We’re less than three calendar months from Opening Day, and fantasy baseball preparation is set to begin. Where do Indians players stand in early rankings?
The 2019 NFL regular season just ended, which means it’s time for the fantasy sports community to turn its collective attention to preparing for baseball drafts. As has been the case for the last several years, there are a handful of Cleveland Indians players regarded highly in preseason rotisserie rankings.
Francisco Lindor is naturally the top candidate to have a league-winning season in a Tribe uniform, as he is ranked sixth overall in ESPN’s top 300. Lindor is the highest-ranked non-outfielder in the league, and consequently the top shortstop.
Coming in at 25th is Jose Ramirez, whose draft position could wind up being a steal even in the second or third round. Ramirez’s first-half woes in 2019 did just enough to put a dent in his draft stock, but his second half reminded the world that he’s still a top option when he’s right. Ramirez is ranked fifth among third basemen, and could easily wind up finishing the 2020 season in the top three.
Coming in one spot behind Ramirez and ranked as the Indians’ top starting pitcher is Shane Bieber at 26th. Bieber is rather surprisingly ranked fifth among starting pitchers, just ahead of Walker Buehler and Stephen Strasburg. One impressive season was all it took for Bieber to be considered one of the game’s elite at his position.
Perhaps the safest bet to outperform his current ranking is Mike Clevinger, who is ranked as the 12th starting pitcher and 45th player overall. Some 2019 injury concerns naturally factor into Clevinger’s draft-day price at the moment, but there is no denying that he could easily skyrocket into the top three or five in 2020.
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Carlos Santana‘s ranking of 13th among first basemen seems a little low after he posted his best offensive season ever in 2019, but the caveat here is that several of the players rated ahead of him don’t play the position full-time (Yasmani Grandal, Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy). At 110th overall, Santana is another player who, like Clevinger, could quite easily exceed his early offseason ranking.
Fantasy owners who find themselves in need of a power surge later in drafts don’t need to look much further than Franmil Reyes, who is ranked 129th overall. That’s 40-homer upside with a likely 30-homer floor after the 10th round, making Reyes the type of bargain-shelf hitter who can turn the tide of a league in the home run and RBI categories.
Despite putting up respectable power numbers in his first full season as a starter, Roberto Perez is not highly thought of among catchers. Perez comes in ranked 23rd at a position already largely devoid of big-time bats. Should he repeat his 2019 numbers in 2020, which is admittedly a big question mark, he represents another potentially valuable contributor on fantasy teams. He can probably be scooped up in the very last rounds of drafts should his current ranking hold through Spring Training.
Carlos Carrasco is something of a wild card, both in fantasy and in real life. He’s ranked 36th among starting pitchers and 138th overall, but if he is able to regain his pre-illness form on the mound, he’s a top-three starter on just about any team in baseball. In fantasy lineups, that’s tremendous upside with minimal risk at his current draft price.
These rankings will fluctuate throughout the offseason, particularly in the case of Cleveland’s position players. Any additions or subtractions to the lineup will influence offensive projections, and players will bounce up and down a couple spots here and there. In any case, if you’re setting up your draft board for 2020 and you want to load up on Indians players, you can use these early rankings to start piecing together your plan of attack. It never hurts to be prepared.