2020 Fantasy Baseball Rankings Analysis 121-130: The case for and against Draft Day targets


The 2020 Fantasy baseball draft prep season is here, and this year’s player pool might take some getting used to. Starting pitchers are going earlier than ever in early drafts, and stolen bases are more valuable than ever, which means if you haven’t been paying attention, you could be surprised by how drafts are unfolding right now.

We’re here to help you get acclimated. We’ve got our position previews and tiers elsewhere, but if you really want to start your Fantasy baseball prep right, this is the place to begin: With our breakdown of the top-200 players for 2020, based on CBS Fantasy baseball expert Scott White’s rankings. Scott White and Chris Towers have broken down every player in the list, giving you the case for drafting them and the case against, so you can make up your own mind on whether you want them on your team.

We’re going through No. 121 through 130 here, beginning with a former stud looking for better days. And you can find the rest right here: 1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | 61-70 | 71-80 | 81-90 | 91-100 | 101-110 | 111-120 | 121-130 | 131-140 | 141-150

The Case For/The Case Against

No. 121-130

The Case For: Though we haven’t seen Ohtani make a full-length start since May 2018, he was everything anyone could want in a pitcher back then. He’s still that guy who struck out 12 over seven one-hit innings in his second career start that year, and he’s nearing the end of a typical rehabilitation period for Tommy John surgery. In the meantime, the Angels will continue using him as a hitter, and he reiterated last year that his bat can hold its own, with contributions in all five categories on the days he’s in the lineup.      

The Case Against: What makes Ohtani most interesting — the two-way ability — is also what holds him back from a Fantasy perspective. Playing both sides of the ball requires more rest on both sides of the ball, and you have to choose between the pitching and the hitting contributions at the start of a scoring period. Now, if your league’s scoring periods are only a day long, that’s great. You’ll probably get the full benefit since he’s unlikely to hit on the days he’s pitching anyway. But if they’re a week long, trying to forecast his schedule will become a year-long headache. He’s most valuable as a pitcher since his bat won’t be in the lineup every day, but how long before he’s back to doing it and how often will he do it when he is? -Scott White

The Case For: Laureano’s numbers couldn’t have translated any cleaner from a late-season look in 2018, meaning he indeed lived up to the billing as a player who could make a worthwhile contribution in all five categories. His line-drive rate was again on the level of some of the best in the majors, ensuring him a high BABIP, and he was thrown out just twice on his 15 stolen base attempts. With his competent defense in center field and his even splits against righties and lefties, the Athletics have every incentive to continue playing him every day.     

The Case Against: Laureano’s plate discipline is less than ideal, which means he pretty much has to remain an outlier in BABIP to make a worthwhile contribution in batting average. The stolen base total might have been a little underwhelming compared to his 2018 pace, and there’s of course no guarantee it remains a regular part of his game moving forward. Because Laureano doesn’t have a standout skill other than hitting line drives, he’ll need to sustain everything to hold his stock, which is a tough ask for a player entering his second full big-league season. -Scott White

The Case For: Weren’t we drafting this guy in, like, Round 4 last year? Wasn’t he once the top prospect in baseball and the runner-up for AL Rookie of the Year? Didn’t he begin his career with two near 20-20 seasons, contributing a respectable (or better) batting average in both? And we’re going to throw it all away after just one bad season? Pshaw!     

The Case Against: Saying Benintendi began his career with two near 20-20 seasons is a stretch, first of all. The second of them, 2018, saw him hit only 16 home runs, including two in the second half, which is sort of where the trouble began. In his past 770 at-bats, which includes that second half, he has just 15 home runs in 14 steals. You don’t need me to tell you that’s some pedestrian production in today’s landscape. His numbers last year were completely earned, too — weak contact, sideways plate discipline, no salvation to be found in the xBA or xwOBA. If you’re investing in a turnaround, it’s with little to back it up. -Scott White

The Case For: Jansen is still the undisputed closer for a surefire contender, so you can rest assured the save chances will be there. That’s no trifling detail at a time of widespread bullpen uncertainty. He of course has his track record of dominance, compiling a 2.07 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 13.7 over a six-year span that ended in 2017, but his 1.06 WHIP and 11.4 K/9 last year were still respectable. The drop off hasn’t been drastic enough for the Dodgers to consider making a move, especially if his work with Driveline Baseball in the offseason helps him recapture some of his former stuff.

