing some simplified math, his results prorate to 25 homers and 46 steals over a pace of 162 games, which is a lofty goal he accomplished in 2018. Those investing in the first round will leave satisfied if the shortstop honors his career .291 batting average with 20 dingers and 40 steals in around 150 contests. There’s at least a timeline, however, where Turner becomes the best asset in fantasy baseball by reaching the heights of his power, speed, and health potential.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

Trevor Story (SS – COL)
“I am high on Story this year. The Rockies’ shortstop has been a top-10 hitter in each of the last two seasons and I expect the same in 2020. I still believe there is another level he can reach from a fantasy perspective. He had a very pedestrian 5.5 barrels per plate appearance last season. If he can square up a few more balls, he can eclipse the 40-home run threshold for the first time in his career. Playing half his games in Coors Field certainly doesn’t hurt that probability. Story is an underrated threat on the basepaths as well. He is one of only 10 players to have at least 50 stolen bases since the beginning of 2018. Outside of the top three players being drafted, Story has the clearest path to a 40/20 season, which is why I think he has an outside chance at being this season’s top fantasy player.”
– Mick Ciallela (Fantrax)

Francisco Lindor (SS – CLE)
“I think any one of my top 10 guys other than Nolan Arenado has the chance to finish as the No. 1 player, but I’ll go with Lindor. Despite missing most of the first month, Lindor finished with an enormous season, hitting 32 home runs and stealing 22 bases. Yes, some underlying numbers went in the wrong direction (walk rate and launch angle were down, strikeout rate was up) and didn’t fully support his totals (lower expected batting average, slugging percentage, and wOBA than the actual results). However, Lindor is just 26 years old and dealt with major lower-body injuries last year. With a little good fortune, if you squint you can see a .285-110-40-90-25 season somewhere out there.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Adalberto Mondesi (2B/SS – KC)
“This may sound crazy but outside of Turner or Ramirez, I’ll go with a guy being selected a handful of rounds later, Adalberto Mondesi. I’m most certainly not saying this for any hyperbolic factor, but because we’ve seen this from him for an extended stretch. Over the final 80 games of the 2018 season, Mondesi’s 34 home runs, 72 stolen bases, 105 runs, and .287 batting average pace led all fantasy players. That is a large enough sample size to suggest he can do it again. What’s more, is that his stolen base rate last year was nearly double what anyone else in baseball accomplished. It is not out of the question for him to finish with 25 homers and 80 steals, which would clearly make him the No. 1 fantasy asset.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Jose Ramirez (2B/3B – CLE)
“If you’re aiming at raw ceiling outside the “big three,” then I’d turn to Ramirez. Yes, the floor is lower than you’d like, but the man hit 39 homers with 34 steals and 100-plus runs and RBIs in 2018, only to disappoint with 23 home runs and 24 stolen bases in an injury-shortened 2019. You need top speed to finish No. 1 unless Giancarlo Stanton rips 60-plus homers…which may also happen. Ramirez topped 150 games in his previous three years so I don’t fear the durability in pursuit of that five-category production in an age-27 season, simply the cold streaks and lower average risk.”
– Nick Mariano (RotoBaller)

Gerrit Cole (SP – NYY)
“The answer for me is Cole. Depending on which source you use to provide end of season values, Cole finished either first, second, or third in 2019. Strikeouts are the main category that drives his value, something he did an insane 326 times in 2019. His strikeout rate of 39.9% was 4.5% better than teammate Justin Verlander, who ranked second among qualified starters. While an exact repeat of his 2019 might be difficult, he clearly has the skills to finish as the No. 1 fantasy player in 2020.”
– Max Freeze (Freeze Stats)

Bryce Harper (OF – PHI)
“I barely have Harper inside my top-20 overall list right now, but I wouldn’t be the least surprised if he put together another MVP season. Once the first-half disappointment passed, he quietly finished with 35 home runs, 114 RBIs, 98 runs, and 15 stolen bases after hitting three more homers and stealing twice as many bases in 108 fewer plate appearances after the break. He’s acclimated to his new team and ballpark and he’s probably used to the boos by now.”
– Pierre Camus (RotoBaller)

Q2. Who’s your favorite early target after the first round inside the top 50 in ECR and why?

