2020 Buybacks

Everyone likes finding the next big thing in fantasy baseball and cashing in, but sometimes the best pickup is buying back in on a player coming off a down season in hopes of a return to previously established levels of production or reach new heights hinted at by their prospect status and minor league production. Here is a group of players I’m buying late:

1B: Luke Voit | 17th at position, 169th pick

Voit only played 47 games in 2018, but he posted a nice 1.069 OPS with 15 HR and 36 RBI across 161 PA. His move to New York seemed to spur a breakthrough that many were hoping he could build upon in 2019. A sports hernia made that tough, though, costing him time in both July and August and likely playing a role in his .673 OPS during September. Before the injury it was looking like he was going to turn his 2018 into a full-scale breakout as he hit .280/.393/.509 with 17 HR through June (78 games). Overall, he still posted a solid 126 wRC+. Assuming he recovers in the offseason, he should get back on track in 2020 and I could see a .270 AVG, 30 HR, 100 RBI, and 100 R.

2B: Garrett Hampson | 25th, 270th

I overdrafted the hell out of Hampson throughout the 2019 draft season only to watch him flounder through stilted playing time before eventually heading back to Triple-A for most of May and June. And then best of all I got to watch him put up a .318/.368/.534 line with 5 HR and 9 SB on other teams in September. Neat. I’m buying back in for 2020, though less aggressively and at a much lower price. I still don’t trust the Rockies at all, but at this price and even a bit higher, he certainly can’t hurt me as much as he did as a top 150 pick. I’d take a .270 AVG, 11 HR, and 30 SB from the 25-year old in 2020.

3B: Matt Carpenter | 26th, 202nd

Quick, what was Carpenter’s wRC+ in 2018. Did you guess 133? Ah dang, you were off by 7… way to go, dummy! Carpenter posted a fantastic 140 mark with 36 HR and 111 RBI in 677 PA. Justin and I famously ran from Carpenter after a hideous April during which he hit .155/.305/.274 with just two homers only to see him be arguably the best hitter in the game from May through August. The weirdest part about his 2018 is that his September was virtually as bad as the April (.558, 1 HR) so he basically punted two months and still had that incredible bottom line.

When Carpenter put up a .684 OPS this past April, I couldn’t stop thinking about 2018 so I was cautious about pushing away from him. Of course, it would’ve been completely warranted as he hit just .226/.334/.392 on the year, battling back and foot injuries along the way. Now entering his age-34 season, it’d be easy to discard Carpenter completely, but the price has fallen enough to hold your nose and take a late round dart throw.

While you are betting primarily on track record here, you could look at his last 30 games of 2019 if you need an extra nudge. He hit .289/.389/.526 with 4 HR in 90 PA during his final month of games. He’s only 3B eligible for 2020, but he makes for a decent CI or UT gamble. With health (let’s say 145 games), I think he hits .255 with 24 HR, 60 RBI, and 95 R.

SS: Carter Kieboom | 32nd, 295th

Unlike the others on this list, Kieboom doesn’t have any major league success to look at when buying in for 2020. Instead, we’re looking at his prospect pedigree and taking advantage of the fact that so many fantasy managers are essentially quitting on him because of an ugly 43 PA early in 2019 (.491 OPS). The 22-year old prospect has been no lower than 18th in our last four Top 100 updates, including a jump to 12th in the 2019 midseason update. For those curious, Kieboom it .289/.391/.458 in 90 games at Triple-A after being sent back down with 12 HR and 4 SB (a 22/8 full season pace).

Kieboom should have a role heading into 2020 and also has a good chance to break camp with the team. He has come up as a shortstop, but he’s more likely to settle in at second or third base over the long term with Trea Turner installed at short. The development of his hit tool will likely determine his fantasy value, but even if he hits .240-.250 in 2020, it should come with useful power and speed at an infield position, something like 20 HR and 10 SB if he plays a full season.

OF: Stephen Piscotty | 91st, 354th

In 2018, Piscotty had a 126 wRC+ with 27 HR, 88 RBI, and 78 R over 605 PA. Knee and ankle injuries limited him to just 93 games in 2019 during which he posted just a 93 wRC+ with 13 HR, 44 RBI, and 46 R in 393 PA. He is now in the midst of a every other year pattern since 2016 with injuries ruining both 2017 and 2019.

When he returned from the sprained knee, he had a great half month in August hitting .304/.344/.554 with 4 HR in 61 PA before suffering the ankle injury and playing just one more game. I’m not sure I agree with the 264 PA Steamer projection as he should be the starting left fielder from Opening Day and given the opportunity to log 600 PA. With health, I think he returns to his 2018 level with a .270 AVG, 25 HR, 80 R & RBI. It’s not a sexy stat line, but he’s available after the 20th round in the early drafts and it’s hard to see his price rising too much as he’s seen as a boring option.





Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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CC AFC
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CC AFC

Only in really deep leagues, but god help me I will absolutely pick up Yoenis Cespedes the second I see video of him moving laterally

lgmets6986
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lgmets6986

I still dont think he plays at all in ’20 but could see CWS grabbing him for DH in ’21