2020 Fantasy Baseball Rankings Analysis: The case for and against drafting No. 81-90

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. 81-90, featuring one of 2019’s biggest breakout stars with a lot of question marks for 2020.

The Case For/The Case Against

No. 81-90

The Case For: When a formerly elite player returns to the ranks of the merely mortal, it can be easy to overstate the extent of their decline, and there is some risk of that with Goldschmidt. In his worst season ever, he still hit 34 homers and had nearly 200 combined runs and RBI, despite hitting under .200 in the month of June. Take out that and his average climbs to .274, which is a lot more palatable. It gets harder to avoid those slumps as you age, but Goldschmidt was closer to being a high-end hitter than his overall numbers might suggest.

The Case Against: Goldschmidt is a good example for how quickly age can catch up with a player. He mostly managed to stave off his decline phase in 2018 despite a slow start, but he couldn’t really turn it around in 2019. His plate discipline took a step backward last season and Goldschmidt didn’t crush fastballs for basically the first time in his career, a sign that the bat might finally be slowing down. The average may not be coming back, and with the stolen bases long gone, Goldschmidt may not be far from being a one-dimension slugger, and those are a dime a dozen at first base. –Chris Towers

The Case For: If you want upside, Guerrero has it. One of the most productive and hyped prospects in years, Guerrero didn’t quite live up to the hype in his rookie season, but we saw flashes of the upside — he had more batted balls hit over 115 mph than any player in baseball despite his late arrival. You’re betting on Guerrero taking a step forward, andafter he nearly hit .400 in 2018 in the minors, it feels like a pretty good bet to make.

The Case Against: Of course, you’re passing on quite a few players who have already proven they can live up to their cost in order to take Guerrero. He needs to improve quite a bit to get to the level where he’s worth this price, and despite all those 115+ mph batted balls, Guerrero ranked in just the 46th percentile in hard-hit rate in 2019 — a sign of how far he needs to go. He’ll get there eventually, but you’re taking on risk by betting he will get there in 2020. –Chris Towers

The Case For: Suarez nearly hit 50 homers last year and you can draft him in the seventh round in many leagues. It’s just disrespectful, is what it is. We’re talking about a guy who has driven in 100-plus runs in consecutive seasons and has a pretty high floor even if he never comes close to 50 homers again. Although, it is worth repeating: He hit almost 50 homers last season! Let’s not overthink this.

The Case Against: Well, let’s think about it for a second. Suarez doesn’t run and has never hit for a good average, so you really need the power production to come through. He was also one of the bigger overperformers in baseball by expected wOBA and actually led the majors in strikeouts in 2019. That tradeoff is worth it when he’s hitting nearly 50 homers, but if he goes back to being a mid-30s homer guy, does that come with a .250 average? The fact that he’s recovering from shoulder surgery after taking a tumble late in the offseason only makes him riskier. –Chris Towers

The Case For: After a season in which everything seemed to go wrong at the plate, Willson Contreras got back to performing at the levels we’re more accustomed to, actually setting a career high in home runs despite missing a month with a strained hamstring. His .888 OPS was second among catchers with at least 300 at-bats, and he’s one of just three catchers, Gary Sanchez and Yasmani Grandal being the others, with an .800 OPS or better three of the past four seasons, placing him squarely among the elite at the position.

The Case Against: Maybe it’s not even worth acknowledging since he has so regularly been able to overcome it, but Contreras’ batted-ball profile sure is weird. He makes weak contact and puts the ball on the ground way too often, delivering the sort of line-drive and fly-ball rates that would normally make someone a bad source of both power and batting average. Honestly, the numbers he delivered in 2018, a .249 batting average and .730 OPS, seem more in line with the actual skill set. –Scott White

The Case For: Escaping the Dodgers for Milwaukee, Grandal finally got the first-class treatment he so richly deserved, his playing time rising to the level of a first-division catcher. And as you might expect, it led to career highs across the board. By now, it’s pretty clear what he gives you: a modest batting average but with good on-base skills and the likelihood of 25-plus homers. At a position like catcher, it makes him a clear standout — and a more reliable one than most.

