In an effort to recap players with fantasy interest on each team, along with an eye on their future, Fantasy Alarm will cover each division in the Wraparound with fantasy tidbits on players from each team along with some to track as sleepers as 2020 preparation begins. Starting with this column on the American League East.
Bad teams can provide fantasy goodness to owners. However, Baltimore’s pitching enhanced much of its divisional rivals' surge in offense, especially Gleyber Torres who feasted on O's pitching all year. Dylan Bundy did not turn the corner and most Orioles starters seem to benefit after leaving the organization, except for Andrew Cashner who cratered in Boston. On offense, some bright spots emerged along with a rebound by Trey Mancini . So there’s some hope, but this rebuild could take some time in a competitive division.
Trey Mancini - Only player in the American League with at least 35 home runs and 38 doubles in 2019 (Trevor Story did it in the NL for Colorado). Mancini led the Orioles in doubles, home runs, RBI (98), on-base percentage (.364), slugging (.535), on-base plus slugging (.899) and total bases (322). He also set career highs in hits (175), walks (63) and runs (106). Only Jorge Soler (31) hit more home runs in the AL than Mancini (28) on fastballs.
John Means - Induced 113 swings and misses with his change-up. Finished with a 3.60 ERA lowest among rookie starters with at least 25 starts this season.
Jonathan Villar - Finished third in the majors with 40 stolen bases. Set career bests in games (162), hits (176), runs (111), triples (5), home runs (24) and RBI (73). Recorded the first 20-plus home run and 40-plus stolen base season since Carlos Gómez in 2013. Villar hit .291 with 56 runs and 32 RBI in 73 games after the All-Star break.
Hunter Harvey - Although he only worked 6.1 innings with the Orioles, Harvey finished with 11 strikeouts of the 19 batters he retired. Owned a 2.81 ERA across 15 relief appearances in Double and Triple-A with 33 strikeouts. Save speculators will be stashing Harvey late in drafts.
Mychal Givens - One of 11 players in the majors with at least 10 saves and seven holds this year, which helped no one. Had a 2.50 ERA in Orioles wins but a 7.33 ERA in their losses. Let someone else take him and target Harvey.
Dylan Bundy - Just like Givens above but in regards to home runs. If there’s a new baseball next year, buy Bundy: Career in starts without giving up a home run (21-9, 1.90 ERA in 255.1 IP), in games giving up at least one home run (17-36, 6.64 ERA, 359 IP).
Boston Red Sox
Although the defending champions did not return to the playoffs, fantasy goodness teemed on the left side of the infield in Boston. Breakout years by Xander Bogaerts along with Rafael Devers provide hope for the future. But what will the team do with Mookie Betts ?
Eduardo Rodríguez - The Red Sox went 26-8 in his starts this year while Rodriguez finished as one of three pitchers in the majors with 19 wins. He also surpassed 200 innings for the first time in his career while racking up 213 strikeouts. His last nine starts yielded a 2.53 ERA over 57 innings with six starts resulting in one earned run or less in them.
Rafael Devers - His 96 extra-base hits before turning 23 rank as the most in team history. Devers accrued 201 hits, ended the season on an eight-game hit streak and tallied 60 multi-hit games in 2019. He’s one of 12 players ever with 30-plus home runs, 100-plus runs and RBI in a year before turning 23 joining present major leaguers Ronald Acuña Jr. and Juan Soto .
Xander Bogaerts - Joined Alex Rodriguez as the only shortstop with at least 30 home runs and 50 doubles ever in a year. Bogaerts also hit .309, ranked second in the American League with 117 RBI and walked 76 times.
J.D. Martinez - Could elect free agency this year but cannot play outfield full-time in the National League, limiting his bargaining capabilities. But the dude can rake. Martinez recorded his fourth season with at least 35 home runs and 100 RBI. He’s the 20th player with three consecutive .300-plus average, 35-plus home run and 100-plus RBI campaigns. Since 2017, Martinez leads the majors with 124 home runs and second in RBI (339). Only Mike Trout owns a higher slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging percentage than Martinez in this same time frame.
It’s tough to forget the career season for Christian Vázquez as well. He appeared in 138 games hitting 23 home runs. Prior to 2019, Vazquez hit 10 home runs in 291 total games.
New York Yankees
Armed with an offense capable of blasting home runs and a bullpen with the ability to shorten games, the Yankees won 103 games despite a litany of players on the injured reserve list all season long. A healthy Luis Severino could be a bargain in 2020 but there will be some risk involved. Not risky, this lineup hitting home runs finishing second in history with 306 in 2019.
James Paxton - Finished 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA in 150.2 innings with 186 strikeouts. He won 10 straight starts from August second through September 21st with a 2.25 ERA in 60 innings of work. In fact, from the start of July to the end of the season, Paxton went 10-3 with a 3.44 ERA including nine of his 16 starts resulting in two or fewer runs spanning 86.1 innings.
