Wasn’t that long ago that we were screaming about how terrible the shortstops are and how the sky is falling and how red wine is good for your health and you were like, “What if I put grenadine in my vodka?” Maybe it comes with age, but if you’re around long enough you know these things go in cycles. For a few years, middle infidels are terrible, then corner infidels are in that sinking boat. As of now, shortstops are stupid stacked, and the top 20 shortstops for 2020 fantasy baseball are an absolute joy for at least twenty of the twenty but, as always, this is going much deeper. So, here’s Steamer’s 2020 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2020 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. All my 2020 fantasy baseball rankings are under that thingie-ma-whosie, and I mention where all tiers start and stop, and all shortstop projections are mine. Let’s get to it! Anyway, here’s the top 20 shortstops for 2020 fantasy baseball:
ALL PROJECTIONS ARE BASED ON 60 GAMES PLAYED, DUE TO COVID-19. BE SAFE OUT THERE!
7. Javier Baez – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Bogaerts. I call this tier, “Total sellout.” I’m actually a bit annoyed with myself. Feels like I’m selling Baez short by not having him in my top 20 overall, and selling out. Like I’m relying too much on how others think and not enough on my own. Like if I put Baez (or Bogaerts) in my top 20 overall, I’d somehow be sticking it to the man. My brain is warped. How would this be sticking it to man? I’m going to pull out my rankings at the next sit-in at City Hall? When I’m pulled over by the cops, I’m going to lay on the pavement by my car and rest a laptop open to my rankings on top of my back? When I’m trying to do a car loan and Wells Fargo says they don’t do loans under $1,000, I’m going to stand, with my rankings above my head and scream, “Baez and Bogaerts are in the top 20!?” Except I don’t have Bogaerts or Baez in the top 20, so all of the ‘mans’ are gonna be like, “Yeah, you’re lame, you sellout.” The problem with Baez and why he’s not in my top 20 is not a problem with him. It’s with fantasy baseball. There’s just too many guys to put in the top 20 overall. I could remove Mondesi, and, brucely, if I draft Treat Urner in the 1st round, I wouldn’t draft Mondesi anyway, then Baez has room in the top 20. Or Bogaerts, but onto him in a moment. Baez is headed into his age-27 season and is averaging 27/15/.270 every year. Wouldn’t shock me to see him come out of 2020 with a 40/20/.290 season. He feels wildly underrated this late, but look how ridiculously stacked the top of the shortstops are. Ugh, who am I kidding, I’m a sellout. 2020 Projections: 38/11/40/.286/6 in 220 ABs
8. Xander Bogaerts – If you believe, like I do, that .015-.020 in average is worth about the same as 7-10 steals, then you see Bogaerts and Baez as essentially the same player. One will hit .305-.310; one will hit .285. One will steal five bags; one will steal 15. That’s tomato-tomato said with a different emphasis. A non-sellout unlike myself would’ve snuck Bogaerts into the top 20 overall too. Not even sure I was thinking clearly by putting Devers in the top 20 instead of Bogaerts, but that age on Devers made me just a skooch more excited. Honestly, seriously, adverbially, they’re all a coin flip. It’s a good time to draft top hitters. For all of you with that Klara Bell on your shoulder whispering to you, “That means you should draft a pitcher now more than ever,” I’d say opposite is true. If you draft a starter and don’t get two top 20 bats, you have to make that up later. So, while I like, say, Amed Rosario, he’s really Javier Baez? Are you kidding yourself? I like Bo Bichette, he’s really Bogaerts? I like Machado, he’s really Baez? I like Ketel, he’s really Bogaerts? By the way (and I’m really going afield now), with even fewer starters being good, that means in a 12-team league you’re battling with 9 other teams to be good if two guys draft starters high. Let someone get a 12 or 11 in ERA, WHIP and Ks, all you need is to be better than two-thirds of the league in pitcher stats. Finally, how many categories does Baez help you in? Five? How many saves does Gerrit Cole get? 2020 Projections: 39/13/41/.307/2 in 221 ABs
9. Gleyber Torres – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Marte. I call this tier, “These names sound…familiar.” Already went over him in the top 20 2nd basemen for 2020 fantasy baseball.
