While the other sports have formulated and ratified plans to finish their 2020 seasons, Major League Baseball continues to drag its feet while owners and players haggle over money. As disturbing as that may be, fantasy baseball owners received a glimmer of hope when commissioner Rob Manfred suggested that he would implement a 50-game season should negotiations reach an impasse — that a season will happen.
With each passing day, this extremely shortened season is looking more and more like a reality, which means you can finally start to put together a winning strategy, and it starts with your elite power bats.
Keep in mind, a 50-game season means it is a sprint to the finish line. With a five-man rotation for MLB teams, you are looking at maybe 10 starts per pitcher, which massively devalues the need to grab high-end starters. Mid-level starters with ratios and K/9 comparable to the upper tier of pitchers will suffice, as there is no longer an advantage to innings-pitched anymore. But there is no replacing elite hitting power, and if you don’t have any to open the season, you’re likely to finish near the bottom in most of the hitting categories.
Think about some of the hot starts we’ve seen in recent seasons. Though Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich came out of the gate white-hot with 14 home runs each, Eddie Rosario had 11 and four others — Joey Gallo, Marcell Ozuna, Joc Pederson and Khris Davis — each had 10 in the first month.
In 2018, Didi Gregorius and Mitch Haniger joined Mike Trout with 10 in the first month. And how about 2017, when Ryan Zimmerman and Eric Thames led the majors with 11 homers by the end of April?
In a season limited to just 50 games, any of these players could have been considered for league MVP with baseline numbers padded by a hot start to the season.
So where do we look this year? Who are our big mashers in 2020? Well, obviously, you are going to want to start with the upper echelon of obvious candidates. Trout, Ronald Acuna, Yelich and Bellinger are going to be hot commodities. As will power/speed combos such as Trevor Story, Francisco Lindor and Alex Bregman. And don’t forget the other Rockies bats like Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado and even David Dahl.
Though these are obvious choices, keep in mind you may have to bump a few boppers up your draft board and take them earlier than their ADP indicates. Matt Olson, Nelson Cruz, Franmil Reyes and Joey Gallo could turn your team’s hot start into something explosive.
Yes, power is abundant throughout MLB, but those hitters who have the ability to post double-digit home run totals in the first month of a 50-game season can simply win you the league on their own.
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at Fantasy-Alarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 5-7 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy baseball advice.