As the regular season winds down, only a select few fantasy teams are still in the running for a title. The rest of us are already looking ahead to when we can start drafting again.
Before turning the page completely, we can use these final few weeks to start formulating strategies for next spring. Based on observations, stats and a little bit of speculation, here’s our annual list of the 30 most intriguing players for 2020.
Trey Mancini (1B/OF, BAL): In his third full MLB season, Mancini took a step forward not only in power (.515 slugging), but also in on-base percentage (.351). He could be the centerpiece of the Orioles’ rebuilding plan—or at 28, their best trade chip.
Andrew Benintendi (OF, BOS): Despite the livelier baseball, Benintendi has just 13 home runs. Only five everyday outfielders (at least 500 plate appearances) have hit fewer.
Tim Anderson (SS, CHW): AL batting champion? No way anyone could have seen this coming. A near-.400 average on balls in play and a 2.5% walk rate say it’s unsustainable. But with a shot at a 20-homer, 20-steal season, he’ll still have value even if the average tumbles.
Shane Bieber (RHP, CLE): With an amazing 233 strikeouts and 1.01 WHIP, Bieber is the No. 3 pitcher in fantasy, behind only Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.
Willi Castro (SS, DET): The Tigers’ best prospects remain in the minors, but Castro, 22, could be on the leading edge. He hit .301/.366/.467 with 11 homers and 17 steals at Class AAA, and should be the everyday shortstop in 2020.
Kyle Tucker (OF, HOU): The Astros’ top prospect hit 34 homers and stole 30 bases at Class AAA. But is there a spot for him to play? Michael Brantley and Josh Reddick are under contract for 2020, and Yordan Alvarez seems locked in at DH.
Hunter Dozier (3B, KC): Having one of the best seasons no one’s talking about, Dozier has 25 homers and is backing it up with a 46.8% hard-hit rate. His .551 slugging percentage leads the team.
Shohei Ohtani (DH, LAA): Limited exclusively to hitting this year, Ohtani has reinforced his considerable skills on offense (.292, 17 HRs, 61 RBI, 12 SB). With a fully recovered elbow, he could become even more valuable next season as a pitcher.
Jose Berrios (RHP, MIN): At times, he’s looked like a Cy Young contender. At other times, he’s been torched. Is a drop in strikeout rate (8.7 K/9) a sign of even worse things to come? Or can Berrios, only 25, find the consistency to be an ace?
Gio Urshela (3B, NYY): Urshela emerged from relative obscurity to hit .330/.369/.553 with 18 homers, in addition to playing excellent defense. How will the Yankees handle the return from injury of Miguel Andjuar, who put up equally impressive numbers last season?
Sean Manaea (LHP, OAK): After a long recovery from shoulder surgery, the left-hander has been brilliant in his return to action, allowing just one run and three hits in 12 innings. A true wild card in 2020 drafts.
Domingo Santana (OF, SEA): Despite playing one game since Aug. 14, Santana still led the AL in strikeouts at press time. Yet the skills that produced a 30-homer/15-steal season in Milwaukee remain intact.
Brandon Lowe (2B, TAM): After an All-Star first half, hitting .276 with 16 homers and 49 RBI, Lowe hasn’t played since July 2 because of a nagging quadriceps injury.
Willie Calhoun (OF, TEX): A classic post-hype prospect, Calhoun, 24, has earned an everyday role with 18 home runs and a .540 slugging percentage in 66 games.
Lourdes Gurriel (OF, TOR): Despite missing the last month with a leg injury, Gurriel led all Toronto regulars (200 plate appearances) with a .548 slugging percentage and .879 OPS.
Ketel Marte (2B/OF, ARI): The super-charged baseball helps explain some of the jump in power numbers, but Marte’s was a giant leap—from 14 homers to 32. His 1.121 OPS since the All-Star break tops all NL hitters.
Max Fried (LHP, ATL): He doesn’t have the stellar ratios of All-Star teammate Mike Soroka, but Fried’s 3.48 xERA is slightly better. And he has the highest strikeout rate (9.6 K/9) of any Braves starter.
Yu Darvish (RHP, CHC): In his first 17 starts, Darvish averaged nearly five walks per nine innings. But in 11 starts since the beginning of July, he’s walked a total of four—with 85 strikeouts and a 2.96 ERA.
Aristides Aquino (OF, CIN): After overhauling his swing in the spring, Aquino seemed to set records for home runs to start a career on an almost daily basis. He’s shown no signs of slowing down, with 15 dingers and 38 RBI in his first 38 games.
David Dahl (OF, COL): If he could ever stay healthy for a full season… Dahl, 25, was on his way to a career year (.302/.353/.524) until a severely sprained ankle sidelined him in early August.
Joc Pederson (OF, LA): Pederson has hit 32 home runs off right-handed pitchers and zero versus lefties. What if he could just figure out a way to be average against southpaws?
Sandy Alcantara (RHP, MIA): Buried in the 24-year-old righty’s unremarkable overall numbers are a pair of shutouts and a 2.77 ERA over his last seven starts.
Keston Hiura (2B, MIL): Even though he strikes out a lot (30%), Hiura is as polished a hitter as you’ll see at age 22. He should provide power and speed for years to come.
J.D. Davis (3B/OF, NYM): A trade opened the door to playing time, and Davis, 26, has made the most of it. With a .305/.370/.513 slash line, he’s earned an everyday job next season.
Bryce Harper (OF, PHI): Enough about his first year in Philly being a disappointment. Harper had a .373 OBP and was one of 14 players entering the week with at least 30 homers and 100 RBI.
Bryan Reynolds (OF, PIT): His .327 average has been fueled by a major league-best .402 BABIP. It’s not a complete fluke though; the rookie’s hit over .300 at every minor league level.
Jack Flaherty (RHP, STL): He struggled early, but has pitched to a 0.76 ERA in 11 starts since the All-Star break, with 89 strikeouts in 71 1/3 innings. At 23, he’s a keeper league gem.
Chris Paddack (RHP, SD): Jumping from Class AA to the majors, Paddack has posted an excellent 3.54 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 9.5 K/9 rate. His carefully-managed workload won’t be an issue next season.
Mike Yastrzemski (OF, SF): An offseason trade gave him a second chance at age 28. He could end up as the team’s leading home run hitter, despite not making his MLB debut until May 25.
Anthony Rendon (3B, WAS): Talk about raising your value in a contract year. Rendon has been on fire in the second half, leading the majors with a .382 average, .459 OBP, and 52 RBI. Can the Nationals outbid everyone else for his services?
For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.