There are many conclusions one can draw from a shortened season, but I keep focusing on ignoring the boring, sum-of-all-the-parts type of players. You know the ones. They won’t “wow” you anywhere, but tend to deliver a decent line over the course of a full season. Typically I’m fine soaking up the value when boring veterans fall in drafts. But as a general rule you’ll want to avoid these types in 2020. Here are just a few names to consider skipping over if you’re entering a new draft season…
CATCHER: Christian Vazquez, Boston Red Sox
Vazquez broke out in his age-29 season, slashing .276/.320/.477 with 23 homers. Problem is, I don’t trust it. His swinging strike rate went up, his contact rate went down, his chase rate went up…none of that screams “trust me.” He did hit the ball harder than ever before, but he’s still pretty uninspiring across the board. His barrel rate (32nd percentile), hard hit rate (47th percentile), and average exit velocity (41st percentile) just don’t move the proverbial needle. In a full season I’d have taken what he compiled and been happy with him as a low-end C1 option. But in a shortened season I want more punch. I’m surprised he’s being drafted ahead of Carson Kelly, who I much prefer.
FIRST BASE: Eric Hosmer, San Diego Padres
I actually considered Hosmer a value in 2020. I even drafted him in The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, at pick 231 as my starting corner infielder. And I even felt good about it. And then this whole pandemic happened. Which means over 60-80 games, I’ll get a horribly vanilla line from Hosmer. I mean, what’s the chance he doesn’t even exceed 10 homers? Has to be pretty decent. For reference, over the first 56 games of 2019, Hosmer hit a whopping nine home runs. Maybe 2020 is the year he actually begins to elevate the ball…but I doubt it. I’d have much preferred Hosmer over a full season, even though I still think pick 231 is a solid deal for him.
SECOND BASE: Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals
Merrifield is now 31 years old, and he “only” swiped 20 bags last year (down from 45 the year prior). He also played in more games and had 28 more plate appearances, so it wasn’t a question of opportunity. And while he stole 20, he was unsuccessful on 10 attempts. This coincides with a bit of erosion in sprint speed. He’s still fast, for sure–just not quite as fast as he once was. Add in advancing age and a shortened season, and I’m inclined to pass on a guy that might be an asset in only two categories. Maybe it’s crazy to fade a “speed” guy in 2020, but I just haven’t liked Merrifield all season anyway. The ADP is too rich, in my humblest of opinions. Want some batting average help? Draft Jeff McNeil 20 picks later.
SHORTSTOP: Jean Segura, Philadelphia Phillies
Now 30 years old, Segura’s speed is eroding. That, and the return of Andrew McCutchen muddies the waters atop the Philadelphia lineup. And might Scott Kingery get a shot in one of those spots atop the lineup, anyway? Anyway, Segura’s worth has long been tied to his speed. After swiping only 10 bags in 2019 and given his average 27.5 ft/s sprint speed, I’m skeptical he’ll find the fountain of speedy youth at his advancing age. I’d rather have his teammate, Didi Gregorius, some 30+ picks later. At least I know I’m getting power if Gregorius is healthy. Heck, Kevin Newman is being drafted two picks after Segura on average–and he’s the same healthy batting average bet, except with more speed to offer.
THIRD BASE: Mike Moustakas, Cincinnati Reds
Why draft Moustakas around pick 75 when I can get even more prodigious power in Miguel Sano somewhere around pick 100? And Eduardo Escobar around pick 110 qualifies at second and third, just like Moustakas. Escobar also hit 35 bombs a year ago, just like Moustakas. It’s just tough to pay up for power early on in a draft. Around pick 75, I’m still snagging guys who are assets in more than one or two categories. Target Escobar around 30 picks later if you need a guy who will offer power and counting stats, and little to no speed.
OUTFIELD: Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox
Benintendi just doesn’t pack the power of some of his counterparts, even those in the same vicinity as him per recent NFBC data. On average he’s being selected just one pick after Michael Conforto. Behind him are Max Kepler and Scott Kingery, to name a couple. Kepler obviously offers more pop, while Kingery offers more speed. What does Benintendi offer? He may not even lead off for Boston, not with Alex Verdugo back to full health. And even if he does, you’re not looking at enough power or steals to make a huge difference. If it’s not an OBP league, give me Scott Kingery instead, and about 20 picks later. Kingery’s .315 OBP last year doesn’t come close to Benintendi’s career performance in that area–but if it’s not an OBP league, I don’t care! Give me Kingery’s category juice instead of Benintendi’s in 2020.
Luckily, yours truly only drafted one of these guys on his TGFBI roster. If you’re drafting today, make sure you can say that you’ve drafted none of these guys, okay?