One of the rumors making the rounds as we continue to wait to learn what the future holds for the MLB season is the potential for a universal DH for 2020. If adopted it’s hard to envision them going back, but that’s a debate for another day. Fantasy owners should be prepared, just in case the move comes to fruition. Who could be the biggest benefactor for NL clubs? Obviously the schedule could impact things (if it is loaded with double headers teams could opt to use the spot as a way to keep their best hitters in the lineup), but let’s take a look at who the most likely DH are for each franchise. Kicking things off is the NL West:
Arizona Diamondbacks – Jake Lamb
The Diamondbacks have some interesting minor league names to monitor, from Kevin Cron to Daulton Varsho. In fact Varsho is arguably the most intriguing name, depending on how MLB rosters ultimately look. There’s no chance he would’ve been on the Opening Day roster, playing ’19 at Double-A and with Carson Kelly locked in as catcher, but if the minor league season is wiped out Arizona could use the opportunity to thrust Varsho into the mix thanks to the clear opportunity for AB. If that happens, Varsho becomes a must target.
Without that Lamb is the most likely beneficiary. The additions of Starlin Marte and Kole Calhoun has shifted Ketel Marte to 2B, in turn locking Eduardo Escobar into 3B and Christian Walker at 1B. That means no clear spot for Lamb, who has battled injuries the past two years (total of 464 PA). It’s easy to forget that he hit 59 HR between 2016 & 2017, and the ability to DH without the wear and tear of playing defense on a daily basis could quickly return him to viability.
Arizona has some older players in the lineup like Marte and David Peralta. That means that they can be slotted in at DH, keeping their bats in the lineup more often than not and costing Lamb (or any DH) opportunities.
Colorado Rockies – Sam Hilliard
As always, the Rockies are a bit of a confusing roster. They could easily have found a spot in the starting lineup on Opening Day for Hilliard, though it wasn’t a guarantee. As always they consistently have been a team that doesn’t seem to trust their youngsters, instead favoring the veteran. With that in mind, here are a few other names to watch for the team:
- Garrett Hampson – he proved he could be a difference maker at the top of the lineup in 2019
- Ian Desmond – a veteran who may not have a clear path to a starting role, he can’t be ignored
- Brendan Rodgers – one of the top prospects, he’s likely behind Ryan McMahon in the battle for AB at second base
That leaves Hilliard, who is an impressive prospect. In Rotoprofessor’s 2020 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, here’s an excerpt of what we had to say:
Hilliard thrived at Triple-A in ’19, hitting .262 with 35 HR, 101 RBI, 109 R and 22 SB. The speed has been consistent, and he has now hit 20+ HR in two of the past three seasons. You can argue that he can’t maintain the 25.5% HR/FB he posted last season, though playing half his games in Coors Field would help. The left-handed hitter didn’t have a notable split, including slashing .268/.306/.571 against southpaws, and while it was a small sample he wasn’t overmatched in the Majors (11.0% SwStr%, 28.8% O-Swing%). There was more swing and miss at Triple-A (15.7% SwStr%)
Los Angeles Dodgers – A.J. Pollock
The Dodgers are constantly rotating their lineup, just like their rotation, playing matchups in order to try and maximize the production. Someone like Joc Pederson is going to be a platoon player regardless of the presence of the DH, so we can’t say that he’s going to be a key beneficiary.
With that said, it’s easy to point towards Pollock as the biggest beneficiary. A veteran who likely had lost a clear opportunity to start, thanks to the addition of Mookie Betts, the addition of a DH spot could get his bat in the lineup and hopefully keep him healthy.
San Diego Padres – Wil Myers
Sure someone like Ty France, who has mashed at Triple-A, could be an intriguing name to watch but it’s Myers who figures to be the biggest beneficiary. Remember when he was seen as an elite prospect? With an outfield of Tommy Pham, Trent Grisham and Franchy Cordero, as well as Eric Hosmer being locked in at 1B, Myers has become a highly paid reserve. The addition of a DH spot would at least give San Diego an opportunity to get some return on that investment (he’s set to earn $20 million).
That doesn’t mean that Myers is guaranteed to produce. A career .251 hitter, the team made moves to replace him in the lineup for a reason. He’s coming off a season where he hit .239 with 18 HR over 435 AB as he watched his strikeout rate balloon to 34.3%. He did stay within the strike zone (28.7% O-Swing%), hit the ball hard (47.2% Hard%) and carries 20/20 potential. If he’s in the lineup, he suddenly becomes an intriguing option who has the ability to produce.
San Francisco Giants – Jaylin Davis
Wilmer Flores could be a name to watch, though he may be a better fit as a platoon player. Instead Davis, who was acquired from the Twins in 2019, becomes an intriguing name to watch. Between Double and Triple-A last season he exploded to hit .305 with 35 HR, 94 RBI, 94 R and 10 SB over 468 AB. It’s an impressive line, though that doesn’t mean there aren’t questions. As noted in our 2020 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide:
Obviously a 15.0% SwStr% in the minors is a bit of a red flag, though he also posted a 12.0% walk rate, and you have to wonder how real the power is.
He’s already made his MLB debut, and with an extra bat in the lineup and potentially no minor league season it would make sense for the team to give him an opportunity.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings: