Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2020: Sleepers, breakouts, busts by unbiased model that called Bieber’s big year

Even with the 2020 Major League Baseball season delayed by the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, MLB injury news continues to roll in as teams prepare for an eventual Opening Day. The Boston Red Sox will be without pitcher Chris Sale, who will undergo Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. Sale chose to undergo the procedure now with the hopes of a full recovery for the 2021 season. Which players will rise in the 2020 Fantasy baseball rankings as a result?

A career 3.03 ERA pitcher who ranked eighth in the American League in strikeouts (218) last season, Sale had already been placed on the Injured List during spring training. Before you go on the clock in your drafts, be sure to check out the 2020 Fantasy baseball cheat sheets from the proven computer model at SportsLine.

Last season, SportsLine’s Projection Model identified several top Fantasy baseball breakouts, including Cleveland Indians All-Star starting pitcher Shane Bieber. The 24-year-old broke through with a 15-8 record, 3.28 ERA and 259 strikeouts over 214.1 innings to finish as the No. 5 starting pitcher in all of Fantasy baseball even though he was being drafted in the 15th round in standard 12-team leagues. 

The team at SportsLine was all over Bieber as a Fantasy breakout from the start. Their model had him listed much higher than expert consensus rankings, and anyone who listened to their advice was well positioned for a league title.

Their model is powered by the same people who powered projections for all three major Fantasy sites. And that same group is sharing its 2020 Fantasy Baseball rankings and cheat sheets over at SportsLine, helping you find Fantasy Baseball sleepers, breakouts and busts long before your competition. Their cheat sheets, available for leagues on many major sites, are updated multiple times every day. Any time an injury occurs or there’s a change on a depth chart, the team at SportsLine updates its Fantasy baseball cheat sheets.

When it came to ranking players in Fantasy football, SportsLine’s Projection Model beat human experts last season when there were big differences in ranking. And the model was the closest to the hole overall, meaning it best pinpointed where every player would finish each week. That could literally be the difference between winning your league or going home empty-handed.

Top 2020 Fantasy baseball sleepers

One of the 2020 Fantasy baseball sleepers the model is all over: Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain. One of the top fielders in the game, the seven-time Gold Glove winner also turned in a strong year at the plate in 2019. Cain swatted 11 home runs (his fourth season out of 10 with double-digit homers), doubled 30 times (behind only his 34 doubles in 2015) and scored 75 runs. 

Cain’s .260 batting average in 2019 was down from his .308 mark of a year before, lending to the model’s belief that he left plenty on the table for 2020. In the third year of a five-year, $80 million deal, the Brewers are high on Cain’s ability to perform at the plate as well as in the field. That’s why the SportsLine’s Fantasy baseball rankings 2020 slot Cain well ahead of center fielders like Byron Buxton, Oscar Mercado and Nick Senzel despite an ADP of 240.99.

Top 2020 Fantasy baseball breakouts

One of the 2020 Fantasy baseball breakouts to target: Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman. After a taste of the big leagues in 2018, Newman had a solid full first season in 2019, hitting 12 home runs, stealing 16 bases and slashing .308/.353/.446. Newman also began to hit to all fields, too, pulling the ball just 37.3 percent of the time after doing so well over 40 percent in the minors. 

Newman is primarily a ground-ball hitter, putting it on the ground more than 50 percent of the time in his minor-league career, so spraying hits to all fields and keeping opposing defenses from shifting is a significant factor for success. Fantasy owners should also see the benefit of Newman’s improved walk rate, as he walked 5.3 percent of the time last season after a 7.0 mark in the minors. That’s why SportsLine’s model ranks Newman ahead of shortstops like Bo Bichette and Amed Rosario, who are being drafted earlier on average.

Top 2020 Fantasy baseball busts

One of the 2020 Fantasy baseball busts the model is fading: Padres third baseman Manny Machado. After signing a 10-year, $300 million contract last offseason, Machado’s first season in San Diego was a major disappointment, as he posted a career-low .256 average and had just 55 extra-base hits, his fewest since an injury-plagued 2014 season. 

And Machado’s poor season wasn’t all luck or ballpark-related, as his average exit velocity of 91.2 mph was down, his launch angle (13.0) was off, and his barrel rate plummeted to just 8.0 percent. Machado will once again have to go up against premier pitching staffs in the NL West, and his sub-.700 OPS from Aug. 1 on doesn’t bode particularly well for a turnaround. Machado is currently the ninth third baseman off the board on average in CBS Sports Fantasy baseball leagues, but the SportsLine Projection Model ranks him 13th at the position.

How to find proven 2020 Fantasy baseball rankings

SportsLine is also fading one of the top 10 catchers off the board, saying he doesn’t even crack the top 20 when the season is over. This pick could be the difference in winning your league or going home with nothing. 

So which 2020 Fantasy baseball sleepers, breakouts and busts should you target or fade in your drafts? Visit SportsLine now to get 2020 Fantasy baseball rankings for every single position, all from the model that called Shane Bieber’s All-Star season, and find out.

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