2020 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Re-imagining tiers by grouping players by skill, not position


This is an experiment of sorts.

One of the ways I’ve made a name for myself in the Fantasy Baseball world is through the use of positional tiers, which you’ve probably seen before and maybe employ to some degree on Draft Day. But I’ve been making the case over the past couple years that position scarcity isn’t really a thing anymore. The distribution of talent is fairly equal across all positions, so while positional tiers still help in ensuring you don’t fall too far behind the pack at a position, they don’t highlight the standout picks as clearly as they used to.

What has become scarce during an era of home run proliferation is the shape that a player’s production takes. Now, in something like a Head-to-Head points league where only the extent of the production matters, who cares about the specific ways a player is coming into that production? But in a standard Rotisserie or 5×5 categories league, you need to vary the types of production you’re getting. You’ll need batting average help. You’ll need home run help. You’ll need stolen base help. Those three aren’t available in equal measure.

It’s true you’ll also need RBI help and run help, at least in a standard 5×5 leagues, but those particular contributions are so tied to playing time and batting order and other factors beyond a player’s control that I don’t even want to get sidetracked by them. I want to look at skills, and I want to look at them in a way that reveals the relative scarcity of each. So I’m turning back to the tiers to do it.

For each of my top 150 hitters, I’ve assigned a letter grade for what I consider to be his most likely outcome in the three pivotal categories: batting average, home runs and stolen bases. Some might have the upside for more — looking at you, Vladimir Guerrero — but again, I’m playing to the most-likely scenario here. Within each category, I’ve then grouped players by letter grade while also revealing each player’s average draft position (or ADP, according to FantasyPros) so that you know, say, how late you can still get an A-grade base-stealer. There are far fewer of those than A-grade home run hitters.

And that’s kind of the point. In the heat of the draft, it’s easy to lose sight of how much of each category is still available — and in what quantities — and that, rather than what position you’re looking to fill, is what should be driving your decision-making. It’s where you’re more likely to mess things up.

It doesn’t mean you should totally ignore positional considerations, but maybe these tiers are also ones you should print and bring with you to the draft.

