1,200. That's the number of active players on a MLB roster in a normal season. We've got 30 teams and each has a 40-man active roster. While a decent amount of those players are minor-leaguers, there's still a chance for them to be Fantasy relevant at some point. What I'm saying is no matter how hard we try to analyze each and every player, we're no doubt going to miss a few. It's bound to happen.
That's where you, the loyal listeners of Fantasy Baseball Today, came in. On our FBT Facebook page (which you should join), I asked which players we haven't talked enough about during this extended offseason. The responses were great and you came through in a major way. So sit back, kick your feet up and enjoy reading about the players who haven't been given enough love this offseason.
They're known as The Leftovers.
Is there a better spot to be in than Max Muncy in 2020? He's projected to bat behind Mookie Betts and just ahead of Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger. If you had any doubts over Muncy's 2018 breakout season, doubt no more. He matched his home run output with 35, scoring 101 runs with 98 runs batted in… in 141 games. Muncy is better in H2H points leagues and OBP formats because of his robust walk rate. He owns a 15.8% walk rate over the past two seasons, fifth highest among qualified hitters. Muncy's batting average dipped in the second half as his strikeout rate increased about five percentage points but I think that can be attributed to a wrist injury he dealt with in August. In case you were wondering, splits aren't an issue either. His .893 OPS vs. left-handed pitching was actually slightly better than against righties. Muncy has become a reliable Fantasy option over the past two seasons, offering three-position eligibility as well.
Max Kepler isn't dissimilar from Muncy, actually. They both excel in home runs, runs scored and RBI with a subpar batting average and a near zero in steals. Both are also exemplary in the H2H points format. In 2019, Kepler averaged 3.5 fantasy points per game, the same as Bryce Harper and Austin Meadows. Guess who's going more than 80 picks later than both of those guys? Kepler!
I do think Kepler was helped a bit by the juiced ball, however. His .519 SLG was quite a bit higher than his .458 xSLG. Even if the home runs come down, those can turn into doubles. Kepler also walks a decent bit and leading off for the Twins should provide him a ton of plate appearances. He's a prime H2H points target but doesn't move the needle much for me in Roto.
So if Kepler is a prime target in H2H points, Mallex Smith is the complete opposite. Smith led all of baseball with 46 steals and if you haven't heard, that's a pretty tough category to come by in Roto leagues. He's finished top 25 in sprint speed each of the past four seasons. He makes fast people look… not so fast. The problem is he crushes you everywhere else. The 70 runs scored are decent but 6 homers and 37 RBI are abysmal. I have to say I think his .227 batting average last season was not normal for him. Entering 2019, he was a career .277 hitter. His BABIP sunk 64 points from 2018, mostly because he hit 5% more fly balls. DO NOT HIT THE BALL IN THE AIR, MALLEX! He's definitely a major steals contributor but won't offer much else. If you plan to draft him, make sure you're loaded up with power numbers in your Roto drafts.
Scott Kingery is also more of a Roto target over H2H points because of his poor plate discipline. Everybody is trying to find steals without hurting their power numbers. Well, look no further. Kingery was one of 25 players who provided at least 15 home runs and 15 steals last season. He actually did that in just 126 games. Part of the reason he was able to increase his power from 2018 was an improvement in hard contact. It jumped from 26.6% in 2018 to 45.9% in 2019. Kingery has to cut down on the strikeouts, though, and if he does, you could be looking at a near-.270 hitter. He actually reminds me a lot of Byron Buxton and you can get him a few picks later.
Speaking of Phillies, Jean Segura took a step back in 2019. After three straight seasons with at least a .300 batting average, Segura hit just .280 last year. The most alarming part of his game, though, comes with his stolen base attempts. He attempted just 13 steals in 2019 after attempting at least 29 the previous six seasons. Considering he's 30 years old now, this might just be the new norm for him. The counter is that he dealt with a multitude of injuries to his lower half from July on (heel, knee, hamstring, ankle). Also, Joe Girardi might offer some optimism on the base paths. In Girardi's 10 seasons as Yankees manager, New York ranked top 12 in stolen bases seven times. I can see the steals bouncing back a bit but you mostly want Segura for his batting average and runs scored. He's projected to bat second in one of the better lineups in the National League and is still a sneaky middle-infielder in Roto leagues.
Starlin Castro is in a really interesting spot with the Nationals as he's projected to bat in the middle of that lineup. If he carries over what he did in the second half last season, he will vastly outperform his current ADP of 237.2. In said second half, Castro hit .302/.334/.558 with 16 home runs in 74 games. That's a 32-home run pace over 150 games.
