2020 FSGA Fantasy Baseball Draft Analysis: Rounds 1-15

by Mike Sollicito
2020 FSGA Fantasy Baseball Draft

The best time of the year is just around the corner. With the NFL season wrapping up, baseball season is officially almost here! While the pitchers and catchers reports don't start until the 10th to 14th of February for each team, the start of the Fantasy Sports Gaming Association's (FSGA) 2020 Fantasy Baseball Draft almost represents the beginning of the baseball season. The draft gives other Fantasy Baseball enthusiasts an early look into rankings and strategies for the upcoming Fantasy Baseball season.

Every year, 14 experts come together at the FSGA Conference. This year it took place on the 14th and 15th of January in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main event there is the 2020 FSGA Fantasy Baseball Draft, which SiriusXM hosts. At the draft, 14 teams composed of experts make their picks for the first 10 rounds or so. The other rounds are completed over a few days, each team getting eight hours to make their next pick.

Below is the 2020 FSGA Fantasy Baseball Draft's experts taking part in this year's draft in the order that they drafted:

  1. Howard Bender, Fantasy Alarm
  2. Josh Hayes and Real Talk Ralph, RotoBaller
  3. Tim Jensen and Charlie Wiegert, RTSports.com
  4. Ray Flowers, SiriusXM
  5. Dr. Roto, Full Time Fanta
  6. Jeff Erickson, RotoWire
  7. Jordan Paulson and Mike Lazaru, Yahoo Sports
  8. Steve Gardner and Howard Kamen, USA Today Sport
  9. Greg Ambrosius and Scott Fish and Tom Kessenich, NFBC
  10. Chris Towers, CBS Sports
  11. Trevis Waters and Anthony Carson, DFS Karma
  12. Brent Hershey and Ray Murphy, Baseball HQ
  13. Anthony Perri, Fantistics
  14. Glenn and Rick and Stacie, Colton and The Wolfman

Watching along and being able to not only analyze each pick, but the different trends in the draft is one of the most fun things to do. As the first part of a two-part series of articles, I will give some 2020 FSGA Fantasy Baseball Draft Analysis on Rounds 1-15 in this article. Rounds 16-29 will be a part of the next article, which will come out once the entire draft is finished.

2020 FSGA Fantasy Baseball Draft

Follow along with the 2020 FSGA Fantasy Baseball Draft over on RTSports for those curious of how the entire draft has played out so far. This draft is a snake draft, meaning that the picks are made in order from 1-14, and then in the proceeding round, team 14 has the first pick, as it works its way back down to team 1 and so on and so forth.

For example, Colton and the Wolfman had pick 14 in the first round, but get pick one in the second round.

The Pitching Studs

Previously only a few pitchers would even be in consideration for being drafted in the first or second rounds. However, in this day in age, and with consistent pitchers becoming increasingly harder to find, we see that there are more pitchers being taken early.

With nine of the first 28 picks being pitchers, we see that teams want to get their bonafide ace early in the draft. Getting an anchor for their starting rotation is important. Players like Jack Flaherty, whose second-half dominance catapulted him into the first two rounds of the draft, are increasingly valuable.

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Gerrit Cole, Jacob Degrom, and Max Scherzer make up pitchers in the first round. However, it is a new Dodgers ace that has made his way into the first round of Fantasy Baseball drafts; Walker Buehler. No longer are the days of Clayton Kershaw being a first-rounder.

The injury concerns and decline in play due to age have caused him to drop to the later rounds in the draft. Being able to realize when an aging vet is losing his touch like this is one of the more important things in fantasy baseball, as younger players are beginning to take over the game. #LetTheKidsPlay

While that in no means is a knock to the ever so valuable stud hitters, it is more of an appreciation for the pitchers who get it done each and every start. Of course, it is hard to pass on the value that the elite hitters bring to the table with their bats, but don't overlook the scarcity of the elite pitcher.

Over the next three rounds in the draft, a total of 11 pitchers were taken. That's only two more than the amount taken in the first two rounds.

Up and coming studs like Shane Bieber, Blake Snell, Chris Paddack, and Lucas Giolito are names in these rounds that may not have the track record as some of the older guys, but can provide just as much, if not more, value than some of the aging veterans like Zack Greinke, Charlie Morton, and Clayton Kershaw who also went in these rounds.

The Dying Art of Speedsters in Fantasy Baseball

While less and less players are stealing bases each season, that does not mean that stolen bases are not important. Still an important category in traditional 5x5 category leagues, speed remains an important component of your fantasy teams.

This makes sense as to why some players are first-round picks. The first four picks in the draft (Mike Trout, Ronald Acuna Jr. Christian Yelich, and Mookie Betts) are all players who are five-category contributors, meaning that they can help your fantasy team in all hitting categories (Average, Runs, RBIs, HRs, and Stolen Bases).

