The MLB DFS Cram Session Day 2 now in progress! No time to waste on intro words, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover with looks at roster changes, probable lineups, individual hitters and a generalized top stack from each team in the 30-team MLB. If you’re looking to skip around, teams below are presented alphabetically within their division for each league beginning with the AL East. 60-game season projections in the lineups are via Steamer.
Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for Day 3’s look at pitchers and check out all the great MLB content we’ll have on the site for the re-launch. If you missed it, here’s where you can find Day 1 of the MLB DFS Cram Session.
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Season Opt-Outs and Camp Absences
Season Opt-Outs – Covid-19
The following players have all chosen to opt-out of the 2020 season due to Covid-19 and are not eligible to play this year:
Mike Leake – P – Diamondbacks
Ryan Zimmerman – 1b – Nationals
Joe Ross – P – Nationals
Ian Desmond – OF – Rockies
Tyson Ross – P – FA
Wellington Castillo – C – Nationals
David Price – P – Dodgers
Felix Hernandez – P – Braves
Nick Markakis – P – Braves
Hector Noesi – P – Pirates
Buster Posey – C – Giants
Jordan Hicks – P – Cardinals
Michael Kopech – P – White Sox
Colin McHugh – P – Red Sox
Question Marks & Yet To Arrive
This list of players is yet to arrive in camp either due to a confirmed positive Covid-19 test or “undisclosed reasons.”
Austin Meadows – OF – Rays
Will Smith – RP – Braves
Yasiel Puig – OF – FA (Braves contract?)
Luis Urias – IF – MIL
Aroldis Chapman – RP – Yankees
Yordan Alvarez – DH – Astros
Keona Kela – RP – Pirates
Jose Urquidy – SP – Astros
Brendan McKay – SP – Rays
Roster Changes, Projected Lineups and MLB DFS Stacks – American League
The Orioles are going to be the doormat of MLB once again in 2020. In a 60 game season they could win fewer than their 20.5 win over/under. The Orioles did little to improve their outlook for 2020 in the off-season, saying goodbye to longtime Oriole Mark Trumbo and trading away Jonathan Villar. This season is about the future for Baltimore and there is some legitimate excitement about the team’s future with some of the prospects in their 13th ranked farm system. Slugger Austin Hays should begin the season with the team and his bat should be a mainstay at the top of this lineup for nights you look to them in DFS. Anthony Santander and Renato Nunez offer a decent amount of power from the three and four spots in the lineup, although Nunez projected strikeout rate around 25% is not ideal. Lineup black hole Chris Davis will be hitting fifth against righties once again and makes a terrible play on a daily basis.
Best Stack: Austin Hays – Anthony Santander – Renato Nunez
If I could give one tip to novice MLB DFS players it’s be for the love of god do not roster Chris Davis
— Alex Baker (@AwesemoDFS) July 20, 2020
Boston Red Sox
There’s just no way to make up for the loss of a player like Mookie Betts and the Red Sox are going to be diminished in his absence as they will for MLB DFS. Even diminished this remains a dangerous lineup on a nightly basis. Third baseman Rafael Devers followed an up and down, but ultimately encouraging, first full season in 2018 by emerging as a future superstar in 2019. In just his second full season, the 23-year old pounded 32 home runs, drove in 115, and scored 129, while also leading the AL in extra base hits, including a whopping 54 doubles, a killer .244 ISO. Right on Devers’ heels last year was 27-year old shortstop stalwart Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts finally fully delivered on his massive potential for Boston in 2019, putting up career bests of 33HR and 117 RBI, while scoring 110 runs in the middle of the Sox deadly top-half. If the Sox get a return to form from Andrew Benintendi leading off and if J.D. Martinez doesn’t fall off to an extreme degree, the Red Sox will still compete and could be a sneaky high-quality value team for MLB DFS with interesting hitters like rookie Alex Verdugo late in their lineup.
Favorite Stack: Andrew Benintendi – Rafael Devers – Xander Bogaerts – J.D. Martinez – Christian Vazquez
New York Yankees
The break may have been a blessing in disguise for the Yankees as they come into the delayed season with relative health after expecting to start the year in March without several key players. If the Yankees can get everyone on the field for the majority of the season this year they should be loaded. This offense can put nine quality hitters on the field any night. Their insistence on playing the defensively overrated Giovanny Urshela at third base has so far held up due to his offensive outburst in 2019 but he’s a strong regression candidate this season. The exciting part of this order is in the middle with all the power, though. From two through six Steamer has the Yankees projected for an absurd .262 average ISO and a collective WRC+ 25% above league average. It’s difficult to find a better lineup for run production daily. With DJ LeMahieu setting the table for those mashers including Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton the runs and home runs should come frequently in New York.
