Eric Cross’ 2020 Fantasy Baseball Mixed League Rankings (Updated 10/12!)
Wait, 2020? You’re damn straight. Sure, the 2020 MLB season might be many months away, but it’s never too early to begin your 2020 prep. NEVER I TELL YOU! Here at Fantrax, the fantasy baseball season never ends and 2020 begins as soon as the 2019 season ends. And what better way to get your prep started than with some early 2020 Fantasy Baseball mixed league rankings? Rankings are the backbone to any prep work, or so they say.
These will be updated periodically throughout the offseason as players change teams, roles, or as that mushy thing between my ears changes…. hopefully for the better.
If you aren’t playing your dynasty leagues on Fantrax, you’re missing out on the deepest player pool and most customization around. Just starting out in a dynasty league? Then check out Eric Cross’ Top-250 prospects, Top-300 Dynasty League Rankings, & 2019 FYPD/J2 Rankings.
Early 2020 Fantasy Baseball Mixed League Rankings
Qualifications for below positional eligibility: 20 Games Played or 10 Games Started
Ugh, catchers. There’s nothing pretty about this position right now. Even the guy ranked 2nd above hit just .232 in 2019 and is a career .246 hitter. The man ranked 5th wasn’t anywhere close to mixed league relevant coming into 2019 and there are two youngsters rounding out the top-10 that began the season in the minors. Yeah, yuck is right. Once you get outside the top 10-12 options or so, it gets even more unsightly in a hurry.
A few to keep an eye on are Salvador Perez along with the two aforementioned youngsters, Will Smith and Sean Murphy. Perez missed the entire 2019 season due to injury but was widely considered a top-5 fantasy backstop before missing time. He’s currently working on a streak of four straight 20-homer seasons and six straight 60-plus RBI campaigns. Since becoming a full-time catcher in 2013, Perez has averaged 21 home runs, 74 RBI, and 54 runs scored while hitting anywhere from .235 to .292. If he appears healthy in Spring Training, Perez should be drafted as a top-10 catching option next season.
Both Smith and Murphy performed about as well as we can realistically expect from rookie catchers. Smith went full beast mode in August before cooling dramatically in September, only to finish hot in the last week of the regular season. The tools are there for Smith to be a .250-.260 hitter with 20 to 25-plus home runs annually, perhaps as soon as 2020. While the offensive upside isn’t quite as high with Murphy, his defensive prowess should keep him in the lineup 120+ games a season and he has the contact skills and raw power to hit in the .270-.280 range with home run totals in the teens.
Honestly, I could ramble on for thousands of words about the great Pete Alonso here. You know I could. But this position is much more than just the slugging rookie. But since I mentioned him, let’s start with Alonso who just broke Aaron Judge’s rookie home run record. That’s right, 53 baseballs cleared the outfield fence for the Polar Bear this season to go along with 120 RBI, 103 runs, and a .260 average. This is what we should come to expect from Alonso annually. He’ll likely be in the .255-.275 range more often than not while being at or near the top of the home run leaderboard and driving in well over 100 runs. He’s one of the best sluggers in the game right now and needs to be drafted as such.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) September 29, 2019
The only reason Alonso is not #1 here is the fact that both Cody Bellinger and Freddie Freeman can also add a .300-plus average to go along with their power contributions. These three are the current gold standard at the position.
Another young slugger that looks poised to join the elite at this position is Matt Olson. In the year of the home run, Olson quietly slugged “just 36” in 127 games while driving in 91 and hitting .267. Add in another 25-30 games and he’d likely be in the 45/110 area. Olson’s profile is similar to Alonso’s, and while I don’t think he’ll be quite as good as Pete, Olson has the potential to be the top fantasy first baseman in the AL along with Mr. Consistent, Jose Abreu. Seriously, go check out his career numbers. It’s astonishing how consistently solid Abreu has been since debuting in 2014. He’s truly one of the most underrated sluggers in the game.
If you miss out on a big name here, don’t be afraid to go with some of the boring veterans that nobody ever seems excited to draft. The trio of Edwin Encarnacion, Carlos Santana, and Yuli Gurriel are all still plugging along and put up top-10 numbers for this position in 2019. And in the later rounds, consider a youngster with upside like Nate Lowe, Michael Chavis, or Ryan McMahon.
|28||Tommy La Stella|
This position is slowly but surely getting deeper and deeper. Ketel Marte broke out, and both D.J. LeMahieu and Jonathan Villar broke out again. All three rank in my top-10 for 2020. Joining them are your usual stars, a new star in Gleyber Torres, and one of the most underrated hitters in baseball, Jeff McNeil.
