I sure wish Grey would do his 2020 fantasy baseball rankings. Wait, I am Grey and this is the rankings! AHHHHH!!! I need to sit down. Wait, I am sitting!!! I can’t handle all of this!!! I’m going to put on a pair of pants and go dance in the street. Meh, let’s be honest, pants are a chore. So, this is the greatest day ever! Now, only 400,000 words more until I finish my top 500 and I’ll be done. Worst day ever! Damn, that excitement was fleeting. Well, not for you because you don’t have to write all the rankings. You lucky son of a gun! I wish I were you… *wavy lines* Hey, why am I balding and have lost all definition in my buttocks? *wavy lines* Hmm, I’m gonna stay me. Now before we get into the top 10 for 2020 fantasy baseball (though I imagine every single one of you has skipped this intro paragraph), I’m gonna lay down some exposition. Here’s where you follow us on Twitter. Here’s where you follow us on Facebook. Here’s our fantasy baseball player rater. Here’s our fantasy baseball team name generator. Here are all of our 2020 fantasy baseball rankings. Here’s the position eligibility chart for 2020 fantasy baseball. And here is a picture of my son. What a punim! You may not get all of those links in such a handy, easy-to-use format ever again this year, so make proper note. (Unless you just go to the top menu on this page that says “Rankings” and click it, but semantics, my over-the-internet friend, semantics.) Also, here’s Steamer’s 2020 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2020 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. Rudy’s on top of it this year! Sorta, he says to note it’s Version 1.0, and tweaks will happen over the course of the next few weeks.
Now my expositional half insists I breakdown some generalizations about these 2020 fantasy baseball rankings. The 2020 fantasy baseball rankings will be an ever-evolving mass like the blob. This fantasy baseball top 10 for 2020 list is as of right now and could potentially change with a big injury or Mike Trout quitting baseball because he’s bored with being the best and wants to play competitive Mahjong. (I’m not sure yet where Trout would rank in my Mahjong Top 10.) So while it is the 2020 fantasy baseball gospel, take it with a tablet of salt. Tomorrow we will cover the rest of the top twenty for 2020 fantasy baseball, then we will go around the horn with a top 20 (more like 60) list for every position. Then for pitchers and outfielders, I’ll turn the dial to 100 (more like 140). Listed with each player are my 2020 projections. Did I consult with anyone else who does projections? It would be ignorant not to, but, in the end, these are my projections. Players need 5 games started at a position to get included in the positional rankings. If I put someone in a position, that is why. Well, that is whyahoo, actually. Finally, as with each list in the 2020 fantasy baseball rankings, I will be mentioning where I see tiers start and stop. I look at tiers like this, if Christian Yelich and Acuña are in the same tier, it doesn’t matter if one guy is ranked 2nd and one guy is ranked 1st, they’re both very close. It comes down to personal preference. I would prefer the guy at number one over the guy at two, but you do you, I’ll do me and let’s hope we don’t go blind. Anyway, here’s the top 10 for 2020 fantasy baseball:
ALL PROJECTIONS ARE BASED ON 60 GAMES PLAYED, DUE TO COVID-19. BE SAFE OUT THERE!
