Thursday was supposed to be Opening Day across Major League Baseball. And with the games on the field, fantasy seasons worldwide would also be getting underway. But just as the games are in limbo because of the coronavirus, so too are our fantasy leagues. Because we have some extra time this season to prep for our fantasy baseball drafts, SportsIntel’s Matt DeSaro will offer his insights for leagues that have yet to draft. Today, we highlight middle infielders with boom or bust potential in 2020.
With the Coronavirus ruining life for all sports betting fans we now have all the time in the world to carve out an MLB fantasy draft strategy. Today we tackle middle infielder boom or bust players based on their ADP.
Cavan Biggio TOR | ADP 135 – Target
Cavan Biggio may have been burdened with a stupid name by his parents Calvin and Patty. But inheriting his father’s gift for versatility and skill on the field more than makes up for it.
In the 100 games he played his rookie season, Biggio hit 14 home runs, stole 14 bases and posted a truly impressive 16.5% walk rate. Now, it wasn’t all flowers and rainbows. He did hit just .234 with a .240 XBA and a 28.6% strikeout rate that offers little hope to those looking to trust him in 2020.
But he also had a contact rate of over 75% which really tempts me to make a move on the second-generation player. He has the talent, coaching, and pedigree to make the strides necessary to take the next step in his development.
The Blue Jays have said they will look to get aggressive with Biggio this year and that is the major reason I think he is a strong pickup in the 11th or 12th round of 10-team leagues.
His walk rate tells us he is one of the more disciplined batters in the league and could even lead the majors in the category. Skipper Charlie Montoyo has said Biggio will be locked into the two-slot to start the year which will give him bountiful chances to rack up a ton of runs and RBIs. He should play above his 135 ADP number and could prove one of the bigger bargains of 2020.
Jose Altuve HOU | ADP 26 – Avoid
This one feels a bit weird to me. Ever since I took a chance on Altuve in his first full season, he has been an annual target for me in every MLB draft that followed.
Now, I am heartbroken to find out he is just a damn dirty cheater.
This is the first I am addressing this issue in this blog but I will be fading most everything Astros related heading into 2020. It is not because I am ‘mad’ at them and just want to bet against the villain. It is instead based on my doubts about just how this team will mentally handle going from heroes to zeros overnight. They will likely be booed by every single fan outside of Houston. And probably quite a few at home as well.
So how does a team do when their road games become just a little more brutal and their home-field advantage might not even exist?
Now I will tackle this more in my Astros preview, but it applies to my doubt of Altuve in this section.
There is no arguing that cheaters such as Altuve can still be good players. Hitting in the middle of an order, also full of cheaters, offers Altuve many many opportunities to get his runs and RBIs. He is also a solid bet to bat over .300 this season, even with the trash can philharmonic symphony taking a break.
That being said, he is heading toward 30 years of age which is never good for a player who relies so much on speed. His contact rate also took a dip of almost 5% in 2019 to a career-low of 80.8%.
Another knock on Altuve as a Top-25 fantasy player is his frailness. While this is a rather new problem for him, the fact remains that he has played just 137 and 124 games over the last two seasons due to various leg injuries. That is nearly 20% of the total games over those two years. Those injuries not only robbed him of games but also a bit of his elite speed. One of his assets in fantasy has been his ability to swipe bags and turn singles into doubles. Would you believe Altuve attempted just 11 steals last year? Would you believe he succeeded in only six of those attempts?
I see him limited to around 130 or so games again as his age plus mounting injuries begin to take their toll. Also the mental pressure of playing the season with entire stadiums screaming asshole at you for 162 games straight. It is hard to see him being a profitable option in the second round of drafts and would steer owners toward a guy like Ozzie Albies (ADP 38).
Javier Baez CHC| ADP 36 – Target
Baez falls into a rare category of fantasy players that I will be looking to draft in 2020. The “Guy who had a career year but I still think has more left” category is a tricky one. I don’t normally trust guys to repeat monster seasons. But the thing about Baez’ 2019 for me is his potential to be even better.
His ADP numbers are across the board and the 36 is really just an average. I saw numbers in the low 20s all the way into the 60s. This tells me the fantasy community is split about how to feel on Baez and I think this is to our advantage. I would not go reaching up into the 20s for him, but anytime in the mid-3rd round or after and he could be a real steal.
Baez is a real five-category player who set personal records last season in exit velocity (91 MPH) and barrel rate (12.7%). While those metrics may be new to some, they essentially show that Baez is getting the sweet spot of the bat on the ball and seeing harder hits as a result. If he can see a few more at-bats this year I see no reason he doesn’t continue to hit hard and crack the 30 home run mark. A batting average that flirts with .290 again and with the power he has, there will be a lot of RBIs to earn if he can put the ball in play at a high rate. He is an everyday three-slot monster with a great mix of power and speed. It is not every day you get 30 home runs and 20 steals from a second baseman.
He is slated to end the year as the 10th best SS in fantasy baseball and I think this is a gross underassessment of his skillset. I expect him to finish in the Top-7 easily and therefore will be one of the best bargains at the position in 2020.