Players to Benefit the Most from Universal DH Rule (2020 Fantasy Baseball)
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The future of the 2020 MLB season, and beyond, is currently being determined. There remains hope that we will see a baseball season, but it could be very different from what we are used to. Of course, there is the question around if there will be fans in the seats, but beyond that the league is considering a Universal DH. Given the talks around that rule change, we’ve asked our writers to provide a list of players that would benefit the most from the Universal DH rule.
Q: Which players would benefit the most from the Universal DH?
Dylan Carlson (STL)
Every season we see a rookie or two take the league by storm and finish as a top-20 fantasy asset. Last year it was Pete Alonso and Fernando Tatis Jr. Before them, Aaron Judge, Carlos Correa, Walker Buehler, Juan Soto, and so forth. This season, it could be Carlson, if only there were enough at-bats to go around. This five-category star in the making was the #1 hitter in spring training before MLB suspended play. If the league adds a universal DH and expanded rosters, Carlson is near-certain to make the roster and start every day.
– Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)
Wil Myers (SD)
Myers wasn’t projected to be a starter for San Diego prior to the delay, with Trent Grisham reportedly locking down the center field job and Franchy Cordero in right. But with the likely implementation of the universal DH, Myers becomes a must-own in all leagues and should be a starter for most teams. Myers’ 162-game pace over the last four seasons is 26 home runs and 23 steals. And although his .251 career average certainly doesn’t help fantasy owners, it’s not quite as damaging in today’s landscape, particularly considering his power-speed combination. He also reportedly made some adjustments this winter, and early returns in spring were positive (.300 average, 1.097 OPS, six strikeouts in 11 games). Myers should see everyday at-bats with a universal DH and be owned everywhere.
– Dan Harris (@danharris80)
Ian Desmond (COL)
I think most NL clubs will platoon at the DH position. That said, the two biggest beneficiaries are Yoenis Cespedes and Kyle Schwarber. But Ian Desmond is my overall pick due to the Coors Field factor for half his games. He isn’t good enough to be a full-time outfielder or first baseman, but if he shows he can still hit, he can help against lefties. There are plenty of left-handed pitchers in the NL West. So while he isn’t a great player, Desmond could be a late-round grab for this coming year.
– Bernie Pleskoff (@BerniePleskoff)
Josh Bell (PIT)
Any imbalance between offensive and defensive performance is likely to produce a positive result from a universal DH. This metric yields Josh Bell as my top pick to gain from such a rule change. Using offensive and defensive WAR from FanGraphs — and limiting the options to only players from the National League in 2019 — Bell had the lowest defensive WAR among all qualified hitters with a positive offensive WAR. Put another way, no other hitter contributed offensively but hurt the team defensively more than Bell. This, coupled with injuries, contributed to Bell playing only 143 games last year. The Pittsburgh Pirates could look to protect Bell’s health — and their defense — by utilizing him as an everyday DH.
– Mario Mergola (@MarioMergola)
Gavin Lux (LAD)
The only concern with Lux this year was playing time, given the star-studded lineup that the Dodgers will feature on a nightly basis. With the universal DH, Lux should be entrenched at second base while Max Muncy, Justin Turner, and A.J. Pollock take turns rotating at DH. If Corey Seager is a DH on a given night, Lux can slide over to shortstop. Now I’m expecting him to play in at least 90% of their games. Yes, he’ll likely still hit in the bottom-third of the order, but I’d see him hitting 20+ homers with a combined 140 runs and RBIs and double-digit stolen bases over a full season. You may have been expecting that production already, but now the probability is much, much higher.
– Carmen Maiorano (@carmsclubhouse)
Ryan Braun (MIL)
Ryan Braun hasn’t really held up as an everyday outfielder in recent years, which is why Milwaukee brought in Avisail Garcia and Justin Smoak this offseason. Entering 2020, it appeared as if Braun would merely be a platoon player, spending time at first base or right field depending on the day. However, a universal DH keeps him in the lineup every day. Not only could this help him stay healthy throughout the season, but it simply gives the Brewers more lineup options. It isn’t as if Braun can’t play the field here and there. While the 36-year-old isn’t the franchise cornerstone he once was, Braun quietly hit 22 homers and stole 11 bases last year while posting an .848 OPS. In fact, he has hit at least 17 homers with 10 stolen bases in each of the past six seasons. There’s value to be had here, particularly in roto leagues.
– Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma)
Austin Riley (ATL)
The universal DH will give the Braves the option of starting Johan Camargo at third base and sliding Riley (Troy Glaus 2.0) into a full-time offensive role. Without the pressure of developing both sides of the ball in 2020, Riley can focus on his hit tool and potentially capitalize on the power potential that made him arguably the Braves’ best third base prospect since Chipper Jones. If not for the DH, Riley was likely to start the season in a platoon with Camargo, a situation that could’ve deteriorated quickly if the young power hitter got off to a slow start. With less risk at play, the Braves should be able to offer Riley the necessary opportunity and patience he’ll require to shine this season.
– Daniel Comer (@DanComer404)
Sam Hilliard (COL)
Sam Hilliard now finds himself in a situation where he should see everyday at-bats after slashing .262/.335/.558 with 109 runs, 35 home runs, 101 RBIs, and 22 stolen bases across 126 games in Triple-A last season. The 26-year-old will compete with Ian Desmond and Raimel Tapia for playing time, but neither should pose a threat to Hilliard. I can see Hilliard playing every day as he rotates between DH and CF. Hilliard had a fly-ball rate of 40% and crushed 42 homers between Triple-A and the majors in 2019. The power upside is there, but he does need to cut down on the strikeouts (29.3 K% rate in Triple-A).With regular at-bats, Hilliard has the potential to be a 20-20 player (in a full season) and a late-round steal in fantasy drafts.
– Brad Camara (@beerad30)