Gary Sánchez - Led all major league catchers with 34 home runs, a career best. He’s also one of four catchers with multiple 30 home runs seasons at his age-26 year or younger. Did you know Johnny Bench did it four times?
Brett Gardner - Perhaps a poster boy of the “juiced” baseball, Gardner hit a career high 28 home runs with 74 RBI and a slugging percentage north of .500 this year. Of his 123 hits, 61 went for extra-bases and Gardner launched 10 home runs in September.
D.J. LeMahieu - One of the best bargains in free agency this winter and in drafts this preseason, LeMahieu did not suffer from leaving Coors Field. He recorded career highs in runs (109), hits (197), home runs (26) and RBI (102). Plus, LeMahieu will own multi-positional eligibility with 28 games at first base, 66 at second and 47 at third this year.
Gleyber Torres - Before going too deep on Torres, he will turn 23 in December. Torres crushed 38 home runs, not all against the Orioles, and at age-22 became the youngest Yankee to hit more than 30 home runs since Joe DiMaggio. Torres also led the majors with eight multiple home run contests.
Aroldis Chapman - Made it through the season healthy but still did not break the 40 save barrier with his team not using him three games in a row all year. Chapman still tied for third in the majors with 37 saves, one short of his career best.
Tampa Bay Rays
Those scrappy Rays fought their way into the divisional series losing to the Astros in a tough five game series. Poster boys for analytics and featuring an offense with some castaways, Tampa finds a way to squeeze all the talent out of its core. Questions of how good they can be in 2020 lies in the health of young starting pitchers Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow . If both hold up and with Charlie Morton back, this could once again be a team no one wishes to face in October.
Charlie Morton - Set career bests in wins (16), ERA (3.05), strikeouts (240), starts (33) and innings pitched (194.2). In a season with record home run totals, Morton only served up 15 all year with a major league leading 0.69 home run per nine innings ratio. He also became the fourth pitcher in American League history to reach 240 strikeouts at age 35 or older. Morton allowed two runs or fewer in 22 of 33 starts, only Gerrit Cole accomplished more in the AL this year.
Blake Snell - Underwent surgery on July 29th to remove loose bodies in his elbow. Snell returned on September 17th and fired six innings before the end of the season. His 6.39 ERA over 11 starts from May first until the end of June preceded his surgery. Snell allowed four runs or more in six of his 23 starts this year compared to only three times in 31 starts in 2018.
Austin Meadows - Slashed .378/.472/.744 with six doubles, nine home runs, 20 RBI and 15 walks in 24 games in September. He’s the 10th Ray with at least 30 home runs and the second youngest. Plus, Meadows hit nine of his 33 home runs off of left-handed pitching.
Tommy Pham - Tied a career best stealing 25 bases. Pham also surged in September hitting .281/.349/.393 with nine stolen bases, seven doubles and 10 RBI.
Willy Adames - Will be overlooked in 2020 drafts, but he could be turning a corner. Adames hit .317/.371/.540 his last 20 games with five doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI. If he improves at home and versus left-handed pitching, a 25 home run season with an average at .285 could be in the offing. You heard me.
Nick Anderson - This will not come as a surprise, but Anderson should be on any save stashers radar. After joining Tampa Bay, Anderson went 3-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 23 games with 41 strikeouts against two walks. He recorded multiple strikeout outings in 14 of these contests. Since May 27th, Anderson won four of his six decisions with a 2.25 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 47 games.
Toronto Blue Jays
Armed with a bevy of talent going forward, Toronto will try to build a contender around its robust farm system. Starting pitching will be a focal point and how the team handles its bullpen will determine how 2020 fares. But, as for offense, the Blue Jays will be a team that pitching staffs will eventually hope to avoid.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. - Perhaps fantasy analysts were a year early on the uber-talented prodigy. Guerrero Jr. hit .310 his last 56 games with 13 doubles, seven home runs, 43 RBI and 18 walks for a .851 on-base plus slugging percentage. The best is yet to come.
Bo Bichette - Set the team record for most hits (61) in his first 45 games in the majors. Bichette’s 29 extra-base hits in his first 43 games tied Ryan Braun (2007) for the second highest ever. A late season concussion cut his season short, but Bichettte looks ready to produce in 2020.
Cavan Biggio - He will be the poster boy for positive regression in 2020. Biggio ended the year with a 29-game on-base streak going 31-for-102 (.304) with 25 runs, seven doubles, two triples, six home runs, 17 RBI and 25 walks from August 27th to the end of the season.
Ken Giles - Racked up 23 saves but battled health issues all season long. Giles only blew one save on the year and led all relievers in the American League with a 39.9 strikeout percentage.
Rowdy Tellez - Reached base in 18 of his last 40 plate appearances over his last 10 games of 2019. Also hit 21 home runs becoming the fourth Toronto rookie with more than 20 in a season.
Be sure to stay with Fantasy Alarm across all fantasy formats to remain ahead of the competition. If any player piques your interest for a profile in the 2020 draft guide, please let me or Howard Bender know so we can add them to the spreadsheet already being built.
MLB.com - Game Notes