2020 Fantasy Baseball Overvalued Pitchers

by Tyler Thompson
2020 fantasy baseball overvalued pitchers

I had fun writing up some undervalued pitchers a couple of weeks ago. Now comes the not-so-fun part...

The article title says "overvalued" and not "overrated" for a reason. Whenever I write up these kinds of articles, I get labeled as a hater of a certain player. You know the saying "don't hate the player, hate the game" that your fifteen-year-old self said when defeating a friend at a video game? It applies here too. I'm not hating the player - I'm hating where the fantasy community values the player in drafts.

Going back to my article on undervalued pitchers, there was a theme that I noticed in my values of pitchers. In 2019, I was finding value in the younger, unproven players in the early-to-mid rounds while getting veteran pitchers in the mid-to-late rounds. This year, it's almost the opposite. So, with that in consideration, it shouldn't surprise you how this article finishes up.

Why can't I be good at intros?

Without further rambling, let's freaking get to it.

2020 Fantasy Baseball Overvalued Pitchers

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The Early Rounds

Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox (FantasyPros ADP: SP15, Overall - 61)

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So, when I'm drafting a starting pitcher as my SP1 or high-end SP2, I want to know that the floor for this guy will still give me value. Check out the expert rankings for SP at FantasyPros. How many guys in the top 20 have shown you a really ugly floor in the last three years? Like, 'should be on the waiver wire' type of the floor? It's only Giolito and that terrifies me at the end of the fifth round.

There's where the 'hate' (if you want to call it that) for Giolito lies for me. I happen to believe in many of the things he did to have that breakout 2019. Ditching the slider and increasing the usage of the changeup as his second pitch worked wonders. That changeup is a sick out-pitch for him, one of the best in the league. However, with it being a "catch-up league" (not to be confused with the also overvalued condiment, ketchup), you wonder how hitters respond this upcoming season.

Again, the expert consensus is at SP15 and I have him at SP22 in my rankings. Get out of here with the 'hater' talk! However, I would rather wait a couple of rounds and grab a guy like Noah Syndergaard or Yu Darvish as my SP2. I believe those guys produce more valuable seasons while allowing you to plug other spots of your lineup.

Jose Berrios, Minnesota Twins (FantasyPros ADP: SP24, Overall - 93)

Contrary to Giolito, we've seen a bunch of 'really good' from Berrios but no 'breakout'. In 2019, he was a popular breakout pick and was being over-drafted at SP27. So, he has an eerily similar season and... moves up the SP rankings? I don't know - it just seems odd to me.

Don't get me wrong, you watch that video above and dream! He's got four pitches that can be used as a primary pitch on any given day. Once again though, it's the consensus ranking that's throwing me off. We've seen three straight seasons of ERA and FIP approaching 4.00. To me, it feels more like a 'safe' pick than a bet on a breakout, but I think others see it differently.

We've seen the upside of many of the guys going after him. I wrote about Carlos Carrasco in my undervalued piece and expect a return to excellence for him. In fact, a guy like Max Fried could give you the same production as Berrios, just three or four rounds later.

Middle of the Draft

Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs (FantasyPros ADP: SP39, Overall - 129)

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I brought up Hendricks' name in last year's article with the same title. While he gives you those ratios over consistent innings year over year, I'm coming back for seconds. I talked earlier about being safe and the value of having a stabilizer in your rotation. I'm just not sure I want that as my SP3 or SP4 when I could be targeting guys that could be game-changers for me. There will be guys like this later in the draft that will give you solid innings and nothing spectacular.

Besides, are we sure we will be getting the same Hendricks this year? Call me crazy, but there are some bad trends in his profile. There's been a sharp decline in his groundball rate, which was instrumental in his ability to keep the ball in the yard. While the homers allowed haven't caught up yet, the barrel and hard-hit percentages are moving in the wrong direction over the last few years. Performance by batters against his sinkers and changeups, which account for almost 70% of his pitches, has been trending up as well.

While he's a natural FIP and xFIP beater, I don't ever like betting on those guys at this point in the draft. If I'm not drafting David Price to fill this role in my fantasy rotation, I'll be waiting until much later to select an innings-eater. (Side note, I've grown to hate the term inning-eater. It just sounds dumb to me now. Used to say it all the time and now I'm like blah, gross.)

Mike Minor, Texas Rangers (FantasyPros ADP: SP44, Overall - 148)

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If you told me after the 2019 season that Mike Minor would be a 13th round pick in 2020 drafts, I'd nod my head and say fair. There were a lot of things to like about his 2019 season. He too ditched a sinker and saw a spike in changeup usage. This is again a case where I'm just loving the guys going behind him and want to wait.

There are a couple of things that trouble me going into 2020 for Minor. First, the hard-hit rate worries me. It's not just that it was among the worst in the league last year, but it is especially bad on his non-changeup pitches. I didn't see much to suggest that the quality of changeup itself had changed, only the quantity. With nearly a 100-point drop in slugging on the pitch from 2018 to 2019, I'm not sure what to believe. We'll see what the league adjustment looks like this year, but I think the pitch saw its best season by far in 2019.

I'm going to keep shamelessly plugging my article on undervalued pitchers, but I discussed the value of Andrew Heaney a couple of rounds after Minor. The K/BB ratio is much better, plus there's just more ceiling to Heaney's game than Minor's at this time. Other guys in the same division I would rather have included Jesus Luzardo and Lance McCullers Jr.

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