…going 15th or later at their position (30th for OF, 40th for SP, and 20th for RP).
It felt like that’d all be too long for a headline. Anyway, this is a very straightforward concept that I thought of while on my way to getting breakfast tacos! I’m using the Too Early Mocks as my guide here so let’s go position-by-position and find some potential Top 5s!
STARTING PITCHER: Frankie Montas (48th)
I’ve already expressed some love for Montas this offseason so why not go to the next level here? His trajectory has really impressed me. He started as a flamethrower who could miss bats but do little else. Then in 2018 he stopped walking guys, but his Ks tanked… which of course seemed related. This year he put it all together with a 26% K rate, 6% BB rate, and he maintained his excellent HR suppression (0.75 HR/9). His season was cut short by a PED suspension, but he finished on the mound with an excellent six-inning outing on September 25th. Sign me up!
RELIEF PITCHER: Giovanny Gallegos (36th)
I wanted to go with Nick Anderson (27th), but to reach top 5 you have to get a good number of saves and that’s just too hard to trust in Tampa Bay, especially in November. Gallegos had a closer-esque season in 2019, but just couldn’t find his way into the 9th inning. If the Cards move Carlos Martinez back into the rotation, Gallegos is a perfect fit to take the role. The 28-year old righty put up a 2.31 ERA and 0.81 WHIP in 74 innings with a 33% K rate and 6% BB rate. Neither righties nor lefties had answers for him as his .518 OPS against lefties was actually better than his .568 mark against righties.
CATCHER: Sean Murphy (18th)
I don’t love betting on a rookie catcher, but he has a real chance to be the primary catcher and that alone is a leg up when I’m starting at 15th and looking for someone who can develop into a top 5 guy. Murphy has the defense to make the A’s confident in playing as the main backstop (Josh Phegley will still get some time, particularly against lefties, but I’m seeing at least 60/40 in favor of Murphy) and the bat to go off.
He posted a 136 wRC+ in 140 PA at Triple-A and carried it over in a short MLB stint with a 135 mark in 60 PA. Catcher was probably the toughest position to find someone for this exercise and considering that only 8 catchers were only picked in the top 300 of the TEMs, I probably could’ve upped the threshold.
FIRST BASE: Luke Voit (18th)
Health will be the biggest factor here as a pair of IL stints limited him to just 118 games this year. If you look at his 2018-19 combined, he has 671 PA with a .278/.383/.516 line, 36 HR, 98 RBI, and 102 R which isn’t top 5, but certainly gives him a strong foundation. While Voit did lose some exit velo off his electric 161 PA sample from 2018, he did still put up a top 10% Barrel Rate at 13%. He’s a strong bet for 30+ HR if he’s healthy and the Yankees lineup will give him an opportunity at 100/100 so the key to pushing a top 5 season will be his AVG. A .290 or better AVG isn’t out of the question.
SECOND BASE: Cavan Biggio (18th)
Like Montas, Biggio is another player I’ve already showed some 2020 love for in a previous piece. The 25-year old 2B hit 16 HR and went 14-for-14 on the bases in 430 PA, but hit just .234 thanks in part to a 29% K rate. I think he can really improve that mark, though, as his 9% swinging strike rate is much better than the 11% league average and he struck out just 16% of the time in his 174 PA at Triple-A.
Part of his strikeout rate is a level passivity that he can fix. He has shown excellent walk rates throughout his career, but I think he could eschew some of those walks and be more aggressive earlier in counts to improve his batting average and up his production. Even if the AVG doesn’t come along, there’s real 25/25 potential here so he’s worth investing in, especially at this price.
SHORTSTOP: Amed Rosario (20th)
There were several ways I could’ve gone at this remarkably deep position. Marcus Semien – 3rd place AL MVP finisher – felt like cheating even though he checks in at 17th. I went with Rosario, though guys like Corey Seager, Scott Kingery, and Garrett Hampson were also considerations. Rosario quietly put together a .319/.351/.453 line in the second half with 6 HR and 9 SB (nice), which would’ve been a full season pace of 14 HR and 21 SB. It’s worth noting that he was just 9-for-16 on the bases so he will definitely have to be sharper when running if he’s going reach top 5. He’ll also have to move up the lineup to really get there. I could see a .300 AVG, 15 HR, 100 R, 70 RBI, and 35 SB in a breakout season, basically a Jonathan Villar season with less power and more batting average.
THIRD BASE: Mike Moustakas (19th)
I legitimately could’ve used DJ LeMahieu based on these thresholds as he went 15th there in the TEMs! That would’ve felt even more like cheating than a Semien selection. The point of this article is to highlight some more under-the-radar type players or at least guys who haven’t fully gone off yet. I wanted to get wild and pick J.D. Davis here as he could pop 40 HR, but Eugenio Suarez hit 49 and still couldn’t crack the top 5 (he was 6th behind Devers, Rendon, Bregman, Arenado, and LeMahieu on the Razzball Player Rater).
I also passed on Tommy Edman here because he would’ve been another guy I’ve already been hyping up this offseason (but definitely draft him when you’re not in a league with me because his speed could generate a huge season). I went with a veteran here and I’m sure your first thought is that Moose kinda fits the Suarez/Davis mold where even a 40-HR season might prevent him from finishing in the top 5, buuut the big difference is that Moose doesn’t really strike out at the level of most power hitters.
So, if he can push his BABIP up and generate a .285+ AVG with 40 HR and 120 RBI, there’s some big upside even at age-32. He has two 35+ HR seasons already, but still hasn’t reached 100 RBI. Too often we get locked into thinking that guys past age-25 are devoid of upside… let alone guys beyond 30 who are basically treated as the walking dead in fantasy baseball.
OUTFIELD: Ramón Laureano (33rd)
I was huge on Laureano for 2019 and while he didn’t quite reach the heights I predicted, that was mostly because of injury. In just 481 PA, he hit .288/.340/.521 with 24 HR and 13 SB. He flipped the power/speed dynamic a bit, but built upon his 176 PA sample from 2018 when he hit .288/.358/.474 with 5 HR and 7 SB. All told, it essentially equals a full season of work with 657 PA during which he’s hit 29 HR with 20 SB and a .288/.345/.508 line.
I’m buying right back in for 2020! I think he’ll need at least 20 SB to reach top 5 as long as he maintains the AVG and pops 30+ HR. If it all breaks right, we could see a 30/30 output, which would give him some leeway on his AVG since the 26% K and 6% BB are a little alarming.