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Player Debates: Kris Bryant, Nelson Cruz, Manny Machado, Paul Goldschmidt, Patrick Corbin

Apr 22, 2020

Our fantasy baseball analysts debate Kris Bryant, Nelson Cruz, Manny Machado, Paul Goldschmidt, and Patrick Corbin

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Five more player debates coming at you, we hope you are enjoying this post series. We will talk about a couple more starters, a pair of shortstops, and the top-ranked DH in fantasy for 2020 in this post.

Bookmark this page to follow along for our complete player debate series.

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46) Kris Bryant (3B – CHC)

Case For
“Not the most fun guy to dedicate a top 50 pick to, but a safe, productive option nonetheless. Bryant quietly posted a very strong 2019 season, scoring 109 runs with 31 homers and a .282 batting average. He has always gotten on base at a great clip, so you can bump him up a bit if you play in an OBP league. There is still some big upside in this 28-year-old, and he comes with a level of safety that you don’t find too easily.” – Jon Anderson

Case Against
“With Kris Bryant’s profile, it’s hard to justify taking him this high when there are guys who can give you the same production at the position later in the draft. The return to 31 home run was nice, yes, but his batted ball data points to that being the near-ceiling for Bryant in terms of home runs. For all of his accolades and loaded offenses that he’s been in, he’s only produced more than 100 RBIs once in his career. ” – Michael Waterloo

Draft Approach
“Over the past few years, Kris Bryant was an easy plug-and-play into a fantasy roster’s third base spot. Now with the depth at the third base position, he might actually be better suited in the outfield slot. Therein lies the trick with Bryant. He doesn’t provide the exceptional numbers in any one area, but he’s undeniably solid. His best value is probably in his ability to get on base — which is one of the reasons why he is listed as the Chicago Cubs’ leadoff hitter for 2020 — so give him the necessary boost in leagues that lean on on-base percentage.” – Mario Mergola

47) Nelson Cruz (DH – MIN)

Case For
“There are no guarantees in fantasy baseball. Nelson Cruz delivering at least 35 home runs is as close to a guarantee as we will get. Over the last six seasons — which started when he was 33 years old — Cruz has hit between 37 and 44 home runs, every time. Perhaps the more impressive number is his batting average, which was .287 or higher in four of those six years. It’s fair to worry that age will finally catch up with Cruz but, other than speculating on the decline, there’s no reason to avoid him. In fact, his soft hit percentage was 12.0 percent, his personal lowest since 2012.” – Mario Mergola

Case Against
“There are only two bad things to say about Nelson Cruz, but they are both pretty big-time issues. Firstly, he is 79 years old. That means he was 78 years old last year, and we all know that it didn’t matter then, but at some point, the slowdown has to come. There is going to be a significant decline for Cruz in one of the next three seasons, so why take the gamble here? The second problem is the DH only eligibility. There is no hope of Cruz gaining eligibility anywhere else, so you are going to have to have him stuck in that UTIL spot all year long. If you only have one of those, that is actually a pretty big downside in daily lineup league as it results in a lot of missed opportunities. I’ll leave Cruz for someone else this year.” – Jon Anderson

Draft Approach
“Nelson Cruz falls in every draft, in every year, for the past four to five years. It’s because he’s ancient in baseball years, and only David Ortiz remains undefeated against Father Time. It also hurts that Cruz is DH only, but production is production. If you’re looking at Yordan Alvarez in the first few rounds of the draft, you’d be better suited to wait a few rounds and take Cruz for as good – if not better – production. That is, assuming this isn’t year where it all falls apart. ” – Michael Waterloo

48) Manny Machado (SS – SDP)

Case For
“You can’t bank on the steals from Manny Machado anymore, and it’s too hard to consider him an elite fantasy player after his well-known struggles out of Camden Yards. But you aren’t paying for elite production here – you’re paying for a bounce-back candidate who can give you first- to second-round production. The pressure is on the Padres’ front office to win, so Machado is going to be surrounded by an even better offense in his second year in San Diego. Machado’s 2019 was split into three good months and three really bad months. Bet on the talent in these situations … at least for one more year.” – Michael Waterloo

