**Updates listed in green.
1. Ronald Acuna OF Finally someone dethrones the mighty Mike Trout for the number one overall spot in fantasy drafts. I wrote an entire article about it here, but in short, Acuna's the only player who possesses the skills outside of Christian Yelich to produce a 40 home run, 40 stolen base season. They'll both likely score over 110 runs and drive in 100 or more, but Acuna, being the much younger of the two, should continue to steal at every opportunity, while Yelich coming off a knee injury could see his attempts decrease. Also, the added DH will vastly improve Acuna's RBI total because he won't have the pitcher batting in front of him (not that he'll need it, he drove 78 runs in only 118 games as the lead off hitter). Like I stated in the post, you won't go wrong selecting any of the top three players first, but a likely 40/40/120/105/.280 season from Acuna deserves to go first overall in my mind.
**Update: If Freeman is out for a long period of time it could slightly effect Acuna's value. More TBD. 2. Mike Trout OF This man is super human. He does everything well, including driving a golf ball into outer space. The only reason he is not #1 this season, is his reduction in the stolen base department. No longer the 40/40 candidate he once was, he moves into the #2 spot overall. The addition of Anthony Rendon is only going to make him better (if that's even possible) and not surprisingly, many owners will still draft him first overall. He could easily finish the season atop the rankings, but with his injury history and steals being such an important commodity in Roto leagues, Trout slides in just under Acuna.
**Update: There are strong rumors Trout may sit out the season, due to concerns over the health and safety of his wife and soon to be born first child. Any doubt that he may not play is probably enough to put Yelich ahead of him if drafting now. If possible, join a league with a draft date closer to the beginning of the regular season to see how it all plays out. He has already said he'll want to take a few days off in August to be present for the birth of his child. In a normal 162 game season, that wouldn't mean much, but over 60 games it could be 5% of the season or more. For these two reasons, I'm currently swapping Trout with Yelich.
3. Christian Yelich OF
Anyone who has watched Christian Yelich the last two season knows what an absolute, unstoppable beast he has been. And anyone who was lucky enough to draft him probably ended up close to the top in all batting categories. The only worry is the knee and the surrounding talent. Can he keep it up for a third season? Will he still have the green light on the base paths coming back from the injury? The good news is, it wasn’t a ligament, it was a clean fracture, so my guess is yes, but to what extent? The Brewers do have a cast of many new players this season, but with the emergence of young slugger Keston Hiura, Yelich has just the kind of support he needs to continue to dominate. The team rallied together the final month of the season without him, earning a wild card birth (and probably would have advanced if not for an unlucky set of circumstances), so you know they can still compete. Yelich is a stud, but I just can't put him before Acuna, who I feel is almost a lock for a 40/40, 100/100 season or Mike Trout who added Anthony Rendon to his lineup. That said, don’t be surprised if he ends up as the number one player in fantasy for 2020.
4. Cody Bellinger. OF/1B
No one was better than Cody Bellinger in the first half of last season. He and Christian Yelich basically went head to head, forming a friendly competition and earned MVP discussion and debates as early on as May. The second-half however, Bells came back to earth. He hit for a .263 average, a 140 OPS+ and 17 home runs, where as in the first half he produced a .336 BA, 194 OPS+ and mashed 30 home runs. The regression does add a bit of trepidation in taking him as high as the fourth overall pick. The thought is however, he's only 24 years old (almost 25) and though he may take his lumps at times, overall he will continue to improve and logically will end up somewhere in the middle of last seasons two halves. Another positive to help ease owners minds, is his steals should increase. A stat cast darling in the sprint speed department, Bellinger is rumored to have the green light more often this year. 50 home runs is also within reach for the young slugger. I'm predicting his BA will be closer in the neighborhood of .275 or .280 (rather than the .305 BA he ended the year with last season or the .263 he hit in the second half) which won't hurt you. The move to bring Mookie Betts to LA only helps Bellinger as well. Adding Betts to the mix with Max Muncy and Justin Turner (all very high OBP guys) to the top of the order, puts Bells in the fantastic position of hitting almost exclusively with runners on. Don't worry too much about the second half regression, Bellinger is going to contribute heavily in all 5 categories when it's all said and done, and is worth the 4th overall pick in the draft.
