A look at Tampa Bay Rays’ top three rated fantasy studs heading into 2020.
Blake Snell (38th overall at ESPN.com)
4.29 ERA // 1.27 WHIP // 107 IP // 147 SOs // 6-8
ESPN is not buying into Blake Snell’s regression. His elite strikeout rate keeps a high floor on his fantasy season for you, but his FIP was nearly one entire point lower than his ERA. Snell also dealt with some elbow issue last season that should be behind him. A healthy 2020 should see a return to his Cy Young ways. He’s a legitimate fantasy ace.
Austin Meadows (61st overall at ESPN.com)
.291 AVG // 83 R // 33 HR // 89 RBI // 12 SB
Meadows is rated as ESPN’s 61st overall fantasy player in its current 2020 rankings. He is rated the 20th among outfielders. He finds himself rated between Eddie Rosario and Eloy Jimenez. Both are 30+ homer guys like Meadows but neither one contributed to every single category the way Meadows did in 2019.
Meadows has a chance to put himself in the superstar, upper echelon of fantasy and real baseball. The Rays trust him enough not to platoon him. It’s a rare feat in fantasy when you can find a high batting average player with 30+ home run power and contributes with steals. Despite a relatively high rating, Meadows could still be a good value in 2020.
Charlie Morton (64th overall at ESPN.com)
3.05 ERA // 1.08 WHIP // 194.2 IP // 240 SOs // 16-6
Morton finished third in AL Cy Young voting last season. Morton is entering his age-36 season and has seen his strikeouts per nine increase every single season over the past five years. He reached a career-high of 11.1 in 2019. Morton even found himself getting some MVP consideration after anchoring the Rays pitching staff while Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow dealt with injuries.
Whatever adjustments Morton made in Houston have stuck with him in Tampa as he appears to be like a fine wine, or a good pair of jeans, or…Jennifer Aniston – he’s getting better with age.
The reason Morton is ranked the lowest of our top three has to be age. The past couple of seasons has caused fantasy players to be a little hesitant to spend early-round draft capital on an aging player that has only had one or two fantasy seasons, but at this point, Morton has proven that he is no fluke. When the Rays offered him a record-setting contract for their franchise, that was a good time for the rest of the world to realize. The Rays tend to know what they are doing in these situations.
There was no cause for concern or signs of slowing down for Morton last season. The only concern comes with the workload. He has never exceeded 200 innings and finished 2019 at 194.2 innings pitched. Rays management has indicated they’d like to scale the old man’s workload down, but it won’t stop Morton from being a fantasy force. The Rays are paying him $15 million to pitch this year, and they don’t take $15 million lightly. They will get their money’s worth and so will you.
Which of these three is the best fantasy option? Who will you choose in 2020?