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Analyzing Expert Consensus Rankings (2020 Fantasy Baseball)

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
Feb 1, 2020

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. offers league-winning upside in his first full season.

It’s that time of the year again. Fantasy analysts are hard at work, finishing up their initial research and putting their opinions out there in the form of rankings and tiers.

Just for you to tear them apart.

That’s why we get paid the big bucks, baby.

Seriously, though, it’s fun to have rankings disputes. When you’re the person putting your rankings together, it’s fun to compare where you have someone with another analyst to see if you’re missing something. There are some flag-planting ranks where you are highlighting “your guy,” which is just part of the process.

Below, I’m going to look at a player from each position (and multiple outfielders and starting pitchers) that I’m either higher or lower on than the industry. I’ll explain why I feel I have them slotted correctly.

Check out our early consensus rankings for 2020 fantasy baseball drafts >>

Catcher

Danny Jansen (C – TOR)

  • Average ranking: 21
  • High ranking: 15
  • Low ranking: 30
  • My ranking: 15

Do you remember the hype that Jansen had coming into the 2019 season? It was for good reason, too, with his prospect pedigree and a strong finish to 2018. The 2020 hype comp would be a hybrid of Will Smith and Carson Kelly. But Jansen failed to deliver on the promise, and he ended up splitting time with Reese McGuire for the Blue Jays. 

There’s no defending the awful season that Jansen had, but he doesn’t need to be cast aside totally, either. There’s true bounce-back potential here at a poor position, and I’d expect closer to 15 home runs with a .251 average and 9.3% walk rate. That’ll play as a top-15 option.

First Base

Ryan McMahon (1B/2B/3B – COL)

  • Average ranking: 24
  • High ranking: 15
  • Low ranking: 31
  • My ranking: 15

It’s a risk-reward with McMahon. The skillset and pedigree are there, but as has been the case with many young Rockies, he needs the playing time to excel. If the Rockies truly do move Nolan Arenado, playing time should be all but guaranteed for McMahon.

He has 25-homer potential with around a .260 average as well as multi-position eligibility. I’m betting on the Rockies finding 600 plate appearances for him.

Second Base

Gleyber Torres (2B/SS – NYY)

  • Average ranking: 2
  • High ranking: 1
  • Low ranking: 9
  • My ranking: 7

I was higher on the first two guys, but I’m lower than the consensus on Torres. Look, I think he’s going to be a superstar, and maybe he takes that leap this year. But last year, his value was driven by the long ball, especially against the Orioles.

Here’s a list of pitchers that Torres took deep last season: Alex Cobb, Mike Wright, David Hess, Erasmo Ramirez, Dereck Rodriguez, David Hess, Andrew Cashner, Mychal Givens, Dan Straily, Gabriel Ynoa, Danny Duffy, Adam Warren, Reynaldo Lopez, Oliver Drake, Framber Valdez, Hector Rondon, Clayton Richard, Jake Odorizzi, Eduardo Rodriguez, Brian Johnson, Josh Taylor, Gabriel Ynoa, Evan Phillips, Tom Eshelman, Phil Maton, Zach Plesac, Nick Wittgren, Tanner Roark, Joakim Soria, Yimi Garcia, Tommy Milone, Lance Lynn, Rick Porcello, Tyler Alexander, Brock Stewart, Jose Suarez.

A real murderer’s row, no? I can count three players who have value in a 12-team fantasy league. 

Couple the names above with the fact that he was in the 33rd percentile in Hard Hit%, 49th percentile in Exit Velocity, and 82nd overall in Brls/PA%, and I’m just not comfortable taking Torres as early as he’s going. 

Third Base

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B – TOR)

  • Average ranking: 9
  • High ranking: 3
  • Low ranking: 14
  • My ranking: 3

Remember the whole flag-planting thing I talked about? This is it here. I probably should move Guerrero to fourth behind Anthony Rendon, but that’s as low as I’m moving him. Yes, I talk about value in drafts, and no, you’re not setting yourself up with any if you take Guerrero as the fourth third baseman off the board. The beauty is, you don’t have to. You still have to invest a fifth-round pick in him, but let’s not forget the superstar, once-in-a-generation hype that we lofted upon him last year. 

There’s a reason for that.

As I went into detail here, Guerrero was in elite company last year with his high ISO and low strikeout rate. He needs to hit the ball in the air more, but he’s only 20. I’d grab Guerrero and get another third baseman like Matt Chapman or Mike Moustakas as insurance later in the draft.