The 2019 season also gave us the Major League debuts of Keston Hiura, Cavan Biggio, and most recently, Gavin Lux, along with the lesser-heralded Nick Solak, Tommy Edman, and Luis Arraez. Obviously, Hiura and Lux are the two stalwarts here with how they performed this season, both in the minors and Majors.
Along with Yordan Alvarez and Luis Robert, Lux was the hottest prospect of 2019, especially after he got to Triple-A. He has a chance to take over at second base full time for the Dodgers in 2020 and possesses the across the board upside that can make him a fantasy star in short order. The type of fantasy star that Hiura has already blossomed into after hitting .303 with a near 40/20 pace. I wouldn’t expect that much power in 2020, but the .300 average is legit and Hiura could easily put up a 30/20 type of season. Basically, he’s fantasy gold.
If Hiura/Lux are gold, guys like Biggio, Edman, Solak, and Arraez are bronze. Arraez has one of the best hit tools and plate approaches you’ll see in the Majors today, but doesn’t possess much power or speed. Still, the average is an asset and makes him a safe late-round flier. Outside of batting average, Biggio put up decent across the board numbers and gives an added boost in OBP leagues. Don’t overlook him due to the lower average. Edman also finished 2019 helping fantasy owners out in many categories and was sneakily one of the best fantasy infielders down the stretch.
Lastly, we have one of my 2019 pre-season darlings, Garrett Hampson. You knew I couldn’t get away without talking about my boy Hampson, right! While the entire picture might not be a masterpiece, he was able to go all Bob Ross on us and put a damn good little September bush over in the corner. That will be our little secret. That little bush equated to a .318 average, five home runs, nine steals, and 16 runs in September. Will the Rockies give him a starting gig in 2020? They better! With them, who knows. But it’s certainly worth a late-round selection to find out. I’ll ride this Hampson hype train off the rails if I have to. Trust me.
|7||Vladimir Guerrero Jr.|
|28||Tommy La Stella|
I’m sure many of us expected Vladimir Guerrero Jr to be topping these rankings by now. Or at least in the top three. Nope, not quite yet, but with the gains he made in the second half along with his MVP upside, he still wiggles his way into my top-10 here ahead of some pretty talented names. One of those names being Eugenio Suarez and his 48 home runs. Suarez was one of the biggest benefactors of the power jump in baseball and it will be interesting to see what he does for an encore. Even if (when) homers regress, Suarez is a 30-homer threat every season.
At the top, you really can’t go wrong. Nolan Arenado has been the gold standard for the last few years and now has Alex Bregman and Rafael Devers right there with him. After a monster 2018 season, Jose Ramirez stunk up the joint in the 1st half of the season, outside of steals, then went all 2018 J-Ram on the league in the 2nd half, with the exception of only having six steals. The end result was another 20/20 effort and three straight months hitting above .300 to end the season. Will the real Jose Ramirez please stand up in 2020? Seriously, we’d all love to know. My money would be on something closer to the 2nd half J-Ram, but not fully.
When looking at the older crowd at this position (Grumble grumble, respect your elders and get off my lawn), Josh Donaldson had a resurgent 2019. While on the other hand, Justin Turner and Matt Carpenter went in the opposite direction. The hot corner is also home to some of the top waiver wire adds of the 2019 season. Jeff McNeil, Tommy Edman (again), Gio Urshela, J.D. Davis, Scott Kingery, and Tommy La Stella all saved us or plugged in a hole at some point this season. All should be on your radar in the later rounds (McNeil in the middle rounds).
|5||Fernando Tatis Jr|
This position is downright sexy right now. I mean, it always has been in fantasy, but shortstop is especially deep and talented right now. You all should know how much of a Carlos Correa backer I’ve been over the years. Well, he doesn’t even crack my top-10 shortstops for 2020. That’s ridiculous to think about. Hold on, let me gather myself for a second here. At the top, I can realistically make a case for seven shortstops to be drafted within the first two rounds on draft day, and 4-6 more in the next couple of rounds after that.