5. Gerrit Cole SP
Cole moving to NY shouldn’t affect his overall numbers very much, if at all. Houston's Minute Maid Park factor did rank 7th overall for runs scored, heavily favoring hitters, while Yankee Stadium ranked 29th, heavily favoring pitchers. While this is great for Cole, the divisional competition should even out the change. The lineups Cole will be facing and the road parks he'll be in now, more often favor the hitters, nullifying any real overall advantage. Even if the two attributes do cancel each other out, nothing is going to change the nastiest three pitch repertoire in the game. 300 k's is almost a lock if they were to play a full 162 game season. 20 wins is also highly probable with the help of one of, if not the best bullpens in the game. The equally talented lineup should offer plenty of run support as well and the Yankees defense won't hurt him either, especially if Hicks and Judge are healthy enough to join the outfield mix. He will garner more attention in pinstripes, but I believe he will absolutely relish in it. He could have signed anywhere (maybe not for as much money), but he wanted to pitch in NY. The ace of the Yankees is the favorite to win the Cy Young.
6. Trevor Story SS
If the Rockies are intent on batting Story in the leadoff spot for most of the season, expect his runs to increase significantly, while his RBI's take a hit. He’ll probably move around somewhere within the top four lineup spots, but either way, the home runs will still come in abundance, and the steals should increase. Quoted as saying he wants to run a lot more this season, Story is a true 30/30 candidate, who can hit for a great average and score/drive in over 100 runs. The supporting cast surrounding him is as good as it gets, and if the NL does add a DH, it will only help. The only drawback was he didn't fare that well as a leadoff hitter last season, actually stealing more frequently out of the 2 or 4 hole and only had 10 RBI in 23 games there. David Dahl is now rumored to have the first crack at leading off and if the pitcher no longer has to bat at the bottom of the lineup, it won't matter much anyway. The five category shortstop, who plays half his games at Coors, has proven his ability, and is worth considering as the 5th overall pick in standard Roto leagues.
7. Francisco Lindor SS Lindor missed the first part of last season and still put up his usual numbers. He's as consistent as the get, offering a .290 average, 35 home runs, and 25 stolen bases. There were some trade rumors swirling in the off-season, but now it looks like Lindor will stick in Cleveland, at least for the duration of the season. He's going to be close to leading the league in runs scored, but with the bottom half of the lineup lacking consistent production, his RBI opportunities won't be in abundance and will have a tough time reaching 100 or even 90. For that reason, I think Trevor Story is the slightly better pick. That said, he'll be a free agent in two years, so you know he'll want to continue to improve his value as much as possible. Expect another huge year across the board from the Cleveland shortstop. 8. Mookie Betts OF With Mookie Betts expecting to break the bank on the free agent market next year, I’m expecting another monstrous season. The Dodgers top half of the order is as good as any team in baseball, so Betts should have no problem scoring 130 runs again. However, the move to LA could impact his power numbers slightly. Known as more of a pitchers park and lacking a green monster 310 feet away, Betts home run total is more likely to hover around, a still respectable 25. His home/road splits heavily favored Boston last season, but the previous year was pretty even, and in 2017, Betts actually hit much better on the road, so it won't affect him too much. His steals may have decreased last season (only 6 in the second half), a common trait among most superstar players, but I still expect 15+, even in LA where the team doesn’t run that much. (It's also not much of a surprise with the stolen base becoming less and less a part of the game, especially on good hitting teams.) Moving to the NL will also negatively effect his RBI total as a leadoff hitter, unless the universal DH does come into effect. With a second half more on par with what we’ve come to expect from Mookie (.325 BA, 158 OPS+) and a tremendous surrounding cast, it only makes sense that in his contract year he explodes for another outstanding season, making him a worthy top 8 pick, deserving as high as 5th overall. 