Hello, again. It’s nice to be back in the saddle, writing up some fantasy baseball tidbits. I took a little hiatus after my COVID-19 Bargains series, but I’m kicking off a new one for yinz. If what’s on the grapevine is true, then we’ll finally get what I hope all of you have been waiting for: a DH for National League teams! I know you old-schoolers out there hate the idea – and trust me, I consider myself pretty old school in a lot of respects – but I don’t give two soggy turds about watching a pitcher try to hit a baseball. Some can do it okay, but the overwhelming majority cannot. It’s largely a meaningless at-bat, as far as I’m concerned. And let’s not even talk about pitchers running bases.
The 2020 fantasy baseball season is going to be a strange one, no doubt. I keep seeing this whole thing about 100 games and only three divisions total. Will these games be played in Spring Training parks? Regular parks? No one knows for sure. Are we gonna get doubleheaders like crazy? *shrug emoji* The latest proposal suggests regular home parks without fans, but we’ll see. For the sake of my sanity, I’m going to treat this series as if we’re gonna get regular home parks, and I’m going to categorize each team in their regular divisions, since that’s what we’re (read “I’m”) used to. Yes, Cardinals hitters facing more aces than just what the Cubs, Reds, Brewers, and Pirates would throw at them certainly changes things, but that’s true for every lineup if this proposal comes to fruition. I’m not going to sit here and analyze how Tyler O’Neill might fare against Matthew Boyd. I’m just going to point out some NL bats you might want to pay attention to since they may become regular instead of platooning. Capeesh? Obviously, if this division re-alignment happens, there has to be a universal DH. Either that or make the AL teams use a pitcher in the lineup. Who wants that? I sure as hell don’t.
Bear in mind, I’m not necessarily focusing on each team’s potential DH. This series is more about which NL bat benefits the most on each squad due to said DH. Could be because said bat might be said DH, or could be because said bat might be a better defensive option for another bat who could be said DH. Capeesh?
So, without further ado, here are my biggest risers were we to indeed get the lovely universal DH:
The name that stands out to me the most is Jake Lamb. Wasn’t long ago he had a 29 and 30 HR back-to-back-season thing going on, making him a sneaky value pick for power at third base. The past couple seasons have been far less productive thanks to injuries – he’s only played 134 games combined since the end of 2017. As I dug deeper, I was more than a little surprised to see his Statcast numbers last year were actually rather good, and some of the best of his career. Small sample size, sure, but still impressive (and encouraging). Historically, he’s been atrocious against lefties. Somehow he managed a .304/.429/.739 slash line against them last season. Only 28 PAs, but three of his six homers were against lefties. He was as bad against righties last season as he had been against lefties his whole career.
Lamb’s average exit velocity sat at 90.4 MPH in 2019, which is the second-highest of his career. That’s the same number Anthony Rendon managed, and would put Lamb at #65 in the majors if he qualified to be among leaders. His launch angle was the highest it’s ever been, and his hard-hit percentage was the second-highest. Look, Lamb is never going to help your batting average, and if strikeouts count in your leagues, he’s gonna hurt you more there, too (career 25.1% strikeout rate). But the dude draws walks and can mash dingers. In OBP leagues, he’s a very nice value. In 2017, his 13.7% walk rate was in the 93rd percentile. Last season, his walk rate climbed to 14.2%.
He’s still only 29 years old, so there should be plenty left in the tank if he can avoid injury. Lamb usually crushes righties, so he should at least see DH time when a righty is on the hill. But who knows, maybe his new thing is crushing lefties too and he just rakes it up in 2020.
Man, fantasy owners sure hope the Rockies play at Coors, amirite? The big names like Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado are gonna be good no matter what, but you can’t deny there’s going to be some impact if the Rox don’t get to blast juiced balls into the Denver atmosphere. My bet for the biggest increase in value with a DH in Colorado would be Garrett Hampson. His path to playing time entering 2020 was the…Rockiest. Lol. So, maybe not for the power, but that boy can fly. Sprint speed is 99th percentile, y’all. Hampson came on strong in September last season, slashing .318/.368/.534 with five homers and nine steals. I can’t say I’m overly impressed by what I’ve seen from him before that point, but it’s nice to see him finally find his groove. Throughout his brief minors career, he always managed to make good contact, draw walks, and steal a whole lotta bases. I’m not writing off his bat just yet, especially after how he capped of the 2019 campaign.
The Statcast numbers really aren’t impressive, though, so I’m not going to spend much time talking about them. He has, like, the lowest exit velocity ever (not really, but you know) and never barrels the ball. His hard-hit rate is well below league average. It’s a bummer to see his BB% go from 14.6 in 2018 to being slashed perfectly in half in 2019 (that would be 7.3%, if you needed it spelled out). But as 2019 wore on, he got better at that, at least. And another thing, he’s a Jack-of-all-trades utility man. He can play anywhere. So maybe Story needs some rest and just wants to swing the bat – insert Hampson. I dunno, maybe that’s a little whacky, but I’m sticking to it.
I like Hampson. I really, really liked him helping me win a back-to-back title in my keeper league. I think he’s got it in him. And again, dude’s eligible for 2B/SS/OF in Yahoo (2B/OF elsewhere). Top of the order on a lineup like Colorado’s, coupled with that speed…my oh my. Sign me all the way up.
Los Angeles Dodgers
My bet is Joc Pederson slots into the DH role because he’s not exactly the best defensive outfielder out there. He ranked in the 12th percentile for outs above average. Not gonna lie, I don’t fully know what that means (cuz defense DON’T win championships in fantasy), but Baseball Savant has that number in a dark blue bubble, which is very bad. His outfielder jump number ain’t great, either. But this section isn’t gonna be about Pederson. You know what you’re getting with him. Homers, OBP, and that’s about it. I’m gonna talk instead about A.J. Pollock, whom I see getting more playing time if Pederson does DH.
Pollock isn’t a great fielder either by Statcast measures, but he’s better than Pederson. And he’s faster, so in my expert opinion that means he’s got better range. Seriously, I don’t know much about outfield defense. I’m not here for that. You wanted a Dodger bat to look at for 2020 fantasy baseball, and I’m here to tell you that you might as well look at A.J. Pollock. One good thing about a shortened season is there are less chances for Pollock to get hurt. The guy is a walking Injured List wearing a baseball uniform. He played 157 games in 2015. Since then, he hasn’t managed more than 113 in a season. He played twelve in 2016 and only 86 last year.
Don’t ignore the fact the man can still hit a baseball, though. He popped 15 homers in only 308 at-bats last year and had 21 dingers in 2018. His speed is still above average, and he knows how to swipe a bag. For the most part, he makes consistent hard contact. Hell, maybe with the injury history, he’s the DH. Maybe that’s what I’d do if I were Dave Roberts.
San Diego Padres
My thinking here is Wil Myers finally gets back to living up to that hype. Small disclosure: I live a stone’s throw from Arvest Ballpark, where the Northwest Arkansas Naturals play (Kansas Royals Double-A affiliate). Even was on the grounds crew for a season. I got to see Myers in person, and he was one of the first real stars to make it the bigs having gone through the system. Remember when he was a #4 overall prospect? So maybe there’s a tiny part of me that just hopes this comes true so I can see him succeed again, but I think he’s in for a rebound year.
First things first, Myers has got to stop striking out. He was in the bottom one percent of the MLB in strikeout rate in 2019 (34.2%…wow). Couple bits of somewhat encouraging news: 1) that’s by far the worst of his career, so it’s not like he’s always been up near the mid-30s, and 2) his walk rate is at least in the double-digits. Despite the bad average and comical strikeout rate, he still showcased his pop and speed and was one of the few people in the league to hit 15 home runs and steal 15 bases. Myers has also always hit the ball hard – only once in his career has he failed to do so 40% of the time, and that was when he did it 39% of the time in 2016. I don’t know about you, but I like a guy who can hit hard and run fast. The walk rate helps mitigate the damage done by the strikeouts, so his OBP isn’t too bad really. There really just aren’t many guys anymore who offer both good power and good speed, but Myers has done so consistently since he came into the league. Combining 2016 and 2017, he hit 58 bombs and stole 48 bases. He played half a season in 2018 and still managed double-digits in both categories.
Wouldn’t expect an All-Star season, but I do expect Myers to be a big fantasy bargain this year. Even if somehow we don’t get the NL DH, I’m interested in what he can offer. But we’re gonna get it, guys, and Myers becomes even that more valuable because of it.
San Francisco Giants
I almost don’t even want to bother here. The Giants are crap. They don’t even have Madison Bumgarner anymore to make their team look even a little fantasy relevant. Buster Posey isn’t very good anymore. Mike Yastrzemski is the most exciting player on the whole team, and that’s not saying much. He could maybe hit 30 HR in a full season, but his average is bad and you know damn well the RBIs won’t be there. You want 30 solo homers on your fantasy team?
Who knows, maybe the Giants will surprise me. I’ll give a little fantasy hockey plug here – when I was writing for Last Word on Hockey, I talked all offseason about how there ain’t a single player on the Minnesota Wild I’m touching in fantasy. Lo and behold they’ve got some really valuable players. Maybe the fact I’m bashing the Giants right now means they’ll be laden with fantasy gems. I’m not seeing it, but someone is gonna be better off with a DH slot. That someone is most likely Wilmer Flores. Mr. Flores had a very fine 2019 in limited appearances, slashing .317/.361/.487 across 285 PAs. His xBA was .287, so expect some regression, but that’s still pretty good in my book. He doesn’t hit the ball especially hard (league average, basically), but he doesn’t strike out much. I mean, really there’s not a lot to get excited about. Flores could help you in the AVG/OBP departments, maybe some decent home run value given his tendency to hit fly balls. He’s sure to get his shot after his strong showing in 2019, but he’s just on a poopy team. Probably only useful in deep leagues. I said I’d pick someone on every team, so dadblabbit I’m gonna do it. Doesn’t mean you have to draft them. I’m certainly only going after this guy if he gets hot – a cool 1% of fantasy baseballers even own him, according to FantasyPros.
Next up: the Central!
Tune in next week (or maybe two) for another crop of bats that should see a spike in usage thanks to the DH. Spoiler alert: expect some Tyler O’Neill love. He’s got a chance to be the biggest beneficiary of them all. Captain Canada can launch.
Rox: gotta like Hilliard a little extra in this scenario as well. Whether he acts as DH (less likely) or one of his PT barriers (Shell of Ian Desmond, looking at you) fills that role. Hampson is a good bet for sure, but if the Rockies can just make a good goddamn decision, seems like the wise move is to let some mix of Desmond & Murphy DH and open the field for Hampson, Hilliard, McMahon… maybe a dash of Rodgers. I know, I know… murdered my argument with thoughts of smarts from this front office, but a mile high boy can dream, right? Right?
Agreed, but I’m working with the assumption Hilliard is already pretty locked in. Hampson was a bigger question mark, and now I think he’s got more of a shot to strut that stuff.
I say it’s time to get Rodgers some action. I’m with you. Desmond and Murphy DHing makes the most sense to me – let the youth flash the gloves.
Gotcha, thanks – and good to hear. It’s time for this team to get the kids get some run.
I am thinking Tapia might be the most benefited. Tapia, Hampson, Hillard and Desmond seem to be battling for the LF/DH spot. From everything I seen this spring and the inside baseball numbers, Tapia looks to be the best of the bunch this season. The power an speed combo, plus experience. His muscle mass is very impressive and so was his exit velo this spring.
Only time will tell, but Tapia has the eyes and and now has the power. Maybe it’s me being biased, but now he has a better chance of sticking in LF, playing all 3 OF spots, and letting the other 3 battle it out for the DH.
Yeah maybe so. Hampson’s speed benefits them more I think. Tapia should see some more time but I’m not sold it’ll be consistent.
Any possibility that Brendan Rodgers factors in to a DH role?
I wouldn’t count on it if I had to guess
I got him ultra late (#272) in my inaugural draft for a dynasty, am hoping to have gotten a steal. Get him those ABs! Lol.
Nice. Good dynasty guy for sure!
Nice dynasty option for sure!
Sorry my phone went whacko and I didn’t think my first comment went through. But it’s worth repeating anyway!
But it’s worth repeating anyway!
Best chance for Rogers is what I said in my comment above ^^
I think Murphy would likely become the DH on most days. So that could open a spot for Rogers and Hampson to play 2B, spell Story when needed at SS, etc.
But he seems snakebitten w/ that org for some reason… IDK, haven’t touched him once in any draft or waiver wire the last 3 years… just have that 6th sense feeling that something is off there…
Far from my usual more data-driven analyses… so take it FWIW!
What concerns me, yes it was spring training, but Hampson looked like he did most of last year before a hot September.
I guess whoever emerges from Colorado will have plenty of value depending where they play this year. I am banking on Tapia as he was super cheap , d had a positive off season, really good spring and his body muscle makes him look like a power hitter with speed.
It will be interesting when late Spring Training starts again who can maintain their gains.
“dadblabbit” – lol, what the heck does that mean?? Like Kraz’s guys right above too, so here are a few more, but just had to dig the knife on Cron a second time, haha.
Lamb – 29 is starting to get old for a perennially injured guy who hasn’t done anything in 3 years…
Cron – huge whiff not including him on here!
Hampson – makes sense. That Sep surge was due to some sort of mechanical change, IIRC. Can probably easily Google it of you want to know more. They likely move Murphy to DH, McMahon to 1B, and Hamps could see a lot of time at 2B, while they rotate everyone around, as you sorta kinda tried to allude to here. Haha.
Pollock – yep, not the worst dart throw. I always say guys like this are more of targets in an auction where you can fill up the end of your roster however you see fit. In a draft, there are usually other guys around him I like a lot more.
Think the big takeaway for the Dodgers is all the mouths they have to feed. They likely just rotate people even more than before, play match ups more, keep legs fresh, etc. Think Lux might be one of the biggest winners. Muncy could see some DH too. They can go a lot of different ways there, but think having just “one DH” may be the most unlikely.
Getting tired of writing haha, so all I gotta say is keep an eye on Naylor. Good power speed combo.
Yaz was a good one – should’ve stuck w/ him! Way more upside than Flores, haha.
Jaylin Davis is a late dart throw I have on a few DCs if we wanna go REAL deep…
I’m 100% with you on Cron. I’ve been doing some reading on the topic of universal DH speculative adds. It is really surprising how little ink and consideration he is getting. He should be the first option in AZ if they want their best squad out there, imo.
He’s the kind of guy people should be keeping their eyes on regardless, and especially if you’re a Walker owner.
I’ve scooped Cron for my UTL slot in a dynasty just on the chance that universal DH is coming. Worth the dart throw late for a possible masher!
Prospects haven’t been my strongpoint if imma be for real for real. Cron seems like the real deal if he can fix that K rate he showed in the bigs last season. He obliterated AAA.
I hear you! Cron has shown solid patience in the minors. I think he’s got a shot at making a splash if he gets the chance. Lamb does fit the bill too, it just feels like Cron could be special.
Worth the shot — what do you have to lose?!
His minor league K% was ~23% — only had 71 ABs last year — and wasn’t consistent PT if I remember correctly. Would fogettaboutit.
Do you really need to start him at UTIL, though? Don’t you have a MLB player who can fill that slot??
There are going to be enough undrafted vets that I should be able to easily add the ABs, even in a placeholder capacity.
