2020 Draft Kit

If I wrote up another old and boring player, Grey was going to make me pass out Razzball lollipops to all the senior citizens in Los Angeles. Young and exciting. Got it. Young and exciting. Scrolling through the NFBC ADP from January 1st to February 19th and……Got it. Keston Hiura of the Milwaukee Brewers. He’s 23 years old. Check. But is he exciting? Well, he only hit 19 home runs and stole 9 bases in 348 plate appearances last season. And he’s being drafted as the 43rd overall player right now. The peoples are definitely excited. He’s Asian, so you know I’m excited, but will drafting him this season bring oohs and aahhs, or will it end up being a tragic flaw?

The first thing that jumped out to me when looking at Hiura was the 30.7% strikeout rate. I hate high strikeout players, but I’ve been coming around to them more recently because of the high upside many of them exhibit. That’s evident with Hiura, as the ISO was .268, and he straight mashed the ball. According to the Statcast data from last season, Hiura had an exit velocity of 91.4 mph and a hard hit rate of 50%! The exit velocity was good for 25th in all of baseball, while the hard hit rate was 7th! No wonder peoples are going goo goo gaga, not for Coco Puffs, but for Keston Hiura.

As I dug deeper, though, I began to get concerned.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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Much like the classic Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC) PC game, The Oregon Trail, we finish our bullpen parade out west. Apologies if the research in this post is light, I stayed up all night playing TOT on the Wayback Machine. Suck it deer, I shot so many of you I can’t even carry all the meat. Much like the game, your journey to saves accumulation is a series of decisions fraught with peril. Do your best not to die of dysentery. In this example, Wade Davis is dysentery.

AL East AL Central AL West

NL East NL Central NL West

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Well holy shift Batman! This season marks my 19th year writing for Razzball. It’s hard to think back to 2001 and my chance encounter with Grey in the mens room at Yankee Stadium. True story, one of the worst things that could happen to a sports fan happened to me. It was an extremely hot Sunday afternoon after a long Saturday night of celebrating my 55th birthday. I knew I shouldn’t have eaten that bacon double cheese at 4am. Well sure enough after a few tall boy PBRs my stomach was twisting up something awful. I tried to hold it, but there was nothing I could do. I was going to have to drop Bill Cosby off at the pool at Yankee Stadium. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather make out with the 300 pound, overweight (redundant) lady selling the Hebrew National hot dogs than put my bare ass anywhere near the toilet seat in a public bathroom at a ballpark. Had it been pregame perhaps it might not have been so bad (somewhat freshly cleaned), but we’re talking about the 5th inning here. I’ve learned a lot in my many years on this planet and one of them is that human beings are beyond vile and have absolutely terrible aim when going to the bathroom. How is it possible that so much human waste winds up outside of the bowl? Often I believe that it’s just got to be on purpose. Well there I was, sitting on about fourteen layers of toilet paper eating a cheesesteak. In case you’re wondering I just didn’t have the strength to hover, and about the cheesesteak, that’s a story for another day. Get in and get out I said to myself. I was just about done when my stall door was kicked open, nearly off its hinges. One might have thought Daniel LaRusso was practicing his crane kick. The ironic thing was a simple push would have done the job as, lost in all of the shuffle, I neglected to lock the stall door. There, standing in front of me, was a middle-aged dude wearing a “SAGNOF” shirt who took one look at me and my cheesesteak and asked if I’d be interested in writing points league posts for his up and coming fantasy baseball website. I agreed, we did NOT shake hands and that marked the beginning of a my “professional” writing career. Since then I have slowly worked my way up the company ranks and have settled in as the points league guy. My how far I have come. Lastly, if you believe a word of that story I’ve got a league I’d like you to join. Please be sure to provide your contact information in the comments section.

 

The 2020 Razzball Commenter Leagues are now open! Free to join!

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

This isn’t about the Cheaty Cheaty Bang Bang scandal. I’m not here to talk about the Fiers Festival. We’re not going to rehash the Banghazi hashtag. You have a Big Bang Theory? Great, so do I. Wanna hear it after saying I’m not going to talk about it? Fine! Twist my arm! The Asterisks cheated; it’s well-documented. You can’t watch a home game of the Asterisks without it sounding like the PA speaker is accidentally on while someone nearby hammers together a piece of Ikea furniture without the proper instructions. “Where does this screw go? Hmm…eff it, I’m just gonna bang it together.” That’s what it sounded like. I made less racket drunk at 2 AM in college. There’s quieter trash cans in the dead of winter filled with a family of raccoons. There’s a ton of evidence. Irrefutable evidence, and they were convicted of cheating by Our Commissioner Manfred, who almost requested the return of a piece of metal. Their GM and manager fell on the swords. Were they the main ones to blame? Haha, my dude, the players are the ones that cheated. I’ve seen video evidence of Alex Bregman at the plate while Bang A Gong (Get It On) played in the background. So, he was right there in the middle of Bang-gate. Should he have apologized? I think so, but they were busted already, so it’s not like he’s saying something people don’t know. It’s the way of celebrities (athletes and otherwise) to not apologize unless it’s through a spokesperson. Never the hoo! None of this matters for fantasy or it all matters. We won’t know until the 2020 season concludes. We’d be guessing on that. The easy narrative for Bang-gate is:  Bregman was good on the road, so he’s fine. That’s dismissive of what it is actually going on here. I was saying you should avoid Alex Bregman before any ruling came down about cheating.  So, what makes Alex Bregman overrated for 2020 fantasy baseball?

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Which position would you say has gained the most value over the past decade?

In MLB? In fantasy?

Maybe it’s shortstop. 2020 might be the best shortstop season of all time, whatever that means.  

And that’s pre Wander. 