9. Trea Turner SS Turner missed more time last year due to another freak injury, but when he returned he produced exemplary numbers across the board. The soon to be 27 year old, will likely lead the league in stolen bases regardless of where he bats in the order (he stole 4 bags in 5 games batting second) and his home run total could touch 25. He dramatically increased his home runs per AB last season and showed off his gap to gap power by clubbing 37 doubles in only 122 games. His hard hit rate increased 6% and while his ground ball rate stayed the same, his line drives increased and his fly balls went further. His RBI total will also climb if they do indeed bat him in the 2 or rumored 3 hole instead of leadoff, a wise idea that would split up the righties and lefties. The biggest knock against him, by no fault of his own, is the loss of Anthony Rendon to the lineup. Juan Soto is still there of course, but the superstar's move to Anaheim will be felt by the entire team. With an increase in RBI's, an expected home run total near 25 and a possible 50 stolen bases, it shouldn't surprise anyone if he surpasses his average draft value at 9 and finishes the season as a top 5 player. (If Betts wasn't in a contract year, I'd take Turner ahead of him) 10. Nolan Arenado 3B Arenado is as consistent as they come. Draft him, put him in your lineup, and you never have to think about third base again. Even with the trade rumors swirling and reports of being unhappy, he’s still a virtual lock for his usual 40, 100, 100, .295 season. If he does get traded out of Colorado, which is highly unlikely considering his contract, it will be to a team of his choice (he possesses a full no trade clause), presumably a contender with a close to or equally potent lineup. His numbers would take a hit however, judging by his home and road splits. 11. Jacob DeGrom SP There isn't much to say about the 2 time, back to back NL Cy Young award winner other than, if he stays healthy, he could win a third. A much improved bullpen should help his wins. There's really no reason to believe any part of his game will regress. The metrics say the same. Unless there’s an injury, expect similar stats with an increased win total for the Mets ace.
**Update: DeGrom recently underwent an MRI on his sore back that came back clean, but it's definitely a red flag. He may miss a stat or two at the beginning of the season, which normally wouldn't matter much, but in the current situation, it's a difference maker. With Scherzer and Verlander showing they are back to full health and dominant as ever, I have moved DeGrom down to 19th overall, coming just after the two of them. 12. Freddie Freeman 1B
Freddie Freeman has a been a model of consistency. Every year, including the two shortened seasons due to injury, Freeman finds some part of his game to improve upon. Whether it's taking pitchers into deeper counts, hitting lefties better, increasing his launching angle, or improving his defense, he has shown a will to always be improving, an admirable trait that has gone somewhat unnoticed. A dependable .300+ hitter with power, who isn't flashy, but produces near top stats in all batting categories, is really all you can ask for with your second round pick.
Freeman is coming off elbow surgery, but looked to be 100% in spring training. The lineup around him is extremely potent, which should easily grant him 100+ RBI's and R's. His hard hit rate last season jumped to a whopping 48% (that’s 95+ mph practically half the time when he makes contact!) which helped vastly improve his HR total. There's really no sign that he may regress, other than the ball returning to it's "unjuiced" status, in which case everyone's home runs will be down. There may also be a tick less in power over the first month or so, as he feels his way back to normal after elbow surgery.
I wouldn’t fault you for drafting Soto or Bregman or even a healthy Verlander before Freeman, partly because of the elbow soreness and the worry of how it’ll hold up all season, as well as those other players upside. But for me, his consistency and surrounding lineup is just too much to pass up. I want to limit my risk as much as possible with my second round pick and Freeman possesses the least amount of risk of the four. I want to draft a plug in and play guy, one who I never have to think about and can rely on when other players are slumping. And to me, Freddy Freeman is that guy.
