Sometimes, players just fall too far in your Fantasy baseball draft, for one reason or the other. J.D. Martinez seems like a classic case in 2020. He's still an elite hitter, even coming off a down season, and the Red Sox will still score plenty of runs. But, in an era where pitchers are getting pushed up at the top of drafts and stolen bases are more valuable than ever, it's easy to overlook a guy like Martinez. Let your league mates overlook him. It'll be to your benefit, as he highlights our breakdown players 21 through 30 in the rankings.
Consider this your reintroduction to the 2020 draft pool, accounting for all the changes that have taken place since and because of the coronavirus lockdown. Over the span of 20 articles, Scott White and Chris Towers look at the top 200 in Scott's Rotisserie rankings, highlighting the reasons for and against drafting each. It makes for a well-rounded education on every player, revealing critical details that more argument-based evaluations might conveniently leave out.
So if you want a crash course on this year's player pool, particularly in light of more recent events, you've come to the right place. We're going through Nos. 21 through 30 here. And you can find the rest right here: 1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | 61-70 | 71-80 | 81-90 | 91-100 | 101-110 | 111-120 | 121-130 | 131-140 | 141-150 | 151-160 | 161-170 | 171-180 | 181-190 | 191-200
The Case For: When a "down season" still sees you finish as a top-25 overall player with the kind of numbers Martinez had, you know expectations have been set incredibly high. Martinez was being drafted in the first round this time last season and didn't live up to that, but that was mostly due to an unusually sluggish first half — he had 18 homers in 67 games after the All-Star break, right in line with what we'd hope for. If that's the downside, he's a pretty safe pick in the second round.
The Case Against: We have to ask if, at 32, 2019 represents the downside or just the start of the decline. If he repeats 2019, he's a value here; if he takes another step back, there's some reason to be concerned he could turn into more of a run-of-the-mill slugger. The park and lineup work in his favor, but less so than before with Mookie Betts out of the picture. There's also the fact that Martinez will be 33 this year, and the bottom could fall out at any point at that age. -Chris Towers
The Case For: Let's just start with a 150-game pace for Tatis in his age-20 season: .317 average, 109 runs, 39 homers, 95 RBI, and 29 steals. Again, that was Tatis' age-20 season. This is an elite young talent, the kind who could be drafted in the first round of Fantasy drafts for the next decade or so. You can get him in the second round this year, and that's probably the last time we'll be able to say that until 2030 or so.
The Case Against: There's a lot of swing and miss in Tatis' game, as his 150-game pace for strikeouts would have put him on the cusp of 200. The power-speed combination is robust enough that he should be a viable option even if contact becomes an issue, but if you're drafting Tatis expecting a .300 average, you're bound to be disappointed. He's probably more like a .275 hitter, with a floor closer to .250. With a half-season of film and scouting reports on him available now, expect pitchers to take advantage of the holes in Tatis' swing more often in 2020, and how he adjusts to that will be key. -Chris Towers
The Case For: Flaherty cemented himself in the ace tier with a second half for the ages. Over 16 starts, he compiled a 0.93 ERA, 0.70 WHIP and 11.0 K/9, the whiffs rising and home runs falling as he upped the frequency of what looks to be an uncommonly good two-seam fastball. It left him with full-season ratios that were basically in line with Walker Buehler, another second-year pitcher who tends to go a round earlier.
The Case Against: Prior to that historic push to the finish line, Flaherty looked like a sunk cost, compiling a 4.90 ERA, 1.29 WHIP through 17 starts. While few would suggest that the bad stretch was closer to his true form, fixating on the good stretch isn't in anyone's best interest either. His control has betrayed him at times, and it's possible he isn't quite the finished product many are presuming him to be. -Scott White
The Case For: Whatever skepticism surrounded Clevinger the past two years is clearly defunct now. Dude turned the dial to overdrive last year, figuring out a way to add 1.5 mph on his fastball, and the impact reverberated throughout his entire arsenal. He became a no-questions-asked ace, one bettered only by Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole in Head-to-Head points per start. He would have ranked sixth among qualifiers in swinging-strike rate and third in xFIP, behind only Cole and Max Scherzer.
The Case Against: The reason I have to use the conditional perfect tense ("would have ranked") is because Clevinger of course didn't qualify for any leaderboards. He missed two months early on with a lat strain, which may well have been a response to him throwing harder. So even though he has already proven he can hold up for 200 innings, doing so in 2018, he hasn't with this higher-effort approach. It won't matter as much over a shortened season, but you also can't just ignore the health risk.. -Scott White
The Case For: We've said for years that if Strasburg stayed healthy, he'd be one of the best pitchers in Fantasy, and we were right. He made some key tweaks to his approach in 2019 that led to more swinging strikes and ground balls, allowing him to weather the storm caused by the juiced ball in MLB better than most. Strasburg typically has higher ERAs than you'd prefer to see from a high-end starting pitcher, but he gets tons of strikeouts, plays on a good team, and can go deep into games as long as he's on the mound.
