Just like I did last year, I’ve started to create my 2020 top 300 rankings (look forward to that in November). The first step was to adjust each player’s eligibility for the following season. The following is a summary of that research. Whether planning for 2020 drafts or looking ahead at potential keepers, knowing where your players will be able to play is absolutely essential.
Before we get started, let’s take a look at each major fantasy baseball site and their respective position eligibility rules.
|ESPN||20 games||10 games|
|Yahoo||5 starts or 10 games||5 starts or 10 games|
|CBS||20 games||5 games|
|Fantrax||20 games||10 games|
|Ottoneu||5 starts or 10 games||5 starts or 10 games|
For the purpose of this piece, the middle column dealing with the Pre-Season eligibility is of the most importance. You’ll notice that Fantrax is the same as ESPN and Ottoneu is the same as Yahoo.
Let’s break it down by position. I’ll list notable additions and subtractions by position compared to last draft season.
Things are pretty straight forward at catcher going into 2020. There aren’t any notable losses from this season and we’re adding three solid rookies. Will Smith, Sean Murphy, and Carson Kelly each showed a fair amount of potential as contributors at this weakest of positions. When it comes to catcher, anyone showing some potential is worth a look on draft day.
Yahoo & Ottoneu Only: Yasmani Grandal
ESPN, CBS, & Fantrax Only: Hunter Dozier
We have a solid mix of talent ebb and flow at first base going into next season. The obvious front runner for best new 1B is the soon-to-be NL Rookie of the Year, Pete Alonso, who will likely be a top-five 1B taken in the first few rounds of drafts in 2020. Then there are a few versatile players that spent enough time at first to gain eligibility, including DJ LeMahieu, Joc Pederson, and Danny Santana. Despite/due to a disappointing season, Daniel Murphy will likely popular bounce-back pick in 2020, and will be 1B-eligible only.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have a similar talent level becoming ineligible for first base in 2020. Joey Gallo, Ian Desmond, and Jose Martinez spent all of their time in the outfield in 2019 and will be limited to OF only in leagues next season. Likewise, Matt Carpenter will be only be 3B eligible next season. In a revelation as disappointing as his 2019 season, last year’s multi-eligible darling, Jurickson Profar, will only be 2B eligible going into 2020.
After a down year in 2018, first base bounced back a bit due to some newcomers and breakouts, like Alonso, Josh Bell, and Cody Bellinger. We did see a fair share of down seasons from veterans like Matt Carpenter and Joey Votto, but overall, first seems to be back to a reliable position for offensive production in fantasy, though likely not the powerhouse of years past.
Going into 2019, I saw second base as the weakest (non-catcher) position. However, with the addition of a quartet of rookies and a couple of versatile vets, the position looks much better than it once did. Keston Hiura is likely the most exciting of the four new 2B prospects, though he’s closely followed by Brandon Lowe, Cavan Biggio, and Tommy Edman. The 2019 season also gave Eduardo Escobar and Max Muncy the opportunity to handle the middle-infield and become eligible at second.
The notable losses from the position are the aforementioned Daniel Murphy, who has transitioned to first base, Yoan Moncada, who played nothing but third base, and Nick Senzel, who was eligible at 2B prior to his major league debut, but has played almost exclusively center field for the Reds. The most impactful loss though, is obviously Javier Baez, as he moved to the other side of second to play exclusively shortstop in 2019.
Many of the expected top talent at second were busts in 2019, such as Daniel Murphy, Scooter Gennett, Travis Shaw, and Robinson Canó. That said, the influx of new talent and rise of players like Ketel Marte, Kolten Wong, and Danny Santana, among others, have boosted the position as we look to 2020. While this position may still be the weakest on the infield (excluding catcher), I’m less concerned about its shallowness than in 2019.
