Which Teams Provided the Most and Least Fantasy Value in 2019: Hitter’s Edition

With the 2019 regular season in the books, now is a good time to look back and see which MLB teams provided fantasy owners with the most valuable hitters this year.

This chart looks at players currently ranked in the top twelve at each offensive position (and top fifty for outfield) based on Rotowire’s earned auction values (roto scoring), broken down by team. If you’re curious about which players where ranked where, a more detailed breakdown of the ranks are found here. If a player was traded, the team which they played the majority of their games with was given credit. I also did not include DH ranks. While there are many players that can provide value outside of the top-12 (or 50 in the case of outfield), this exercise is meant to look at which players are providing high-end value, what teams they are coming from, and a bit about the what the implications for 2020 might be.

Fantasy Value By Team
American League National League
Team Top-12 Players Team Top-12 Players
TB 4 ATL 4
KC 4 PIT 3
DET 1 SF 1
SEA 1 SD 1

It’s no surprise that baseball’s best teams provided owners with more high-end fantasy contributors than baseball’s worst. The Astros lead the field with six players represented (Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel, George Springer, Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley). But there were some surprises.

Despite missing the playoffs, the Chicago Cubs saw five different players appear in their respective positions’ top-12 lists, the most among any team in the National League. And that is without including Anthony Rizzo, who narrowly missed inclusion (ranking 13th at first base), or Nicholas Castellanos, who played the first hundred games of his season with the Tigers; even though he did most of his damage in Chicago. Interestingly, Kris Bryant ranked only 13th at third base, and is included because of his outfield eligibility. The third base ranks are getting tougher and tougher to climb – Bryant hit .282 with 31 home runs this season but was hurt by his 77 RBIs.

The New York Mets were another bubble team that were well-represented. Like Bryant, Jeff McNeil was a multi-eligible player that just missed being ranked at second (13th) and third base (16th). If McNeil had not missed a stretch due to injury, he likely would have cracked the top-12.  A surprise season from J.D. Davis (48th ranked outfielder) means that the Mets had more hitters a top their positional rankings than the division champion Braves.

Because of their fondness for platoons (and time missed due to injury), the team with the National League’s best record, the LA Dodgers, posted only three hitters on this list – Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Joc Pederson. If Corey Seager or Justin Turner were able to find their way into a few more games (both played under 136), they may have cracked crowded third base and shortstop positional rankings. The Dodgers second half callups – catcher Will Smith and infielder Gavin Lux, are two players who could also see top-12 ranks next season.

Surprisingly, two of the bottom feeders in the American League Central – the White Sox and Royals, saw eight players rank atop their positional lists. And these eight do not include AL batting champ, Tim Anderson, who ranked 14th at shortstop thanks to his 123 games played. As surprising as this may be for a batting champion, Anderson ranked only 9th at shortstop on ESPN’s player rater and 22nd in CBS’ end of season ranks. Hunter Dozier (34), Alex Gordon (50) and Eloy Jimenez (39) all cracked the top-50 outfielders thanks to solid counting stats and power numbers. Whit Merrifield and Yoan Moncada were both top-12 second basemen, but Moncada will be losing his keystone eligibility in 2020, having played this season entirely as a third baseman. With the White Sox set to add Nick Madrigal and Luis Robert to their lineup at some point in 2020, Chicago should be an offensive force in the American League sooner rather than later.

Staying in the AL Central, Cleveland had three hitters place thanks to a career-year from Carlos Santana, the consistent excellence of Francisco Lindor and a surprisingly productive season from catcher Roberto Perez. It’s possible Cleveland doubles its representation in 2020 – if they are able to get full seasons from Franmil Reyes, Jose Ramirez (who ranked 15th at third base) and Oscar Mercado.

Two teams that saw minimal representation on the list this season were the San Diego Padres and the Toronto Blue Jays. The Padres only representative was Franmil Reyes (37th at outfield), who was traded to Cleveland at the trade deadline, and the Blue Jays’ was Randal Grichuk (45th at outfield). Don’t expect this to continue into 2020.

In San Diego, Fernando Tatis Jr. should easily crack the top-12 at shortstop if he is able to stay healthy enough to play 140 games. And even in what was a disappointing season for third baseman Manny Machado, he still hit 31 home runs with 166 combined runs and RBIs. Franchy Cordero, Luis Urias, and Eric Hosmer all have a shot at cracking top-12 lists next season. In Toronto, full seasons from Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Cavan Biggio should mean more fantasy value from Blue Jay hitters in 2020. Although to be fair, I suggested many of these same players would be able to make a significant impact in last year’s version of this article…

The Angels are another team that could see an increased presence on this list in 2020 – if Jo Adell begins the season in the major leagues and Justin Upton is able to bounce back from an injury shortened 2019 season.

Detroit, Miami and San Francisco, were all teams that saw only one hitter rank and barring an offseason acquisition, they may enter 2020 with limited fantasy upside among hitters as well.

Nick thinks running a Major League or fantasy baseball team is incredibly easy. Until he is handed one of those coveted GM positions, his writing at RotoGraphs will illustrate how to do it properly. Fantasy baseball trade consultations and anything else can be sent to nick.dika@gmail.com or tweeted to @nickdika.

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Brad Lipton
Brad Lipton

This, of course, is an interesting and useful article. Another take on this, which may also be useful, would be to look at this on a per-position basis for a particular team. In other words, don’t look at players, but that position for a team (and then do the analysis again). I think it might also illuminate some opportunities in the future.