2020 Fantasy Baseball Rankings Analysis 91-100: The case for, against drafting 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. 81-90, starting with a potential star with power and speed in his profile. 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. 91-100

The Case For: Brantley is a great example of why there is often profit to be found in buying low on “injury-prone” players. For years, Brantley couldn’t stay healthy, and now he has played at least 143 games in two consecutive years. There is no guarantee he’ll stay on the field for 2020, but the risk of injury is already baked into his price, and there’s no doubting how good he is when he is on the field. And who knows, maybe Dusty Baker will let Brantley run a bit more in 2020.

The Case Against: Brantley will turn 33 in May, and I bet you didn’t know he was quite that old. That makes him a risk already, without even considering his significant injury track record. Brantley could take a step backward any day now, and it wouldn’t come as a surprise at all. -Chris Towers

The Case For: After making a concerted effort to join the launch angle revolution in 2018, Kepler finally got the desired results in 2019, delivering far and away the best numbers of his still young career. While the base stats make it look like a sudden leap, the underlying ones show a gradual skills progression, which should inspire confidence. His strikeout rate is more like that of a batting average specialist, which perhaps hints of even more upside, and as a possible leadoff man for a deep Twins lineup, his runs and RBI won’t be lacking.

The Case Against: He may not strike out much, but for him, improving the launch angle meant eliminating line drives. His low BABIPs aren’t bad luck, then, but the natural result of putting everything in the air, which means he’ll need to sustain the power gains to remain a mixed-league asset. Only time will tell. -Scott White

The Case For: We have a tendency to overcomplicate things sometimes, but the case for Rosario is quite straightforward: He hits between .276 and .290 every year and should hit close to 30 homers in a great lineup. Don’t overthink it, just be glad the value is there.

The Case Against: In an era where seemingly everyone hits close to 30 homers, does Rosario really stand out? Especially if he hits closer to .270 than .290 like he did last year. He won’t cost you much, but at Rosario’s ADP, you’re passing on higher upside players like Nelson Cruz or Carlos Correa. Is that worth it? -Chris Towers

The Case For: Donaldson put the ageists on alert with a big bounce-back season. It wasn’t quite a classic Donaldson season, but his trademark plate discipline and power were still there. Now he moves into arguably the best lineup in baseball in Minnesota, where surpassing 100 runs and 100 RBI should be easy. He’s not done yet.

The Case Against: But … he might be done sometime very soon. Donaldson struggled to stay healthy for two straight years before playing 155 games in 2019, and at 34 years old, he’s certainly closer to bringing the rain for the last time than the first time. -Chris Towers

The Case For: Man, 10 years ago a guy coming off the season Tim Anderson just had might be a third-rounder. That’s a sign of how far we’ve come as an industry in identifying what is or isn’t sustainable, but it also might be a sign that we’re underrating Anderson. The power is real, he improved his contact rate, and there’s room for a 25-25 season here in an improving lineup, even if he won’t ever come close to .335 again.

The Case Against: This was a pretty significant breakout for Anderson, whose batted-ball profile suggests he might have been lucky to even hit .240 in 2018. He was legitimately one of the worst hitters in the league before 2019, so the potential for regression is significant. There’s a reason nobody was really drafting Anderson this time a year ago despite the 20 homers and 26 steals. -Chris Towers

The Case For: The guy finished top three in AL Cy Young voting four times in the five years leading up to 2019, a year that was obviously wrecked by injury. Given how long he resided near the top of the starting pitcher rankings, the discount this year seems pretty extreme. Yes, his numbers were bad for the one month he was healthy, but he was in good company there. Pitchers like Noah Syndergaard, Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, Aaron Nola, Lance Lynn, Brandon Woodruff and Yu Darvish all had an ERA over 5.00 last April.