Batting Average

Grade A batting average sources

ADP

Player

BA

HR

SB

2

Mike Trout, OF

A

A

B

3

Christian Yelich, OF

A

A

B

4

Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF

A

A

C

5

Mookie Betts, OF

A

B

B

9

Nolan Arenado, 3B

A

A

F

16

Freddie Freeman, 1B

A

A

D

18

Anthony Rendon, 3B

A

B

D

21

J.D. Martinez, OF

A

A

F

25

Rafael Devers, 3B

A

B

D

30

Jose Altuve, 2B

A

C

C

35

Charlie Blackmon, OF

A

B

C

44

Ketel Marte, 2B/OF

A

B

C

48

Whit Merrifield, 2B/OF

A

D

B

62

DJ LeMahieu, 1B/2B/3B

A

C

D

93

Jeff McNeil, 2B/3B/OF

A

C

D

109

Tim Anderson, SS

A

D

C

115

Michael Brantley, OF

A

C

D

147

Justin Turner, 3B

A

C

F

176

Bryan Reynolds, OF

A

D

F

218

Gio Urshela, 3B

A

C

F

236

Luis Arraez, 2B/OF

A

F

F

Grade B batting average sources

ADP

Player

BA

HR

SB

1

Ronald Acuna, OF

B

A

A

7

Francisco Lindor, SS

B

B

B

10

Juan Soto, OF

B

B

C

12

Trevor Story, SS

B

B

B

13

Alex Bregman, 3B/SS

B

A

C

14

Trea Turner, SS

B

C

A

20

Jose Ramirez, 3B

B

B

B

29

Gleyber Torres, 2B/SS

B

B

D

31

Starling Marte, OF

B

C

B

32

Xander Bogaerts, SS

B

B

D

36

Javier Baez, SS

B

B

C

37

Yordan Alvarez, DH

B

A

F

38

Ozzie Albies, 2B

B

C

C

39

George Springer, OF

B

A

D

43

Austin Meadows, OF

B

B

C

47

Kris Bryant, 3B/OF

B

B

F

54

Anthony Rizzo, 1B

B

B

D

56

J.T. Realmuto, C

B

C

D

57

Keston Hiura, 2B

B

B

B

63

Vladimir Guerrero, 3B

B

C

F

71

Jose Abreu, 1B

B

B

F

73

Bo Bichette, SS

B

B

C

76

Yoan Moncada, 3B

B

B

C

78

Josh Bell, 1B

B

A

F

80

Marcus Semien, SS

B

B

C

83

Tommy Pham, OF

B

C

B

84

Nelson Cruz, DH

B

A

F

85

Eddie Rosario, OF

B

C

D

91

Marcell Ozuna, OF

B

B

D

95

Nick Castellanos, OF

B

C

F

97

Ramon Laureano, OF

B

C

C

98

Carlos Correa, SS

B

B

D

106

Trey Mancini, 1B/OF

B

B

F

108

Andrew Benintendi, OF

B

D

C

118

Shohei Ohtani, DH

B

B

C

130

Corey Seager, SS

B

C

F

132

Yuli Gurriel, 1B/3B

B

C

F

146

Jorge Polanco, SS

B

C

D

149

David Dahl, OF

B

C

D

150

Tommy Edman, 2B/3B

B

D

B

154

Gavin Lux, SS

B

C

D

158

Amed Rosario, SS

B

D

C

167

J.D. Davis, 3B/OF

B

B

F

168

Lorenzo Cain, OF

B

D

C

170

Wilson Ramos, C

B

D

F

182

Adam Eaton, OF

B

D

C

190

Jean Segura, SS

B

F

C

206

Kevin Newman, 2B/SS

B

F

C

209

Omar Narvaez, C

B

C

F

215

Alex Verdugo, OF

B

D

D

225

Miguel Andujar, DH

B

C

F

227

Joey Votto, 1B

B

D

D

244

Avisail Garcia, OF

B

C

D

258

Yandy Diaz, 1B/3B

B

C

F

317

Francisco Mejia, C

B

C

F

Grade C batting average sources

ADP

Player

BA

HR

SB

19

Fernando Tatis, SS

C

B

B

22

Bryce Harper. OF

C

A

C

26

Pete Alonso, 1B

C

A

F

27

Aaron Judge, OF

C

A+

D

49

Manny Machado, 3B/SS

C

B

D

53

Jonathan Villar, 2B/SS

C

D

A

58

Giancarlo Stanton, OF

C

A

F

60

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

C

B

D

64

Matt Olson, 1B

C

A

F

65

Eloy Jimenez, OF

C

B

F

70

Eugenio Suarez, 3B

C

A

F

72

Max Muncy, 1B/2B/3B

C

A

F

82

Victor Robles, OF

C

D

B

87

Jorge Soler, OF

C

A

F

88

Matt Chapman, 3B

C

B

F

90

Josh Donaldson, 3B

C

A

F

100

Mike Moustakas, 2B/3B

C

B

F

104

Michael Conforto, OF, NYM

C

B

D

110

Eduardo Escobar, 2B/3B

C

B

F

116

Willson Contreras, C

C

C

F

122

Mitch Garver, C

C

A

F

123

Carlos Santana, 1B

C

B

F

128

Oscar Mercado, OF

C

D

C

129

Max Kepler, OF

C

B

F

141

Franmil Reyes, OF

C

A

F

142

Yasiel Puig, OF

C

C

C

145

Elvis Andrus, SS

C

F

B

148

Danny Santana, 1B/OF