Favorite Stack: DJ LeMahieu – Aaron Judge – Gleyber Torres – Giancarlo Stanton – Gary Sanchez
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays had a busy offseason swapping a few outfielders with the Padres and bringing in Jose Martinez from the Cardinals. The Rays have the American League’s fourth highest wins total in Vegas at 34.0 and should be competitive with their exciting young roster. The team is made up of toolsy players with a nice mix of power and speed that plays well for MLB DFS. The absence of Austin Meadows early in the season will be felt by this lineup as the outfielder recovers from Covid-19 and makes it through MLB’s process. Meadows had a big breakout in 2019 when he mashed 33 home runs and posted a WRC+ 42% above league average. Newly acquired Manuel Margot should get a shot at the top of this lineup and he provides an intriguing blend of speed and power. His lack of an on-base tool renders him a big question mark to stick as the leadoff man, in his 1,526 career plate appearances Margot has an OBP of just .301. The middle of the lineup should be strong when Meadows returns, featuring a trio that adds newcomers Hunter Renfroe and Jose Martinez. The Rays lineup is one that MLB DFS players can weaponize in good spots with confidence, but they price out to the point of too much popularity at times. The back end of the lineup provides sneaky quality with Kevin Kiermaier and Mike Zunino both possessing slate-breaking ability in a lightning in a bottle sense.
Favorite Stack: Manuel Margot – Austin Meadows (IL) – Jose Martinez – Hunter Renfroe – Ji-man Choi (or as close as positioning allows)
Toronto Blue Jays
The young Blue Jays have a ton of up and coming talent on this team. If they were a stock we’d be buying. I’m not sure if it’s intentional, but the team has something of a theme working with the sons of several all-star caliber players on their roster. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is a superstar in waiting. He has all the tools needed to follow in his father’s footsteps despite not getting out to the start that some dynasty league owners may have had in mind for his rookie campaign in 2019. Vlad posted a WRC+ only slightly over average and managed just 15 home runs and 69 RBIs. The kid showed discipline at the plate however, managing to limit his strikeouts to just 17.7% in his rookie season. We should see him take the next step as he begins to put things together in 2020. Joining Vlad Jr. at the top of the lineup are Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette, the sons of Dante Bichette and Craig Biggio, as well as Cuban import Lourdes Gurriel Jr., whose father played in the Cuban league from 1976 through 1995 and won an Olympic Gold Medal and six Baseball World Cup gold medals for Cuba. After the group of juniors this lineup starts to come apart a bit. There’s plenty of power in bats like Randal Grichuk and Rowdy Tellez but they are more price and opportunity dependent plays. This is also a team that is currently without a home after the Canadian government denied them permission to play their games in Toronto. Their choice of ballpark will have an impact on production for this lineup.
Favorite stack: All the Juniors with the relevant HR bat of that day (Shaw, Grichuk, Tellez)
Chicago White Sox
The South Siders are one of the league’s major up and coming franchises and big things are expected from them over the next few years. After wallowing in futility for a few seasons they were able to turn some smart transactions and acquisitions into a dynamic young core and there’s a lot for MLB DFS players to get excited about with this team right now. Yoan Moncada looks poised for a major breakout season. Moncada barrels a lot of baseballs and took advantage in 2019 turning a lot of that sound contact into home runs and he can contribute with a few bonus steals on the basepaths as well. The 25-year-old posted a WRC+ more than 40% better than league average in 2019 but the numbers suggest he has more to show us. The White Sox should make a terrific option in the right spots and could be sneaky early in the season as the casual player may not be looking for them. Leadoff man Tim Anderson suddenly found himself able to get on base at a .357 clip last year after posting OBPs below .300 in 2017 and 2018. If Anderson is able to keep that going this season, he should see plenty of opportunity to run and to score runs. With sluggers Jose Abreu and Edwin Encarnacion following in the order there is plenty of veteran power on the right side of the plate. Sophomore Eloy Jimenez and rookie Luis Robert will likely occupy places in the back-end of this lineup to start the season, but both super-prospects could climb the order with production or provide sneaky MLB DFS quality later in the lineup in stacks. The White Sox may be a year or two early to the party, but they could easily make a run at the playoffs in this short sprint of a season.
