We’re in the midst of MLB spring training, meaning baseball season is right around the corner. That means it’s time to start thinking about fantasy baseball in 2020. Before you start drafting your team, you should have your plans mapped out. Here are our picks for the top 15 players you should draft in your 2020 fantasy baseball league.
1. Mike Trout, Angels (OF)
It feels like we have the same old argument every year when it comes to the first overall pick. 2017 was Mookie Betts or Trout, 2018 was Jose Altuve or Trout, 2019 was Jose Ramirez or Trout, and this year is Ronald Acuña Jr. or Trout. The competition changes every year, but Mike Trout remains consistent.
Coming off yet another American League MVP season, Trout is poised for success in 2020. As we know, Trout has some of the best offensive tools in the league. In addition, the Angels added Anthony Rendon to their lineup. Having this new on-base threat in the lineup gives Trout more opportunities for even more RBIs. Put simply, Trout is the best player in the MLB and should be an easy choice.
2. Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves (OF)
That being said, Ronald Acuña Jr. certainly has an argument. In terms of overall tools, Acuña is quite similar to Trout. However, Acuña has the added benefit of a stronger lineup around him. This will give him plenty of opportunities to drive in his teammates for RBIs. Add this on top of his nearly 40 steal, 40 homer season in 2019, and Acuña will be a force to be reckoned with in 2020.
3. Cody Bellinger, Dodgers (1B, OF)
Cody Bellinger really couldn’t have asked for a much better 2019 season. Coming off a relatively down year in 2018, he rebounded in 2019, winning the National League MVP. He kind of started to slow down at the end of the season however, pushing him down to number 3 in our rankings.
4. Christian Yelich, Brewers (OF)
Yelich has absolutely broken out in the past two seasons, winning the 2018 National League MVP, and being the MVP runner-up in 2019. These performances earned Yelich a hefty contract extension recently. His main reason for not winning MVP last year was due to an injury late in the season. Because of this injury, there is some slight risk for regression.
5. Mookie Betts, Dodgers (OF)
Freshly acquired Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts comes in at number 5. This past offseason, Betts was traded from a potent Red Sox lineup, to a possibly even more potent Dodgers lineup. Betts regressed slightly from his 2018 MVP season. However, he is still one of the most talented players in the league. Being on a better team will only make his fantasy production that much better.
6. Francisco Lindor, Indians (SS)
Francisco Lindor spent this past offseason in a bit of uncertainty. His name was often thrown around in trade rumors. Despite the rumors, Cleveland ultimately decided to stick with their superstar shortstop. Depending on the Indians’ performance in 2020, they could still opt to trade Lindor at the deadline. Because of this, there is some risk of Lindor having to play with this distraction looming over him, which could affect his performance.
7. Gerrit Cole, Yankees (SP)
Cole’s performance in 2019 certainly warrants our top pitcher spot on the list. Now a very wealthy member of the Yankees, Cole projects to be just as dominant as he was in Houston last season. Along with a dominant Yankees lineup, Cole will definitely be a great source of strikeouts and wins throughout the 2020 season.
8. Jacob DeGrom, Mets (SP)
It was a hard decision to pick between crosstown rivals Gerrit Cole and Jacob DeGrom for the top pitcher spot. DeGrom is a very close second to Cole, so it is ultimately up to your preference. What Gerrit Cole has in run-support, DeGrom has in sheer pitching talent. DeGrom’s minuscule ERA and high strikeout rate will be enough to anchor any fantasy rotation.
9. Trevor Story, Rockies (SS)
There is heavy debate as to whether or not Story’s talent is influenced by playing at Coors Field. Playing at a high altitude makes it an extremely hitter-friendly atmosphere. Fortunately, we don’t really care about this in fantasy baseball. Story will put up insane fantasy stats, Coors-boosted or not. Combining great home run power with some sneaky-good base stealing abilities, Story will be a hot commodity this fantasy season.
10. Trea Turner, Nationals (SS)
2019 World Series champion Trea Turner should also garner significant attention. His skill set is fairly similar to that of Story, just with more speed and less power. On top of this, Turner doesn’t get the benefit of Coors Field. In addition, a lot of Turner’s production will depend on where manager Dave Martinez slots him in the lineup. He has been leading off throughout spring training, but they could end up having Victor Robles lead off when the season starts. If they stick with Turner leading off, expect lots of plate appearances and lots of production.
11. Max Scherzer, Nationals (SP)
Trea Turner’s teammate, Max Scherzer, comes in as the next pitcher on our list. Since signing with the Nationals back in 2015, Mad Max has been the definition of consistent. He has been totally dominant and relatively durable the past few years. There is no reason to expect any sort of regression from him coming into the 2020 season. Expect big things from Scherzer in 2020, likely with another top 5 Cy Young finish.
12. Nolan Arenado, Rockies (3B)
Joining his teammate Trevor Story is another offensive (and defensive) powerhouse in Nolan Arenado. Arenado has been the leader of the Rockies the past few years. The team under-performed expectations in 2019. Because of this, his requests to Rockies ownership were quite clear: either build a contending roster or trade me. Unfortunately, the Rockies really decided to do neither of these, pissing off Arenado in the process.
This kind of distraction could lead to volatility in his performance, similar to Francisco Lindor. If Arenado performs anywhere close to what he is known for, he will be a top player in the league.
13. Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres (SS)
This could be a bold prediction for the young Padres shortstop. Tatis was only able to play in 84 games in 2019 due to an injury. Despite this, what we saw from him in that time was absolutely electric. Putting up 4.2 bWAR in that short of a time frame is amazing. Tatis is an overall offensive dynamo. He has speed, power, contact ability, you name it. There is an obvious risk of heavy regression from a 21-year-old player. However, if he can live up to the potential he showed, he could be an amazing pickup for your fantasy squad.
14. Justin Verlander, Astros (SP)
It feels weird ranking a reigning Cy Young winner this low. Realistically, Verlander has showed absolutely no sign of regressing this late in his career. In an almost Tom Brady-esque fashion, 37-year-old Verlander even seems to improve each year. However, every athlete eventually loses to Father Time. I still believe he will still be a top pitcher in baseball, but not quite on par with last season. This regression, on top of the likely tumultuous season for the Astros, could make Verlander a slightly risky pick.
15. Juan Soto, Nationals (OF)
The young right fielder for the Nationals truly shined on the biggest of stages in the 2019 World Series. The 21-year-old Soto had already shown his incredible offensive abilities at such a young age. He has not even entered the prime years of his career yet. Because of this, I project even more improvement from Soto coming into the 2020 season. Juan Soto should be a hot commodity in this year’s fantasy draft.
Since the top 15 list did not cover every position, we are including a lineup of who we predict to be the best player at each position.
C: J.T. Realmuto, Phillies
1B: Cody Bellinger, Dodgers
2B: Gleyber Torres, Yankees
3B: Nolan Arenado, Rockies
SS: Francisco Lindor, Indians
OF: Mike Trout, Angels
OF: Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves
OF: Christian Yelich, Brewers
DH/Util: Mookie Betts, Dodgers
SP: Gerrit Cole, Yankees
RP: Josh Hader, Brewers