1. Ronald Acuña Jr. – This tier goes from here until Yelich. I call this tier, “Acceptable ‘Best of the Decade’ Lists.” Some unacceptable “Best of the Decade” lists include: Boyfriends of Taylor Swift; Best Meningitis Outbreaks; Best Disney World Decapitations. This is not one of those lists. This list is an acceptable ‘Best of the Decade’ list. Only the decade is the 2020s and we’re only a few weeks into it, and these guys are just the best. Last year people gave me crap saying I was too high on Acuña by ranking him 4th overall. At the time, that seemed aggressive to you, even if it didn’t feel that way to me. You complained; I ignored or said “Ha.” No worries about apologizing. As Napoleon once said, “I forgive you for only putting two layers in my whipped-cream dessert, but if you meant it as a dig on my height, I will never forget.” But, ya know, if you were to apologize, don’t start the apology with, “To be fair, you were being a jerk.” I can forgive a lot. For unstints, I can forgive the pics you posted of me while looking sad. I was listening to Neil Diamond’s Solitary Man while in a very reflective mood. What I can’t forgive is poorly formulated forgiveness. You were wrong on Acuña and I was right. I won’t gloat. Standing on top of a mountain, “I WAS RIGHT!!!” This year, nowhere to go but down, huh? I don’t know, Poppa Large. Tildaddy seemed very interested in getting a 40/40 season last year, and, after falling a little short, my money’s on him not falling short again. I did debate Trout or Tildaddy at number one overall longer than I want to admit (47 seconds). Trout looks like a lock for more power than Acuña, but his steals are not even going to be nearby adjacent. Tildaddy is an easy 30-steal guy with a 38% fly ball rate and a likely 22% HR/FB, which gives him 37.4 homers, and a point-four homer is obviously a 384-foot fly ball off-the-wall that Acuña jogs into a single. Tildaddy says he wants to run hard, here’s hoping! 2020 Projections: 44/15/36/.287/15 in 219 ABs
2. Christian Yelich – Honestly, I almost made Yelich my number three pick and Trout number two, but that’s why there’s tiers and how I say anyone in a tier is fair game, i.e., if you drafted Yelich 1st, 2nd or third; Tildaddy 1st, 2nd or 3rd or Trout 1st, 2nd or 3rd, it’s all the same diff. Like when I’m not using my usual conditioner, I’m splitting hairs. Yelich’s recent numbers make Trout’s pale in comparison, but a pale Trout is a halibut, and I ranked them this way just for the halibut! Yo, my DJs on the wheels of steel! (That’s not deejays or DJ LeMahieu; that’s DJs as in Dad Jokes.) There was actually a real case to be made Yelich should be 1st, but I’m concerned his knee injury might slow his running game. There’s also some splits issues — home/away and righty/lefty. By the by, keep in mind I’m pointing out issues with these guys, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like them. I’m picking nits and not because I don’t want to shampoo with petroleum jelly. Yelich’s home/away splits: 27 HRs/17 HRs, .347/.312; righty/lefty: 32 HRs/12 HRs, .358/.277. These aren’t even that bad. If he only faced lefties in away games all year, he’d still be a 32-homer, .285 hitter, which is, ya know, great. Also, to be fairer than fair which is better than being colder than cold — ice cold! — Yelich may not be as good on the road, but he still hits like an absolute beast at home. I just chuckled. The soft, delicate laugh of a small man who was thinking about how Giancarlo and Yelich were on the same Marlins team and Yelich is now the guy I’m calling a beast. 2020 Projections: 43/14/41/.312/6 in 204 ABs
3. Cody Bellinger – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Lindor. I call this tier, “Flavor Town.” Sometimes when Guy Fieri says, “Flavor Town,” I hear a place called Flavor Town, where everything is deliciously drenched in donkey sauce. Other times I hear, “Flavor Town,” and I hear the verb flavor, as in a town that is boring that needs to be flavored by Guy Fieri. Both are similarly terrific, be sure on that, but they are subtly different. That’s how I am with this tier. Every time I look at this tier I think about drafting a different way. Usually I save indecision for the top 20, but this year I’m super whatever on the rankings of these guys. I’m not saying I don’t like them; I’d draft any of them and will. I’m merely saying that if you think Bellinger has to be 4th, Story 5th, etc. — like, has to has to, you’re lying. No one in this tier has to be in this order. It’s a tier and I give you permission to draft any of them, as long it’s