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Route to roster balance very different in this fantasy baseball season

When thinking about your draft strategy for the 60-game MLB season, you should think of the words Mr. Miyagi imparted upon Daniel LaRusso in “The Karate Kid” when he said, “Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance, everything be better.”

Finding balance will be the key to a successful 2020 fantasy season. The strategies (and rankings) that worked for a 162-game schedule will not work for a 60-game slate. Adjustments must be made. Loading up on quality, well-rounded offensive players early and often is key, as pitchers (even the top-tier hurlers) pose greater risk.

So let’s talk about trying to balance your roster with a player like Trevor Story as a potential top-10 pick.

Story has hit .276 while averaging 32 homers, 92 RBIs, 89 runs, 19 stolen bases and a .871 OPS over the past three seasons — numbers worthy of being a top fantasy option despite striking out in 29.1 percent of his career at-bats.

There is another side to this Story, as he is one of the many Rockies who takes advantage of his environment. Though he is a .301 hitter with a .998 OPS in the friendly confines of Coors Field, he is a .250 hitter with a .756 OPS outside of Colorado.

This is concerning when it comes to the idea of balancing a roster, because 15 of Rockies’ 30 road games come against the Dodgers (six games), who had the top-ranked pitching staff last year; the A’s (two games), who had the sixth-best pitching staff last season; and the Diamondbacks (seven games), who added Madison Bumgarner to the 12th-best pitching staff of 2019.

Story also plays four games at AT&T Park in San Francisco, where he is a .254 hitter with .664 OPS in 32 games, and two home games against Houston, the third-best staff a year ago and a team he has hit .226 against in eight career games.

Story has a 10.88 average draft position, according to Fantasy Alarm, which makes him a late first-round pick. When you have a top-10 player hitting 50 points lower on the road, it becomes a risky investment over a shorter season.

This is not a knock on Story, as Roto Rage believes he would be a top-10 pick over a 162-game slate, in which he would have time to make up for the bad days or weeks. In a 60-game schedule, there is little room for error.

Trea TurnerAP

That’s why Roto Rage would rather invest in Washington’s Juan Soto (11.33 ADP) or Trea Turner (12.65), or Houston’s Alex Bregman (14.20).

If you fear Story is your last chance to grab a top shortstop, you’re wrong. It is a loaded position. Youngsters like Fernando Tatis Jr. (19.30) or Gleyber Torres (29.40) will be there a round or two later, and Bo Bichette (67.77) or Marcus Semien (86.77) will be available a few rounds after that. You can even wait until the mid-to-late rounds and find players like Carlos Correa (109.70), Amed Rosario (165.37) or Kevin Newman (211.19), who hit .308 while smacking 12 homers and stealing 16 bases last season.

If you’re afraid of losing Story’s power, you can make up for that in the late rounds with players like C.J. Cron (249.29) or Renato Nunez (255.68).

If you’re afraid of losing stolen bases, late-round speed can be found with Kolten Wong (228.11) or John Berti (253.16).

You can even find a little of everything (average, power, steals, runs) with a versatile player like Tommy Edman (144.25) in the middle rounds or a steady veteran like Shin-Soo Choo (229.12) much later.

This is not about drafting stars, it’s about drafting a balanced roster.

As Mr. Miyagi said, “Better learn balance. Balance is key. Balance good, karate good. Everything good. Balance bad, better pack up, go home. Understand?”

Here are some other players to avoid in the abbreviated MLB season:

No one should be desperate enough for stolen bases to draft Adalberto Mondesi at his current ADP (48.67). He is a one-trick pony who over his career has struck out in 29.6 percent of his at-bats. Despite having the second-most stolen bases in the majors last year, he is a career .249 hitter who offers little power, and his .291 on-base percentage was the 11th-worst in the league among players with 400 plate appearances (his 4.3 walk percentage was the 12th lowest, too). Avoid like the plague.

Paul Goldschmidt (66.84) finished last season with 34 homers, 97 RBIs and 97 runs scored, but he also had his lowest average (.260), on-base percentage (.346), slugging percentage (.346), OPS (.821) and swinging strike rate (11.1) since 2011, his rookie season. It also is safe to say the days of Goldschmidt reaching double-digit stolen bases are well behind him, after stealing just three bags in 2019 and seven in 2018.

Though Houston’s five-tool stud Kyle Tucker (186.70) and the Angels’ Jo Adell (233.41) were prospects expected to make an impact this season, it may be tough for them to get enough playing time to do anything of note in 60 games. They remain in play, however, if you’re in a dynasty league, as you should have your roster in good shape by the time they’re selected.

The Rangers’ Rougned Odor (228.97) is normally a great late-round source of power and speed, but his batting average in this kind of setting will kill any potential value he may have.

Fantasy middle infield rankings

Second base

1. Jonathan Villar, MIA

2. Keston Hiura, MIL

3. Ozzie Albies, ATL

4. Jose Altuve, HOU

5. Whit Merrifield, KC

6. Ketel Martie, ARI

7. Gleyber Torres, NYY

8. Jeff McNeil, NYM

Mets
Jeff McNeilCharles Wenzelberg/New York Post

9. Tommy Edman, STL

10. Kolten Wong, STL

11. Yoan Moncada, CWS

12. Eduardo Escobar, ARI

13. Mike Moustakas, CIN

14. Cavan Biggio, TOR

15. Cesar Hernandez, CLE

16. Max Muncy, LAD

17. DJ LeMahieu, NYY

18. Howie Kendrick, WAS

19. Kevin Newman, PIT

20. Starlin Castro, WAS

21. Brandon Lowe, TB

22. Luis Arraez, MIN

23. Garrett Hampson, COL

24. Tommy La Stella, LAA

25. Jonathan Schoop, DET

26. Gavin Lux, LAD

27. Chris Taylor, LAD

28. Ryan McMahon, COL

29. Nick Madrigal, CWS

30. Rougned Odor, TEX

Shortstop
1. Francisco Lindor, CLE

2. Trea Turner, WAS

3. Alex Bregman, HOU

4. Trevor Story, COL

Giants
Fernando Tatis Jr.Getty Images

5. Fernando Tatis Jr., SD

6. Gleyber Torres, NYY

7. Javier Baez, CHC

8. Xander Bogaerts, BOS

9. Ketel Marte, ARI

10. Jonathan Villar, MIA

11. Bo Bichette, TOR

12. Manny Machado, SD

13. Marcus Semien, OAK

14. Carlos Correa, HOU

15. Adalberto Mondesi, KC

16. Corey Seager, LAD

17. Eduardo Escobar, ARI

18. Tim Anderson, CWS

19. Amed Rosario, NYM

20. Jorge Polanco, MIN

21. Elvis Andrus, TEX

22. Gavin Lux, LAD

23. Jean Segura, PHI

24. Didi Gregorius, PHI

25. Garrett Hampson, COL

26. Scott Kingery, PHI

27. Paul DeJong, STL

28. Kevin Newman, PIT

29. John Berti, MIA

30. Dansby Swanson, ATL

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