Mike Clevinger (SP – CLE)
“I think Clevinger is the perfect fallback option if you miss out on one of the elite starting pitchers early. He has improved his ratios in every season, and I believe he can make the jump into that elite territory this year. People seem to be neglecting how dominant he was last season. Clevinger missed over two months with a back injury. In his first start back, he gave up five earned runs and injured his ankle in the process. Following a 10-day stint on the injured list, he allowed seven earned runs in his next start. I realize we do not play in “what ifs” but if you remove those two starts where he was getting his bearings, his 2019 stat line would have read as follows: a 1.96 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 5.16 K:BB ratio. If that upside is available in the third round, I will take it every time. He should be going at least half a round higher in my opinion.”
– Mick Ciallela (Fantrax)

“I’m going to have a lot of shares of Mike Clevinger this year — or at least I hope to. As Frank Stampfl pointed out on Twitter, in 16 starts from July 2 to September 24, Clevinger put up the following numbers: a 1.76 ERA, 2.98 xFIP, 1.02 WHIP, 11.82 K/9, 2.21 BB/9, 15.4% SwStr, 66.9% F-strike, and 32.2% O-swing. He’s going to be an ace this year.”
– Michael Waterloo (FantasyPros)

Jose Ramirez (2B/3B – CLE)
“It’s Ramirez for me. Then again, I’m a sucker for power and speed. Ramirez struggled through the majority of the first half in 2019, but his approach was different than what made him successful in previous seasons. He was trying to go the other way to avoid shifts instead of pulling the ball, which is where he can do the most damage. When he pulls the ball, his OPS is over 1.20. Through June 9, his pull rate was 43.4%, but from that point forward, he pulled the ball 53.7% of the time. At age 27, I think Ramirez has figured out who he is as a ballplayer and where he can succeed. Let’s not forget, he hit 39 home runs and stole 34 bases in 2018. As long as he’s healthy, he’s a virtual lock for 30 homers and 25 steals and should push for first-round value.”
– Max Freeze (Freeze Stats)

Jose Altuve (2B – HOU)
“I understand that Altuve stole only six bases last year and batted below .300 for the first time since 2013, but I’m snatching him up well before his late-third round draft price. As with Lindor, Altuve’s underlying data did not fully support his season and most fantasy owners were disappointed by his actual numbers anyway. But when your “down” year is .298/.353/.550 with 31 home runs in just 124 games, that’s a pretty solid floor. The 30-steal seasons are likely gone, but given that Altuve is still just 29 years old and stole two bags in the playoffs, a return to 15 steals should be easily attainable. Overall, the floor and ceiling remain high and at that draft price, I’ll happily snatch him up.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

George Springer (OF/DH – HOU)
“I’m going to have a ton of shares of the Astros’ best player next season. I’m not talking about Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, or their most productive player, Alex Bregman (41 homers, 112 RBIs, 122 runs, .296 average); I said their best player. When he was on the field, Springer was downright better. Over just 122 games, he still managed a ridiculous 39 homers, 96 runs, and 96 RBIs with a similar .292 average and more steals than Bregman’s full season. To put it plainly, if Springer had kept up that pace for a full season, he would have blown Mike Trout away to win the MVP with 52 homers, 128 runs, and 128 RBIs. Basically, I’m just betting on him staying healthy this time around.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Bryce Harper (OF – PHI)
“If I personally rank Nelson Cruz No. 1 right now, will that get him into the top 50 so that I can make him my answer? Out of all players with at least 100 batted balls last year, he led the majors in barrels-per-plate-appearance rate at 12.5%! But fine, I’ll play your game and officially say Harper. He’s eclipsed 155 games played in the past two seasons, offers big pop with double-digit speed (also going into his age-27 season) and now has an offseason without contract negotiations to settle in. Per Baseball Prospectus’ park factors by handedness, lefty-swingers at Philly enjoyed a top-10 home run factor (out of 60) in 2019, providing a nice venue floor for Harper.”
– Nick Mariano (RotoBaller)

Ozzie Albies (2B – ATL)
“Albies already has two full seasons under his belt with 24 homers, 14-15 steals, and over 100 runs. He also just turned 23. Last year, he batted .293 with improvements in walks, hard hits, and barrels while placing sixth in doubles (43) and seventh in triples (eight). A full season batting second between Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman makes Albies a tremendous five-category investment with plenty of room for growth. It’s not hard to envision a scenario in which he’s the top-rated second baseman in 2020.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

Freddie Freeman (1B – ATL)
“We know how big the dropoff is at first base once the top two tiers are gone, so if I can secure Freeman in Round 2, I’m doing it every time. He is a near-lock to hit .300 and enjoyed career-high power numbers a season ago. If the Braves keep Josh Donaldson or make a move for Nolan Arenado, that lineup could be just as good or better than last year. There might be tantalizing young talents available like Fernando Tatis, Yordan Alvarez, or Pete Alonso, but I’m taking the sure thing.”
– Pierre Camus (RotoBaller)


Thanks to the experts for sharing their advice! For more of the experts’ insight, be sure to follow each pundit on Twitter (click their names above) and visit their respective sites.


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