Favorite Stack: Yoan Moncada – Jose Abreu – Yasmani Grandal – Eloy Jimenez – Nomar Mazara
The Indians seem to be coming down the back side of the mountain in their shot at contending but they’re unlikely to concede the division without a fight. This team has quality throughout the lineup and needs to get more from their pitching staff to stay competitive. The Indians project well and usually look like a great option in my home run model for MLB DFS. Superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor has the pop to join league leaders in home runs and the Indians have surrounded him with some interesting hitters. A major inflection point for the performance of this offense is what it gets from Jose Ramirez. Ramirez had a phenomenal year in 2018 but his numbers cratered in 2019 as his walk rate reverted to his career norm of around 9% while his power diminished by around .060 ISO. His struggles on balls in play explain some of the problem, he posted a .256 BABIP in 2019, but that can’t explain everything since he had roughly the same mark the year before when he was one of the best hitters in the league. If Ramirez can figure things out the top of this offense should hum. Slugger Franmil Reyes and fellow power-hitting outfielder Domingo Santana offer quality options in RBI spots later in the lineup for your stacking needs here.
Favorite stack: Jose Ramirez – Francisco Lindor – Carlos Santana – Franmil Reyes – Domingo Santana
The Tigers haven’t won more than 64 games since 2016 and they lost 114 games in 2019. That’s a brutal stretch of baseball and fortunes don’t look to be turning this season for Detroit. There are some solid prospects in their 5th ranked farm system though, so look at them in your dynasty drafts. For this season, and for MLB DFS purposes, there’s not a ton to like in this lineup, but they’re likely to be relevant simply through pricing as we’ve seen in years past. C.J. Cron was one of my favorite late-draft targets in season long leagues this year with his prodigious power and home run upside. The slugging first baseman hit 25 home runs in under 500 plate appearances in 2019 and 30 home runs the year before. Hitting in the middle of this lineup should land him in the middle of most Tigers stacks that you build. Old man Miguel Cabrera is still hitting third for this team as he continues to fade into his later years and should be involved when this lineup produces. The lineup is rife with mediocre hitters who strikeout far too often as you get deeper into it though, Jeimer Candelario, for example, has a 25% career strikeout rate and a WRC+ 12% below league average over the same time. He’s a player best avoided in all but the best spots.
Favorite Stack: Cameron Maybin – Miguel Cabrera – C.J. Cron – Jonathan Schoop
Kansas City Royals
Kansas City is another of the AL Central’s weak squads, the good teams in this division are going to pound on the Tigers and Royals all season when they aren’t beating up on one another. This lineup should get star catcher Salvador Perez back this season which is good for fans of sneaky-good catcher plays. Jorge Soler had a massive home run season in his breakout last year, a season for which I still take partial credit, having finally cut bait with him in the offseason of a dynasty league (I got good value and won the title, I’ll be fine). Soler and Perez are a dynamic pair in the middle of this batting order while the top two hitters should provide a significant amount of production with both their bats and their legs. Adalberto Mondesi has stolen 75 bases over the last two seasons, swiping 43 in 2019 while getting on base less than 30% of the time. If he can improve on that part of his game, he’ll be a monster on the basepaths. Whit Merrifield is no secret to MLB DFS players, as a second baseman he’s provided a lot of value hitting a fair amount of home runs to go with his stolen base and hit tools. The top of this lineup also provides interesting positioning for stack purposes, making them a good group to click together with some of the bigger teams in baseball.
Favorite Stack: Whit Merrifield – Adalberto Mondesi – Hunter Dozier – Jorge Soler – Sal Perez
The Twins just didn’t stop hitting bombs last year, setting a record with 307 team home runs for the season, and then they went out and added Josh Donaldson in the offseason. Donaldson will be replacing C.J. Cron’s power in this lineup and is an objectively better hitter in most aspects. If the veteran slugger can stay in the lineup this team has a good shot at leading the short season in home runs. German leadoff hitter Max Kepler was another Twins player who posted something of a breakout season in 2019 and looks like a strong candidate to continue that quality for MLB DFS lineups. The ageless Nelson Cruz showed no signs of slowing down during his huge 2019, cracking the 40-home run mark for the first time in three seasons. Cruz’ .311 batting average was his highest since 2010 by a wide margin, but it was supported by a .351 BABIP which won’t be sustainable. Everything else about Cruz’ game looks in line with expectations, but at 40 it’s a matter of when not if that we see his power diminish. Jorge Polanco was one of the more underrated players in MLB last year. The other superstar shortstops tended to overshadow Polanco’s contributions, but MLB DFS players know the name and have probably won with his sneaky quality. Polanco has been excellent at limiting strikeouts throughout his career, with just a 16.7% lifetime strikeout rate. Getting a full 700 plate appearances in 2019, Polanco fully delivered, posting 22 home runs and driving in 107.
