Zero to 60


We are now 130 days removed from a regular season game from any of the four major sports leagues.  We've made it over a third of a calendar year spending our television time on news, more news, and King of Queens repeats.  At least I have.  I mean, that's just a good show.  No one, and I mean no one is more ready for sports to return than me.  There have been so many complaints about the look of sports when they return.  The feel of sports.  How will it be with no fans and shortened seasons?  I am not one of those people complaining.  There is no right answer as to how sports should look upon the their return and we should be welcoming them with open arms regardless of how they look.


The first major sports league to officially kick off play will be Major League Baseball this Thursday when "Opening Day" finally arrives.  It will be the first games of a 60 game season.  With the oddities of a 60 game season, comes the oddities of a 60 game fantasy season.  So if you are still going to take the plunge and dive into Fantasy Baseball this summer, how should you approach it?  Who should you target and who should you avoid?  In no particular order, here is a list of things to focus on if you are to join a draft room this week.

  • First thing you need to be completely aware of, is the list of players who have chosen to opt out of the shortened season. They are:
    • David Price, SP, LAD
    • Buster Posey, C, SF
    • Michael Kopech, SP, CHW
    • Jordan Hicks, RP, STL
    • Ian Desmond, 1B/OF, COL
    • Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, WAS
    • Nick Markakis, OF, ATL
    • Felix Hernandez, SP, ATL
    • Joe Ross, SP, WAS
    • Mike Leake, SP, ARI
Clearly your two biggest names are right at the top of the list.  David Price was ready for his first season pitching in the NL West.  And as the number 3 starter on the Dodgers, he would have pressure off him and a chance at a strong season.  Tough blow to not have him as a fantasy pitcher, and also for the Dodgers.

The other big name is Buster Posey. And while Posey is nowhere the player he used to be, getting quality fantasy points out of the catching position can be hard to come by.  Posey sitting makes a shallow position, even shallower.

  • Next you need to know about your high risk players.  That could be because of injuries, or potential opting out of the season.  You need to be the one to decide if the benefit outweighs the risk.  The biggest name in baseball sits at the top...
    • Mike Trout, OF, LAA - Mike Trout has been on the fence about playing this year.  With a pregnant wife at home, Trout is currently partaking in Spring Training 2.0, but remains undecided on if he will play all 60 games.  Regardless, even if he does come back after the birth of his baby, you are looking at him missing 2-3 weeks of playing time because of paternity leave/quarantine.  Trout at 5 this year?  Maybe.  Trout at 1?  Probably not.
    • Blake Snell, SP, TB - Snell is now two years removed from his Cy Young campaign of 2018. Last year he was nowhere near the level he pitched at in 2018, and was shut down for 2 months with elbow and shoulder issues.  Beyond that he required a cortisone shot in his elbow back in February.  It seems as if Blake Snell may be one bad throw away from missing the entire year.
    • Andrew Benintendi, OF, BOS - I have lost count of how many times now I have been all aboard a Benny Breakout.  Then, it just never happens.  Last year, when supposedly the ball was juiced, Benintendi was able to muster only 13 home runs?  THIRTEEN.  That went along with only a measly .266 average.  Where is the value?  Has to be steals right?  Wrong.  In 2018 Benintendi swiped 21 bags.  In 2019?  10.  I am all set waiting for Benny Biceps.  You should be too.
    • Josh Hader, RP, MIL - Josh Hader is nasty, you do not need me to tell you that.  But what I do need to tell you is Corey Knebel is back from Tommy John surgery and ready to deal again.  Knebel was a big part of the Brewers getting within one game of the World Series back in 2018 as he lead the team in saves, and did it with an impressive 40 percent strikeout rate.  Hader may get that ball for the first save opportunity of the year, but it is far from a guarantee that he will get it when it's time for the last.

