Much has already been pontificated (so many years I’ve waited to use the word ‘pontificate’!) in terms of what lay before us as both baseball fans and fantasy baseball players. And all of this pontification (2-for-1!) can be culminated (or stirred) into one simple question: What can we expect in just 60 games? Now, I’d be remiss for not mentioning that we are in the midst of another spike of the first wave of the Miller Lite Corona virus, and the increasing dangers in both the Arizona and Florida areas is making this whole Manfred fantasy complicated, and then of course the player opt-outs, the chance we won’t even be able to complete the season from a many number of factors… you could say that we are practicing folly by pushing forward. Like that one girl I dated in college. That being said, if baseball does become more reality than fantasy, it’ll be one of the most unique moments contextually speaking. I mean, I don’t think a 60-game season compares to sliced bread, but that’s just me, a toast-lover. So while Joseph Gordon Levitt had 500 days to woo everyone’s favorite manic pixie girl Zooey Summer, we’re going to have only 60 days to un-woo COVID, all while trying to experience America’s favorite pastime as safely and carefully as possible. What could go wrong?
Bryan Reynolds – Yeah yeah, I get it. The Pirates are a dumpster fire, and being a Padres fan, I can be considered an expert witness in terms of fires and whether or not they are in dumpsters. And yes, I know that Reynolds does not and never had any blue-chip status attached to him as a prospect. But he’s a hitter, a good hitter, and I like that. Why do I like that? Well, in a shortened season, it would make sense that to maximize a shortened season, you’d want hitters that maximize every at-bat. While I eat and steal the communal wine at the alter of advanced stats, now is not the time my friends. No. What we want are guys who put the ball into play as many times as they can, with as much stat coverage as you can find. Enter Reynolds, who’s never hit under .300 at any stage in his career, you add in some power, some runs, heck, even a healthy amount of RBIs, and you have a 60-game anchor. He doesn’t offer you one great thing, but not hurting you anywhere while adding a little upside, seems like a perfect roster anchor for 60 games to me.
Tim Anderson – While most would probably want to talk about Yoán Moncada, I’m liking Anderson as my Yin to Reynolds Yang. And while you might get flashbacks of math jokes and UBI, I’d prefer to focus on the fact that Anderson does everything for you that Reynolds does, but with more speed, more power, and more risk. The safe pick vs. the risky one. This is the only season you’ll see me say this, but I just love his abnormally high BABIP last season of .406, and with a career BABIP of .369, he’s no stranger to putting the ball into play. Now, the BB% going from 12.6-10.3-7.2 in three years is concerning, as is the perpetually high K%, but he contributes so much, and with an ISO and GB% going in all right direction in the same time frame, he might just be an offensive force, and I’m all in.
Austin Meadows – Coming off a massive breakout year, you’d be forgiven for thinking Meadows still represents a risky gamble. Injuries have plagued his short career thus far, constraining his potential in parts. And while there isn’t much more growth possible, we’ve seen both stretches (hitting ~350 and 12 home runs in under 40 games for the Pirates) that are great, and then not so great ones (hitting ~215 with an OPS of 600 in June of that same year). But irregardless, most projection models see Meadows as a stable source of, well, everything. True, his average may not bring much value, but if you’re sensing a trending, you’re noticing players that give you a bit of everything, but with variables that might help during a shortened season. In a true sign of the times, yes, there’s quite obviously risk inherited with a player who can be quite streaky, everyone knows that. What this blurb presupposes is… maybe it’s worth it?
Corey Seager – As I’ve mentioned previously, when the first wave of the first wave of COVID was happening, you know, the wave that we’re still enjoying, injured players would be one of the few categories that would show added-value during a shortened season. Well, here we are, and coming off both elbow and hip surgeries from last season, I can’t think of a better shortstop at a position where everyone is focused on the names at the top. His 2019 39.2% fly ball rate and average launch angle of 14-degrees were career highs, and his raw slash of 19/82/87 could see a bit of a renaissance if healthy. Keep in mind that Seager’s 2017 shoulder injury crippled his OPS from 0.917 to 0.644 and may have added to some restraints in terms of normal growth talent-wise. And while I don’t put much stock into Sprint Training, it’s certainly not bad news that he was hitting a triple slash of 385/448/577 in 29 plate appearances. Small sample size too, yadda yadda yadda, but keep in mind, you come strong out of the gate this year, half the season is already done. So whether by trade, some strange single-season reset mechanics your league might use, or just plain magic, I’d be targeting this shortstop in all my leagues. Unless, you know, you’re Fancisco Lindor’s mom or something.
While these aren’t the only players to target this upcoming 60-game season, those names should chart a map of who I’m personally targeting as I ramp up for the season. I should have made a cartography joke. And if you’re looking for pitchers under the same criteria, I’ll be reviewing some them in my next post. And as we move closer to this strange baseball experiment, lets all remember to stay safe and continue to practice CDC recommended guidelines of social distancing and wearing masks. We’re in this together!
Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell. You can follow him @jaywrong, or read his rarely (like never) updated blog Desultory Thoughts of a Longfellow.