Comeback: RP Edwin Diaz
The theme for Diaz in 2019 was death by disaster.
He came into last year with exceptional success in 2018 (1.96 ERA, 124 Ks, and 57 SVs over 73.1 innings), pushing his career stats to even lower levels (2.64 ERA, 301 Ks, and 109 SVs over 191 innings).
Diaz was a top tier closer drafted last year.
There was no sign of trouble over his first 24 games (1.64 ERA, 35 Ks, and 13 SVs over 22 innings).
After his second blown save on May 29th (four runs, six baserunners, and two home runs over one-third of an inning), he had three more disaster games (12 runs and 14 baserunners over 2.2 innings) in his next 11 appearances.
From July 28th to the end of the season, Diaz had the most issues with home runs (eight over 18.2 innings), which led to a 7.23 ERA.
His strikeout rate (15.4) was a career-high while having regression in his walk rate (3.4 – 2-1 in 2018).
Most of his downside came against right-handed batters (.299 with ten HRs over 137 at-bats). Baserunners also had 11 successful steal attempts on the year (21-for-25 before 2019).
His AFB (97.8) fell in a range with his success in the majors. Diaz had an untouchable slider in 2018 (.121 BAA), but that pitch killed him in 2019 (.297 with six home runs over 74 at-bats).
His four-seam fastball (.237 BAA and nine HRs) was also weaker than 2018 (.188 with two HRs).
With an ADP of 122, Diaz will be a target for the wise guy fantasy owners in 2020 who are willing to give him a pass for his unforeseen train wreck.
Possible 40-saves with an edge in ERA and strikeouts. Just a thought here, sometimes a rise in walks and more home runs off sliders can be a sign of an elbow issue. There wasn’t a change in velocity with his slider from 2018 to 2019, so Diaz hopefully doesn’t have an underlying problem.
Breakout: OF J.D. Davis
Davis looks to be one of the trickier New York Mets to gauge in 2020. His bat is ready to earn starting at-bats, but New York has an extra option at 3B and LF. With the NL trending toward a DH this year, Davis should be in the lineup almost every day.
He had a high average hit rate (1.714) and contact batting average (.403) in his first year with substantial at-bats in the majors. His strikeout rate (21.4) and walk rate (8.4) came in at the league average.
He hit over .300 in four of six months with his best value and opportunity in August and September (.321 with 31 runs, 12 HRs, and 28 RBI over 165 at-bats).
Over five seasons in the minors, Davis hit .292 with 105 home runs, 393 RBI, and 19 steals over 1,981 at-bats.
His one weakness last year was his RBI rate (12). He had almost the same results against righties (.305 with 14 HRs and 40 RBI over 269 at-bats) and lefties (.312 with eight HRs and 17 RBI over 141 at-bats).
Davis had the 30th hard-hit rate (47.7) in baseball. Even with strength in his HR/FB rate (23.2), his fly-ball rate (30.2) remains low due to a ground ball swing.
Fantasy owners have him priced in the early draft season as a full-time starter based on his ADP (172). Close to a 25/85 player with a step back in batting average if he gets 500 at-bats.
Value: 2B Robinson Cano
Two years ago, Cano looked like a lock to get 3,000 hits. After picking up 194 combined hits in 2018 and 2019, he needs 430 hits to reach a Hall of Fame milestone.
Last year he turned into a weak batter with runners on base (RBI rate – 11, 18 in 2018, and 16 in his career).
Cano had a career-high strikeout rate (16.3 – 12.6 in his career) and his lowest walk rate (5.9) since 2009.
His average hit rate (1.670) rebounded and supported 20-plus home runs based on his resume. He had a sharp decline in his contact batting average (.321), but his hard-hit rate (46.0) ranked highly in 2018 (12th) and 2019 (44th).
Cano lost his way against lefties (.215 with two HRs and seven RBI over 107 at-bats) while failing to secure a full month of at-bats after April (.270 with three HRs and 11 RBI over 100 at-bats).
Coming into last year, Cano had right knee surgery in December of 2018. His demise in 2019 started on April 21st after getting hit with a pitch on his right hand. A week later, he took another pitch to his left hand. Cano landed on the injured list in late May with a quad issue and again in early August with a torn hamstring. In September, he took another pitch off his left foot (toe injury) and another one again to his right hand.
Fantasy owners have him priced as roadkill based on his ADP (417). Cano is a proven major league bat that battled injuries in back-to-back seasons. Given his free price point, I’m willing to give him a ride with the idea of a floor of a .280/80/20/80 season.
Deep Sleeper: OF Yoenis Cespedes
Cespedes missed three-fourths of the 2018 season with a heel injury that required two surgeries. Seven weeks into 2019, he broke his right ankle, officially ending any chance of playing.
Over the last two seasons with playing time, he hit .282 with 66 runs, 26 home runs, 71 RBI, and three steals over 432 at-bats.
In 2018, his strikeout rate (31.9) was way out of line from his previous resume (21.0). His walk rate (8.3) has been over the league average over the last three years.
Cespedes continues to have a massive fly ball swing (52.7 in 2018 and 49.6 in 2017) with strength in his HR/FB rate (18.4). Both his average hit rate (1.892) and contact batting average (.407) have been strong over the last four seasons.
His ADP (463) doesn’t put much faith in returning to his previous form, but New York would love it if he can seize the DH job if the National League does indeed use it in 2020.
Middle-of-the-order bat with plenty of power and a neutral batting average if/when he locks down a starting job.
Deep Sleeper: SP David Peterson
After a breakthrough college season in 2017 (11-4 with a 2.51 ERA and 140 Ks over 100.1 innings), the Mets drafted Peterson with the 20th overall pick.
His arm had no problem with A Ball in 2018 (1.82 ERA and 57 Ks over 59.1 innings), but he did look overmatched at High A in 2018 (4.33 ERA and 1.354 WHIP) and AA in 2019 (4.19 ERA and 1.345 WHIP).
Overall, Peterson maintained value in both his walk rate (2.5) and strikeout rate (8.8) in the minors while showing more strikeout ability in 2019 (9.5).
New York should push him to AAA this year, but he does need another swing and miss pitch with better control in the strike zone. Peterson features a low 90s fastball with an upside slider that creates a high number of ground balls (over 65 percent in 2018 and about 53 percent in 2019).
READ MORE: 2020 New York Mets Fantasy Team Preview
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