After going over the top 20 shortstops for 2020 fantasy baseball, I needed a cigarette. A good after-sex cigarette, not a waiting-to-go-into-court-to-hear-if-you-have-to-spend-18-months-in-jail cigarette. Subtle, but important differences. We also hit up the top 20 catchers for 2020 fantasy baseball, the top 20 1st basemen for 2020 fantasy baseball and the top 20 2nd basemen for 2020 fantasy baseball. In no way was that clickbait. Okay, onto the hot corner. Here’s Steamer’s 2020 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2020 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. All projections listed are mine and I mention where I see tiers starting and stopping. Good times, dyn-o-mite! Anyway, here’s the top 20 3rd basemen for 2020 fantasy baseball:
ALL PROJECTIONS ARE BASED ON 100 GAMES PLAYED, DUE TO COVID-19. BE SAFE OUT THERE!
6. Manny Machado – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Moistasskiss. I call this tier, “Every day I’m shuffling.” Shuffling as in changing my rankings. I’ve reranked this tier a few dozen times, going Vlad, Eugenio, Machado, Chapman, Moncada, Muncy, then changing it to Machado, Eugenio, Chapman, Moncada, Muncy, Vlad, then changing–Well, you know how one reranks. I still want to change it, and, honestly, this ranking makes sense since (almost stutterer!) yesterday to today, but if I were drafting right now, I can’t see myself going Glad Vuerrero Junior over Machado or Moncada. Or maybe I can! Ugh, this tier has me so confused. I just honestly can’t see myself pulling the trigger on Vlad Jr. this high, so I went with this ranking. I know, it’s a lot bolder and sexier to have Vlad Junebug up here and Machado down a few spots, but Machado does 30/5/.270 pretty easily and I don’t know if Vladimir Punim does. As for Machado, already went over him in the top 20 shortstops for 2020 fantasy baseball.
7. Eugenio Suarez – Was a bit surprised by how well he hit his 49 homers last year. I assumed there would be a ton of ‘Just Enoughs.’ There were some, obviously, I mean, he’s a pull hitter who plays in a park where the left field fence is only 328 feet away, but he hit some absolute monster shots to center. Okay, “some” is underplaying his hand. I watched more of his home runs than I care to admit (about 15) and he hit mostly bombs. Looking at his Statcast numbers, he hit only six homers 370 feet and shorter. That’s still almost fifty feet past the fence if he’s pulling the ball, which he does 52% of the time, which is third in the majors behind Kepler and Pujols. Eugenio’s HR/FB% of 29.5% does seem a bit goofy, but if it comes down to 23%, his previous season mark, he still hits 38 HRs. Power is up around the league, but hitting 38 homers with ease is still great. 2020 Projections: 51/23/65/.274/2 in 359 ABs
8. Yoan Moncada – It’s deceiving that every time you say Yoan aloud, you inadvertently yawn and then everyone near you also yawns. Shizz is contagious. His numbers aren’t yawn-worthy, yawny or even yawnstipating. Without much effort, I can get him to 30/15. The only real issue is what will his average be. Last year, he hit .315, but that’s super misleading like following an exit sign in a casino. 45 minutes and $500 later you’re wondering why each exit sign leads directly to an ATM. Moncada did lower his strikeout rate (27.5% from 33.4%), but a .406 BABIP shows he was a tad lucky, if ‘tad’ meant ‘exceptionally’ instead of what it does mean. He did have a top eight exit velocity and 47.9% Hard Hit, which accounts for his .291 xBA and a higher than usual BABIP. If I were to put my brain and Moncada’s Hard Hit% in a supercomputer, I’d guess he hits around .270 without a change in his strikeout rate. Strikeout rates do get better and he’s only 24. 2020 Projections: 51/17/58/.272/6 in 343 ABs
9. Matt Chapman – The Launch Angle Revolution (LAR) started by Dwayne Murphy and Che Guevara in the 1950s outside of a bar in Havana after a bunch of Roman Cokes (what rum and Coke is called when you’re wearing a toga and about to start a revolution) took a long time to reach the major leagues, but it has fully been embraced by these 3rd basemen. Hard to find a guy in these top ten 3rd basemen that don’t hit everything in the air. That’s good because Our Commissioner Manfred is injecting steroids into the Guatemalan seamstresses who are sewing the balls together so the stitches are extra tight. Chapman actually looks to me like he’s a 36-homer guy going on 42 homers vs. going the other way. Bit surprised he hit as low as .249 last year too. Everything, and I mean everything, is going the right way for him. This tier is sexy and I’d be happy with any of them, even if it wasn’t easy to settle on a ranking. 2020 Projections: 59/23/64/.256/1 in 357 ABs
10. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – One last note about Glad Jr.’s ranking before talking about him. As it would be hard to draft him before Machado, it would be equally hard for me to draft Muncy before Vlad the Impala, so this is why this ranking is what it is, even if Muncy’s projections prolly look a scooch better than Guerrero’s. Really about upside and Vladdy the Baddy’s upside over Muncy’s. So, therefore, ergo, Vlad Jr.! He’s still overrated from the early drafts I’ve seen. I’m all for giving guys the Benefit of the Doubt. Mostly the BofD comes when a guy can give five categories, because worst case scenario is he still chucks in 10 steals. Tiny Vlad doesn’t have that luxury. If he doesn’t hit 32+ homers and .285+, he’s just not going to return value of a top 50 pick. The Blew Kays are clearly in the past. The Blue Jays will be better in 2020. But, let’s be real, who is hitting behind Vlad? I know, you have to crane your neck to see around his posterior, but try. Will Vlad get anywhere near 80 runs? I think 90 RBIs might even be asking for a lot. Gonna be hard to imagine a season from him where he’s even surpassing Moncada’s projected runs and RBIs. There’s obviously a possible season here of 40/.310 and the runs and RBIs are whatever, and that would make Guerrero a steal this late, but paying for that upside vs. the floor and upside of a Machado or Moncada just feels wrong. Ask me again tomorrow and I might reconsider. 2020 Projections: 49/19/57/.291/1 in 352 ABs
12. Josh Donaldson – He signed with the Twins and all aboard the Feel-Good Train for me. Mentioned this the other day with Jorge Polanco, but I know most of people’s stats from last year. For a Price is Right game, I’m coming within a couple homers for everyone. Then, enter Josh Donaldson. My yodeler is going over the cliff with him. He homered 37 times last year? Was everyone aware of this? I feel like someone hacked the baseball stats and added an extra ten homers. If he would’ve got a start on his career a little sooner, he’d be looking down the barrel of a borderline Hall of Fame case. That’s called a Blyleven. Only real worry for Donaldson is his health. His perfs (as the kids say) check out. I’m a big Muncy fan — Funcy? Fancy? Hmm, needs work. — and even I have to admit if Donaldson’s healthy, his projections will be about equal to that of Muncy. In fact (Grey’s got more!), last year Muncy finished 56th on the Player Rater and Donaldson finished 58th. Only thing that better not happen, and I mean, never-ever-ever-amen happen. He better not cost Sano at-bats, because I love that Butterball of Biscuits this year. 2020 Projections: 58/20/60/.254/2 in 314 ABs
14. Kris Bryant – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until McNeil. I call this tier, “Billy Noel.” By the tier name I mean you’re psyched to go see Billy Joel. You can’t believe he’s playing in front of the AMC Theater at your local mall. Seems too good to be true, but thinking about Scenes From An Italian Restaurant being played adjacent to your favorite Buca di Beppo is just amazing! You tell your friends and ask if they want to meet you there, but that’s when they lay on you it’s Billy Noel not Billy Joel. It’s an impersonator who does Christmas songs. Now it makes sense why the announcement said he’d be doing some of his greatest hits like It’s Still Rock and Coal To Me, Mrs. Claus’s Got A Way and We Didn’t Start The Yule Log. That’s this tier. They seem too good to be true to me, and I think they’re gonna lead to disappointment. As for Bryant, 2018 was an outlier. That’s clear now. His HR/FB% plummeted, due to his shoulder injury, and everything tanked. Ya know what’s interesting (to me) and kinda throws the shoulder injury narrative in the garbage? His exit velocity and average homer distance were higher in 2018. The hips may not lie, but I don’t know if the Statcast numbers do. Bryant’s peripherals are ugly. I could absolutely see a scenario where Bryant gets a few more fly balls into the Wrigley wind and challenges 40 homers, and has a career year, but Martin Maldonado barreled up about as many pitches as Bryant. I don’t know, and I could absolutely be wrong, but I’m out on Bryant. 2020 Projections: 64/17/50/.278/2 in 345 ABs
