BATTERS: Bench targets, 2020

Bats who start the season on the bench often can be rostered at a nice discount, especially in this sprint season. Those with hidden or emerging skills are the best targets, since they could carve out a full-time role once an opportunity arises.

At this time last season, we highlighted Renato Nunez (DH/1B, BAL), Daniel Vogelbach (DH/1B, SEA), Scott Kingery (CF/3B, PHI), Hunter Renfroe (RF, TAM), and Christian Walker (1B, ARI) as attractive stashes in spite of them not holding everyday roles to start the season.

Here are a bunch of bench bats with major league experience whose value could increase as the season moves along.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Anthony Alford (LF, TOR) had a big spring in 2019, but his high strikeout rate at Triple-A prevented him from getting a regular shot in the TOR outfield. He showed an intriguing power/speed profile in the low minors, so if he can trim the swing-and-miss in his game, there's upside here worth stashing.

Franklin Barreto (2B, OAK) seemingly has been around for a while, but he's still just 24 years old. He showed improved power in summer camp. Like Alford, he's another post-hype prospect with multi-category impact potential that needs to calm down his approach at the plate.

Michael Chavis (1B/2B, BOS) had a mixed debut with BOS in 2019. The 18 HR he hit in 347 AB weren't supported by his xHR. And he struggled to make consistent contact (63% ct%). Chavis remains a good investment over the long haul; consider him a work-in-progress for 2020.

Zack Collins (DH, CHW) posted a lot of power against RH batters in the minors, then delivered a 150 PX in 64 AB vs. RHers with CHW in 2019. He also drew a lot of walks against them (16% bb%). That combination of power and patience makes him a good stash in deep leagues, especially if he's catcher-eligible in your league.

Franchy Cordero (CF, KC) has battled with injuries during his career, a chronic issue that has prevented him from delivering on some of the power/speed flashes he has teased us with (144 xPX in 2018, 188 Spd in 2017). In addition, he hasn't posted a contact rate greater than 60% yet. He's a high-risk/reward play for 2020.

Mike Ford (1B, NYY) is a premium bench stash in 2020. He had a strong .909 OPS in 143 AB with NYY in 2019, power that had the support of a 135 xPX. And he didn't sell out his approach to get that power, as he had a good 84% ct% in the second half.

Jordan Luplow (RF, CLE) was one of the game's top hitters in 2019 when facing LHers. He had an elite 1.181 OPS in 128 AB against them. His plate skills vL were good as well: 17% bb%, 75% ct%, 0.81 Eye. His bat was a big drag against RHers (.573 OPS in 97 AB vR), but that upper-tier flash against southpaws should keep him on your radar.

Myles Straw (SS, HOU) is a good bench stash for those needing to speculate on speed. Straw paired good plate discipline (15% bb%, 78% ct%, 0.79 Eye) with elite speed (183 Spd) with HOU in 2019. And he should qualify at both SS and OF early in the season.

LaMonte Wade (CF, MIN) did not deliver much of anything on the surface in 2019 (.196 BA, 2 HR, 5 RBI in 56 AB). But underneath those mediocre marks were an excellent collection of plate skills (16% bb%, 84% ct%, 1.22 Eye). And there's some untapped potential in his legs (127 Spd).
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Jaylin Davis (RF, SF) hit 35 HR between Double-A and Triple-A in 2019, and he showed a willingness to draw walks too (65 BB in 468 AB). That power/patience profile did not carry over to SF (1 HR, 3 BB in 42 AB with SF). Still, he's the kind of bat that could provide some good results in small doses, making him a good speculation in deep leagues.

Phillip Ervin (LF, CIN) struggled out of the gates in 2019 (.268 BA, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 59% ct% in 41 AB in 1H). But he got better as the season went along. He bumped up his contact rate to a decent 76% ct% in the second half while posting average pop and showing good wheels (164 Spd).

Garrett Hampson (2B/CF, COL) was a big disappointment in 2019 until the calendar turned to September. At that point, his multi-category potential materialized: .318 BA, 5 HR, 9 SB in 88 AB. And his contact rate in September (80% ct%) was the best of any month. Even without a regular role to start the season, Hampson remains a solid stash.

Magneuris Sierra (CF, MIA) is another deep league stash for owners in need of steals. He has put up upper-tier speed in each of his three seasons in the majors (169, 140, 154 Spd). In addition, he paired that speed with the best contact rate of his career in 2019 (83% ct%).

Dominic Smith (1B/LF, NYM) was on his way to a great debut in 2019 before a foot injury got in the way in July. He had a .328 BA, 8 HR, 14 RBI, and 1.009 OPS in 122 AB during the first half. His approach at the plate wasn't bad either (13% bb%, 74% ct%, 0.56 Eye). Smith is a premium post-hype play worthy of stashing on your bench in 2020.

Josh VanMeter (LF, CIN) is another bench bat that carries the potential to help you in multiple categories if he can work his way into playing time. He had a 132 xPX and 109 Spd in 228 AB during 2019. And his plate skills got better late in the season (11% bb%, 77% ct%, 0.53 Eye). He'll likely qualify at both IF and OF early in the season too.

Ildemaro Vargas (2B, ARI) took his game to another level in the second half of 2019 with ARI. He had an .837 OPS in 49 AB while making tons of contact (92% ct%) and bumping up his speed (128 Spd). In particular, he was fantastic against LHers (1.025 OPS, 94% ct% in 53 AB vL). Vargas is an excellent stash that carries some hidden upside.


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