2020 Fantasy Baseball Rankings Analysis 151-160: 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. 151 through 160 here, with new Dodgers pitching option at the top of the list. 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. 151-160

The Case For: The days of people hoping Ray can be an ace are long gone, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still be useful. You’re going to have to go in knowing he won’t be much help for your WHIP and ERA, but if he can just be neutral there, he will rack up 200-plus strikeouts and should win a decent number of games for an improving Diamondbacks team. Now that he’s more appropriately priced, it’s much easier to buy Ray and find a way to fit him into your lineup.      

The Case Against: It can be tough to get around the holes in Ray’s game. The strikeouts are great, but they might be all he gives, thanks to his inability to pitch deep into games. Is there enough upside to overlook the flaws? Strikeouts are pretty easy to find these days. –Chris Towers

The Case For: Diaz was the first closer off the board in nearly all drafts this time last year. That should be enough of a case for him, as 58 innings is hardly enough to change your opinion on a pitcher, no matter how bad those 58 innings might have been. Diaz still has elite strikeout stuff, but just couldn’t keep the ball in the yard in 2019, surrendering 15 homers. If he can get that under control, the path to getting back to being an elite reliever is pretty clear.       

The Case Against: Diaz’s struggles weren’t just bad luck. He had trouble gripping his slider all year, blaming the lower seams on the baseball that also led to the home run explosion leaguewide. He tinkered with his grip on the pitch at different points in the season, but never found something that worked for him. He could find his comfort level with the pitch and return to being an elite option, but that’s obviously no guarantee for someone who relies as much as Diaz does on that one pitch. –Chris Towers

The Case For: Getting a new start with the Blue Jays, Giles finally looked like the lockdown closer he was always projected to be, ranking fifth among full-time relievers (minimum 50 innings) with a 1.87 ERA, fourth with a 2.27 FIP and seventh with 14.1 K/9. He’s the surefire closer for a team that figures to be improved after breaking in several young hitters last season and making a free agent splash this offseason, but he’s rarely one that Fantasy players seek out as their No. 1,      

The Case Against: Giles’ breakthrough follows a perplexing stint in Houston when he was never as reliable as his numbers suggested he should be, and one strong season doesn’t necessarily mean he’s free from those demons. He also battled through elbow troubles in the second half and is a free agent in the offseason, making him a candidate to be traded (possibly out of the closer role) if and when the Blue Jays fall out of contention. -Scott White

The Case For: Davis was the most impressive hitter nobody knew about in 2019, as just his season line — a .307 batting average, 22 homers and .895 OPS — will tell you. His playing time wasn’t always consistent, but when he did get a chance to play every day in August, he hit .295 with eight homers and a .951 OPS. And lest you go calling it a fluke, note that the batted-ball profile completely backs it up. In fact, he actually underperformed both his xBA (.308) and xwOBA (.383).      

The Case Against: OK, but is the playing time going to be any more consistent this year? The Mets lost Todd Frazier, sure, but they’re expected to get Yoenis Cespedes back from … um, both heel and ankle surgery. At age 34. Yeah … I’m having a hard time seeing how Cespedes would get the lion’s share, particularly after the year Davis just had. Maybe just because Davis doesn’t have a track record yet, you can’t go assuming he’ll pick up where he left off, but the glass appears half full to me. -Scott White

The Case For: We’ve gotten used to a particular version of Maeda — one that the Dodgers routinely pulled early from games before shifting him to the bullpen in August — but certain clauses in his contract gave them the incentive to do just that. He’s actually an efficient pitcher with a varied arsenal who fares better than most a third time through a lineup, making him a candidate for a big workload and all the advantages (namely the potential for more wins and strikeouts) that go with it. And since the Twins don’t have the pitching surplus the Dodgers do, they figure to use him in a more conventional manner. His full potential may finally be unlocked, and even if he’s a workhorse who’s eligible at relief pitcher, that’s big in points leagues especially.

The Case Against: It’s a big assumption, right? A bit convoluted, too, with lots of ifs and buts. It’s not like the Twins are on the record about Maeda’s workload, and the Dodgers may have kept him on a leash for other reasons. He has shown some vulnerability to the long ball in the past, and it’s possible his ERA could be on the high side even if he’s a help in strikeouts and WHIP. -Scott White

The Case For: Before 2019, Martinez had a four-year stretch where he posted a 3.22 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 8.9 K/9, while averaging 15 wins per-32 starts. If he’s good to go to begin 2020, we know how good he can be, and he was still extremely effective out of the bullpen last season, so it doesn’t appear as if the injuries have really impacted his effectiveness. Oh, and for those of you in H2H points leagues, he could be a cheat code as a relief pitcher in your lineup. There’s plenty of upside at this price.      