Totally worth it!! Especially in dynasty — nice one.
Definitely a whiff on Cron. Oops. Can’t win em all.
Yaz is gonna Yaz, don’t think the DH affects his ABs so he’s not a focal point for me here.
I also should have mentioned Franchy Cordero in SD.
Got it, may have read into it slightly differently than you. While I get the idea, I prefer thinking about the ramifications and total impact, rather than what random guy *might* become a full-time DH, ya know?
All good though, just seal’s 2 cents
My intent is to focus more on overall impact rather than just who will DH. I don’t really care who will or won’t; I’m focusing overall on who will get more ABs, whether it’s through DHing or not. A guy like Yaz is already getting the ABs IMO, so he’s not worth writing about for what I’m doing here. Same with Joc Pederson.
No one wants to see pitchers hit, except perhaps in the same way they wanted to see Manny Ramirez play outfield. If you’re in the game, you’re in the game. It’s that simple. Baseball rewards players who are helpful both offensively and defensively, and teams must find ways to hide/protect one way players.
It’s also spelled out quite clearly at the VERY BEGINNING OF THE F***ING RULES OF THE GAME: Baseball is a game between two teams of nine players each.
If you’re going to throw RULE NUMBER 1 OF THE GAME out the window and have a DH for the pitcher, why stop there? How about two DH’s, so every team can have a slick fielding shortstop play all nine innings who can’t hit for $hit without having to give him a spot in the lineup, too? Or just give each team two entire separate lineups, a batting lineup and one for defense.
Fuck the DH forever.
Thank you for your input.
Great article-looking forward to seeing the other divisions. I’m hoping Kevin Cron gets an opportunity.
I like the power/speed combinations Hilliard and Franchy Cordero in SD.
Also like both of those guys quite a bit. Excited to see how it all shakes out!
30 solo bombs!
That’s what we used to call a suit case of Natty Ice…
It’s like the anti Abreu…
Ante a brey ew?
Reminds me of last year when Franmil went for 37 jimmy jacks with 36 steaks…
Anyway Ante a brey ew makes me want to brush my teeth and watch Never Ending Story…
“Because people have begun to lose their hopes and forget their dreams. So the Nothing grows stronger.”
Not only is he Captain of Canada not only is he jacked to the gills not only does he launch and mash but he’s also crazy fast…like faster than Derek the Fisher of Lower Central Canada…trouble is that Brother Bader and Brother Lane are even faster…it seems that all of the Red Birds of Cesspool can fly!
I’m a Cards fan and I didn’t know Colonel Canuck was that fast. Like, 99th percentile sprint speed? With that hulking mass of muscle?
concur with Hampson, like him to contribute much more this year. he helped me win my Roto league down the stretch as well. nice write up
Thank you kindly!
Excellent report on the West!!! Keep ’em coming!
a. Long time stalker (well at least on the ‘rona timeline), first time commenter. There’s always a first time, right?
b. Had me in stitches for most of it but the Giants/Wild blurb was really funny. 30 solo shots for Yaz III!! The fact that Wilmer Flores COULD be their best bat. Nevertheless they gave Bumgarner like 5.5 or something in run support during his games and he still only managed like a 9-9 or 8-11 or something record. He started bad, he ended bad, not sure if he was really back to 100% after the injury. But yeah, bad team with almost nothing fantasy relevant. Is Sandoval still on the roster? That’s bad enough that I had to ask.
c. Looking forward to the Central report.
Thanks for the kind words! Bumgarner isn’t a guy I’d want as my #1 or even #2, but maybe a new environment rejuvenates the poor guy. He has been pitching for the Giants, after all :)
Hard to disagree with any of those conclusions. Pollock could actually see close to a full time role. Jock mashes RHP but is simply awful against lefties. Maybe Pollock plays the field against RHP and is the DH against LHP.
That could be the case! I’ve been bummed for Pollock since he got hurt super early the year following his breakout. Hasn’t been the same since, but he can definitely be a factor.