The Case Against: Who are we kidding? The Dodgers are one of the most forward-thinking organizations in the game. They’ll pull the plug on Jansen quicker than most any other, and the reports of them being in the mix for virtually every high-end reliever who hits the market are telling. Jansen’s velocity decline the past two years has made him more susceptible to the long ball, which played no small role in his eight blown saves last year, and his 4.44 ERA in the second half seemed to make manager Dave Roberts hesitant to turn to him with the game on the line in the postseason. Jansen may still be able to get by as a closer, but he’s not a lockdown one anymore. -Scott White

The Case For: Josh Hader’s 138 strikeouts were again an outlier among full-time relievers last year. But Liam Hendriks’ 124 came closer than anyone else’s. The nine-year veteran claimed the closer role from an injured Blake Treinen in late June and never gave it back, riding his faster-than-ever fastball to unprecedented results. He’s the undisputed closer for the Athletics now — a team with legitimate playoff aspirations. Even if you’re skeptical of the performance, honestly, how many trustworthy closing options are there?     

The Case Against: Let’s see … longtime so-so reliever takes a turn for the dominant, making the case seemingly overnight that he’s now some lockdown closer. Now where have we heard this before? Oh, that’s right — Treinen, for these same A’s just a year before Hendriks. And you see how that one turned out. Apparently, it was a new workout program involving more long toss that brought Hendriks’ fastball to new heights, but a reliever’s sample of innings and pitches thrown is so small that skepticism for an outlier performance is always warranted. -Scott White

The Case For: Improving his production for a third straight year, Rogers genuinely had the look of a closer during a season when he primarily served as one, upping his strikeout rate in a way that didn’t diminish his natural ground-ball tendencies. Of his 30 saves, 18 came in the second half, solidifying his standing as the bullpen ace for a team hoping to cash in with an AL Central title.     

The Case Against: The Twins were consistently reluctant to go all-in on Rogers as their closer in 2019, forcing him to split save chances with Blake Parker early and then throwing the occasional one Sergio Romo’s way down the stretch. The left-hander was less a closer than a late-inning workhorse, often being asked to pitch multiple innings, and with Romo back in the fold (as well as other respected options like Tyler Duffey and Tyler Clippard), it’s possible Rogers’ save total could underwhelm even if he remains the first option for the ninth inning. -Scott White

The Case For: If you remember back to this time last year, Luzardo was one of the most hyped pitching prospects expected to make an impact in 2019. He dominated the minors, he dominated in spring ball, and seemed to have forced his way into the rotation, but a shoulder injury derailed his season. He ultimately pitched just 55 innings between the majors and minors but showed just how dominant he can be despite the injury, striking out 73 batters in those 55 innings, with just 14 runs allowed.

The Case Against: He’s a young pitcher coming off a shoulder injury who has never thrown more than 109.1 innings in a season. There’s upside, yes, but you’re not just drafting this guy as a flier — at his cost, you’re relying on him as a key part of your rotation. There’s a chance he ends up giving you basically nothing in 2020. –Chris Towers

The Case For: Between the majors and minors, Biggio racked up 22 homers and 19 steals, and he actually ran even more in the majors, a great sign. There just aren’t many players with 20-20 potential these days, and that probably isn’t Biggio’s ceiling. Selective almost to a fault, Biggio could take a huge step forward with a bit of a more aggressive approach early in counts. There’s star potential here.     

The Case Against: There are also big red flags. The power and speed are great, but he needs to make more contact and hit better than .234 to make them play up. He was extremely hit or miss in the minors, but more often than not didn’t really hit for much average. It’s a combustible package of skills and deficiencies. –Chris Towers

The Case For: It’s the same thing every year. Have you heard Dahl plays in Colorado? Have you heard it’s roughly a mile above sea level, allowing batted balls to cut through the air like bullets? Dahl has already enjoyed some of its bounty, producing whenever he’s been able to take the lineup, but the question of how good he would be if he could just stay healthy remains. He enters spring training with a clean bill of health, though, after missing the end of 2019 with a high ankle sprain and should have no impediments to his playing time after settling in against lefties last year.     

The Case Against: But are we sure he’s good? Maybe his .386 BABIP is just the natural consequence of a guy with strong line-drive tendencies playing half his games at Coors Field, which itself is known to inflate a player’s BABIP, but that lofty BABIP appears to be the entire source of Dahl’s strength right now. He doesn’t elevate well enough for a big home run total and has substandard plate discipline, to put it bluntly. Maybe what he showed in 2019 really was the full extent of his potential, playing time aside. -Scott White

The Case For: A “disappointing” season for Tucker saw him hit. 34 homers and steal 30 bases in 125 games at Triple-A, before adding four homers and five steals in 22 major-league games. How many 30-30 threats are there in baseball in 2020? That’s the case for him, and it looks like he already has a spot on the Astros opening day roster.      

The Case Against: There has been speculation that the Astros aren’t quite as enamored of Tucker as the rest of the baseball world, which might explain why we’ve been waiting for him to get a chance for nearly two years and haven’t seen it yet. The Astros don’t exactly have many holes in their lineup, so it might once again be tough for Tucker to find an everyday role. –Chris Towers

So which sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which undervalued first baseman can help you win a championship? Visit SportsLine now to get rankings for every single position, all from the model that called Kenta Maeda’s huge breakout last season, and find out.





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