Major League Baseball is back! The players and owners have agreed to terms on playing a 2020 season, with spring training starting July 1st and the regular season starting July 23rd or 24th. The most notable change, beyond this being a 60-game season is the inclusion of a universal Designated Hitter. The much-debated DH is coming to the National League for this season!
The NL will need to find designated hitters, which they will, but the question is, who will they be and are they going to be any good? This should give some NL players a boost in playing time and fantasy upside.
Projecting who will see the biggest increase in work will be a big part of fantasy baseball for this shortened season. We’ll take a look at who might see those extra at-bats. Good young players should also benefit, as they will have more opportunities even if they aren’t designated their team’s designated hitter.
Austin Riley, Braves, 3B/OF/DH
Riley had an up and down debut last season, but showed the power that will make him a home run threat for a long time. In spring training part 1, Riley looked like he wouldn’t make the starting lineup, at least to start the season. Now that the DH is in play, Riley should get plenty of at bats in a strong lineup.
Dylan Carlson, Cardinals, OF/DH
Carlson hit .292 with 26 home runs and 20 steals in 126 games in the minor leagues last season. He is a top prospect in the league and one of the frontrunners for Rookie of the Year if he can start from Day 1. The DH coming to the NL should be good news for Carlson, as he was on the edge of making the starting lineup in spring training. The DH should end up giving him full time work and a likely useful multi-tooled fantasy player.
Wil Myers, Padres, OF/DH
Meyers has good fantasy upside with a full time job, but before the DH, it looked like he would be a part time player. He won’t be a good source for average, but he has power and speed enough to be a consistent fantasy play who has a good chance of a 20-20 season pace.
Garrett Hampson, Rockies, 2B/DH
Hampson, like the others on this list, just needs playing time to become fantasy relevant. Unfortunately, even with the DH, Hampson isn’t guaranteed a full-time role. After a great September last season, he is poised to take a step forward this year and hopefully win a good chunk of at bats now that there are more to go around. Unfortunately it’s impossible to rely on the Rockies doing something that will make fantasy players happy.
Jay Bruce, Phillies, OF/DH
Bruce should be pretty much locked into the DH role and still has power when given at bats. He’s not going to hit for average, so all we’re hoping for here are power numbers. After a poor 2019, he should be able to focus more on hitting instead of his bad defense and give fantasy players decent home run numbers for cheap.
Howie Kendrick, Nationals, IF/DH
Kendrick had a resurgent season last year at 35 years of age. It would be difficult for him to repeat his .966 OPS and 17 home runs in 121 games played, but he is set up well for at bats this year. Kendrick’s defense isn’t great and should be considered for the DH spot despite a large contingent of players up for the job.