Each week I will look at the best targets for AL-NL Only and very deep leagues (think 30 teams). While the following players may not be of interest to those in standard leagues, extremely deep leagues are becoming more and more popular. As I do every week, I sincerely recommend playing in this type of league, especially if you’ve played fantasy baseball for a long time.
Let’s take a look at the players I recommended last week:
Matt Barnes, RP, Boston Red Sox: Barnes has just pitched in one game since I recommended him, coming into the seventh inning of a game they were losing to the Orioles. He gave up a pair of hits, a walk and a run while striking out two. He may be too far down the pecking order to provide much value. I went back and forth last week on recommending Barnes or Ross. Feel free to drop Barnes; I picked the wrong guy.
Brad Hand, RP, San Diego Padres: Another three shutout appearances for Hand this week, with 5 strikeouts in 3.2 innings. He’s still not getting the premium opportunities, but he’s thrown 15 innings over the past 3 1/2 weeks with a 1.20 ERA. He also has 20 strikeouts during that period allowing just 9 hits. I don’t know how long Brandon Maurer is going to get late looks for San Diego, so I’d make sure to grab Hand now.
Whit Merrifield, OF, Kansas City Royals: Merrifield has seen his ownership climb from 3% to 19% on Fantrax and from 0% to 11% on CBS this week. Congratulations if you got in early.
James Loney 1B, San Diego Padres (New York Mets??): A few hours after I suggested picking up Loney based on the premise that he might be signed by the Mets, he was in fact signed by the Mets. His ownership numbers haven’t spiked yet, moving up just about 2% across most sites, but as he plays everyday I suspect they’ll grow significantly. I’m holding here.
Here’s a look at this week’s targets:
Robbie Grossman, OF, Minnesota Twins: Grossman has only been active for two weeks, but he’s made enough of an impression to be batting 2nd in the lineup while Byron Buxton languishes in the 9 hole. In fairness, Grossman is hitting over .350 with an OPS over 1.100 so it is hard to argue with Paul Molitor here. Grossman has a nice little power/speed combo going, and can draw enough walks to warrant staying in the two hole for the long haul. There is 10 HR, 15 SB upside here; way more than you’ll generally find available in AL-Only or deep leagues.
Currently owned in 11% of Fantrax, 3% of CBS & 1% in Y! leagues
Jimmy Paredes, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies: Paredes is likely over-owned at his current 10/1/0 levels, but perhaps a change of scenery will help him regain some of his 2015 form. There is some deep league talent here – since 2014, Paredes has 13 home runs and 63 RBI in just 441 at bats. The Phillies have a wasteland at second base, and Paredes may see some time in the outfield as well. He got a pinch-hit appearance in his first day in Philly and promptly struck out, but batted third for them in yesterday’s game. Paredes has a 23% LD rate over the past two seasons as well as an early 50% hard hit rate this year. Take a chance here.
Currently owned in 10% of Fantrax, 1% of CBS & 0% in Y! leagues
Joe Biagini, RP, Toronto Blue Jays: Biagini has allowed one earned run since April 26, spanning 13 appearances. During that time he has 10 strikeouts to just one walk, with a 58.5% GB rate. He’s starting to work himself into more pressure situations in Toronto, though he still has zero holds to go with his one blown save. With the Gavin Floyd honeymoon nearly over, the Jays traded for Jason Grilli and his 5.29 ERA and 1.70 WHIP. This is a team in desperate need of a winning late-inning formula. I would look for Biagini to emerge and be a good source of holds before too long.
Currently owned in 1% of CBS, 0% in Y! & 5% in Fantrax leagues
Joe Blanton, RP, Los Angeles Dodgers: If you think speculating on Biagini for holds is far-fetched, just look at who is stealing them in Los Angeles. After nearly a decade of mediocrity, Joe Blanton was excellent last year in the pen, throwing 34 innings for the Pirates, striking out 39 with a 1.57 ERA. This year he’s continuing the strong performance, allowing just 12 hits in 28 innings of work. The Dodgers pen hasn’t been great, especially with the poor play of Hatcher and Howell, and Blanton is forcing his way into a more prominent role. With a top-20 SwStr% among RP, and the (abbreviated) past success in the pen, I don’t think there’s much risk here – only upside.