12. Manny Machado – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Anderson. I call this tier, “Areolas.” Shortstops are a weird position. Even if you just look at how many 2nd basemen were in the top 20 post (not 20), and how many shortstops are here, you see immediately, shortstops are shallow after this position’s top 20. The position is like Dolly Parton. It is so top-heavy it’s going to fall over. This position’s waist is teensy-tiny and it’s got a flat ass. Not to be chauvinistic, but you better be Dabney Coleman (super new reference) when you’re looking at these shortstops and keep your eyes on its chest. We’re still sitting pretty in this tier, and any of these areolas could buoy your team from sinking. So, staring at Machado’s areolas what do we expect? At worst, last year. At best, the year before. Rarely do I see Steamer projections more optimistic for a player I like. Usually “I like” supersedes rational thought and I’m way above the projections for a guy. My concern is Machado just isn’t that great in San Diego. Not because of Petco’s dimensions. He can hit the ball out of any park. San Diego is about the most chill place on earth. If you’re seen wearing anything but flip-flops and OP shorts in San Diego, people are like, “Why are you harshing my chill?” Chill environs may not be the best thing for Machado. He seems like the type who can over-chill and just do barely enough. With all of that said, even an over-chill Machado is still a 30/5/.260 hitter with the runs/RBIs that comes with that. It’s well worth drafting, and the upside is obviously still there. 2020 Projections: 33/13/38/.269/2 in 219 ABs
13. Marcus Semien – There’s a chance that the Thought Police might shut us down after I put Semien towards the top of the Areolas. If so, I just want you know I enjoyed every moment of this, except for that one guy who loved Aaron Judge so much last year in the comments. He was a bit much. Last year Semien went 33/10/.285. A repeat of that and he’s a top 20 overall guy, so I guess why don’t I believe it? That’s a misleading way to put it. I do believe in Semien, just not quite for the repeat. His HR/FB of 15.3% last year isn’t obscene, but his career mark was closer to 10%. If it goes back to around 10%, he becomes a 22 homer guy; he just doesn’t hit that many fly balls. His home run distance wasn’t bad, necessarily, but his exit velocity was a little narshy. The ten steasls last year seems repeatable, but ten steals doesn’t exactly make him a running threat. So, your Semien isn’t runny? Hmm, might want to see a urologist. There’s good news; his Ks came way down, walks went up and he actually fits the leadoff role, unlike in 2018, when he was squeezed into that role, and didn’t seem to fit, but now Semien fits in the Areolas. Happy to get that off my chest. 2020 Projections: 40/9/30/.282/4 in 229 ABs
14. Tim Anderson – You know what’s weird (weird is subjective but this is pretty un-weird, if I’m being honest)? Tim Anderson is fun. Doode does the bat flip thing and has pizzazz. Who doesn’t love pizzazz? Not me! I love pizzazz! Pizzazz in the Areloas means Tim Anderson is twirling tassels. Yet — again with some stank — YET! Tim Anderson is always underrated. Every year. No idea why. If I had to guess, it’s why nine out of ten players who are underrated are underrated: lack of walks. It’s like ya’ll are in OBP leagues. I mean, if you are, then okay. But I know most of you are not. People are in regular 5×5 leagues drafting Bichette before Anderson. A guy you’re praying to your God goes 20/20 vs. a guy who goes 20/20 every year. I told ya, weird (not especially weird, all things considered). 2020 Projections: 32/8/27/.272/8 in 216 ABs
