TDG Roundtable: Players We Got Wrong In 2020
Every week on Fridays/whenever we get to them, our writers here at The Dynasty Guru will be bringing you some quick hit musings about a particular topic so you, the reader, can get a blast of info from a bunch of different writers with some passionate opinions. This week’s roundtable topic is players we got wrong in 2020.
Ian Happ, OF, CHC
Yeah..I failed on this one. I was never the biggest Ian Happ fan. I liked the amount of power he brought but his low batting average and steals….yeah no thanks. His declining production against fastballs also had me worried. He went from a .269 in 2017 to .171 in 2019. After seeing that, I was out. Well…Happ had a great season overall. He greatly improved against the fastball. He hit .305 against them and a .283 xBA indicates he wasn’t getting super lucky either. While he will always struggle with the swing and miss, Happ hits the ball very hard and if he continues to hit at the top of the Cubs lineup, he will be a great source of runs for your team. At only 26 years old, there is still a possibility we see more gains from him but if we don’t that is okay because Happ finally showed what made him a ninth overall pick in 2015.
Sal Perez C, KC and Omar Narvaez, C, MIL
Fellow writer Paul Monte and I actually made a bet on these two, and I got it about as wrong as you possibly could. The bet was based on ESPN’s player rater, and the bet was who would have the better season. I was fully on the Narvaez hype train and captain of the Sal Perez poo-poo season, and the exact opposite happened. Perez coming off a knee injury and being a catcher squatting every game had me concerned, but it didn’t affect him in the slightest. I had been touting Narvaez for the past couple of seasons as a great offense catcher (probably the worst defensive catcher) but since defense doesn’t really matter much in fantasy I thought Narvaez was the better option. The results were that Sal Perez was the 2nd best catcher by ESPN’s player rater and Narvaez was the 63rd. Now I have learned my lesson on Perez, and owe Paul a hat.
Mike Yastrzemski, OF, SFG
I didn’t think much of the Yas Queen heading into 2020, instead preferring Jaylin Davis, who is four years younger than Yastrzemski and also dominated Triple-A in 2019. I thought Yastrzemski’s MLB debut .351 xwOBA would regress toward league average in 2020 and he’d be surpassed by Davis. Instead, Jaylin Davis failed to last even 5 games on the MLB roster and Yastrzemski performed like an MVP candidate. While Davis did not accrue much data this year without a minor league, it’s surely not a good sign that San Francisco never gave him another chance in the MLB after his initial demotion. On the other hand, Yasztremski looks like a no doubt, safely above-average MLB hitter for the indefinite future. His 2020 will come down–his wOBA was .400 but his xwOBA was .355, right near his career average, and projection systems don’t have him anywhere close to a .400 wOBA–but he’s good enough to easily survive some regression. His late 20s breakout looks quite legitimate: he started crushing it in Triple-A in 2018 and hasn’t stopped hitting since, now an over 1,000 PA stretch.
Shane Bieber, SP, CLE
Dropping a major whiff report today, everyone. Yes, Shane Bieber was a major whiff…for me. I’m not sure how I missed the boat on this one, but boy did I ever. In case you’ve been under a rock for the last two and a half months, Bieber was great this year. As in, lead the majors in strikeouts, ERA, FIP, Wins, WAR, etc., etc. kind of great. He did all of this with an uncharacteristically high walk rate as well, which I’ll take as a good sign for sustainable success.
No other way to spin it: this one was a big fat L. Heading into the season, I was worried about him giving up hard contact, at least to the extent that Jack Flaherty always looked more appealing off the draft board. In hindsight, I definitely weighed that potential drawback too heavily. I won’t be making the same mistake with him twice. Now that I’m out from underneath my own rock, I can see that he’s a dynasty building block, and would have no problem taking him as the first or second pitcher in a startup league.
Frankie Montas, SP, OAK
Going as a #3 SP on average, I was easily willing to wait on my second SP and take Frankie Montas as a #2 pitcher. As long as I left every draft with either Montas or Zac Gallen in that range, I was pleased with how my pitching staff took shape. Unfortunately, there was a lot more Montas than Gallen, which left me as one pathetic loser! Who cares about the 80-game PED suspension, Montas had a new splitter that opponents hit .180 against last year. And never mind the 95-96 MPH of the last two seasons, “he’s been hitting 101-102, regularly,” reported Alex Coffey of The Athletic in July’s re-ramp-up. Entering his Age-27 season, I was all-in on the Montas breakout.
