By Andrew McClintock @FantasyAid1
2020 is on the horizon. In a few months, we will be contesting over if the eight home runs from Joe Random in Spring Training have any deeper meaning. In the meantime, I want to look at the toughest fantasy 2020 draft-day decision that will be made. Who gets selected at 1.1 in a redraft? Undoubtedly there are strong opinions on the subject. A case could be made for any four of these players. It may seem like I’m nitpicking reasons to not select your -insert favorite player here-, but with a group this talented, the little things make a big difference.
4. CODY BELLINGER.
(Photo by Ian D’Andrea)
Cody Bellinger won the National League MVP award for 2019. He was coming off his “sophomore slump” of 2018 where Bellinger “only” hit 25 home runs. Placing him at the #4 spot displays how stacked this group is. Bellinger raised his walk rate in 2019 while significantly cutting down on strikeouts. You don’t need me to tell you Bellinger is an elite player, so I’ll tell you why I placed him 4th on the list. This is where the nitpicking comes in. Bellinger was an elite player in the first half, but “only” a great player in the second half. He hit .336 with 30 bombs in the first-half and .261 with 17 home runs in the second-half. A positive note on the second-half can be shown in his baserunning. Bellinger’s first-half produced 8 stolen bases while getting thrown out 5 times. The second-half saw 7 stolen bases, without getting caught. If Bellinger can take the next step, and push it to 20+ steals, we might be having a different conversation next year. For now, his second-half dropoff and the players above him producing more speed in Fantasy puts Bellinger at #4 in redrafts.
3. RONALD ACUÑA JR.
(Photo by Ian D’Andrea)
Would it surprise you that Acuña had a higher OPS during his rookie campaign of 2018? His first-year OPS was .917 as opposed to .883 from 2019. The main reason is the lack of extra-base hits. Acuña may have turned on the power, but he forgot the doubles. This isn’t an issue that alarms me, as his speed ensures the doubles will rise. That stat shocked me because despite almost going 40/40 in his sophomore season, Acuña’s slugging percentage dropped. There is no doubt that Acuña is the most exciting fantasy pick for 2020; however, I do not think he is the top choice. Acuña was consistent with spreading his power throughout the season. 21 home runs in the first-half versus 20 in the second. The most intriguing stat when considering his splits is stolen bases; 13 bases in 90 games prior to the All-Star break and 24 bags in 66 games following the All-Star break. If the stolen base rate leans towards the latter in 2020, it’s hard to argue against picking Acuña at 1.1. Maybe it’s unreasonable for me to ask for a third-year before I put him in my top two, but that just speaks to the talent level of these choices.
2. MIKE TROUT
(Photo by Keith Allison)
Mike Trout is the best player in the game. If I were starting an MLB franchise, Trout would be my selection. However, in fantasy, I have him at the second spot. Trout’s 2019 season netted him his third AL MVP award. He increased his home run output over 2018 and has a strong case for going 1.1 again in 2020. We have to talk about the elephant in the room though. Trout has been spending time on the Injured list for the past three seasons. His season-ending injury in 2019 hurt, no pun intended, as it came during the same time fantasy playoffs were underway. Even more concerning is Trout’s stolen base numbers. After stealing 20+ bases three years in a row, 2019 only saw 11. This drop happened in 2015 and the next season Trout went on to steal 30 bags. Perhaps the 11 steals in 2019 are another aberration. I don’t want to place my 1.1 pick on this notion. The talent is too stacked to place Trout first.
1. CHRISTIAN YELICH
(Photo by Ian D’Andrea)
You already know Christian Yelich was in another world during 2019. If a broken kneecap had not cut his season short, Yelich had a strong case for defending his MVP title. Yelich had a .598 slugging in 2018 and this year that rose to .671. Yelich had more home runs, walks, and steals in 2019. He achieved the 30 steals mark for the first time in his career. There is not one fantasy stat where Yelich leaves you lacking. His place as the top fantasy option is assuming that his ongoing rehab has no setbacks. He has resumed running and all signs point to no complications. This is baseball and unexpected things happen, but as we close the book on 2019 and open up a new season of speculating, Yelich is my 1.1 pick for 2020.
Who do you have as your 1.1? Does Gerrit Cole edge out one of these hitters to be selected in the top four? Feel free to share your thoughts on these amazing players!