The Dynasty Guru’s 2020 Designated Hitters/ Utility-Only Players
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Without further ado, it’s time to end our 2020 consensus rankings by looking at the utility-only players. Basically, we made this entry so we could discuss these three hitters.
1. Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels, (Age: 25, Previous Rank: NR)
Sho me the money! Okay, it’s out of my system now, I swear. Don’t get me wrong though, Ohtani has been nothing but money as a major league hitter thus far. In 792 PAs, he owns a .286/.351/.532 slash line with 40 bombs and 22 steals. And did I mention he was in the 97th percentile for exit velocity in 2019? Frankly, the only thing keeping him from being an absolute fantasy stud as a hitter is that he’s never going to reach the plate appearance threshold of the elites. Since he’s pitching once a week. which requires a couple of additional off days, he’ll probably max out around 400 PAs at the most. That brings us to the crux of the conversation. In weekly lineup leagues, Ohtani is tough to roll out there for just 3-4 games. In daily leagues, he’s a stud since you can platoon him with someone else on his off days. It’s imperative to know your settings before acquiring him. (Joe Drake)
2. Nelson Cruz, Minnesota Twins, (Age: 39, Previous Rank: NR)
The elder statesman of la bomba squad. Somehow, someway, Nelly just keeps on crushing. His Statcast page is a sea of deep red filled with 99th percentile ratings and crooked numbers across the hitting categories. Cruz posted an absurd 163 wRC+ in 2019 at 38 years old with 41 HRs and a .311 AVG. The only thing he didn’t do was run, but you weren’t expecting that from ole’ Nelly anyway. The only knocks on Cruz are that he’s UT-only which limits your lineup options and that he’s a dinosaur in baseball years. No one wants to get caught holding the bag when age eventually catches up to him. I mean, he’s not superhuman… right? Right… Probably? Until that time actually comes, enjoy the discount and plug him into your lineup for great results. For now, the well-oiled hitting machine rolls on. (Joe Drake)
3. Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics, (Age: 32, Previous Rank: NR)
Khrush Davis may have crashed and burned in 2019, but that doesn’t mean things are over for him. His typically steady performance was hampered by a painful hand injury that sapped his power. You can see it in the statcast data, too, as his exit velo dropped 2.5MPH last year. Davis gutted it out for most of the year, notching 593 PAs and totaled 23 homers with mediocre counting stats and a .220 average. Perhaps an IL stint would have done him some good. At any rate, I’m inclined to think that a full off-season of rest will have Davis healthy and ready to go and while I’m not expecting him to go full Nelson Cruz, I don’t think it’s out of the question for him to return to the neighborhood of 40 HRs and a .247 batting average with 180 runs and RBIs in a potent Athletics lineup. (Joe Drake)