Favorite Stack: Max Kepler – Jorge Polanco – Nelson Cruz – Josh Donaldson – Mitch Garver
It seems like 5 years ago that Houston’s team was embroiled in a sign-stealing scandal that revealed they were using a system of noises created by banging on a trash can in the dugout to communicate stolen signs to hitters while they were at the plate. The degree to which this cheating helped Astros hitters in the past is difficult, if not impossible to quantify without some significant guesswork. Numerous people have asked how to handle it in projections and the answer is that you should do nothing. There’s simply no data that we can act on with this situation unless you want to attempt some complex extrapolations that won’t be worth the time. The question itself forgets that the cheating scandal in question was during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Houston allegedly played 2019 clean and we didn’t spend last season bemoaning their terribleness to any degree that I can remember.
The lineup here is extremely high quality once again with star players at a number of positions. One of those stars will be absent to start the season, as sophomore slugger Yordan Alvarez has yet to join the team for undisclosed reasons. The team is planning to give Kyle Tucker a shot to fill the gap in Alvarez’ absence. Tucker has disappointed so far in his two cups of coffee at the MLB level, but he remains a high-end prospect and could deliver sneaky value for MLB DFS players who get to him on early slates in the right spot. Jose Altuve’s batting title from 2017 might be forever tainted, but he’s still one of our best second base options every night he’s in the lineup. The diminutive Altuve’s ability to hit the ball over the wall never ceases to amaze, although his stolen bases have dropped dramatically from 32 in 2017 to 17 in 2018 and just six in 2019. If he runs more this season, Altuve could be one of the best players in MLB DFS once again. Shortstop Carlos Correa is yet to make it back to the quality we saw from him in his excellent 2017 campaign. Last year he saw only 321 plate appearances while he wrestled with back and rib injuries. If he can get close to his old numbers, it will be a major boon for the Astros playoff chances. The Astros have Vegas’ second highest wins total in the American League and look like a great bet to be a solid but expensive MLB DFS option every night of the season.
Favorite Stack: Jose Altuve – Michael Brantley – Alex Bregman – Yuli Gurriel – Carlos Correa
Los Angeles Angels
Los Angeles went shopping in the offseason and brought back a stud third baseman to play alongside their super-duper-star outfielder Mike Trout. The arrival of Anthony Rendon at the hot corner in LA should help this lineup produce and will provide Trout some protection in the lineup that he’s been sorely lacking the last few seasons. It also helps the Angels post a more sensible batting order with aging slugger Albert Pujols and outfielder Justin Upton providing power from RBI spots. The Angels will have Shohei Ohtani at the plate and on the mound once again, it will be important to monitor his status and he’s unfortunately an increased risk for injury because of the decision to let him pitch. There is also an issue with Trout, particularly for season-long leagues. Trout’s family is expecting a child in August and he has already stated that he plans to be there, which means he will be away from the team for at least a few days. With MLB requiring players to test negative for Covid-19 twice before they can return to their organization, the delay could be longer than normal. With only 60 games on the schedule every opportunity is precious in season-long and a even a 10-day absence could be devastating to production. For MLB DFS fortunately we’ll just pretend like the Angels don’t exist while Trout is out. Rendon is also dinged up during training, his status for Opening Day is currently in question.
Favorite Stack: Mike Trout – Anthony Rendon – Shohei Ohtani
Oakland is another team that just mashes their way to victory. This team has power to spare through the entire top-half of the lineup. Star shortstop Marcus Semien is finally getting some of the appreciation he deserves, his pricing will be interesting to watch in MLB DFS this year. The speed and power combination provided by Ramon Laureano is intriguing for both daily and season long fantasy, while Khris Davis should return to his usual form, 2019 was the first year Davis didn’t post exactly a .247 batting average after doing so in four straight seasons. The home runs were down dramatically which was far more concerning for fantasy owners. There is some evidence to support the notion that Davis’ power outage was caused by a mid-season hand injury limiting his ability to swing the bat properly and get a good launch angle and lift on the ball, translating to flyouts instead of home runs. The hand should not be an issue this season, so Davis could be a great early bet for value if people are worried about going back to a player in whom they’ve already lost faith.
Favorite Stack: Marcus Semien – Ramon Laureano – Matt Chapman – Matt Olson – Khris Davis
The Mariners are one of the worst teams in the league with a win total of just 23.5 in Vegas. The team is working on a youth movement and has some quality in their 9th ranked farm system. There isn’t a ton of it that has reached MLB ready status yet though, and there won’t be much for MLB DFS owners to dig into here. There is power for MLB DFS purposes in this lineup but there are just an absurd number of strikeouts with the lineup averaging a projection of a 25% strikeout rate. They simply don’t make enough reliable contact to trust them against anything but the worst starting pitcher options. Slugging catcher Tom Murphy hitting cleanup is intriguing as a low-owned option on nights you get to this stack, although his opportunities even in the cleanup spot will be limited by the hitters ahead of him. Daniel Vogelbach was one of the better hitters for the Mariners in 2019, putting up 30 home runs in his first full MLB season and rookie Kyle Lewis could provide a sneaky late-lineup option. Lewis was a highly regarded five-tool prospect before missing multiple minor league seasons with a blown-out knee and other ailments. By most accounts the tools are still there as Lewis works his way into the MLB lineup.
