Four Players to Spend Your Preseason FAAB On (2020 Fantasy Baseball)
There are a lot of leagues out there that had their draft before the MLB season was drastically changed, and they decided to leave the teams as is and lock transactions. This is the case with NFBC leagues. If you drafted for a normal 162-game season starting in March, chances are you are going to want to make some big changes to your team now that we are facing a 60-game season starting in late July.
Free agency provides a big opportunity to improve your team, and there are a lot of players sitting there now that could really help your squad out. The question is now how much do you spend to get them once bidding opens up? Here are four players that you might want to consider investing some FAAB dollars in.
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Note: You won’t find any prospects on this list, as the notable ones for 2020 are typically already rostered in deep leagues.
Rich Hill (SP – MIN): 41% Rostered
The cream of the crop is Rich Hill. Even at the age of 39 last season, he posted a 2.45 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP and 11 K/9 over 58.2 innings pitched. He made nine starts before running into injuries last year, allowing 47 hits and 15 earned runs while striking out 59 in those 52 innings. There is no reason to think Hill cannot be a very useful fantasy starter while he’s starting games.
In addition to his abilities, he now resides in a Twins rotation that will face the easiest schedule in the big leagues. If hill grabs the #4 spot in the rotation and pitches every fifth game (still a pretty lofty expectation for him), his schedule will go like this: vs. Cardinals, vs. Indians, @ Royals, @ Brewers, vs. Brewers, @ Royals, @ Tigers, vs White Sox, vs. Tigers, vs. Indians, @ Cubs, vs. Reds.
There is not a single elite offense on the schedule, and a third of the schedule is against the Royals and Tigers. Even if that’s not exactly how it lines up for Hill, there are no elite offenses on the Twins’ schedule whatsoever, so there is really no way that Hill doesn’t face a very weak group of offenses this year.
If the planets align and Hill stays healthy for 10+ starts, in all likelihood he will a must-start fantasy pitcher.
So how much should you spend? We have a less than 10 week schedule this year, so there are not going to be many opportunities to add free agents. I would be fine giving up half of my FAAB budget for Hill. The upside here is just too much to not go after full throttle.
Jay Bruce (OF – PHI): 3% Rostered
On average, MLB hitters hit a home run every 27 plate appearances. Last year, Jay Bruce hit one every 13 (in just 98 PA’s, mind you) . Over the last two seasons, Bruce has homered once every 19 plate appearances – that’s good for 42nd in the league among qualified hitters.
Now that the National League will be using a DH in 2020, Bruce finds himself primed to get every-day at-bats. If he plays 55 games and homers every 19 times to the dish, he will hit around 13 homers this year. That helps a fantasy team.
How old would you guess Jay Bruce is? Say it out loud. Did you say 35? 36? The guy turned 33 in April. He’s been around so long that people forget he started his career at age 21. He really is not that old by a power hitter’s standards, and there is no reason he can’t provide a relatively large amount of homers and RBI if he does find an every day role in Philadelphia.
How much to spend? You probably don’t need to go too crazy here. I would say 10-20% of the budget is a good enough bid to bring Bruce home.
Kevin Cron (1B – ARI): 6% Rostered
I have a self diagnosed case of Cron’s disease. I have drafted the Cron brothers in all my deep league drafts this year. That means I have a very strong bias towards Kevin’s upside in 2020, but hear me out!
You probably know this by now, but even if you do – it is exhilarating to hear it again. If you haven’t heard this before, have a seat.
Kevin Cron hit 38 home runs and walked 61 times in 377 plate appearances in AAA last year. That’s a home run every 9.9 plate appearances and a 16% walk rate. 26.2% of his plate appearances ended with a walk or a home run.
He struck out 36% of the time, walked just 5% of the time, and hit .211 in his 78 big league plate appearances, but hey – never let the truth ruin a good story.
The fact is, Cron clearly has knack for the walk and the long ball. He has a chance to be a regular fixture in the Diamondbacks lineup as well with them adding the DH for 2020. It wouldn’t be a total shock to see Cron end up with double-digit homers in the big leagues in 2020 – he’s worth a cheap add.
5%-10% of your budget should be more than enough to snag Cron. Grab him and then close your fingers that you see his name in the lineup Opening Day.
Hunter Pence (OF – SFG): 12% Rostered
I probably owe you all an apology for this. I’m sorry to talk about Hunter Pence again, I really am.
However, it seems unjust to ignore what he did last year. The guy hit .297 with 18 home runs in 316 plate appearances with the Rangers last year. He limited the strikeout with a 21.8% strikeout rate and walked at a league average rate of 8%. He was one of the more productive players in the league on a per-plate appearance basis.
That is the end of the positives, however, as Pence now returns to San Francisco for his age 37 season. The Giants lineup is one of the worst in the league and the ballpark is probably last on the list of where you want your hitters swinging the bat (although AT&T Park is much nicer to right-handed hitters than left-handed, and they moved the fences in a bit this offseason).
Pence is unlikely to boost your team to a championship, but he should find every day at-bats and could help your team.
He can be had very cheap, I imagine. I would just throw a few dollars at him and not be dismayed if it’s not enough.
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Jon Anderson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jon, check out his archive and follow him@JonPgh.