On our Steamer Fantasy Baseball Rankings, which have been updated to a 60-game season, we have 1,310 players ranked. 645 of them gained value. Some, for unstints, gained $0.1 of value like Juan Soto. Another hundred had zero value change like Christian Yelich. Another 600+ lost value. I’ll go over those guys in another post. This post will feature the top 20 players who gained the most value from doing nothing but bingeing Netflix for the last three months. Who knew watching Joe Exotic would add more value than any Driveline drills? Apparently, all baseball players need to know is, “Who is dumpster diving at your nearest Costco?” Anyway, here’s the top 20 biggest positive value changes for fantasy baseball pre vs. post-shutdown:
1. Austin Riley – $15 of extra value. Quick bit of obviousness. The money I’m quoting doesn’t mean, say, Austin Riley is now worth $15, which is the same as, say, Marcus Semien. He gained $15, but Riley is actually worth $3.40 and $6.20/game and ranked 214th overall. He was worth a negative prior to the shutdown, and gained $15. Clear? Prolly not, but moving on. Bless you and your NL DH, you crackpot season! Seeing some places report Nick Markakis as the Braves’ DH, Johan Camargo as their 3rd baseman and Ender Inciarte as an everyday outfielder, to which I say, nice try, liars! Or maybe they’re not liars, but an extra spot in the lineup adds an extra 250-ish at-bats and those have to go somewhere. “With extra room comes extra value,” as Spider-Man said when he briefly started a fantasy sports blog. I’m all hail-ing the universal DH, and Austin Riley should too, it will give him near-everyday at-bats somewhere in the lineup, and make him a mixed league target. (This is different than a Universal DH, which is person you pay to stand in line at Universal’s The Mummy Ride.) Also, here’s my Austin Riley sleeper.
2. Ryan Mountcastle – $14.40. This is assuming, of course, the Orioles do the right thing (RIP Radio Raheem) and add Mountcastle to their roster. C’mon, Orioles, it’s no surprise to see Mountcastle gaining so much value here after three months of Netflix, since he sounds like a British crime drama. “Mountcastle, you need to go see the gaffer about this new case. It’s a missing child who was abducted by a side character who is in the entire series tangentially for no reason that no one suspects. Say the neighbor who is a teacher at an all boy’s school.” That’s the 1st episode of Mountcastle on BBC, the Baltimore Baseball Club! Also, with Mancini going down, Mountcastle’s spot opened; now someone tell the O’s. I’ve been raving about Ryan Mountcastle since last year. Or rather, the raves are in, he’s a smash!
3. Nick Madrigal – $12.20. With the delay came promise of Madrigal’s sweet siren voice of steals and batting average. As I’ve been saying (here’s my Nick Madrigal sleeper), with a shortened season, it would take some serious crackers in the White Sox’s collective head to not start Madrigal out of the gate, since every game is critical.
4. Brendan McKay – $10.70. Still not running out to roster him. I’m sorry. I get the appeal now. With a shortened season, any pitchers throwing 2nd thru 6th inning one game a week, actually get a boost, because, unlike mediocre starters, they’ll be in during the key moments of a game for a Win. There’s just safer names for this. See below for Yarbrough, and my milkshakes bringing all the boys to him.
5. Alex Verdugo – $7.50. One brief note, Yasiel Puig actually gained more than Verdugo, but I didn’t list him, because…Has anyone signed him yet? So, Verdugo took one of the stranger trips through the preseason, having his value change about nine times in ten months. Dodgers’ 4th outfielder? No thank you! Red Sox leadoff hitter? Yes, thank you! Injured back? No thank you! Injured back that has ten months to heal? Yes, thank you! Verdugo’s value has done so many 180s it could a world class figure skater. “Wow, the Russian judge gave Verdugo’s value a 5.4, sinking its chances for gold.”
7. Michael Kopech – $4.30. Big drop-off between value changes on Pearson and Kopech. Yes, and no. I skipped a few names in-between like Justin Dunn — he’s still ranked 500th overall, so value change or not, who cares — and others who are just as irrelevant. Later in the list, I skip some guys who are also irrelevant, due to how high they’re ranked anyway. For unstints, Shane Bieber gained value, but so what? As for Kopech, he’s still ranked around 340th overall, so he’s pretty borderline even in deeper mixed leagues. It might come down to how long until the White Sox cease Cease or no longer Roll-out-naldo.
8. Jarred Kelenic – $3.50. Nearly skipped mentioning Kelenic, because, while he might be on a taxi squad, the M’s are turning to him? I have doubts — sorry, Gwen Stefani.