Favorite Stack: J.P. Crawford – Kyle Seager – Tom Murphy – Daniel Vogelbach – Kyle Lewis
The Rangers have been waiting to open up Globe Life Field, their sparkling new stadium with the retractable roof that might change Texas baseball as we know it. The MLB DFS world is eagerly awaiting how the park factors will play and curious to see how the Rangers handle decisions about opening and closing the stadium’s roof in the Texas heat. The team probably won’t be opening things in style though, this limited lineup doesn’t have a ton of upside to it. There are good individual hitters in on this team, but in stacks they are full of holes. The entire bottom of the lineup here is ugly, the focus for stacking has to be toward the top of the batting order here. Shin-soo Choo has been an underrated contributor for his entire career, nothing about that should change this season, if he’s leading off he makes for a quality play most nights that this stack pops in Awesemo’s stack ranking, which won’t be terribly frequent. This is another team that takes the “power but contact issues” paradigm to an extreme. Slugger Joey Gallo is one of the purest “three true outcomes” players in recent memory, when he hits them, they go. Sophomore hitting star Willie Calhoun should be back with the team in short order and will provide a stable bat with some pop in the middle of the order here.
Favorite stack: Shin-so Choo – Elvis Andrus – Joey Gallo
Roster Changes, Projected Lineups and MLB DFS Stacks – National League
It seems like everyone is excited to watch this Braves team this season. They are loaded with young talent on both sides with dynamic arms and quality bats. The addition of Marcel Ozuna in a sharp signing away from the Cardinals should be huge for this team. Ozuna was good in his two years for the Cardinals but didn’t reach the heights he set in 2017 when he posted a WRC+ 43% above league average. The slugger did hit 29 home runs in just 549 plate appearances in 2019 and his walk rate increased to 11.3% from the 6.1% it had dipped to in 2018 after several years of steady upward progress. This is a player that looks like a strong bet to return to quality. Talent surrounds Ozuna on all sides, Freddie Freeman is over a fight with Covid-19 that knocked him for a loop but does not seem to be leaving any lingering after-effects. The first baseman is one of the best bats in the league and should land with a WRC+ between 25 and 40 percent over league average. Leadoff man Ronald Acuna Jr. might be a legitimate threat to go 50-50 one of these years. His 41-37 year in 2019 wasn’t far off and that was just his second year in the league. Don’t sleep on shortstop Dansby Swanson who was among league leaders in barreled balls last year and has only minor tweaks to make to his launch angle before becoming one of the better power-hitting shortstops in the league. Whether he gets there is a question mark, but Swanson’s 2019 profiles similarly to the seasons other big hitters had before their recent breakouts.
Favorite stack: Dansby Swanson (8th) – Ronald Acuna Jr – Ozzie Albies – Freddie Freeman – Marcel Ozuna
Is it me, or is it only a matter of time before Marlins owner Derek Jeter pulls a Roger Dorn from Major League 2 and activates himself? This team is going to be one of the worst in the league again here and the only night you should bet on them is when I have a big MLB DFS share of the most expensive starting pitcher on the slate going against them. I’ll keep you posted. This team did trade for speedy infielder Jonathan Villar in the offseason and they’re making gradual improvements to the lineup with hitters like Chris Dickerson and Jesus Aguilar.
Favorite Stack: Who? I guess it would be three guys I named.
New York Mets
The Mets were an up and coming team in 2019 and now they’re expected to contend. With a legitimately deep and powerful lineup to go along with what should be an excellent bullpen and a very good rotation, a playoff run seems realistic for these guys. Sophomore slugger Pete Alonso will look to top his ridiculous 2019 that saw him hit a rookie record 53 home runs and post a WRC+ 43% above league average. The decision to hit Robinson Cano third in this lineup seems straight out of 2012. Cano hasn’t been that hitter for several seasons now and is coming off an injury plagued season that saw him post just a .256/.307/.428 slash and falling below league average in WRC+. The Mets would do better to move one of their quality younger bats into this spot in the lineup. Following Cano is returning power hitting outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. The 34-year-old missed all of 2019 and the majority of 2018 with a series of ridiculous non-baseball injuries, the most recent involving a wild board. Cespedes has been passing the eyeball test to some degree but it’s impossible to know what to expect here. The Mets need something from Michael Conforto this year. The outfielder was a major contributor for the limited offense that this team was able to muster in 2019, with 33 home runs and 90 RBIs. There’s a lot to like in Conforto’s 12.3% career walk rate and if he can limit his 24% strikeouts a bit further, he’ll make another leap.
