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Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers enter 2020 with arguably the best roster in baseball and the clear favorites to win the National League, especially after trading for Mookie Betts (and David Price) during the offseason. A.J. Pollock is the team’s fourth outfielder, while Ross Stripling and Dustin May are their sixth and seventh starters (despite Hyun-Jin Ryu departing through free agency). The Dodgers’ projected No. 8 hitter is one of the very best prospects in baseball (Gavin Lux).
It’s not the worst spot to be both top-heavy and overloaded with depth.
Betts quietly saw a big upgrade in home parks that help power with the move from Boston to LA, and he’ll join a lineup that should score among the most runs in baseball despite playing in the NL and in an overall pitcher’s park. Max Muncy has developed into one of baseball’s best hitters and is eligible everywhere, while Justin Turner has turned it on after the All-Star break each of the last two seasons when he led MLB in wRC+ in 2018 and then hit 17 homers (with a .971 OPS) over 190 ABs, post-ASB last year.
Walker Buehler may not be quite the horse as the “big four” starting pitchers, but he’s not far behind and given a situation that should help rack up wins, he’s an easy top-five fantasy starter and is going to be a unanimous first-round fantasy pick next year. This version of Clayton Kershaw, which features lower velocity but has kept him healthier and his ADP lower, appears to have helped his fantasy value. He and teammate Kenley Jansen reportedly benefitted from offseason visits to Driveline, and both are strong fantasy targets at their prices.
The same is true for David Price, Julio Urias, and Alex Wood, as all are capable of putting up very helpful fantasy numbers while in LAD’s rotation. Urias is nasty, while Price saw a massive upgrade going from the AL East to LA, and he has feeling in his pitching hand again after finally undergoing surgery to remove a cyst from his wrist.
When injuries strike LA’s rotation (and they will), Dustin May will go down as one of the season’s bigger FAAB adds where he’s available.
San Diego Padres
San Diego is an intriguing team with upside, and I grabbed them at 50/1 to win the World Series last month (odds have dropped some since). Fernando Tatis Jr. is a superstar in the making (and worthy of a top-15 fantasy pick), but he needs to prove he can stay healthy. Newcomer Tommy Pham carries similar durability concerns (he received stem cell and PRP treatments during the offseason after playing through a torn UCL last year), but the team has outfield depth with Wil Myers currently projected as the team’s fourth option after trading for Trent Grisham this winter. The sleeper to go after is Franchy Cordero, who’s sporting a new batting stance and possesses a “70” scouting grade both on power and speed. That’s nice potential for someone who’s completely free at draft tables (ADP is 400).
Chris Paddack is terrific and calls Petco Park home, so he’s an easy top-10 fantasy SP on my board, while Dinelson Lamet has massive upside. His K-BB% (24.0) last year while returning from Tommy John surgery would’ve ranked top-10 among starters if he qualified (check out the names on that stat’s leaderboard), and he’s reportedly worked in the upper 90s this spring. Go draft him.
MacKenzie Gore is a top-three prospect in baseball, while Garrett Richards is an excellent sleeper now another year removed from TJ surgery and in San Diego.
There are some intriguing pieces in Arizona, and while a run at the wild card could be in store, it’s a tough division to win. After a two-year sample, the humidor has changed Chase Field from a homer-friendly park to one that suppresses power from both sides of the plate but still plays as a slightly favorable hitter’s park overall. The Diamondbacks traded for Starling Marte during the offseason, and given the demand for stolen bases, I bumped him all the way to No. 7 on my OF board. Ketel Marte is sure to regress some, but his ADP accounts for it. David Peralta is an injury risk, but he hits when in the lineup. He’s one season removed from knocking 30 homers with 87 RBI in fewer than 150 games. He’s projected to hit cleanup, so Peralta is an undervalued outfielder available later.
Over the last two seasons, Madison Bumgarner recorded a 2.48 ERA in pitcher-friendly San Francisco with an ugly 5.16 ERA on the road. Steamer and THE BAT both project a 4.50 ERA or worse for 2020, so MadBum’s ADP (top-35 SP) is absurdly high. He’s someone to avoid (although Arizona’s strong defense will help). Zac Gallen posted a 1.77 ERA with a 0.71 WHIP in Triple-A last season; he’s easily the pitcher to target from this staff. THE BAT projects a 4.51 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP for Robbie Ray, who somehow has a higher ADP than Julio Urias.
Thanks to Coors Field, the Rockies will score and surrender a whole lot of runs, which makes them obvious fantasy targets for bats while being the opposite for arms. Kyle Freeland is one season removed from finishing fourth in Cy Young voting and is now forgotten, while German Marquez was one of fantasy baseball’s biggest busts last year. Over the last three seasons, Coors has increased batting average by 19% (next highest is 11%), run-scoring by 34% (next highest is 27%) and homers by 21% (Philly actually ranks higher here but Coors is #2), while also decreasing strikeouts by an MLB-high 11%, so it can’t be understated just how great of an impact this home park has.
Daniel Murphy is a strong rebound candidate after he played through a broken finger he suffered during the second game of last season, as he finished in the top 4% of the league in expected batting average each of the previous three seasons. He’ll likely move to cleanup when David Dahl suffers his first injury, so Murphy is a strong value pick for those who wait on addressing first base. Sam Hilliard is a worthy sleeper because of his home park, but with his K rate in the minors, a brutal BA could follow. Garrett Hampson isn’t exactly cheap at drafts for someone without a clear starting role, but his SB potential makes him worth it. It’s unfortunate for fantasy managers the team is choosing to go defense at catcher.
Brendan Rodgers still has an impressive minor league resume and looks like the team’s future second baseman once he’s back to health. He’ll be one of this year’s most attractive waiver wire grabs whenever he’s recalled. German Marquez will bounce back some this season and remains worth drafting in deeper fantasy leagues, but he’s likely the only one of Colorado starters. I’d pass on projected closer Wade Davis and take Scott Oberg instead.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants are in full rebuild mode, and their biggest offseason news was the team’s extreme pitcher’s park moving its fences in at “triples alley.” To reiterate, San Francisco has previously been by far the most extreme pitcher’s park in baseball, so the changes will be worth watching (and make cheap lefty bats like Brandon Belt and Alex Dickerson interesting in deeper formats).
Buster Posey is reportedly feeling much healthier and stronger another year removed from hip surgery. He’s the rare catcher who doesn’t hurt BA and is projected to hit atop SF’s order, so he’s a nice rebound target (the new dimensions should help him too, since he hits to all fields). Few cleanup hitters are cheaper in drafts than Evan Longoria (who quietly posted an .870 OPS with 14 homers over 219 ABs on the road last season), while the position battles (Mauricio Dubon vs. Wilmer Flores at 2B, Billy Hamilton vs. Hunter Pence among others in OF) don’t offer much fantasy appeal. Presumptive No. 5 starter Tyler Beede recently got bad news that he’ll have to undergo Tommy John surgery.
Despite the favorable park, the Giants don’t even have a top-100 fantasy SP on my board, although I do like Tony Watson as a cheap closer (he looks like the favorite for saves in SF). Joey Bart is a nice dynasty property, while Marco Luciano has the upside to be the top prospect in baseball a year from now.
Crazy Crab’z is delicious, while Yapson Gomez is going next level on Johnny Cueto’s shimmy. It will be a slow rebuilding process in the Bay Area, and while the Giants’ farm system is much improved and gives SF a bright future with the right management in place, this team won’t offer a ton of fantasy help in 2020.