2020 Draft Kit

Since we last provided you with a podcast, fantasy football has come and gone, the Astros became synonymous with trash cans in a variety of ways, and Gerrit Cole joined the Yankees and got all of the money. It’s been a wild, frustrating, and exciting few months depending upon your allegiances to team or player. It all culminated in a blockbuster filled Winter Meetings as over $800 million in contracts were handed out. Grey and I team up once again for the annual Winter Meetings wrap-up, an update as we head into the end of the calendar year and the dawn of the 2020 Fantasy Baseball season. We talk Corey Kluber, Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, Madison Bumgarner, Padres trades and so much more. Tune in for a little Holiday scented hot stove talk.

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One of my favorite parts of dynasty leagues is picking out the crop of prospects who I think will skyrocket in value in 2019. One of my big picks for 2019 was Julio Rodriguez, saying that he’d be a top 20 prospect by year’s end in an article I wrote at the beginning of the season. For people who grabbed Rodriguez in their FYPD, or early on in the season, a player who was fairly irrelevant in terms of fantasy value suddenly became one of their best assets, either for trades or just to keep for the future. Predicting MLB breakouts and making good trades are both important parts of playing dynasty, but if you really want to dominate your fellow league members, picking up the right prospects can make a massive difference. If you really want to get a jump in your dynasty leagues, I highly recommend picking up these three players, who you likely won’t find on many top 100 lists, but you certainly will next year. And here’s Prospect Itch’s top 100 fantasy baseball prospects, if you’re into that sorta thing.

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Here’s how I ended up coming to write this Hunter Dozier fantasy baseball sleeper post:  Saw that he was a top 50 exit velocity last year and sat up in my chair like a good boy, then saw he hit 26 homers in 523 at-bats and got a little yawnstipated so I went for a walk, which turned into me grabbing a Lime scooter and I went out cruising. Just letting the wind hit my face while trying to not breathe in the pollution and ash from the California fires. Then I stopped at Danny Trejo’s taco stand and thought about how such an ugly em-effer makes such a delicious taco and thought about how I’m glad I thought that and didn’t say it out loud because he would totally beat my ass, then asked the cashier, “Does this Danny’s have grand slams?” And they looked at me like I was slow, but it might’ve been the scooter helmet I was wearing, and I convinced myself that’s exactly what it was. Then a full-on scarfing ensued as a large man in cammo, who looked like he’s done some hunting, sat across from me dozing off and I thought, “Holy crap, Hunter Dozier!” But, meh, he still only had 26 homers in 523 at-bats and–wait a second, he had ten triples? Triples mean nothing in fantasy (unless you play in one of those leagues where they mean something, but even you don’t know why you play in a league where they mean something). Who cares about triples! Or, as a person with a strong counterpoint might say, “Do we care?” I think we might. So, what can we expect from Hunter Dozier for 2020 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

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Last year, Christian Walker had a breakout season that everyone seems to be fully discounting for 2020. He went 86/29/73/.259/8 in 529 ABs. I’m sorry, he better than Au Shizz? Because he looks better than Au Shizz. I suppose no one thinks Christian Walker can do it again, or even take it a step further. I wonder why, i.e., hymn, why can’t he go onward Christian Walker? Did I just write the last two sentences just to tee up that pun? *puts on sunglasses* Maybe. But we’re not just here today talking about Christian Walker because of a church hymn. If that’s all I wanted, I would’ve talked about Mariners prospect, Wade Enwatter or Milord Kumbaya. What, you thought I was only going to write two sentences for bad puns? You new to Razzball? Church puns are supposed to stink. That’s why everyone’s got their nose up looking for a pew. Take it, Highlights Magazine! It is yours! So, what can we expect from Christian Walker for 2020 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

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Cue the Darth Vader music: here comes the evil empire. 

Only problem with that is the current Collective Bargaining Agreement makes the Yankees seem like a force for good in the game. Brian Cashman’s clever management of an enormous budget makes the never-Tankees a sustainable monster. 

