Mookie Betts will be the No. 1 overall player
After being the centerpiece of a massive trade and signing an eye-popping contract extension, Betts should be as motivated as any player this season. The outfielder will continue to be an on-base machine who runs the bags aggressively, which is going to lead to a league-leading runs-scored total. And during a season in which many players could cool it on the basepaths, Betts could make a major impact by swiping a dozen bags. Add in a lofty batting mark and plenty of homers, and this lineup spark plug will be 2020’s top fantasy asset. The addition of the DH in the National League will also have a major impact, as Betts should collect RBI in bunches from atop the Dodgers deep lineup.
Mike Clevinger will win the AL Cy Young award
Pitchers on the stronger AL Central teams have a favorable road this season, and no one is better positioned to take advantage of this opportunity than Clevinger. Although he has hardly been durable of late, the right-hander is healthy now and remains a good bet to make 13 starts without issue. Clevinger faced the Royals, White Sox, and Tigers three times each last year, and his ERA was below 1.00 against each club. He was also solid (2.39 ERA) in four outings against the Twins. In fact, the last time Clevinger failed to notch a quality start against a team who will be on his 2020 schedule was the first half of 2018, when the Reds touched him up for five runs over six innings.
Yu Darvish will win the NL Cy Young award
Few fantasy managers recognize just how truly magnificent Darvish performed in the second half. The right-hander held opposing hitters to a .199 batting average while posting an astonishing 16.86 K/BB ratio. His skills should carry forward to 2020, allowing Darvish to succeed against his divisional foes while crushing the bottom feeders in the AL Central. By the end of the season, the 33-year-old will have fared well enough to be a lock for his first Cy Young award.
The MLB leader in batting average will be on waivers in many leagues
Even in an era that is full of low-average sluggers, Luis Arraez is going to accomplish the unthinkable and sit on waivers in 10-team leagues while leading the Majors in batting average. The middle infielder has rare contact skills (7.9 percent strikeout rate, 29.4 percent line-drive rate), but he may not total five homers and steals combined this year. With so many good offensive players on the market, managers are going to dump Arraez in favor of those who can help in more areas.
A 40-year-old will lead the Majors in RBI
Nelson Cruz ranked 16th in the Majors with 108 RBI last season, and it seems foolish to project a notable uptick for a player who recently celebrated his 40th birthday. But this veteran slugger is one of a kind, and his sizable 2019 RBI total came in just 120 games. To put that effort into perspective, every player ahead of Cruz played in at least 137 games, and the best RBI total any other player produced in 120 games or less was 86. With some good luck in the health department across a short stretch, Cruz is going to accomplish something truly rare for a player his age.
Lance Lynn will be a mixed-league ace
Lynn was surprisingly effective last year, posting solid ratios (3.67 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) and ranking seventh in baseball with 241 punchouts. And the veteran’s numbers look even better after noticing that he was not especially lucky (.322 BABIP, 74.4 percent strand rate, 3.13 FIP). Lynn is set to start the Rangers opener, and his scheduled matchups during the initial 4-6 weeks are favorable. He may also benefit from a new Texas ballpark that will be hard-pressed to favor hitters as much as the old one. My guess is that Lynn gets off to a great start, makes 13 appearances and finishes among the top-12 fantasy starters.
The 2020 saves leader currently has one career save
Nick Anderson is already one of the best relievers in baseball, and he really took off when posting a 2.11 ERA, a 0.66 WHIP, and a 17.3 K/9 rate across 21.1 innings after joining the Rays last summer. Tampa Bay is in search of a closer, and handing the role to Anderson on a full-time basis would instantly make him one of the top-3 options at the reliever position. Although I have some hesitation with this prediction, I’m going to go ahead and suggest that the Rays win 40 games and Anderson saves enough of them to lead the Majors.