one of these four. Now if I see someone draft Gerrit Cole or Juan Soto or Torenado in this area of the draft, then I will just slowly shake my head, turn to a mirror and say, “You tried your best, handsome.” As for Bellinger, I was thisclose to putting him in the above tier. So close there’s not even space between this and close! Can you imagine? Speaking of close, did you know we close our eyes when we yawn because God thinks it makes us look cute? Little trivia for you! Bellinger’s 15 steals last year feel like the tippy top ceiling, and, if he stole eight bags, it wouldn’t shock me. His strikeout rate went from okay to I Can’t Believe That’s Not Butter, so a better average looks right. His power, well, that needs to be 42+ homers, and it should. Bellinger’s 24.6% HR/FB looks repeatable, and his fly ball rate of 42.4% last year might’ve been a tad low, i.e., he hit 47 homers last year and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit 50. My only small concern is his Launch Angle went from 16.1 to 17.6, and why he almost hit twice as many year-over-year homers, so, if that regresses, well, we don’t want a possible 25/12/.290 guy 1st overall (what I’d be saying if he was in the above tier.) 2020 Projections: 40/16/43/.292/4 in 208 ABs
4. Trevor Story – I wanted to shock the world and rank Story even higher, because he feels like he could be a 45/20/.315 hitter and be a number one overall guy, but I couldn’t pull the trigger on Trevor — the Trevor trigger — the Tregger. His year-over-year numbers are remarkably similar. His fly ball rate creased a less than one percent difference from 2018 to 2019; his HR/FB% is exactly the same the last two years; his Hard Contact rate went from 44.5% to 44.1%. Yo, you a robot, Story? If you are a robot, don’t be giving me any of that cockblocking CAPTCHA shizz! So, yes, I could say Story will get 45/20, because: Coors. But I can’t point to anything to back that up other than my gut, and I just ate blue cheese that was once yellow. 2020 Projections: 39/14/38/.293/6 in 216 ABs
5. Mookie Betts – Last year he went 135/29/80/.295/16 in 597 ABs. That some saw this as a down year will now cause me to laugh hysterically until I fall into a coughing fit and am ushered off to a sanitarium for two months, only to return telling people not only am I better but explaining to others how they can be better too, which will piss off everyone else around me until people start saying things like, “I liked him better when he was crazy, and less self-righteous.” The big difference between Betts — Bettsween? — when he put together a top fantasy season and merely a top ten season was 30 steals in 2018 to 16 steals last year. I don’t know if the steals will come all the way back. Tee bee aitch, Betts never had 30-steal speed. He was around the 150th fastest in 2018 and 170th last year; his sprint speed went from 28.1 to 27.9. He’s not Albert Pujols in a motorized scooter rounding the bases, but he’s also not Tim Locastro. You might remember Locastro is the secret ingredient in potato chips that gives you the runs. Mooks looks (doesn’t rhyme, sucka!) like an elite, safe draft pick with little upside or downside — a floor bore (does rhyme, sucka!) UPDATE: Los Angeles is such an eco-friendly city that when a recent EPA report cited jet fuel as accounting for 17% of air pollution, the Dodgers went out and traded for Mookie Betts. See, this year’s All-Star Game is in Dodger Stadium, and now eleven of their players don’t have to fly anywhere for the All-Star Game festivities. Always giving, my great City of Angels, that’s not actually the city of the Angels, that’s Anaheim, but they call themselves Los Angeles and it’s nowhere near Los Angeles. Not confusing at all! Let’s just drool for a second at the Dodgers’ lineup: Betts, Muncy, Turner, Bellinger, Pollock, Seager, Will Smith and Gavin Lux. If they trade Austin Barnes to the Astros for a trash can, then their 2020 title hopes will be sealed! Before you laugh, the Astros could use a catcher. So, Betts’s best will be in the starry skies of Los Angeles, and Rihanna might just start liking baseball again. “You’re cute with that silliness.” “Nah, seriously, I want to go bowling.” That’s Mookie and Rihanna on their first date. Betts is in the prime of his career, and I can’t see any chance a move to Los Angeles slows him down, however–Don’t do it, Grey! Don’t be negative here! Well, Fenway to Dodger Stadium isn’t the best move. Some of those doubles off the wall might go for deep outs to the left fielder. The Dodgers didn’t steal a lot in 2019 either, but that could be from a lack of threats. Justin Turner is running? Muncy? Bellinger did run, because he can. Betts should still be a lock for 15-20 steals, but I’m knocking his power down a tad with the park change. While his projections will change a bit, his ranking is staying the same. 2020 Projections: 43/10/33/.292/7 in 218 ABs
