Alex’s Best Dudes for 2020 (Part 2 of 2)

Yesterday, I posted the first 15 out of 30 of My Dudes who I have been drafting at each “round” of 12-team drafts, per National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) average draft position (ADP) between March 16 and April 8. Here are the last 15! Plus! As a bonus, I’ll briefly chronicle 10 players I’ve been targeting for my bench depth in 15-team leagues as well. Enjoy!

Thirty of My Dudes (One for Every Round), Part 2

Round 16: Christian Vázquez, BOS C (ADP 192.11)

I came away from my deep dive on Vázquez surprised by how impressed I was with his profile. He’s not an elite hitter or anything, but I’ll take a catcher who can hit 20 homers with an average that won’t kill you. (All of the projection systems have taken the hard under on his power this year, by the way. I’ll smash the over, but I don’t expect another 25-homer pace or anything.)

Round 17: Keone Kela, PIT RP (ADP 202.68)

As a matter of principle, Jose Urquidy (ADP 204.32) should be my guy here. And yet I have come with away with scarcely any shares of him this year, instead finding myself with a whole lot of Kela. Kela has his flaws — namely, he has thrown more than 40 innings just once the last four years, with a 3.23 career ERA (merely above-average for a reliever) — but I think his base skills are actually quite strong. The walks are an eyesore, but the strikeouts are there with non-zero contact management skills. Toss in the fact he has virtually no competition (although I’ve seen Richard Rodríguez get some hype), and he seems to me like one of the better bets among the no-good-bets-anymore crowd.

Round 18: Joe Musgrove, PIT SP (ADP 211.41)

Frankly, we should stop dreaming on Musgrove. Until he makes a change with his usage patterns, the parts will always exceed the sum.

Incidentally, this year might be the best time to buy in. Aside from the fact his ADP remains low, Musgrove saw a fat spike in velocity in August and September last year. All fastballs play up in terms of whiffage at higher velocities, and Musgrove’s was no exception. If he can sustain that velo, we might see him turn over a new leaf.

Honorable mention to Dylan Bundy (ADP 214.43) here. I flustered the hell out of some folks with this tweet a couple of months ago:

Some took it as a sign to buy low on Bundy; others, a sign to sell high on Shane Bieber. It’s a bit of both, to be honest. Bundy suffered from not only a terrible home park but also some of the worst framers in baseball. A move to Los Angeles of Anaheim should move him to the right side of the tracks. It would be interesting, then, to see how he fares despite the disadvantages at which he inevitably puts himself (e.g., bad fastball).

And, yeah, sell Bieber. Sorry. Love the guy – he was a lot of fun to own at a discount last year – but I feel like we’re Nick Pivetta-ing him hard right now, especially at his current price. But, hey, maybe I’ll be wrong.

Round 19: Gio Urshela, NYY 3B (ADP 221.43)

Andrew McCutchen (ADP 223.66) is the low-hanging fruit here. Again, the deeper we get into this non-season, the higher the stock of injured guys should rise. Cutch was barely supposed to miss the first two weeks! The buying opportunity here is practically disgusting.

Anyway, it’s Urshela who I’ve drafted to a lot of my squads. It was an impossible-to-fake-it kind of year, and it speaks volumes (to me, at least) that the Yankees committed to Urshela ahead of Miguel Andújar — Andújar, who produced a 130 wRC+ and 2.8 WAR with 27 home runs in 2018. There’s a Spiderman-pointing-at-Spiderman thing going on here, and both should make for thrifty buys this year.

Round 20: Tom Murphy, SEA C (ADP 238.86)

It’s not Coors Field anymore, but, uh, Murphy hit 18 home runs in just 281 plate appearances last year? And has 28 homers in 491 career PA? He was a 3.2-WAR player in less than half a season last year! I can feel myself getting riled up. Sorry. Sorry.

