Welcome to May 2020, where we're still going over pre-draft strategy for your Fantasy Baseball league. With news of proposed rules changes, we'll explore who could be getting a value boost in the 2020 Fantasy Baseball Players to Target with a Universal Designated Hitter article.
Amid coronavirus pandemic, #MLB owners will vote on historic revenue-sharing plan that guarantees at least 48% to players on 82-game season with universal DH and extra playoff round. https://t.co/xs3g6LbJP6
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) May 11, 2020
Major League Baseball is going to look very different if the season gets underway. One of the biggest changes for Fantasy would be the addition of the universal DH. National League pitchers could start getting more quality starts, as they might not be removed for pinch-hitters before the sixth inning. The most impactful change would be NL teams being able to give another player a "full season" of at-bats without platooning another position player.
If the new agreement gets voted through, it would provide a Fantasy boost to plenty of NL players originally slated for a platoon or bench role. This article will explore each National League team and which player(s) could benefit most from the implementation of a universal DH.
For more Fantasy Baseball, make sure to check out the 2020 Draft Kit.
2020 Fantasy Baseball Players to Target with a Universal DH
New York Mets
The Mets' choice of DH should be painfully obvious to everyone involved. Yoenis Cespedes has not played since 2018 after fracturing multiple bones in his right ankle following an incident with a wild boar on his ranch. After multiple injuries to his feet and ankles, the 34-year olds days in the outfield are probably over.
The Cuban is no stranger to the DH role as he hit .288 with 18 home runs and 60 RBi in 84 games as the designated hitter throughout his career. There's a decent chance the two-time all-star will be ready for the start of the delayed season, which would immediately sky-rocket his Fantasy value. Cespedes has reached 30 home runs twice in his career and should hit at a similar pace if he doesn't have to play the field.
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Eric Thames and Howie Kendrick will both see value jumps with extra at-bats available. The two were likely headed to a platoon at first but the addition of the DH should get both players in the lineup almost every day. Thames slashed just .200/.339/.340 against lefties last season, so he will lose playing time to Ryan Zimmerman against southpaws. Against righties, the former-KBO superstar will have every opportunity to mash.
Kendrick has no platoon splits and will likely have an everyday role with the DH in play. His versatility in Yahoo formats (1B, 2B, 3B) makes him an intriguing late-round pick as he looks to follow up a 2019 season in which he hit .344 across 370 plate appearances.
Top prospect Austin Riley will likely be the Braves' biggest beneficiary of a DH spot. Owners know the potential Riley has after the 23-year old hit 16 home runs in 49 first-half games. He fell off a cliff in the second half, but his power potential is very intriguing.
Adam Duvall and Nick Markakis are a pair of veterans that could also fill the DH spot. Duvall could provide power against lefties as he hit .333 against them last season. Markakis struggled (by his standards) against southpaws last season (.248 average) and the two could form a platoon if Riley continues to struggle with strikeouts.
Jay Bruce is the obvious option for the Phillies. The veteran slugger had a bounceback 2019 after hitting just nine home runs with the Mets in 2018. Bruce hit 12 home runs and drove in 31 runs in 51 games after a mid-season trade from the Mariners.
Thanks to the additions of Jesus Aguilar and Jonathan Villar, Garrett Cooper was pushed out of the lineup despite leading the team in on-base percentage and hitting 15 home runs in just 107 games. Cooper would have eventually worked his way into more at-bats if (when?) Lewis Brinson continues to flirt with the Mendoza line. The DH spot would give Cooper immediate at-bats, making him a solid late-round option for owners to pad their ratios.
Jon Berti should also find some more at-bats, as the Marlins could give him a few games at DH in addition to his projected super-utility role on the team.
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The crowded Reds outfield finds some clarity with the addition of a DH spot. Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker, and Shogo Akiyama were looking at splitting time between two outfield spots. The extra spot in the lineup and a 30-man roster means that Aristides Aquino could also power his way into playing time.
Senzel is most likely to benefit from the extra lineup spot, as he was projected to be platooning with Winker. Aquino is the darkhorse for playing time after hitting 19 home runs in 56 games last season. 14 of those came in a scorching August debut before a miserable September saw him hit below .200. If he can recapture some of the magic from his debut, he could push to take at-bats from the other outfielders.