After an impressive first four starts to the season, Montas’ earned runs allowed over his final seven starts were: 9, 4, 5, 2, 4, 5, 0. He finished with a 5.60 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, and a BB/9 that ballooned back up to 3.9 per-9 after two seasons under-3. That splitter we were all fawning over went from 18.2% usage down to 12.9% and allowed a .333 BA and .600 SLG%-against. Fortunately, the K’s were still there and there was definitely some bad luck with BABIP and HR/FB rates, so I’m sure I’ll be reeled back in next year. This year, I’ll take the L on Montas.
Jose Ramirez, CLE
I can only think of a couple of reasons why I have never bought into Jose Ramirez…his short stature and his bleh first couple of big-league seasons. His awful 2nd half of 2018 and the first half of 2019 made me feel good about missing his good 2016-1st half 2018 seasons, or at least that he was a flash in the pan. Well, I was wrong, and he is a stud. Ramirez crushed the shortened 2020 season to the tune of 17 homers, 45 runs, 10 bags, and a .993 OPS. Those are first-round numbers, and even if he slides back a little, his 2017 season should be considered his floor, when his line was 29 homers, 107 runs, 17 steals and a .957 OPS.
Making his big-league debut at age 20 all the way back in 2013, Ramirez should be with the Indians for the next couple of seasons on two reasonable team options, before hitting free agency in 2024 during his age-31 season. Forming a dynasty team with him as a centerpiece at third base should serve managers well in the coming years, and Ramirez will be a target of mine heading into the 2021 season.
Sonny Gray, SP, CIN
Sonny Gray had a very respectable season. He wasn’t in the top five or top ten in my leagues. He narrowly missed the top 30 SP’s in one of my leagues (31). I didn’t know what shade of Gray I would get in 2020 so I steered clear. Gray had a rebound season last year but I honestly thought it was a fluke year. I didn’t need any gray areas on my teams so I stayed away from Sonny Gray, Jon Gray and anyone else with that last name. I wish I hadn’t with Sonny. Having a player like Sonny Gray in a deep league is a recipe to win you a championship. He was striking out people at a great clip. The spin rate on his curveball was through the roof. He wasn’t getting hit too hard and players weren’t able to consistently barrel the ball on his pitches. All this shows that Gray is trending upward after a few down years in 2017 and 2018. You count on guys like Trout and Freddie Freeman to hold down the fort year to year but championships are won in deep leagues when you get guys that exceed expectations. Well, Sonny, you exceeded my expectations. I was wrong in valuing you too low, and the price I paid came in not winning any championships.
Hyun Jin Ryu, SP Blue Jays
I was critical of the Jays signing Ryu, not only did I feel his 4yr $80M contract was an overpay, but it also didn’t seem like any other major league organization was interested in him. There’s no way to know for sure, but if true, that’s a red flag right there isn’t it? So we now have a 33-year-old pitcher who just hit a payday, is changing leagues, moving to what’s generally considered the best offensive division in baseball the AL East. A fly ball pitcher moving to the Rogers Centre for home games. Not only were his previous 3 seasons of FIP between 0.78 and 1.03 higher than his ERA, but his strand rate those years was over 80%, and his BABIP was below .300 too. His career HR/9 was below one, and I was certain that would change.
Well… I was wrong. Ryu was able to keep the ball on the ground in ’20, and limit home runs and walks. His 2.69 ERA was again quite a bit lower than his 3.01 FIP, but at some point we have to believe the results right? How about hard-hit rate, dropping below 30% to be in the top 10% in the league. He only allowed 6 barrels in 185 BBE, nobody could square him up. At this point I think Ryu has to be viewed as a solid pitcher, a guy you can confidently rely on for productive ratios and be part of a winning fantasy roster. For what it’s worth, he went with the 152nd pick in #TDG2EarlyDyno mock, in what looks like a solid pick to me.
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