Favorite Stack: Jeff McNeil – Peter Alonso – Yoenis Cespedes – Michael Conforto – J.D. Davis
The Phillies, Mets and Nationals are all carrying win totals between 31.5 and 33 going into the season, meaning the NL East should be a fun division to watch. The Phillies went on a spending spree prior to last season, bringing in star outfielder Bryce Harper and catcher J.T. Realmuto. This offseason they spent slightly more discriminately but still improved the team. Didi Gregorius was somewhat diminished in his return from Tommy John surgery for the Yankees but should provide some pop from the shortstop spot and helps to solidify the middle of this lineup with his excellent ability to limit strikeouts. Gregorius should serve both as a bat to drive in runs as well as a table-setter for the back half of this lineup. With Jean Segura and Jay Bruce hitting behind him there could be a very sneaky low-owned angle on stacks in the right matchups. The entire top of the order is in play every game, veteran Andrew McCutchen returns after missing most of 2018 following an injury in early June. While aging has sapped his speed, McCutchen’s hit tool and his ability to get on base are still strong and he should benefit this lineup tremendously with his ability to get on base in front of the big RBI bats. McCutchen was a bit too much of a free swinger the last two years but this is a player with a career WRC+ 35% above league average.
Favorite Stack: Andrew McCutchen – Bryce Harper – J.T. Realmuto – Rhys Hoskins – Didi Gregorius
Washington D.C.’s defending champion Nationals had to wait longer than any team in MLB history to begin the defense of their crown. Winning it all after the departure of Bryce Harper to a division rival was sweet justice or Nationals fans but this team isn’t looking to coast, they expect to compete and bring a diverse interesting lineup to the field. The loss of Anthony Rendon is going to be very difficult for this team to overcome but their combination of hit skills and speed along with a blossoming young superstar slugger in Juan Soto, they could score runs in bunches. Trea Turner and Adam Eaton make for one of the league’s more dynamic 1-2 combinations in either order. Both players have speed and can get on base while also hitting a home run. They’re at different points in their careers but this pair should be fun to watch up top. Victor Robles is a similar player hitting ninth in this lineup, the youngest of the three may also be the fastest but he has something to prove in his second full season. As a rookie, Robles posted a .255/.326/.419 slash with 17 home runs and 28 stolen bases but ultimately made too many mistakes and needs polish. There is a ton of upside in the 23-year-old and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hitting near the top of the lineup as the season rolls on.
Favorite Stack: Victor Robles (9) – Trea Turner – Adam Eaton – Starlin Castro – Juan Soto
On the North Side of Chicago, the Cubbies are a team looking to contend. Bringing back largely the same lineup we’ve seen over the last couple seasons, with the addition of Jason Kipnis, this team is usually in play among quality stack options. On the right day at Wrigley Field we can really see fireworks as MLB DFS owners know well. Ian Happ is another player that I liked several months ago when I was deep into season long drafts and I still think there’s quality here. For DFS purposes he might go overlooked early in the season. Happ spent the bulk of 2019 in AAA after being sent down at the close of a Spring Training through which he struggled mightily. When he finally returned in late August, Happ was able to post a .264/.333/.564 slash with 11 home runs and 30 RBI in only 156 plate appearances. People have short memories for end-of-season stretches in DFS, take advantage if Happ is going under-owned the first few days when the Cubs look good. The top of this lineup has a ton of obvious quality with veteran stars Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in the high-scoring and highly correlated 1-2 spots in the lineup. Willson Contreras is a very strong catching option but you have to catch him on nights when ownership doesn’t go haywire for MLB DFS purposes.
Favorite Stack: Kris Bryant – Anthony Rizzo – Javier Baez – Willson Contreras – Ian Happ
The Central Division is expected to run very tight to the crown with the Cubs and Reds running neck and neck while the Brewers and Cardinals are also very much in play with just 2.5 games separating the four teams in Vegas’ win totals. The Reds have done a lot of work on this lineup over the last few years using both their farm system and free agency to tremendous effect. This offseason saw them bring in veteran third base power hitter Mike Moustakas who should clean up in this lineup hitting ahead of the other big acquisition, Nicholas Castellanos. The outfielder had maybe his best season so far in 2019, splitting the year between the Tigers and the Cubs, who acquired him for their stretch run. Castellanos hit a career-high 27 home runs and scored 100 times for the first time in his career. It might be too much to ask at age 28, but if the veteran can learn to slightly limit his strikeouts and bump his walks a bit, he should see a major uptick in his numbers. 32-year-old Japanese League All-Star Shogo Akiyama is expected to lead off for the Reds this year and should provide a good mix of hit and power tools at the top of the lineup. Eugenio Suarez has increased his home run total every season of his six-year career, reaching 49 in 2019, he provides an excellent power option and posted an absurd .301 ISO last season, which was good for seventh in MLB.
