Fantasy fallout for Betts, Price

ByEric Karabell ESPN logo
Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Mookie Betts is one of the best baseball players in the world so while it will be an adjustment to leave the American League and cozy Fenway Park to perform half of the time at Dodger Stadium, I'm thinking he will figure it out. Fantasy managers in mixed leagues should not downgrade Betts statistically after Tuesday's blockbuster trade. Yes, the change in leagues and ballparks is somewhat a factor, but so are the myriad road games he adds at Denver's Coors Field. In 2019, Betts produced an OPS which was 124 points better during home games, but his career splits are considerably more even. He was my No. 4 overall player before the trade, and nothing has changed.

Expect Betts to lead off for the Dodgers -- a deep lineup with plenty of thump in the middle, and very similar to what he left behind in Boston. What could be up for debate is whether Betts is more of the statistical option he was in 2018 or 2019, but it is tough to view any season with an OPS better than 1.000 as truly being repeatable. Betts hit .295 in 2019, which is way more in line with his career mark, and he stole 14 fewer bases than he did the prior season. He might not be a 30-steal option anymore (few players are) but he remains a five-category star. Remember, even though he is switching teams, he remains a potential free agent after the 2020 season, so motivation should not be an issue.

Then there is David Price, still one of the better hurlers in the sport, even as volume has become an issue. Look, fantasy managers should always want pitchers who are plying their trade in Dodger Stadium, and Price, again leaving the AL East, should lower his ERA. That said, one must assume he is not going to get anywhere near 30 starts. Price's valuable left elbow is no sure thing anymore, with two of his past three seasons considerably shortened by various maladies. He's 34 years old and the Dodgers have the pitching depth to handle his workload carefully -- certainly more than Boston wanted to -- and to some degree, we should view that adjustment positively. If he is getting lit up, chances are that he is physically compromised in some way. Price no longer costs a top-100 overall pick or is viewed as a top-30 starting pitcher, but he could be a relative value later on for perhaps 25 Dodger starts.

After all, the final numbers do not show it, but Price was easily among the top-20 fantasy pitchers at last season's All-Star break, boasting a 3.24 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP and 95 strikeouts over 83 1/3 innings. His final six outings were a struggle, however, and it bumped up his ERA by more than a run. Which version do we get in 2020? Price has been incredibly consistent for more than a decade. He has achieved success with four different franchises, and his career ERA stands at 3.31. Assume that he pitches well for his fifth club, but perhaps not as often as everyone would like.