10 Top Late-Round Picks (2020 Fantasy Baseball)
The early rounds of fantasy drafts are certainly important, but as the adage says, it’s easier to lose your draft in early than to win it. As such, successful fantasy baseball owners tend to separate themselves in the mid-to-late round of drafts.
Given that, we’ve asked our writers to provide their top late-round picks of 2020 fantasy baseball drafts. To qualify, these players have to be outside our fantasy baseball expert consensus top-150 picks.
Q: Who is your favorite late-round pick (ECR 150+)?
Byron Buxton (OF – MIN): ECR 166 Overall
Buxton has never managed to stay healthy for a full season, but while he is healthy, fantasy owners get a source of power and great speed. Should he finally stay on the field all year, fantasy owners could receive 20 homers, 25 steals and a decent batting average out of the 14th round.
– Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)
Khris Davis (OF – OAK): ECR 168 Overall
Davis had a terrible 2019 but looked pretty much like his usual self until he ran into a wall in the outfield and injured his hip. After that, he was largely useless as a fantasy player, resulting in one of the worst seasons of his career. Still just 32 years old, there’s little reason to doubt Davis’ ability to return to his former skills and go back to his 40-homer ways.
– Dan Harris (@danharris80)
My favorite late-round pick is a guy who was the epitome of consistency for a few seasons before dealing with injuries that derailed his 2019. I have rarely owned shares of Khris Davis in the past merely because the price tag on draft day usually just didn’t line up with the way my draft strategies were playing out. This year is shaping up to be the exact opposite. Davis’s FantasyPros ECR is sitting at 167, while his ADP is currently 170. Drafting in the late rounds is usually about upside, especially category-specific upside. So, if you can draft a guy like Davis-who hit more than 40 home runs for three years in a row before 2019-somewhere after the 150 mark, it should be an easy decision.
– Mike Maher (@mikemaher)
Luke Voit (1B – NYY): ECR 218 Overall
Any time I can get a player in a lineup like the New York Yankees later in a draft, I take it. Voit should be the regular first baseman surrounded in the batting order by outstanding bats. Voit has the power to help in runs, home runs, and RBI categories. He should hit with men on base. He wants to prove he is the Yankees’ first baseman of the future. I’ll take that.
– Bernie Pleskoff (@BerniePleskoff)
Domingo Santana (OF – CLE): ECR 321 Overall
Santana recently signed with the Indians, but his ECR/ADP hasn’t adjusted, as he’s ranked 321th in ECR. He is slated to hit in the middle of the order for a very good Indians’ lineup and ranks above average in both expected slugging and xWOBA. While he will strike out a bunch and bring down your average in the process, I’m expecting at least 20 homers, a combined 130 runs and RBI, and even close to double-digit stolen bases. This is a top-130 hitter that is going after pick 300. Sign me up!
– Carmen Maiorano (@carmsclubhouse)
Mitch Keller (SP – PIT): ECR 206 Overall
I am convinced that Mitch Keller’s price is going to continually rise between now and the start of the regular season. I am also convinced that he will outperform wherever his final price settles. Keller has the absolute perfect mask hiding what could be a sneaky-great season. His 7.13 ERA from last year is so gaudy that it forces most casual glances to look past him. There’s the mistake. Behind Keller’s ERA was a 12.19 K/9, 3.19 FIP, and 3.47 xFIP. If he had qualified with enough innings those numbers would have ranked third, eighth, and 11th in the league, respectively. Keller’s only drawback is a potential innings limit, but he did throw 150 between Triple-A and the majors in 2019, so we should see a near-full workload.
– Mario Mergola (@MarioMergola)
C.J. Cron (1B – DET): ECR 236 Overall
Fresh off homering 30 times in 2018, Cron was hitting .263/.320/.494 with 18 long balls in 83 games before a thumb injury banished him to the injured list. He returned strong in August, but a disastrous September (.185/.228/.259) ruined any goodwill among drafters. Take the discount on a cheap corner infielder or bench bat. His average exit velocity (91 mph) and barrel rate (15%) both skyrocketed, leading to him receiving a .550 expected slugging % and .366 expected wOBA on Statcast. The Tigers will lock him into the middle of a barren lineup, making Cron an easy candidate for another 30 bombs with 80-90 RBIs.
– Andrew Gould (@AndrewGould4)
Sean Manaea (SP – OAK): ECR 175 Overall
After having shoulder surgery in September of 2018, Manaea missed the majority of the 2019 season. Despite returning to post strong numbers at the end of last year, he is being overlooked in fantasy drafts with an ECR of 175 and an ADP of 161. Manaea finished 2019 with a 4-0 record to go along with a 1.21 ERA and a 4.29 strikeout-to-walk ratio. While the Athletics were in a tight Wild Card race, they did not show any hesitation in deploying Manaea for nearly 30 innings pitched across his five starts. The major concern for Manaea in 2019 was if he would pitch at all and how effective he would be if he did. Following up his strong finish to last season, he is in line to deliver quality starts and strikeout upside for fantasy owners in his 2020 campaign.
– Shane Bryant (@ShaneBryant31)
Willie Calhoun (OF – TEX): ECR 162 Overall
The presumptive starter in left field this year, Calhoun should no longer find his playing time impeded in the outfield, especially with Nomar Mazara traded to Chicago. Calhoun, the prized return in the deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers for Yu Darvish, looks poised to assert himself as one of the better outfielders in the American League. After posting an .848 OPS with 21 home runs and close to 50 RBIs in just over half a season in 2019, Calhoun could crack the 30-HR threshold and hit above .260 as well. With an average exit velocity in the top 100 in MLB and a batted ball profile similar to Eduardo Escobar’s 2019 season (.269/.320/.511, 35 HR) according to Statcast data at Baseball Savant, Calhoun should reward owners with a positive return on a minimal investment.
– Paul Ghiglieri (@FantasyGhigs)
Justin Upton (OF – LAA): ECR 179 Overall
Upton’s truncated 2019 campaign was a career-worst, as he struggled to a 30.5 K% and an OPS+ of 92. Despite his struggles, I’m attributing most of last season’s failure to injuries. A turf toe kept him out of the beginning of the season and knee tendonitis brought an official end to his year in June. If healthy, I expect Upton to come close to his 162-game average of 28 home runs, 89 RBI, and .822 OPS. His age will probably keep him out of some games, but his numbers should get a boost with Anthony Rendon in the lineup. He’s no longer a stolen base threat, but Upton should produce across three or four categories to function as a great value pick at ADP 180.
– Daniel Comer (@DanComer404)
Brett Gardner (OF – NYY): ECR 275 Overall
It’s not sexy. It’s not flashy. But, it will be an incredible value in such a late round. Gardner is the pest that just will not go away. Every year, he’s supposed to be pushed into a bench role. Yet, every year, he plays 140+ games. He is also coming off his most productive season, a .344 wOBA, 115 wRC+, 28 home runs, 74 RBI, and 86 runs, while exceeding a .500 SLG for the first time in his career. Yes, he’ll likely be hitting ninth in the Yankees’ lineup, but batting last in that lineup is not like batting last in other lineups. He will bat ninth because there is simply nowhere else for him to be. I’m drafting Gardner in virtually every draft and every format.
– Joe Buttgereit (@joebuttgereit)