15. Bo Bichette – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Swanson. I call this tier, “Huh? Wait, what? Oh…No, I don’t get it.” This tier is filled with guys I either like a lot more than others or dislike a lot more, and the guys I dislike I’m genuinely surprised by. Let’s get right to it, shall we? Bo Bichette is exactly the type of guy I usually love, but he seems overrated in early ADP and I don’t trust the speed or power. Steamer projects Bichette for 24 steals. He stole only four bags in 46 games last year in the majors, and 15 steals in Triple-A in 56 games, so 24 steals seems right, uh, right? Wrong. He was caught stealing 9 times in 28 attempts, and four times in four MLB steals. The Jays didn’t steal at all last year. Of course, they didn’t have a real steals threat, so that goes both ways like Tyler the Creator. Conspiracy theory alert! Bichette actually seems more like Craig Biggio’s kid; he’s got doubles-power and decent speed, but not blazing. So, Dante Bichette told a maternity ward nurse, “I’m a major leaguer, and I want my kid,” and they gave him Cavan Biggio, and Craig Biggio got Bo Bichette (or Vlad Jr., which might be harder to believe). 2020 Projections: 36/7/27/.284/7 in 218 ABs
17. Amed Rosario – Already gave you my Amed Rosario sleeper. I wrote it while saying the “th” sound in adios. Also, Anime Grey goes over Amed in the video at the top of the post. 2020 Projections: 33/6/26/.294/9 in 214 ABs
18. Carlos Correa – Honestly, don’t know how people keep drafting him, i.e., liking him. The Ghost of Harry S. Truman would have to possess my body before I pulled the trigger on Correa. Sure, Cousin Sweatpants, he could hit 40 HRs and .300. Sure! And I could grow wings and avoid Los Angeles traffic. Am I programming into my map app, Waze, that I have wings and to take me above the 405? No, I’m not. 2020 Projections: 30/10/33/.271/1 in 191 ABs
19. Didi Gregorius – Here’s what I said when he signed with the Phils, “Don’t fully understand why no one seems to like The Gregorius D.I.D. He missed half a year and still hit 16 HRs. If that were a blip, I’d write it off, but he is always a 40+% fly ball guy with 13+% HR/FB, that’s 31+ homers. He hit .238 last year, and if that was the new normal, I’d be worried, but that appears to be a blip of unluckiness. He doesn’t give a ton of steals, but 5+ steals for him is easy. Even tempering all that to 25/5/.265, what exactly has Carlos Correa done for you in the last few years?” And that’s me quoting me! 2020 Projections: 24/9/30/.268/2 in 202 ABs
22. Elvis Andrus – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Newman. I call this tier, “Geeeeeeeeeeroooooooooonnnnnniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimmmmmmmmmmmmmmoooooooooooo.” Even if you like Andrus or anyone in this tier (and I do like some of them), the sheer cliff dive you’re doing from the last tier to this one is about as steep a cliff as any tier in all of fantasy baseball. Shortstops fall off an absolute cliff. To continue the Dolly Parton metaphor from above, we’re naval gazing now and we’re gonna be looking at some knees real quick. Or we’re parachuting off Dolly Parton’s breasts. However, you wanna use the analogy. As for Andrus, *throws hands up* I don’t know what to make of him. I think he’s a 30-steal guy, but then he goes and hits 20 homers. I think he can hit 20 homers, but then he goes and hits 6 homers. I think he can’t hit or steal anymore and he has a 12/31 season. I don’t see a scenario where I draft him, because I just don’t know what I’m getting. My best guess: 2020 Projections: 31/3/26/.281/10 in 221 ABs
23. Willy Adames – Truth bomb! I had Adames in three different tiers before settling on him here. He has a solid HR/FB% and he’s had moments in his career with a 38% fly ball rate. That gets him over 30 homers pretty easily. How’sever, he needs to change his launch angle, which is now at 10 degrees, and that’s kinda bleh. Also, his Ks came down and he has 7+ steal speed. The difference between him and, say, Didi is pretty much nonexistent, except Adames just hasn’t done it before. He’s only 24 years old, and I nearly wrote a sleeper for him. I’m a fan, but there’s obviously risk, which is why he’s in this tier. 2020 Projections: 27/9/30/.268/2 in 210 ABs
24. Paul DeJong – Colonel Mustard in the back of a nondescript van with a VCR! Which is where he’s watching tape to help him against offspeed pitches (split, change, yadda), because he hit .154, and .208 against all breaking pitches (slider, curve, yadda). 2020 Projections: 29/11/34/.241/3 in 214 ABs