One of those elite options I can see having a wide draft range in 2020 is Fernando Tatis Jr. To say the 2nd generation shortstop dominated as a rookie is a major understatement. In 84 games, Tatis racked up 22 home runs, 17 steals, 53 RBI, 61 runs, and a .317/.379/.590/.969 slash line. A lot of people will point to a .410 BABIP, which was the highest mark in the Majors for batters with 300-plus plate appearances, and scream regression until they’re blue in the face. Yes, that is an unsustainable mark and sure to come down, but even if we cut 30-40 points off Tatis’ average and make him a .280 hitter, his 35/25 potential makes him a bonafide fantasy stud and worth of an early selection in 2020 drafts.
With their elite speed and modest pop, both Jonathan Villar and Adalberto Mondesi will be hot names come draft season this spring. Villar gets ranked a couple spots higher for me due to the fact that he’s more established and a safer option in my eyes. Basically, I feel more confident that he won’t implode and potentially be a .220 hitter. Sandwiched between them is the hottest rookie shortstop of 2019 outside of Tatis. That, of course, is Bo Bichette of the Blue Jays. After his promotion, Bichette was an extra-base hit machine accumulating 18 doubles and 11 home runs in only 46 games. Only Nicholas Castellanos, Alex Bregman, and Corey Seager had more doubles from 7/29 on and his 142 wRC+ was tied for 41st in baseball over that span. Draft with confidence in rounds 4-5 or so.
This position is so damn deep, guys like Tim Anderson and Marcus Semien can’t crack my top-10. Semien finished as a top-25 overall player and Anderson won the AL batting title for crying out loud. But as Tom Hanks once told us, “There’s no crying in baseball.” So we rank them still in the top-15 and move on with our lives. While their 2019 seasons were phenomenal, Anderson doesn’t have the approach to hit for an average like this again and Semien literally came out of nowhere with this dominance. Even with some likely regressions, both are back-end starting options or high-end targets for your middle infield or utility slots.
|2||Ronald Acuña Jr.|
|39||Lourdes Gurriel Jr.|
|118||Jackie Bradley Jr.|
If you thought shortstop was deep, wait until you dig into those outfield rankings above. A case can be made for the top six picks on draft day all being outfielders. A strong case at that.
Trust me, I wanted to rank Yordan Alvarez higher, but couldn’t bring myself to put him ahead of the studs ranked 1-6. And yes, I know he doesn’t fully meet my ranking criteria (only had nine games started in the outfield), so if 20/10 is your threshold, plan accordingly. But at the same time, his offensive prowess makes him worth a 2nd round pick, even if you can only slot him at UTIL.
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) July 20, 2019
Surprised to see Eloy Jimenez this high? You shouldn’t be. While the Dominican slugger’s career got off to a slow start, there weren’t many hitters better from August 1st on.
Eloy Jimenez since the beginning of August…
199 AB, .317 AVG, 10 2B, 13 HR, 38 RBI, 30 R
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) September 22, 2019
When you add in the last week of the season after this tweet, Jimenez hit .308 with 11 doubles, 14 home runs, 40 RBI, and 33 runs scored combined in August and September. This is a formidable slugger and a great target after the top-50 picks in 2020. If it weren’t for that Pete Alonso fellow, Jimenez would’ve led all rookies in both home runs and RBI this season.
Sticking with this young gun theme, get ready for the Luis Robert and Jo Adell show. It’s Rated-S for Studly and coming to a fantasy roster near you. Both men should be up fairly quickly into the 2020 season and possess incredibly high across the board upside. It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if both put up 20/20 seasons in 2020. It really wouldn’t. Draft accordingly.
It would take me until opening day to get in all the thoughts I have about this outfield crop, so I’ll hit on some quick notes.
- Juan Soto is the goat-o.
- Bryce Harper is really good but not elite. Stop bashing him for something he’s not.
- Jorge Soler led the Americal League in home runs and makes a case for a top-50 overall selection in 2020.
- Austin Meadows ended the season on a tear and is right behind Soler in my rankings.
- Ramon Laureano broke out and is legit. Check out this deep dive for more.
- Aristedes Aquino also broke out (in a huge way) and is mostly legit. Not a star, but could have a Puig-like impact.
- Oscar Mercado finished 2019 on a 20/20/100 R pace and is one of my favorite mid-round power/speed targets.
