Grading Players Moving to New Teams (Fantasy Baseball 2020)
This offseason has seen a tremendous amount of player movement from free agent signings.
Every time a player changes teams it has fantasy baseball ramifications. Some are positive, others are not. This article will illustrate some of the ramifications of player movement. Be careful to factor where players have moved in your planning.
Fantasy managers/team owners have often felt Coors Field in Colorado is the best home run hitting park in baseball. Actually, for 2019 that would be Rogers Centre in Toronto. Some may not realize Nationals Park in Washington was second, followed then by Coors Field.
Each player’s change will be graded Upgrade, Downgrade or Neutral in this scout’s opinion.
Didi Gregorius (SS – PHI)
Gregorius thrived with the short right-field porch in Yankee Stadium. It was good for his swing and he got just enough distance to hit the right-field seats. He goes to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, where the park plays as the 7th best for home runs. Yankee Stadium ranked 25th. The best home run location is in left and left-center field, but plenty of homers are hit to right field as well. In general, Gregorius goes to a hitter-friendly park, but one that ranks only 22nd in doubles, which has been a strength of the gap-hitting Didi. He will be surrounded in the lineup by solid hitters. Hitting at a projected 5th spot in the order, he should succeed.
Anthony Rendon (3B – LAA)
Rendon is a terrific hitter with enough power to smoke the ball out of any park. Rendon had 34 homers and 44 doubles last season. He hit .319. He will be leaving hitter-friendly Nationals Park for Angel Stadium, which was ranked No. 11 in home runs last year. But, the park is good for doubles and plays fairly for hitters, ranking in the middle of the pack in virtually every aspect of hitting. Rendon will add to a lineup that boasts Trout, Upton, and Ohtani around him. But it may not be quite as long a lineup as he hit with in Washington.
Josh Donaldson (3B – MIN)
Donaldson goes to a team that set the record for the most home runs in a single season. That despite hitting in Target Field. A notoriously tough hitter’s park, it ranked No. 24 for homers last season. The park played 7th for doubles. Donaldson will likely hit behind Nelson Cruz and ahead of Eddie Rosario. Who wouldn’t want that? Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco might be on base ahead of him. This is an awesome lineup for any pitcher to navigate. Donaldson makes it better, even in his age 34 season. It isn’t all about home runs for him. RBIs and runs should still be there.
Gerrit Cole (SP – NYY)
Cole pitched at Minute Maid Park where right-handed pull hitters have their way down the left-field line. But overall, the park plays fair as the No. 25 overall home run park last year. That’s the same rank for doubles. Cole moves to New York, where that right field porch awaits him. He yielded 29 home runs last year, about in the middle of the pack for top starters. But Cole is a master on the mound. His 326 strikeouts were the best in all baseball. He will know how to pitch away from left-handed power.
Madison Bumgarner (SP – ARZ)
Bumgarner pitched in a very pitcher-friendly park all his career. Oracle Park was ranked dead last in the number of home runs hit. In contrast, Chase Field was ranked No. 20. And the humidor is used at Chase Field, which has had a negative impact on pitchers. Both the left and right field bleachers are home run targets at Chase. Doubles are prominent in both gaps, with Chase being ranked No. 15 in doubles hit. Bumgarner may face difficulty pitching half his games in the second-highest altitude (behind only Coors) in baseball. Add that to the 1,846 innings already on his left arm and it could spell trouble.
Mike Moustakas (2B – CIN)
Moustakas pounded 36 homers and drove in 87 with the Brewers. He was hitting in hitter-friendly Miller Park, where the dimensions are fair and a convertible roof protects from negative wind gusts on blustery days. He goes to the No. 8 ranked home run park at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The Great American dimensions are favorable, at 328 feet down the left-field line and 325 in right. However, doubles (12th) and triples (28th) are a bit more challenging. Moustakas should thrive at Great American, and staying in the NL Central, he will have little adjustment to make in divisional parks. Moose will tuck nicely around Votto, Suarez, and Aquino in a good lineup.
Grade: Slight Upgrade
Zack Wheeler (SP – PHI)
Wheeler leaves Citi Field, the 16th ranked park for home runs and goes to Citizens Park which was 7th. He yielded 22 homers last year in 31 starts covering 195.1 innings. He struck out an average of nine hitters per 9 innings. He walked an average of 2.3 per nine. Because he may be more careful pitching in his home games, his walks may increase. He’s a solid starter, but he has an injury history. His home park may be a concern. His offense may yield plenty of runs and keep him in games, but there is no escaping the fact Citizens Park yields the 10th most runs in baseball. Caution here.
Grade: Slight Downgrade
Hyun-Jin Ryu (SP – TOR)
Ryu becomes the No. 1 starter for Toronto, pitching in the No. 1 park for home runs. Increased home run yield may result. Pitching in 5th ranked Dodgers Stadium, Ryu gave up only 17 homers in 187.2 innings. He walked only 1.2 hitters per nine innings, the lowest in his career. He struck out 8 hitters per nine. The offense in Toronto isn’t as good as that of the Dodgers, but they are young and improving. If he can stay healthy, which has been an issue, he can thrive.
Grade: Slight Downgrade