Given recent events, it's easy to forget that the Houston Astros had the best lineup in the American League last season. In the heart of the Astros' lineup, AL Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez and George Springer both had brilliant seasons.
Alvarez came up in early June and immediately established himself as one of the best young stars in the game. Playing exclusively at DH, Alvarez hit 27 homers in 87 games and had a 1.067 OPS. It was one of the best midseason debuts for a player in baseball history.
Springer was equally incredible, hitting for a .974 OPS in 122 games. Although he battled an injury during the year, he still put up 39 homers and had his best offensive season of his career. However, given the choice, which Astros hitter should you take first in 2020 fantasy baseball drafts?
Yordan Alvarez Fantasy Outlook
Don't be fooled by Alvarez's poor postseason performance. In the regular season, he showed almost no weaknesses as a hitter. Alvarez hit .313/.412/.655, showed off an elite 14.1% walk rate, and hit some of the longest homers you'll ever see from a 22-year-old. Being a complete hitter at age 22 is a rarity, and Alvarez has the physical tools and the abilities to be an exception.
While detractors would say the sample size is smaller than Springer's, it's not like Alvarez didn't hit in the minors either. He had a 170 wRC+ in Triple-A, essentially forcing the Astros to promote him earlier than expected. Alvarez doesn't provide much value in steals and, his average should regress slightly due to a high .366 batting average on balls in play (BABIP), but otherwise he's an utterly dominant force.
George Springer Fantasy Outlook
George Springer has a much longer track record of success than Alvarez, but it's hard not to see 2019 as the peak of his abilities. Prior to 2020, Springer never ended a season with an OPS above .900. While Springer makes up for those deficiencies with some steals, he's not as quick as he once was. Springer's peak offensive production in 2019 was still worse than Alvarez's (156 wRC+ to 178 for Alvarez), and Alvarez should catch up in raw totals by playing a full season.
Springer has also had minor injury issues throughout his career. He's only played all 162 games once, and he missed time last season with a concussion and a hamstring strain. Now on the wrong side of 30, Springer needs to find a way to stay on the field more often for fantasy owners and the Astros.
Alvarez has a significant edge in OPS, power, and batting average. At the end of the day, Alvarez is already a better hitter, and that's what counts for fantasy owners. Springer's excellent defense and position makes him more useful to the Astros, but for fantasy purposes, Alvarez should be drafted first.
Alvarez checks in as the 29th-ranked player in our 2020 fantasy baseball rankings, while Springer isn't too far behind, at 36th.
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Tristan Jung is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Tristan Jung also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username tristan1117. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.