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 Central. 


Chicago White Sox

Looking for a team ready to make the jump in 2020? Well, start with the White Sox. If they navigate free agency well and add to their rotation, they could surge like the Twins did this past season. Much will depend on what happens with José Abreu and if the team can lure players to the south side of Chicago. If they do, this offense could take another step forward. 

  • Tim Anderson - Led the majors with a .335 batting average becoming the first player doing so while finishing last among qualifying hitters in walks. Big question here will be can Anderson sustain his jump in on-base average or will his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) regress? Anderson racked up multiple hit games in 10 of his last 19, 13 of his last 24 and in 22 of his last 39 contests. 

  • Yoán Moncada - He’s the only player in the American League and one of three in the majors with at least a .300 average, 30-plus doubles, 25-plus home runs, 75-plus RBI along with double digit stolen bases in 2019. The others were Ketel Marte and Cody Bellinger . Moncada reduced his strikeouts from 217 in 2018 to 153 last year while producing 279 total bases. 

  • Eloy Jiménez - Will be totally overinvested in Jimenez for 2020. Jimenez emerged as the 19th rookie in American League history and sixth since 1988 with at least 30 home runs in his debut season. He also recorded three different four-RBI efforts in September, led all Americal League rookies in total bases (240) and RBI (79). 

  • José Abreu - Aging like fine wine, Abreu racked up his fifth 100 RBI season and ranks fourth in the majors with 611 since the start of the 2014 season. Finished the year with a .284 average, 33 home runs and 123 RBI yet still goes underdrafted every season. 

  • Alex Colomé - Preseason competition for the closer job with Kevin Herrera depressed Colome’s price in drafts making him a terrific bargain for the wait for saves crowd. Colome recorded the second best save percentage in the American League (90.9 percent) and finished fourth in the category with 30 saves. Just note, his last 23 games yielded a 1-4 record with nine saves and 25 strikeouts along with a .253 batting average against. 

  • Dylan Cease - Hopefully people stopped paying attention to Cease in September. Over his last seven starts, Cease surged to a 46:15 K:BB from August 18th through his last start. If he can generate more ground balls and keep the strikeout rate from this sample, he’s worth reaching for as a number four or five starter in fantasy with upside in 2020. 

  • Lucas Giolito - Odds on favorite to win the Comeback Player of the Year award, Giolito went from dead last among qualified starters in ERA (6.13) last year to a 2.72 run improvement this one. He also recorded 228 strikeouts in 176.2 innings with a 3.41 ERA, 1.06 WHIP over 29 starts. Giolito also allowed one run or less in 12 starts in 2019 including 11 since May seventh. He may not repeat last year, but heed his numbers versus the American League Central: 8-4, 2.72 ERA, 108 strikeouts in 13 starts with nine quality outings. 


Cleveland Indians

Can Cleveland build one more winner with the strong foundation of starting pitching and with Francisco Lindor in his walk year? Which José Ramírez will fantasy owners get in 2020? It’s going to be very interesting to see how this franchise handles the off-season. They could take a path like the Nationals last year and go for it, or keep moving the idle direction like last winter. This bullpen needs help as does the offense, so this could go in many directions, just like this division in the season ahead. 

  • Mike Clevinger - One of the brightest spots for Cleveland all season, Clevinger went 12-1 his last 15 outings with a 1.76 ERA, 134 strikeouts, 25 walks from July third forward. He ranked third in strikeouts and fourth in ERA in the majors during this sample. Clevinger also finished the year third in swinging strikes with his four-seam fastball and fourth best with his slider. Pretty, pretty good. 

  • Shane Bieber - Recorded a 15-8 record, 3.28 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 2019. His last 14 starts yields eight wins against five losses with two complete games, a 2.82 ERA and 137:17 K:BB rate. He led the American League in walks per nine innings ratio and finished third in K:BB. In his career, Bieber’s walked two or fewer batters in 47 of his 52 starts. 