On a side note: Many will rightfully put Bregman at 12, but I’m downgrading most of the Astros players a bit because of the wrath and pressure they will be facing all year. Not just with the media and opposing teams fans, but the players themselves. They are angry and some aren’t too shy about expressing it. Expect pitchers to prepare a little harder and for mind games early on. And as far as Soto goes, I just don't like his surrounding cast as much as Freeman's. Plus I think Freddie will hit for a slightly better average.
**Update: Freeman has tested positive for Covid-19 and is showing symptoms including a fever. His return date is unknown and at this point unfortunately needs to be moved down a couple rounds at least. Another good example as to why its good to wait until a couple days before the regular season starts to hold your teams draft.
13. Anthony Rendon 3B
A professionals professional. I am extremely bullish on Rendon moving to the Angels revamped lineup. Batting behind Mike Trout and in front of a beefed up Shohei Ohtani and a healthy Justin Upton in sunny Southern California (he grew up in Texas, can’t be mad about leaving the cold DC weather behind), I believe he has a good chance to be the AL MVP, if he can beat out his teammate. The guy just knows how to hit with runners on base and in clutch situations. He’s gotten better every year and all the metrics back it up. He’s coming off a World Series victory, he’s getting paid a ton of money, and is once again surrounded by great talent. Rendon's All-Star type skills should translate well to the AL, where his numbers could even improve. There's also no reason to think he won't be motivated, that's just not in his character. If he can stay healthy all season, he'll be worth a lot more than his current draft average.
**Update: With the news of Mike Trout possibly opting out for the season, it's just enough for me to swap Soto and Rendon in my preseason draft order.
14. Juan Soto OF Juan Soto's already a superstar and could break out even more in his third season at only 21 years old. He is the total package. A 5 tool player with a chip on his shoulder, he plays with an attitude and backs it up. Just one glance and you can tell how confident he is. My biggest problem with drafting him in the first round is the loss of Anthony Rendon to the Nats lineup. There is just no way he won’t feel the effects of how teams will game plan primarily against him. He simply won’t see as good of a pitch selection. That is unless Howie Kendrick can somehow play often and have a repeat performance. It’s not that far fetched to think teams could have the luxury of pitching around Soto, decreasing his overall totals. I still expect him to take the next step and put up big numbers, but the astronomical season owners are hoping for leaves me a bit skeptical.
*Update: The universal DH changes things a bit, allowing Howie Kendrick to play nearly everyday if he can stay healthy. The shortened season should help that, further increasing Soto's value, and with Freeman's illness and the Angels lineup possibly losing their best player, Soto sneaks into the first round for 12 team leagues.
**Update: Soto has been placed on the Covid-19 list, but may not have tested positive for the virus. Reports state he was around another player who tested positive, so there's a possibility he'll return soon. Stay tuned.
15. Alex Bregman 3B/SS With all the insanity that went down in the off-season regarding the Astros scandal, it's very difficult to accurately predict how the team will fare in 2020. It’s tough to distinguish which numbers were legit and which were not. There are even some reports stating Bregman actually went in 2017 to the front office, and told the analytics department that the organization needed to get better at sign stealing. Apparently he believed it was going on in some form around the league and his club needed to catch up. Interestingly enough, Bergman’s follow up to his 2016 rookie campaign, came with a complete change in his approach and his swinging strike rate decreased to a minuscule 4%. (Of course this could be attributed to a great young player progressing after adjusting to major league pitching, but that's a lot of coincidence for such a significant change and everyone has seen and heard the banging trash can videos, so it's not a huge surprise.). And by the time he reached 2019, his total swing rate was down to a microscopic 35%, a stat that has also declined annually since his rookie year. His chase rate out of the zone also decreased from 26% in 2017 when they admitted they were sign stealing, to a mind boggling 17% in 2019. He had an astoundingly positive mark against every type of pitch thrown to him, and his home runs shot up to 41 over the course of last season. As this may raise some eyebrows, MLB claims they found no proof of cheating going on in 2019. However skeptical owners may be, the truth is Bregman and many of his teammates were thought of and projected to be superstar caliber players long before the years in question. Armed with a compact, powerful upper cut stroke he hits almost everything in the air, which makes logical sense that his homers would increase as he continued to develop and come into his prime. How much of this was the progression of a great player, and how much was gained through knowing what pitch was coming and how often this was going on, is the real question.