    • Madison Bumgarner, SP, ARI - Bumgarner's best years are behind him.  Only 30 years old, but 11 years in the league.  And do not forget the amount of miles his arm racked up during the World Series run years.  Now for the first time Bumgarner will toe the rubber for someone besides the San Francisco Giants.  Bumgarner goes from the cavernous pitcher haven of San Francisco, to the launching pad that is Arizona.  Throw in the fact the NL has a DH this year and he easily could be looking at a high 4's ERA and maybe only 5 wins in this 60 game season if you're lucky.
  • The Rocky Mountain High
    • Humidor or no humidor, the ball jumps at Coors Field. They are a fantasy heaven with players like Trevor Story, Nolan Arenado, and Charlie Blackmon. But they can also be a fantasy heaven for opposing players too. Which has always been a target of mine when I do daily fantasy. But with only 60 games this year, opponents that will travel to Colorado can be a target for year long fantasy also. The team that will visit Coors Field the most this summer is San Diego (7 times), making a player like Fernando Tatis Jr. shoot up my draft board. Next is the Giants with 6 games there, but their offense for fantasy purposes will be more of a wait and see approach to see if anyone reaches fantasy relevance. The only other team to visit there at least 4 times is the Dodgers, who bode a lineup fantasy worthy from top to bottom.
  • Sleepers
    • Sam Hilliard - Hilliard made it to Colorado last year for 30 games at the end of the year.  The perfect sample size for this year's 60 game slate.  Hilliard hit .274 with 5 home runs, 18 RBI's and 2 steals.  A 60 game pace of 10 homeruns, 26 RBI's, and 4 steals.  It gives you an idea.  But do not forget that Rocky Mountain High I just talked about.  Hilliard will shuffle around the Rockies outfield this summer, and in my opinion, eventually turn into a poor man's Charlie Blackmon.
    • Corey Seager -  How quickly you all forget. Seager was Rookie of the Year not that long ago.  Then he missed just about all of 2018 with Tommy John surgery and massive hip surgery, leading to a lot of rust last season.  But once the rust shook off, Seager hit almost .280, with 17 taters, and 78 RBI's from May on.  Seager has a smooth swing with a lot of pop.  Now planted in the middle of a stacked Dodgers lineup, and only 60 games he needs to stay healthy for, Seager could find himself as a top fantasy shortstop come season's end.
    • Tommy Edman - Edman was on my radar back in February and remains on it today.  Edman offers speed and versatility with 2B and 3B eligibility, and will probably even scoop up OF eligibility as the season rolls on.  The thing with a player like Edman is, he is not going to hurt you in any specific category.  He should hit over .300, occasionally pop some over the wall, swipe some bases, and have consistent playing time.  Second base is scarce for appropriately ranked talent, and third will have big names that folks will pay too high a price for (Vlad Jr, Kris Bryant).  Edman makes for a much better option later in your draft for either position.

    • Yoenis Cespedes - I think the NL having a DH this year saves any fantasy value Cespedes may have.  He will clearly have rust to shake off after missing most of 2018, and all of 2019, but if he can shake it off sooner rather than later, he will be the perfect sleeper.  If the Mets can keep him out of the field and just DH him, it should keep Cespedes in the lineup for almost all 60 games.  And his power potential still is real.  Before you finish your draft, don't forget to check the board to see if Yo is still out there.
    • Matt Shoemaker - It seems like a better half of a decade since Matt Shoemaker made it through an entire year.  But this year, we do not need him to make it through an entire year.  We need him to make it through 60 games.  And as a pitcher going out there every fifth day, we are asking for a dozen starts.  I like those odds for a guy who very quietly has one of the best splitters in the game.  Couple that with the Blue Jays high scoring offense behind him, and there is a very good shot to win at least half of his starts.  Well worthy for the last pitching position on your fantasy squad.
  • Busts
    • Vlad Guerrero Jr - Just like last year, his name and hype increases his price far too high for me.  Guerrero flew off the shelves last year all for .272 and 15 home runs.  This year he has an ADP of 90, which if we are being honest, is not that rich.  He has been moved over to first which is simply a testament to him not being in shape, regardless how far he can hit a baseball.  I question his ability to stay healthy still, and I think too many people hype him to be the next Trout, Acuna, or Soto, which puts unfair pressure on him.  Unless he truly does fall to at least 90, I would rather find a sure thing for a mere 60 games.
    • Eduardo Escobar - At 30 years old all of a sudden Escobar smashed 35 homers and drove in 118 runs.  That is over 10 home runs more than he had ever hit before, and over 30 RBI's more.  I know playing in Arizona helps, but he made crazy jumps.  Call me skeptical, but I am not buying that he does that again.
    • Yuli Gurriel - I think the absence of fans at games this year will benefit no team more than the Houston Astros.  I am not sure they will hear my boos all the way from my living room here in Massachusetts (but sure will try...).  I would still spend picks on Altuve, Correa, Bregman, Springer, and all the other cheaters big name hitters in Houston, but not Gurriel.  Just like Escobar, Gurriel had a massive jump last year in numbers.  In 2018 he hit just 13 home runs.  Then last year, he fired off 31 home runs.  Smells fishy.  I will leave him on the waiver wire and play the wait and see card.

Beyond all that information, have fun with it.  Be happy sports are back and just hope they stay back.  Don't overthink it and remember you're only asking 60 games of these guys this year, not 162.  So get yourself the most talent you can and Play Ball!

Follow Ryan on Twitter @BesseBoy

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Zero to 60
Zero to 60
Boston Sports Syndicate
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