The Case Against: Grandal isn’t with the Brewers now but the White Sox, who still have James McCann, an All-Star from a year ago, as well as a committed DH in Edwin Encarnacion. So isn’t it reasonable to assume Grandal’s playing time will dip to closer to Dodgers levels? Maybe not given the financial investment the White Sox made. Maybe not given the defensive gap that exists between Grandal and McCann. But it’s enough for you to at least consider passing up Grandal and waiting for Mitch Garver or Will Smith. –Scott White

The Case For: Moncada’s natural ability to impact the baseball gave him obvious star potential, but an exorbitant strikeout rate prevented him from capitalizing on it during his first two years in the big leagues. Cutting it down from about one-third to about one-quarter made all the difference, leading to a breakthrough season that resulted in an 80-point increase in batting average, a 70-point increase in ISO and a 200-point increase in OPS. He can sometimes go overlooked at a deep position, but at a point in the draft that’s mostly populated by pure sluggers, he can make a real impact in batting average and steals.

The Case Against: Though Moncada projects for a high BABIP, the .406 mark he delivered last year is obviously too good to be true, and a reduction in batting average of at least 20 points is certainly in order. While he’s a fast runner who delivered some lofty steals totals in the minors, his reputation as a base-stealer hasn’t been earned in the majors, with him barely reaching double digits the past two years. He still tends to be valued for what he could be rather than what he actually is. –Scott White

The Case For: After tantalizing with his potential during his first two years in the big leagues, Chapman finally made a high-end contribution in 2020, enjoying a 50 percent increase in home runs to give him the fifth-most at a deep position. His swing is perfectly tailored for home runs, too, producing elite exit velocity and a high fly-ball rate, so there isn’t any reason to be suspicious of the production.

The Case Against: Unfortunately, the bad parts of Chapman’s stat line are trustworthy, too. The downside to a high fly-ball rate is that the ones that don’t clear the fence usually result in outs, so while his .249 batting average may seem low for a player with a respectable strikeout rate, he doesn’t profile as much more than a .260 hitter. He’ll keep you from falling behind at third base if you pass up some of the more well-rounded options early, but he doesn’t excel at anything that’s particularly difficult to find. –Scott White

The Case For: In an era where everyone gets strikeouts, Soroka bucked that trend with elite control and strong groundball rates. It’s not a popular approach, but it did win Dallas Keuchel a Cy Young award, and with a strong defense and offense backing him up in Atlanta, Soroka is well positioned to continue bucking the league-wide trends. We shouldn’t rule out him becoming more of a strikeout pitcher, too, seeing as he’s only 22.

The Case Against: As good as Soroka was, he was no Dallas Keuchel, who routinely ran groundball rats in the 60% range at his peak — Soroka was at 51.2%. Soroka did manage to induce a ton of infield pop ups to supplement the worm burners, but it’s still a pretty thin line to walk. You should expect his ERA to rise by at least a run, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him post an ERA over 4.00 in 2020. –Chris Towers

The Case For: Berrios has seemingly settled in an interesting place — he’s mostly viewed as a stable innings eater, not a potential ace. That’s just fine, because you don’t have to pay for potential ace production anymore. At the very least, he’s got a very high floor, with three straight years of a 3.80-ish ERA and at least six innings per start in two straight seasons. And it’s still possible he has a leap left in him — Berrios is still just 26, armed with an incredible breaking ball and growing confidence in his changeup. Don’t write him off as an SP4 yet.

The Case Against: Berrios really hasn’t shown much improvement to date and might have even taken a small step back in 2019 — his SIERA fell from 3.80 to 4.28, and his strikeout rate similarly dipped. The changeup could hold the key to unlocking his potential, but the pitch hasn’t shown that kind of upside yet. There’s more Kyle Hendricks in Jose Berrios’ profile than we might want to admit. Maybe this is just who he is? –Chris Towers

The Case For: You want a catcher who can hit? Garver did it better than any other last year. No, really. His .995 OPS? First at the position. His .630 slug? Easily first. His .357 ISO? No one else came close. Even in terms of Head-to-Head points per game, his 3.61 was as far ahead of J.T. Realmuto’s 3.05 as Paul Goldschmidt’s was ahead of Garrett Cooper’s. He made the sort of hard contact that would support that kind of power with the sort of launch angle that would ensure enough of those batted balls cleared the fence. And now that Jason Castro is gone, the catcher job is all his.      

The Case Against: With the kind of numbers Garver was putting up, why wasn’t the catcher job all his anyway? He was better against lefties than righties, sure, but still had a .902 OPS against righties. Castro may have been a better defender, but enough to justify a near 50/50 split behind the plate? Come on. Garver’s 29 years of age is reason enough to raise suspicion, and the Twins’ treatment of him certainly doesn’t defuse it. -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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