Fantasy Baseball

2020 Fantasy Baseball OBP Targets

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For those Fantasy Baseball nuts out there who still play in formats that use batting average as a category, it is high time to get out of the Stone Age. Joking aside, as this writer still finds himself participating in plenty of leagues utilizing that old-style, replacing batting average with on-base percentage has been a building trend over recent years in the industry.

As modern baseball and its fans have grown to accept that OBP is simply a better indicator of ability in the batter’s box, the popularity of it as a Fantasy category has naturally progressed.

Using OBP in Fantasy Baseball can obviously also have an impact on the draft value of any given offensive player. The following list of names deserve consideration as ones to move up your draft boards significantly in OBP leagues.

The first three should go off any mixed-league draft board relatively early, but even earlier when OBP is in play.

The last three are late-round options that could be steals in this type of format.

2020 Fantasy Baseball OBP Targets

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Known Commodities

Anthony Rizzo (1B, CHC)

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First off, no one in baseball gets plunked more than Rizzo which is obviously a big boost for OBP. The Cubs slugger has been drilled by a pitch at least 15 times in each of the last six seasons, topping out at 30 in 2015. Over the past three years, Rizzo has been beaned an MLB-high 71 times. That should make the point incredibly clear.

In addition, Rizzo has recorded an 11.8-percent walk rate during the same three-year span, resulting in a very strong .391 OBP.

Given his long track record of solid batting average, power, producing runs, and even swiping a bag here-and-there, it is more than reasonable to consider bumping Rizzo up about 10-15 spots from his current mixed-league ADP of 58.8 (FantasyPros).

Justin Turner (3B, LAD)

Turner has actually bested Rizzo in combined OBP over the past three seasons, putting up a stellar .397 mark.

One of the main knocks on the veteran third baseman’s Fantasy stock is a propensity to miss time due to injury. His 135 games in 2019 count for his highest total since 2016 and the second-highest total for any campaign of his career.

However, when Turner is in the lineup he consistently produces.

Turner’s slash line was down a little in his age-34 season last year compared to previous summers, but he still turned in a healthy .290/.372/.509 while tying a career-high 27 homers.

Turner will be lining up in what could well be the top offense in baseball. Along with being able to count on a high OBP, there should be plenty of runs and RBI on the ledger too.

Yasmani Grandal (C, CWS)

Grandal is pretty much the consensus number three catcher around the industry right now behind J.T. Realmuto and Gary Sanchez, but there is certainly an argument to be made for placing him at the top of the list at the position when factoring in OBP.

To go along with the power that saw him smack a personal-best 28 home runs for the Brewers last season and at least 22 in each of the past four years, Grandal reached new heights with a walk rate of 17.2-percent which resulted in a .380 OBP despite only a .246 batting average.

That .380 clip was good enough for 18th among all big-league qualifiers in 2019. No other catcher with at least 300 plate appearances was closer than 15 points to Grandal in the category.

Now in the American League, he joins a White Sox lineup that should produce plenty of runs. Grandal should deliver quite nicely for Fantasy owners in 2020.

Undervalued Assets

Brandon Nimmo (OF, NYM)

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Let everyone else sleep on Nimmo this draft season at his current ADP north of 300!

The soon-to-be 27-year-old outfielder ended an otherwise disappointing and injury-plagued 2019 quite solidly. He returned from an extended stint on the DL on September 1st and proceeded to post a .261/.430/.565 slash line with five homers over his final 93 plate appearances.

In just above 1,000 big-league plate appearances since 2017, Nimmo has posted a .391 OBP while walking 15.8% of the time. He made somewhat of a statement back in 2018, but that full breakout has not quite happened yet. That could change in 2020, and he has already proven his on-base skills.

Shin-Soo Choo (OF, TEX)

Ever since he was limited to only 48 games and subsequently did not produce much in 2016, Fantasy players have largely looked past Choo during drafts. That has been a mistake. The 37-year-old vet has averaged 22 home runs, 11 steals, and 91 runs scored while posting an .806 OPS, which includes a healthy .368 OBP, over the last three seasons. Choo has also had a minimum of 636 plate appearances during that span.

Ji-Man Choi (1B, TB)

A fellow countryman of Choo, Choi is best viewed as a bit of a specialist for OBP leagues. In fact, might just be an AL-only target. But hey, that’s a popular format too!

Choi set a new career-high in plate appearances with 487 for the Rays in 2019. He responded with a .261/.363/.459 slash line and 19 homers.

Choi holds a career .347 OBP despite a mere .248 batting average which is the result of a 12.6-percent lifetime walk rate.

He is not a high-upside guy overall, but he does have a knack for getting on base.


Check out the rest of our 2020 Fantasy Baseball content from our great team of writers.

About Nate Miller

Going back to 2013, Nate Miller has contributed fantasy baseball and football analysis via articles, news updates, and podcasts for such industry leaders as FantasyPros, RotoWire, Fantasy Alarm, and The Sporting News. Hit him up on Twitter @Miller_RotoDad.

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4 Comments

  1. Drew

    February 27, 2020 at 9:38 am

    Hey Nate!

    Very helpful and insightful article! I had a question regarding the league I am in….it is a 6×6 h2h categories league with OBP, average, steals, hrs, runs, & RBIs. In this type of format, do you think Ketel or Starling Marte is more valuable?

    Thank you!

    • Nate Miller

      February 27, 2020 at 2:41 pm

      Thanks Drew.
      I have to lean toward Starling, but it’s close. Comes down to longer track record for me. Starling has hit for a solid, sometimes great, average for several consecutive years and also has the higher SB upside by a considerable gap.

      • Drew

        February 27, 2020 at 10:40 pm

        Thank you, buddy! Keep up the great work!

      • Drew

        February 27, 2020 at 10:42 pm

        Thank you for your response, buddy! Keep up the great work!

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