Case Against
“Manny Machado was a gift to the fantasy baseball community in 2018, delivering everywhere and doing so as both a shortstop and third base. Fast-forwarding to today, we are somewhat less excited about what Machado brings to the table. For starters, his dual eligibility is a great bonus for flexibility, but he arguably plays two positions where we can make the case for many others to go ahead of him. Most notably, he approached or reached recent lows in production in nearly all categories, and only his home run total held firm. The reality is that, while Machado had easily been one of the best fantasy baseball players in the past, he has fallen a significant amount. Be careful buying his past and not his present or future.” – Mario Mergola

Draft Approach
“Machado was a disaster for where he was drafted last year, but at this cheaper price, he is much easier to feel good about. You would imagine he can’t hit lower than the .256 batting average he posted last year, and he still did manage 32 homers and 85 RBI in that down year. I would say a .270 average with another easy 30 homers while flirting with 100 runs batted in is a reasonable projection for him this year, and that sounds pretty good for a guy you can get near pick 50. ” – Jon Anderson

49) Paul Goldschmidt (1B – STL)

Case For
“How many guys can you find at this point in the draft that can score 100 runs, hit 40 bombs, drive in 100, and hit .280? Not too many. Goldschmidt is far from the first round caliber hitter he used to be, as the batting average has been hurt by extensive slumps over the last couple seasons and he does not steal bases anymore. However, much like Machado, his draft price has come way down for 2020 – making him a really nice value at a weak position. ” – Jon Anderson

Case Against
“What set Paul Goldschmidt apart from the other first basemen for years were his steals. Over the past four years, his stolen base totals have dropped from 32 to 18, to 7, to 3 last year. He had 34 home runs, which were nice, but he also had his lowest triple-slash line since his rookie year in 2011. He’ll still give you production at a shallow position, but this isn’t going to be a gradual decline with Goldschmidt.” – Michael Waterloo

Draft Approach
“When we talk about high floor or high ceiling players, Paul Goldschmidt’s last few years should be the example we use. We have seen the decline in his upside — he no longer steals bases nor carries a high batting average — but his floor hasn’t budged. With the exception of last year, he still regularly holds a high on-base percentage and has hit at least 33 home runs in each of the last three seasons. If you’re drafting to his floor — especially in on-base percentage leagues — then you should not be disappointed. We just can’t target his potential anymore.” – Mario Mergola

50) Patrick Corbin (SP – WAS)

Case For
“Is there anything left for Patrick Corbin to prove? He has now started at least 32 games in each of the last three seasons and reached 200 innings twice in that span. His ERA and strikeout rate both improved after 2017 to hold through last year, and he even fought a potential dip when changing teams from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Washington Nationals. Most of Corbin’s underlying numbers remain unchanged — hence the stability in production — and, while he isn’t the most flashy pitcher to grab on Draft Day, he’s quietly poised for another solid season.” – Mario Mergola

Case Against

“The only real negative thing you can say about Corbin is that he just had his 30th birthday late last season, so he is officially over the perpetual hump in that regard. He also does not come with the huge upside that some of the other pitchers that are available here have. He has really only posted one season with a very strong WHIP (1.05 in 2018 – he posted a 1.18 mark last year), and the strikeouts are a bit short of elite (don’t get me wrong, they are very good). The walks came up last year and the strikeouts came down, which is never what you want to see from a pitcher that is getting up there in age. I’d prefer some extra upside here, but I can’t fault anybody for taking the safe option here.” – Jon Anderson

Draft Approach

“Why is Patrick Corbin being underrated? Sure, his 2018 season raised eyebrows in a contract year, but he backed it up in 2019, which typically silences the critics. Instead, you’re getting a safe – albeit with limited No. 1 upside potential – ace in the fifth round. Take it the value and run. Corbin allows you to either load up with hitters early on and have him as your fallback option, or he allows you to have two aces to give you a leg-up on your competition.” – Michael Waterloo

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