2020 Fantasy Baseball Rankings Analysis 131-140: The case for, 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 aren’t 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. 131 through 140 here, where you can find some real upside. 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 | 151-160 | 161-170 | 171-180 | 181-190 | 191-200

The Case For/The Case Against

No. 131-140

The Case For: Santana got his first honest look as a full-timer in quite some time and emerged as a viable power/speed threat in doing so, his 28 home runs representing the fifth-most for anyone with at least 20 steals. Nos. 1-4 (Christian Yelich, Ronald Acuna, Trevor Story and Francisco Lindor) are all first-rounders, at least in traditional 5×5 leagues, and clearly, Santana is much more affordable than that. He did outperform his expected stats (xBA, xSLG, xwOBA), but not by as much as you’d think, his high-end exit velocity and improved launch angle going a long way toward backing up his performance.      

The Case Against: Is it possible two organizations prior to the Rangers just whiffed on this guy? Maybe, but it’s not like they had him buried in the minors either. He got his chances and hit only .219 in the four years leading up to 2019. Amazing things can happen for players that improve their launch angle in this juiced ball era, but Santana’s plate discipline is putrid, which gives him a thin margin for error. Add suspect defense, and it’s possible he gets pushed out if he gets off to a slow start. -Scott White

The Case For: Urias was the top pitching prospect in baseball all the way back in 2016, so it might shock you to learn he is still just 23 years old. To put that into context, he’s nearly two years younger than 2019 NL Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso. He’s a full year younger than A.J. Puk, the Athletics prospect. We haven’t seen Urias stand up to a full-time starter’s workload yet, but he’s thrown 184 innings in the majors with a 9.2 K/9, 3.18 ERA, and 1.28 WHIP, which would be a pretty good best-case scenario outcome. It’s unlikely he gets to that kind of inning total, and the Dodgers will likely move him in and out of the rotation to save his innings, but he added 2 mph to his fastball last season and sported a strong 13.7 swinging strike rate. That was largely in relief, but it points to the kind of upside Urias has.       

The Case Against: What’s the innings ceiling here? If it’s 150, that would likely make Urias a significant value at this cost; it would also be a career high for a season by nearly 30 and would be nearly double his 2019 total. Does it really make sense to draft a player for his ceiling when it’s that unlikely he reaches it? Even 120 innings would be 40 more than he threw in 2019, and the Dodgers still have to plan on having him available for the playoffs. Urias could end up one of the best pitchers in baseball, but it’s a lot more likely that comes in 2021 or beyond, if it ever does happen. –Chris Towers

The Case For: Another player who probably deserves a mulligan for a tough 2019, Kimbrel didn’t sign with the Cubs until June, not because of any concerns about his skill set, but due to concerns about draft pick compensation attached to his signing. He then made four appearances in the minors before returning to the majors, where he predictably struggled. However, we only have to go back to 2018 to see Kimbrel was still an elite Fantasy closer. Bet on him getting back to that level with a normal offseason and spring training.      

The Case Against: Kimbrel did also deal with knee and elbow injuries in 2019, and it’s possible the soon-to-be 32-year-old may just be hitting the wall. We saw signs of decline in 2018 even as he was still very good, when he posted the worst FIP of his career and saw his velocity decline. We’re certainly on the back half of Kimbrel’s career, and as with any pitcher, the bottom can fall out quickly. –Chris Towers

The Case For: Since joining the majors, Gurriel has been one of the league’s best contact hitters, and he added some pop to that profile in 2019. Actually, that’s underselling it quite a bit — Gurriel became a legitimate power threat overnight. His 31 home runs matched his combined total from the previous two seasons, and he did it without sacrificing any of his elite contact skills. Playing in that lineup, RBI and runs are always going to be plentiful, even more so if Gurriel can create them for himself like he did.      

The Case Against: You probably won’t ever go broke betting against a 35-year-old coming off a career season, and in Gurriel’s case, it’s one of the better bets you can make. Gurriel’s breakout isn’t backed up by the underlying numbers — he had a higher hard-hit rate in 2017 than 2019; his average exit velocity was identical to 2018. Additionally, the bulk of Gurriel’s production came in one stretch, as he hit 19 of those 31 homers in July and August. He didn’t have an OPS over .758 in any other month. You don’t have to pay face value for Gurriel’s 2019 numbers, but there’s still a chance you’re spending a mid-round pick on a pretty fringy option if 2019 was a fluke. –Chris Towers

The Case For: If xFIP means anything to you, then it should also mean something that Fried had the ninth-best in baseball, better than Walker Buehler, Jack Flaherty and scores of others who we already classify as aces. He’s a better bat-misser than he gets credit for, ranking 25th in swinging-strike rate, but more notable is his top-five ground-ball rate, giving him a skill set perfectly attuned for an era when home run prevention is paramount.      