Favorite Stack: Shogo Akiyama – Joey Votto – Eugenio Suarez – Mike Moustakas – Nicholas Castellanos
Milwaukee is expected to be competitive again this season after they finished two games behind the Cardinals for the Central Division title last season. This is a team that might take a step back among the four contenders, however, and a glance at this lineup on paper tells a lot of the story. Christian Yelich is indisputably one of the best bats in the league and should contend for a batting title again this season while posting counting stats that are among the league’s leaders. Second year second baseman Keston Hiura is a star on the rise and should take the next step in his second season hitting fifth in this lineup. Braun has a good shot to be a major contributor to this team in just a 60-game season, his biggest issue in recent years has been nagging injuries pulling him in and out of lineups. That and not being allowed to take steroids anymore. The now 36-year-old slugger is not nearly the player he once was, but he should be a productive bat in the middle of this lineup and is someone that MLB DFS owners might look for excuses not to roster, particularly early in the season. It would be a mistake to leave Braun entirely out of your Brewers stacks.
Favorite Stack: Christian Yelich – Ryan Braun – Keston Hiura – Justin Smoak – Avisail Garcia
The Pirates are going to get beat up in this division this year and it’s not going to be pretty. For a team that hasn’t been truly competitive since their 98-win season in 2015, the Pirates don’t have a ton of young talent coming up in the system, their farm ranks just 15th in the league after graduating Josh Bell and Bryan Reynolds in recent years. Reynolds had a strong debut in 2019 with 16 home runs, 83 runs scored and a WRC+ 31% above league average. Leadoff hitter Kevin Newman provides a nice blend of power and speed, he posted 12 home runs and 16 stolen bases in 2019 with a .308/.353/.446 slash. Bell continued his progress toward becoming a star who demands a trade to a better team or leaves in free agency in the coming years. After a down season in 2018 the third-year slugger mashed 37 home runs and drove in 116 in his breakout 2019.
Favorite Stack: It’s the Pirates, just go with those three guys.
St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis is a veteran team looking to compete as they attempt to transition some youth into the lineup and keep things going. Veteran slugger Paul Goldschmidt saw his batting average crater to .260 which tracked with the nearly 50 points he lost off his BABIP, which suggests at least some of it is based on luck. The slugger has undeniably focused less on his hit tool than power over the last few years and as a consequence he walks a little less which combined with his diminished hit tool to crush his on-base percentage last season. With minor tweaks or dedication these are skills that can come back in a hurry and Goldy did put up another 34-home run season last year so this is one of the safer risks in both season long and early MLB DFS contests. Tyler O’Neill is a power bat that prospect watchers have been waiting on for a few years now and he could finally fully arrive in the short 2020 season after teasing with flashes in parts of 2018 and 2019. O’Neill brings prodigious power to the plate but strikes out at hilarious clips in excess of 35% of the time. To stay in the lineup, he’s going to have to learn some patience or start driving the ball with more regularity. My money would be on the latter if either happens. Paul DeJong is quietly one of the better power-hitting shortstops in the game and should make a sneaky-good MLB DFS option on a lot of the slates where the Cardinals are in play.
Favorite Stack: Matt Carpenter – Paul Goldschmidt – Paul DeJong – Yadi Molina – Tyler O’Neill
Arizona made a big move to acquire multi-talented Starling Marte to leadoff for this team and they expect to be frisky in the NL West. Their biggest problem is that they play in the same division as the Dodgers. Anything can happen with 60 games on the slate, but this would be a solid wildcard team in a normal year. Kole Calhoun cracked the 30-homer mark for the first time in his career in 2019 and immediately changed his address. Joining Arizona in free agency, Calhoun is expected to be a big contributor for this team but putting him and Christian Walker together in the lineup pairs an excessive number of strikeouts that could kill more rallies than it sparks. Ketel Marte came seemingly out of nowhere last season to put up a monster 32 home run campaign that saw him score 97, drive in 92 and steal 10 bases. A .342 BABIP had something to do with that season but there is enough in the peripheral numbers to suggest Marte will still be very productive for this team, his ability to limit strikeouts sets him apart among his teammates and he’ll be expected to be a catalyst for this lineup.
