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Top 15 Value Picks (2020 Fantasy Baseball)

Feb 25, 2020

Justin Upton has the potential to be a giant steal in drafts this spring

Value is the key to winning any fantasy sport. You have an advantage over your leaguemates whenever you are able to get a highly productive player at a discount. You can personalize your squad by understanding where your opinion is significantly more positive on specific players than the public and then targeting those guys in drafts. If you need help figuring out which athletes may currently net you plenty of value of in drafts or just want some extra opinions on guys you should consider selecting, then we’ve got you covered. Our featured pundits have the skinny on several players who could pay dividends if you take a chance on them this season.

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Q1. Please explain which hitter represents the best value based on how the experts rank him and where he’s currently being drafted.

Justin Upton (OF – LAA): Overall ECR – 178 | ADP – 214
“Upton has become an afterthought in fantasy drafts this year with an ADP outside the top 200. His 2019 was a wash from the beginning due to a turf toe injury that kept him on the 60-day IL until June. Once he returned, the results were less than spectacular as he slashed .215/.309/.416 with a career-worst 31.5% strikeout rate. He should be healthy entering this season and is set to bat in the heart of the Angels’ lineup. In the previous four seasons, he posted Barrel rates in the top-10 percentile and had gone for at least 30 home runs and 85 RBIs in three straight seasons. Upton can easily be an OF3 that should be drafted around pick 178, which is where the ECR has him.”
– Pierre Camus (RotoBaller)

“Let everyone else in your league sleep on Justin Upton. Don’t be that guy or gal. Upton was limited to just 63 games last season due to injury, but he only hit for a meager .215 average when in the lineup. However, he smacked 12 homers with 40 RBIs, putting his pace right in line with reasonable expectations over a full season of 31 home runs and 103 RBIs. With the likes of Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Shohei Ohtani surrounding him, Upton is a HUGE bargain at a current ADP outside the top 200.”
– Nate Miller (FantasyPros)

J.D. Davis (3B/OF – NYM): Overall ECR – 210 | ADP – 182
“Davis hit .307 with 22 home runs and 22 doubles with a .369 OBP last season over just 410 at-bats and he’s sitting at 210 Overall in ECR and 182 in ADP. The projection systems are all low-balling him with about 115 games played and 21-ish home runs, but Davis flashed a lot of power in the minors (20+ home runs three times despite never getting 500 ABs), had a .292/.362 AVG/OBP, and can play the corner OF spots, 1B, and 3B. His bat will keep him in the lineup and the fears of him not getting playing time in 2020 will keep his ADP and ECR depressed through draft day, making him a major bargain.”
– Nando Di Fino (The Athletic)

Mike Yastrzemski (OF – SF): Overall ECR – 294 | ADP – 276
“Yastrzemski enjoyed a solid debut, posting an 18.4% HR/FB rate that is fully supported by his Statcast power metrics. As a fly ball hitter, he’ll take full advantage of that high teen mark, giving him an outside shot at 30 dingers over a full season. He also figures to open the season atop the Giants’ lineup, boosting his times to the plate. Lastly, AT&T Park is becoming a little less pitcher-friendly after some changes, which could only be good news for his ability to repeat that power output. As the 294th overall ranked player and 167th among hitters, there’s some serious profit potential here.”
– Mike Podhorzer (FanGraphs)

Edwin Encarnacion (1B/DH – CWS): Overall ECR – 167 | ADP – 157
“While there are dozens of more exciting bats you will target on draft day, it’s often the boring vets that represent the best value. We can look to the 37-year-old DH making his debut on the South Side of Chicago. Sure, health risk must be built into the draft price after he played just 109 games last season, but Encarnacion did mash 34 homers in those 109 contests and he’s averaged 141 games played and 36 home runs per year since 2016. There is plenty of pop left in this top-50 fantasy bat that can be acquired at a steep discount with his current ADP falling in at 157th overall.”
– Wayne Bretsky (BretskyBall)

David Peralta (OF – ARI): Overall ECR – 225 | ADP – 237
“Peralta ranked in the high 120s in overall hitter rankings and him being at the back end of the top-60 outfielders is pretty harsh. Yes, he was a disappointment last year, but he also missed close to half the season. However, he was still productive when he played (.275-12-57) and he’s just a year removed from being a top-50 player overall. Provided he’s healthy, I am looking for Peralta to bounce back to a closer resemblance of his 2018 form, which makes him an absolute steal at his current ADP.”
– Mark Ross (Athlon Sports)

Khris Davis (DH – OAK): Overall ECR – 168 | ADP – 170
“Davis represents the best value in drafts right now unless of course you just think he’s done. I don’t, though. I think a lot of the struggles in 2019 were due to him injuring his hip/oblique on May 5. Before then, he was slashing .229/.303/.481 with 10 home runs and 26 RBIs in 35 games. If you extrapolate those 10 home runs to over 150 games, you get 42 home runs, which is exactly what you want from Davis.”
– Frank Stampfl (RotoExperts)

Shin-Soo Choo (OF/DH – TEX): Overall ECR – 201 | ADP – 231
“Every year, Choo churns his way to 20-25 homers with a handful of steals and a hefty plate of runs atop Texas’ lineup. While the walks won’t directly aid those instead receiving credit for a middling batting average, an elite eye has helped him age gracefully and retain a prominent leadoff role. The 37-year-old can’t do it forever, but there’s little risk to taking one last spin when he’s available comfortably beyond the top-200 picks. He’s a boring, but great value in five-outfielder formats.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

Q2. Please explain which starting pitcher represents the best value based on how the experts rank him and where he’s currently being drafted.

