|Assets 1-25||Assets 26-50||Assets 51-75||Assets 76-100|
And I’m done.
Whenever I start this list, I always forget how much work it is. Even if I’ve been actively keeping ranking spreadsheet throughout the season, there’s always a creeping suspicion in the back of my mind that I’m leaving someone out who should obviously be in. So once we get past the first 50 players, I start combing leaderboards and prospect lists to make sure that I am not forgetting someone. I probably do it daily while writing. Then I remember that I’m going to leave people out. That is the nature of only being able to select 100 assets.
I’ve realized that 76-100 is kind of a “prove it” section. Either guys are aging out but still valuable or they are just getting started. There is also wildcard or two in there who because of their past just need to prove it every year (I’m looking at you, ManBearPuig). Let’s finish this!
76. Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU, Age: 29
Jose Altuve also doesn’t steal bases anymore. I mean, Shohei Ohtani has stolen just about as many. Still, he still is a good hitter at a weak position, but we’re beginning to see his warts like prolonged slumps and a quickly dropping contact rate. Also, maybe he is the hitter we saw in the second half of 2019 (.325/.372/.622), but given all that came out this winter I can’t tell if he was given the answers help him break out of his first-half slump (.262/.328/.453). I think he needs to prove it. The benefit of the doubt no longer applies to Astros.
77. Justin Verlander, SP, HOU, Age: 37
I often catch myself wondering: If you genetically engineered a human to be a pitcher, would he come out just like Justin Verlander? A 6-5, 200-pound, super-hard throwing, even-tempered phenom who can still hit the upper 90s and sit 95 at 37 years young. I guess the only thing he’s missing is that he’s not left-handed. I am blown away by his staying power, especially since six seasons ago we were wondering if he was finished. Now, I’ll believe it when I see it, but I also can’t look away from that age.
78. Eugenio Suarez, 3B, CIN, Age: 28
I had Eugenio Suarez in front of Manny Machado on this list a year ago, too, and caught a lot of flack for it. Suarez then started off slow before going on an absolute tear to the tune of a 1.081 OPS and 29 — yes, 29 — home runs in 72 second-half games. It looks like Suarez is here to stay. I don’t think he’ll ever hit 49 homers again, but 35 is definitely in the cards with a .275 average. He’s definitely a top 10 third baseman.
79. Luis Castillo, SP, CIN, Age: 27
I want to start out by saying I like Luis Castillo. Now that I’ve said something nice, it’s time to get real. There is no way what he is doing is sustainable. I say this based on one number: 3.73. That is his walk rate this season. To say Castillo has been getting lucky is an understatement. I don’t care how good your stuff is, nobody can have a sub-3 ERA through 30 starts by walking almost four hitters per start. He walked 79 total, and for half the season he was on pace for 100 — a feat that hasn’t happened since 2012 when both Ricky Romero and Edinson Volquez did it, and nobody said they were aces. To further drive the point home, here is a list of the pitchers to walk 100 guys in a season: Doug Davis, Ubaldo Jiminez, Barry Zito, Oliver Perez, Daniel Cabrera, Carlos Zambrano, Chad Gaudin, and Scott Kazmir. None of them did it in what you would call their more successful seasons. Control this poor always ends badly. There are some signs of life, however, as he did reign in his control in the second half of 2019, also the development on his changeup is significant and crucial to his success.
80. Patrick Corbin, SP, WAS, Age: 30
Patrick Corbin will turn 31 this season. I have to admit that a year ago I did not think he would still be on this list. It was hard to deny the results from 2018, but I have a bias against guys who throw their slider 40% of the time. You can have the best slider in the world but it should not be thrown that much. I think the pitch puts too much pressure on your elbow to throw it that often, and just as often when pitchers rely that heavily on their slider, it is because their other pitches are not that good. Just take Chris Sale for example. Sale has had maybe the best slider in the league for years and his career usage is 28.8% because he has other great pitches too (or used to). That said, Corbin continues to be valuable. I do have one worry, however, and that is the 70 walks he issued. Read Castillo’s blurb above to see what I think about that.