C

C

C

162

Lourdes Gurriel, OF

C

B

D

165

Mallex Smith, OF

C

F

A

169

Kyle Tucker, OF

C

B

B

172

Willie Calhoun, OF

C

B

F

179

Byron Buxton, OF

C

C

B

180

Hunter Dozier, 3B/OF

C

C

F

184

Scott Kingery, 3B/OF

C

C

B

189

Didi Gregorius, SS

C

C

D

195

Ryan McMahon, 2B/3B

C

C

D

199

Andrew McCutchen, OF

C

D

C

200

Christian Vazquez, C

C

C

F

201

Joc Pederson, 1B/OF

C

B

F

202

Luke Voit, 1B

C

B

F

204

Garrett Hampson, 2B/OF

C

D

A

210

Christian Walker, 1B

C

B

D

217

Nick Senzel, OF

C

D

C

226

Yadier Molina, C

C

D

D

231

Jo Adell, OF

C

C

C

232

Shin-Soo Choo, OF

C

C

C

237

Kolten Wong, 2B

C

F

B

248

Sean Murphy, C

C

C

F

249

Mark Canha, OF

C

B

F

256

Jon Berti, 3B/SS/OF

C

F

A

279

Mike Yastrzemski, OF

C

B

F

303

Nick Solak, DH

C

D

C

325

Trent Grisham, OF

C

D

C

Home Runs

Grade A home run sources

ADP

Player

BA

HR

SB

27

Aaron Judge, OF

C

A+

D

81

Joey Gallo, OF

D

A+

D

125

Miguel Sano, 3B

D

A+

F

2

Mike Trout, OF

A

A

B

3

Christian Yelich, OF

A

A

B

4

Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF

A

A

C

9

Nolan Arenado, 3B

A

A

F

13

Alex Bregman, 3B/SS

B

A

C

16

Freddie Freeman, 1B

A

A

D

21

J.D. Martinez, OF

A

A

F

22

Bryce Harper. OF

C

A

C

26

Pete Alonso, 1B

C

A

F

37

Yordan Alvarez, DH

B

A

F

39

George Springer, OF

B

A

D

58

Giancarlo Stanton, OF

C

A

F

64

Matt Olson, 1B

C

A

F

70

Eugenio Suarez, 3B

C

A

F

72

Max Muncy, 1B/2B/3B

C

A

F

74

Gary Sanchez, C

D

A

F

78

Josh Bell, 1B

B

A

F

84

Nelson Cruz, DH

B

A

F

87

Jorge Soler, OF

C

A

F

90

Josh Donaldson, 3B

C

A

F

122

Mitch Garver, C

C

A

F

141

Franmil Reyes, OF

C

A

F

159

Will Smith, C

D

A

D

235

Hunter Renfroe, OF

D

A

D

Grade B home run sources

ADP

Player

BA

HR

SB

5

Mookie Betts, OF

A

B

B

7

Francisco Lindor, SS

B

B

B

10

Juan Soto, OF

B

B

C

12

Trevor Story, SS

B

B

B

18

Anthony Rendon, 3B

A

B

D

19

Fernando Tatis, SS

C

B

B

20

Jose Ramirez, 3B

B

B

B

25

Rafael Devers, 3B

A

B

D

29

Gleyber Torres, 2B/SS

B

B

D

32

Xander Bogaerts, SS

B

B

D

35

Charlie Blackmon, OF

A

B

C

36

Javier Baez, SS

B

B

C

43

Austin Meadows, OF

B

B

C

44

Ketel Marte, 2B/OF

A

B

C

47

Kris Bryant, 3B/OF

B

B

F

49

Manny Machado, 3B/SS

C

B

D

54

Anthony Rizzo, 1B

B

B

D

57

Keston Hiura, 2B

B

B

B

60

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

C

B

D

65

Eloy Jimenez, OF

C

B

F

71

Jose Abreu, 1B

B

B

F

73

Bo Bichette, SS

B

B

C

76

Yoan Moncada, 3B

B

B

C

80

Marcus Semien, SS

B

B

C

88

Matt Chapman, 3B

C

B

F

91

Marcell Ozuna, OF

B

B

D

96

Luis Robert, OF

D

B

C

98

Carlos Correa, SS

B

B

D

100

Mike Moustakas, 2B/3B

C

B

F

104

Michael Conforto, OF, NYM

C

B

D

105

Rhys Hoskins, OF

D

B

F

106

Trey Mancini, 1B/OF

B

B

F

110

Eduardo Escobar, 2B/3B

C

B

F

118

Shohei Ohtani, DH

B

B

C

123

Carlos Santana, 1B

C

B

F

129

Max Kepler, OF

C

B

F

138

Kyle Schwarber, OF

D

B

F

155

Edwin Encarnacion, 1B

D

B

F

162

Lourdes Gurriel, OF

C

B

D

167

J.D. Davis, 3B/OF

B

B

F

167

Khris Davis, DH

D

B

F

169

Kyle Tucker, OF

C

B

B

172

Willie Calhoun, OF

C

B

F

197

Brandon Lowe, 2B

D

B

C

201

Joc Pederson, 1B/OF

C

B

F

202

Luke Voit, 1B

C

B

F

205

Justin Upton, OF

D

B

D

210

Christian Walker, 1B

C

B

D

223

Carson Kelly, C

D

B

F

249

Mark Canha, OF

C

B

F

260

Kole Calhoun, OF

D

B

D

279

Mike Yastrzemski, OF

C

B

F

315