My take is Bregman's an extremely talented player with a great eye, there’s just no way of knowing how much his numbers will be effected with all that is happening and not happening this year. I tend to think as most experts do, that he’ll still be an elite baseball player. The only downgrading I’m doing is, players that are in the same tier of production, I'm probably going to take before him. The lineup is still full of superstars, there’s still a short porch in left field at Minute Made Park and the team will no doubt be playing with a chip on their shoulder trying to prove the nay sayers wrong. Teams are going to be gunning for the Astros all year, so it’s going to be must see TV where ever they go. There’s also always the slight chance of many teams retaliating with “accidental” HBP's which could result in injury. I still like Bregman to hit close to 35 homers and reach 100/100 with around a .280 ba. He also lost about 20 pounds which should if anything help him on the base paths. There’s definitely some slight risk here, but he’s still a great player. There’s no way he should last into the third round or even the late second.
16. Jose Ramirez 3B
After struggling mightily for the first couple of months of the season, Ramirez was finally able to make the adjustment needed and started having the AB’s he’s accustom to. The big change for Ramirez was that he simply started swinging earlier in the count, and when pitchers adjusted and didn’t throw strikes, he was able to take it. Getting into favorable counts resulted in harder hit balls and the stats everyone was expecting. He hit a ton of lazy pop-ups early in the season, but with the modest change in approach, those pop-ups turned into hard hit fly balls, many leaving the park. For those worried about his average, Ramirez hit .327 in the second half over 44 games and more than doubled his home run total, despite playing in 40 less games. Even though he was limited to 129 games and had a horrific first half, Jose still produced a 23 HR, 24 SB season, with 80+ RBI. Fully healthy and ready to continue his second half onslaught, if Ramirez sticks to what worked, you’ve got yourself a mid to late second round pick, capable of putting up first round numbers. Remember, he was going as early as 5th overall in roto drafts just a year ago. A 30/30, 100/100 .280 season is within reach.
17. JD Martinez OF
After posting back to back seasons with an OPS above 1.000, Martinez while still impressive, had a bit of a "down" year. While most players hit more home runs last season, Martinez went from hitting one in every 10.9 plate appearances in 2017, falling to one in every 15.1 in 2018, and finally down to one in every 18.3 in 2019. His BA also fell from .330 in 2018 to .304 last season and his RBI dipped rather significantly, dropping from 130 to 105. Previously thought of as a first round pick, Martinez is now more of a mid second, while still maintaining first round upside. His RBI's could take even more of a hit with the loss of Mookie Betts, but the Boston slugger still bats in the middle of a very good lineup and offers a consistent .300+ average while hitting near 40 home runs, a trait not easily found. He always comes with a slight injury risk, and while a slight change in approach that seemed to favor off speed pitches cut into his power, I expect more of the same from Martinez, as long as he can stay healthy the majority of the year.
18. Max Scherzer SP
As dominant as he is and as much as I admire his competitiveness, his on-going back problems scare me. Coming from someone who's suffered similar injuries, I know how debilitating they can be and how a flare up can happen at any moment. The injury also tends to linger for a very long time. One needs to look no further than what happened to Clayton Kershaw. He's still a fantastic pitcher, but having dealt with a comparable nagging injury, Kershaw went from being the best pitcher in the game, to possibly not cracking the top 10. The regression could just be part of the natural aging process, but having your ace on the IL is not exactly a recipe for winning in the major leagues or fantasy ones. Scherzer's ERA rose to 4.81 after returning from the injury last season, although he did rebound to his normal self in the playoffs. His pinpoint control seemed to dodge him a bit in the latter part of the year, leading to an increase in opponents hard hit rate, a trait that will hopefully improve with an offseason of rest. Already suffering a side injury in early spring, (self proclaimed as just fatigue) adds even more raised eyebrows to the equation. Scherzer could return to his ace status, atop the fantasy hierarchy, but he does come with plenty of risk. I may be in the minority here, but to me he is a mid second round pick at best, currently 18th overall in my rankings.
