Hitters Outside the Top 100 Overall that Can Finish No. 1 at Their Position (2020 Fantasy Baseball)
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Last week, we asked our writers for pitchers ranked outside the top-20 overall at the position that could finish in the top five. In a similar vein, this week we’ll examine later-round hitters that could end the season atop the rankings at their position.
Q: Which hitter outside the top 100 overall in ECR has the best shot at finishing first overall at their position?
Miguel Sano (1B/3B – MIN): Overall No. 132, 3B18
A hitter like Sano who strikes out a ton is inherently streaky. In 20 games last September, Sano slashed .288/.395/.671 with eight home runs and 21 RBIs. In 23 games in July, he batted .300/.411/.613 with six home runs and 16 RBIs. In a season that seems likely to max out at 50 games, Sano could conceivably see a hot streak that lasts the entire season. If he does, his power potential gives him a chance to finish above Nolan Arenado, Jose Ramirez, or anyone else at the third base position.
– Dan Harris (@danharris80)
If we were targeting sleepers over the course of a full, 162-game season, Miguel Sano would absolutely be on the list — he has in most of my write-ups, anyway. The only hesitation with the slugger is that he hasn’t played more than 116 games in any of his five major league seasons. That’s exactly why he’s a prime candidate to surge to the top of his position’s standings. Had he been eligible, Sano would have ranked third in at-bats per home run in 2019. Shortening 2020 may be exactly what Sano needs in order to produce top-tier fantasy numbers.
– Mario Mergola (mariomergola)
Gary Sanchez (C – NYY): Overall No. 108, C2
Sanchez led MLB catchers with 34 home runs last season and ranked second in RBIs, but his .232 batting average wasn’t ideal. His peripherals were strong, however, as Sanchez led all catchers with a 19.1% barrel rate. His .247 xBA fell in line with his career .246 average, which means he was more unlucky than bad from that standpoint last season. His biggest competition for C1 will likely be J.T. Realmuto, who boasts cross-category relevance and is the only catcher ranked inside the top 100. Mitch Garver, Yasmani Grandal, and Willson Contreras each have cases here, but I’m putting my money on Sanchez, who in my view is the only bonafide power-hitting catcher in baseball.
– Daniel Comer (@DanComer404)
Gary Sanchez is currently 108th overall in the ECR and could easily finish at the top of his position in 2020. The shortened season would only help Sanchez, who missed time last year with a groin injury. The 27-year-old slashed .232/.316/.525 with 34 homers, 77 RBIs, and 62 runs scored across 446 plate appearances in 2019. Sanchez has reached the 30-homer plateau in two of the last three seasons and is one of the true power-hitting catchers in baseball. His average is less to be desired, but he has the ability to outproduce J.T. Realmuto, Yasmani Grandal, Willson Contreras, and Mitch Garver to become the top catcher in fantasy.
– Brad Camara (@beerad30)
Mitch Garver (C – MIN): Overall No. 168, C5
Mitch Garver had quite the season in 2019, batting .273 with a .995 OPS and a whopping 31 homers. That’s really valuable for fantasy purposes. The crazy part? That production came in just 93 games, which means the 29-year-old averaged a homer for every three contests he played in. His breakout was backed up by Statcast, which saw Garver rank within the top-90th percentile of hard-hit rate, xWOBA, and barrel rate. Gone is Jason Castro, who appeared in 79 games for Minnesota last year. Combine Garver’s efficiency with increased opportunity, and we have the makings of fantasy stardom.
– Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma)
In a shortened season, Garver comes with a high floor and ceiling. Not only did he bring power in 2019, knocking 31 home runs, but he also hit .273. He also has increased his hard-hit percentage significantly (47.3%) as well as his walk percentage (11.4%). He had a contact percentage of 77%, an OPS of .995, and he slugged .630. There is no doubt that he has a higher floor than every catcher except Realmuto, and he definitely has an elite ceiling based on what we saw in 2019. Now that Jason Castro is gone and Graver presumes to play more games, there is no question that he is a top candidate at the catcher position.
– Brandon Torricella (@Btorricella3)
Eduardo Escobar (2B/3B – ARI): Overall No. 121, 2B12
Escobar will likely play third base for the Diamondbacks again this year. But he is eligible at second base, and that’s the position at which I value him most in fantasy. Escobar is a very under-the-radar hitter. He makes hard contact, hits the gaps, and has a prominent role as a run producer in the Diamondbacks lineup. He and Ketel Marte form a strong one-two offensive punch. I like his chances to put up some big numbers in hitter-friendly Chase Field.
– Bernie Pleskoff (@BerniePleskoff)
Christian Walker (1B – ARI): Overall No. 193, 1B17
Back in April, I pegged Christian Walker as a prime candidate to finish as the top first baseman over a 100+ game season. Now that we’re likely looking at 48-82 games, I feel even better about him. Walker bested both Pete Alonso and Cody Bellinger in average exit velocity and hard-hit rate last year and was just behind them in barrels. These metrics resulted in a replica of Paul Goldschmidt’s 2019. If Walker can cut back on his strikeouts the way he did in the minors in 2017, we could see him finish in the top 10 in home runs while also chipping in a handful of stolen bases. Most first basemen don’t run, so getting just five swiped bags would be huge for his value. I’m not concerned with Jake Lamb taking away at-bats from him, seeing that Lamb is injury-prone and there are plenty of at-bats to go around with a potential universal DH. Nobody saw Alonso breaking through to be a top-three first baseman last year, so don’t discount Walker.
– Carmen Maiorano (@carmsclubhouse)
Garrett Hampson (2B/OF – COL): Overall No. 260, 2B27
An unmitigated disaster for most of 2019, Hampson at least helped forgiving fantasy managers lock down a title by batting .318 with five homers and nine stolen bases in September. Sure, the middling .300 wOBA over 375 career major league plate appearances is a larger and more troubling sample size. It also doesn’t help Hampson’s case that he batted a pedestrian .266/.310/.422 when the Rockies booted him down to Triple-A last season. But for the purposes of this exercise, Hampson’s September surge at least shows that he has the feasible ability — assuming the Rockies play their home games in Coors Field — to pull off a convincing Trea Turner impersonation for 50 games. While he’s not guaranteed playing time, the universal DH gives the Rockies a golden opportunity to keep Daniel Murphy’s bat fresh and move Ryan McMahon to a more natural spot at first base. Perhaps a bit of short-sample BABIP fortune at Colorado leads Hampson to a sky-high batting average and a whole bunch of steals.
– Andrew Gould (@AndrewGould4)