2020 Fantasy Baseball Rankings Analysis 51-60: 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. 51-60, where the first catchers are coming off the board. 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. 51-60

The Case For: Mondesi wasn’t the league-winning superstar many hoped he would be in 2019, but he was still pretty great, specifically with the steals. There may not be a player with as much stolen base upside as Mondesi in the league, and that alone makes him worth targeting in all Roto leagues. And since there’s enough pop that 15 homers is a reasonable expectation and 20 isn’t out of the question, this isn’t just a one-trick pony.

The Case Against: Mondesi strikes out a ton, which limits his batting average upside, and he basically never walks, which limits his opportunities for steals and runs. You can still bet on him getting 40-plus steals, but if the batting average craters, he could be a huge drain in three categories. There’s also the small matter of him working his way back from a torn labrum in his shoulder. If you want to see how bad things can get for Mondesi, Jonathan Villar’s 2017 is a pretty good test case. -Chris Towers 

The Case For: Double his half-season numbers and you’re looking at a guy with the potential to be the best second baseman in Fantasy — one with the capacity to hit .300 while approaching 40 homers and 20 steals. It’s a pace not too unlike Fernando Tatis’, really, but without the second-round price tag. It’s not like it came out of nowhere either. Hiura earned particularly high marks for his bat from the time the Brewers drafted him, with the biggest concerns being his glove and his health.

The Case Against: Of course, the same concerns that exist for Tatis also do for Hiura. Both struck out at about a 30 percent rate, and while the way Hiura impacts the ball supports him overcoming it better than Tatis, his xBA still makes him out to be more of a .265 hitter. There’s also a chance that increased exposure reveals other areas of his game that are in need of improvement, but considering the five-category upside at a weak position, the price here seems right. -Scott White 

The Case For: A model of consistency, Rizzo actually delivered the highest batting average (.293) and second-highest OPS (.924) of his career last year, not that either was some great departure. His profile is remarkably stable, his expected stats matching up with his actual ones virtually every year, and at least in points leagues, his lack of strikeouts serves as its own differentiator. His on-base skills make him as capable a run-scorer as he is a run-producer, a trait he shares with other elite first basemen.

The Case Against: The number of traits Rizzo shares with other elite first basemen is becoming scarcer. At a time when home run totals are on the rise across the league, Rizzo’s have been on the decline. A high-dollar corner infielder has to be able to deliver 30 in this environment, and in back-to-back years now, Rizzo hasn’t. Steady as he is, he may not be enough of a standout at anything else to make up for it, at least in 5×5 Rotisserie leagues. The gap between his value in that format and in Head-to-Head points has never been greater. -Scott White

The Case For: Glasnow’s metamorphosis with the Rays, who rescued him from a prison of outdated thinking with the Pirates, is now complete, and the end result might be the best pitcher, pitch for pitch, in the game. The numbers are staggering: a 1.78 ERA, a 2.26 FIP, a 2.94 xFIP. Those first two would have led the league — and without much competition, really — if he had managed to make more than 12 starts. And since his ADP has him going outside the top 20 starting pitchers, the injury risk is already factored into the price.

The Case Against: Just because it’s factored into the price doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem. Long-limbed and committed to lighting up the radar gun at 101, Glasnow isn’t a sure thing to hold up over a starter’s workload, and in fact, he has yet to deliver 160 innings in a season (majors and minors combined), not to mention 180 or 200. Volume is an essential ingredient for ace, and among those regarded as such, he’s a particularly risky bet. -Scott White

The Case For: LeMahieu’s all-fields approach to hitting will play anywhere, but it was especially well suited to his new home park in Yankee Stadium thanks to the short porch in right field, where 16 of his career-high 26 homers went. That approach also helped him avoid a significant decline in BABIP and, combined with his contact skills, kept LeMahieu’s average in a healthy place. This is still arguably the best lineup in baseball, and LeMahieu’s underlying numbers mostly back up what he did in 2019. Believe it.

The Case Against: Anytime you’re dealing with a player coming off a career year, there’s value in baking in some regression. LeMahieu probably won’t be as good in 2020 as he was in 2019, so the question is how much will he regress? If the power was legit, there’s a very high floor here, but if he goes back to being more like a 10-15 homer guy, then you have to worry about BABIP fluctuations having an even more significant impact on his value, as we saw in his disappointing 2018. Ultimately, there should be a pretty high floor with LeMahieu, but we may have seen the tippy top of his ceiling in 2019. -Chris Towers

The Case For: Realmuto didn’t take the big step forward we were hoping to see in his first season outside of Miami, but the second half showed us more of his capabilities. Freed from the cavernous dimensions of Marlins Park, Realmuto went out and hit 15 homers in the second half of the season, upping his line to .278/.327/.565 after the All-Star break. Maybe it just took a while for Realmuto to figure it out?

The Case Against: Generally speaking, you’re better off using full-season statistics to project for the future than trying to figure out which slice of the season represents a player’s “real” skill level. In Realmuto’s case, his 2019 wasn’t all that different from his 2020, which should tell you that it’s probably pretty close to who he really is. The good news is, he’s established a really high floor over the past three seasons, but there just may not be as much beyond that as we hoped. -Chris Towers

The Case For: Rarely does a pitcher come along who transitions to the majors as easily as Paddack did. The efficiency with which he could put away hitters jumped out in spring training and continued to stand out across 140 innings. It isn’t just about missing bats with him, though he does his share of that. Only twice in 26 starts did he issue more than two walks, and only five times did he issue more than three earned runs. And now, as he enters his second year, he won’t have as many restrictions on his workload.

The Case Against: Did the Padres restrict his workload enough? Paddock never had more than 90 innings in a minor-league season and was only just recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2018, so 140 innings is kind of a lot considering. While his fastball and changeup play well off each other, allowing him to pound the strike zone, they’re basically the only two pitches he has, and hitters might catch on more in Year 2. His tendency to put the ball in the air makes him vulnerable to home runs, and his 3.95 FIP, 4.05 xFIP and 3.83 SIERA all suggest he might have been lucky considering. -Scott White

The Case For: Once things clicked for him — July 12, or possibly a few days earlier — there was no more dependable pitcher in baseball. Darvish was dominant in the second half, posting a 2.76 ERA and 0.808 WHIP over his final 13 starts, with just seven walks total. He’s dealt with so many injuries over the years that he might have just needed a few months to figure things out, but once he did, Darvish looked every bit like an ace.

The Case Against: We can’t just ignore the first three months of the season, obviously. It wasn’t just that Darvish was giving up a lot of runs; he also often looked like he couldn’t throw strikes. He walked at least four batters in six of his first eight starts and had an ugly 12.5% walk rate through the end of June, a stretch actually longer than the one where he dominated. Maybe he figured it out around the All-Star break and will carry that with him through 2020, but the more likely outcome is Darvish will be something like what he’s always been: A gifted strikeout artist who isn’t quite as good at everything else as he should be. -Chris Towers

The Case For: A former top prospect made good, Bell finally started using that mammoth frame to hit for power in 2019. He’s always had great plate discipline but struggled to elevate the ball much before last season, and therein lies the key to his breakout. His 23.9% HR/FB rate is high, but not so much higher than his career rate that you can’t believe it is sustainable, especially when backed up by elite hard-hit numbers. Bell hits the ball hard, he makes consistent contact, and now he hits the ball in the air. That’s a good combination.

The Case Against: Bell feasted early in the season, and while I don’t believe in the Home Run Derby curse, he just wasn’t the same guy after the All-Star break. His ISO fell to .196 and his HR/FB fell to 16.7%, both much more in line with his career rates, and his production fell off as a result. Some of that could have been luck-related — a .241 BABIP is hard to overcome — but opposing teams seemed to make more of an effort to force Bell to hit from the left side of the plate, his weaker side, in the second half. Opposing pitchers also threw him fewer first pitch fastballs in the second half, and Bell absolutely feasted on first pitches, so it could be that the scouting report just got out on him. If that’s the case, it’s now on Bell to adjust. There’s no guarantee he will effectively. -Chris Towers

The Case For: Typically with catchers, you’re just looking for someone who won’t hurt you. That’s the upside for all but the handful of best options at the position. At his best, Sanchez can give you a whole lot more. He has averaged 28 home runs over the last three seasons, despite playing just 106 games per season. There is legit 40-homer potential here if Sanchez stays healthy, and while the average has been particularly low the past two seasons, he hit .284 between his first two partial seasons, giving him upside in that regard, too. In fact, Sanchez carries more upside than anyone else at the position.

The Case Against: We’ve been chasing that upside for two years now with mostly just disappointment to show for it. If Sanchez is going to keep hitting .230 or worse, it’s hard to justify the investment. Add in the persistent injuries over three seasons, and you’re inviting a lot of risk just to get an edge at one position. –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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