But this winter saw Emmanuel Clase traded for Corey Kluber. I know Delinosaur Jr. is feeling the pain of everyone there, too, and the old Klubot has been in the shop for a hot minute, but to say this trade made waves is an understatement.

The conversation began in alarmist, anti-ownership fashion and ended in hushed admiration of Clase’s cutter and consideration of the relative values of their contracts and remaining innings, especially in the context of a team with a pitching surplus such as Cleveland’s. 

Felt like a signpost to me.

As did Tampa Bay’s trade of top 50 echo chamber prospect Jesus Sanchez for erstwhile bartender Nick Anderson. 

As have the contracts dolled out every off-season, even in the miserly winters of 2017-18, when bullpen pitchers were signed early in the cycle for near-record middle-relief contracts. 

I might be kicking the horse a bit at this point when all I really want to do is share my work-intensive relief prospect rankings. More and more leagues are incorporating holds, either as its own category or a combination category with saves. Given the dominance of hot relievers, all these guys gain a lot of value in saves+holds leagues, where their barrier to helping you in that category is all but erased. In the dynasty game, they can be swapped in and out of your minor leagues to expand your active roster and suppress your ratios while snagging some strikeouts and the occasional win. 

Without further ado because we’ve had plenty of ado because hey I worked on this one all winter, the following humans are my top 20 relief prospects for 2020. 

 

Last week, while I was wilting away in my cube, I had the pleasure of staring off into space for a few minutes. What was in my ears while I did it? The soothing sounds of Donkey Teeth and B_Don. They were discussing all the different league offerings the NFBC can provide with Darik Buchar of SportsHub on Razzball’s Goin’ Deep Podcast. I enjoyed the informative nature of the podcast, but it brought to a head something; a belief has been simmering inside of me for quite some time. My belief is that the NFBC, and the strategies used by those who play in those leagues, has become the principal source for many fantasy baseball content consumers, but the strategies applied in these leagues are misused by content consumers as they aren’t applicable to single league set ups.

The 2020 Razzball Commenter Leagues are now open! Free to join!

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Cans and holes, Cans and holes, Astros gotta have their cans and holes.
The Springer, the Pinto, and the former Saint Verlander,
They’ll hit the can on the bottom while we’re swinging at heaters.
Nachos, Hot Dogs on Houston’s field,
They won’t go down cuz Manfred says no.
They won around the league from port to port.
Every time they won, Kate Upton got a JV quart.

Grey joins that other Razzball podcast….for this week. As is standard, B_Don and Donkey Teeth get Grey’s thoughts on RazzSlam (sign up for free here) and talk about Grey’s NFBC Cutline experience in 2019.  The trio tackle the topic of the times in discussing the Astros and how each believes this will affect their seasons in 2020.

The guys wrap up with some discussion about the CBS AL Auction that they participated in. They talk about the auction format of Tout/LABR and these CBS auction leagues. Of the 4 Razzball participants, they each took a bit of a different route to their auction. Tune in and find out which team Grey likes the most. For more information about Grey’s draft, check out his article.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Will get out of the way upfront the compliments. Yahoo isn’t nearly as bad as ESPN this year. (Likely any year.) Here’s my critique of the ESPN 2020 fantasy baseball rankings. ESPN appears to be phoning it in and they haven’t paid their phone bill in six months and they’re in talks with a bankruptcy attorney to get an extension on their bill because, “What defunct are they talking about?” While I don’t agree with all of Yahoo’s 2020 fantasy baseball rankings, I can at least understand what they’re talking about most of the time. For unstints, they have Fernando Tatis Jr. ranked 11th overall vs. my 10th, and ESPN has him at 43rd overall. That especially feels like a joke, much like, “Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” “An Astros player stealing signs.” So, before this becomes a 360-degree jerk with my new best friends at Yahoo, who I’m guessing not-so-secretly despise me, here’s a totally impartial look at Yahoo’s 2020 fantasy baseball rankings vs. my own 2020 fantasy baseball rankings:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

I’m Asian, so [email protected]#! Yuli Gurriel! I’m also a fantasy baseball writer, so separation of emotion from the numbers is a must. Much strength will be required in providing an objective analysis regarding Gurriel, so I’d appreciate if you click this post trillions of times so I can supersize my McyD’s and get the kids some new shoes. Thank you. Gurriel clubbed 31 homers last season and had a triple slash of .298/.343/.541. As a result, his average ADP from NFBC drafts (1/1/20-2/15/20) is the 125th overall player. [email protected]#! Yuli Gurriel?

Gurriel is 35 years old, yet has only played three and change seasons in the bigs. His rookie season consisted of 36 games and 137 plate appearances. Yes, Grey, I’m writing up another old guy. Maybe I have a thing for the olds? Should I hit up AARP to sponsor my posts? Anyways, in the past years when he played full seasons with the Astros, Gurriel never hit below .290 and never struck out more than 11% of the time. The swinging strike rate has never been in the double digits and the contact rate in the strike zone has always been above 91%. Translation: he’s a professional hitter.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

It’s not easy to draft a player who is old (at least relative to baseball ability), boring, and offers little true upside.  Well, it’s easy, but it’s not fun.  I can’t believe how often in a draft I veer off of my carefully-constructed, perfectly-ordered master list of players, skipping a solid but dull veteran to reach a few spots lower on my list for a youngster who may or may not end up with any fantasy value at all.  I’ve already been guilty of this in 2020, and I need a little re-set for myself to remember how helpful a boring but probably steady player with a decent floor can be, especially in deeper leagues.  Thus, a list of some players whom I can’t possibly call “targets,” but could actually pay off nicely down the road with solid-if-not-spectacular production come summertime.  (All of the following players are on the ugly side of 30, and are being drafted outside the top 250, according to current NFBC ADP).

Please, blog, may I have some more?