AROUND THE HORN: TALKIN ‘BOUT “MY GUYS” (2020 EDITION)

Around the Horn is a recurring theme where we pick one guy from each position for articles or the podcast. Here are “My Guys” in 2020. Some players are expected to be high picks, but more simply represent a value in my mind.

C: Mitch Garver (ADP: 124)

Garver was amazing last year, but projection systems and draft position don’t expect him to duplicate it. Garver hit 31 HR last year in 359 PA (plate appearances), but the highest projection on Fangraphs has him at 21. Garver was in the 97th percentile for Hard Hit % and was 10th overall in Barrels/PA. Jason Castro, a good defensive catcher who stole at bats last year, left for the LA Angels. Now, a very meh Alex Avila is his main competition.

1B: Josh Bell (ADP: 83.8)

Honorable mentions: Miguel Sano

I really like Sano too. Sano (ADP: 117.8) hit 34 HR in just 105 games last year. He is, however, a larger batting average risk than Bell and also should bat near the back of the Twins lineup as opposed to Bell who will hit in the heart of an albeit worse Pirates lineup. 

Bell helps you at every position except of course steals. He crushes the ball, finishing 25th in Barrels/PA in 2019. Along with hitting the ball with much more authority last year, he also raised his launch angle, which resulted in all those barrels. If you play in mostly Yahoo leagues, you are in luck because his ADP is even lower around 94 as the 10th first baseman off the board. If the 2020 MLB season is played at neutral sites, Bell would benefit too because Pittsburgh is an extreme pitchers’ park.

2B: Keston Hiura (ADP: 49.6)

Honorable mention: Mike Moustakas (if you have some steals locked up), Ketel Marte, Jeff McNeil

Almost every second baseman’s value seems pushed up this year. Moustakas and McNeil represent later players whose z-score value is higher than their ADP by about 20 spots. I chose Hiura because I envision him as a player who could be drafted in the top two rounds in 2021 and beyond. Hiura hit at every single level of the minors and came up to the pros and mashed (wRC+: 139; Hard Hit %: 97th percentile). Along with his elite hit tool, Hiura’s steals make him a potential top two round pick. Last year, he had 16 steals between the majors and minors. A 0.290/30/100/100/15 line is very doable for him. 

3B: Rafael Devers (ADP: 25.0)

Honorable mention: Jeff McNeil

These were Devers’s numbers in 2019: 32 HR, 129 R, 115 RBI, 8 SB, 0.311 AVG. He was the sixth best player in fantasy last year according to Yahoo’s player rater. Devers had an exit velocity in the 94th percentile, and even if the runs and RBI drop, he should give you an elite batting average. Devers is getting drafted around pick number 25, but what if he is a first round value like he was last year? He is still 23 years old!

SS: Paul DeJong (ADP: 192.6)

Honorable mentions: Jorge Polanco, Elvis Andrus, Tim Anderson (20/20 guy)

Who you want as your middle infielder probably depends on what you have in the draft so far. If you feel pretty solid on average, DeJong is one of the best values in the draft. He still goes around 190 but is basically a top 100 player according to ATC projections with positive stats everywhere besides average.

OF: Sam Hilliard (ADP: 339.8)

Honorable Mentions: Marcell Ozuna, Nick Castellanos, Franmil Reyes, Joey Gallo, Tommy Pham, Jorge Soler, Lorenzo Cain

While Hilliard’s value decreases if games are played in Arizona or another neutral environment, he still intrigues me at his price. At 6’5” and 238 lbs, Hilliard is a beast, and he finally showed good power last year. Despite his size, he has stolen at least 22 bases in the minors for the past four years. How often can you find a potential five category contributor past the top 300 picks?

DH: Khris Davis (ADP: 176.8)

This was an elite exit velocity guy who was close to guaranteeing you 40 HR per year until last season. He had nagging injuries which I discussed here. Looking at his batted ball stats before and after the injury, his GB% and FB% flip-flopped. His GB% went from 35 to 45 and his FB% 45 to 35. I am willing to take the chance on a guy who could provide a top five round return if his decline was in fact due to injuries.

SP: Sonny Gray (ADP: 95.4)

I like Gray over Aaron Nola, Jose Berrios (career best ERA 3.68; Gray has done that five times), Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber, James Paxton, and Mike Soroka. On CC Sabathia’s podcast ‘R2C2’, Gray said that Bauer immediately helped him with spin rate, and Bauer was really jealous of how easy it was for Gray. Before Bauer joined the team, Gray’s K/9 was 10.2, ERA was 3.45, wOBA against was 0.276. After, he had 11.1 K/9, a 1.78 ERA, and a 0.243 wOBA against. 

RP: Keona Kela (ADP: 206.6)

Changes from a shortened season such as increased doubleheaders and potentially seven inning games will make the saves category even more challenging than usual. So I have decided not to spend a tremendous amount of draft capital on the closer position. Kela, who was named the closer in spring training, is one of the last closers off the board and should represent good value. Over the past three seasons in 120.1 innings pitched, he has recorded a 2.84 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 11.22 K/9. Sign me up.

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