2020 Draft Recap: Round 4 (Fantasy Baseball)
We are back to review the fourth round of the average 2020 fantasy baseball draft and see what we can learn from it. Check out the first three rounds of write-ups at these links.
4.1 Charlie Blackmon (OF – COL)
It was a strange 2020 season for Blackmon, as he came out as the hottest hitter in the league by hitting .395/.440/.553 in his first 30 games, but then he sputtered to the finish line by hitting .206/.270/.336 for the final 30 contests. His final line still made him a very useful fantasy hitter with a .303 batting average while scoring and driving in runs at a strong pace. However, very few steals are left in his game, and the power numbers are no longer trustworthy. He also did not look like a terrific hitter by the batted-ball metrics in 2020, posting a near career-worst 29.7% hard-hit rate and a career-high 10.5% swinging-strike rate. All of this made him fine for 2020 but pretty unexciting for 2021.
4.2 Xander Bogaerts (SS – BOS)
Bogaerts was the only Red Sox hitter that didn’t disappoint fantasy managers in 2020. He posted another strong batting average (.300) while maintaining his strong power numbers (eleven homers) and steals (eight steals). With a career .289 batting average, he is a great bet to contribute in that arena. What there may be less of moving forward is the runs and RBI that he has been so awesome in so far in his career. The Red Sox are far from the offensive juggernaut they used to be with Mookie Betts gone and J.D. Martinez trending downwards. It was a strong 2020 season for Bogaerts, and he should be an excellent but not elite option in 2021.
4.3 Javier Baez (SS – CHC)
It’s possible that Baez was the most disappointing fantasy player in the entire league. It was just a disaster season for the Cubs shortstop, as he hit just .203 with a .238 on-base percentage. He hit only eight homers in 59 games and stole just three bases. He was utterly unusable, but fantasy managers surely started him every day hoping for the resurgence. All of that was on the back of a career-low 3.0% walk rate and a career-high 31.9% strikeout rate. Everything about the season was incredibly discouraging and his draft stock plummeting for 2021 is justified.
4.4 Clayton Kershaw (SP – LAD)
Kershaw took advantage of the sprint season, looking like his old self with a 2.16 ERA, a 0.84 WHIP, and a 28% strikeout rate. Everything came together for him and he was one of the best fantasy pitchers on the board. There are fair questions about if he can repeat all that over a 162-game season in 2021, but it is encouraging to see that Kershaw still has that ceiling. He is still probably not quite an SP1 contender, but there is no reason to think he won’t be great when on the mound moving forward.
4.5 Patrick Corbin (SP – WSH)
Corbin had been an enigma, posting ace-worthy numbers while not having much of a fastball and relying heavily on his slider. Everything crashed down for him in 2020 with a 4.66 ERA, a 1.57 WHIP, and a huge decline in strikeout rate to 20.3%. While his 402 innings from 2018-2019 certainly deserve more weight than the 66 innings in 2020, it is hard not to significantly downgrade Corbin after last season. The lack of a diverse arsenal seemed to always loom over him, making bad seasons like this possible. Time will tell if Corbin can bounce back, but we can definitely say it was a nightmare 2020 season for the lefty.
4.6 Ozzie Albies (2B – ATL)
The young second baseman played just 29 games in 2020 due to injury, so it was tough to really judge him. He was an outstanding fantasy player in that short sample, with six homers and three steals. He has a massive ceiling with his power/speed combination. He profiles to be a strong batting average hitter and moves forward with his superior speed and strong contact abilities.
4.7 Yordan Alvarez (DH – HOU)
Alvarez’s 2020 season was derailed by injury, as he managed to play in just two games. This leaves him as a real question for 2021. Everything in his past suggests that he will mash when he’s in the batter’s box, but his knee issues just won’t seem to go away, so games played projections should be tempered.
4.8 Mike Clevinger (SP – CLE)
We won’t be seeing Clevinger in 2021 after his Tommy John surgery in the fall, so there is not much reason to even look at his 41.2 innings in 2020. He was just fine in those innings (3.02 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) but did lose some of the strikeout ability (24.7%). This, of course, was along with battling injury issues, so we should pretty much write-off 2020 and see how Clevinger looks when spring 2022 rolls around.
4.9 Blake Snell (SP – TBR)
The Rays really kept a tight leash on Snell in 2020 after a slow spring due to some elbow discomfort. It took him until his fifth start to break the 90 pitch mark, and by that time, his season was half over. This really crushed his fantasy value, but the encouraging part was how good he was in his 50 innings. He posted a 3.24 ERA, a 31% strikeout rate, and another good enough 8.9% walk rate. Getting through the full season without another elbow issue was also a huge plus. Now he finds himself in San Diego, where he should be expected to pitch very well and continue to rack up strikeouts as long as he can stay on the field.
4.10 Luis Castillo (SP – CIN)
Castillo’s improvement continued in 2020, as he put up career-bests in ERA (3.21) and strikeout rate (30.5%) while posting an incredibly high 58.4% ground-ball rate. The sky is the limit for Castillo with his amazing mix of pitches, and he crushed his draft value in 2020 even while taking a backseat to his teammate Trevor Bauer.
The only players that will see their draft stock improve in 2021 from this round are Kershaw, Castillo, and maybe Snell and Albies. It was another pretty disappointing round, although that was mainly due to injuries rather than lack of performance. There were no real league-winning players here, but it does really emphasize how important it is to avoid injuries with the pitchers you draft. I doubt many managers that drafted Snell, Corbin, or Clevinger had great seasons. These weren’t shocking injuries either, as Snell and Clevinger both had issues in the preseason that should’ve alerted fantasy players to some risk. Those who took the risk got bit. A potentially smart move would be to go right back to the well on these guys, taking advantage of their depressed draft prices after the disappointing 2020 season.
Whether you’re new to fantasy baseball or a seasoned pro, our Fantasy Baseball 101: Strategy Tips & Advice page is for you. You can get started with our Sabermetrics Glossary or head to a more advanced strategy – like How to Make Custom Fantasy Baseball Rankings with Microsoft Excel – to learn more.