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Post-Hype Hitters Set to Breakout in 2020

Post-hype hitters are former top prospects who have struggled to find success in the major leagues. These are players who were once viewed as intriguing fantasy assets but now have discounted prices due to the slow starts in their respective careers. 

The three outfielders in this list have gained value because of the delayed start to the 2020 season. Each of these players was questionable to start the season had it begun on schedule, but now, if we do get a 2020 season, they will be able to start on time. 

Each of these hitters combines power and speed, making them appealing options, given the current climate of speed scarcity. Let’s find out why Byron Buxton, David Dahl, and Alex Verdugo are three post-hype hitters ready to break out this coming season.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins

Year Brl% LA° xSLG K% Z-Contact% GB%
2017 5.6 11.8 0.399 29.4 77.2 42.6
2019 8.3 19.5 0.433 23.1 81.0 29.6

Since Buxton only had 94 plate appearances in 2018, we’ll compare his 2017 and 2019 seasons. As you can see in the chart, Buxton began to hit the ball much harder, with a 2.7% increase in Brl%. He also began to hit the ball in the air more frequently, trimming his GB% by 13% and increasing his launch angle by 7.7 degrees. This explains why he was able to hit 10 HR in 295 PA this past season, after only hitting 16 HR in 511 PA back in 2017. It was also encouraging to see how Buxton lowered his K% by 6.3%, as he was able to make contact on zone pitches more often - his Z-Contact% increased by 3.8%. Buxton finished 2019 with a .262 BA/.314 OBP/.513 SLG slash, 10 HR, and 14 SB in only 295 PA. It’s likely that he would have finished as a 20/20 hitter last year had he stayed healthy.

Now entering his age-26 season, Buxton has a chance at a career year in a shortened season. He will likely remain in the nine-hole, but the Twins have one of the best lineups in baseball, so this won’t impact his value too much. Hitting at the bottom of the order will provide more stolen base opportunities, and there’s always a chance that sustained periods of strong performance could bump him up in the lineup to a more favorable position. Buxton had shoulder surgery in September, but the long layoff should allow him to heal and be ready to make an impact for your fantasy team. 

A projected pace of .260 BA, 77 R, 23 HR, 75 RBI, and 14 SB would give Buxton an Expected Draft Value of 108.8, which is 49 picks earlier than his current 157.63 NFBC ADP. Fourteen stolen bases is a conservative projection for Buxton, so it’s likely that he returns even more value should he stay healthy. 

 

David Dahl, Colorado Rockies

Year Brl% SweetSpot% xwOBAcon
2018 9.3 35.0 0.413
2019 10.3 41.0 0.436

Dahl hit the ball harder in 2019, with a 1% increase in Brl% and .023 improvement in xwOBAcon. Dahl was also able to find his sweet spot more often, with a 6% increase.  If Dahl could maintain these improvements, it bodes well for his chances of continuing to hit at a 20-HR pace in this upcoming shortened season. Dahl also has above-average speed, so there’s definitely some untapped stolen base potential here, as his career-high is only five stolen bases. He finished with a .302 BA/.353 OBP/.524 SLG slash line with 15 HR and four steals in only 413 PA. His season was cut short by a leg injury in early August. The shortened season would obviously increase Dahl’s chances of staying on the field, making him a more appealing option at OF.

Entering his age-26 season, Dahl has his best baseball ahead of him. The only issue with him as a player is his injuries. Simply put, when Dahl has been on the field, he has delivered strong production. Hitting in Coors Field is obviously a massive bonus to his fantasy value. This is a player who has legitimate .300 BA/25 HR/15 SB upside, with strong potential in run production due to his team context. Dahl is now healthy with a chip on his shoulder to prove the doubters wrong.

A projected pace of .295 BA, 72 R, 23 HR, 77 RBI, and 4 SB would give Dahl an Expected Draft Value of 116.2, which is 50 picks higher than his 146.7 NFBC ADP. This is a conservative projection, as Dahl should have no problems exceeding those R and RBI totals. Dahl should provide terrific value in 2020.

 

Alex Verdugo, Boston Red Sox

Year xBA K% Z-Contact% SweetSpot%
2019 0.288 13.0 91.2 33.7

Verdugo primarily spent the 2018 season in the minor leagues, so we’ll only look at his 2019 numbers. This is a terrific contact hitter who has the ability to contend for the BA title, as evidenced by his low 13.0 K% and high 91.2 Z-Contact%. Verdugo also was able to find his sweet spot at a high rate of 33.7%. His move to Fenway Park should pay major dividends for his run production. He’ll also likely be hitting in a better lineup slot since the Red Sox will depend on him more than the Dodgers. This means that Verdugo should set a career high in HR and RBI, as he’ll be hitting in a bandbox with more run-producing opportunities. Verdugo was slated to start the season on the IL with an injured back, but the delayed Opening Day will allow him to start the season in the lineup.

Entering his age-24 season, Verdugo has a clear path to playing time, which is something that he struggled with as a Dodger, due to their substantial depth. In Boston, he will have a chance to become one of the mainstays in the Red Sox lineup. This is a player who is similar to Dahl — a high-contact hitter with some pop and untapped SB potential. He should also have something to prove after the Dodgers messed around with his playing time, ultimately trading him to a new team. This has all of the makings of a career season for Verdugo.

A projected pace of .303 BA, 70 R, 18 HR, 65 RBI, and 9 SB would give Verdugo an Expected Draft Value of 142.2, which is 89 picks higher than his 231.87 NFBC ADP. Verdugo will likely put up more R and RBI than this projection, so there’s a decent chance that he returns even more value.

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