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12 Must-Have Players (2020 Fantasy Baseball)

Feb 27, 2020

Amed Rosario’s strong second half last year may forecast a breakout 2020 campaign

The fantasy baseball draft season is almost in full swing now that all MLB clubs are participating in spring training. Each new season brings hope to fantasy baseball fanatics of claiming their league’s title in the fall. An important first step in that championship journey is nailing the draft and the odds of you doing so increases when you select the players you truly believe are on the cusp of a breakout season.

Targeting your “can’t-miss” guys and focusing on upside more as you progress through the draft maximizes your chances of getting a couple future studs who present extreme value and can push you into title contention. Those who drafted Rafael Devers or Shane Bieber last year saw firsthand how this can pay off. So which high-upside players are the experts unwilling to pass on? We’ve got our featured analysts here to discuss that very topic as they share their top must-have players entering the 2020 MLB season.

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Q1. Who is the one hitter outside the top 50 in hitter ADP you are targeting as a must-have on all your teams and why?

Amed Rosario (SS – NYM): ADP – 154th overall & 97th among hitters
“Rosario looks like a player you can get at a bargain if you believe his second half is real, which I do. His wOBA jumped from .300 to .340, his wRC+ went up from 88 to 114, and (possibly most importantly) his strikeout rate dropped from 22.2% to 15.4%. It’s also important to note that Rosario’s xBA of .290 is in the top 20 in baseball and hopefully his newfound ability of getting on base adds to his stolen base total, thanks to his blazing speed.”
– Jamie Calandro (Fantasy Team Advice)

Avisail Garcia (OF/DH – MIL): ADP – 320th overall & 198th among hitters
“Although I love Luis Robert, Kyle Tucker, and Khris Davis at their ADPs, there will be some teams where I miss out on them. That won’t be the case, however, for Garcia, who is my number one must-have player this year. His underlying metrics were again off the charts last season, but he was held back by playing his home games in Tampa. With a major ballpark upgrade, we could see him return to near that .330 batting average he gave fantasy owners in 2017. Plus, his 20 home runs and 10 stolen bases from last year in just 125 games should both jump as well.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Tommy Pham (OF/DH – SD): ADP – 82nd overall & 56th among hitters
“Does an .856 OPS with 22 homers, 22 steals, and 91 runs sound good? It certainly does. So why exactly is Pham, who has averaged those stats for three years running, currently the 56th hitter off the board with an overall ADP of 82? At that spot, I’m on Pham in every single mixed-league draft, especially since he’s very likely to line up right between the likes of Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado.”
– Nate Miller (FantasyPros)

Willie Calhoun (OF – TEX): ADP – 171st overall & 107th among hitters
“I am going to be targeting Calhoun as my OF4 in all of my 15-team leagues. He has a full-time gig in left field and will bat in the middle of the order, leading to a combined 180 runs and RBIs. If his raw power (grade 65 out of 80) can translate into game power, he is a sneaky bet to win the AL home run crown.”
– Carmen Maiorano (FantasyPros)

Max Kepler (OF – MIN): ADP – 130th overall & 85th among hitters
“Give me all of the Twins’ offense in 2020. Kepler is the potential table-setter on a team that will give opposing pitchers headaches. He doesn’t strike out much and has the potential to put up 30 home runs while scoring 100 runs and collecting 100 RBIs. He will get you a few bags and the average should benefit from some better BABIP, but if this team stays healthy, you will reap the rewards. I want him on all of my rosters.”
– Todd D Clark (The Fantasy Fix)

Michael Brantley (OF/DH – HOU): ADP – 117th overall & 77th among hitters
“Batting average is a category, people (most of the time)! Brantley will hit something like .305 with 170 (or so) runs and RBIs and 18 jacks with a handful of stolen bases. If he hit .260 with 38 home runs, he’d go five rounds earlier and I’m saying that has a similar impact on your categories as a whole.”
– Dave McKay (The Fantasy Sports Brain)

Q2. Who is the one starting pitcher outside the top 25 in starting pitcher ADP you are targeting as a must-have on all your teams and why?

Frankie Montas (SP – OAK): ADP – 123rd overall & 35th among starting pitchers
“Montas has the ‘I used PEDs so how good am I really’ question mark surrounding him, but I’m ready to take a risk on him at his ADP, assuming I already have a starter or two drafted already. He checks all the boxes you want when looking for a viable starter — a solid K rate (26.1%), a solid GB rate (49.4%), a low BB rate (5.8%), and peripherals that back up his 2.63 ERA (3.00 FIP, 3.47 xFIP). Throw in a good park factor and an elite defense behind him and you’ve got a safe pick with upside.”
– Jamie Calandro (Fantasy Team Advice)

Sonny Gray (SP – CIN): ADP – 109th overall & 28th among starting pitchers
“Gray rebounded brilliantly after moving to Cincinnati from the lights of New York City in 2019, changing leagues to the one better for pitchers in the process. Coming off a season that saw him post a 2.87 ERA alongside career bests in K/9 (10.5) and H/9 (6.3), I’m definitely targeting Gray well before his current overall ADP of 109. In addition, the significantly improved Reds offense should provide him with plenty of opportunity to eclipse his 11 wins from last season.”
– Nate Miller (FantasyPros)

Lance Lynn (SP – TEX): ADP – 127th overall & 36th among starting pitchers
“Lynn is slated to be the third guy out of the rotation for the Rangers behind Corey Kluber and Mike Minor. There’s a good chance he throws 200+ innings, gets you 225+ strikeouts, and produces a sub-4.00 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. Lynn was a workhorse in 2019 and finished inside the top 10 in innings pitched and strikeouts. He doesn’t give up a lot of homers and if he can limit the walks and gain more control, the dominance will continue. The four-seamer is vicious and he challenges with it. People are starting to catch on in drafts, so beat them to the punch.”
– Todd D Clark (The Fantasy Fix)

Kyle Hendricks (SP – CHC): ADP – 142nd overall & 41st among starting pitchers
“Hendricks is consistently undervalued year in and year out and 2020 is no different. While he is being drafted as the 41st overall starting pitcher, I have him down as a top-30 SP. He is very likely to post a sub-3.40 ERA and sub-1.15 WHIP. Plus, the bias that he kills you in strikeouts is a tad overrated, especially given his high inning volume. He makes for the perfect SP3 in 15-team leagues, giving you the edge to pursue high-upside strikeout guys later in the draft.”
– Carmen Maiorano (FantasyPros)

Dinelson Lamet (SP – SD): ADP – 132nd overall & 38th among starting pitchers
“Give me Lamet at 132 overall and SP38. The second year back from Tommy John surgery is usually the launch point and a solid 73 innings last year gave him something to build on. He’s got park factors going for him and you know he’ll strike fools out, as evidenced by his 12.9 K/9 last year.”
– Dave McKay (The Fantasy Sports Brain)

Julio Urias (SP/RP – LAD): ADP – 164th overall & 48th among starting pitchers
“In years prior, every expert I talked to seemed to agree about Blake Snell, Trevor Bauer, Tyler Glasnow, and Shane Bieber breaking out. Those ones were easy, but this year we don’t quite have a player like that unless Josh James makes the rotation. If he does, James would become my answer, but as for now, it’s Julio Urias of the Dodgers. He is a former top prospect who has done nothing but dominate MLB hitters since he was 19 years old. Now that he is healthy and locked into the rotation, I see no reason why he can’t finish the year as a top-25 starter.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Thank you to the experts for sharing their must-have players. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter for more advice all season and check out our latest podcast below.

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