Some of the best investments at the draft table can be the players who were hyped up the year before but failed to deliver on expectations. Often their price plummets and unless their profile greatly changed for the worst the year before, they still carry the upside that made them so popular in the first place. Here are 10 guys I’m looking at rebuying in 2020 drafts:
Travis Shaw – 3B – TOR | 2019 ADP approx. ~85; 2020 ADP: 357
After a pair of really solid 30+ HR seasons, Shaw melted down with a 47 wRC+ effort in 270 plate appearances last year. In a recent Mining the News, Jeff had a tidbit about how Shaw revamped his swing a bit to disastrous results and he was too far gone once he tried to revert back. Despite the overall nightmare, I am heartened by the fact that Shaw put up a 147 wRC+ in 174 PA at Triple-A so he didn’t completely forget how to hit. At this price, how could I not take a shot on him reverting back to his 2017-18 form?
Miles Mikolas – P – STL | 2019 ADP approx. ~110; 2020 ADP: 218
This was a rare low-strikeout pitcher that the fantasy market felt good enough to buy big into because his elite command and strong HR suppression seemed to offer a viable ratio floor and while his 4.16 ERA/1.22 WHIP wasn’t a total bust – his finish as the 67th SP means he was viable in most formats – a lot of his drafters didn’t get the good part as shallow leaguers felt justified in moving on after a 5.29 ERA in April and just 19 Ks in 34 innings.
His 1.24 WHIP was still pretty solid, but I certainly understand 10- and 12-team leaguers who moved on. Unfortunately, they missed out on his 3.90 ERA/1.22 WHIP from May on (ratios that ranked 46th and 39th among the 110 SPs with at least 100 IP in that time). Now 100 picks cheaper, Mikolas is quality ratio investment who fits perfectly on a strikeout-heavy team with some high WHIPs and/or innings concerns.
Garrett Hampson – 2B/OF – COL | 2019 ADP approx. ~150; 2020 ADP: 175
Hampson is only going a couple rounds cheaper than he did last year thanks to a blistering hot September (5 HR/9 SB), but as one of the bigger hype machines on Hampson last year, I’m still willing to buy back at any discount. He has a wide range on his ADP with a peak of 120 and low of 249 so your room will definitely play a role on what kind of discount you’re going to get compared to last year. If he comes anywhere near 200, I’m buying for sure.
J.A. Happ – P – NYY | 2019 ADP approx. ~150; 2020 ADP: 450
Happ strung together four years with a 3.48 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 690 IP, including an excellent 2018: 3.65 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 193 Ks in 177.7 IP. However, his home run rate was rising yearly (0.8, 1.0, 1.1, 1.4) and came to a head in 2019 with a 1.9 mark that yielded a 4.91 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. He quietly finished with a 2.23 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 35 Ks in 32.3 innings, but by then he’d no doubt spent months on most waiver wires.
Despite the uninspired season, Happ still finished 72nd on the Razzball Player Rater which isn’t that terrible all things considered and yet this price drop feels insane. He has become a complete afterthought and I’d venture to say that his age of 37 is playing a bigger role than the 2019 stats. While I don’t really see a return to 2018’s 26% K rate, he’s going to be in the rotation on a strong team and this price is too low. Check out Al’s piece on Happ for more.
Brandon Nimmo – OF – NYM | 2019 ADP approx. ~160; 2020 ADP: 340
A long-term neck injury cost Nimmo three-plus months of the season last year and limited him to just 69 games which is decidedly not nice. His first 43 games saw him hit .200/.344/.323 with just a .288 BABIP (he entered ’19 with a .355 mark) and then returned in September to hit .261/.430/.565 with 5 HR and 2 SB in 93 PA. His BABIP was back up at .302 which was still quite far from his career mark, but he hit well.
A lot of fantasy managers probably missed that final surge to the finish line, though, and now he’s coming way too cheaply. The 27-year old will likely leadoff for the Mets thanks to his rock solid OBP and even if we only got a 2018 copy (.263/.404/.483, 17 HR, 9 SB in 535 PA), it’d be more than worth it at this price.
Nathan Eovaldi – P – BOS | 2019 ADP approx. ~160; 2020 ADP: 392
Another total injury washout, Eovaldi pitched just 67.7 innings last year and struggled mightily through them with a 5.99 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. He did set a career-high strikeout rate at 23%, but his walk rate soared to 12%, double his mark from 2014-18. He was likely overpriced last year even if he hadn’t been so limited by injury, but now he’s price to buy.
Danny Jansen – C – TOR | 2019 ADP approx. ~200; 2020 ADP: 282
DanJan was a popular catcher investment after a 31-game sample in 2018 that was solid (116 wRC+), but probably not worth the surge in price. Easy for me to say now, of course, but I was also the clown drafting him as the 10th catcher off the board last year so I’m mostly chastising myself. He was sooo bad through May with just a .163/.243/.240 line.
Given that, I’d imagine that many missed the fact that he had a .234/.301/.431 line from June on (239 PA) with 11 HR, 33 RBI/R – a 28 HR and 83 RBI/R pace. And that was even with a .523 OPS in his 36 September PA. If you were in last year when he was the 9th-11th catcher off the board, you should buy back in this year as the 19th-21st backstop available.
Forrest Whitley – P – HOU | 2019 ADP approx. ~270; 2020 ADP: 311
The top prospect suffered through an awful season in the minors last year, posting a 7.99 ERA and 1.73 WHIP in 59.7 innings at High-, Double-, and Triple-A. His price hasn’t plummeted because while he wasn’t good, he wasn’t inflicting that failure upon fantasy teams, so he still carries the prospect sheen of being an unknown. He is still cheaper, though, going upwards of five-six rounds later at his ADP high of 357. Part of his price holding is that he ended the season on a high note in the Arizona Fall League, posting a 2.88 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 25 innings with 32 strikeouts. Don’t forget him.
Ian Happ – OF – CHC | 2019 ADP approx. ~415; 2020 ADP: 337
Quick, how old is Happ?
I’m sure some of you were close to his age (25), but I feel like some of you probably tabbed him as someone in his late-20s. His hype actually came in 2018 after a strong debut the year before. And when he led off the 2018 season with a home run on the very first pitch, the hype hit another level. He actually carried an .800 OPS through early-August, but then stumbled to the finish line with just a .659 in his last 126 PA resulting in a modest 106 wRC+ for the year with 15 HR and 8 SB, waiver/streaming fodder in most formats. He didn’t even debut until July 26th in 2019, but I think his success went unnoticed.
He severely cut his strikeout rate from 36% to 25% while posting a 127 wRC+ and hitting 11 HR in just 156 PA. The 2019 season was a big learning process for Happ after being demoted out of spring and he made some real growth that could pay big dividends in 2020 as he now has a bead on a full time role either in the outfield or at second base or split between both. His price is up from 2019, but still very much priced where he can’t really hurt if he regresses and could be a major boon if he continues his trajectory from the 2019 second half.
Carter Kieboom – SS – WAS | 2019 ADP approx. n/a; 2020 ADP: 297
Despite it being just 43 PA, Kieboom’s paltry 17 wRC+ has definitely pushed him down the lists of many, but that’s basically a nothing sample and really shouldn’t have any impact on how you view him for 2020. He’s going to be given a shot at winning the third base job and he’s one of the first “Best Shape of His Life” guys of the year. Of course, if he wins the gig, he’ll move up the board, but I can’t really see him cracking the Top 200 even with a job in hand. Don’t forget that the 22-year old hit .303/.409/.493 with 16 HR and 5 SB in 494 at Triple-A after getting sent back down.