BATTERS: 2020 End-gamers

Let's continue our end-game theme by moving on to hitters who could provide significant value to you late in your drafts or for a token bid.

There is a lot of profit to be found in end-game hitting speculations, especially if you target those with emerging or hidden skills.

Keeping in mind that an end-game target in one league might require a heavy investment in another, here we'll present a large cross-section of guys in each league who could generate a lot of profit for you in 2020.

As a reminder, you can find an exhaustive list of our preseason batting targets at the following links:

Let's identify potential end-game targets by looking at guys who returned an R$ of $5 or less in 2019 but had a 40+ BPV:

40+ BPV, <$5, 2019*

Name           Lg  Position     bb%  ct%  Eye   HctX  xPX  Spd  EV    LA    5x5  BPV
=============  ==  ===========  ===  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===
Hilliard, S    NL           CF  10%  70%  0.39    90  167  123  90.8   8.4   $1   99
Hays, A        AL           CF   9%  81%  0.54    86  107  115  89.8  11.5   $1   89                      
Murphy, S      AL            C  10%  70%  0.38    85   99   86  90.7   7.3  -$2   79
Ford, M        AL        1B/DH  10%  80%  0.61   114  135   68  91.9  15.6   $3   78
Diaz, A        AL  SS/3B/1B/2B  11%  87%  0.93    97   70  110  88.3  12.2   $5   76
Wade, L        AL           CF  16%  84%  1.22   111   96  127  88.7  11.6  -$3   73
Happ, I        NL           LF  10%  72%  0.38    86  102  107  89.3  15.5   $3   68
Smith, W       NL            C   9%  69%  0.35   107  168   85  89.5  23.7   $5   64
Miller, B      NL           3B   9%  71%  0.33   103  110  110  91.6  16.8   $3   64
McGuire, R     AL            C   7%  81%  0.39    89   85   96  86.0  13.8   $0   64
Bruce, J       NL           LF   6%  74%  0.23   110  161   60  90.0  22.2   $5   54
Tucker, K      AL           LF   6%  70%  0.20   114  176  101  92.0  16.3   $1   54
Vargas, I      NL           2B   4%  88%  0.38   104   60  116  86.8   3.0   $2   52
Lewis, K       AL           RF   4%  59%  0.10    67  144  107  90.3  10.4  -$1   52
Kelly, C       NL            C  13%  75%  0.61   126  168   75  89.0  14.3   $5   51
McCutchen, A   NL           RF  16%  75%  0.78    95  101   98  90.6  12.7   $4   51
Astudillo, W   AL            C   2%  96%  0.63   100   55   68  85.8  15.7   $1   51
Solak, N       AL           3B  11%  75%  0.52    75   64  135  88.3   6.3   $2   50
Healy, R       AL           3B   7%  76%  0.33    89  116   88  89.7  16.7   $0   50
Smith, D       NL        1B/LF  10%  75%  0.43    96   89   78  88.0  14.8   $5   48
Dickerson, A   NL           LF   7%  76%  0.31   107  108  114  89.9  16.3   $3   47
Osuna, J       NL        1B/RF   6%  82%  0.38    96   95   77  89.2   9.6   $4   46
Dietrich, D    NL        2B/1B   9%  71%  0.38    95  127   96  86.9  20.7   $1   46
Franco, M      AL           3B   8%  84%  0.59    97   78   75  89.0  14.9   $4   45
Duvall, A      NL           LF   5%  68%  0.18   105  182  107  91.0  26.2   $1   45
Vogt, S        NL            C   7%  74%  0.30   106  136   77  89.8  22.4   $5   44
Panik, J       AL           2B   9%  89%  0.91   114   93   95  86.3  12.3   $3   43
Hoerner, N     NL           SS   4%  86%  0.27    79   48  133  85.6   3.9   $0   43
Adrianza, E    AL     3B/SS/1B   9%  80%  0.50    91   66  151  85.5  13.6   $2   42
Kemp, A        AL        2B/LF   8%  81%  0.49    99  110  120  84.3  13.0   $0   42
Inciarte, E    NL           CF  11%  79%  0.63    90   67  114  81.8   9.3   $3   41
Joyce, M       NL           LF  16%  77%  0.84   109   95   95  87.3  16.7   $4   40
*min 50 AB

Let's take a closer look at some of the more intriguing guys in the above group, along with some others who could provide nice profit to you in 2020.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Willians Astudillo (C, MIN) was a novelty pick in 2019 drafts after the elite contact rate and high BA he posted during his 2018 debut. Hamstring and oblique injuries contributed to a down 2019 season. However, his contact rate remained elite (96% ct%), and he should qualify again at multiple positions once the season goes along. His BA upside keeps him a great stash as your second catcher.

Gregory Bird (1B, TEX) is fighting for an everyday role in the TEX lineup this spring. Injuries have derailed his career, but when healthy, Bird has offered upper-tier power skills throughout his career. He also draws walks at a high rate.

Jeimer Candelario (3B/1B, DET) hasn't looked very good this spring, which is a problem considering he didn't offer much with DET when given an opportunity in 2019. Still, Candelario's approach (12% bb%, 74% ct%, 0.55 Eye) and pop (107 HctX, 100 xPX) both jumped in the second half. And he's still young enough (26) to hope for a sustained step forward.

Mike Ford (1B, NYY) is one of the better end-game power speculations in the game. He's another bat that improved as the 2019 season went along. In fact, his skills were elite (94 BPV). He paired strong plate skills (7% bb%, 84% ct%, 0.50 Eye) with an excellent power foundation (120 HctX, 141 xPX). He remains a bargain at his 649 ADP.

Jake Fraley (CF, SEA) carries some good multi-category potential that many owners are overlooking (563 ADP). The murky injury outlook of Mitch Haniger (RF, SEA) could open the door for steady playing time for Fraley. While he probably won't provide steady power, he has the potential to deliver 20+ SB if given regular playing time.

Clint Frazier (RF, NYY) is a former top prospect that has entered the post-hype phase of his career. He isn't being drafted as someone with a high pedigree (524 ADP). He still owns an impactful combination of power and speed, but shaky defense and holes in his swing haven't given him the extended opportunity to show them off. Still, he's an undervalued talent worth taking a flyer on.

JaCoby Jones (CF, DET) limped to the finish in 2019, at least on the surface (.197 BA in 2H). But that mark hid some intriguing gains. His plate discipline improved across-the-board (10% bb%, 72% ct%, 0.43 Eye in 2H). Same for his speed skills (130 Spd). He was victimized by an 18% h% in July. He produced at a very nice clip in May, June, and August (.838, .898, 1.016 OPS). He's another very intriguing end-game pick (587 ADP).

Jordan Luplow (RF, CLE) was one of the game's most productive hitters against lefties in 2019. He had an elite 1.181 OPS in 128 AB against them. And he didn't sell out his plate approach to get there (17% bb%, 75% ct%, 0.81 Eye vL). He just couldn't do much against RHers (.573 OPS vR). However, he was fantastic against all pitchers in September: 1.277 OPS, 1.38 Eye, 203 xPX and 181 BPV in 33 AB. And his overall Statcast metrics support further growth (89.3 mph exit velo, 15.7 degree launch angle). Those flashes make him a premium end-game target (659 ADP) in 2020 drafts.

Brett Phillips (CF, KC) is another post-hype bat that carries some multi-category potential. Underneath the ugly .508 OPS he put up in 65 AB during 2019 was a high walk rate (13% bb%), hidden power (132 xPX), and sneaky speed (123 RSpd). His long history of poor contact will make him a BA drain, but his power/speed combination should keep him on your radar.

Christin Stewart (LF, DET) struggled to display the thump in his bat during his extended look in the majors in 2019. We have to blame the mid-season concussion he suffered for some of it. His power skills started to manifest late in the season (119 xPX), but he opened up his swing a lot in the process (5% bb%, 69% ct%, 0.17 Eye in 2H). Stewart is a solid $1 dart throw in spite of these warts, and he's at the right age (26) to take another step forward.

Myles Straw (SS, HOU) also carries some hidden upside. He showed really good plate discipline in his first extended look with HOU in 2019 (15% bb%, 78% ct%, 0.79 Eye). He also displayed elite speed (183 Spd). Pitchers can knock the bat out of his hands (85 HctX, 60 xPX), but his hidden SB potential makes him worthy of a stash in very deep leagues.

Matt Thaiss (3B, LAA) owns some good raw power and also has shown the ability to draw walks at a high rate. That profile was hidden by his underwhelming results during his MLB debut in 2019 (.211 BA, .714 OPS in 147 AB). Take the chance to stash him for nothing (737 ADP).

LaMonte Wade (CF, MIN) isn't expected to get at-bats in the MIN lineup to start the season, which is why he's going undrafted in most leagues (751 ADP). But Wade owns some unique skills that should help him carve out a role later in the season. For one, his plate skills are fantastic (16% bb%, 84% ct%, 1.22 Eye). His 20% h% seemed fluky and was the real reason for his sub-.200 BA with MIN in 2019. His legs also have the potential to add value as well (127 Spd).

