2020 Draft Recap: Round 5 (Fantasy Baseball)
5.1 George Springer (OF – HOU)
Springer was one of the few Astros hitters who did not have a really disappointing season in 2020. He posted one of his lower career batting averages but still finished with a strong .265/.359/.540 slash line, hitting 14 homers in just 51 games. That makes him one of the most impressive power hitters in the game over the last two years, as he has hit 53 homers in just 173 games. While any hopes of him stealing bases at a high rate again are probably gone (he stole just one in 2020 and now has only 18 in the last four seasons), he continues to be very productive at the plate. His 2021 stock will be influenced by which team he ends up with, as he is currently still testing the free-agent waters. It was just another strong season at the dish for Springer, and more great power production should be expected.
5.2 Ketel Marte (2B/OF – ARI)
The Diamondbacks utility man was one of the most valuable fantasy hitters in 2019, hitting 32 homers with a .329 batting average. It was pretty obvious that he would decline in 2020 just because of how outrageously good that season was, but Marte was all-in-all a disappointment. He maintained a strong batting average at .287, but it was a far cry from 2019. The real surprising thing was the power completely disappearing. He hit just two homers in 45 games. He also did not run when he was getting on base (one steal). His contact skills improved (10.8% strikeout rate), but his walk rate plummeted to 3.6%. Weird stuff from Marte. Regardless of how you feel about him for 2021, he was a for sure disappointment in 2020.
5.3 Aaron Judge (OF – NYY)
Judge had a real Judge-like season in 2020, absolutely murdering the ball when in the box but playing less than half his team’s games. He hit nine homers in 28 games, which is a ridiculous 52 homer pace. His batting average (.257) and on-base percentage (.336) both did drop from his career numbers, but his slugging percentage was right on pace (.554). Judge remains who he has always been, a guy that will hit tons of homers and rack up the counting stats while he is on the field, but will probably not help you in batting average and will likely miss time to injury.
5.4 Kris Bryant (3B/OF – CHC)
Another year removed from his MVP season, and things just got even worse for Kris Bryant. He slashed a career-low .206/.293/.351 and hit just four homers in his 34 games. That is not the season the Cubs were hoping for, and it leaves little optimism for Bryant’s future. It was another disappointing season for Bryant and the Cubs as a whole, and I think we’ll see Bryant with his lowest ADP since emerging into the league in 2021.
5.5 Austin Meadows (OF – TBR)
Injuries derailed 2020 for Meadows, as he played just 36 games. He was pretty awful in those games, hitting just .205/.296/.371 with four homers and two steals. This was coming off a huge breakout season in 2019 in which he hit 33 homers, stole 12 bases, and hit for a strong batting average at .291. Meadows was a risky pick in the fifth round given his lack of a long track record, but he really let his drafters down in 2020.
5.6 Adalberto Mondesi (SS – KC)
The most polarizing player in fantasy baseball was, well, polarizing in 2020. In his first 28 games, he hit for a .220 average, hitting no home runs and stealing six bases. Then something changed, and he went nuclear in his next 31 games, hitting .286 with six homers and 18 steals. This made him a pretty great fantasy player in the 2020 sprint season, as he really bolstered you in homers and steals while not even hurting you that bad in batting average. Heap on some more of that polarization for 2021, but it was a strong season for Mondesi in 2020.
5.7 Aaron Nola (SP – PHI)
Nola was one of the best pitchers in the league in 2020, making some changes to his arsenal that led to a career-high 33.2% strikeout rate while posting a 3.28 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. This was a resurgence for Nola after his 2019 season left a lot to be desired (3.87 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 26.9% strikeout rate). His 2020 ADP may well have been the cheapest we’ll ever see again, as Nola appears to be primed for a handful of really great years ahead.
5.8 Whit Merrifield (2B – KC)
Merrifield’s draft stock came down a bit in 2020 after his stolen base rate had been declining for a few years, but he really went to work on that and everything else. He slashed .282/.325/.440 with nine homers and 12 steals in 60 games, good for a near 30/30 pace. Very few hitters can match that production. While he still doesn’t come off as a very sexy pick, his 2020 season should give fantasy players reason to keep him high on their ranks for 2021.
5.9 Zack Greinke (SP – ARI)
While the rest of the Astros were doing all kinds of weird, different things in 2020, Greinke just kept being himself. He posted a 24.5% strikeout rate and an elite 3.3% walk rate with a 1.13 WHIP, all of those numbers were actually improvements from his recent form. He did have some bad luck that led to a 4.03 ERA, but all-in-all it was an excellent season from Greinke, especially given how far he fell in drafts due to fears about his age.
5.10 Charlie Morton (SP – TBR)
It took until the playoffs for Morton to really get cooking, so we were left with a better taste in our mouths about Morton’s season than we should have. In his 38 regular-season innings, he posted an awful 4.74 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP and a 24.7% strikeout rate, his lowest number since before his resurgence with the Astros. He really hurt fantasy managers who drafted him as their second or third starter, and there are very reasonable questions about how high his ceiling is heading into his age-37 season with the Braves.
It was just another round of disappointment. Only six of these ten players played a full season, and only Mondesi, Nola, and Merrifield significantly beat their draft value for fantasy purposes. This group of players gives us a lot of reason to just write off the 2020 season altogether, as clearly the weird lead-up to the season caused some elevated injury risk that a lot of top players fell victim to. If you made it out of the first five rounds without a couple of big-time disappointments, you were fortunate and probably won your league because the top fifty players were all-in-all a disaster in 2020.
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