The Case Against: The expected stats are all well and good, but Fried still had just a 4.02 ERA last year. He was fortunate to win 17 games considering, and it’s possible he gets better and still make less of a Fantasy impact just because that victory total is so hard to repeat. He’s heavily reliant on his curveball — an excellent pitch that contributes to both his swinging-strike and ground-ball rates — but his lack of a real changeup makes him vulnerable to right-handed bats, which could prevent him from taking another step forward. -Scott White

The Case For: My working definition for “ace” heading into last season was “a pitcher with the capacity for both 200 innings and 200 strikeouts.” Rodriguez achieved both marks in 2019, finally staying healthy enough to fulfill his potential. He had more than a strikeout per inning for a third straight year and threw six-plus innings consistently enough to become a 19-game winner. He didn’t really take off, though, until he began putting the ball on the ground more in the second half, when he compiled a 2.95 ERA in 16 starts.      

The Case Against: Rodriguez may have technically reached those thresholds in 2019, but he wasn’t an ace. His lack of a legitimate breaking ball means he gives up his share of hits, and even in the second half, he had a WHIP over 1.30. Durability has never been his strong suit — he hadn’t thrown even 140 innings in a major-league season prior to last year — yet that’s mainly what you’re paying for here. Well … that and the 19 wins, which he’d be unlikely to repeat even if the Red Sox hadn’t dealt away their best player, Mookie Betts, this offseason. -Scott White

The Case For: Polanco enjoyed a breakout in 2019, but it was mostly just in the power department. He sustained his average gains from 2018, and the batted-ball data backs him up there, too. Polanco will probably never have much more than average power, but his contact skills and the juiced ball will help that play up. So will the Twins lineup.       

The Case Against: 2019 was the first time in Polanco’s career he has ever had an OPS over .773, and he’d never been much more than a 15-homer guy even when you paced out his partial seasons. If he regresses to that, it’s still a viable skill set but doesn’t have quite as much upside, especially if the Twins revamped lineup sees him move down the order after batting second for most of 2019. –Chris Towers

The Case For: All Justin Turner does is hit. Even at 34, he had another productive season, hitting .290/.372/.509, his fifth time in the last six seasons hitting at least .290. Turner really hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down, and he’s priced appropriately for the production he’ll give you when healthy.     

The Case Against: At this point, you simply can’t assume a full season for Turner. He missed 27 games and came off the bench for 13 others, leaving him with just 122 starts in 2019, his third straight season below 125. You’ll never get big counting stats from him as a result, and you’ll also need to keep a regular fill-in around, especially in daily leagues. Is it worth the headache? -Chris Towers

The Case For: It was apparent even before the Marlins moved him at the deadline that Anderson had a big arm, but the Rays, as they so often do, unlocked its full potential. The transformation was immediate, and it was spectacular. The reliever we saw in those 23 appearances — one who delivered a 2.11 ERA, 0.66 WHIP and 17.3 K/9 — would be the best in the majors, and the Rays are apparently willing to go all-in on him, dealing away their closer, Emilio Pagan, in an offseason trade.

The Case Against: But does it mean Anderson is the closer? You’re not going to get an answer from manager Kevin Cash, who has never subscribed to traditional bullpen roles. It’s a wonder Pagan so often had his number called in the ninth. There’s also the question of how definite Anderson’s transformation was, given the sample size. Command was an issue for him prior to joining the Rays. He clearly has the potential to be the top reliever in Fantasy — or at least to rival Josh Hader — but it’s a wide range of possible outcomes. –Scott White

The Case For: In an era when power is easy to find, Lux’s contact skills could make him stand out. We saw a dramatic version of that in the minors, when Lux hit .347/.421/.607 and, most impressively, improved as he got to Triple-A. There’s five-category potential here, too, as he has averaged 20 steals per 150 games in the minors. He could be a star, in Los Angeles or somewhere else if they dangle him in trade offers.      

The Case Against: The power had never really been there for Lux before he got to Triple-A, which famously saw an across-the-board power spike as they used the same seemingly juiced baseballs as the majors. In Double-A, Lux was good, but he didn’t quite look like a potential superstar until he got to the PCL. Lux also struggled in the majors, where his contact skills didn’t quite translate immediately. They aren’t giving him the second base job this spring, and if he struggles, the Dodgers have the depth to send him back down or reduce his role. –Chris Towers

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