Mike Zunino (C, TAM) worked on his swing in the offseason to try to limit the high rate of strikeouts that have held him back during his career. The market has soured on him significantly (479 ADP). That said, he still possesses an excellent pedigree (third overall pick in 2012 draft), and we know that catchers tend to mature later than other position players. And he did make gains with his contact early in 2019 before they regressed later in the season. His upside and current market value makes him worth a look in your end game.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Jesus Aguilar (1B, MIA) took a big step backwards in 2019. That slide has made him available in many leagues (384 ADP). That said, his plate approach actually improved (12% bb%, 74% ct%, 0.53 Eye). His decline in power skills started to revert itself late in the season (117 xPX in 2H), a period in which he made a lot of hard contact (120 HctX). His primary Statcast metrics were above-average as well (89.3 mph exit velo, 13.8 degree launch angle). There's some good profit potential here.

Austin Dean (LF, STL) quietly posted some really intriguing skills in a small sample size during the second half of 2019: 133 HctX, 143 xPX in 92 AB. A low 9.1 degree launch angle kept that upside hidden. There's not a lot of upside here, but he's worth watching in the event he can carve out a semi-regular role in 2020.

Isan Diaz (2B, MIA) hurt any roster he was on during 2019. He had an ugly .173 BA and .566 OPS in 179 AB with MIA. But he showed some good power (106 xPX) and speed (117 Spd), especially in September (135 xPX, 131 Spd). At age 24, Diaz is now a post-hype bat that can give you some nice profit (594 ADP).

Derek Dietrich (2B/1B, CIN) looked like he was on his way to a career year in 2019 (18 HR in 180 AB in 1H). That power output was backed by a 149 xPX too. And his plate skills were solid (10% bb%, 74% ct%, 0.45 Eye). Everything fall apart for him after that though. Nevertheless, his multi-position qualification and potential to provide short doses of production make him worth a look in deep NL-only leagues.

Wilmer Flores (2B, SF) is someone that owners are tired of speculating on, and for good reason. His good stretches have been accompanied by injuries and a history of marginal stats against RHers. Before you write him off though, check out what he did in the second half of 2019: .964 OPS, 88% ct%, 116 HctX, 111 xPX in 137 AB. And at age 28, he's younger than it might seem because he broke into the majors at such a young age. He's an excellent speculation for your MI slot in many leagues.

Ty France (3B/2B, SD) exploded in the hitter-friendly PCL in 2019. After struggling to convert those results at the major league level, he started to do so in September (.907 OPS in 54 AB). That power surge was backed by a 124 xPX. France also qualifies at both 3B and 2B in most leagues. He's another bat that is being overlooked (666 ADP).

Trent Grisham (CF, SD) delivered homers and steals in the high minors in 2019 but struggled during his MLB debut that season. At age 23, he has time to translate his upside into MLB results. He knows how to draw walks too. Don't give up on him.

Jacob Lamb (3B/1B, ARI) now is available very late or as a $1 pick in many leagues (588 ADP). His 2019 season was derailed by a quad issue. When he got healthy in the second half, his contact rate surged (72% ct%) and his power remained elite (169 xPX). We know he can't hit lefties, but we can't dismiss the combination of walks and power that he owns against righties.

Brandon Nimmo (CF, NYM) was sidelined for a few months in 2019 due to a neck issue, an issue that zapped his value. He has received positive reports from scouts this spring, and he has the foundation to provide value in multiple categories due to his high walk rate (18% bb%) and history of strong power/speed skills. Nimmo is a good value play at his 367 ADP.

Tyler O'Neill (LF, STL) displayed some really good power skills during his MLB debut in 2018 (169 xPX in 130 AB). Those skills took a tumble in 2019 (108 xPX). Nonetheless, the huge holes in his swing in 2018 (56% ct%) closed down a bit (62% ct%). His Statcast metrics give him the approach to rediscover his power (89.2 mph exit velo, 19.7 degree launch angle).

Roman Quinn (CF, PHI) currently has a 655 ADP, an indication that he isn't being drafted in most leagues. But there's a pretty easy 30 SB here if he can get even semi-regular at-bats in the PHI lineup. Doing so will require him to stay healthy, which has been a struggle for him throughout his career.

Josh Rojas (LF, ARI) was one of the biggest pop-up prospects in the minors during 2019. While he didn't do much after he got to the majors (.217 BA, 2 HR, 4 SB in 138 AB), his 139 xPX points to some hidden power upside, especially if he can raise his 10.3 degree launch angle.

Dominic Smith (1B/LF, NYM) is entering the post-hype phase of his career. He struggled with a foot injury in 2019. But when he did play, he produced an .881 OPS and showed much better plate skills (10% bb%, 75% ct%, 0.43 Eye) than he did in 2018 (3% bb%, 67% ct%, 0.09 Eye). He's another promising bat that owns some really good profit potential at his 586 ADP.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.