81. Whit Merrifield, 2B/OF, KC, Age: 31
Some of the players on this list are just my personal favorites who also happen to be very good. Seeing Whit Merrifield go 20/20 would make my 2020. I don’t think it will ever happen again, so I hope it happens this season. Still, he’s a good bet to hit .300 for another couple years. His speed is declining, but I’d say he still has 20-steal speed in 2021 and will definitely have the positional eligibility that will make your friends jealous.
82. Jose Berrios, SP, MIN, Age: 25
It appears that Jose Berrios has taken a step forward, even if his numbers look similar to 2018. What’s important is his BAA has leveled out, and now he’s just walking fewer people. It’s a more stable way of pitching that seems to have yielded positive results for the Twins ace. I’m much more comfortable with him now.
83. Julio Rodriguez, OF, SEA, Age: 19
Julio Rodriguez and Adley Rutschman are the only two prospects toward the front of the top 100 who unlikely to see playing time in 2020. Wander Franco was once thought to be on that list, but the Rays brass recently said they hope for him to be in their 2020 plan. While Rutschman is here because of his unique skill in the shallowest position, Rodriguez is here because I believe that this time next year he will be the No. 1 prospect. He has given us no evidence to suggest otherwise. Everywhere he’s gone, he’s hit. It doesn’t matter if he is in the low minors, High-A, fall ball or even spring training against guys six years older than him, Rodriguez has come away looking like a stud. There isn’t much of a chance he stays at center field, but he has enough arm strength to play in right field, and it’s possible he makes the squad out of camp in 2021. You want this guy.
84. Luis Arraez, 2B/OF, MIN, Age 22
I’m going to be banging on the Luis Arraez drum all season, so cover your ears if you’re not interested in winning a batting title. Can we pause for a second and just appreciate what Arraez did in his rookie season? The man-boy slashed .334/.399/.439 with a 36:29 BB:K ratio at 22 years old. That is insane. If you’re looking for power-only hitters, please move on. I’m not. This guy has an 80-hit tool. He makes an absolutely elite level of contact (we’re talking Dustin Pedroia level: 93%). He uses the entire field (29% Pull, 34% Center, 37% Oppo). He make solid contact (88% Medium & Hard contact). Arraez is extremely useful. Because of his elite ability to get on base, he will not hurt your AVG or OPS while scoring a ton of runs because he’s a table-setter in one of the league’s most prolific offenses.
85. Jeff McNeil, 2B/3B/OF, NYM, Age: 27
We are going back to back with the two best average hitters in the majors. First was Arraez, now Jeff McNeil. Why is McNeil after Arraez despite hitting for more power? Age, for one thing. Also, I do believe that Arraez has more speed than he lets on. Nevertheless, McNeil has only played in part of two seasons, but he has proven he has the kind of approach that can bring your average up, score runs, and keep your strikeouts in check. I’m skeptical of the 20-homer power he displayed in 2019 because of the “live” ball, but even if he only hits 15, a guy who hits .320 with 15 homers is still a starting 2B or third OF.
86. Rhys Hoskins, 1B, PHI, Age: 26
I’m not sure which way to go with Rhys Hoskins. His numbers are all over the map. He’s extremely mediocre barrels per plate appearance (5.5) but is also tied for fifth in the entire league for average batted-ball distance (209). Meanwhile, his exit velocity is an OK 89.7, but his launch angle is near ideal (24.0). The results don’t match how well this guy sees and attacks the strike zone. He walked 116 times in 2019 and struck out 173 despite a very good O-Swing (24.0) and overall Contact% (78.2). I think he’s better than he was last season. But how much better? It’s hard to say. I think he’s probably better than he was in 2018 too, which would put him at about a .260/.360/.520 slash with 35 dingers. If I felt confident about that, however, he’d be higher up.
