Players to Target for Runs (2020 Fantasy Baseball)
Runs — the most important stat in baseball, right? I mean, the literal objective to the game of baseball is to score more runs than your opponent. Now, when it comes to fantasy baseball, runs are equally as important as every other stat. However, there is a loophole. There are plenty of very capable run-scorers that you can find in the back-half of your drafts.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you to go draft Mookie Betts because he’ll score 120+ runs. Anyone can tell you that. My dog, Mo (yes, named after that Mo), can tell you that. I’m going to present the guys that may be getting overlooked in your drafts instead. These are the guys that you’ll be able to grab in the 20th round, allowing you to spend earlier picks on harder to find stat-stuffers, like stolen bases, perhaps.
All four of the guys I will be highlighting in this article have ADPs beyond the 10th round, thanks to FantasyPros ADP Consensus cheat sheet. There are a few things I take into consideration when deciding on guys to target for runs specifically, which may be fairly obvious: ability to get on base, lineup construction, expected success of team, quality of run-producers around them, etc.
Max Kepler (OF – MIN): ADP 133.2
The team choice here is easy. The Twins will again be among the highest scoring teams in Major League Baseball. The player choice should also be easy, as Kepler is coming off, by far, the best season of his short career. The resurgence of the Twins’ offensive prowess coincided with Kepler’s offensive breakout. We have waited a few years for him to put together a season like he did a year ago, with career highs in literally every offensive category outside of stolen bases.
He’s projected to be the Opening Day lead-off hitter and should provide himself with ample opportunities to score throughout the season. He crossed the plate 98 times a year ago, and I see him breaking the 100-mark in 2020. With the addition of Josh Donaldson to an already powerful lineup, the guys behind him have gotten that much more impressive. A career .319 OBP, and a .336 OBP in 2020 will be plenty enough over a projected 600 plate appearances to break the century mark in runs scored this season.
Jorge Polanco (SS – MIN): ADP 148.4
I’m not going to get into the Twins aspect of this selection again; however, I will say that I find it baffling that Twins’ hitters are being this disrespected in your fantasy drafts. I’ve done a plethora of drafts, mock and live, this draft season already, and I’m pleased to say that I’ve loaded every roster with Twins hitters because they are so cheap. If you’re telling me that I can have the one-two hitters in possibly the highest scoring offense in the game in the 11th-12th rounds, I will take that every single time.
Polanco is another guy that set career highs in nearly every category a year ago. Call it the outlier if you’d like, but I consider it the breakout. You’re going to see a lot of good pitches to hit when you have Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson, Eddie Rosario, Mitch Garver, and Miguel Sano hitting behind you. Polanco hit those pitches to the tune of a .295 BA, .356 OBP, and a .352 wOBA in 2020. By the way, he also managed to score 107 runs last year, and that’s the name of the game in this article, is it not?
Shin-Soo Choo (OF – TEX): ADP 250.4
Sensing a theme here? I love lead-off hitters in good lineups, and who doesn’t? I know, it’s hard to believe the Rangers will have a good lineup, but they’ve really improved this off-season. It will be hard to keep up with Astros and A’s in the division, but they should be able to give the Wild Card a legitimate run. The additions of Todd Frazier and Robinson Chirinos will help the offense fairly significantly. Not to mention, Choo is an excellent hitter in his own right.
Choo is a pure hitter, to put it simply. He’s not the perennial .300 hitter he was eight years ago, but he still knows how to approach every at-bat and can still execute at a very high level. His career OBP is .377, and he’s been hitting that number right on the mark recently (.371 in 2020, .277 in 2019), making him a perfect candidate for plenty of run-scoring opportunities. The lineup in Texas is pretty top-heavy, but that’s all Choo needs in order to score.
He will be 38 halfway through the season, so the wall is coming soon. However, I’m confident that we have at least another two solid, productive years ahead. There’s nothing to show that he’s done yet. He has been such a consistent hitter over the course of his entire career that it seems irresponsible to not salivate at the chance to draft a guy that has scored at least 83 runs in six of his last eight seasons (one of which he only played 48 games, 2016).
Brett Gardner (OF – NYY): ADP 283.0
I actually think I’ve written about Gardner in every article I’ve written so far this draft season. He may be my most owned player when it’s all said and done. He’s being drafted in the 23rd round, which is downright blasphemous. Unlike the other players here, he will be a bottom-of-the-lineup hitter, but when you bat ninth for what could be the best offense in Major League Baseball, that’s not necessarily the worst thing.
With Giancarlo Stanton already poised to miss the start of the season, and Aaron Hicks primed to miss most of the season recovering from off-season Tommy John surgery, Gardner should yet again be an every-day player for the Yankees. They can never find a way to phase him out, and that’s led to him scoring 80 or more runs in nine of his last ten seasons. The one season in which he didn’t score 80 times was 2012, a season in which he only played 16 games due to injury. In other words, pencil him for 80 runs with potential for more.
He’s also coming off one of his better seasons as well, posting a .344 wOBA (his highest since 2010) and 115 wRC+ (his career high). He has a career OBP of .342 which will play well into his run-scoring ability when you see the hitters lined up behind him. The 2020 Yankees have a modern day Murderer’s Row of hitters throughout all nine spots in the lineup which will assist in providing plenty of opportunities for a 9-hole hitter like Gardner, to cross the plate.
Joe Buttgereit is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Joe, follow him on Twitter @joebuttgereit.