25. Jorge Polanco – I know by heart most of the main stats from the main guys within a couple homers and ten to fifteen runs or RBIs. Like if you were to say to me, “Benintendi’s home run total,” I’d say fifteen. That’s not exactly right, but within the margin of error. If you said to me Polanco’s home run total prior to writing this blurb, I would’ve started at 10 and went up by one until the audience at The Price is Right would’ve stood up, booing, and left the theater. Then, finally, when I found out he hit 22 homers, I would’ve looked up his stats at three different sites, not believing it. Then, finally, I would’ve said his HR/FB% must’ve been at least 25%, only to find out I was, like a good linens sale, roughly 15% off. Wow, Polanco hits lots of fly balls. I had no idea. That doesn’t bode well for his .295 average. I don’t know how to figure this out, but I bet his season last year was in the top 5% of the statistical anomalous, and I don’t even know what ‘statistical anomalous’ means. I just made it up. I guess what I’m saying if you had a guy who hit 44.4% fly balls and finished in the bottom 5% of exit velocity, it’s statistically impossible for him to have a .295 average. Though, that brings another point up, Polanco makes a good case against Statcast’s “line drives,” which are different than Baseball Info Solutions (which are used by Fangraphs), because Polanco had the 6th most “line drives” from BIS, but finished hideously for exit velocity, according to StatCast. If you hit .295, you have to think BIS’s ‘line drives” are more accurate. Okay, could someone text me their coordinates, because I just went down a massive rabbit hole and got lost. 2020 Projections: 33/8/28/.277/2 in 221 ABs
26. Corey Seager – I could’ve also named this tier, “Shrug,” because I could see so many different outcomes for these guys. There’s no way I can project Seager for 30+ HRs and a .300+ average, but I don’t think that’s out of the realm of possibilities. Or he gets trapped in the back room at Tommy Lasorda’s Pastabilities franchise under a stack of lasagna noodles. It’s all in the range of outcomes. Hard to say either are more likely when you consider the ball was uber-juiced last year and he only hit 19 homers. 2020 Projections: 31/9/34/.275 in 194 ABs
28. Jean Segura – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Arraez. I call this tier, “Eccentric or homeless.” Sometimes it’s not easy to tell the difference. You see a person talking to themselves on the street while wearing only a blanket? They could eccentric wearing a bluetooth headset and designer blanket or they could be homeless and found a rich person’s garbage. That’s this tier. They could be eccentric or homeless, depending on one’s outlook. As for Segura, his name is the answer. “The question, Alex, is, ‘Why we should never trust anyone to steal 20 bases after the age of 29?'” But, Grey, Berti’s older. “Okay, shut up, Alex.” Sorry, that’s not in the form of a question. 2020 Projections: 27/4/26/.276/5 in 208 ABs
30. Andrelton Simmons – His defense and family are out of this world. Everything else are grounded, especially his ground ball rate. 2020 Projections: 25/5/26/.271/3 in 205 ABs
32. Jose Iglesias – Oddly enough, if you’re drafting Iglesias as your shortstop, you’ve got no prayer. 2020 Projections: 29/3/20/.266/2 in 191 ABs
34. Carter Kieboom – Already gave you my Carter Kieboom fantasy. Sadly, it was written prior to the Nats getting Asdrubal and Starlin Castro, so *blows seeds off a dandelion*. I just illustrated sadness; will compose myself before going out into public. But, and this is a J. Lo-sized but, the Nats are saying Kieboom could be their starting 3rd baseman with Asdrubal roaming. I don’t fully buy that (sad), but he could be up by May (happy!) or up in April and platoons with Castro and Asdrubal (happy/sad?). My original projections for Kieboom were 52/16/59/.281/4 in 445 ABs, but I’m going to hedge by taking 100 ABs off that. For 12-teamers, this is where your flyers end (sorry, Gritty!), but a flyer on a prospect who could break camp isn’t a bad one. 2020 Projections: 13/5/17/.291/1 in 128 ABs
36. Niko Goodrum – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Taylor. I call this tier, “More the Murray’er.” Anyone named Murray is a jerk and if these guys see more at-bats, then they are Murray’er. As for Goodrum, went over him in the top 20 1st basemen for 2020 fantasy baseball.
