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Player Debates: DJ LeMahieu, Marcell Ozuna, Eugenio Suarez, Marcus Semien, Ramon Laureano

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
May 11, 2020

Ramon Laureano just checks the boxes for what you want in a fantasy player.

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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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71) DJ LeMahieu (NYY – 1B/2B)

Case For
“It was an easy comment to make prior to last season, but we can no longer claim that DJ LeMahieu is a product of hitting in Colorado. Not only did he deliver in every single category with the New York Yankees, last year, but he finished the season with the second-highest batting average of his nine-year career. Most importantly, he’s eligible at multiple positions, bats in a premier lineup, and just dropped his soft hit percentage while raising his hard-hit percentage to a career-high.” – Mario Mergola

Case Against
“The best case against LeMahieu is that his name is really hard to spell. I mean this is a top ten hardest name to spell in all of sports in my opinion. Do you put dots after the “D” and the “J”? Is the “M” really capitalized? How does the “I” before “E” rule apply? Very annoying. The real problem is that he’s nearing 32 years old and is coming off of a career year, parking 26 dingers with a .327 batting average. If he can do anything like that again in the future, he will be a very useful fantasy player in that Yankees’ lineup. However, I am just not convinced we will ever see that LeMahieu again. He benefited from a .349 BABIP in 2019 and clearly also benefited majorly from the homer-happy Yankees’ Stadium and the juiced ball. The price is not crazy on him this year, which makes it hard to really rip him, but there are just so many guys you can get here with the same upside at much more appealing ages. I’ll pass on LeMahieu for the 19th straight year.” – Jon Anderson

Draft Approach
“There’s a fallacy out there that when players leave Coors Field, their production and subsequent fantasy value dips. DJ LeMahieu disproved that in 2019, as he had the best numbers of his career. There aren’t a lot of question marks with his peripherals, but the main hesitation that fantasy managers should have with LeMahieu is that 2019 was his clear outlier. With the multi-position eligibility, he’s worth grabbing at this point in hopes for a repeat or at least close to a repeat.” – Michael Waterloo

72) Marcell Ozuna (ATL – OF)

Case For
“Marcell Ozuna bet on himself with a one-year contract in Atlanta, and as a fantasy. manager, you should, too. Ozuna was the poster boy for being unlucky in 2019, especially with his BABIP driving down his average. His batted ball data was still fantastic, and he offered double-digit steals, surprisingly. If Ozuna repeats his batted-ball numbers, he’ll no longer need to bet on himself with a one-year deal, and you’ll see his price surge in 2021 drafts.” – Michael Waterloo

Case Against
“Simply put, what are we asking Marcell Ozuna to do in 2020? We are in a perpetual state of not only waiting for Ozuna to breakout, but for him to hold his breakout and avoid regression. After all, he showed how dangerous this is after hitting a career-high 37 home runs in 2017 and failing to break the 30-home run mark in the following two seasons. In fact, his ’17 campaign was the only in which he hit at least 30 home runs. His batting average has decreased in each of the last three years while his strikeout rate jumped from 2018 to 2019. The fact that Ozuna signed a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves is an indication that his former team didn’t see the value in keeping him at his asking price. We should be careful to not overspend, as well.” – Mario Mergola

Draft Approach
“Ozuna is part of a pretty huge clump of solid offensive options in the outfield. He had a bit of a weird year in 2019 by his standards. He raised his walk rate to a career-high 11.3% in 2019 and even stole 12 bases pretty much out of nowhere. The strikeouts came up to 21%, and he was the victim of some bad luck with a .257 BABIP which resulted in a career-low batting average for him. Truthfully, I have no idea what to expect from Ozuna in 2020, so I’m not really sure what to even tell you here. I do know that he is at a crazy deep position and will not hit .300 or steal 15 bases this year, so that makes him low priority on my list.” – Jon Anderson

73) Eugenio Suarez (CIN – 3B)

Case For
“The case for Suarez has everything to do with draft position. His early year shoulder injury plummeted his draft stock and it really has not come back. This is a very cheap price tag for a guy that hit 49 home runs last year. The power is for real, he is still just 28 years old, and the Reds should boast their best lineup in years this season. It is not hard to find homers and RBI in the draft this year, and Suarez will not hit for a good batting average or steal any bases, but the draft price is really the trump card here. If you focus on pitching, speed, and average early in the draft, Suarez is an awesome way to catch up in homers.” – Jon Anderson