  • Francisco Lindor - Starts 2020 with the credo, show me the money. He’s the second primary shortstop to record three or more 30-plus home run seasons before turning 26 years old, Alex Rodriguez being the other. Since June first, Lindor tallied 61 extra-base hits and has 237 extra-base hits since the start of 2017. Lindor will drift a bit in drafts due to missing games, but he’s entering his power peak as a pending free agent. A perfect storm for savvy investors. 

  • Oscar Mercado - During FAAB-apalooza, Mercado flew under the radar but finished with one of the best rookie seasons this year. Mercado hit 15 home runs while leading all American League rookies in runs (70) and stolen bases (15). He also finished third in hits (118) and tied for third in doubles (25). Since 2006, Mercado’s one of nine rookies with at least a .270 average, 15 home runs, 50 RBI and 15 steals. 

  • Franmil Reyes - Many speculated he’d be a perfect designated hitter, and Reyes assimilated well to Cleveland after his trade from San Diego. He hit a combined .249 with 37 home runs and 81 RBI. However, his last 31 games yields a .287 average with eight doubles, eight home runs, 28 RBI and 21 runs in 108 at-bats. For 2020 at least, Reyes will maintain outfield eligibility and if the baseball gets changed, owns enough power to be worth the investment. 


Detroit Tigers

Talk about devoid of fantasy interest, Detroit went full tank mode in 2019 and there’s not much hope for an improvement in 2020. In deep formats, players of interest will be noted below but once again, the Tigers will be featured heavily in stream against columns. 

  • Victor Reyes - Hit safely in 25 of his last 29 contests. In 48 games since August fifth, slashed .333/.355/.475 in 214 plate appearances with 19 runs, 12 doubles, three home runs, 21 RBI and eight stolen bases. Of course, it also accompanies a 22.9 strikeout percentage with a 3.7 walk rate, but his eight steals ranks as the 12th highest total in the majors in his time frame. So, cheap stolen bases will be the reason to target Reyes later on in drafts. Definite sleeper to monitor. 

  • Buck Farmer - Ended the year in the midst of an 11-game scoreless streak spanning 11 innings. Allowed an earned run in just three of his 25 outings between June 18th to August 17th as well. 

  • Jake Rogers - Will turn 25 in April and on the radar as a deep flier in two catcher leagues. Four of his 14 hits were home runs and he recorded a 45.8 fly ball percentage and 70.6 contact rate. In 2019 at Double-A, his .302/.429/.535 when repeating the level with five home runs in 112 plate appearances raising his walk percentage by seven and cutting his strikeouts by 4.3 percent. Not sure he can repeat the feat in 2020 with Detroit, but there’s some hope. 

  • Joe Jiménez - Racked up 82 strikeouts in 59.2 innings in 2019. Notched his first save on June ninth and went 9-for-10 in save situations for Detroit. Too volatile for my taste, but saves are saves, right? 

  • Matthew Boyd - First Tigers pitcher to make 32 starts since Justin Verlander in 2016. Boyd went 9-12 over 185.1 innings with a 4.56 ERA, 3.88 xFIP, 1.23 WHIP, 23.9 strikeouts minus walks percentage and 238 strikeouts. Could benefit from a trade but this would leave Detroit’s rotation with little upside until their minor league arms arrive. 


Kansas City Royals

Another team with a strong offense, but a dearth of starting pitching. Kansas City’s top of the lineup produced strong statistics, even with an injury to Adalberto Mondesi . This will continue to be a team which scores runs, although sporadic at times, but can they depress enough in 2020 to be viable? Time will tell. 

  • Jorge Soler - First Royal to ever lead the American League in home runs, swatted 48 in 2019 setting team record in the process. It’s also the most ever by a Cuban born player. Soler’s 117 RBI ranked second in the league. He also drew 45 walks of his 190 plate appearances in the second half. On the season, Soler ranked third in slugging percentage (.665), on-base plus slugging (1.073) and tied for fourth in on-base percentage (.411) after the break in the American League. 

  • Whit Merrifield - Second right-handed hitter to lead the majors in hits in consecutive years (Kirby Puckett 1988-1989). Merrifield hit safely in 129 of 162 games. He’s the third player over the last 84 seasons with at least 10 triples, 20 stolen bases, 40 doubles and 200 hits in a season. Merrifield’s recorded at least 30 hits in nine straight months excluding March and October. 