6. Francisco Lindor – Going to talk briefly about how important it is to draft guys who give you steals and power. Do you wanna win your league? Great, good first step, Cousin Sweatpants. Bravo. Hoist your family crest, coat of arms flag and do a lap around your couch in celebration. In order to win your league — now here comes the super surprising thing — you’re going to need power and speed. *insert GIF of Russell Crowe from A Beautiful Mind scribbling on a window, but only scribbling the words ‘power’ and ‘speed’* You can grab guys later for SAGNOF who will give you speed on the cheap — Mallex, Dee Gordon, Jarrod Dyson, to name a few. That ‘few’ has become fewer in recent years, and they all left me shuddering to different degrees. They had a combined average of around .235; Lindor hit .284. That crapumvirate combined for 98 RBIs, Lindor had 74 RBIs. That trio of vomit had 16 HRs; Lindor had 32. They obviously had many more steals. Lindor had 22; Mallex alone had 46 SBs, but Mallex had a negative twelve dollar value for runs, average, homers and RBIs! It is imperative you get guys that give speed and power, so you’re not tacking on massive negatives later on to try to make up for a lack of speed. Not to mention, if you’re relying on one guy for speed, and he gets hurt, you’re screwed. Take it from me with my draft pick of Trea Turner last year. He wasn’t terrible, but he was projected for 50+ steals, and ended up with 35 steals, which left me about 15 steals shy of middle of the pack for steals, and six points shy in league standings. A guy like Lindor getting you 30+ HRs and 20+ steals is priceless. (Actually, he has a price, that of about a mid-round 1st round pick.) 2020 Projections: 41/13/33/.287/8 in 229 ABs
7. Trea Turner – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until the top 20 for 2020 fantasy baseball. I call this tier, “3.75 of a Does Matter.” The difference between these tiers are mere fractions. The fractional equation is: Three-quarters of a “I Likey” divided by two-thirds of a “I No Likey” equals 1.125 of a Like, which you have to divide by “Three-Tenths of a Doesn’t Matter” and that equals 3.75 of a Does Matter, because you’re only getting one 1st rounder anyway. So, in conclusion, tiers matter even if it doesn’t seem like they do. As for Treat Urner, he gives you speed like a baller lamping in the passenger seat of a Tesla auto-driving as it bounces with hydraulics and neon lights while playing Posse on Broadway while not on a street named Broadway because you don’t give a f*ck. Treat Urner is Ford and Ferrari. I’m not going to disparage his speed, which is what I say right before doing just that. He had one game with more than one steal after his injury last year. He only stole one bag in the entire postseason. I do think he can steal 55+ steals. I mean, he is physically capable. Will he? Does he have the wont? Does Treat Urner want to urn 55+ treats? I don’t know. Last year tells me he doesn’t need to for the Nats to win the World Series, so why suddenly become a 55-steal guy? Obviously, 20/40 still has massive value. 2020 Projections: 41/7/23/.287/15 in 229 ABs
8. Juan Soto – The year is 2045. All the years after 2038 have been a blur because, seven years prior, I was hit by a flying car, and now my frozen head is in a jar, and the visibility through formaldehyde is 100% blurriness. Don’t fret; I’m way ahead of Ted Williams in line to get another body, because it’s alphabetical. Haha, eat it, Ted W.! Taking a summer vacation this year for the 1st time in forty years as my 100-something-year-old Cougar drives my head to see Juan Soto get inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, which she keeps saying in its entirety and I keep gurgling into the formaldehyde jar, “You can just say, ‘Hall of Fame.’ You don’t have to say ‘baseball,’ we know where we’re going.” On the trip, I begin to recount all of Juan Soto’s achievements — his 600+ homers, his .295 career average, his .415 career OBP, which tied fellow inductee, Daniel Palka, who became a huge star the year after I wrote a sleeper post for him in 2019. All incredible marks and my head trip shows how much I love Sexy Dr. Pepper, but what was his top mark in steals for any year? 12? Maybe 15? Sounds like Mike Trout without the huge power upside. 2020 Projections: 37/13/40/.294/4 in 199 ABs