Favorite Stack: Starling Marte – Ketel Marte – Eduardo Escobar – Christian Walker – Kole Calhoun
Everyone knows to mash the Rockies and their opponents when they’re at Coors Field, right? This is a team that benefits tremendously from their thin-air high-elevation ballpark. The Rockies have quality hitters in their lineup, but not enough of them to sustain their numbers when they hit the road. The team suffered dramatically away from Coors last season and it’s reasonable to expect more of the same with them bringing back many of the same players. Sam Hilliard is a young outfielder getting some buzz in fantasy circles coming off a 35-home run 109-run 101-RBI 22 steals season in AAA last year. Those numbers are deceptive coming in Albuquerque and the PCL which is like an entire minor league of Coors Fields. To put those numbers in perspective that’s a similar power year to what Roberto Ramos had for the same team in 2019 and he’s playing in Korea right now. Ramos lacked the speed tool that Hilliard possesses, but I’m a bit skeptical until we the outfielder put it all together. Nolan Arenado is one of the best pure hitters in baseball at the hot corner. The star 29-year-old put up another fantastic season in 2019 with a WRC+ 28% above league average. With no major blips for several years, Arenado is the model of consistency and we should see more of the same from him here. Trevor Story silenced any lingering doubters as he put up his second straight big season which continued the improvements, he had made in 2018 and he should be a great source for power and stolen bases at the position for MLB DFS owners again this season.
Favorite Stack: David Dahl – Trevor Story – Charlie Blackmon – Nolan Arenado – Ryan McMahon
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are expected to be among the very best teams in MLB again this season and many experts have them picked to meet the Yankees in the World Series for the 12th time and first since 1981. Dodgers fans are probably just relieved that they’ll get at least 60-games of their new acquisition Mookie Betts. The Dodgers traded for the superstar outfielder despite his looming free agency which would have kicked in with him never having played for the team if this season didn’t materialize. Betts’ spot atop the lineup for L.A. is at worst equal to the opportunity he had in Boston and it might even be better. Setting the table for sluggers like Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger coming up behind him should keep his run totals in line with what we expect while his ability to get on base and his speed should play well in the Dodgers offense. So far, the Dodgers have not cast Joc Pederson off, despite the many rumors to that effect through the offseason. Pederson makes for a quality power option from late in the lineup against the right pitchers, those being the right-handed ones. All of Pederson’s 36 home runs in 2019 came against righties and he is essentially a platoon player when a lefty starts, seeing only 50 plate appearances against lefties in 2019.
Favorite Stack: Mookie Betts – Justin Turner – Cody Bellinger – Corey Seager – A.J. Pollock
San Diego Padres
The Padres and Diamondbacks will likely run neck and neck for second place in this division. This team is on the rise and they’ve made some savvy moves to position themselves for relevancy in the coming years. Despite graduating Fernando Tatis Jr. to the majors last year, the Padres farm system still ranks 2nd in MLB’s rankings and has multiple top 100 prospects who are yet to arrive. Tatis was immediately one of the best shortstops in the game, with a bananas .317/.379/.590 slash in his 372 rookie plate appearances before his season ended early with a mid-August injury. Tatis hit 22 home runs and stole 16 bases in that limited opportunity and should be a go-to for Padres stacks for years to come. 2020 is still probably going to be a building year for this squad but they have enough that they are firmly in the “you never know“ category in a 60-game season. Manny Machado brings a ton of power and quality to the middle of this order and provides some veteran stability along with Eric Hosmer who is a better real-life ballplayer than he is an asset for season long or MLB DFS. Replacing Hunter Renfroe in this lineup with Tommy Pham is a good way to get DFS players to like your team better as well. Renfroe was a guy that put up numbers but somehow never seemed to do it while in your lineup. Or my lineups anyway. Pham is a dream combination of power and speed when he’s on the field and he should benefit from some quality in this lineup.
Favorite Stack: Fernando Tatis Jr. – Wil Myers – Manny Machado – Tommy Pham – Eric Hosmer
San Francisco Giants
The Giants are going to be one of the worst teams in baseball and they play in a home park that routinely plays to pitching. This is a team that is almost always best left on the shelf when you’re making your MLB DFS picks. There simply isn’t much to like about this team which should be obvious when you see Wilmer Flores hitting second on a regular basis. Hunter Pence returns to San Francisco to wind down his career after resurrecting it for a year in Texas. With Steamer not projecting any of these hitters for more than five home runs and a nearly teamwide WRC+ below league average this is a stack I don’t want anything to do with on 90% of slates.
Favorite Stack: Wilmer Flores – Donovan Solano – Hunter Pence