Welcome to the re RE started 2020 Summer Camp preseason Top 100. It’s Corona’s world and we’re all just living in it. To wit: There is no specific time period for the Covid-19 IL. Two weeks? A month? Considering it takes two negative tests to come back, and even still medical science has more questions than answers, a positive test could turn the #1 pick into a non factor for your team. In an eight or nine week season, two weeks or more on the shelf is devastating. With that in mind, and Rudy’s alchemy, we’ve got some surprises. Keep in mind health and the Universal DH play a huge role, along with divisional changes.

With that said, once again it’s seamhead heaven, boys of summer katnip, and time to put away the hot stove. Of course we’re picking up our junior health care specialist kits, but I digress. Summer camp baseball has just started. Beer is flowing from Fenway Park to Anaheim Stadium and lazy afternoons at your house, or if you’re lucky your deck, are in vogue.

Finally, let’s be honest, no one truly knows what’s going to happen. So here’s the new pre-season Top 100.”Last” is tracking where the hitters were in the last Top 100 of March of 2020. “Change” is a change from that last 2020 ranking.

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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?

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I’ve got to be honest, I’m not even that excited for the 2020 fantasy baseball season. It almost feels dirty to actually say that. I started playing fantasy baseball back in 1990. For those not so quick with that math, this would be my 30th year playing this great game. So why am I not pumped for the start of the season. Well, I think it’s mostly hesitation. I just do not believe that we will actually see a full season. And by “full season” I mean sixty games. How long is it going to be until a couple of players test positive and things get shut down? I wonder if a player would rather test positive for PEDs or Coronavirus? I asked my buddy if he’d rather have Coronavirus or Syphilis. Any guesses how he answered? He chose Coronavirus because it would be easier to explain to his wife. We are already facing an extremely shorted season, any interruptions would exponentially compound the problem.

A shortened season is much less disruptive to the roto format, but when it comes to head-to-head points leagues, a nine week season practically cripples the season. In roto it’s just less time to accrue stats, but in a 12-team head-to-head league, you’ll play each team once, and some twice if you have two opponents each week. If you play one team each week you won’t even play every team in the league over those nine weeks. And what about playoffs? Why does Jim Mora’s reaction to the topic of playoffs immediately come to mind? For every week of playoffs that’s one less week of regular season. Can playoffs even be afforded? Do you just award the championship to the team that finishes the regular season in first place? I can see it already, the team that finishes first will be the team that got to play the shitty team twice. Can you blame the second place team for feeling slighted?

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What’s up party people. We’ve been through some things, haven’t we? Not sure how this year’s July 4th BBQ will go down with social distancing, but could work out a bit in your favor. No one will be able to stand close enough to the grill to criticize your sear technique. That’s gotta count for something! Back at the end of February in the before times of the long-long ago, I gave you my pre-Spring Training first look at the Top 75 Outfielders for 2020. The world has since been torn asunder and we weren’t sure there was going to be any baseball season, let alone civilization. We screwed up the chocolate factory and the whole thing had to be washed and sterilized. Then so shines a good deed in a weary world. We had a wonderful debate between owners and players about how to fund this season, for those who took a nap (or 80 in between), allow me to recap it for you:

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Oh hello, Razzball reader. How’s the view from your bunker? I have to say I chose an excellent shade of cement-gray, myself. My HAM radio tells me we’re expecting some baseball soon. Hope the hazmat suits they’re surely wearing don’t affect overall athleticism. Joking aside, this is an entirely different baseball landscape. The NL has added the DH. Extra innings will see a runner start on second base. Teams have admitted they aren’t really sure how they’ll get through nine innings of pitching. That opens up two interesting angles for us creative thinkers. Wins are going to be very random and shift to a large amount relievers. So you save chasers are going to be in a great position for win chasing. Get your WAGNOF on. Also, NL players that may not have seen as many at-bats obviously just got a boost. Not only the poor-fielding power hitters but their slick-fielding compliments that now get into the lineup more often. Let’s tackle it all.

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Who could be this year’s Chris Sale or Brandon Finnegan? Those two made their Major League debuts in the same year in which they were drafted: 2010 for Sale, 2014 for Finnegan. Sure, both of those players got their feet wet via abbreviated action in the Minors, but “feet wet” might be an overstatement. If anything, their spikes got a little damp, then dried off by the time they arrived in the realm of the AL Central. Sale made just 11 Minor League appearances for a grand total of 10 1/3 innings pitched, while Finnegan bested him with 13 appearances and 27 frames. 2020 draftees won’t have the same opportunity to prove themselves against MiLB talent, but they’ve also been gifted with the uniqueness of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, which opens the door for all sorts of insanity and unprecedented strategies from MLB brass.

Therefore, we have to call it a wash. If all goes according to plan and we do indeed get a 60-game season, 2020 is going to be super weird. As a result of that, I’m not the first person to openly predict we will see a 2020 draftee appear in the Bigs this year and I certainly won’t be the last. My expectation is that we will see one-to-two recently drafted players appear in the MLB this season. Although I can’t say with certainty who exactly that will be, I can attempt to do so using the information that’s out there. That’s precisely what I’ll be breaking down in this post by providing you with a list of pitchers who have an outside chance to contribute actual fantasy value in your league this year, ranked from the most likely to the least likely.

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When assessing starting pitchers, savvy fantasy players look at a wide variety of measures. Velocity, stuff, BABIP, Statcast, 2019 performance…balancing out all of the available metrics to determine cost (draft slot, $ value) is the name of the game.