Tom Murphy, C

D

B

F

367

Sam Hilliard, OF

D

B

C

Grade C home run sources

ADP

Player

BA

HR

SB

14

Trea Turner, SS

B

C

A

30

Jose Altuve, 2B

A

C

C

31

Starling Marte, OF

B

C

B

38

Ozzie Albies, 2B

B

C

C

56

J.T. Realmuto, C

B

C

D

62

DJ LeMahieu, 1B/2B/3B

A

C

D

63

Vladimir Guerrero, 3B

B

C

F

83

Tommy Pham, OF

B

C

B

85

Eddie Rosario, OF

B

C

D

93

Jeff McNeil, 2B/3B/OF

A

C

D

95

Nick Castellanos, OF

B

C

F

97

Ramon Laureano, OF

B

C

C

99

Yasmani Grandal, C/1B

D

C

F

115

Michael Brantley, OF

A

C

D

116

Willson Contreras, C

C

C

F

130

Corey Seager, SS

B

C

F

132

Yuli Gurriel, 1B/3B

B

C

F

136

Cavan Biggio, 2B

D

C

B

142

Yasiel Puig, OF

C

C

C

146

Jorge Polanco, SS

B

C

D

147

Justin Turner, 3B

A

C

F

148

Danny Santana, 1B/OF

C

C

C

149

David Dahl, OF

B

C

D

154

Gavin Lux, SS

B

C

D

166

Salvador Perez, C

D

C

F

179

Byron Buxton, OF

C

C

B

180

Hunter Dozier, 3B/OF

C

C

F

184

Scott Kingery, 3B/OF

C

C

B

185

Paul DeJong, SS

D

C

D

189

Didi Gregorius, SS

C

C

D

195

Ryan McMahon, 2B/3B

C

C

D

200

Christian Vazquez, C

C

C

F

209

Omar Narvaez, C

B

C

F

218

Gio Urshela, 3B

A

C

F

225

Miguel Andujar, DH

B

C

F

231

Jo Adell, OF

C

C

C

232

Shin-Soo Choo, OF

C

C

C

244

Avisail Garcia, OF

B

C

D

248

Sean Murphy, C

C

C

F

258

Yandy Diaz, 1B/3B

B

C

F

317

Francisco Mejia, C

B

C

F

Stolen Bases

Grade A stolen base sources

ADP

Player

BA

HR

SB

14

Trea Turner, SS

B

C

A

53

Jonathan Villar, 2B/SS

C

D

A

55

Adalberto Mondesi, SS

D

D

A

165

Mallex Smith, OF

C

F

A

204

Garrett Hampson, 2B/OF

C

D

A

256

Jon Berti, 3B/SS/OF

C

F

A

Grade B stolen base sources

ADP

Player

BA

HR

SB

2

Mike Trout, OF

A

A

B

3

Christian Yelich, OF

A

A

B

5

Mookie Betts, OF

A

B

B

7

Francisco Lindor, SS

B

B

B

12

Trevor Story, SS

B

B

B

19

Fernando Tatis, SS

C

B

B

20

Jose Ramirez, 3B

B

B

B

31

Starling Marte, OF

B

C

B

48

Whit Merrifield, 2B/OF

A

D

B

57

Keston Hiura, 2B

B

B

B

82

Victor Robles, OF

C

D

B

83

Tommy Pham, OF

B

C

B

136

Cavan Biggio, 2B

D

C

B

145

Elvis Andrus, SS

C

F

B

150

Tommy Edman, 2B/3B

B

D

B

169

Kyle Tucker, OF

C

B

B

179

Byron Buxton, OF

C

C

B

184

Scott Kingery, 3B/OF

C

C

B

237

Kolten Wong, 2B

C

F

B

Grade C stolen base sources

ADP

Player

BA

HR

SB

4

Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF

A

A

C

10

Juan Soto, OF

B

B

C

13

Alex Bregman, 3B/SS

B

A

C

22

Bryce Harper. OF

C

A

C

30

Jose Altuve, 2B

A

C

C

35

Charlie Blackmon, OF

A

B

C

36

Javier Baez, SS

B

B

C

38

Ozzie Albies, 2B

B

C

C

43

Austin Meadows, OF

B

B

C

44

Ketel Marte, 2B/OF

A

B

C

73

Bo Bichette, SS

B

B

C

76

Yoan Moncada, 3B

B

B

C

80

Marcus Semien, SS

B

B

C

96

Luis Robert, OF

D

B

C

97

Ramon Laureano, OF

B

C

C

108

Andrew Benintendi, OF

B

D

C

109

Tim Anderson, SS

A

D

C

118

Shohei Ohtani, DH

B

B

C

128

Oscar Mercado, OF

C

D

C

142

Yasiel Puig, OF

C

C

C

148

Danny Santana, 1B/OF

C

C

C

158

Amed Rosario, SS

B

D

C

168

Lorenzo Cain, OF

B

D

C

182

Adam Eaton, OF

B

D

C

190

Jean Segura, SS

B

F

C

197

Brandon Lowe, 2B

D

B

C

199

Andrew McCutchen, OF

C

D

C

206

Kevin Newman, 2B/SS

B

F

C

217

Nick Senzel, OF

C

D

C

231

Jo Adell, OF

C

C

C

232

Shin-Soo Choo, OF

C

C

C

303

Nick Solak, DH

C

D

C

325

Trent Grisham, OF

C

D

C

367

Sam Hilliard, OF

D

B

C





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