87. Kyle Schwarber, OF, CHC, Age: 26
A lot of what I just wrote about Hoskins can be applied to Kyle Schwarber. To me, these guys are almost the exact same. Now if this list was specifically about OBP leagues and not AVG leagues, these two would jump 15 spots higher. Despite not hitting for average, they both get on base often. Yes, Schwarber not as much as Hoskins, but Schwarber has more power than Hoskins. There is a theme with a few guys on this list: Players who work on things and improve get rewarded. Schwarber is one of those guys who gets better every year. He’s lowered his K-rate the last three years, and his walk rate has been a little up-and-down but has remained above average while occasionally flirting with the elite. Meanwhile, while he tinkers with his approach, his power has always been there. If Schwarber is one of those guys who comes out of nowhere one year to be top 5 in MVP voting by putting up huge numbers, it wouldn’t surprise me. He’s had to change a lot to get where he is today. Coming up as a catcher, moving to the OF despite obviously not having the body for it — he’s reinvented his body and become an average fielder. This is the kind of guy you want on your roster, even if it’s just to have him as your third outfielder.
88. Gary Sanchez, C, NYY, Age: 27
We go from Schwarber, a guy who gets better, to Gary Sanchez, a guy who does not. It baffles me that Sanchez is rated so high, even in redraft leagues. You never know what you are going to get, but lately what you have gotten hasn’t been great. In a way, I feel like Sanchez is similar to Brian McCann. He had a reputation for being a great hitting catcher — even in the years it was clear he wasn’t. Granted, McCann was a good hitter for much longer than Sanchez was. The Braves catcher had five very good seasons before his demanding position caught up to him. Sanchez is still riding a wave of 175 games played between 2016 and 2017. He has not been nearly the same player since. The power is still there, but that’s it. He is the best source of power for catchers. And there are only a handful who can actually help you. Sanchez is one of them, because although he kills your AVG/OBP, he’ll make up for it in HR, R, RBI. One more .230 season, however, and he’s off the list. A 28-year-old catcher with contact issues is not going to age well.
89. Yasiel Puig, OF, FA, Age: 29
We’ve reached the only free agent on this list! Mr. Yasiel Puig. So much talent. So much drama. So much, “why did he do that?” — both on and off the field. Where Puig lands could actually move him up or down on this list. If he goes to Boston, for example, I’d move him up 10 spots. Hitting in that ballpark will likely ensure a repeat of 2019. Like many of the names on this final section of the list, Puig is capable of doing so much more than he often produces.
90. Michael Conforto, OF, NYM, Age: 26
This season will be kind of a put-up-or-shut-up season for Michael Conforto. That’s odd to write considering how bright his future seemed in 2015. The thing is he hasn’t really improved in any tangible way since he had a head-turning debut slashing .270/.335/.506 with nine homers in just 56 games as a rookie. Actually, that’s not exactly true; he is drawing more walks, but at the same time, he’s making less contact. It’s weird to basically see a player — especially a starter — be almost the exact same player for the first five seasons of his career. It doesn’t really matter what metric you look: O-Swing, Z-Swing, Hard Contact, Exit Velocity, K-rate, Launch Angle. I guess he’s limiting his soft contact, but those deficits aren’t translating to hard contact. This guy’s nickname should be Even Steven. Also, he turns 27 before this season starts. This just might be who he is. We all hope he returns to his terrific 2017 that was cut short by injury, but I’m skeptical.
91. Manny Machado, SS/3B, SD, Age: 27
Simply put: Machado was unplayable at home. Petco Park just swallowed him up, which was foreseeable considering how mediocre he was away from hitter-friendly Camden Yards his whole career. I think he was a tad bit unlucky in 2019. Maybe I’m giving in to his name recognition or maybe there is some proof: after all, his BABIP was at a near all-time low. Overall, he was a below-average starting third baseman in a 10- or even 16-team league. The thing is, like Bryce Harper, Machado’s talent suggests he’s more than this. If he comes near this performance again, however, he’s off.
92. Roberto Osuna, RP, HOU, Age: 25
Roberto Osuna might have had his best season in 2019. It’s hard to say because all of five of them have been almost universally exceptional. Still, Osuna nearly matched a career-low WHIP, ERA and save total. He also had his second-best K/9 (10.11), which was pretty much the only stat you could point to when trying to convince someone he’s not an elite closer (so you could trade for him). And he’s only 25. The safest bet for saves for the next five years (yes, even more than Josh Hader, who may not close).
93. Starling Marte, OF, ARI, Age: 31
He may be on the wrong side of 30, but there is a lot of reason for optimism for Starling Marte for the next few years. Arizona has one of the better hitter’s parks in the league. It’s possible we could see an increase in power — or at least maintain the power he had last season with a juiced ball. Despite being 31, Marte has also either maintained his speed or found ways to make up for it because he is still stealing around 25-30 bases per year. At some point that will slow down, but even if it starts in 2020, he’d still have two or three years left of 20/20 potential.
94. George Springer, OF, HOU, Age: 30
Before I get into specifics, I want to note that George Springer was excellent in 2019. Setting career highs in almost every offensive category, it’s almost unbelievable. That said, I don’t believe it will last. It’s possible Springer is a late bloomer who will be dominant for two or three years starting in his very late 20s. What’s more likely to me is that we just happened to see a 12% increase in hard contact for last year only. He did swing a few more pitches in the zone and fewer pitches outside of the zone, but it wasn’t a significant change. He also had the lowest contact rate in three years. Springer’s launch angle was slightly better, which could be an indication of progress. Also, let’s not forget what team he plays for. Like all the other Astros hitters on this list, I want to see if he can maintain his performance without sign stealing.
95. Eddie Rosario, OF, MIN, Age: 28
Eddie Rosario is a late bloomer with some power, who does not prescribe to the holy trinity of true outcomes. In fact, he rarely walks or strikes out. I’m fine with that, as long as you can approach .290 and keep the homers north of 25. He swings a lot (60% of pitches), makes a decent amount of contact (80%), and limits soft contact (15%). Those are all good trends. So he’s got that going for him.
96. Andrew Vaughn, 1B, CWS, Age: 21
You can’t be much higher on Andrew Vaughn than I am. In fact, Andrew Vaughn might not be as high on Andrew Vaughn as I am. But there’s a reason for that. The 2018 Golden Spikes winner was almost good enough in 2019 to become the first two-time winner of amateur baseball’s highest award. Vaughn is the rare kind of hitter who could walk into the minors and have the best plate discipline at any level. He has great power potential and the ability to hit .300-plus at the highest level. Vaughn’s pro debut was ho-hum, but the Sox are promoting quickly anyway because they know it might take a small amount of transition time, but, in the end, he’ll hit.
97. Dylan Carlson, OF, STL, Age: 21
Could Dylan Carlson be playing in St. Louis on Opening Day? It’s possible, but I doubt it. A short stint for the Memphis Redbirds is probably in his future to both delay his service clock and just to give him a few more games against Quad-A pitchers. Unlike some of the other high profile prospects, nobody could blame the Cardinals for holding him back. After all, he only played 18 games in Triple-A. Still, the guy has a plus hit tool, plus power, and sneaky speed. He’s a starting major league outfielder with all-star potential.
98. Nick Senzel, OF, CIN, Age: 24
It seems like everybody is turning their back on Nick Senzel — even the Reds. Reports are they are trying to trade the former first-round pick. I don’t get it. Not every prospect starts off on a tear. Senzel was OK in 2019, slashing .256/.315/.427 and on a near 20/20 pace. You could ask for more, but this is not a disappointment by any means. If I were a major league GM, I’d be trying to get this guy. He’s athletic enough to field almost any position on the field and my bet is we see significant strides forward, as long as he gets playing time.
99. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, STL, Age: 32
Things are starting to turn for Paul Goldschmidt. It’s possible that it is completely all downhill from here. Thirty-two isn’t very old. It is still possible Goldy has a few good years left. If I were a betting man (and I am), I’d put money on him turning in two more seasons of .275/.365/.525 with mid-thirties in home runs. One thing is for sure: He’s not a threat to steal bases anymore.
100. Frankie Montas, SP, OAK, Age: 26
I considered a lot of options for this last spot. Max Kepler, Zack Grienke, Miguel Andujar, Scott Kingery, Trey Mancini, etc. In the end, I went with Frankie Montas. He’s got filthy stuff. Now I’m hoping he develops his changeup because right now he’s primarily a two-pitch pitcher. What makes him so impressive is that those pitches (fastball/slider) are both elite. I’m expecting a similar BB/9 and a better K/9, or he falls off the list.