Murphy is the player Mike Zunino probably should’ve been. And even if Murphy’s batting average falls off the table — which, I’m not sure it will, but if it does — he should still threaten to hit 30 bombs at a scarce position where few others, if any (Sánchez? With Perez, Yasmani Grandal, and maybe Will Smith outside threats to come kind of close?), will do so.

Round 21: Miguel Andújar, NYY UT (ADP 253.43)

This is a rough patch of ADP. To be honest, I don’t have a single share of anyone in this 12-pick span. But if I had to advocate for anyone, it’s Andújar, although Aaron Civale is getting hype from all the right people in the industry. I never performed my requisite deep dive on him and, thus, don’t have a strong opinion in him. Part of me feels like I should get around to that. The other part of me feels like it’s a big waste of time.

Round 22: Renato Núñez, BAL 1B (ADP 264.03)

A former version of me would have loaded up on Daniel Murphy (257.74) here. I would also be intrigued and grab a bunch of Shogo Akiyama, as Japanese- and Korean-imported players have turned decent profits in their rookie seasons because they were undervalued.

Instead, I have a ton of 31-homer, .244-average Núñez. Honestly, that’s exactly what we want Upton to give us, like, 70 picks ago. Or even Edwin Encarnación, like, 100 picks ago. Upton and Encarnación are my guys! And this doesn’t make me want to take them less. It just makes me want to take Núñez more. He’s a “22nd-rounder” by ADP for the sake of this exercise, but I have never had to draft him to my starting lineup outside of a 15-team league, and even then I was able to grab him much later than this.

I understand he faces his own uphill battle of batting amid a decimated Orioles lineup, and his Statcast numbers aren’t otherworldly or anything. But even if he gives back some of his power, would you complain about a 25-homer, .250-average bench bat? Not really, no.

Round 23: Alex Wood, LAD SP (ADP 274.01)

Prior to 2019’s 35-inning hiccup, Wood owned a 3.29 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 22.2% strikeout rate. He hasn’t qualified for the league ERA title since 2015, but even 150 innings of moderately high-quality starts from him — what he delivered for two seasons prior to last year’s injury-hampered dud — is far more than enough for him to turn a profit. Even half that would suffice, at this point. An easy buy — and it’s worth noting his ADP, like Núñez’s, has been rising.

Round 24: Jonathan Schoop, DET 2B (ADP 305.25)

Schoop was a top-35 player in 2017 (and a top-120 player in 2016!). While he’s certainly closer to a true-talent .290 BABIP guy rather than a .330 BABIP guy like he was during his banner year, he never lost his power stroke, sustaining a tidy .200 isolated power (ISO) the last five years.

A move to Detroit, where he has hardly any competition for his reps at the keystone, should get him back above the 600-PA threshold. Even just 25 homers and a .250 average (sounds a bit like Núñez, but even cheaper, eh?) would turn a solid profit at Schoop’s ADP. And if he doesn’t pan out, he’s an easy cut (he’s your first bench pick, after all).

Round 25: Trent Grisham, SDP OF (ADP 317.22)

This particular 12-pick juncture is loaded with names I love at their respective prices: Tommy La Stella (ADP 305.98), Kole Calhoun (310.88), Hunter Harvey (318.98), and Brett Gardner (321.06) all make superb selections for one of your bench slots. I have found myself chasing upside in the form of Grisham (although I think you can make an “upside” argument for La Stella, too, if you wish to go there).

I don’t think Grisham has Austin Meadows‘ upside, but he strikes me as having a similar skill set with a similar narrative entering this season as someone who folks know about but maybe aren’t giving enough credit to. My full-season projection for Grisham, which only spanned 120 games given potential playing time uncertainty: 24 homers, 10 steals, a .259 average. Make it 160 games and it looks more like 32-13-.259. That’s… healthy! I admit my projection is probably bullish, looking a little like a near-peak Justin Upton.

He’s probably closer to a Schoop, but with a dozen steals — hey, that plays, especially as an all-or-nothing bench bat. Ultimately, I think there’s a reason the Padres, loaded with legitimate and fringe prospect outfielders, went out of their way to acquire Grisham from the Brewers.