The biggest key for Castro was he started lifting the ball more. He lowered his ground ball rate 9% from the first half to the second half, opting for more line drives and fly balls. If he doesn't carry over these gains, however, he could end up being quite boring. Castro also needs to improve his L/R splits. He posted an .881 OPS against lefties and just a .685 mark against righties. Pay attention early in the season to see if Castro is still lifting the ball. As of now he's a late-round flier who can be used at corner or middle infield because of his dual eligibility.
Jorge Alfaro is an optimal second catcher target in Roto formats because of his poor plate discipline. While he did lower his strikeout rate 3.5% from 2018 to 2019, he still struck out in 33% of his plate appearances. Despite the strikeouts, Alfaro was able to provide a decent .262 batting average. How? He hits the ball very hard. His 43.7% hard contact rate ranked fifth among catchers last season. Alfaro actually has all the tools to be an elite power-hitting catcher except he just hits too many ground balls. His 52.7% ground ball rate was second among catchers behind only Wilson Ramos, a player we say the same exact thing about. I think there is hope. Alfaro posted a 40% fly ball rate in September, which helped him hit four home runs that month. If it carries over, you have a breakout catcher. If not, he'll likely hit his normal .260 with decent power.
Former second-round pick Adrian Houser has become a popular sleeper candidate and for good reason. Over his final 12 starts with the Brewers last season, Houser posted a 3.28 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP with 63 strikeouts over 57.2 innings pitched. During this time, he limited opposing batters to just a 32.7% hard contact rate with a 53% ground ball rate. So he limits hard contact, strikes out a batter per inning and can induce ground balls. What's the downside? Well, during that 12-start stretch, he went more than five innings just twice. Also, he's quite the journeyman so it's hard to trust. With a 244.4 ADP, I'm willing to find out and you should be, too. He's also a SPARP for those of you in H2H points leagues.
Jon Berti is kind of like the hitter version of Houser. He's a 30-year old journeyman who earned a shot with the Marlins last year and made the most of it. In just 73 games, he hit .273 with 52 runs and 17 steals. Over a 150-game pace, you're looking at 106 runs scored with 34 steals. Berti definitely has some wheels, evidenced by his 98th percentile sprint speed. He often posted big stolen-base numbers in the minors, too, with at least 23 steals in each season from 2011-2018.
There are still some playing time concerns, but if Berti performs, he'll play. The Marlins aren't necessarily flush with talent. Berti's positional flexibility should help with that as he played all three outfield positions, third base and shortstop last season. He's cheap enough where you can take the shot late in drafts if you need speed. He's more of a Roto play for me.
I think Wil Myers is one of the biggest winners with the universal DH. He's not a good outfielder, plus this can have a Nelson Cruz-type effect on him. Once Cruz transitioned to an everyday DH, it helped him stay healthy and focus on his hitting. Myers can absolutely be a force in Fantasy if he can stay healthy. He's two seasons removed from going 30-20. He just needs to get that career-high 34.3% strikeout rate under control.
Despite the strikeouts, Myers had some bright spots in 2019. His 11.2% barrel rate was a career best and he still ranked in the 82nd percentile in sprint speed. For what it's worth, he was off to a great start in the spring, going 9-30 with three home runs and a stolen base. He's a better Roto play but his sneaky 10% career walk rate is helpful in H2H points leagues. I'm a fan of his at an ADP of 294.
Alright, so NOBODY is talking about Gregory Polanco. I haven't heard his name since 2018. Okay, I'm lying, but you get my point. Polanco had shoulder surgery late 2018, which ultimately limited him to just 42 games in 2019. If he's 100% healthy and over the shoulder injury, we could have a big steal on our hands at his current ADP of 305.2. Back in 2018, it looked like Polanco was finally coming into his own as a hitter. He provided 23 home runs and 12 steals in 130 games with a career-high 11.4% walk rate. He also started lifting the ball more, which helped his power numbers. His 3.2 fantasy points per game that season was tied for 14th among outfielders with Giancarlo Stanton. Polanco was off to a nice start this spring and is somebody I'm interested in drafting on my bench, regardless of format.
Surprisingly, many people were interested in hearing more about Marco Gonzales, perhaps because he won 16 games last season and pitched 200 innings. It's really hard for me to get excited, though. While he posted a career-best 3.99 ERA, his 5.11 xFIP and 5.08 SIERA scream regression. He typically offers nothing in strikeouts but somehow got even worse last season with a 7.9% swinging strike rate and just a 6.52 K/9. Both numbers ranked in the bottom five among qualified starting pitchers last season. His fastball velocity also dropped a tick to a career-low 88.9 MPH. It helps that he pitches in T-Mobile Park so perhaps you can stream him in good matchups at home. Outside of that, I don't really want anything to do with Gonzales.