Fantasy Baseball

2020 Fantasy Baseball Speed Targets


Welcome to the 2020 Fantasy Baseball Speed Targets article!

If you still believe you can find steals on the waiver wire, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Any source of cheap speed comes with serious limitations.

Mallex Smith, for example, led the major leagues with a ROBUST 46 stolen bases in 2019. While he was helping your team in that one category, he was crippling your batting average (.227) and had NO power numbers to speak of with only six home runs and 37 RBI.

When targeting steals, have the mindset of wanting MORE from a player than just that one category. We want players who have a well-rounded skill set who can provide power numbers and batting average on top of stealing bases.

Obvious five-tool contributors like Ronald Acuna Jr., Christian Yelich, and Trea Turner are being left off this list. Instead, we’re looking for stolen base threats who possess five-tool abilities attainable after the first round.

Let’s dive in.

2020 Fantasy Baseball Speed Targets

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Early Rounds

Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, San Diego Padres

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Tatis Jr. is coming off a stellar rookie season where he hit 22 home runs and stole 16 bases in just 334 at-bats.

He’s coming into the 2020 season as the unquestioned starting shortstop for the San Diego Padres. At age-21, he has all the tools to become a 30-30 threat as soon as this year.

At his current ADP of 16, Tatis Jr. is well worth the price of admission. Don’t be afraid to look his way in the second round of your fantasy drafts. He has the potential to provide first-round value as a bonafide five-tool contributor.

Starling Marte, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

Marte is a perennial 20/20 threat who goes from a pitcher-friendly park in Pittsburgh to a hitter-friendly park in Arizona.

Last year, Marte hit 23 home runs and stole 25 bases while having a .295 batting average.

He’s a legitimate five-category producer who can help anchor your fantasy outfield. He is worth the price of his third-round ADP.

Whit Merrifield, 2B/OF, Kansas City Royals
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Not only is Merrifield a steals threat, but he’s a consistent hitter.

Over the past three years, he has averaged 15 home runs, 70 RBI, 33 stolen bases with a .298 batting average in 633 at-bats. He is as durable as they come having played in 320/324 games over the past two seasons.

His current fifth-round ADP is too low. Merrifield’s speed, consistency, and durability make him worth grabbing in the early fourth round of fantasy drafts.

Who to Avoid

Where is Jonathan Villar and Adalberto Mondesi?

Villar had a breakout season for the Baltimore Orioles stealing 40 bases while scoring 111 runs and hitting 23 home runs.

Over the offseason, Baltimore traded Villar to the Miami Marlins. The move from Baltimore to Miami severely hurts his power outlook heading into 2020. Villar will undoubtedly help your team in steals, but he won’t provide enough power numbers or batting average to justify his current 3rd round ADP.

Mondesi had surgery over the offseason after suffering a left shoulder subluxation last July. He’s expected to be ready for Opening Day, but can you trust him to be the same hitter?

Yes, his lightning speed gives him a 30-plus steals floor, but will he be able to hit? I’m not willing to spend a third-round pick on a player coming off offseason shoulder surgery.

Middle Rounds

Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays

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Bichette received a late-July promotion and lit the world on fire.

In just 196 at-bats, Bichette hit 11 home runs and stole four bases while having a .311 batting average. That may be too small of a sample size to trust him with a 6th round pick, but I’m willing to gamble on the slugger’s upside.

He will get all the at-bats he can handle as the starting shortstop for the rebuilding Blue Jays, and I expect him to reach the 20/20 threshold easily.

Tommy Pham, OF, San Diego Padres

Over the past three seasons, Pham is averaging 21 home runs and 21 stolen bases.

The Padres traded for him over the offseason with the sole intention of having him hit atop the lineup.

He’s in a great spot to produce plenty of runs, RBI, home runs, and stolen bases hitting behind Tatis Jr. and in front of Manny Machado.

Victor Robles, OF, Washington Nationals

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Robles is coming off a strong season where he hit 17 home runs, stole 28 bases, and scored 86 runs in 546 at-bats.

Coming into his age-23 season, I expect his numbers to rise. Despite a lackluster batting average, it’s rare to find a player capable of 90-plus runs, 20-plus home runs, and 30-plus stolen bases.

Who to Avoid

Mallex Smith is being inexplicably taken in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts (ADP 147). Don’t make this mistake. While he may help you in steals, he will do more harm than good on your fantasy team. He is only worth a look in roto leagues or as a late-round bench stash.

Late Rounds

Tommy Edman, 2B/3B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals
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Edman was 15/16 in steal attempts after being promoted in June of last season.

In 2020, he’s looking at an everyday role for the St. Louis Cardinals, where he should bat atop of the lineup. His batting average, steals, and runs scored will make him a value pick in the later rounds.

He hit 11 home runs in 326 at-bats last season, so 13-15 home runs is not out of the realm of possibility this season.

Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas Rangers

Andrus is usually the shortstop you settle for in the later rounds, but he deserves more appreciation.

He’s had a roller-coaster past few years, but I expect him to swipe 20-plus bases while scoring 90-plus runs. It’s fair to expect 10-15 home runs with a .275 batting average.

He is a bankable pick in the 11th round.

Lorenzo Cain, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
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Cain is the cheapest source of steals who can help you in multiple categories. He may not hit over 12 home runs, but what he lacks in power he makes up for with speed.

Over the past three years, Cain has averaged 24 stolen bases and 83 runs with a .289 batting average. His three category contribution makes him a steal at his current ADP of 179.

Keep in Mind

Garrett Hampson is a player to keep on your radar late in drafts. He’s looking at a near-every role for the Rockies this season and has the potential to steal 30-plus bases with a .280-plus batting average. His current ADP is 173, which is a price I’d be willing to pay in the later rounds of my draft.

Cheap Steals

If you’re looking for cheap steals at the end of your draft, here are some players to consider:

  • Manuel Margot should flirt with 20-plus stolen bases and 10-15 home runs while contributing in runs.
  • Dee Gordon can steal 30-plus bases while contributing in runs and batting average.
  • Jon Berti has multi-position eligibility who can steal 25-30 bases while contributing in runs and on-base percentage.
  • Byron Buxton is arguably the fastest player in the MLB, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. When healthy, he can steal 20-plus bases while hitting 10-12 home runs and 50-plus RBI.
  • Delino DeShields is a part-time player who can provide a nice boost of steals and runs when given the chance to play.

With stolen bases trending downward league-wide, there will be fantasy owners reaching for stolen bases on draft day. Don’t be one of these people. Look for the players who can steal bases while helping your team in multiple categories.

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

About Jacob Dunne

Jacob Dunne has been a fantasy sports athlete since the days of yore. He is also an expert on FantasyPros. You can follow him on Twitter, @AintDunneYet, where he'll be ready to answer your questions and help you win a championship!

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