Remember simpler times in early March, when Mike Clevinger’s knee and Giancarlo Stanton’s calf were among the hottest topics in baseball? Although things have certainly changed in nearly four months, we hope to soon experience an aspect of normalcy when we watch our favorite MLB stars in action.
Based on excited discussions on social media, fantasy managers are more than ready to finally guide their squads through a 2020 season. For those who are struggling to remember what the landscape looked like back in early March, here is a quick refresher.
A Big Three had emerged
Although no player gained a strong consensus as the top 2020 draft option, a trio of studs separated from the rest of the pack. Ronald Acuna Jr. and his fleet feet were going off the board first overall in some drafts, while Christian Yelich was the top choice in others with long-time superstar Mike Trout still the favorite of many.
Challengers such as Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts rarely dented the top three picks, but with Trout set to become a father in August, the possibility of missed time in a shortened slate could push him down a few spots.
Aces were coveted
Injuries to elite starters such as the aforementioned Clevinger, Luis Severino, James Paxton, Chris Sale, and Noah Syndergaard left managers scrambling to anchor their rotation with at least a couple elite arms. The rush to secure aces pushed the healthy studs up draft boards, and we were sometimes seeing nearly 10 starters tabbed in the initial 30 picks.
The return of the likes of Clevinger and Paxton will lessen the pressure on July drafters, and there is now some doubt surrounding the reliability of starters during a shortened schedule.
Steals were in short supply
Managers were feeling the pinch of trying to nab a handful of base stealers after a 2019 season in which just eight players swiped at least 30 bags. The lack of usable speedsters was pushing up the draft price of both superstars with superior wheels and mid-round options with any hint of base-stealing ability.
This situation remains unchanged, as we now also deal with the uncertainty of how each manager will handle the running game in a shortened season.
Power projections were absurd
With 58 players coming off a season of at least 30 homers, managers could find plus power at every price point. Of course, the catch-22 of this power-laden era is that fantasy rosters need to be stocked with sluggers in order to keep up with their competitors.
At this point, we have no reason to believe that players’ approach or the baseball itself has changed since last season.
Position scarcity was no longer a thing
Of course, catcher is always going to have a level of scarcity that separates its player pool from that of every other position, but beyond backstops, every hitting position was locked and loaded for 2020 success. Middle infield is deeper than ever before, with some fantasy pundits wondering if shortstop is currently the strongest of any position.
Among offensive options, this is the year to grab the best player available in the early rounds and fill remaining holes with confidence a few hours later.
We didn’t know what to do with the Astros
Remember when we were all salivating about attending a 2020 MLB game and telling the visiting Astros just what we thought of their sign-stealing exploits in recent seasons? Some fantasy managers felt that Houston hitters would be less effective without the benefit of cheating, while others believed that their newfound villain status would wear them down and impact their performance.
The Astros will now play in empty stadiums and push their day of public reckoning to 2021, making this the time to slide their studs up your drafts lists.
Rookies were already generating buzz
Although teams had yet to solidify their Opening Day rosters, several incoming freshmen had already caught the eyes of fantasy managers. A power/speed threat who was already ensured a lineup spot, Luis Robert was a top-100 pick in most March drafts. Jesus Luzardo was the most coveted hurler among those heading into their rookie year, while youngsters such as Nate Pearson, Jo Adell, and Dylan Carlson were being stashed until their inevitable promotions.
With teams now having little room for error this season, these young studs could all debut in the first half of August.
The reliever pool was surprisingly strong
Although closers consistently drive fantasy managers crazy, the 2020 draft crop was shaping up as a respectable group. Studs such as Josh Hader, Aroldis Chapman, and Kirby Yates anchored the position, and there was a deep second tier with the likes of Liam Hendriks, Taylor Rogers, Kenley Jansen, and Edwin Diaz.
With closers now needing to hold their job for a mere 60 games to meet expectations, we could have a quiet summer in fantasy baseball’s most volatile area.
Class dismissed — your refresher course is now complete. We will continue to get you up to speed in the coming weeks, as the 2020 fantasy baseball season promises to be a thrill ride unlike anything we have experienced before!