Deal has been struck, right? Baseball is the only sport where it announces its start, but no one is sure if it really announced its start. Good ol’ baseball being super stupid as usual. Okay, baseball is set to return on July 1st, and the season will happen, if Covid cooperates. The season won’t look like any baseball season we’ve ever seen before. This year someone will get to 220 at-bats and it will take playing every game of the 60-game season while ducking Covid, which is not “ducking” after Siri autocorrects it; that’s not “ducking” at all. No one says get the duck out of here, Siri, unless you have Daffy problems. Mookie Betts might get 50 runs, and he will lead the major leagues in runs. Cody Bellinger might lead the majors in RBIs with 58 and only score 35 runs. There could be guys who hit at the bottom of their respective lineups, play every day and barely crack ten runs or RBIs. Actually, gonna google real fast if anyone has every played in every game of a baseball season and failed to reach 10 runs or RBIs. Just messin’! I ain’t googling that shizz because obviously it ain’t ever been done. There might be five everyday players in the Tigers’ lineup this year who don’t reach 10 runs or RBIs. You know AP style is to write out numbers one through nine? Well, it is, and we might need to write out numbers in statlines this year. Nike Goodrum: nine/four/nine/.two-fifty-four/three. Ain’t no way around it. I have gone on the record as saying I welcome any baseball this year. Whether it’s 50, 60, or 20 games. Doesn’t matter to me, because I want to see them get out there and play baseball. Give me a month of games; works for me! Just don’t let me see anyone spit! You heathens! This year could be so screwy that MLB start its 60-game season and, due to Covid, end early and we only get 40 games. That’s just what we’re gonna have to deal with this year. Instead of going over all the players who will become DHs in the NL, which I will let stew for a week, I’m going to talk about overall strategy for a 60-game season. All 2020 fantasy baseball rankings have been updated for a 60-game season. So, with a 60-game season, what is a fantasy baseball strategy for runs and RBIs?
1. Lineup placement: Player names mean less this year than any previous year. It will be all about opportunity this year. Do I think Evan White is a better hitter and fantasy asset than J.P. Crawford? Yes, I do. But if Crawford hits leadoff or out of the two-hole for the Mariners, he will be more valuable for runs. If you need RBIs, you need guys somewhere between the three and six hole. You can’t carry guys hitting below that for more than a week in a 60-game season. For counting stats this year, it will be about lineup placement vs. talent. If the M’s decide Kyle Lewis should be the leadoff guy, then he’s more valuable for runs than, say, J.D. Davis, who I obviously like in a vacuum much better. You won’t be chasing talent this year. You will be chasing opportunity. If you need runs and Tom Murphy is hitting third, he’s better than a catcher hitting fifth. This article is old (11 years ago! Haha, we are so old.), but check out Rudy’s article on Lineup Position Impact on Runs and RBIs; it is everything for this year (of course, ignore how the NL and AL are different since we have the universal DH).
2. Lineup composition: Briefly mentioned this in the introduction, lineups that are, how do I say, not good won’t be filled with solid contributors for runs or RBIs. If Cameron Maybin gets the leadoff role for the Tigers, he’s better for runs than, say, Jeimer Candelario or Isaac Paredes in the same lineup. But Cameron Maybin vs. Tim Anderson for runs? The White Sox are just a better lineup. However, if you’re looking at strictly runs, and Cameron Maybin is leading off vs. Luis Robert, who is hitting eighth? Then Cameron Maybin for runs. As I said above, but will say again for emphasis after this sentence intro which is meant for emphasis too, it will be important in a 60-game season to go strictly for categories over player names. With only sixty games in a season, just about everyone is droppable or trade-able. What are we doing about trade deadlines anyway? Guess another question for another day.
3. Ability to get on base is ranked third here for a reason: In a 54 or 60-game season, there won’t be time for hitters to battle their way out of the bottom of the lineup. Not to pick on Luis Robert — I love him, you love him, we all love him — but if he’s hitting 8th, he’s not going to have three months to hit his way into the leadoff spot. If his OBP is .360 and Tim Anderson’s is .310, then maybe over the course of a 162-game season, those things would even themselves out, and maybe Robert would move up in the order, but, in 60 games, Anderson’s .310 OBP is a whole lot more enticing if it’s coming from the top of the order, if you want runs. OBP is nice, but it won’t matter much in a shortened season, when considering runs or RBIs. I’d break my lineup down into sections, figure out who I had for runs and RBIs and make sure I had a good mix of both. If you carry two players for 60 games who are hitting 7th or lower, you’re going to lose both categories.
Summation: These were in order. Just like being on top of the order is important for runs in a shortened-game season, it’s also important to be at the top of this list, i.e., lineup placement is of the utmost importance, way more important than OBP. There won’t be a chance for you to just draft the most talented hitters and hope things figure themselves out over the course of a long season. We will be starting around the same time most trade delays were passing in previous seasons, and players in the top 100 were being dropped. Yes, everyone is on the chopping block. Also, I nearly made the case the most important aspect to runs and RBIs will be to play on good teams. Just looking at the top of the runs producers from last August, it is a list dominated by guys on the best offensive teams. At 18th overall for runs in August last year: Jon Berti on the Marlins is the top runs guy on a weak team. 17 guys above him, but four guys from the Astros; four guys from the Nats; two guys from the Red Sox; two guys from Twins, and sprinkling of other good offensive teams. At 9th overall for August, Bryan Reynolds on the Pirates is a little bit of a head-scratcher, until you see the Pirates were tenth in the league in runs last August, and Reynolds had a top offensive month. Whereas, Jon Berti was the only one in the top 20 who was fueled by steals. In the top 20 for runs, the one most dominant trait is simply being at the top of the order. Top of order bat on a top offensive team? Then you’re a double threat for runs in 60 games. Top of the order on a great team while also being able to get on base? Well, like Taco Bell, that fuels the runs.