As I prepare for my final drafts ahead of a potential 2020 season, I’m still trying to strike a balance between staying true to my longstanding general strategies for constructing a fantasy baseball team, and zigging and zagging much more than usual in light of the 60-game, pandemic-altered season. One realization I’ve made, especially when it comes to my deeper leagues, is that I may need to concentrate on quantity over quality more often than I usually do.
In most standard leagues, the quantity vs. quality decision is one that rarely needs to be made: if you do your research, there should theoretically be enough solid every day hitters, starting pitchers, and full-time closers that you can fill out a roster without needing to worry too much about your players having serious shortcomings. But in deeper leagues, we’re used to accepting players with major warts in one way or another because often that’s all we have to choose from. This year, I’ve realized that when it comes to hitters, a potential lack of playing time and at bats is one blemish I want to try to avoid as much as possible.
Choosing a relatively low upside player who will likely be in the lineup every day over a sexier/more talented choice who may or may not get a ton of at bats may be boring, but it feels appropriately safe in a year when we’ve all had to put safety ahead of fun more often than any of us would have ever guessed. Everything feels unpredictable about this year, and there are no sure things in baseball or anywhere else (which anyone who drafted Aroldis Chapman last week after seeing how strong and healthy he looked upon arriving to summer camp can tell you). But when it comes to deeper leagues, I’m going to try to find a little security in some veteran hitters, largely overlooked when it comes to fantasy baseball in 2020 (they all have an NFBC ADP between 300 and 400, and are listed in order of earliest to latest drafted), whom I think have as good a chance as anyone to be solid fixtures in their respective lineups.
Jonathan Schoop. I actively avoided Schoop even as a deep-league flier this season having been burned by him quite badly a couple years ago. I didn’t realize, though, that as he seemingly fell off the radar of the Twins last year, he was actually showing occasional signs of life, like hitting .311 with 5 homers in just 15 games in the month of August. Playing time certainly shouldn’t be an issue in Detroit, and he’s a guy who could provide surprisingly solid fantasy contribution if he can put even a few strong weeks together.
Travis Shaw. If Schoop burned me badly, I don’t have words to describe the way Shaw hurt me in 2019. The thought of putting him in a real or fantasy lineup in 2020 is unfathomable when you look at some of his 2019 stretches… 3 for 27 in the month of May with 1 run scored and 0 RBI? A clean 0 for 7 in June? 3 for 30 in September? It’s as ugly as it gets, so it’s hard to imagine trusting Shaw in a fantasy lineup in even the deepest league… but it appears that the Blue Jays are prepared to do just that with their real-life team by installing him as their every day third baseman. If he’s fixed something in his approach that could lead to production like he had in 2017 and 2018 (63 homers in those two years combined, not to mention 15 steals), Shaw could pay off in a big way in both real and fake baseball.
Jurickson Profar. When he signed with the Padres, Profar didn’t move my fantasy needle even a bit (if you know what I mean), as I just can’t see past a .218 average in 2019/.234 in his 9-year career. But since I’m trying to let go of my usually-substantial worries about batting average/OBP in this bizarre little slice of a season, a guy like Profar is suddenly back on my deep-league radar at his current price (#376 ADP). He should be playing every day, and has just enough pop and enough speed (20 HR/10 SB last year) that a hot stretch could be a nice boon in fantasy.
Andrelton Simmons. Simmons may be one of the more boring Angels in terms of fantasy, but his real-life defense alone should assure him of plenty of at bats if he’s healthy (and he is definitely one of the players who is likely to benefit from the extra rest and recovery time of an extended off-season). Who knows, if none of the Angels opt out and everyone stays healthy to the point where we see their projected ideal lineup for two full months (and yes, that’s a monumental if), Simmons could end up contributing in all five standard fantasy categories.
Freddy Galvis. The Reds may have a lot of moving parts and enticing fantasy names when it comes to the outfield, but one would assume Galvis will shore up the infield defense by playing pretty much every day at shortstop (and he also qualifies at 2B in most leagues). Galvis is younger than I realized (30), and while he may not be great at any one thing fantasy-wise, he’s surprisingly not horrible in any category either. His 23 homers last year could be a complete outlier, or they could be a nice predictor of what he might be able to do in a couple months during the hot summer in Cincinnati.
Nick Ahmed. With shortstop as insanely deep as it is this year, Ahmed (like Simmons and Galvis) didn’t exactly make a tempting target in 2020. He’s another guy I’m bumping up my deep-league list a bit, though, based on the presumption of every day playing time and my decision to ignore BA and OBP (Ahmed’s 3-year numbers in those categories: an ugly .245/.301). Ahmed played in 158 games last year, and in them hit 19 homers and stole 8 bases, so he definitely has counting stats in him if he gets hot at the right time: last year, he had 7 homers in August alone.