- Same goes for Victor Robles, who didn’t have as bad of a season as most think. Just ignore the hard contact rate.
- I’m expecting a bounceback 2020 campaign from Andrew Benintendi. As someone that has seen him for his entire professional career and even before that at Arkansas, he’s better than what he showed this season.
- If you can stomach a .240 average, give Riley and his 40-homer upside a look in the later-middle rounds.
- Don’t forget about veterans like Andrew McCutchen, Justin Upton, Ryan Braun, and Gregory Polanco in the later stages of your drafts.
- Don’t forget about GARRETT HAMPSON either! See, still driving that crazy train.
- Other prospects to keep an eye on are Dylan Carlson, Drew Waters, Cristian Pache, and Alex Kirilloff.
|77||Lance McCullers Jr.|
As a Red Sox fan, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit concern around Chris Sale. The strikeouts were still exquisite, but he didn’t look the same for around 80% of his starts. He’s still an SP1 but proceed with caution. Speaking of SP1’s, we have a trio of newcomers to the exclusive club. The trifecta of Shane Bieber, Jack Flaherty, and Mike Clevinger more that earned their way into this territory with the seasons they had. Bieber was a rock all season and reached strikeout levels I didn’t think he had in him. Meanwhile, Flaherty and Clevinger were two of the best pitchers in baseball over the 2nd half of the season.
- Flaherty: 15 GS, 99.1 IP, 0.91 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, 11.2 K/9
- Clevinger: 16 GS, 101.2 IP, 2.30 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9, 11.4 K/9
Jack Flaherty, Nasty 84mph Slider de-bats Russell (Flaherty's 230th K of the season). 😨 pic.twitter.com/RPUZnZNrgY
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 29, 2019
While you’re at it, throw Chris Paddack, Luis Castillo, and Mike Soroka in this discussion as well. The first two are borderline fantasy aces while Soroka should settle into SP2 range due to his lower strikeout rate.
Both Lucas Giolito and Eduardo Rodriguez took big steps forward and are in the SP2/3 conversation for 2020. The same was happening in Tampa Bay with Tyler Glasnow before another injury knocked him out for most of the 2nd half. I’m still not 100% sold on this trio, but they definitely have the upside to remain in the SP2 mix. I’d just love to see Glasnow develop some sort of a changeup. On the other end of the spectrum, Blake Snell couldn’t come anywhere close to his 2018 breakout, Luis Severino was hurt all season, and Noah Syndergaard is still trying to recapture his former elite status.
Of course, we had some rookie debuts (outside of Paddack) in 2019, some good, but mostly lackluster. Zac Gallen pitched well from the moment he debuted and is a great mid-round target. Guys like Dylan Cease, Mitch Keller, and Griffing Canning are better left until the later rounds.
Don’t forget about the returns of Michael Kopech or Lance McCullers Jr either. McCullers is very risky of course but makes for a good late-round flier due to his upside. Kopech is one I’d be willing to look at a few rounds earlier. He was really finding his footing before going under the knife.
Two young arms to keep on your radar are Andres Munoz and James Karinchak. Both possess elite late-inning stuff with massive strikeout potential. Munoz is the closer of the future in San Diego and performed admirably this season with a 3.91 ERA and 11.7 K/9 across 23.0 innings. Look for him to take that next step in 2020 towards becoming a late-inning asset. If you love insane strikeout rates, you’re going to be quite enamored with the Indians young fireballer, Karinchak. The Bryant University product registered a 22.0 K/9 rate in the minors last season across three levels. Yes, you’re seeing that right. The control, as you can expect, needs some work, but there’s huge upside here. If you play in leagues where holds are counted in some way, Karinchak needs to be on your radar come draft day.
One player that was especially hard to rank was Felipe Vazquez due to his ongoing legal issues. If his time in the Majors is numbered, this will be adjusted accordingly. Another tough ranking was the man that gave me so many headaches as a Red Sox fan, Mr. Craig Kimbrel. After getting a late start to the season, Kimbrel looked like a shell of himself for the Cubs. He ended the 2019 season with a disgusting 6.53 ERA and 1.60 WHIP and is nothing more than a late-round target right now.
Media Credit: John Cordes/Icon Sportswire, John Adams/Icon Sportswire, Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire, NBC Sports, MLB Stats, Rob Friedman.Pitching Ninja.
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