19. Miguel Sano – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Anderson. I call this tier, “An Italian man in the hills of Tuscany, shouting, ‘Now-a that’s-a chef’s kiss!'” I love the guys in this tier. P to the erhaps more than I should, but here we are. This is also the last tier I feel good about drafting from the 3rd basemen. This is hopefully just a corner or utility man in your league, but if you don’t have a 3rd baseman yet what exactly are you waiting for? Don’t answer, draft! As for Sano, went over him in the top 20 1st basemen for 2020 fantasy baseball.
30. Brian Anderson – I just watched about 50 Anderson at-bats (so you don’t have to), and I came away convinced he could hit 30+ homers if he made an adjustment to his swing. Wonder if I could buy Pete Alonso a train ticket to sit next so him and Brian Anderson could discuss that if there’s a ball Alonso wants to murder and Anderson wants to murder, they could switch murders to eliminate the motive, or I might’ve fell asleep watching Strangers on a Train. Nah, seriously, Anderson’s got a solid line drive stroke, which is gonna leave him with 17-20 homer, but he could hit 27+ homers with a small tweak to up his fly ball rate. 2020 Projections: 46/14/50/.271/2 in 342 ABs
31. Gio Urshela – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Riley. I call this tier, “S.A.A.D. City (feat. MC Things-ain’t-aight).” This tier is named for the Kendrick Lamar song and stands for Suckers All About Drafting. I’ve also seen it stand for Sleepers when you don’t have Anything Alse (sic) in your Draft. I’m more with the 1st definition, but maybe there’s some value here if you’re in a pinch. I’m at best looking at these guys for a utility slot in super deep leagues. In shallower leagues (12 team or shallower), I don’t trust any of these guys. As for Gio, his xBA at .294 is better than Justin Turner’s .288. No, that doesn’t mean everything, but–Actually, with these two guys, their expected batting average might just mean it all. The more I dig in on Urshela, the more I dig him. He hit real blasts, not cheap shots. He barrels up a decent amount and finished top 30 in line drive rate. Urshela does seem like the 1st guy who is replaced if the Yankees find a bright shiny object on the trade market, or the first guy you replace on your fantasy team if you see a bright shiny object on waivers. Let’s be honest, you ain’t going to sleep at night, kneeling next to your bed, thanking your God for Urshela. 2020 Projections: 40/12/43/.302/1 in 301 ABs
32. Justin Turner – Starting to see some cracks in the Turner batted ball profile. His average on fastballs in 2018 was .282 and .313 last year. That’s good, great, adjective. How’sever, his breaking ball xBA year over year went .284 to .217. Maybe that’s nothing, but what I think it is: as a hitter gets older he has to cheat more on fastballs to get around on them, so if you’re looking fastball, you’re prone to whiffing on breaking balls. If it took me a minute-thirty to establish a game plan for Turner, guess how long it will take major league teams. His chase rate (28.1%) was also up above where it had been for the last five years, since he shook the funk of the Mets off his Gritty-like locks. 2020 Projections: 44/14/46/.278/1 in 303 ABs
36. Austin Riley – I’ll be honest with you, I had him ranked about 20 spots before this, but decided to move him down after the OZUNA signing. If the 1st half of his last year is who he is, then he’s easily playing over Camargo at 3rd. If the 2nd half of his first year is who he is, well…. His 36% strikeout rate and 5.4% walk rate are hilarious in the same way it’s someone’s job to change out the batteries on a doomsday clock. Riley wouldn’t be the first guy to come up after solid minor league numbers, get chewed up and then turn his career around. He also wouldn’t be the first guy to continue to get chewed up either and need to be traded to reinvent himself. His March might define his role for 2020 and the foreseeable future. Legitimately have no idea of what to make of him, but his 2nd half was S.A.A.D. City. 2020 Projections: 36/12/40/.241/1 in 251 ABs
37. Hanser Alberto – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Asdrubal. I call this tier, “See a different post, my dude.” As for Hanser, went over him in the top 20 2nd basemen for 2020 fantasy baseball..
