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9 Shortened Season Risers (Fantasy Baseball)

Jun 24, 2020

Rich Hill is a sure-fire riser now that he won’t be held back by an innings limit

Baseball is finally back, folks! With a 60-game season set to begin late in July, there will be no shortage of changes that fantasy baseball managers will have to overcome and account for when drafting and managing their rosters. A universal DH and a geographically-based schedule are just a couple wrinkles that will heavily alter both real and fantasy baseball in widespread ways. With all the changes in store, there are bound to be plenty of players who stand to benefit. As such, our featured experts are here to analyze which athletes are most likely to gain value as a result.

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Q1. With a 60-game season officially happening, which starting pitcher’s stock has risen the most based on the latest news and why?

Rich Hill (SP – MIN) 
“You know Hill will produce when healthy, as he hasn’t had an ERA above 3.25 since 2014. He was expected to miss at least half the season after offseason elbow surgery, but he’ll now be ready for the renewed spring training and the start of the season. Hill’s strikeout rate is elite (at least 10.18 per nine innings in each of the last seven seasons) and his strikeout-to-walk rate has hovered at 20% or above for several years. Those are the types of skills that should be immune from the inconsistencies that might plague many other pitchers in an abbreviated season. The only question with Hill was his innings, and with those no longer a consideration, he’s a rock-solid starter for a fantasy team rather than a draft-and-stash candidate.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

“Now that we know there will be a 60-game season, we don’t have to worry about inning limits anymore, and now that the season won’t start until late July, we no longer need to worry about players entering the spring with an injury. So now, one of the best per inning starting pitchers, Rich Hill, is healthy and ready to fire as many innings as some other aces, yet we can get him late into drafts. I’ll be drafting him everywhere.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Kenta Maeda (SP/RP – MIN) 
“Maeda is a top-25 starting pitcher for me in this shortened season. Looking at his underlying metrics, he ranks in the 80th percentile in barrels (a predictive measure) and 88th percentile in whiff rate, so he can induce weak contact while also striking hitters out. He also throws his secondary stuff nearly 65% of the time, meaning that he has a good chance of facing hitters the third time through the order. From a qualitative perspective, the Twins will not manipulate his innings this year, given the unpredictability of a shorter season. The most obvious reason for bumping him is that he plays in the AL Central, which projects as the weakest division in baseball with two bottom-five teams. Most of the schedule played will be against divisional opponents, giving Maeda yet another bump.”
– Carmen Maiorano (FantasyPros)

Garrett Richards (SP – SD) 
“While there’s a case to be made for the young guys like Jesus Luzardo and Julio Urias, I’ll actually go the other way and say it’s a guy like Richards. Teams are going to be creative and careful with their young arms, while guys like Richards, or on the high-price side, Charlie Morton, will be able to go out and provide good (or elite in the case of Morton) production per inning on the mound. With regards to Richards, he’s on the back end of a two-year deal where he missed the first year with Tommy John surgery. He has nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking on the workload.”
– Michael Waterloo (FantasyPros)

Lance McCullers Jr. (SP – HOU) 
“McCullers Jr. is always an injury risk, especially coming back from Tommy John, but the extra time is exactly what he needed. His season-long value had been suppressed because he had no chance of sniffing 200 innings pitches, but in this abbreviated season, he should be able to handle as many starts as the rest of the Astros’ rotation. It’s unclear whether he can get back up to the 30% strikeout rate he posted in 2016, but he’s a clear bargain at the price of a late-rotation arm.”
– Pierre Camus (RotoBaller)

Q2. With a 60-game season officially happening, which hitter’s stock has risen the most based on the latest news and why?

Wil Myers (1B/3B/OF – SD) 
“We thought the universal DH would be introduced, and now that it has, Myers is officially one of my biggest riser hitters from the delay. His playing time was questionable at best with Trent Grisham and Franchy Cordero slated for outfield spots, but he’ll almost certainly play every day now. With a 162-game pace of 26 homers and 23 steals over the last four years, Myers should provide his fantasy managers with both power and speed production. And although it seems like ages ago, he had talked about adjustments he made this offseason, and the results were positive in the spring, particularly with his strikeout rate (six strikeouts in 11 spring games). Add it all up and Myers’ ranking could legitimately go up 100 spots from where it was at the start of the spring.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Giancarlo Stanton (OF – NYY) 
“Although it has been said that Stanton, despite being a hulking mass, is made of glass, he should be ready for the new Opening Day. His ADP had dropped to the point where he could be selected in the seventh round in mixed leagues, but that could be a screaming value now. The Yankees aren’t a team that will take a mulligan on a shortened 2020 season, so Stanton should get a full complement of at-bats as long as he is capable. With Aaron Judge’s return from a rib injury making him questionable, Stanton will reside in the middle of the order.”
– Pierre Camus (RotoBaller)

Sam Hilliard (OF – COL) 
“With news coming that the National League will adopt the designated hitter, a number of bats have flown up my draft board, but none more than Hilliard, who goes from being unlikely to start to becoming a near-lock to play almost every day. This was nothing more than a lottery ticket, but now we’ve got a chance at double-digit homers and steals even in a 60-game season out of this Rockies outfielder who dominated the minors last season.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Trea Turner (SS – WSH) 
“With the shortened season, there’s a real case to be made for taking Turner fifth overall in drafts after the big four are off the board. With only 60 games being played, you’re going to see the need for speed increase even more than usual. Turner is as sure of a bet to give you league-winning steals while also not hurting you in other categories than any other player.”
– Michael Waterloo (FantasyPros)

Joey Gallo (OF – TEX) 
“I wasn’t high on Gallo over a full 162-game season, but he has shot up my rankings with news of a 60-game season. With a lower likelihood of injury, I could see Gallo leading the league in homers and RBIs quite easily. If his BABIP can find a middle ground between his 2018 and 2019, there’s a chance that he could return first-round value.”
– Carmen Maiorano (FantasyPros)

Thank you to the experts for giving us their shortened season risers. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and subscribe to our podcast below for advice all year round.

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