Could Brendan Rodgers of the Colorado Rockies make an impact for fantasy baseball owners as a designated hitter?
If/when (please make it when) Major League Baseball returns to our screens, eyes, and lives, something will look different to National League fans. Will it be empty stadiums? Probably. Will it be no high fives or sunflower seeds scattered on the dugout floor? I could see that as a real possibility. However, the biggest on-the-field change for the Colorado Rockies and the rest of the NL will be the implementation of the universal designated hitter.
There are many real-life baseball implications that everyone and their third cousins have weighed in on. Instead, let’s look at this from a fantasy angle and see who we can hope to get some surprise production from in the Colorado Rockies lineup with the added hitting spot.
"With great designated hitters, comes great fantasy baseball stats – Unknown Fantasy Starved Contributor"
I think it comes down to Garrett Hampson, Sam Hilliard, and Brendan Rodgers. During spring training, there was chatter about Hampson and Hilliard being in the mix for some outfield work. They were gaining some hype in the fantasy community as deep sleepers with some power and speed upside in 12-/14-team leagues.
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However, my money is on Rodgers benefitting the most as he is the organization’s top prospect. He seemed a forgotten man in the shuffle during the fantasy baseball’s annual tradition of getting excited about a young, up-and-coming prospect from Colorado. I think he is ready to prove that overlooking him is a mistake.
The 2015 first-round pick batted .350 in the minors last year, but was underwhelming in his 25-game stint at the major league level. Unfortunately, he was injured before he could return to the big leagues in September and required season-ending shoulder surgery.
So it was an unexpected delight when he played four spring training games for the Rockies before the season was suspended. I trust that an environment where Rodgers believes he has more job security and doesn’t have to produce during every at-bat will benefit the 23-year-old and make him a useful player as a middle infielder in 14-team roto leagues.
The 33.3 percent strikeout rate will scare off any points league managers until he shows that he can get that under control. Rodgers never posted above a 23.3 percent rate in the minors, and some more seasoning at the MLB level should allow him to prove he’s not the strikeout liability he showed in 2019.
It’s a bit of a homer pick, but I wouldn’t ‘t be scared to use a late (and I mean final two or three rounds) pick on Rodgers and see how things shake out. The worst thing that happens is you cut him within two weeks. The best outcome is that you have a young, budding star who plays in the best hitting environment in baseball.
Low-risk, high-reward picks are a solid strategy for winning that fantasy championship, and Rodgers could be one of those pieces.