Well, I thought by the time June rolled around I’d be writing knowing whether or not a plan was in place for at least an attempt at baseball in 2020, but instead as I write this the immediate future of the MLB, along with much else in the world, is still painfully up in the air. As we all deal with everything going on around us, though, I don’t think it’s too self-indulgent to turn to a favorite past time/hobby/obsession/part-time job to help strengthen us mentally and emotionally — and for the readers and writers here at Razzball, that past time, of course, is fantasy baseball.
Since I’ve always been a fan of mining bad real-life MLB teams for deep-league value — attempting to find treasure in the perceived trash pile that other owners may overlook completely — we’ll take one of those bad MLB teams and see what it might have to offer, especially for us deep leaguers. I’m choosing the Marlins, since for about five months now I’ve just had a feeling that they could be at least a bit better than folks expect, especially in fantasy terms (though in a shortened season with expanded playoffs, who knows what craziness could ensue). I’ve gone through my rosters, and here are the Marlins I have on multiple teams, all of whom I’d consider grabbing more shares of if and when I draft more teams for 2020. Let’s see who on this team is leading the charge to make me think there might be something to see here…
Jonathan Villar. Villar is a polarizing figure in fantasy, though obviously one of the true mixed-league options on the Marlins as his current NFBC ADP sits at 43. I don’t think many Razzball writers or readers would touch him at that price, and I think I only have two shares of him this year, but I honestly think there’s a chance that he ends up being at least a decent value even at a seemingly inflated cost. He ranked #17 overall in 5×5 roto value last year, so even though I’m hardly expecting a prorated repeat of what he did in 2019, it’s a pretty tantalizing jumping off point. The speed alone might be worth gambling on him for me, and one would assume he’ll be allowed and encouraged to run wild with the Marlins. We probably don’t need to worry about a mid-season trade to a contender that turns him into a utility man at this point, and I don’t think we should overlook the fact that he accomplished the increasingly-rare feat of playing in all 162 games last year — dude does not seem interested in a day off, which could be a tempting quality for a player in a shortened, roster-expanded season.
Jorge Alfaro. I talked about Alfaro in my post about catchers last month, and the takeaways that I keep thinking about are the fact that he’s still only 26 years old, should be as close to an every day starter as you can get at catcher (plus there’s always that DH option), has basically no pressure on him in Miami, and might really benefit from the extended off season. If he hits what most sites project him to do, he’ll be completely serviceable in most leagues at his current price (#210 ADP), and if anything close to a breakout happens, he could be a deep-league game changer.
Jon Berti. Feels like a decade ago that Grey wrote a sleeper post on Berti (pre-Villar signing), but with an NL DH and the possibility of a weird schedule that could involved more games in a shorter amount of time, his stock may have been quietly getting right back up to where it was back in the early winter. He played in 73 games last year, so it’s easy to see what his shortened season numbers might look like — and from a deep league fantasy perspective, I really, really like the looks of the 17 bags he stole in those 73 games last year. No, he’s not exactly a sure thing — he’s 30 years old, and, should anyone remember back that far, had a horrific spring where he was hitting .138 without an attempted steal when things shut down — but if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes even sure things are not sure things.
Corey Dickerson. Yeah, I know, he’s a hundred (okay, actually only 31, younger than I thought) and doesn’t really get a lot of those counting stats that are, um, somewhat crucial in fantasy. But when it comes to deep fantasy leagues in an unusual real-life season, I can still see Dickerson being of some help. Actually, his power numbers are always a little better than I remember, which I guess is why I’ve drafted him in a few deeper leagues this year — 12 homers in 78 games last year has value in the right league. I also can’t completely turn my back on any major leaguer that has a career .286 average, and has managed to hit over .300 his last two seasons.
Pablo Lopez. You could also do a write up on at least two other members of the Marlins’ rotation (i.e. Sandy Alcantara, whom I admittedly haven’t been paying as much attention to the last couple of years, and Caleb Smith, who I was seriously, obsessively into the last two offseasons but had to break up with because I didn’t like how he kept walking guys and giving up homers) but I keep circling back to Lopez. He’s so cheap in even the deepest leagues that, as long as you’re not counting on him to anchor a rotation or anything, there’s just not a ton of downside here. When it comes to intangibles, I like everything I read about him — he has a great relationship with his catcher Alfaro, he’s been working hard since the shutdown not just to keep in shape but to take the time to study and improve. And when it comes to numbers, his have been uneven in the past… but the metrics tell you he has solid control and gets a lot of ground balls, which is enough in my book to give him a deep (or even medium-deep) league chance to see what he can do in 2020 or 2021 if he stays healthy.
Brandon Kintzler. I think I took Kintzler in three of my last four drafts — like Lopez, the price is just too cheap (he and Lopez are both right around #400 NFBC ADP) for me not to be tempted to grab a guy who could return a decent reward. If he pitches poorly and/or doesn’t close he’s an easy drop in any league, but if he gets off to a decent start and ends up with some saves, he’s a guy that could salvage a category in deeper leagues. His numbers last year with the Cubs were actually very, very good: while he’s hardly a K machine (48 in 57 innings), he did pitch to a 2.68 ERA/1.04 WHIP in 2019.