Case Against
“Eugenio Suarez has often been one of the most overlooked players in fantasy, but now, it seems like there’s risk with the profile. Not only is he coming back from a shoulder injury, but you’re banking on him hitting 45-plus home runs again to provide the value you need. He’s essentially empty power, as he doesn’t hit for a good average, nor will he still bases for you. The position is deep enough that you can move past Suarez and his red flags.” – Michael Waterloo

Draft Approach
“A surprise preseason injury sent Eugenio Suarez tumbling down draft boards, but the delayed season undoubtedly slowed his descent. He will be another player for whom we have to play a guessing game regarding health, but it’s easy to see the upside he brings. Suarez exploded for 49 home runs in 2019 and held a respectable batting average to go with the power surge. There are enough question marks surrounding him between his health and possible regression to warrant hesitation, but our approach is based on the balance of risk and reward. If we can handle the unsteady floor, then we can add the high ceiling. If not, we’ll look elsewhere..” – Mario Mergola

74) Marcus Semien (OAK – SS)

Case For
“The Oakland Athletics — and fantasy owners — could not have asked for more from Marcus Semien in 2019. He finally delivered on the longstanding expectation that he was undervalued, and he vaulted to the point where he finished third in the AL MVP voting. Of course, we have to ask if this can be sustained. Probably not. Nearly every statistic was a career-high for Semien, but this does not mean that he will completely collapse. His spike in hard-hit percentage is extreme, but the key is that his soft hit percentage decreased impressively. Even if he can’t repeat the home run output — which he probably won’t — he should continue to deliver everywhere else. The Athletics finished eighth in Major League Baseball in runs scored, and Semien led-off in all but 17 of the team’s games. He’ll continue to benefit and deliver.” – Mario Mergola

Case Against
“Marcus Semien was waiver wire surfer for years, and then he decides to wake up and hit .285 with 123 runs, 33 bombs, and 92 RBI in 2019. All of that with a very believable .294 BABIP. The big difference was his plate discipline, as his strikeouts came way down to 13.7% while his walks came way up 11.6%. Those two things are really making me believe that Semien made a change that can help him be a much better fantasy player now, but man, I still can’t make myself click that button. Even in that career year in 2019, he did not do anything that was truly elite, and he is in a hugely deep position. If you need a guy that can hit for a good batting average and steal a few bases, Semien is a fine pick if he actually does fall this far, but I would guess there is somebody in both leagues that will trust the 2019 numbers a little too much and reach for him before any smarter player would. I’ll leave Semien alone and focus on a younger, higher upside player.” – Jon Anderson

Draft Approach
“Marcus Semien is one of the most polarizing figures in fantasy this year. He had an MVP-type season last season – not saying that lightly at all – and there’s not much in the peripherals that scream regression is coming, but he is a 29-year-old who had a breakout season by all accounts. Prior to 2019, he was the definition of a replacement-level fantasy option. There should always be trepidation with those types of breakouts.” – Michael Waterloo

75) Ramon Laureano (OAK – OF)

Case For
“Ramon Laureano just checks the boxes for what you want in a fantasy player. Power? Check. Speed? Check. Elite-level defense? Check. Outside of walks, Laureano is the total package that fantasy players look for. He’s not elite in any category, but as long as he continues to run and have an elite line-drive rate, he’ll be a must-start option throughout the season.” – Michael Waterloo

Case Against

“Ramon Laureano has developed perfectly over the last two years, and he delivered a well-balanced fantasy season for his owners. The problem is that there are little signs of further growth. At least, right now. Laureano held his batting average to exactly the same .288 mark from ’18 to ’19, but his walk rate was nearly cut in half. And, while his hard-hit percentage increased slightly — to his credit, it was already high — his soft hit percentage also increased. Laureano has all the makings of a hitter with a bright future, but asking for a dramatic increase in value for three consecutive seasons is dangerous. We might be buying at a temporary top.” – Mario Mergola

Draft Approach

“Steals, batting average, and huge upside. It is hard not to be excited at the idea of seeing what Laureano can do as he enters his prime years. There is not huge power or huge steals ability here, but the kid does a little bit of everything and he has a potential that not many guys can match at this point in the draft. The 25.6% strikeout rate and 5.6% walk rate are a bit discouraging, but it also leaves lots of room for improvement on his already solid career .288 batting average and .345 on-base percentage.” – Jon Anderson

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