19. Justin Verlander SP
Verlander continues to defy the laws of aging after reinventing himself since joining Houston. If possible, he was even better in 2019, earning his second Cy Young Award, narrowly beating out his teammate Gerrit Cole. Verlander gave up a ton of homers, but other than that, he completely dominated. In fact it wasn’t out of the ordinary for him to go 7 innings give up three hits and two of them go for home runs. The ball is said to be “unjuiced” this year with the seams returning to previous years size, something Verlander publicly complained about last season. If that makes or made any difference, however remains to be seen. Either way his stuff is legendary and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. He’s worth an early second round selection.
*Update: Verlander was diagnosed with a lat strain in spring training from which he is sill rehabbing and had to undergo an unrelated groin surgery as well. Reports say he'll be ready to go when the season starts, but nothing is for sure. Originally going near 12th overall, I've comfortably moved him down to 19th.
**Update: Verlander showed no ill effects on July 14th in a simulated game and looked as dominant as ever. If he holds up he'll be a steal at 19.
20. Walker Buehler SP Walker Buehler is as near a sure fire bet in fantasy baseball as there is. Known for being extremely accurate and a spin rate monster, Buehler features a 97 mph fastball to go along with 4 above average off speed pitches. After beginning the season with an ugly 11 runs allowed over 12 innings, Buehler settled in with a 2.90 ERA and 206 K’s over the following 170 1/3 innings. Through May and June Buehler showed off just how accurate he can be, when he allowed a total of 6 walks scattered over 12 starts. Other than a couple of stinkers, Buehler was as consistent as they get, producing a .265 wOBA(expected weighted on-base percentage) for opposing hitters and a 1.04 WHIP for the season. Expect similar numbers this year, with even room for improvement and with all the run support he'll receive, he could push for 18 wins. We may not have seen the best of Walker yet, which makes him a highly enticing pick, one who has a chance to finish as a top 5 SP.
21. Rafael Devers 3B
Devers was a sight to behold last season in Boston. Thought of as a top prospect coming through the ranks, Devers was able to make an early debut (thanks in part to an injured Pablo Sandoval) at the ripe age of 20. Already displaying fantastic bat to ball skills with a 45% hard hit rate, the future was bright for the young third baseman. After a disappointing sophomore campaign hampered by injuries (where Devers hit for a .240 BA), the 22 year old exploded in his third season with an impressive .311 BA, launching balls to all fields. A doubles machine, who loves to go the other way and drive balls off the Green Monster, Devers hit 32 home runs, knocked in 115 and scored a near league leading 129 runs and even stole 8 bases. Pessimists will look to his second half where he hit .296 (after surprising everyone with a .324 BA in the first half) and not successfully stealing a single base. Not exactly a great basestealer in his own right, (he ended the season with 8 stolen and 8 caught) fantasy owners will take the added bonus regardless (it's not like you're drafting Devers for his speed anyway). The 48% hard hit rate, .377 WOBA, a decreased K rate (down 8 % from 2018), and an exit velocity in the 94th percentile are more than enough proof to expect Mr. Devers to maintain and likely improve his overall numbers from last year. Like Martinez, his RBI could dip without Betts in the lineup, but I'm still taking the emerging third baseman 21st overall in standard Roto leagues.