37. Nick Ahmed – I just realized (or forgot and just remembered) Ahmed stole 40 bags in Single-A. Ha, low minors steals numbers are such a joke. In Single-A, catchers are required to count to ten Mississippis before throwing to 2nd base. Mississippi is where the term MI comes for middle infielders. *insert Dwight Schrute ‘It’s true’ GIF* 2020 Projections: 24/6/26/.248/2 in 198 ABs
39. Nico Hoerner – Prospect Itch said, “Hoerner’s shown nothing to indicate his three home runs in 82 plate appearances is sustainable, but his .282 batting average was closer to real than mirage, and I don’t think anyone would be surprised to see a 20 HR upside from him in the juiced ball era, if only I could juice Grey’s melon.” Hey, not cool! Hoerner could beat Bote — don’t rock the Bote, baby! — out of spring to claim an MI job, though Bote seems to make more sense if we’re going down that Mississippi, and, even with a ton of at-bats, I’m not sure how hoerny I am for Hoerner. 2020 Projections: 16/3/14/.287/2 in 116 ABs
42. Brandon Crawford – The Crawford Bros., Brandon and J.P., are neither related nor good. 2020 Projections: 20/6/23/.238/1 in 187 ABs
45. Enrique Hernandez – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until the end of the list. I call this tier, “Take off the water wings, we’re going deep.” As for Enrique, went over him in the top 20 2nd basemen for 2020 fantasy baseball.
48. Jon Berti – Already gave you my Jon Berti sleeper. I wrote it while huffing gas. Or was it huffing glue? Gluing ass? Sadly, since I wrote it, Villar and Dickerson went to the Marlins. Now I’m not sure Berti’s anything more than a 20-steal guy who barely gets 300 ABs. Funny (not funny), the one team I didn’t expect to sign a bunch of guys and screw up my sleeper post would’ve been the Marlins. Also, I go over Berti in the video at the top of the post, because I’m still kinda crazy for him if he gets those ABs. 2020 Projections: 13/2/11/.257/7 in 114 ABs
50. Leury Garcia – Will be supplanted by Madrigal, right? Right?! RIGHT?! *pull back to reveal I’m screaming into a Pringles tube* Hmm, no answers in there. 2020 Projections: 15/2/11/.272/5 in 112 ABs
52. Johan Camargo – Reminds me of Jose Martinez. With a full-time job, I’d be much higher on Johan, but he’s stuck in a bad shituation for playing time. Maybe he’ll get traded for a middle reliever to a place where he can play. One can dream, like Wade Boggs dreams Johan is Camargoadams. 2020 Projections: 14/5/15/.277 in 112 ABs
53. Jorge Mateo – Here’s a text exchange between Prospect Itch and I: Grey, “I picked up Mateo last year in one league expecting the A’s to promote him.” Itch, “I liked him a lot two years ago and still do, but was discouraged the A’s ignored him last year.” “Like they ignored Franklin Barreto. Maybe they know something we don’t.” “Ya think? Of course they do, you freakin’ moron!” “Hey, that was uncalled for.” “Sorry, thought you were Grey.” “I am.” Then I never heard another word from him. Hmm, double-checked his number too. 2020 Projections: 9/2/11/.205/3 in 66 ABs
54. Cole Tucker – I’m less concerned that I’m not ranking Tucker high enough and more concerned how he could affect Newman’s playing time, i.e., not sure if the Pirates’ shortstop position is Newman’s Own or just a dressing rehearsal. 2020 Projections: 10/2/10/.254/1 in 58 ABs
56. J.P. Crawford – I see Crawford listed as the Mariners’ leadoff man and I make a face like when your aunt asks you to go outside to keep her company while she smokes a cigarette. Do I really have to? 2020 Projections: 24/4/18/.222/2 in 168 ABs