  • Adalberto Mondesi - His 43 stolen bases ranked second in the majors despite appearing in only 102 games. He stole 12 in September and became the first player in modern history (since 1900) with 40-plus steals and 10 triples in fewer than 450 plate appearances. 

  • Hunter Dozier - Broke out with a .279/.348/.522 slash in 139 games with 75 runs, 26 home runs and 84 RBI. Can he produce a repeat? 

  • Ian Kennedy - Fifth Royal ever to record a 30 save season. He logged 63.1 innings in 63 appearances with three wins, two losses, 30 saves, a 3.41 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. Joined John Smoltz, Derek Lowe and Dennis Eckersley as the only pitcher to win at least 20 games in one season and save at least 30 in another. Kennedy led the majors with 28 saves since May 30th and notched 19 in the second half. From May 30th on, Kennedy fired 40.2 innings with 47 strikeouts, 13 walks, a .233 batting average against, a 2.88 ERA, 3.75 xFIP, 1.18 WHIP and 20.5 strikeouts minus walks percentage. 


Minnesota Twins

Last, but not least, the division winning Twins who mashed 307 home runs setting an all-time team record in the majors. Once again, they were swept out of the postseason by the Yankees but seemed primed to make 2020 interesting once again. Nelson Cruz provided veteran leadership and stabilized the lineup but can the team add one more arm to the rotation? 

  • José Berríos - Matched his career high with 17 wins and fired 21 quality starts while reaching 200 innings for the first time. Set career bests in ERA (3.68), ground ball percentage (43.2 percent), walk rate (6.1 percent) and first strike pitch percentage (65.2). However, the third time through the lineup produced a 5.14 ERA. Can Berrios overcome his second half fades going forward will be a question for his fantasy owners to ponder before paying full retail. 

  • Taylor Rogers - Tied for fourth in the American League with 30 saves and also notched 10 holds. In save situations, recorded a 2.61 ERA in 69 innings with 90 strikeouts versus 11 walks. Just note his struggles on back-to-back outings but Rogers remains a rock solid saves option entering 2020 drafts. 

  • Nelson Cruz - Only he and J.D. Martinez ranked in the top 10 of all triple crown categories. In 120 games, Cruz produced 41 home runs, 108 RBI and a .311/.392/.639 slash line. He led the majors in balls barreled (12.5 percent), ranked third in average exit velocity (93.7 MPH) and fourth in hard hit percentage (51.5 percent) according to Statcast. Cruz also became one of three players in major league history to hit at least 40 home runs in his Age-39 season or older joining Hank Aaron (1973) and Barry Bonds (2003, 2004). 

  • Jorge Polanco - Finished with a .295/.356/.485 slash with 107 runs, 22 home runs, 79 RBI and four stolen bases. Also hit 40 doubles and notched 54 multiple hits games to his ledger.

  • Eddie Rosario - Ranked sixth in the American League in RBI (109) and launched a career high 32 home runs in 2019. 

  • Miguel Sanó - Surged with the presence of Cruz on the team. In the second half, Sano slashed .254/.362/.578 with 21 home runs in only 232 at-bats averaging a home run every 11.1 at-bats. From may 16th forward, Sano ranked tied for fourth in home runs (34), 11th in RBI (79), 15th in on-base plus slugging percentage (.923) and fourth in isolated power (.329). 

  • Mitch Garver - Carried over his second half gains from 2018 resulting in a career high 30 home runs in only 82 games played. Led American League catchers in RBI (45), runs (68) and finished sixth in hits (83). 

  • Max Kepler - Crushed 36 home runs, good for seventh best in the American League and hit 32 while batting leadoff. Only struck out 99 times with 60 walks and scored 98 runs while driving in 90 in a deep lineup. 

Be sure to check back for the rest of the divisions in the wraparound series setting the table for 2020 research. Also, check out all the great work in Fantasy Alarm across all formats to remain ahead of the competition. 


Statistical Credits: - Game Notes