Grabbing a player who can nab you 20+ stolen bases, is something of importance to not only me, but also in the FSGA Fantasy Baseball Draft. Players like Jonathon Villar or Ramon Laureano who offer that power/speed combo are super important players, as even though they won't help in all five categories, they can single-handedly win you the stolen base category or at least put you in contention.

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Ramon Laureano remains one of my favorite picks for someone in need of speed and power. Being taken in the 7th round by Jeff Erickson is a draft day bargain. Laureano's game will always be his defense, and that's exactly what will keep him in the underrated Oakland Athletics lineup.

Coming off a season in which he hit 24 HRs and stole 13 bases, I believe that there is room for Laureano to improve after his mini breakout at the plate last year. Take advantage of these speedsters, as they can help you more than you think.

Fantasy Baseball Draft Day Bargains

Often times, players coming off of a disappointing season tend to move down draft boards. This is where keeping an eye out for these types of players comes in handy. You can grab this kind of player on draft day for a bargain, and get rewarded with production that is greater than where he was drafted.

Coming off a breakout 2018 season, Haniger was looking to continue that in 2019. However, Haniger started the year off slow, raising some concerns, only to foul a ball off himself and miss the rest of the season. While he was striking out a bit more than he usually did at the beginning of last season, it's easy to forget that in 2018 he hit .285 with 26 HRs.

Seemingly fully recovered from his injury, being drafted in the 15th round is a great value. Even if the strikeouts remain high, his power seems legit, and with the chance of him returning to his 2018 self, I'll gladly take the 15th round value of Mitch Haniger, much like the experts at Yahoo Sports did. Bravo!

Another draft day bargain that I love is Kyle Schwarber. Schwarber has always had the power. However, his problem has been that his average almost ruins him. Known more as a .230 hitter due to his strikeout issues, there's a chance we see that average increase a good bit this year.

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Now, I'm not saying that he will increase his average immensely, but after a strong second half in which he changed his stance, brought a new approach to the plate, and struck out less, it's hard to not imagine that maybe Schwarber could hit around .250 while mashing 35+ HRs. Getting him in the 11th round like Dr. Roto of Full-Time Fanta did is a fantastic value, and one I'll be sure to capitalize come draft day, and you should too.

Favorite Picks

Here I will examine each of the first 15 rounds of the 2020 FSTA Fantasy Baseball Draft individually. I'll give analysis on a player that I like from each round.

Round 1: Trea Turner, SS, Washington Nationals

While the injury bug seems to follow Turner every year, they aren't the same injury. Last year, he broke his finger trying to bunt, missing roughly two months. The year before he broke his wrist being hit by a pitch and missed two months. These are what we call freak accidents, not something that is likely to repeat each year.

Trea's most important asset is his legs, as he can easily steal 40+ bases when healthy. He even almost did it last year after missing time. Trea could shift to the three spot this year, giving him more opportunities for counting stats. A talented hitter capable of hitting .300 and in a good lineup, his only knock is that he can't stay healthy. This is someone I'll gladly take, as his SBs can easily win you a week by himself.

Round 2: Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox

Devers enjoyed a breakout season last year, hitting well over .300 with 30+ HRs. Wanna know something scary? He didn't hit his first HR until May 3rd and still finished with 30+. This kid is something special, and he's a great hitter who is continuing to grow into his power.

Devers should be a huge power bat in 2020, and even though the Red Sox seem to be spiraling right now, he will still have JD Martinez, Mookie Betts, and Xander Bogaerts in the lineup around him. Devers should be in store for a big 2020, one that could be even better than his 2019 breakout.

Round 3: Ketel Marte, 2B/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

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One of my biggest sleepers heading into the year last year, it was great to see Marte finally breakout. A switch hitter with a keen eye at the plate, Ketel was originally known in the minors for his speed.

He stole 10 bags last year, and hit a ludicrous .329 with 32 HRs, and even missed some time at the end of the year with a back issue. While he may not top out around 30 HRs annually, I still see 25+ doable for Marte.

He seems to have gap to gap power with plus speed. Couple that with the fact that he perhaps runs a bit more this year, and you're looking at a fantastic 3rd round value with dual eligibility at 2B and OF. Sign me up all day for some Ketel Marte.

Round 4: George Springer, OF, Houston Astros

Springer enjoyed a monster year the plate last year, and even missed about a month with a hamstring issue. While he won't be the stolen base threat some thought he'd be at the beginning of his career, Springer's power is unquestionable.

Hitting in that potent Astros lineup as the leadoff man, if Springer stays healthy he could very well return significant value at his current 4th round price. While the cheating in Houston is a bit scary, Springer will be just fine and his production should not fall off at all.

Round 5: Eugenio Suarez, 3B, Cincinnati Reds

Suarez was among the league leaders in HRs last year, and his power is legit. Couple that with the fact that the Reds lineup could be sneaky good this year, and we're looking at someone who can potentially mash 40+ HRs while giving us 100+ RBIs.