Today we’re going to look at a metric I rarely see discussed in the pre-season: strength of schedule (SoS). In-season, SP matchups are gold, whether you’re playing DFS or streaming in season-long. But before the year, I rarely see analysis go any deeper than AL-vs.-NL comparisons. This makes partial sense because we don’t know what a rotation will look like beyond the next week, making projecting out specific matchups impossible.

At the team level, however, we can get get a pretty good handle on who may have advantageous matchups and who will have a tough road in front of them. More specifically, we’re interested in the extremes: How frequently will each team face really tough matchups, or really easy ones? These are actionable (start/sit decisions). For the rest – the fat part of the bell curve – we’ll mostly be making decisions based on individual SP talent, not matchup.

One other note: in a 60-game season, each SP only gets 10-12 starts, meaning SoS will be more important than normal. In a reduced season, there isn’t time for the schedule to balance out. If a Rays pitcher has to face the Yankees three times, that’s 25-30% of their 2020 season stats, and you may want to downgrade them on draft day.

I’m basing this analysis on the proposed breakdown of the 60-game schedule found on MLB.com:

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So we’re gonna have a season, maybe, hopefully…..who knows.  But we need to be prepping like there’s going to be one.  So let’s take a look at some of the specifics that have come down from MLB with the new plan for the season and how it should effect how you handle injuries/Covid related issues going into the year.

First off, the rules.  MLB released a list of precautions when they and the players’ union approved the deal for the 60 game season.  Testing is the biggest thing we need to keep an eye on.  Everyone’s getting tested for active Covid-19 as well as antibodies upon reporting to Spring Training 2.0.  They will not be cleared for work until they tests negative for Covid (we’ll come back to this).  In season, players will undergo multiple “symptom tests” per day (temp checks and “how are you feeling” questionnaires).  They will also be tested every other day.

So what happens if someone tests positive?  Well, each team has to put in place their own Covid handling program that meets certain minimum requirements.  The biggest thing though is that, in order to be cleared to play, a player must test negative twice within a 24 hour period and show now symptoms for 72 hours.  This is a big deal.  There’s no real rhyme or reason for how long Covid stays in your system, but even asymptomatic cases seem to last a minimum of 14 days.  I looked into some prominent cases that took place over in Europe when Covid hit some of their soccer leagues: Callum Hudson-Odoi, a winger for Chelsea tested positive for Coronavirus at the beginning of March.  He wasn’t able to test negative until the beginning of May, despite showing few symptoms.  Paolo Dybala, who plays for Juventus, tested positive in mid-March and was asymptomatic.  He wasn’t cleared until almost the end of May.  Suffice to say, it’s going to be case by case when it comes to each one of these testing scenarios, but I think it would be wise to treat a positive test like a month long or more injury when trying to evaluate how to handle your roster.

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I tried to open my eyes, but the sun was beaming death rays directly into my pupils. It was hot and sticky, like September in NYC hot and sticky. Yuck. My head was groggy and my body was aching. With my eyes no longer melting, I was able to survey the land. Trees. Lots of trees. Mud, bushes. What the hell had happened to me? Just as the synapses in my brain were starting to fire, I began to hear something in the distance. Boom da da. Boom da da. Boom da da. I reluctantly rose from the ashes and set forth towards the drum beat. I was thirsty as hell. Hopefully, there was water. Lots of water there, as nothing would be more satisfying and refreshing. After trekking for what seemed like days, which was in actuality more like 10 minutes, the Boom da da, Boom da da, Boom da da turned into BOOM DA DA, BOOM DA DA, BOOM DA DA. I had arrived. My thoughts of water all but dissipated, as the discovery of Niko Goodrum, a 15/15 player during a normal season at pick 239 in NFBC drafts, quenched the thirst for all facets of my life.

Goodrum is 28 years old, 6′ 3″, 218 pounds, and bats from both sides of the plate. He was selected by the Minnesota Twins back in 2010 with the 71st overall pick. In eight minor league seasons in the Twins organization, Goodrum produced a .250/.333/.379 slash with 42 homers and 122 stolen bases in 2796 plate appearances. The walk rate was routinely above 10% while the strikeout rate was in a palatable range of 25%.

In 2017, Goodrum elected free agency and signed a minor league contract with the Detroit Tigers. He made the opening day roster and became the super-utility player for the major league club, playing all four infield positions along with the corner outfiield spots. His two seasons with the Tigers had been remarkably consistent.

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Awwwwwww yeah!! Baseball is on like Donkey Kong! Real talk, I was really pessimistic once we got through May with no plan in place. But here we are, with baseball on the horizon. It’s a summer miracle. Back in the day, before all this nonsense started up, I was focused on winning your head-to-head categories leagues. I promise we’ll get back there, but first I want to discuss logical options of how to alter your head-to-head categories leagues to adjust to the shortened season. With the altered schedule, it looks like we’re going to have 10 weeks of regular season baseball. In most of my head-to-head leagues, the playoffs last between 4-6 weeks, which means we’d have 4-6 weeks for the regular season. That’s not enough weeks to face all of your opponents and certainly not enough time to establish fair records for playoff seeding. So, just like when I tried to fit into my 10-year old suit, alterations need to be made – major alterations. Let’s take a look at a couple of options to keep your head-to-head categories leagues both fun and competitive.

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