Round 26: Rich Hill, MIN SP (ADP 333.67)

As with several names featured earlier, Hill, a legitimate ace on a per-inning basis, has no business being drafted like he’s going to open the season on the Injured List. The longer the delay lasts, the more Hill should be pushed up. With a minimum pick of 208, he’s getting a little more respect. Then again, David Fletcher also has a minimum pick of 208 during this span, so make of it what you will.

Round 27: Ross Stripling, LAD SP/RP (ADP 347.94)

Stripling failing to get traded to the Angels is extremely depressing. For now, he remains in Los Angeles, barely on the outside looking into that rotation. Something I have really enjoyed doing this year, though: pairing Wood (who is basically a lock to get injured) with Stripling, his logical successor.

Ultimately, no matter who gets injured in the Dodgers’ rotation, Wood or otherwise, Strip should be the first in line.

Round 28: Travis Shaw, TOR 3B (ADP 385.02)

Shaw absolutely destroyed me last season. I invested many an early-middle round pick on him only for him to crush my dead, dry soul into dust.

So much of the offseason chatter is noise, but Shaw’s revelation that he tried to implement a massively failed swing change last year stands out as a plainly obvious red flag, much like Khris Davis running into an outfield wall plainly obviously torpedoed his season. Why Shaw would try to fix what ain’t broke, I have no idea. Sure, he hit too many pop-ups, but if he’s trying to maximize his batting average at the expense of his power, he’s playing in the wrong era.

The idea of Shaw returning to form — a top-50 player in 2017 and top-100 player in 2018 — has me gobbling up shares of him left and right. And, again, like others before him, if he busts, he cost me nothing. No risk, all reward.

Round 29: Matt Shoemaker, TOR SP (ADP 391.47)

I just can’t quit Shoemaker. Having thrown a grand total of just 137 innings and change the last three years with a decent-not-great 4.00 ERA, Shoe deserves far less love from me than he gets. I just can’t quit his splitter, though, nor his robust beard.

At this point, all I need is for him to stay healthy long enough to consume a large-enough chunk of the season and maybe meet the lofty expectations I’ve set for him. Truth be told, this is a post about “my guys,” and I can’t, in good faith, say there are my guys if I’m not actually drafting him. Shoemaker is one of my guys, for better or for worse — probably the latter. I’m just hoping I can enjoy a little bit of 2016 (or even 2014) again.

Round 30: Tony Watson, SFG RP (ADP 432.10)

I… genuinely don’t understand what’s happening here. Watson is the closer to start the season with zero competition. Seriously, that bullpen is a straight-up wasteland. Is it Reyes Moronta we’re scared of? The guy coming off shoulder surgery with hardly 130 innings under his belt and a career 13.6% walk rate? I mean, maybe he takes the job from Watson at some point. But we also thought the same would happen of Shane Greene last year, too. Just take the free saves and deal with the fallout later.

(Chris Bassitt, ADP 428.10, had completely escaped my radar the past year and a half. I came away from a deep dive on him this preseason pretty impressed, and I have enjoyed grabbing him as a bench arm here. Same with Aníbal Sánchez, ADP 435.93, who boasts legitimate contact management skills. Don’t be deceived by the relatively poor peripherals.

Also, what if Shed Long fails to crowd Dee Gordon, ADP 439.59, out of substantial playing time — or fails to secure Seattle’s second base job altogether? And what if Gordon runs a little more as a last hurrah? A lot of ifs here, but, again, again, again: Gordon is free. What do you have to lose? In your last pick, literally nothing.)

Bonus: 10 of my Favorite 15-Team Bench Considerations (Outside the Top-345)

With a brief snippet for each. You’re welcome.

Chris Bassitt, OAK SP: His ERA the last two years: 3.62. His xFIP and SIERA, respectively: 4.58 and 4.47. Regression candidate? Not if you believe in his contact management skills: my wOBA on contact (wOBAcon) -based ERA estimator says he deserved a 3.47 ERA. There are worse bets to make as a bench arm in a deep league.

