2020 Draft Kit

I am not a ranker.

I never put players in an official order before writing at Razzball. Last year, MB asked me to provide flex rankings for football. This year, Donkey Teeth asked me to provide top 100 pitcher rankings for baseball. Now all I do with my life is rank players!

My typical draft prep revolved around locating a targeted set of pitchers throughout the draft, and conversely identifying pitchers I had no interest in. The strategy was to draft as many targets as possible and fill in the cracks where my pitching staff was showing weakness to construct a balanced pitching staff. Though I am providing a top 100 list, it remains of the utmost importance to embrace pitching staff construction over drafting based on raw rankings.

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Last week we covered why you should join a Razzball Commenter League, so this week let’s start covering what to do once you’re in there.  To be honest, this has all been covered somewhere on the site over the years, most often by Rudy. If you haven’t been playing in RCLs though, I could see how some of this has been glossed over, so I’ll try to consolidate some info for the newbies.  Grizzled RCL vets can feel free to skip this and just go sign up for leagues at the end of the post. The switch from ESPN to Fantrax a few seasons ago shook things up a little bit since we added some rule changes when we did so, most notably a 500 move limit.  We also changed from Games Started for pitchers to Innings Pitched. I’ll be frank, I didn’t notice a big change in strategy because of these changes, but feel free to change my mind RCL Vets. We’ll cover this as well as the basics for anyone still timid about jumping in the RCL waters.  

QUICK NOTE: RCL drafts will start going off this coming Sunday.  To avoid leagues drafting with less than 12 managers we’ve decided to just kill any league that doesn’t fill by 5pm EST.  We’re going to try our best to get everything filled, but if you are in a league where someone bails late or it looks like it won’t fill, let us know.  Jump in the comments or let us know on Twitter: @Razzball and/or @MattTruss and we’ll try to work some magic. We didn’t want to ruin someone’s night by waiting until an hour before a 10pm draft to kill it so we’re trying to make the call early in the evening.  Hopefully, this won’t happen often, but help us help you.

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As many of you know, I’m in the NL-Only Tout Wars and LABR, so every year I take part in an industry NL-Only league with the CBS peeps to try to find my footing before I go off this Friday to Florida to take on the heavyweights, and Mike Gianella, who appears to have a healthy BMI. Some might mock, some might mock draft, but this is my draft prep, and am happy to take part in this league. Until about 25 minutes into the draft, and players go for way too much, and I start getting hungry and I just want the whole thing to be over and ermahgerd! But, for those first twenty-five minutes of the five-hour draft, I’m laser focused. For this league, I once again use Rudy’s NL-Only rankings, and his War Room (it’s free with a subscription). I won’t try to get you to buy it anymore. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make the horse put a cape down so I can walk over the water without getting wet. (If you want a shallower league, play against me and hundreds others for prizes –> Razzball Commenter Leagues.)  Anyway, here’s my 12-team NL-Only team and some thoughts:

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Contracts, the lifeblood of Major League Baseball. If you’re good enough, after you put in your time making nothing and riding on buses, the team owns you until you run through the rookie contract. Of course teams want to protect themselves from paying the next Jon Singleton, and this is how contracts end up with options. Some favor the team and others the player. It usually boils down to who has more leverage at the bargaining table.

Vested options are typically put on the back end of contracts, especially for older players. Some of these milestones might mean that a guy pushes through a minor injury. Others may put the club in a position where they prefer a player miss their vested option. The team can control the likelihood of completing the option.

For instance, Wade Davis has a vesting option to finish 30 games this season. Given his performance last year, the Rockies are more likely to find an alternative option should he falter or give him more days in between closing opportunities even if he returns to form.

What does this mean for you in fantasy? It means Scott Oberg, Jairo Diaz, and Carlos Estevez become interesting options at the back end of the draft. Oberg had the best numbers last year, but underlying numbers show he might have been lucky and has lost velocity on the fastball the last 3 seasons. Jairo and Estevez both throw upper 90s with sliders.

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Welcome to the 2020 Razzball Team Previews! (Our “2020” comes with more Jay and less Barbara Walters!) (That joke is probably older than you!) Sorry for all the parentheses and exclamation points, I just get so excited when I think about Barbara Walters, and don’t even get me started on Hugh Downs… Regardless, here, you’ll find everything you need to know about each team to get yourself ready for the upcoming fantasy baseball season, Razz-style. So while you’re stretching your lats and relearning calculus to get that upper hand on your fantasy peers, why not also check out what the World Champion Nationals have in store for you and your fantasy team?