Currently owned in 6% of Fantrax, 1% of CBS & 0% in Y! leagues
Peter O’Brien, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks: Despite a strikeout rate close to 30%, O’Brien continue to rake. He’s currently batting .317 with 12 doubles, 13 home runs and 39 RBIs over 183 bat bats for the Reno Aces. There’s no question he deserves a shot at the majors, but right now the D’backs have a logjam of players blocking his way. This is where Tony LaRussa comes in. He has recently expressed his displeasure over the teams slow and disappointing start. Given the glut of talent in the outfield, I would not be surprised to see Arizona trade an outfielder or two for bullpen help. Outside of Clippard and Hudson, nobody in that bullpen has been pulling their weight, including Ziegler.
Arizona could also use an extra starter with De La Rosa likely done for the season, plus Ray and Bradley aren’t doing themselves any favors at the back-end of the rotation. They could even trade O’Brien who would likely be a major league starter for about half the teams in the majors. O’Brien has nothing left to prove in AAA, and the team has multiple needs right now, none of which involve hitting. Something has to give, and when it does, O’Brien should get his chance. I would trade for him now before any talks start as you won’t get him any cheaper than right now. You could even use those current major league roadblocks to potentially lower the asking price. Granted this is all speculative, but if the price is right you could come out ahead when he finally arrives.
Currently owned in 15% of CBS, 1% in Y!, and 31% in Fantrax leagues
Coco Crisp, OF, Oakland Athletics: Crisp is quietly on pace for a solid 15/15 season, albeit with just a .242 average. Over the past four weeks, he’s hitting a more respectable .269. As solid as he is performing (at least by deep league standards), Crisp remains under-valued because of his age and potential injury risk. I think he’s worth the risk, based on his strong history of success and his current play and position in the lineup. Consider how easy it would be to target any other player who is batting lead-off for their team. Crisp had over 500 plate appearances in four of the last five seasons, and in those four years he averaged 13 home runs and 30 stolen bases. Unfortunately 2015 was not among those seasons, but let others fall victim to recency bias; make a play for the Athletics lead-off hitter. Those kind of steals won’t be there for Crisp at 36 years old, but a 13 HR/ 15 SB season is easily in reach for him. It won’t cost much, and should net you a nice profit for 2016.
Currently owned in 7% of CBS, 1% in Y! & 33% in Fantrax leagues
Sandy Alcantara, SP, St. Louis Cardinals: Alcantara was signed in 2013 by the Cardinals out of the Dominican Republic. He can throw triple-digit heat, and at 6’4″, 175 lbs there is still plenty of room for him to grow into more strength. This year Alcantara is in Class A ball in Peoria. He had a little bit of a rough outing his last time out, but had struck out 24 (only 3 walks) in his two previous starts combined. The Cardinals have a rich history of developing top of the rotation arms, and while he is anything but a sure thing his stock is surely rising with his performance this year. At 20 years old Alcantara is still a few years away, and while it’s always risky betting on young pitchers, his frame and repeatability make him someone I would be happy to take that risk on.
Currently owned in 6% of Fantrax and 0% of CBS & 0% of Y! leagues
Joe Jimenez, RP, Detroit Tigers: I should probably be banned from prospect recommendations after two weeks of relief pitcher suggestions. One of the lessons I’m learning from playing in a 30-team league though is the need to be flexible and to set some previous-thought fantasy truths aside. It’s a much different game, and playing against the grain is not necessarily a bad thing. Jimenez was recently promoted to AA where he struck out the side in his first appearance. This comes on the heels of 17 A-ball innings where he allowed 5 hits in 17 innings while striking out 28. He’s got a power fastball and slider, and could find himself only really being challenged in the major leagues. He’s going to move fast, but the real pay off may not come until after the Francisco Rodriguez contract expires.
Currently owned in 6% of Fantrax and 0% of CBS & 0% of Y! leagues
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