Spring training is in full swing and that means your fantasy baseball draft is right around the corner.
The Toronto Blue Jays are littered with a core of young and exciting talent who could also lead to success in your league for the 2020 campaign.
This is part one of a two-part series looking at the fantasy-relevant Blue Jays players. Batting lead-off are the position groups.
Bo Bichette, SS
I rate Bichette as the most valuable fantasy asset on the Blue Jays based on him building off of last season’s success and a limited number of reliable hitting shortstops. At only 21 years old, some regression is possible, but how can we ignore that gorgeous 2019 stat line: .311 AVG, 11 HR, 21 RBI, 4 SB, .358 OBP?
Bichette’s current average draft position (ADP) of 70 is second-best on the team and he’s the 13th-overall ranked SS. Even after only 46 MLB games, Bichette belongs in the conversation as a bottom-end starter for owners in 12-14 team leagues.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B
The most hyped Blue Jays prospect in recent memory, Vladdy’s rookie campaign was underwhelming. Part of that was due to a variety of nagging injuries that hurt the big man from getting into any sort of consistent rhythm.
Reports out of spring training so far about Guerrero’s physical conditioning have been positive, which hopefully leads to improved health as well as on-field production. The Montreal native needs to get better against left handers, but his strong strikeout-to-walk ratio will help keep up that OBP.
Vladdy’s the highest-rated fantasy Blue Jay with an ADP of 55 and is eighth when it comes to 3B. That’s a little rich for my liking with still so much to prove, but we all realize the boom potential. One strategy may be to take Guerrero in the sixth or seventh round and immediately follow that by drafting a safer, multi-position third-base option like D.J. LeMahieu.
Danny Jansen, C
Similar to Bichette, Jansen’s fantasy relevance is elevated by the lack of reliable quality catchers. Let’s face it folks, there are about four really safe choices at catcher and after that we’re left with a bag full of question marks.
Currently best suited as a strong C2, Jansen’s viewed as a rising star who could explode this season if that troubling .208 batting average can be corrected. The youngster’s got some pop in his bat and was a strong minor-league hitter. Jansen’s the 20th-ranked fantasy catcher and is as good a flyer as any if you miss out on the bigger names.
Cavan Biggio, 2B
Biggio’s 2020 value is highest in head-to-head category formats where his likely sub-.240 batting average can be mitigated by power and stolen bases. I wouldn’t want to rely on the sophomore as my everyday fantasy 2B, but for positional depth as a 12th round or lower draft pick? Sign me up!
Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Randal Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez, OF
I’m a believer in the strategy that besides the elite-level performers, outfielders with decent power and batting average can be drafted in later rounds or added via waivers. The Blue Jays outfield falls into this category.
With an ADP of 163 and below, the Toronto starters fall more into utility or bench depth fantasy roster spots. There is, of course, the opportunity for exceptional upside from the likes of Gurriel Jr. and a high-floor steadying presence of Grichuk. However, I’m bullish on the potential of Hernandez.
What first perked my fantasy ears on the 27-year-old is that the decision was made to shift Grichuk to centre field to allow Hernandez to focus more on his bat. That shows an elevated organizational interest and the hope that he can reach new heights. The power is there (26 HRs in 417 at-bats), but the strikeouts need to drop and extra-base hits increase.
Out of the three outfielders, it’s Hernandez who has the highest ceiling for fantasy owners, and he’s definitely worth taking a shot on.
Wild Card: Travis Shaw
Fantasy imitates real life baseball here as Travis Shaw is the ultimate boom-or-bust roll of the dice. Are the Jays getting the slugger who belted 30-plus homers in consecutive seasons and 101 RBIs in 2017 or the guy who imploded for a .157 average a year ago?
If Shaw can recapture his previous magic then that is the type of late-round pick-up or undrafted waiver add that can help win a fantasy baseball championship. The Kent State alum is definitely on my radar as a low-risk flyer.