2019 Recap

Final Record: 93-69 (2nd)
Runs Scored: 873 (2nd)
Runs Against: 724 (5th)
SB: 116 (1st)
ERA: 4.27 (8th)
Saves: 40 (9th)
Strikeouts: 1,511 (4th)


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I can’t say it feels like baseball season looking out my window at empty trees and snow-filled streets, but just a few states to the south, human beings are playing the real game (for practice).

One of my favorite traditions as a young fan was Peter Gammons profiling each team’s spring training focus points. 

I loved the spittle and shake of his voice, the depth of his details, and especially how he always shot the segments in front of people playing catch, gloves popping symphonically as Gammons explained how Bill Pulsipher, Paul Wilson, and Jason Isringhausen were going to re-define the New York Mets.

It’s in that spirit that I begin our next prospect series—one that works in concert with Razzball’s Gammonsian team previews and one that involves a few nods to some non-prospects. Graduating from eligibility requirements doesn’t mean you’re a known quantity, nor that you’ve graduated to an everyday opportunity. Yesterday’s failed prospects are often tomorrow’s sleepers, so let’s take a lap around the division looking for some fantasy profit. 

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Spring Training camps are starting to break, and so are bones, ligaments, and the hopes and dreams of early fantasy drafters everywhere.  We’ve got lots of updates on big names here as well as some minor nicks to watch as preseason workouts start to ramp up.

Mike Clevinger – News broke recently that Clevinger underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and is on the shelf for 6-8 weeks.  Meniscus injuries can be tricky and the treatment Clevinger opted for carries a longer up front rehab time, but less risk of injury moving forward. Clevinger’s did suffer another left leg injury last year (ankle sprain), and that didn’t show any effect on his velocity or numbers after his return.  Even with a full recovery, this still knocks Clevinger down from the second round price that early drafters are paying for him. I’d start looking for him towards the later part of the top 100, where guys like Brandon Woodruff, Tyler Glasnow, and Jose Berrios are currently being drafted and hope that you get last year’s stats after a return in late May/early June.

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While it seems so far away, before you know it the 2020 MLB Draft will be here. For us fantasy players, that means some first year player drafts will start happening as well (although you should really wait until the end of the season), and players who many know little about could soon become the future of your dynasty team. Many of you may also be participating in best ball drafts, where some of these guys have the potential to contribute to your team in the next 5 years. The point is, it’s never too early to start looking into the players in the MLB Draft Class. I’m going to talk about a few names that stick out for me, and talk about their fantasy outlook, as well as where they could end up.

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Our fantasy baseball trade analyzer just got a little better as you now have an option of valuing players by their full/rest of season value ($) OR their per game value ($/Game).

I think the $/Game metric is one of our more underrated/underused metrics so I am going to use this post as a primer on its value.

What is the difference between $ and $/Game?

The standard way of valuing fantasy players is based on each player’s projected stats for the full season (or rest of season once the season has started). These stats are converted into a total value. We find auction $ value (based on $260 for all starting players with a 67/33 hit/pitch split) to be the most intuitive scale for displaying player values but other methods like summing z-scores provide similar benefits.

The downside of full/rest of season projections for comparing players is they reflect both projected performance AND playing time. This is fine when comparing players with similar playing time projections but creates issues if playing time is uneven because one of the players is projected for less playing time because of injury, minor league time, unsettled role, etc. A full season value for a player with discounted playing time essentially treats all that missing time as a zero. We know for DL stints or minor league time that we can plug in a replacement and, thus, the full season stats will undervalue the player with discounted playing time.

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In last week’s preview, we covered the Arizona Diamondbacks. For this week, we’re deep-diving to the bottom of the NL West to find the Giants. Many naive San Fran fans will tell you that this is their year since it’s an even year (2020) but that’s a pretty stupid notion if you look at this team. The championship days are certainly a thing of the past and it’s crazy just how far this team has fallen since then.

If you have any comments or questions, reach me here or on Twitter @Bartilottajoel

Also, if you want to see some other team previews or my bust picks, click here!

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