Side note: it’s not just greed that keeps owners from spending. Talent-acquisition penalties and revenue sharing connected to the luxury tax keeps owners from spending. 

According to Bryan Hoch of mlb.com: “Since Cole received a qualifying offer, the Astros will receive a pick after Competitive Balance Round B, and the Yankees will lose their second-and fifth-highest selections, as well as $1 million from their international bonus pool for the upcoming signing period. Houston’s pick, at the moment, is No. 74 overall, though that will most likely change with subsequent signings/compensations.”

You won’t see this discussed or even reported very often in the conversation about Cole’s contract. The younger brother of Fernando Tatis Jr., Elijah, just signed with the White Sox for $400,000. Their dad thinks he has the best power in the family. So the Yankees forfeit two-point-five Tatis brothers here, just because they wanted to pay a great player a lot of money. 

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Was between Mitch Haniger and Miguel Sano as my next sleeper, and maybe I’ll still do one for Haniger, but it’s doubtful because I figure one lottery ticket sleeper was enough. Another lottery ticket sleeper who I haven’t mentioned until right after this awkward sentence intro is Byron Buxton. For those of you old enough to remember Michael Pineda, oh, and, in hindsight, German Marquez. These were lottery tickets because the ceiling was high but the floor is covered in hay and human feces because you’re in a dungeon, being held there by some Norwegian who collects figurines and humans. Have we ever had a season where any of the guys I just mentioned (Marquez, Buxton, Pineda, Sano) did “just okay?” Is it even possible for Miguel Sano to be “just okay?” It feels impossible. All of these guys are crazy, hot girlfriends. “Yo, check her out just ladling out punch for the two of us, looking smoking hot.” Your friend gives you dap, then notices something, “Hey, did your hot girlfriend just put arsenic in your punch?” And that’s these guys. You might get some refreshing punch for your gut, or you might get a gut punch as you find out your girlfriend has been sleeping with everyone, including your uncle who always dresses like he just came from a job site. “Uncle Paul, why are you wearing a fluorescent vest in PF Chang’s?” “I have a dangerous job and I’m sleeping with your girlfriend.” So, what can we expect from Miguel Sano for 2020 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

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The Rangers traded Delino DeShields Jr. and Emmanuel Clase for Corey Kluber. Finally, someone that likes Delino DeShields Jr. as much as me! Indians tried to not compete last year, but at first you don’t succeed in not succeeding, don’t try, don’t try again. Cannot wait to see what the Indians get for Francisco Lindor. Maybe Clint Frazier and a bucket of balls gets it done. You’d think Indians would be against trying to tank, being more team that wants its horse in the race, but, wow, MLB is completely broken. Teams that should and can be good are going out of their way to tank. I saw someone (think it was a Cleveland-area radio sports show host) say something like, “Indians can’t afford these players so this is their only option.” Yo, the Indians owner, Dolan family, is worth $6.5 billion, according to Forbes. That’s not according to their bank, because you can’t count that much money in a lifetime. If the Dolans can’t afford a $25 million dollar per year contract, then who can? Bezos? Does Amazon need to buy all MLB teams? Can we get Jack Ryan day at the park? That might be fun. This isn’t even about whether Kluber is broken for good either, because his salary ($17.5 mill) should be affordable for any team, even if the player is broken. Blake Treinen got $10 million for Pete Bourjos’s sake! Any hoo! For Kluber fantasy value, I’m torn, because he feels like the type who can gut out a solid season, but that is soooooooooooo — yes, eleven O’s! — anecdotal and isn’t based on anything. But, also in his favor, he saved his arm last year from throwing another 200+ IP, which has to be good. Yes, I know his arm was injured, but it was a broken forearm. I’m not a doctor, but a forearm isn’t an elbow or shoulder injury, and a broken one is better than a strained one. Unfortunately, he had to be removed from a rehab assignment last year, due to diminished velocity, and, prior to  the injury, his velocity was down and his ERA, FIP, xFIP were all up. Just too much risk and I’m out on Kluber this year. For 2020, my Kluber projections are 10-5/3.81/1.17/164 in 158 IP. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the offseason for 2020 fantasy baseball:

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Years of ignoring the international market left the Orioles behind the rest of baseball in the absolutely critical world of talent procurement and development. Ownership, beloved by all Baltimore fans, finally decided to amend this practice last year, hiring General Manager Mike Elias away from Houston. As his first move, Elias hired Houston colleague and former NASA engineer Sig Mejdal to be his “General Manager for Analytics,” a new job title in the baseball world. 

Elias and Mejdal were central in the process that brought Houston so far into the future they decided scouts were outdated. The baseball world will watch their work in Baltimore with bated breath. Was what happened in Houston a magical confluence of hyper-competitive individuals that can’t be replicated outside that moment in time and space? Or can the secret sauce be imported and applied even in the most barren landscapes? 

As with pretty much everything, truth is somewhere in the middle, but I’m leaning toward the latter—that yes this duo will be successful in Baltimore, and yes this would be an ominous outcome for the future employment of scouts on the ground. 

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On Thursday, December 12th, 2019, an event took place that even some of the most hardcore baseball fans don’t pay attention to, and for pretty good reason. The Rule 5 draft was started as a way for the MLB to attempt to give players buried in the minors, usually on strong teams or teams deep in their position, a chance to earn a role on another team. They attempt to accomplish this by allowing anyone not on a 40-man roster to be selected by another team, as long as they stay with that team in the Majors all year. This sounds great in theory, but when the 40-man rosters are all sorted out, that’s around 1,200 players that get protected, so it’s very rare that a gem slips through the cracks. For this reason, most teams will pass on their picks, and most of the ones that do get picked end up being returned to the team that they’re selected from. There are scattered success stories, with guys like Brad Keller, Odubel Herrera, Ryan Pressly, Marwin Gonzalez, and Mark Canha being some notable recent ones, as well as plenty of other intriguing names like Delino DeShields Jr., Hector Rondon, Josh Fields, etc., but for the most part there usually isn’t much to come out of the Rule 5 Draft. As a fantasy player you’re not worried about who’s going to get returned, you just want to know if there’s any fantasy value in the draft. Most of the guys taken are big arms with command issues, or bench players at best, but here are 3 names who could make an impact.

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So I got owned. I was razzing Donkey Teeth about his NFBC league draft (use promo code: Razzball25 and get $25 off at NFBC). I told him his team stunk. I didn’t trust his pitchers. Didn’t love his drafting of a top catcher. Felt he had some injury risk in Gallo and Mondesi, but I didn’t hate the team. It was just so…harmless at the time. Then, he put it out there…out to the hoi polloi, asking who had the better team, and that was when I got owned. No one, and I’m not being dramatic, liked my team. At one point, I think Cougs used her burner account to log in and dismiss me. Here is the carnage:

I can’t remember such ownage happening to little ol’ me in such a devastating, emotionally crippling way before. It was like my dog spoke for the 1st time (while I wasn’t on drugs) and said, “My name is Albert, not Ted, and I hate you.” That was the disrespect I felt! This was many weeks ago, and I am still sighing that long, hard sigh that can only come from knowing years of hurt and ridicule. Like a character William H. Macy would play. Well, life goes on, ob la di, ob la da. For those not in the know, this is a 15-team, two-catcher league that lasts for 50 rounds and there’s no waivers. You draft it, and manage it. Weekly moves for pitchers, bi-weekly for hitters, changing out on Monday and Friday. Most of the draft happened prior to the Winter Meetings, so who knows with playing time. I did it as an experiment to see what would happened if I stopped being polite and started–Wait, that’s the Real World opening. Anyway, here’s my NFBC draft recap:

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