ALTERNATIVE: 2020 Strat-O-Matic hitting targets

During the dead period before spring training, simulation gamers await the new ratings from games like Strat-O-Matic. These games look back at the previous season to develop statistically accurate simulation ratings to recreate realistic probability outcomes with random number generators (or simply dice) to allow you to actually manage the game action. Sure, you still act as general manager, but in this format you set the lineups, rotations, bring in relievers, pinch hitters, fielding replacements, and determine when to steal or squeeze.

Since Strat rates each player’s fielding range and error frequency (even arm strength for catchers and outfielders). This significantly impacts player values compared to Rotisserie, which only looks at offensive production. We will take a look at each position on the diamond to identify the key impact players at each position, as well as some inexpensive hidden gems you can acquire inexpensively that can contribute winning teams.

Catcher

Behind the plate things get very thin quickly after the top nine. Mitch Garver (C, MIN) tops all catchers with his 186 PX. This immense power outweighs his moribund defense. Many leagues place at-bat restrictions on guys who didn’t play the entire season, which limits Garver’s value a bit. In the playoffs, however, leagues will allow him to play most games.

Willson Contreras (C, CHC) offers similar statistics a step below Garver, but Contreras stifles the running game with his excellent arm. Yasmani Grandal (C, CWS) offers similar power as a switch-hitter but with a surer glove and lesser arm.

Hidden gems include Jorge Alfaro (C, MIA) and Roberto Perez (C, CLE). Both offer great power, with Alfaro offering lots of hit chances on his card with a good arm, but he loses some of his hits in clutch situations. Perez, meanwhile, lacks those hit chances, but features a superior throwing arm and Gold Glove defense.

First Base

Howie Kendrick (1B, WAS) surprises many by topping a weak first base crop. Kendrick teamed a 110 PX with his .344 BA to become an offensive force in any ballpark. Strat-O-Matic utilizes ballpark effects and adjusts individual player’s statistics accordingly. Kendrick’s card plays well in any ballpark, with so many hit chances and enough home runs to work well in bandboxes. As an added bonus, Kendrick adequately mans second or third base, as well, giving you flexibility to deploy him and your bench in several different ways.

Once again, Anthony Rizzo (1B, CHC) put up solid offensive numbers with excellent defense. A career-high .293 BA teamed with a 12% bb% yields a solid card. Rizzo increased his effectiveness against southpaws in 2019 to eliminate the need for a platoon.

Despite crushing 53 home runs, Pete Alonso (1B, NYM) has his value diminished a bit by his poor fielding and a 69% ct%. This results in fewer hit chances to consistently drive in runs. Alonso still ranks third overall. Also note he excelled against right-handers, so opponents must find a port-sider better against right-handed batters to attempt to neutralize Alonso.

The best kept secrets have similar backwards splits: Christian Walker (1B, ARI) and Garrett Cooper (1B, MIA). Walker is better in every respect, especially against southpaws, eliminating the need to platoon. Wilmer Flores (2B, SF) also has a card similar to—but a step down—from Kendrick, as he is lacking power against right-handers.

Second Base

Ketel Marte (2B/OF, ARI) combines power and speed with very good defense at the important second base position. Marte also plays a solid center field if you need it, but loses many of his hits in clutch situations. Jose Altuve (2B, HOU) offers a nearly identical card that's a tad worse against right-handers. DJ LeMahieu (2B, NYY) brings superior defense at the position with tons of hits both ways. LeMahieu is much better against lefties, and gains about one hundred batting average points in clutch situations.

One of the best hidden gems up the middle is Kolten Wong (2B, STL). Wong offers great defense with speed and adequate offense against both types of pitching. David Fletcher (2B, LAA) offers similar statistics one step below Wong without much speed, but possessing an 89% ct%. Fletcher can also field extremely well at shortstop and third base. Adam Frazier (2B, PIT) also offers similar skills without the flexibility in the field.

Third Base

Incredible depth exists at the top of a deep third base pool. These guys all would make third base your team’s strength, with excellent defense and balanced performance against all types of pitching:

Alex Bregman
Anthony Rendon
Nolan Arenado

Brian Anderson (3B/OF, MIA) crushes right-handed pitching and offers very good defense. Hunter Dozier (3B, KC) offers excellent offense against both types of pitching. Tommy Edman (3B/2B/OF, STL) offers solid hit chances, on base, and power against port-siders with an excellent glove and poor clutch performance. Tommy La Stella (2B/3B, LAA) sports a 90% contact rate with solid power against right-handers.

Shortstop

No question who tops the shortstop position: Trevor Story (SS, COL). Story offers the best defense at the most important defensive position, with offense rivaling anyone. The park adjustment factor of Coors Field dampens his card a bit to make it equal to Xander Bogaerts (SS, BOS).  Bogaerts unfortunately lacks the stellar range of Story, yielding only an average glove that slides him to second-best. Marcus Semien (SS, OAK) offers performance right in between, with a glove in between the two and solid offense.

Kevin Newman (SS, PIT) offers solid on base skills against both types of pitcher with average defense while Jose Iglesias (SS, BAL) brings lots of hit chances with his stellar glove. Miguel Rojas (SS, MIA) quietly had a superb year all around for the Marlins and comes extremely cheap.

Left Field

Take your pick of exciting young stars at the top; you can’t go wrong. Juan Soto (LF, WAS) or Ronald Acuna, Jr. (OF, ATL) excel at this corner outfield position. The only blemishes are Soto’s lack of power against southpaws and Acuna’s tad less total base chances. Acuna also can play center field, but his fielding is better in left.

Hidden gems in left begin with Mike Tauchman (LF, NYY), who paired very good glove work with solid power against right handers and plenty of hits and on-base chances against port-siders. Mike Yastrzemski (RF, SF) has a better defensive rating in left field and offers tremendous power against all pitchers. Adam Eaton (RF, WAS) offers similar balance with less power, lesser fielding, and more on-base with his 10% bb%. 

Center Field

Mike Trout (CF, LAA) stands in a class by himself, but you would never guess the next most valuable center fielder. After adjusting for spacious Oakland Coliseum (-10% home runs to RHB), Mark Canha (OF, OAK) yields an incredible card against right-handed pitching. George Springer (CF, HOU) also excels at this premium position.

Canha’s teammate Ramon Laureano (CF, OAK) tops the hidden gem list with an excellent balanced card featuring tremendous power. Since he missed the second half of the season, Joey Gallo (OF, TEX) and his incredible first half, featuring a 251 PX, easily get forgotten. Cameron Maybin (CF, DET) put up career highs with a 127 PX and an 11% walk rate evenly balanced against both types of pitchers. Even coming off such a career year, Maybin will come inexpensively.

Right Field

Some incredible names we all know at the top of the list here:

Cody Bellinger
Christian Yelich
Mookie Betts

Austin Meadows (RF, TAM) provides an even card with power, hit chances, on-base, and a solid glove. So does Trey Mancini (1B/RF, BAL), with a bit less of everything. If you don’t need as much power, Alex Verdugo (RF, BOS) offers plenty of hit chances with his 129 HctX.

Next time, we will look at pitching targets and hidden gems.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.