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Top 10 Fantasy Baseball Tips for 2020

Apr 29, 2020

Players with injury concerns, like Mike Clevinger, should see a bump in value because of the delayed season

Fortunately, we’ve come to the point now where it’s no longer a question of if MLB will return this year, but when. The season may feature more frequent double-headers, have fewer than 162 games, and primarily take place in just two or three states (at least to start). Who knows what’s in store? These possibilities, among others, figure to change a lot about how players are valued and may force both real and fantasy teams alike to make personnel decisions that they otherwise wouldn’t. With that being the case, our featured analysts have come forward with some tips that will help you plan for the upcoming season.

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Q. What is the most important tip that fantasy baseball managers should remember while waiting on the 2020 season?

“One of the most significant effects from the delay of the season is the dramatic changes in player rankings. Three groups of players should see an increase in their rankings. Injured players, who were initially expected to begin the season on the IL, will now have months to reach full health before the new Opening Day. Think Mike Clevinger, Giancarlo Stanton, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander. The second group consists of pitchers who were expected to have their innings capped. They will now have every opportunity to put in full seasons and subsequently see a rise in the rankings. The pitchers who will benefit the most are Jesus Luzardo, Chris Paddack, Lance McCullers, and Julio Urias. Lastly, the shorter season will result in more teams in the playoff hunt later in the season, which will lead to fewer teams looking to sell and more teams still playing relevant games in September.”
– Dennis Sosic (Fantasy Six Pack)

Stay abreast of MLB’s plans for where games will be played in 2020. A radical idea of playing games in Arizona and Florida had been floated a few weeks ago, but the latest rumored proposal is a three-division, 10-team realignment so teams can play in their home stadiums, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Park factors are significant in player rankings, and for now, it appears gamers should rank players based on playing in their normal home ballparks. If MLB reverses course on their current proposal in discussion and looks at just a few ballparks hosting games this year, that would have a huge impact on rankings — with Colorado’s players immediately coming to mind.”
– Josh Shepardson (FantasyPros)

“We are getting a significantly shortened season and with that comes a lot more boom/bust variance. We truly do not know how players will respond to ramping up again in a mini-spring training or playing in empty parks and how teams will manage rosters given the shortened season. One way to navigate through the uncertainty is to monitor players working their way back from injury. Guys like James Paxton, Jordan Hicks, and Aaron Hicks will likely still come at a bargain relative to their skill level since a lot of your leaguemates will have tuned out baseball news. Identify the guys working their way back that are projected to play a full season and make them targets in your draft (or make them waiver-wire targets if you’ve already drafted).”
– Carmen Maiorano (FantasyPros)

“When looking forward to the unknown of what may be the 2020 MLB season, the most important way I foresee adjusting my in-season strategy is to RIDE THE STREAKS. Obviously, you are going to have to stay flexible heading into the upcoming season given all the uncertainty, but one thing we know right now is that there will NOT be a full 162 games played. In a shortened season, we simply won’t have time to let struggling players work out of a funk. A month-long slump could represent 30-50% of the baseball season and in 2020 I will be tossing aside the typical patience with which I approach slow starters each year. This will be a season of rash decisions, small sample sizes, and bold moves. My most important advice: buy high and ride the streaks.”
– Wayne Bretsky (BretskyBall)

“Make sure to discount innings pitched when evaluating starting pitchers. Chances are, pitchers are going to need a few weeks before they’re able to go deep into games anyway, but either way, the classic nine-inning games with six or seven of them per week seems unlikely. There will almost certainly be expanded rosters, meaning more relievers. Plus, with fewer off days and potentially shortened games, pitchers who routinely go deeper into games (like Zack Greinke for example) simply aren’t worth as much as they otherwise would be. Focus on ratios even more than you otherwise would and almost entirely ignore how innings pitched might have factored into your starting pitcher evaluations.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

“To me, the most important thing is to remember the law of large numbers. In a 162-game season, Mike Trout will end up as a top player. Even if he has a poor month, eventually, Trout will right the ship. But in a shortened season, one bad month will cripple his or any elite player’s value – and there is less of a chance a stud actually ends up a star. My advice this season is quantity over quality. Play the middle. Trade an elite player for two very good players to give you two shots at value. If you’re in an auction, spread the risk instead of going for the stars and scrubs approach.”
– Ariel Cohen (FanGraphs)

“They’re going to have a lot of different theories on strategy when the season actually starts and rules are in place. I’d start playing those logic games in your head right now — what happens with a bunch of doubleheaders? What happens if they only play in Arizona and Florida? Things like that. Map stuff out now, because when things start moving, you won’t have to waste time wading through the theory you like best. You’ll already be on your favorite strategy path and can go right into picking the projections and rankings you want to use.”
– Nando Di Fino (The Athletic)

“Back in February, I was worried about which pitchers could throw 170-180 innings as that number is obviously dwindling. I wanted to secure two pitchers early in drafts to make sure that I could anchor my staff with solid numbers. With an abridged season, we could see pitchers throwing in the neighborhood of 120 innings which gives pitchers more parity than ever. Therefore, I am planning to wait on drafting pitching when my drafts start back up.”
– Dr. Roto (FullTime Fantasy)

“A shortened season changes everything in ways that we’ve never had to consider before. There’s less time to recover from slow starts or for closer roles to change hands. Prospects could have an outsized impact or simply run out of time to make it to the majors. In short, while I usually advocate patience in a 162-game season, 2020 will require a more aggressive approach to team management.”
– Kyle Bishop (RotoBaller)

Account for the expected temporary rule changes. Designated hitters will likely be used for all 30 teams and it seems less and less probable that any team will be playing in their home ballparks. That means hitters in crowded lineups like Ryan Braun are more likely to pile up counting stats while pitchers like German Marquez and Jon Gray could be absolute steals.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

“The schedule, any temporary rule changes, and the parks games will be played in may have a significant impact on player performance, and therefore, fantasy value. Don’t fail to adjust your projections and dollar values or rankings and assume guys like Nolan Arenado, who normally receives a huge park factor boost, will be worth the same as in previous seasons.”
– Mike Podhorzer (FanGraphs)


Thank you to the experts for sharing their shortened season tips. For more great fantasy advice, please be sure to follow them on Twitter.


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