9. Jo Adell – $3.30. Not since Christopher Lloyd was added as a series regular in the 2nd season have I cared so much about taxi squads. Jo Adell as AL Rookie of the Year. Get the chants started now in those empty stadiums! Also, my Jo Adell sleeper.
10. Giancarlo Stanton – $3.10. Mi novio, my amore, the father of my beautiful daughter, Giancarla. I love you, let me count the ways. The first way–damn, I just felt my oblique go. Might be sympathy pains.
11. Dustin May – $3.10. If you said to me you were a time traveler and you came from the future to tell me Dustin May threw as many innings as Kershaw this year, I’d say, “Cool, and how far from the future are you coming because you don’t have on a mask?” Pitching is going to be a bleepin’ mess this year. Quality over quantity, one person said. Another person said, quantity over quality. A third said, “What does quantity mean?” No one knows. My best guess is it will be similar to other years. Good pitchers will be good, and many will still get injured. Next-to-no spring training games is going to hurt starters, good or bad ones. It will be a shizzshow.
12. Jose Urquidy – $2.50. Kinda samesies with Dustin May. My t-shirt reads on the front, “I didn’t say you’re a cutie.” On the back, “I said Urquidy.” Any hoo, my starters to target featured Urquidy, because he sounds like a compliment and he makes me swoon.
13. Carter Kieboom – $2.20. In a shortened season, Kieboom goes the dynamite on his fantasy value! Skyrocket that shizz to the moon, baby! Yeah! *looks at Steamer projections for him* 6 HRs, 2 SBs and…okay, it’s 60 games tho, right? I mean, that’s okay, isn’t it? No? Hmm…Well, he got better!
14. Jesus Luzardo – $2.10. Podcaster Ralph and I were discussing this on text the other day. There’s gonna be a lot of Middlers this year. Or Openers who throw three to four innings. The A’s aren’t gonna be like, “Cool, we only have 60 games, let’s throw Luzardo for 8 IP every start for 12 starts. I have him projected for 39 IP. Steamer pitcher projections have Luzardo at 50 IP. That’s a decent difference in only a 60-game season, so I might be a tad too low. My thoughts on it are the A’s have Puk, Bassitt, Blackburn and others who are going to see some innings, and the definition of ‘some’ might vary there too. Luzardo won’t see a full-time run of innings just because now a “full-time run of innings” is only 75 IP.
15. Lance McCullers – $1.90. Was super out on McCullers during Spring Training 1.0, which I’m being told was this year. “Hello, Quote-A-Day Calendar Maker, when was March? How many months ago? No, that can’t be right, and I don’t want a Gandhi quote. Have a nice day, you big dummy.” McCullers is still less than an ideal guy for me, but I could see rostering him. I still think there’s issues with thinking he can just throw a full 60-game season, and won’t be babied. I have him ranked around 190 overall, and Steamer auction values have him at 151. A mighty nice rum, but too much for me.
16. Ryan Yarbrough – $1.80. One quick moment of honesty, Yarbrough has about ten guys between him and McCullers as gaining value, but there’s a ton of irrelevant ones. Dallas Keuchel went from $2.60 to 4.50? Meh, whatever. Any hoo! I loved Yarbrough enough to write a sleeper post about him in January (which I actually wrote in, like, November), and I still like him. He’s going to see a lot of 2nd thru 6th inning starts and be in-line for wins.
17. Hunter Renfroe – $1.70. I let out a little laugh when I saw Steamer’s projections for Renfroe: 15/10/18/.231/1 in 175 ABs. And that’s good! Projections for this season are so goofy.
18. Rougned Odor – $1.60. Kanye West’s song, Ghost Town, was playing while I was writing this up and, really, doesn’t that say everything for Odor? Draft Odor is the manifestation of, “I put my hand on the stove, to see if I still bleed and nothing hurts anymore, I feel kinda free.” Also, here’s my 60-game season Rougned Odor sleeper.
19. James Paxton – $1.60. It’s no surprise to see Paxton gain value, since he already got his one injury per year out of the way. Paxton usually has the best 60-game stretch of any pitcher in baseball once a year. I’m not joking; he could win the AL Cy Young in 60 games.
20. Matt Shoemaker – $1.50. The Cobbler is actually in a great position to help this year. Think about it. Who’s great over about 50 IP? Check! Who’s got two garbage pitchers in front of him in Chase Anderson and Tanner Roark? Check, check! Where does a Brit say he’s at when in Prague? Czech, mate!
21. Hansel Robles – $1.40. Wanted to drop in one more, because I didn’t get to mention this above. Closers that teams can Ron Popeil and set ’em and forget ’em are going to have more value, and middle men with no role are going to be reduced to the value of Nadir Bupkis. Well, losing value is for the next post.