For many of you, the fantasy baseball playoffs are only three short weeks away. It’s crazy to think we’ve already made it this far. We’ve had plenty of highs and lows, plenty of good calls and a few bad, but, overall, this has been a highly successful season if you’ve been following along with me.
My only flaw last week was telling you to stay away from MJ Melendez. He met the tough Mariners’ pitching staff head-on and has had an impressive week thus far. Now, for this upcoming week, we have some very important factors to key in on.
First would be the fact that not a single game is being played at either Coors Field or Great American Ballpark. The two most hitter-friendly parks in baseball. There are also seven teams set to play seven games in week 20. This is big, because it means tons of playing time for your fantasy roster but also for your opponents. Knowing who to focus on is going to be crucial. Let’s get into it.
2023 Fantasy Baseball Week 20 Planner
Matchups To Target
Pittsburgh Pirates: vs STL (3), vs CHC (4)
My favorite lineup for week 20 belongs to the Pirates. They’ve been a bit up and down this year to say the least. Still, they have pieces in their lineup with tons of fantasy upside, especially during a week in which they play seven home games.
Over the course of their last 14 days, the Pirates have hit an impressive 20 home runs. That’s tied for sixth-best in baseball. Their batting average isn’t great, but their .724 OPS is in the top half of the league as well. They’re set to face Liberatore, Wainwright, and Thompson in their Cardinals series. All three are incredibly hittable.
The Pirates then face a Cubs’ pitching staff that has a 5.41 ERA in the month of August. Pittsburgh can get to both of these teams early and often.
Hitters To Target
Peguero has pretty much flown under the radar since being called up, but he deserves some love here. Heading into week 20, he’s proven to have a solid power/speed combo (13 HR, 21 SB in 76 minor league games this year). He can also hit both righties and lefties. In fact, in his small sample size of a season thus far, he’s hitting lefties a bit better than righties.
With multiple lefties on the docket for Pittsburgh this week, expect Peguero and his .263 batting average and .804 OPS vs lefties to thrive.
Hayes came into his third full big league season with a new swing, improved approach at the plate, and power. While his eight home runs on the year may not show it, that power increase has been impressive. In just 88 games, he’s amassed 33 XBH. Just one shy of the number he put up in 134 games in 2022.
Hayes’ OPS has jumped 62 points to .721 and his 92.7 MPH average exit velocity puts him in the 94th percentile. His August has been even more impressive, In 13 games, he has seven XBH, a .934 OPS, and has struck out less than 14% of the time. He’s been on a roll and is starting to become a Yandy Diaz-esque player with slightly more speed. Big week 20 inbound.
Matchups To Target
Oakland Athletics: vs KC (3), @ CWS (4)
The A’s are another team with a seven-game schedule, and, honestly, I never thought they’d make this list of mine. Let’s be honest, Oakland has been a historically bad team this season, but, despite that, they’ve actually found ways to be productive at the plate.
In the second half of the season, they’ve managed the 19th-best OPS, 14th-best wRC+, and 18th-best wOBA. Not necessarily elite, but relevant enough for fantasy baseball. Especially when they face the Royals and White Sox. Kansas City has the 10th-worst ERA in baseball in the month of August at 5.01. Chicago has a slightly better ERA, but their xFIP of 4.76 is the fifth-highest in baseball and shows they’ve been getting incredibly lucky. These are matchups a lineup like Oakland can take advantage of.
Hitters To Target
This is a classic case of “I shouldn’t need to tell you to pick up Gelof, but he’s still rostered in less than 50% of leagues universally, so apparently I do.” I don’t understand it. In the month of August, he’s slashing .370/.424/.728 with an impressive 1.202 OPS. Through 14 games, he’s racked up seven doubles, five home runs, and 10 RBI. He’s also stolen a pair of bases.
Strikeouts have been a problem for Gelof. He’s had 13 in those 14 games, but he makes up for it by making incredibly hard contact. A 92 MPH average exit velocity, 14.5% barrel rate, and a 46.1% hard-hit rate are all great recipes for success and Gelof is making the best of it. He’s becoming as much of a “sure thing” as you can find at the second base position these days.
One of the guys from my “must-have” players article before the season, Brown is finally coming around. It’s been a long time coming, as injuries derailed the majority of his season early on, but he’s been excellent as of late.
Brown was always a solid power-hitting option but was very swing-and-miss. In August he took steps to change that. He’s dropped his strikeout rate to just 14.9%, jumped his zone contact rate to 91.2%, and overall contact rate to 83.5%, and saw his batting average increase to .273. The power dipped, but after 20 and 25 home runs in years prior that will come back around. This feels like the week he puts it all together.
Matchup To Avoid
Milwaukee Brewers: vs MIN (2), vs SDP (3)
The only team playing five games this week takes their rightful spot on the avoid list. They’ve been good as of late, scoring the 10th most runs in August (72), but they’ve still had their struggles.
As a team, the Brewers are hitting just .224 with a .660 OPS. Not great for a team set to face two of baseball’s better pitching staffs in a short week. San Diego and Houston sport the fifth and ninth lowest ERA in baseball. And despite missing Joe Ryan, the Twins still have the best Pitching+ in baseball at 104. Fading the Brewers is likely to end up being a very beneficial move.
First of all, I have absolutely loved Wiemer in fantasy baseball this season. He’s made my weekly waiver wire article three times already if memory serves me correct. This isn’t going to be the fourth week, though.
In August, Wiemer is batting a respectable .276 but he has just one XBH in 10 games, no stolen bases and a strikeout rate just shy of 36%. Not exactly the output you hope from a guy with good power/speed measurables. I’m sure he’ll come around in the upcoming weeks, but a five game week against some of the leagues best pitching doesn’t bode well for the Brewers youngster.
Another player I’ve absolutely loved this year is Adames. Coming into this season. I had him as a top-11 SS. He’s flashed his elite power (36 XBH), but, as of late, it seems to have disappeared.
In August, Adames is slashing .182/.280/.295 with just three XBH and three RBI. He has been known to be very hot and cold, but this is shaping up to be his third month hitting below the Mendoza line. The power always made up for the low average, but if the power is going to disappear, Adames becomes a big time fade for week 20.