The Case Against: He has thrown just 167 innings over the last two seasons, and in both has been relegated to a relief role by the end of the season. He was still very effective in that role, but it does raise the question of whether Martinez can hold up to a full-time starting role, especially since his injuries have all been upper body related. There are a lot of red flags. –Chris Towers

The Case For: After flirting with the role for a couple years, Neris finally settled in as the the Phillies’ one true closer, recording all but two of the team’s saves from May 23 on — and that was with the often too-clever-for-his-own good Gabe Kapler at the helm. New manager Joe Girardi is likely to take a more traditional approach to the closer role, and considering the Phillies don’t even have a clear-cut setup man, such an approach would favor Neris. His numbers, while rather typical by closer standards, nonetheless suggest he’s up to the challenge.     

The Case Against: The Phillies’ continual hedging over whether Neris is indeed their closer has to give you some pause. He has also had stretches when he lost the feel for his make-or-break pitch, the splitter, even getting sent to the minors for a couple months in 2018. Perhaps it contributed to a disastrous 13-outing stretch in the middle of last season when he had a 9.75 ERA. His history suggests he’ll constantly be looking over his shoulder, even if there are no obvious alternatives as of now. -Scott White

The Case For: Though he took a back-door route to the Red Sox closing gig, in the end it was clear Workman was the only deserving candidate. He was the only Red Sox reliever with an ERA shy of 3.00, much less 2.00, and he was one of just eight full-time relievers (openers included) with more than 100 strikeouts. That the Red Sox didn’t acquire a bigger name this offseason shows their confidence in a guy who recorded 13 of their 15 save opportunities after the All-Star break.     

The Case Against: Either that or they were just being cheap, which is all the more likely when you consider the full scope of their offseason decision-making. It doesn’t mean Workman can’t be a quality ninth-inning option, of course, but he’s not exactly a proven one. Matt Barnes looked like the obvious front-runner heading into last season, and you see how that turned out. Workman’s case is complicated by a curious profile that allowed him to succeed in spite of the seventh-highest walk rate among full-time relievers, and his outlandish success on balls in play, while mostly supported peripherally, will be a difficult standard to meet year after year. -Scott White

The Case For: Though it didn’t get a lot of fanfare, the Athletics made Canha an everyday player in late June last year, and he responded by hitting .295 with 16 homers and a .936 OPS from that point forward. A conscious decision to lay off pitches away meant more swings in his wheelhouse and more walks overall, resulting in the sort on-base percentage (.396) that itself is enough to keep him in the lineup. Add the power, and that’s Kris Bryant-level production, basically. Canha’s numbers were actually better against righties than lefties, too, which would seem to put to end any platoon talk. 

The Case Against: It boils down to two issues for Canha: job security and believability. Yes, his performance last year was enough to compel the Athletics to keep playing him every day, but they do have outfield alternatives and may be more willing to experiment at the start of a new season. If he doesn’t make good on whatever playing time he gets out of the gate, a 30-something with a history as a platoon bat could become an afterthought on a team that isn’t shy about giving minor-league upstarts chances. -Scott White

The Case For: While he wasn’t quite as prolific on the base paths as in the minors, Merado proved to be a competent enough base-stealer during his time manning center field for the big club, and since he wasn’t a total dud with the bat, that’s all it took to endear himself to Fantasy players. He doesn’t strike out much, which would suggest there’s room for the batting average to improve, which means he has the makings for five-category production. He was on what would have been a 20-20 pace over 160 games. 

The Case Against: Mercado is like Victor Robles in one particular way: Even though he delivered a respectable home run total, his quality of contact was quite poor. The difference, of course, is that Robles comes with a top prospect pedigree and the presumption of upside. While Mercado’s actual slugging percentage was .443, his xSLG was only .403, and for all of the contact he made, his xBA was only .262. The bat is playable perhaps, but he’ll make his bones as a speedster. Any letup there will make for an especially disappointing return. -Scott White

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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