After being jilted in 2019, fantasy baseball players may stay away from their former favorite breakout candidates and sleepers. However, writing off a player because you held high expectations isn't always fair.
Don't avoid going after a name you liked last year; revisiting is actually the perfect time to buy, especially because he'll probably cost less. For some duds, their own late-season performance has righted their early wrongs. After a rough first half, Jack Flaherty is pitching literally like Cy Young. Jose Ramirez's hot stretch before his injured-list trip has pushed him back up close to his first- or second-round 2019 price. Aaron Judge already has regained trust after missing time, as well.
I'm going to need to see what happens in the postseason, winter and/or spring training before going in on these 2019 expensive busts, among others:
• Boston Red Sox SP Chris Sale (elbow inflammation)
• Cleveland Indians SP Corey Kluber (oblique)
• Tampa Bay Rays SP Blake Snell (elbow)
• Colorado Rockies SP German Marquez (right arm inflammation)
• Cleveland Indians SP Carlos Carrasco (continued recovery from leukemia)
Keep an eye on other reasons or excuses for struggles that'll be released this offseason and in spring training. Such stories may offer context and give us reason to re-invest in disappointing names. Now, let me talk myself back into some hyped players from last year:
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays/Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox/Khris Davis, OF, Oakland Athletics/Giancarlo Stanton, OF, New York Yankees: They may all fall farther than expected, to varying stages, because they don't steal bases and fell short with power or health. If you target stolen bases early, they're among the best early-ish homer bargains to pair with. Vladito and Jimenez were pushed up boards but fell a bit short of expectations. However, Guerrero is focusing on a weight-training program for the first time this offseason; adding strength to his contact skills could be deadly. Jimenez is hitting .293 with 14 homers in the second half, and while a 30-homer rookie typically is a great sell the following season, he may slip through the cracks. Davis' power dip is concerning, but that looks like injuries are to blame. If the soon-to-be 32-year-old is healthy in March, I'll buy back in. Stanton's discount may not be as big, but I'm willing to take the chance if he falls to, say, Pick 60.
Trevor Bauer, SP, Cincinnati Reds: That 6.39 ERA since the trade hides a 68:19 K:BB. I'm envisioning what he could do during a full season with Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson, who brought out the best in Luis Castillo, fixed Sonny Gray and earned past praise from Bauer himself.
Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston Red Sox: After his price was pushed up in many of my drafts last season, I'm ready to buy againif others aren't going to care. That's likely, considering he didn't reach 20 homers in the Year of the Homer. This year, he increased his fly-ball rate (40.8%) but also hit more infield flies (10.3%). He'll still be just 25 years old to start 2020, I still believe he has another level of power. We saw a similar poor season from another talented batter who struggled with launch angle, Max Kepler, in 2018 before his loud breakthrough this season. I can foresee Benintendi going down a similar path if he can recapture his top prospect pedigree. Getting a potential 20-homer, 20-steal, .280 bat in Boston's offense after Pick 100 is a fun thought.
Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros/Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers: Two middle infielders who don't steal bases and depend a little on volume (Seager, more so): They're going to be ignored, compared to others in the increasingly deep pool of elite middle infielders. But Correa turned 25 mere days ago. Seager will be just 26 in April. Considering his 21 homers in just 75 games and his spot in this Astros offense, Correa is worth it as his discount, and Seager is another potential four-category stud with a favorable run-scoring and -plating environment.
Lorenzo Cain, OF, Milwaukee Brewers: He's turning 34 in April, but at some point while you're picking, his 15-to-20 steals atop a staunch Milwaukee lineup will call for our attention. I'd rather have ...
Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins: Yup. Still in. Perhaps he's angered enough people that we can price him with an injury stint built in, and maybe I can finally cash in on that top-end speed finally coming through for a full year.
Jose Leclerc, RP, Texas Rangers: Though Emmanuel Clase looks like a potential competitor for saves, Leclerc rebounded after fixing his mechanics early in the year, and manager Chris Woodward recently called him the clubhouse leader for closing to start 2020.
Mitch Haniger, OF, Seattle Mariners: Though he came back to earth after 2018, a ruptured testicle will slow anyone's season. I still believe he's more of a "really good at everything" type of hitter than "being stellar in one category," but he did slug 15 homers in just 246 at-bats around the rest of his struggles. He's going to be a ludicrous bargain in many drafts.
Andrew Heaney, SP, Los Angeles Angels: Despite his 4.91 ERA, Heaney may still get plenty of attention due to the 11.14 K/9 and 2.83 BB/9 that lie beneath. He's one of the prime examples of a highly skilled arm done in by the 2019 homer binge. Maybe the elbow and shoulder issues that shortened his season will hang in the front of their minds.
Joe Musgrove, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates: I can't quit that command (4.03 K/BB this year). Miles Mikolas, SP, St. Louis Cardinals: He's not Kyle Hendricks yet, but if I landed four high-strikeout starters ahead of him in a mixed league, I'd take the chance.
Jurickson Profar, 1B/2B/3B/SS, Oakland Athletics: Will he actually have a job? I don't know. The pendulum will likely dip back to the bargain side, however, and I'll take a chance he violently bounces back from the league's lowest BABIP (.260 through Wednesday).
Travis Shaw, 2B/3B, Milwaukee Brewers: I ... guess I still believe in the 30-homer upside if he can land in the right spot?
Nick Pivetta, SP, Philadel-- nah, I'm good.