Shortstop

Carter Kieboom (SS – WAS)

  • Average ranking: 35
  • High ranking: 26
  • Low ranking: 49
  • My ranking: 27

It sounds more and more like Kieboom will have the third base job out of spring training with Asdrubal Cabrera serving as a utilityman. 

Kieboom failed — miserably — in 11 major league games, slashing just .128/.209/.282, but he’s the Nationals’ top prospect and the perfect post-hype sleeper. Plus, as of now at least, he costs next to nothing. He’s the type of late-round pick who has the pedigree to make a season-long difference. 

Outfield

Michael Brantley (OF – HOU)

  • Average ranking: 25
  • High ranking: 17
  • Low ranking: 36
  • My ranking: 20

We have back-to-back seasons with Brantley being a fantasy standout, yet he still doesn’t get the respect he deserves in the draft room.

Use that to your advantage, as he’s shown he can stay healthy and helps you across the board, though he did go from 12 steals in 2018 to three in 2019. He’s an OF2 for me, but he’s being drafted as an OF3 on average.

Trey Mancini (OF/1B – BAL)

  • Average ranking: 32
  • High ranking: 26
  • Low ranking: 44
  • My ranking: 26

Mancini’s 2019 season is similar to his 2017, but with more home runs, runs, RBIs, and a higher walk rate. While his exit velocity between the two seasons was nearly identical, his launch angle improved from 5.4 degrees to a nice 6.9 degrees. With dual eligibility, I’d be more than OK settling with him as my second outfielder.

Luis Robert (OF – CHW)

  • Average ranking: 30
  • High ranking: 10
  • Low ranking: 51
  • My ranking: 41

I think Robert is going to be a star, but as the 30th outfielder off the board, you’re leaving no room for value on your investment. He has a high strikeout rate, low walk rate, and serious plate discipline concerns.

Eloy Jimenez called him the next Mike Trout, which is 100 percent unfair. While Robert may have a bright future ahead of him, there are going to be bumps in the road in 2020. I expect a similar line to Victor Robles’ rookie campaign. 

Starting Pitcher

Zac Gallen (SP – ARI)

  • Average ranking: 41
  • High ranking: 34
  • Low ranking: 52
  • My ranking: 34

Gallen was my favorite pitcher to track in the minor leagues last year. What he lacks in velocity, he makes up for in spin — especially with his fastball.

He’s a four-pitch pitcher, with his fastball being his worst of the four and his slider and curve representing two standout pitches. If Gallen can work around his fastball and continue to throw his slider more than last year’s 15 percent usage, we could be looking at a top-20 pitcher. 

Dinelson Lamet (SP – SD)

  • Average ranking: 38
  • High ranking: 31
  • Low ranking: 61
  • My ranking: 44

I like Lamet. I really do, but there are warts to his game that we just seem to ignore. First of all, his fastball, while really fast, is completely straight, and hitters square it up regularly. 

He has a fantastic curve and slider combination, which he needs to rely on and utilize more to overcome the poor fastball. He has serious home run and walk problems, which are annoying, but you can live with if he’s striking out batters at a 33 percent clip.

There are long-term bullpen concerns with Lamet, but the upside is clear — at least for 2020. But it feels like we are overpaying for another Robbie Ray when the real Robbie Ray is going 44th among starting pitchers.

Dylan Cease (SP – CHW)

  • Average ranking: 86 
  • High ranking: 68
  • Low ranking: 118
  • My ranking: 79

I love picking up prospects during the season to help, but it seems that more times than not, pitching prospects take longer to find their way. 

In the same article that I referenced above for Guerrero, I mentioned how I expect Cease to take a step forward this year due to the presence of Yasmani Grandal (one of the best pitch framers in the game) as opposed to James McCann (one of the worst). Cease is a true post-hype sleeper.

Relief Pitcher

Edwin Diaz (RP – NYM)

  • Average ranking: 8
  • High ranking: 3
  • Low ranking: 17
  • My ranking: 12

Diaz was ranked as the No. 1 closer last year, and I had zero shares. Drafting the top reliever a year after his rise typically feels like an error, and even with youth on his side, I wasn’t touching Diaz. 

This year, I also want out. I, of course, will take him if I can get him as the 12th closer off the board, but it’s looking like it will be two straight years with zero shares.

New Mets manager Luis Rojas was non-committal to having Diaz as his closer this year. With Dellin Betances, Jeurys Familia, and Seth Lugo in the back end of the bullpen, it could get sloppy.

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Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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