Roster Resource has Justin Smoak slotted at first-base, meaning Ryan Braun will likely be the primary DH. Smoak is four years younger and much more experienced at the position, which likely would have moved Braun's bat out of an everyday role without a DH.
Without the rigors of playing in the field, Braun should continue to provide good ratios with 25-home run power in a good lineup.
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He would be playing every day anyways, but Kyle Schwarber could be the biggest winner of the DH lottery. The slugger forced his way into the lineup with his power, but his work in the field leaves a lot to be desired. Schwarber hit a career-high 38 home runs last season and could swat homers at an even higher pace in a DH role.
Manager David Ross now has the option to slot Schwarber in as the DH and give David Bote or Victor Caratini extra at-bats. Caratini is being blocked by Willson Contreras behind the plate but slashed .266/.348/.447 with 11 home runs in a reserve role. If Caratini can earn an everyday spot at DH, his catcher eligibility gives him a massive Fantasy boost.
St. Louis Cardinals
A crowded outfield has made at-bats scarce for Tyler O'Neill but the DH spot should alleviate those concerns. The former third-round pick has played 121 major league games over the last two seasons but has struggled to earn an everyday role.
With consistent at-bats, O'Neill would be able to showcase his power potential. In his 2018 stint with the Cardinals, the Canadian hit nine home runs in 61 games, posting a .246 ISO. If the 24-year old is able to cut down on his ugly 35 percent K-rate he would make a sneaky power add available at the end of the draft.
The Pirates' bench isn't stacked with hitting talent but Jose Osuna could provide some value in a full-time role. The 27-year old slugged .456 with 10 home runs in 285 plate appearances last season.
Ke'Bryan Hayes could also be an option if the Pirates choose to bring one of their top prospects up from the minors.
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Fantasy owners would love to think the DH spot will get Garrett Hampson in the lineup every day, making him a potential source of 30-steal speed. However, history has shown that the Rockies will likely give at least some of those at-bats to Ian Desmond. The two were tabbed by Roster Resource to be on the short-end of platoons with Ryan McMahon and Sam Hilliard respectively.
Hampson slashed .318/.368/.534 with five home runs and nine steals in the finals 23 games of last season and should get more at-bats than Desmond, who has put up a negative WAR in each of the last three seasons.
Hilliard, who hit 35 home runs in Triple-A (and stole 22 bases) and another seven in 27 games with the Rockies last year should now play almost every day.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Veterans A.J. Pollock and Chris Taylor stand to gain the most value with an extra spot in the Dodgers' lineup. Without the DH, the two were likely going to rotate in the lineup with Gavin Lux and Joc Pederson.
Pollock wasn't terrible in his first season with the Dodgers, hitting 15 home runs and stealing five bases. As has become the norm with the former-Diamondback, he was able to play just 86 games due to injury.
The Dodgers likely won't give the spot to just one player and will use it to rotate between Pollock, Taylor, and Enrique Hernandez. Each player receives a boost but it's unlikely one will take earn an everyday role.
San Diego Padres
Currently tabbed to be on the short end of the outfield platoon with Franchy Cordero, Wil Myers may have lucked into a full-time role. Myers struggled in 2019, hitting just 18 home runs while striking out in a career-high 34 percent of his at-bats. The former-rookie of the year couldn't find his rhythm at the plate following an injury-plagued 2018.
Myers is the most established bat on the Padres bench and will get the first chance to bounce back after his tough season. If he's able to cut his K-rate back to pre-2019 levels, Myers could return great value and produce at a 25HR/15 SB pace.
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Jake Lamb is the most established bat on the Diamondbacks roster without a fulltime job. The 2016 all-star has limped through two injury-plagued seasons but has shown he can perform when healthy, hitting 30 home runs in his last full season.
Lamb's struggles against lefties (.169 career average) could open the door for a platoon. In that case, prospect Kevin Cron could be the second player to benefit from the DH position. The 27-year old hit .295 against lefties in Triple-A and would provide another power bat to compliment Lamb.
San Francisco Giants
With the DH in play, Hunter Pence will look to follow up his all-star season with a repeat in his second stint with the Giants. Pence made the fourth All-Star game of his career in 2019, hitting .297 with 18 home runs and 59 RBI before getting injured. He started the majority of his games at DH and should get the chance again if the proposed changes go through.
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