When Donkey Teeth asked me to take some of the team previews I let him know that I would take a bunch of the bottom of the barrel teams that no one else with pride or self-respect would want to write about. Yea, there’s a lot of sex appeal and glory writing about the Yankees, Astros, and Dodgers — but only the truly down-and-dirty fantasy writers will try to find fantasy relevance on the Tigers and Orioles! Turns out — there’s actually a few slightly dim — but still moderately bright fantasy spots on the Tigers.
2019 Recap: 47-114 (.292) – last in the AL Central, last in the AL, last in the MLB.
2020 FanDuel win total prediction: 57.5. Second to last! Progress!
2019 Team’s Best Hitter: Niko Goodrum: 423 AB/61 R/12 HR/45 RBI/12 SB/.248 AVG
2019 Team’s Best Pitcher: Matthew Boyd: 185.1 IP/9 W/4.56 ERA/1.23 WHIP/238 K
- C.J. Cron: Cron has always been someone I’ve kept an eye on in the later rounds of drafts due to the 6’4” lumberjack’s power potential. Unfortunately, it always seemed like he was in a timeshare or injured and was never worth the full investment. In 2018 he finally reached 500+ ABs and hit 30 HRs and he would’ve hit 30 in 2019 if it weren’t for — you guessed it — injuries! Well for 2020 it looks like at least there will be no timeshare after he was signed by the Tigers on a one-year contract right before Christmas since there are no real 1B-eligible threats behind him. The injury concern is always there — and he’s actually recovering from right thumb surgery already this off-season. Cron posted his highest hard-contact rate and lowest soft-contract rate of his career in 2019 leading to a career-high average exit velocity. His barrel percentage (15%) was actually 7th best in the league last year. Cron still only just turned 30 and with no timeshare, I think these figures are repeatable and, with health, we could be looking at 35-40 HRs.
- Jonathan Schoop: 2017 was a banner year in the Schoop household with a 92/32/105/.293 line. This led to him in 2018 becoming one of the biggest draft busts: 61/21/61/.233 with the Orioles and Brewers. In 2019 he signed a 1-year deal with Twins in an attempt to avoid having to head to Korea to continue his career. I guess he did enough (61/23/59/.256) to garner another 1-year contract with the Korean-league equivalent Detroit Tigers. Here’s the interesting thing about Schoop’s batted ball profile from 2017 to 2019 — it remained relatively unchanged. His line drive, ground ball and fly ball percentages were less than 5% difference between the years and his walk and k-rates were still the same levels of awful. One of the measurable differences he saw was in his hard-contact rate. In his golden 2017 it was at 36.1% and dropped to 27.8% in 2018 only to rebound in 2019 at 38.7%. With an extra 120 or so ABs last year Schoop could’ve reasonably reached 30 HRs again. He’s only going to be 28 in 2020, he’s healthy and another year removed from his disastrous 2018 — I think 30 HRs at second-base and at an ADP of 356 — there’s sleeper potential here.
- Niko Goodrum: I love drafting Niko Goodrum as one of the last guys in my league due to that sweet, sweet position eligibility. Rain postponement? There’s Goodrum. Rest day? There’s Goodrum. Paternity issues? There’s Goodrum! He ended 2019 with 1B, 2B, SS and OF eligibility and starts 2020 with all that minus the 1B (only 18 games played.) Goodrum is penciled-in to bat 2nd for the Tigers in front of Miggy, Cron, Christin Stewart, and Schoop. His walk rate has improved each season he’s been in the league. If that trend continues there’s 70 run potential here and Goodrum missed out on a potential 15/15 season due to a late-season groin injury. A line of 70/15/50/15/.255 is really not bad for someone with a 347 ADP right now over at FantasyPros especially with the ability to play any position.
- Christin Stewart: Stewart likely isn’t going to be drafted in your league barring a spring training explosion — but he’s definitely someone I’m going to be keeping an eye on in deep leagues and AL-only leagues. I know many people will be scared off by his .233 average and 24.8% K/rate in 2019 — but 2019 was his first full season in the big leagues. In the minors his K/rate was something you saw falling. In 2016 it was around 26% in AA, which fell to 24.9% in 2017 and fell even further to 20.7% in 2018 when he reached AAA. I’m willing to take a chance on a young guy grinding and figuring it out in his sophomore season — especially if they averaged around 28 HRs a year in the minors — again only in the deepest of deep leagues though.
- Matthew Boyd: Easily one of the top breakout pitchers of 2019 – Boyd should’ve ended up with at least 1 Cy Young vote and also should’ve probably ended up on a competitive team — but that could change this year. Here’s the good: K’s for days! Boyd finished 6th in the league in K/9 ahead of guys like Jacob deGrom, Charlie Morton, Stephen Strasburg, and Trevor Bauer — pitchers who had ADP’s 100s of picks earlier than Boyd. Also good: his 4.32 FIP was lower than his 4.56 ERA. Here’s the bad: in the second half his ERA exploded. Don’t know if people started figuring him out — or if he was tiring out — but a 3.87 ERA in the first-half vs. a 5.51 in the second had many of those competitors glad that they didn’t trade for him. Here’s the other HUGE bad: his HR/9 was worst in the league. Worst! Worse than Mike Leake, worse than Jakob Junis — okay you get it — worst in the league means I can say any name and he was worse than them. Worse than Ubaldo Jimenez! Did you go look to see if Ubaldo was somehow still in the league? Here’s the good news — you can be a great pitcher who lets up HRs and hard-hit fly balls. Look at the guy who had a higher fly ball percentage than Boyd in 2019: Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander. Here’s the crazy thing — Verlander actually let up more hard contact than Boyd. So this isn’t a complete death sentence. But Boyd doesn’t exactly have the Hall of Fame stuff that Verlander does so there’s a smaller margin for error. All I’m trying to say is, be careful with where you draft Boyd. If he’s your #1? Yikes. If he’s your #2 or #3 — that’s better. Also, keep in mind that Boyd is going to get traded in 2020. He’s in the last year of his contract and the TIgers have no reason to hang on to him because they aren’t going to be competitive for a few more seasons. What if he winds up in a hitter’s park? Boyd would you look foolish.
- Spencer Turnbull: Turnbull actually was on a similar track to Boyd last year — great first half (3.31 ERA in 89.2 IP) — awful second (6.60 ERA in 58.2 IP.) Unlike Boyd however — Turnbull is fantastic at keeping the ball on the ground (48.3 GB%.) And while I don’t love the 9% BB/rate if he can get that under control and improve slightly on his 22.3% K/rate — he could be a solid 5th or 6th starter on your fantasy rotation. His minor league profile worries me that this is all he is though.
427.1 minor league innings: 3.5 BB/9 and an 8.6 K/9.
164.2 major league innings: 3.4 BB/9 with an 8.8 K/9.
It’s time for Spencer to turn into a bull — or remain a steer.
- Joe Jimenez: Why does every profile picture of Joe Jimenez look like he has white eye shadow on? Is it for maximum intimidation? In the minors, Jimenez looked every bit the part of the next great closer. How great? How about a 1.56 ERA with 241 K’s in 167 innings great? That do anything for ya? He debuted in 2017 with a 12.32 ERA in 19 IP. GULP! He kinda rebounded (it’s impossible not to rebound from a 12+ ERA) with a 4.31 ERA in 2018 and a 4.37 ERA in 2019. So what can we expect from Jimenez in 2020? I guess an ERA over 4 again. But no more than 15-20 saves on this team. There is obvious potential in Jimenez — but you have to squint realllllyy hard to see it at this point.