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Fantasy baseball 2020 keeper league primer

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70 players to target in different formats

Getty Images/USA Today/Pete Rogers Illustrations

The day after the regular season ends and the day before the playoffs begin is a day of reflection. There is no new information to process. I started thinking about my potential 2020 keepers back in April if I’m being completely honest. But if you’ve been out of contention in your league and the trade deadline had passed, you should have been stockpiling potential keepers for next year. This could mean injured stars like Andrew McCutchen or potential stud prospects like Luis Robert.

I play in a number of leagues that range from keeping only three players to keeping a roster of 50 (referred to as dynasty leagues). I also play in leagues in which the cost to keep your player depends on the round you drafted him or the auction value (typically at escalating costs). I will go through all of these types of formats.

Also check out the discussion of these keepers in episode 14 of the Double Switch Podcast.

Shallow Keeper Leagues (no cost to keep)

These leagues typically you would be able to keep anywhere from 2-5 players. Since they are either your last round picks or everyone uses the maximum keepers, there really isn’t a cost to consider. You just want to keep your best players. The main piece of advice I have in these formats—and it is amplified the fewer the teams in your league—is that you want to keep your best players. This seems obvious, but let me expand. In other formats, keeping Verlander over Flaherty or Clevinger may be a tough decision. But in these leagues, there is a lot of turnover. If you are a good player, you will constantly be faced with roster crunches at the end of the season. So, I typically ignore age—keep Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer over the younger kids in the next tier. I’m not throwing back Nolan Arenado or Anthony Rendon in favor of Carlos Correa.

In these formats, you still should not see Trout, Yelich, or Acuña dropped, but I was able to snag Ketel Marte and Starling Marte in a league where you can keep three players. I already have Acuña, Tatis Jr., and Story as my likely keepers, but they may be decent trade bait for draft picks before the season starts.

Mid-sized Keeper Leagues (no cost to keep)

These leagues you can keep 6-15 players and depending on your current keepers, number of keepers and window of competitiveness, you may dip into the prospect pool. In these leagues, I always take a look to see if pitchers that have been shut down or have no more starts have been dropped foolishly. The players I would be looking for in these leagues are the injured semi-studs and the prospects that could be the next wave of Pete Alonso and Fernando Tatis Jr. entering next year. I’m not going to waste time talking about Luis Robert, Jo Adell or, in most leagues, Casey Mize. They are likely rostered in these formats. Likewise, Gavin Lux and Kyle Tucker are probably rostered—if not, go grab them. To a lesser extent, you’ll want to take a flier on Nico Hoerner if you can. Also, please double check to see if Chris Paddack was dropped. Even give Zac Gallen a search. Both are likely top-30 pitchers entering 2020. Also check on:

  1. Corey Kluber
  2. Dylan Cease
  3. Dustin May
  4. Frankie Montas
  5. Michael Kopech
  6. Julio Urias
  7. Garrett Hampson
  8. David Dahl
  9. Dinelson Lamet
  10. Andrew Heaney
  11. Kyle Lewis
  12. Jesus Luzardo

Aside from Kluber, this is basically a sleeper list heading into next year and if you are able to keep these players cheaply if they are plucked off waivers, then they could likely be steals come March.

Typically, these formats value prospects that are expected to debut next year. The following players I’d consider adding as they could gain considerable steam in the next several months – like Tatis, Alonso, and Paddack from this year. The Vlad Jr. and Eloy hype this year will likely be on par with the Adell and Robert hype out of the gates this offseason.

  1. Deivi Garcia
  2. Matt Manning
  3. Nate Pearson
  4. Dylan Carlson
  5. Mackenzie Gore
  6. Brendan Rodgers
  7. Alex Kirilloff
  8. Drew Waters
  9. Cristian Pache
  10. Jorge Mateo
  11. Brusdar Graterol
  12. Seth Beer
  13. Vidal Brujan
  14. Ian Anderson
  15. AJ Puk
  16. Forrest Whitley
  17. Joey Bart
  18. Carter Kieboom

A caveat here is that we saw Acuña and Soto rise meteorically through the minors. I missed on them in some formats because I was not expecting this ascension. Players that you may want to roster just in case they skyrocket through the minors or have an amazing AFL. These players have such a high ceiling that they could be justified to roster:

  1. Wander Franco
  2. Luis Patino
  3. Jarred Kelenic

It pains me to include him here, but I have to: Byron Buxton.

Deep Keeper Leagues or Dynasty Formats

Players that are likely owned but would be worthwhile to check on would be:

  1. Lance McCullers
  2. Andrew McCutchen
  3. Yoenis Cespedes (I know…)
  4. Jameson Taillon (he could be justified in the mid-sized keepers too)
  5. Bradley Zimmer
  6. Gregory Polanco
  7. Domingo Santana
  8. Aaron Hicks
  9. Ian Happ
  10. Clint Frazier
  11. Taijuan Walker
  12. Michael Pineda

Typically, top-100 prospects are owned, however, some of the sneakier prospects I had been able to nab that could make some headway over the offseason:

  1. Cristian Javier – number one with a bullet.
  2. Spencer Howard, Philadelphia
  3. Anthony Kay, Toronto
  4. Will Craig, Pittsburgh
  5. Malcolm Nunez, St. Louis
  6. Luis Santana, Houston
  7. Luis Gil, New York Yankees
  8. Tarik Skubal, Detroit
  9. Damon Jones, Philadelphia
  10. Jordan Holloway, Florida
  11. Seth Corry, San Francisco
  12. Bryan Abreu, Houston
  13. Ethan Hankins, Cleveland
  14. Mitch White, Los Angeles
  15. LJ Newsome, Seattle
  16. Scott Moss, Cleveland
  17. Cory Abbott, Chicago Cubs
  18. Kris Bubic, Kansas City
  19. Daniel Lynch, Kansas City
  20. Joe Ryan, Tampa Bay
  21. Taylor Widener, Arizona (don’t give up)
  22. Jose De Leon, Tampa Bay (don’t give up)
  23. Bryce Wilson, Atlanta (don’t give up)
  24. Kyle Wright, Atlanta (don’t give up)
  25. Darwinzon Hernandez, Boston (don’t give up)