Yahoo & Ottoneu Only: Danny Santana
I predicted in the preseason that all the National League MVP finalists would be third basemen. While that won’t happen, I stand by the reasoning, as 3B may be the deepest offensive position, and is likely to remain so in 2020. Some might forget Manny Machado was not 3B eligible at the very beginning of 2019, but he has once again secured that sweet 3B/SS dual eligibility for the coming season. DJ LeMahieu and teammate Gio Urshela had to cover the hot corner in the Bronx after Migúel Andujar went down with a season-ending shoulder injury in May. Add in the versatility of Jeff McNeil, Scott Kingery, and Tommy Edman—each of whom will be eligible at a minimum of two positions in ESPN leagues—and third base is in a good spot.
All that said, the position is not without its attrition. Cubs star Javier Báez will only be SS eligible in 2020, losing both 2B and 3B eligibility. Wil Myers spent his entire season in the outfield, while Jurickson Profar spent his at second base. Maybe the most painful loss for dynasty/keeper owners is that of Migúel Andujar, who will likely be eligible only at DH at the beginning of 2020, as he played only 4 games at 3B and 8 at DH in his injury-shortened season.
Third base was easily one of the deepest positions in 2019 and seems set to continue in the same lane in 2020. With high-ceiling types like Nolan Arenado and Anthony Rendon, along with a myriad of other viable hitters, it will be hard to end a draft without a competent third baseman.
Yahoo & Ottoneu Only: Danny Santana
Many analysts, myself included, pointed at shortstop as the strongest deepest position in fantasy heading into 2019. While third base has, in my opinion, taken that distinction, it is still a fantastic place to find value at any point in your draft. 2019 saw the addition of two dynamic rookies in Fernando Tatis Jr. and Bo Bichette. Tatis, in particular, is very interesting, as he’s been drafted in the first or second round in many early mock drafts.
Shortstop did see a bit of talent drop off, as it lost the stud, Eduardo Escobar. ESPN leagues will also miss having his breakout teammate, Ketel Marte, at SS. Otherwise, support or secondary starters like Jurickson Profar and Tommy Edman will have to find somewhere else in your lineups in 2020.
At a glance, shortstop appears to be top-heavy in 2020. Some of the league’s best, most dynamic players, such as Francisco Lindor, Trevor Story, and Alex Bregman play shortstop. There will likely be enough to go around in a 12-team league, but anything deeper, and you may want to reach for your SS in the first few rounds. Otherwise, you may be weak at the position while over half of your league has a stud.
ESPN, CBS, & Fantrax Only: Yordan Alvarez
I found that outfield was a bit thin at the beginning of 2019. However, throughout the season, many new players became eligible at OF, notably deepening the talent pool. Players like Jeff McNeil, Nick Senzel, Austin Riley, and Aristides Aquino made their impact throughout the season, while others were role players that rode on and off the waiver wire. The addition of these hitters should help to bring the position up as we look towards 2020.
Not many players moved away from the outfield in 2019. The most notable losses include Rhys Hoskins, Dee Gordon, and Adam Frazier. The most notable and complicated loss at OF, though, is the rookie star, Yordan Alvarez. When it comes to rookies, eligibility rules can be a bit confusing and there is the occasional rule exception. As it stands now, on September 23rd, Alvarez has played 10 games in the outfield. That will be enough for him to remain OF eligible in Yahoo and CBS leagues, but in ESPN, it appears he’s bound for the dreaded DH-only eligibility at the beginning of 2020. If that is indeed the case, it will be a hit to his value in ESPN leagues, since it took the Astros 66 games to give him 10 outfield appearances this season.
Overall, outfield seems to have improved a bit in-depth. With every league requiring 3 OF slots, and some having more, the added depth will definitely be a welcome development. Much like shortstop, many of the leagues top players are outfielders—see Mike Trout, Christian Yelich, Ronald Acuña, et al. Most fantasy baseball managers will have the opportunity to add a star OF to their team in the first few rounds of drafts, and will have at least a few more options at their disposal in the mid-late rounds.
(Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire)