Saturday, January 3, 2015
Fantasy Focus: The Disappearing 20-20 Hitter
Once upon a time, there was a simple formula for success in fantasy baseball. Go after 4 or 5 "20-20" hitters early in the draft. If they also had a solid BA, you got value in all 5 of the standard 5X5 categories. Fill in with a couple of pure power hitters, a couple of pure base stealers and you were good. There were not a ton of these much sought after players available, but enough that if you were reasonably aggressive, you had a good chance of getting at least 2 or 3, and if you got 4 or 5, you were sitting pretty in your league.
Over the years, the number of hitters who achieve this Holy Grail of hitting, has steadily declined. Not only has the number achieving it declined, but the average HR and SB for each hitter has also declined. I recently looked up 2011 on Fangraphs. I ranked all the hitters in MLB for that season by HR's then looked to see which ones with more than 20 also had more than 20 SB's. There were a total of 12:
Curtis Granderson- 41 HR, 25 SB.
Matt Kemp- 40 HR, 39 SB.
Ryan Braun- 33 HR, 33 SB.
Jacoby Ellsbury- 32 HR, 39 SB.
Ian Kinsler- 32 HR, 30 SB.
Justin Upton- 31 HR, 21 SB.
CarGo- 26 HR, 20 SB.
Andrew McCutchen- 23 HR, 23 SB.
BJ Upton- 23 HR, 36 SB.
Dustin Pedroia- 21 HR, 26 SB.
Chris Young- 20 HR, 22 SB.
Jeff Francoeur- 20 HR, 22 SB.
I did the same search for 2014 and found just 5 "20-20" hitters:
Todd Frazier- 29 HR, 20 SB.
Ian Desmond- 24 HR, 24 SB.
Carlos Gomez- 23 HR, 34 SB.
Brian Dozier- 23 HR, 21 SB.
Michael Brantley- 20 HR, 23 SB.
There were 4 "30-30" players in 2011 and Matt Kemp came within 1 SB of a 40-40 season. There were no 30-30 players in 2014. None even came close!
The implication for fantasy baseball players is that it may not even pay to try to acquire "20-20" players. In 2014, my Savvy Vets fantasy baseball team had 2 of the 5, Desmond and Gomez and I did not have one of the better offenses in the league. It is not even clear to me that if I had all 5, it would have been a good team! If you want balance on the offensive side of your roster now, you probably have to mix and match power hitters with speed guys who will steal 30+ bases. The alternative is to "punt" a category or two and try to maximize HR's which will also likely get you RBI's and possibly Runs or you can go for a BA/SB/Runs approach trying to win those categories a team full of speed guys. The problem with punting on both sides, is it may be hard to find guys with good BA's that also are leaders in HR's or SB's
The disappearing 20-20 hitter: one of the reasons why I found the last couple of seasons to be more challenging from a fantasy perspective.