Fantasy Baseball 2020: Players gaining fantasy value for opening day

David Price (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
David Price (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

There are some players who are seeing an increase in their fantasy baseball value due to other players opting out of playing.

Baseball is scheduled to start on July 23 for a 60-game season. However, the spikes in COVID-19 in certain states have brought on some concern that the season may be cut short. As a result of some players testing positive, other players have decided to opt-out of playing this season. Their replacements are seeing an increase in their fantasy baseball value for this year.

Most of the players that have opted out aren’t going to move the fantasy needle, but there are a couple of fantasy-relevant players that will change their team’s outlook. There are eight players who have opted out of playing. They are Mike Leake, Tyson Ross (free agent), Joe Ross, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, Felix Hernandez, David Price and Nick Markakis.

Some teams are in better shape in replacing those players than others. I will be talking about five of the players that opted out, leaving out Leake and both Ross’s. For Leake, the Diamondbacks have a deep enough rotation that his absence won’t hurt. T. Ross is a free agent, so his decision not to play has no impact on any team. J. Ross wasn’t that widely owned in leagues to begin with so his replacement doesn’t matter.

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With that out of the way, let’s get into those replacement players.

Austin Riley will see a huge uptick in his fantasy value. If Markakis was set to play, he would have been in left field and Marcell Ozuna as the DH. Now, Riley will take over the DH spot and Ozuna moves over to left field.

The sophomore hitter showed some power last year with 18 home runs in 274 at-bats. He should still hit for power but the batting average is going to hurt, especially in the shortened season. However, consistent at-bats should help his performance.

Sticking with Atlanta, Hernandez gives up his rotation spot to Kyle Wright this season. The veteran pitcher may not pitch again, but that’s a topic for another day. Wright has had limited experience at the big-league level. In 25.2 innings, he’s allowed 22 runs over 28 hits and 19 walks. Pitching against both the NL and AL East may not help his development. But, in a limited season, Wright will have roughly 12 starts so his exposure won’t be as great as compared to a regular season.

Zimmerman opting out brings clarity to Howie Kendrick and Eric Thames. Zimmerman would have played first base, splitting time with the other two. Now, Kendrick will be the primary DH and Thames will be at first base. Though, Thames will still split time at first base when a left-handed pitcher is on the mound. Both players should be widely owned in fantasy baseball leagues. The Nationals offense is one of the best in the league.

Even after losing Hyun-Jin Ryu, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda over the last couple of years, the Dodgers still have a deep rotation. Price opting out makes it a bit tougher for the Dodgers but they have a viable No. 5 starter. The rotation is Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, Alex Wood and Ross Stripling. Over the last two seasons, Stripling had a 3.22 ERA and 229 strikeouts over 212.2 innings. If you are looking for a bench pitcher or a back-end arm in NL-only leagues, Stripling is a good option.

Desmond is still a productive fantasy asset, mostly because of his power numbers. According to Roster Resource, his replacement in left field is Sam Hilliard. He hit .273 with seven homers in 77 at-bats. However, I think Raimel Tapia will get some playing time as well. In 426 at-bats, he hit .275 with nine homers. He also had nine steals. Speed is at an all-time premium, so Tapia’s speed could push him up a bit. Any batter hitting at Coors Field gets a boost but having just 30 games there may not be enough. I like Tapia over Hilliard this season.

Next. 10 veteran pitchers who can be difference makers in 2020. dark

With two weeks left until Opening Day, we may see more players opting out of playing. The big one still undecided is Mike Trout. His absence will have a huge impact on both real and fantasy baseball. This is bigger than the game of baseball, but this is where we are right now.