9. Mike Trout – Maybe because I ranked him 3rd overall vs. 1st or 2nd, but I can, for the first time, see an end to the supremacy Trout has reigned over us since 2012. Crazy how fast athlete primes are, right? I went back to look at my 2012 top 10 (remember, this is coming out of 2011, and before Trout became Mr. Man) and Miggy and Pujols were in the top three. Now those two guys need a tag team partner to run around the bases on a home run. Miggy became a top five pick in 2005, and Pujols entered top five convo in 2003, so his run was a tad longer. Seven to nine years for a top five prime? Not too shabby. Of course, Trout’s the best there ever was and I’m jumping the gun on saying he’s done, because with the internet you always have to be the 1st to say something, no matter how outrageous. How’sever, there’s some concerning bits in Trout’s profile. His fly ball rate was all the way up (literally) to 49.2%. That’s goofy high. Obviously, he’s not Rhys Hoskins or Jose Ramirez, who hit a lot of 370-foot fly ball outs, but Trout’s Hard Contact (43.8%) was 39th in the majors. No, silly, that’s not bad, but he’s getting prone to hitting dumpers into the left field bleachers, and you can kind understand why his BABIP came down to .298 (though he still hit .291 because so many line drives). Plus, he just had foot surgery, and, at some point, his 10+ steal speed is going to become, “Meh, it’s not worth it, my toesies needs their rest.” Again, he’s not bad, but I can see Trout’s 2nd act becoming 35 homers, .275 average and two steals, and a top 25 to 50 overall pick more now than I could last year. UPDATE: About time we addressed the elephant in the room. Is Mike Trout playing this year? I’d guess yes, since he’s at camp. Is he really showing up at camp and not going to play? I guess it’s possible, but why? Okay, glad I know what’s going on in Mike Trout and his family’s heart more than him, since he’s said he doesn’t know if he’s playing. Ask Grey, he’ll tell you! Second problem here, Trout said he’s absolutely leaving for the birth of his child, so he’s going to miss at least a week or two of the season in an eight-week season, i.e., once he leaves the bubble, he has to quarantine before returning, and test negative twice. So, could he leave and not return? I think it’s possible. So, with much hand-wringing, I have adjusted my Mike Trout ranking, moving him down. Rudy moved Trout down in the Steamer auction values, as well. Not dramatically, because this is all so unknown. I’ve heard some fantasy baseball ‘perts say they wouldn’t draft Trout in the first five rounds. That feels extreme, but they’re playing baseball in a pandemic, so everything’s on the table, and untouched by me. 2020 Projections: 40/16/43/.285/4 in 190 ABs
10. Fernando Tatis Jr. – Ending the top 10 for 2020 fantasy baseball with a bullet! FTJ gonna fun the jewels fast, fun them, fun them jewels fast! When I started ranking, I didn’t see myself putting Fun the Jewels this high, but it goes back to the Lindor blurb. I want speed and power from everyone, and, since we’re back at Lindor’s blurb, let’s look at his projections vs. FTJ’s. More runs, power, RBIs and average, but less speed and mighty close on all counts. Also, who’s got more upside? FTJ or Lindor? Is it even close? In 2020, FTJ could be Acuña with 20/20 hindsight while rocking 40/40 like my eyes when I forget my contacts are in and I put on my glasses. Is Lindor gonna sniff 40/40? Maybe 40 homers, but, c’mon, he’s not gonna come within a country mile of 40 steals. (A country mile is Jim Thome with a long tape measure.) Then, forgetting Lindor, let’s think about Tildaddy going into last year. No one trusted him to rank him as high as 4th overall like I did. Why? Because he hadn’t done it before? Not to insult your intelligence, but it insults my intelligence to avoid a guy just because he hasn’t done it before. FTJ had about a half a season last year, going 22/16/.317. “Hello, 911, I have an emergency. I think Mr. Prorater is having a heart attack.” I should be ranking FTJ in the top four overall, but his .410 BABIP and 29.6% K% shook me a little and I’m worried he bottoms out to .240-ish. The power and speed won’t go anywhere though, so, even if he goes 30/30/.240, I’m more than happy taking him in the top 10. Actually, more than “more than happy.” I’m hanging my head out a window like a female Great Dane slobbering to draft FTJ, then taking Lizzo’s DNA test to show I’m 100% that bitch. 2020 Projections: 39/12/25/.259/11 in 220 ABs