The Case Against: Let’s suppose the same phenomenon that led to last year’s home run explosion (a change in seam height on the actual ball) also contributed to an adjustment period for all the high-end hurlers listed above. Maybe, then, Kluber simply didn’t get his chance to recover. The problem is that he already had his share of detractors heading into 2018 because of a drop in velocity and swinging-strike rate. And now he’s coming back from a broken arm and pitching at a new Rangers ballpark that may not play well for pitchers. He leaves a lot to wonder about, and the pool of potential high-end pitchers is deep enough that it’s easy just to leave those questions for someone else. -Scott White

The Case For: Sometimes a player gradually builds up to a breakthrough, refining his skills over time to achieve maximum impact. Other times he makes a change that proves to be completely transformative. Montas is the latter case. He added a splitter that immediately became his best pitch, not only improving his ability to miss bats but also inducing weak contact on the ground. That sort of change in outlook for two of the three true outcomes rightfully had a dramatic effect on his numbers, and for the three months prior to his suspension, he performed like an ace.

The Case Against: But there’s the rub, isn’t it? Montas lost the second half of the season to a PED suspension, which raises suspicion over how real any of the first half was. Forget that he looked the same when he came back for one start late in September or that countless players who have returned from PED suspensions go on as if nothing ever happened. Montas doesn’t have enough of a track record to get the benefit of the doubt. And even if he doesn’t owe anything to PEDs, who’s to say he can hold up to an ace workload over a full season? -Scott White

The Case For: Whatever you thought of Lynn going into last year is certainly changed now. After looking like he might play out the rest of his career as a back-end starter, unable to recapture his pre-Tommy John form after losing all of 2016 to the procedure, he suddenly evolved into a bat-missing force the likes of which we had never seen. Ranking seventh in both strikeouts and innings pitched, he showed the makings of an ace, especially when you consider he had a 3.24 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 11.1 K/9 over his final 28 starts, going seven-plus innings in 15 of them.

The Case Against: As the Ryan Reynolds GIF would say, “but why?” The answers are hazy. It might be as simple as him ditching his less effective pitches for more four-seamers and cutters, but can he continue to fool hitters if he’s not really changing speeds, basically just throwing three kinds of fastball (a sinker included)? For a 32-year-old with a long and middling track record, it defies believability. -Scott White

The Case For: The case for Santana is always easier to make in a points league, where his high walk and low strikeout rates routinely position him among the highest scorers at the position, but some changes to his batted-ball profile last year – specifically, putting the ball in the air less — led to career-best numbers that actually made him an asset in batting average for the first time, closing the gap between the two formats. He ended up placing seventh among first basemen in traditional 5×5 leagues, ahead of the more highly regarded choices like Max Muncy, Paul Goldschmidt and Anthony Rizzo.

The Case Against: Hitting fewer fly balls, while possibly helpful for batting average, generally isn’t the way to go in the juiced ball era, and the changes weren’t dramatic enough to entirely explain the difference anyway. Santana appeared closer to his usual self in the second half (hitting .262 compared to .297 in the first half), and heading into his age-34 season, he’s also at risk of natural decline. Don’t chase the result here. -Scott White

The Case For: Abreu is an RBI machine, and the White Sox should have a better lineup than they’ve had in Abreu’s entire career. The overall production may not wow you, but you know you’ll get help in RBI, homers, and batting average at a pretty reasonable clip. Plus, Abreu might have actually underperformed his batted-ball profile in 2019, so there’s still room for improvement.

The Case Against: If Abreu doesn’t improve, there’s probably a lot of regression coming, because he won’t drive in 123 runs while leading the league in double plays and sporting a low .800s OPS. Abreu finished eighth at 1B in Roto leagues last season and is being drafted as the No. 8 1B right now, but the RBI total carried a lot of weight. Even with an improved lineup around him, something around 100 RBI is probably more realistic, and since Abreu doesn’t really stand out anywhere else these days, that’s not a great thing. You may not have to worry about first base if you draft Abreu, but you also aren’t likely to gain much of an edge from him, either. -Chris Towers

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