2020 Bold Hitter League Leaders — A Review

Every year I take the bold and daring adventure known as bold league leaders. I rarely get any of these right, but it’s fun to decide on the names, and might give you the little nudge you need to roster a chosen player. In a shortened season, it’s a little easier to get one of these right since more luck is involved, which I need a lot of if I’m not picking the obvious choices. So let’s see how I did with my 2020 Bold Hitter League Leaders.

American League

Batting AverageNick Madrigal

Madrigal debuted about a week into the season, but ended up missing about three weeks of action due to a shoulder injury. That meant he only got into about half the games and didn’t even qualify for the batting average league lead. However, he was exactly as advertised, as he rarely struck out, almost never swung and missed, and posted a sizzling .340 batting average. If he did that over a full season, he would have ranked second in the AL behind just DJ LeMahieu. How often he decides to attempt a stolen base will go a long way in determining his future fantasy value.

Home RunsFranchy Cordero

I swear, how am I so good at picking injured players in these bold predictions?! Franchy ended up with just 42 plate appearances thanks to a fracture hamate bone in his right wrist. Over parts of four seasons, we’ve only seen 315 plate appearances from him. So sad, so sad.

RBIC.J. Cron

HOLY GUACAMOLE INJURIES! Cron only lasted 52 plate appearances before his season ended due to a knee injury that required surgery.

RunsMax Kepler

I don’t believe it, a hitter who actually recorded nearly 200 plate appearances?! Kepler did miss a week to injury, but that wasn’t nearly as bad as the three picks above. Kepler was a disappointment this season after his 2019 breakout and he scored just 27 runs, versus 45 for the AL leader. His HR/FB rate fell back toward his pre-2019 levels, while his strikeout rate ticked up again and his BABIP fell to match a career low. It’s frustrating because there’s a lot to like about his overall skill set, but that .252 career BABIP is really killing his offensive ceiling.

Stolen BasesManuel Margot

Finally a good pick! Even though Margot failed to lead the AL in steals (obviously Adalberto Mondesi crushed the field), he still finished tied for second (assuming you count Jonathan Villar as an NLer). The funny thing is being tied for second was still just half the steals total of the leader. Margot also accomplished this in just 159 plate appearances, compared to 233 needed from the leader. Margot still remains a negative at the plate, but excellent defensively. It’s anyone’s guess how much playing time he’ll see on the Rays outfield carousel next year, but at least we know now that he’s shown the willingness to run.

National League

Batting AverageKevin Newman

Newman seemed like a smart choice for batting average leader given his low strikeout rate, speed, and BABIP ability. Instead, he batted just .224, the complete opposite of a leader, driven by just a .250 BABIP. I think the biggest shock is the zero steals in just one attempt. His Spring Speed declined from 28.5 ft/s in 2019 to 27.5 this season, which is a significant decline. His HP to 1st also rose from 4.26 to 4.39. So he clearly lost a lot of foot speed, but it’s anyone’s guess why. All I found during the season is him missing a couple of games due to abdominal discomfort.

Home RunsTyler O’Neill

While O’Neill bashed seven homers, we definitely hoped for more as an interesting shortened season target. His HR/FB rate and ISO did improve from 2019, but still fell far short of what his minor league numbers suggest he is capable of. He’s unlikely to open next season as a starter.

RBIJay Bruce

LOL. Once again, injuries destroyed any chance of Bruce nearing the RBI league lead as he missed about three weeks to a strained quad. Of course, he was awful when he did play, posting a .297 wOBA, which was fueled by an ugly .197 BABIP. The power was there though, but he never even got a chance to hit clean-up, which is what my selection was based on.

RunsDavid Dahl

It’s official, NEVER DRAFT MY BOLD PREDICTIONS! Or if you’re in an injury pool where you simply select players you expect to spend lots of time on the IL, my choices are winning! Dahl only recorded 99 plate appearances thanks to missing about half the season to a back and shoulder injury. And when he was actually playing, he did nothing at the plate, posting a .208 wOBA. It’s hard to give up on him given what he’s shown in previous years and he’s still young enough to finally enjoy a strong 500+ plate appearance campaign. But man, I wonder at what point the Rockies give up on him.

Stolen BasesJon Berti

Berti ended up with just 149 plate appearances, which is probably what was expected, but the hope is that he would find his way into more games. He did swipe nine bases during that time though thanks to his .388 OBP. He actually nearly doubled his walk rate, en route to a very solid .337 wOBA, so it’s a wonder he didn’t earn more playing time. The next Ben Zobrist?

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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2 years ago

Berti was hurt and missed time too