Mike Tauchman, NYY OF: You know.

Ender Inciarte, ATL OF: The Braves remain financially committed to Inciarte, and folks are overselling the urgency of the trajectories of the Braves’ up-and-coming prospects (as well as Austin Riley’s viability as more than a Quad-A bat). If he can give us another 20 steals, he’ll be worth it. I’m optimistic for more.

Dan Vogelbach, SEA 1B: Extremely easy to dismiss Vogelbach based on the narratives, but the Mariners’ lineup sucks, and Vogey still strikes me as a poor man’s Hoskins. That makes him a quality corner infield bench depth grab.

Aaron Hicks, NYY OF: Self-explanatory. ADP should be 200 picks higher by now.

Rowdy Tellez, TOR 1B: Same as Vogelbach, generally speaking. Poor plate skills, but the power is legit. Thirty homers from a bench bat plays, even in a standard league.

Austin Allen, OAK C: Is it possible Sean Murphy, while actually good, is perhaps still inferior to Allen? And on the short side of a potential platoon? I’m drafting Allen everywhere I can. Like Grisham, I don’t think it’s any mistake the Athletics acquired Allen, and I love his Minor League résumé. An AL-only team with both Murphy and Allen is, ugh, so good. Love it.

Cameron Maybin, DET OF: In Urshela fashion, Maybin had a hard-to-fake-it kind of glow-up last year in New York and now owns, with zero competition, a starting outfield job in Detroit. No risk, all upside (whatever your definition of upside is for Maybin). That’s the name of the game at this point anyway, right?

Randy Dobnak, MIN SP: It’s easy to reduce Dobnak to a punchline for being a ride-share driver at the start of the season and a starting pitcher in the playoffs by the end of it. No pitcher in the minors combined baserunner prevention and ground balls the way Dobnak did. He’ll never be a big strikeout guy, but, honestly, he seems like everything we ever wanted Brett Anderson to be (modest K’s but rich in contact management). He could begin the season on the outside looking in because of the delays, as opposed to gunning for the #5 spot. Still, I’m game.

Josh Rojas, ARI OF: Like Grisham and Allen, so, too do I think the Diamondbacks intentionally targeted Rojas during the trade deadline last year. There’s a McNeilean flavor of “he has no guaranteed spot but could enter the season as a utility guy, eventually forcing his team’s hand and working his way into an everyday role” to Rojas, although I think the obstacles in Arizona are greater than they were in New York. Still, just one injury is all we need to get Rojas the daylight he deserves to see if his five-tool threat is legitimate.

Currently investigating the relationship between pitcher effectiveness and beard density. Two-time FSWA award winner, including 2018 Baseball Writer of the Year, and 8-time award finalist. Featured in Lindy's magazine (2018, 2019), Rotowire magazine (2021), and Baseball Prospectus (2022). Tout Wars competitor. Biased toward a nicely rolled baseball pant.

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2 years ago

I didn’t realize it until Pod pointed it out earlier this offseason, but Bundy has actually been better at home than on the road for his career:
OPS – home/road
2016 670 / 884
2017 697 / 752
2018 838 / 876
2019 842 / 706
Career 772 / 799
Career ISO 197 / 217

Also, Shaw did hit well at AAA last year but his spring training this year (15 K in 28 AB) got off to a markedly similar start to his spring training last year (25 K in 52 AB).

2 years ago

RE: Bundy – I was surprised too but I’m still intrigued since just getting out of the hell-hole that is the AL East will only help his numbers, especially if the Rangers’ new park plays more neutral.

re: Shaw – I agree on spring stats but every study I’ve seen says that extreme performances in the spring do have some predictive value. I agree 28 AB (32 PA) is still wayyyyy short of relevant,but still. . . . .that said, I get what you’re saying – draft him that far down and he craps out, oh well, no big loss