22. Fernando Tatis Jr. SS
Judging by last seasons stats, if projected over a full year, it would make him one of the best players in fantasy baseball. Looking at those numbers in detail however, illustrates a very different picture. His BA on balls in play was the highest of any hitter, he strikes out a ton and hits a lot of grounders. He has no problem with the fast ball, but like a lot of rookies, he struggles with the off-speed pitches. The ground ball/fly ball ratio of 1.51 isn’t usually a recipe for overall success either, but with his speed, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. His swinging strike rate was extremely high, and he makes weak contact 22% of the time, which is much higher than you'd expect any elite player to produce. When he did hit the ball in the air, it was a home run a whopping 32% of the time! With all this in mind, it's plain to see how difficult it would be to keep up the kind of success Tatis had, especially over a full season. The added DH would help his RBI total as a leadoff hitter, but some believe a late second round pick is a reach when considering the data. Tatis still possesses all the tools however, and does have a year (a little more than half because of injury) of major league experience under his belt. I believe he'll still do well in all 5 categories, just don't expect a repeat performance, chiefly in the batting average department.
23. Bryce Harper OF The main difference between Harper's 2018 and 2019 season, besides the obvious walks decreasing and batting average increasing, was the surprising metric of balls he hit up the middle. In 2019, Harper hit the ball up the middle equally as often as he pulled it to right. His ground ball/flyball rate was almost identical to previous years, as was his home runs per fly balls, but instead of worrying about going to the opposite field, something he tried to do in 2018 when he was badly slumping, Harper swung earlier and harder leading to a whopping 48% hard hit rate. A number that far exceeds his career best. His contact rate in turn dropped to a career low and his strike outs rose, but his overall numbers improved, proving that playing to his strengths and hitting into the shift is more beneficial for him, than trying to beat it the "other way."
The spotlight will also be off him a bit after spending a full year in Philly with the huge contract not as fresh in peoples' minds, where every single strike out or mistake was highly scrutinized. The modest decline in attention will help and if he can further change his approach and somehow cut down on all the swings and misses (15% also a career high), Harper could return to producing MVP type numbers and be back in the first round conversation for 2021 fantasy drafts. One of the rare players who actually benefits from swinging nearly as hard as he can, his BA may never rise up above .280 again, but he’ll likely hit around 40 home runs (he’d hit more, but he's constantly being pitched around 99+ walks every full season), score 115 runs, drive in around 105 RBI's, steal close to 15 bags and hit .265 to .275 with a little luck. He's worth a late second, early third round selection in all leagues.
24. Jack Flaherty SP
Flaherty's well documented second half of last year was absolutely astonishing. Not only did he lead the National League in ERA (0.91), but opposing hitters produced a pathetic .142 BA against him, leading to a ridiculous 0.715 whip. And that was over 15 games! The last time I can remember such a dominant second half was when Jake Arrieta won his Cy Young back in 2015. Whenever a pitcher throws that well, a little bit of luck has to be on his side, even with an 11.2 k's/9. His strand rate was relatively high and of course his BABIP was exceptionally low. Over the full course of a season, those numbers are extremely difficult to maintain, but it's not like his first half was terrible (4.64 era, 1.23 whip, 9.9 k/9), and when combined you've got yourself a nice fantasy ace. The only negative is he doesn’t really pitch that deep into games and with no true closer in St. Louis, it could limit his wins. He also gave up a lot of homers in the first half of the season, something he definitely corrected in the second. Regardless of how lucky he may have been, there’s no denying his stuff, which rates near the top in more than a few categories. Expect another fantastic season from the new ace of the Cardinals, just don't be surprised if his ERA jumps back up into the 3.20 range.
25. Starling Marte OF With Starling Marte's move to an actual contender, one with an impressive lineup, and a home field that isn't a nightmare for right handed hitters, you have to figure his overall numbers will improve across the board. His .295 BA last season was the second highest of his career and he has shown no signs of slowing down on the base paths, despite being in his early 30's. He’s almost a lock for a 25/25 season, with 30 home runs within range. If the Diamondbacks bat him leadoff, his steals could increase and with the newly implemented NL DH rule, his RBI total wouldn't take too much of a hit. Providing he can keep up the average and hopefully stay healthy (which has been difficult), Marte could out perform his ADP and be a key contributor on winning fantasy teams.