A great pick, and someone who seems a bit undervalued for what he does. Suarez should be a great 3B for fantasy this year, and the improving lineup around him only makes things that much better.

Round 6: Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, Los Angeles Angels

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Ohtani is a legit bat, and while he only plays DH, he should lock down your utility spot for the year. Not only can he provide value for you as a hitter hitting in a lineup that features Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Justin Upton, and possibly Jo Adell, he'll pitch too!

Ohtani was one of the better pitchers in 2018, and after a whole season off due to Tommy John, Ohtani should provide plenty of value at his current price. Hopefully, he follows a DH/Pitching schedule similar to the one he had during his rookie season.

Round 7: Ramon Laureano, OF, Oakland Athletics

I spoke briefly on Laureano above, as his power/speed combo is oh so intriguing to me. I can see Laureano taking another step forward this year. As someone who is a defense-first player, he'll stick in the lineup even if he has a rough patch.

Round 8: Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, Boston Red Sox

Eduardo is a part of the 200/200 club, that is 200 innings pitched and 200 strikeouts.

His knee will always be an issue. However, after staying healthy for almost the whole year last year, it wouldn't be surprising to see him have yet another year with 200 IP and 200 Ks.

While his inability to get past the 5th inning makes for an issue in leagues that reward Quality Starts, I can see him going deeper in games, now being fully healthy and finally having an offseason with clean health.

Round 9: Michael Brantley, OF, Houston Astros

While Brantley may be boring, he is as consistent a player as you can get. He is a pure hitter, and once again in a potent Houston lineup.

Staying healthy last year was very important for Brantley, as health has always been one of his problems.

Brantley is someone who has a very high floor, meaning that you know what you'll get from him. I like him as a safe pick in the draft, someone to help stabilize your team.

Round 10: Frankie Montas, SP, Oakland Athletics

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Montas was enjoying a breakout season last year before he was hit with a suspension for PEDs. While that may scare some off, I believe his skills are still there.

After incorporating a deadly splitter into his arsenal I think that Montas is one of the biggest draft-day bargains out there. His possibility to flop is baked into the draft-day price, but with that splitter being absolute money, I'll take my chance with him.

Round 11: Nicholas Castellanos, OF, FA

Castellanos being a Free Agent might have something to do with his low draft position, but he's absolutely worth it. After being traded to the Cubs prior to the trade deadline last year, Castellanos went on a torrid run. He showed us what happens when a player joins a team in the playoff race.

Castellanos has always been a good hitter, however, he lost some of his HRs due to Comerica Park's dimensions, especially in centerfield. If he can go to a team with a solid enough lineup around him, I think Castellanos can return significant value.

Round 12: Lance McCullers, SP, Houston Astros

McCullers missed all of last year due to Tommy John surgery. He's still young and on a Houston Astros team that is a great home for pitchers.

While McCullers may be on an innings limit this year, I still think he can provide enough value in those limited innings to be someone that you invest in on draft day. Don't be scared off by him missing a year. He seems to be a major piece in the Astros rotation this year behind Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke.

Round 13: Willie Calhoun, OF, Texas Rangers

I have been a Willie Calhoun truther for what seems like forever. Finally, the Rangers have moved many OF pieces to open up playing time for him.

Willie should be the everyday LF for a Rangers team who is beginning to wrap up their rebuild. He should be a nice power source in the middle of their lineup. Hopefully, the Rangers choose to sign an outfielder and get him more help. One of my favorite sleeper candidates for the year.

Round 14: Didi Gregorius, SS, Philadelphia Phillies

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Missing half the year to Tommy John surgery, Didi didn't seem like himself at the plate when he came back.

Now a full year removed from the surgery and on a Phillies team who should have a great lineup, Didi makes for a great middle infielder come draft day.

He'll see a slight downgrade in his home ballpark, moving from Yankee Stadium to Citizens Bank Park. But, he should still be able to hit the ball well, especially as a left-handed hitter there.

Round 15: Archie Bradley, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks

Already confirmed as the closer come opening day, Bradley had an absolute dominant second half as the closer. He converted all his saves without blowing one. He is a strikeout machine, and with the Diamondbacks competing this year, he'll see many chances to close games.

Coming in the 15th round, I will gladly grab him as an important relief pitcher for my teams.

Keep an Eye Out

Be sure to check for Part 2 of the analysis on the 2020 FSTA Fantasy Baseball Draft. While waiting for Part 2, be sure to check out other fantasy articles here on Fantasy Six Pack. We have a great group of writers who write for all sports, not just baseball. If you've ever got any questions or comments, be sure to hit me up on Twitter at @MikeSollicito1!

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2020 Fantasy Baseball FSGA Draft Analysis: Rounds 16-29 - Fantasy Six Pack February 25, 2020 - 6:31 am

[…] you haven’t had a chance to read the first article on Rounds 1-15, be sure to check that […]


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