The time is almost here to start drafting for fantasy baseball and the only thing we as an industry can say with certainty is “I don’t know.” That may seem a bit odd, but my belief is any responsible analyst can use that phrase in this situation. It’s a 60 game season. It’s also the first of its kind in this sport. We’re basically in the Wild West and taking our best guesses as to what the season holds. I’m going to focus on four of my favorite fantasy baseball targets for redraft leagues today.
An aspect of the shortened season that may be more important than ever is the draft capital spent on each player. For this article, we’re using ADP (average draft position) from the National Fantasy Championships website. When talking ADP, I always prefer a site where the leagues are high stakes as a portrait of where players get drafted.
One of the first things we notice is there are six pitchers going in the top 20. While it’s always attractive to anchor your staff with a Gerrit Cole or a Walker Buehler. The ace every fifth day is comforting and a safety blanket for your squad. For me, that’s not going to be the case this season.
Don’t get me wrong, Cole and the other top tier aces are likely going to pitch well…when they pitch. Let’s break down some math here. MLB is playing a total of 60 games. If a pitcher starts every fifth game, that would leave him with 12 starts.
Teams have already discussed being cautious with their starters the first couple times through the rotation. If two of these starts are almost surely not going past five innings, that leaves you with 10 starts of “normal” ace pitching. Now let’s assume at least one start will be rough because this is baseball. Paying top dollar for stud pitching for 10 games at best seems very, very dicey. With that information in the bank, let’s talk about some targets that could really make a difference for your team.
ADP of 20th overall
The obvious retort to my philosophy of not spending on pitching is who else are you taking and Rendon is the answer at the top end. Rendon moved out West and should continue to be a stud in every format of fantasy baseball redraft leagues. He’s going after the aforementioned six pitchers but I’d rather have 60 games of Rendon than 12 from Cole and the like. Rendon hasn’t hit under .270 since 2015 and he’s hit a consistent 20 or more home runs in every season since then.
On top of that, he’ll be hitting with the greatest player in the game today, Mike Trout. Depending on how the Angels lineup is structured, he’ll either have more RBI chances hitting after Trout or see some nice pitches with Trout waiting in the wings. Throw a player like Shohei Ohtani in the mix and that 2-3-4 for the Angels looks pretty formidable. I’m quite comfortable drafting a player with a career OBP of .369 any year. This year, I’m plenty happy to rank him ahead of the elite pitchers.
ADP of 40th overall
Drafting Alvarez is not really a referendum on pitchers around him. This is more because Aaron Judge is going one spot ahead and I’d much prefer Alvarez. Lest we forget, Judge has been injured for quite a while. The Yankees also weren’t exactly forthcoming with the specifics. Way back at the beginning of March, they conceded he had a stress fracture in his rib. They claimed he’d be reevaluated in two weeks. Fast forward to the end of June and Judge is hitting off a tee.
Judge absolutely has the track record on his side in a vacuum. That shouldn’t be glossed over and in most cases, I may find myself siding with experience over a second year player like Alvarez. However, the Astros offense as a whole is excellent. Alvarez himself was wildly impressive in 87 games in the bigs last year, slashing .313/.412/.665 in 369 plate appearances. He bashed 27 home runs and drove in 78 runs. It stands to reason with the offense returning for the most part those opportunities should be there this year as well.
The narrative of the Astros being punished by opposing pitchers might take a backseat in this format as well. Can teams afford to give away games by throwing at Astros hitters? The answer is likely no. Even if they do, that’s ducks on the pond for Alvarez. With Judge still not 100 percent healthy, give me the young Astros slugger.
ADP of 50th overall
Going around the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Patrick Corbin and Lucas Giolito might leave Olson in the rearview at this stage of the draft. However, he is a prime target to fill the first base spot in your lineup. Olson only played in 127 games last year due to an injury to his hamate bone in his right hand. Despite an injury with a reputation for hurting power production, Olson hit a career high 36 bombs.
A nice feature for Olson is he’s not a total liability against southpaw pitching, even as a lefty hitter himself. Would you love it if the average was higher than .223? Sure, but the OPS of .767 isn’t terrible and 11 home runs in 173 plate appearances doesn’t kill him. He can be started against any handedness. He’s currently being drafted as the fourth first baseman after Cody Bellinger, Freddie Freeman and Pete Alonso. The discount in capital spent on these four players could wind up making Olson quite the bargain.
ADP of 69th overall
Despite not wanting to spend a high pick on pitching, at some point the positions on your roster have to get filled. Enter Glasnow, who looked like he was on the way to a dominant season last year before injury derailed him. Call me a bitter/biased Pittsburgh Pirates fan if you must but the proof is in the numbers (and I’m happy to see Glasnow succeed in a real organization).
Glasnow threw 60.2 innings last season to the tune of a 1.78 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 33 percent K rate and a minuscule 0.59 HR/9. Oh, did I mention his walks dropped to a career low 6.1 percent? It was his best mark of his career by a long shot, having been above 11 percent the rest of the time. Glasnow has always had the raw skill and it certainly seems that Tampa has found the way to harness it whereas Pittsburgh could not.
The AL East is sure to be a dogfight and it would be a little surprising if the Rays used the kid gloves on their co-ace alongside Blake Snell. Speaking of Snell, he’s going 31 picks higher and Glasnow could potentially best him in many pitching categories. He told reporters in February that he was 100 percent healthy and sparkled in his spring innings before the shutdown. I’m drafting with confidence.
Thank you for reading Fantasy Baseball targets for redraft leagues! Feel free to tweet me @bucn4life with any and all questions, check out the MLB page on WinDailySports.com and let’s chat in the WinDaily Discord as well!
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