41. Matt Carpenter – Can take too much away from postseason games, but in the game where the Cards blew out the Braves, Carpenter pulled himself from the game. Fantasy baseballers would do well to follow his lead. 2020 Projections: 30/9/31/.238/2 in 236 ABs
43. Kyle Seager – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until the end of the list. I call this tier, “You thought PST was two hours behind EST, but it’s three.” So, you obviously got the time of your draft wrong and you’re looking at drafting later than anticipated. No worries, there’s a 1 in 450 chance one of these guys is worth owning. As for Seager, he’s not that much worse than his brother. *super long awkward pause* Unfortunately, his brother isn’t that great either. 2020 Projections: 38/15/44/.232/1 in 331 ABs
44. Maikel Franco – Here’s what I said this offseason, “Signed by the Royals. His peripherals are actually pretty interesting in a super depressing type way. He hits the ball vewy, vewy soft, said like Elmer Fudd. Which wouldn’t be terrible if he were fast, except his legs also move vewy, vewy slow. A slow, soft swing isn’t bad if he were, say, hunting wabbits. For baseball? It’s a tad less ideal.” And that’s me quoting me! 2020 Projections: 32/13/40/.241 in 310 ABs
45. Todd Frazier – Upside is 25 HRs/.250 and downside is 12 HRs/.250 and he retires in July. 2020 Projections: 35/11/38/.241/1 in 266 ABs
46. Travis Shaw – Here’s what I said when he signed with the Jays, “I’m not saying he’s going to win the MVP this year, but I’m not saying he’s not not going to win it either.” And that’s me expecting huge things from Travis Shaw again! 2020 Projections: 35/12/38/.224/1 in 275 ABs
47. Evan Longoria – Tell your slightly younger cousin that Evan Longoria used to be one the best hitters in baseball all the way back in 2016 and they will never believe another word that you say. 2020 Projections: 32/10/38/.248/2 in 277 ABs
65. Josh Fuentes – Bud Black will absolutely start Fuentes for 175 at-bats and he’ll hit, like, 17 homers and then get benched for the newly acquired Greg Bird or someone else equally puzzling. 2020 Projections: 19/7/24/.241/1 in 125 ABs
67. Ke’Bryan Hayes – Pirates prospect with a name that would make any football player jealous. Didn’t write him up in my fantasy baseball rookies (not clickbait at all, why do you accuse me of these things?) because the Pirates’ womb is polluted like Michelle Pfeiffer’s and, holy smokes, she’s still so hot at 61 years old. Bless you and Michelle Pfeiffer’s plastic surgeon! Any hoo! Hayes is 12/12/.275 at best. I mean, on his tippy toes touching his ceiling, so that’s kinda bleh, especially prorated to at best two-thirds of a season. 2020 Projections: 25/5/19/.261/6 in 173 ABs