The Case Against: You're paying full price for a guy who has never been able to stay healthy coming off just his second 200-inning season. Can you really bet on Strasburg staying healthy two years in a row, especially coming off a deep playoff run? It's not as big of a risk in a shortened season, but it's still a risk. -Chris Towers
The Case For: Corbin largely backed up his 2018 breakout with another very strong 2019. He wasn't quite as dominant this time round, but most of the gains from 2018 were still there. He still relies heavily on that slider, and it remains one of the best pitches in baseball. Corbin is pretty close to a one-trick pony, but with consecutive 200-inning seasons with an ERA in the low-3.00s, it's hard to deny it's a pretty good trick.
The Case Against: At 30, Corbin is a bit older than you might think, and you don't have to go too far in the past to find a time when he was a fringy Fantasy option. His walk and home runs rates regressed in 2019, and there was probably a bigger gap between how well he pitched in 2018 and 2019 than the ERA might indicate. His 3.88 SIERA indicates there could be some room for significant regression, and there's always the possibility that his lack of a third pitch could come back to haunt him. -Chris Towers
The Case For: Hard to say which Alvarez crushed harder in 2019: baseballs or the souls of the pitchers who threw them. He hit .325 with 50 homers, 42 doubles and a 1.115 OPS between the majors and the minors, and I'm comfortable combining the two because there was no letup from one level to the next. Apart from the complete lack of stolen bases, his major-league production compared favorably to Mike Trout, Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger, but unlike those three, Alvarez is typically available in Round 4.
The Case Against: He'll begin the year as only a DH in CBS Sports leagues, which presents some limitations, and with the knee troubles he had in spring training, the chances of him picking up outfield eligibility seem fairly low. They also raise the question of why he's having such knee troubles at such a young age. There's an air of suspicion surrounding all Astros hitters, of course, and while Alvarez's batted-ball profile certainly lends itself to elite production, the actual numbers might have been a little on the high side. -Scott White
The Case For: Even as a 22-year-old, Devers pushed his way into the elite at an especially deep position, a testament to his pedigree and drive. He greatly improved both his average exit velocity and strikeout rate, which goes most of the way to explaining his .311 batting average, and hitting in the heart of the Red Sox lineup led to huge RBI and run totals.
The Case Against: Hitting in the heart of the Red Sox lineup won't mean as much with Mookie Betts traded, so those RBI and run totals could come back down to Earth. Pretty much across the board, Devers was just a little too good to be true, outperforming both his xBA and xwOBA by enough to give you pause. He's among the least proven of the hitters likely to go in the first two rounds and won't be of much help in stolen bases, contributing just one over the final four months. He goes where he goes more because somebody has to than because it should obviously be him. -Scott White
The Case For: Bogaerts' supposed breakout in 2018 was just a foretaste of what came in 2019, when he upped his previous high in home runs by 10 and managed to hang with first-rounders like Alex Bregman, Francisco Lindor and Trevor Story in both points and Rotisserie scoring. You can get him a round or two later than that trio. And even if you don't trust the ceiling, his low strikeout rate and star-studded supporting cast give him a high floor.
The Case Against: Why wouldn't you trust Bogaerts' ceiling? Well, because peripherally, Bogaerts wasn't any better in 2019 than 2018. He didn't hit the ball considerably harder, and the average launch angle was only slightly improved. Is that enough to explain an increase from 23 homers to 33? Let's just say that his xwOBA was actually higher in 2018. He may seem like a value compared to the Lindor and Story class of shortstops, but since the position is hardly lacking in star power, you need to be completely sure he's better than what comes after. -Scott White
The Case For: At what was clearly the weakest of the four infield positions last year, Marte was the undisputed top performer, and with Jose Altuve no longer looking like a reliable base-stealer and DJ LeMahieu making for a difficult bet to repeat, it's possible Marte is a distant first choice now. His breakthrough has been more gradual than it might seem, beginning with an .877 OPS over the final four months of 2018 and continuing with a .919 OPS in the first half of 2019 before culminating with a 1.081 OPS in the second half. An improved launch angle added to his already impressive contact skills may be to credit.
The Case Against: At no point in his development between the Mariners and Diamondbacks organizations was Marte ever expected to be the sort of player who hits 32 home runs in a season, so there's an element of "well, we should just know better." But again, the development was gradual, and he's still only 26. Maybe if MLB does something about the seams on its baseballs, increasing drag, Marte has an issue. There's also the matter of him overperforming his xBA and xwOBA by like 30 points. -Scott White
So which sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which undervalued first baseman can help you win a championship? Visit SportsLine now to get rankings for every single position, all from the model that called Kenta Maeda's huge breakout last season, and find out.