Trevor Bauer (SP – CIN): Overall ECR – 91 | ADP – 81
“In the top couple tiers of the starting pitcher landscape, Bauer looks like the best value coming in with an ADP of 91 overall. He saw his walk rate tick up and his strikeout rate creep down in 2019, but managed to break the 200-inning threshold for the first time while piling up a career-best 253 Ks along the way. Only four pitchers (Cole, Verlander, Bieber, deGrom) struck out more batters than Bauer last season and those four arms are off the board by the 30th pick in the draft on average. Bauer’s ratio stats may never again approach the elite season he put together in 2017, but if he’s able to do a better job limiting home runs and getting the ERA below four, this is a very useful fantasy arm from a volume perspective with ace upside.”
– Wayne Bretsky (BretskyBall)

Joey Lucchesi (SP – SD): Overall ECR – 204 | ADP – 219
“Take away two games at Coors Field and Lucchesi would have finished with a sub-4.00 ERA last season. Granted, you can say that about a lot of pitchers, but in his case, I’m willing to say Lucchesi is a value at his current ADP (SP66) because he’s shown stuff that’s capable of racking up the strikeouts and he thrives at home (2.56 ERA in 16 GS at Petco Park last season). If he can be a little more consistent on the road, he could go from a .500 pitcher (10-10 in 2019) to one that wins 14 or more games and enjoys an increase (or decrease in some categories) in his other counting stats. That sounds like something much more valuable than SP60-something.”
– Mark Ross (Athlon Sports)

Griffin Canning (SP – LAA): Overall ECR – 193 | ADP – 314
“Several young pitchers have a chance to break out in 2020 and are consequently ranked higher by experts than their ADP, like Mitch Keller, Brendan McKay, and Josh James. I have to take this time to profess my affection for Canning, though. He doesn’t overwhelm with velocity, but his four-pitch mix and plus command are worth betting on. He induced a 32.3% whiff rate — a number that could climb if he utilizes his curveball more frequently. Canning was inconsistent as a rookie, but he should be a solid option at the back end of fantasy rotations and is available as a late-round flier after pick 250.”
– Pierre Camus (RotoBaller)

Luke Weaver (SP – ARI): Overall ECR – 175 | ADP – 189
“Weaver dealt with a forearm injury that limited him to just 12 starts in 2019, but when he was on the mound, he was finally taking that next step. In those starts, he had a 2.94 ERA and 1.07 WHIP with a career-high 10.4-percent swinging-strike rate. That was in large part due to increased cutter usage. Weaver always boasted an above-average fastball-changeup combination, but last year he used the cutter a career-high 14 percent of the time. It was that third pitch he was constantly searching for. If, and I realize it’s a big ‘if,’ Weaver can remain healthy in 2020, he has top-30 starting pitcher upside.”
– Frank Stampfl (RotoExperts)

Kenta Maeda (SP/RP – MIN): Overall ECR – 157 | ADP – 181
“Our experts have Maeda a couple rounds higher than current ADP trends around the industry and I’m in total agreement. He has not been a 200-inning type of workhorse in his years with the Dodgers, but that could very well change in Minnesota. Maeda sports a career 3.87 ERA and 9.8 K/9 across nearly 600.0 IPs and the Twins will depend on him as a rotation anchor more than the Dodgers ever did. Not to mention, the defending A.L. Central champs feature a tremendous offense that should give Maeda plenty of support.”
– Nate Miller (FantasyPros)

Jose De Leon (SP/RP – CIN): Overall ECR – N/A | ADP – 728
“De León has an ADP of 728 and doesn’t even make the ECR list of the top-335 starting pitchers, but he is nasty. He’s a former top-30 prospect with a career K/9 in the minors of 11.9. He pitched hurt in 2017 and still managed a 3.05 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. De Leon will probably start out in the bullpen or in the minors, but my guess is he’s in the rotation by June and Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson (who’s helping De León develop a slider) will supercharge his K/9, just like he’s done for every pitcher on that staff.”
– Nando Di Fino (The Athletic)

David Price (SP – LAD): Overall ECR – 144 | ADP – 158
“Price is moving to the National League for the first time and onto another elite team. Now with the chance to face the pitcher far more often than he had previously, his strikeout rate and ratios should all see improvement. Don’t ignore the fact that his 2019 ERA was inflated by an uncharacteristic .336 BABIP, which is significantly higher than his .290 career mark. Health permitting, he’s an absolute bargain with an ECR of 144 overall, which is 54th among starting pitchers.”
– Mike Podhorzer (FanGraphs)

Kyle Hendricks (SP – CHC): Overall ECR – 130 | ADP – 144
“What’s changed for Hendricks to make him now the 48th-ranked starting pitcher and get him even less respect in drafts? Is it because his ERA jumped from 3.44 to *gasp* 3.46 last year? He made up the .02-point difference in WHIP. He doesn’t throw hard, but ‘The Professor’ has proven capable of pinpointing his way to sterling ERA and WHIP production that makes the strikeout hit worthwhile with the proper team construction. At this price, I’d happily pair him with a Lance Lynn or Matt Boyd as my third and fourth starters behind a pair of high-strikeout anchors.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

Thank you to the experts for sharing their top value 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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