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:
Robbie Grossman, OF, Minnesota Twins: Grossman is still batting second for the Twins, and has hit over .300 for the past week bringing his season numbers to .328/.449/.641. His ownership levels have tripled since I recommended him last Saturday. The most impressive thing about Grossman is his 19% wakj rate (up from 11% career) and his 19% strikeout rate (down from 27% career rate). He’s obviously a hold and a job well done if you got him early.
Jimmy Paredes, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies: Paredes went 2-4 with a home run on Sunday, but has just 5 hitless at bats since then. His 15 at bats over four games in five days is but a distant memory as he finds himself back in a reserve role. I had hopes that the move to Philadelphia might give Paredes an increased role, but I’m ready to pull the plug now. His ownership rates only climbed 20% since the trade, so I was in the minority with my hopes.
Joe Biagini, RP, Toronto Blue Jays: I got a live look at Biagini in Detroit when he gave up a walk and two hits in the tenth inning to take the loss. As unimpressive as he was in that outing, he bounced back nicely on Thursday pitching 1.1 innings to get a hold. I’m not as convinced that his stuff is equal to the numbers he’s put up so far. While his ownership has climbed 60% since last week, I am going to drop him for one of this week’s recommendations.
Joe Blanton, RP, Los Angeles Dodgers: Blanton has three holds in the past week, making my speculative grab a good one. His ownership is up across the board as he has solidified his spot as the seventh inning guy in LA. I even grabbed Blanton in a shallow league that counts holds and anticipate holding him for the duration of the season.
Here’s a look at this week’s targets:
Gregorio Petit, 2B/SS, Los Angeles Angels: Petit has been playing every day while Simmons has been on the DL. He even has four multi-hit games in the past week. But what happens when Simmons returns in the next few days? Surely Petit will lose playing time, but his versatility should still allow him to provide value to deep league fantasy owners. Johnny Giavotella is batting close to .100 over the past two weeks at second while Petit is hitting .333. There isn’t a lot of value left in Petit, but there’s enough to take a shot on in case he can secure playing time upon Simmons’ return.
Currently owned in 2% of Fantrax, 0% of CBS & 0% in Y! leagues
Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Miami Marlins: Speaking of playing time, Suzuki shouldn’t be having the amount that he’s gotten so far, but often good hitting solves playing time problems. Suzuki is nearly a top 60 OF right now, which doesn’t sound all that thrilling, but when you look at his ownership levels, he shouldn’t be in the top 150. Ichiro is hitting .330 with his highest walk rate since 2002, and a remarkable 4.3% K rate. His OPS is also his highest since 2009. I don’t know where the playing time will continue to come from, but you can’t argue with the numbers.
Currently owned in 7% of Fantrax, 1% of CBS & 1% in Y! leagues
Mike Pelfrey, SP, Detroit Tigers: Pelfrey is 1-5 with a 4.76 ERA and a 1.72 WHIP for the season, but has allowed two earned runs or less in four of his last five starts. He’s always going to give up a lot of hits, but he’s given up home runs at a higher rate than he ever has in his career. The 4.76 ERA may not see a drastic improvement, but there are wins in Pelfrey’s future as well as the likelihood for improved walks and home runs. If he can win 7-9 games with a low 4 ERA from here on out, he can be a suitable streaming option in deep leagues. Not high praise here, but with his recent efforts there is enough to take another shot on Pelfrey.
Currently owned in 2% of CBS, 1% in Y! & 10% in Fantrax leagues
Cory Gearrin, RP, San Francisco Giants: Gearrin is leading the Giants with 9 holds this year, to go with 2 wins, a save, and a 2.36 ERA. Hunter Strickland has 5 times the ownership. Sergio Romo has 4 times, and even Josh Osich is higher owned. With the shear number of save opportunities that the Giants always get, and the fact the Gearrin is the one getting the most holds, he should be at least owned twice as often across the board. He owns a 2.88 ERA over the past four seasons, so while it looks like at 30 years old that he’s come out of nowhere, his success is hardly something new.
Currently owned in 8% of Fantrax, 1% of CBS & 0% in Y! leagues
John Lamb, SP, Cincinnati Reds: Two straight strong seven-inning performances don’t usually make for prime buying opportunities, but Lamb is still under-owned across the board. I’m sure his 4.74 ERA and his awful 3.6 K%-BB% have something to do with it. The walk rate of 9% is really what you can expect from Lamb, but the strikeout rate has collapsed, going from 26.4% last year to 12.5% in 2016. Add in the fact that he has just a single win to his name and you can see why he’s not more universally sought after. The window to buy may be closing though after his recent starts. His velocity was down early, but he hit 93 mph on June 1 and 94 mph on June 7th when he struck out 5 Cardinals. If he can get his strikeout rate up to even 19-21%, he can be a solid quality starter from here on out.
Currently owned in 6% of CBS, 1% in Y!, and 24% in Fantrax leagues
Shane Greene, SP, Detroit Tigers: Greene on the other hand, is a perfect example of a player to buy low on. He’s been relegated to the bullpen, having lost his rotation spot to Michael Fulmer while he was on the DL. The Tigers can desperately use Greene’s arm in the pen, and he’s had some early success, throwing 3.2 innings and allowing 2 hits and 1 run while striking out 6. While Greene’s value would go up exponentially if he worked his way back in to the rotation, it may not happen any time soon as Pelfrey has pitched better of late, and Matt Boyd has been respectable. I watched Boyd navigate through 5 walks against the Blue Jays on Tuesday. It wasn’t pretty but for a LHP against a tough Jays lineup, it was an admirable effort.
There are two things working in Greene’s favor though: First, the awful job that set-up man Mark Lowe has been doing could open up late-inning opportunities. And secondly, Anibal Sanchez’s move to the bullpen may allow the Tigers to move Greene back into the rotation if an opening arises. Greene has strikeout ability with his fastball as well as the ability to generate a lot of ground balls with his cutter. That combination makes him an intriguing arm no matter where he pitches from. Let’s just hope he gets another shot in the rotation.
Currently owned in 7% of CBS, 1% in Y! & 33% in Fantrax leagues
Willie Calhoun, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers: Calhoun came in at #12 in our preseason Top 25 Second Base Prospects, and the fourth round pick from 2015 is continuing to show some real power. Last year, Calhoun played 73 games across Rookie, Class-A, and High-A, hitting 11 home runs with a .219 ISO. As a 21-year-old Calhoun is in Double-A Tulsa, where he’s hit 10 home runs in just 55 games with a .222 ISO. Over the past 4 weeks he’s hitting .329/.404/.759 with just 12 strikeouts to go with his 10 walks. With the potential for 15-20 home run pop, Calhoun is likely to climb the ranks into the top 5 second base prospects heading into 2017.
Currently owned in 10% of Fantrax and 1% of CBS & 0% of Y! leagues
Francisco Mejia, C, Cleveland Indians: Mejia had a lot of helium heading into 2014 and 2015, but some prospect fatigue coupled with a .669 OPS in Class-A last year had Mejia slide down the top Catcher Prospects coming into this season. Still just 20 years old, Mejia is now a Midwest League All-Star with a .345 average this year, including a .500 average with a pair of home runs in the last week. Mejia has the defensive skills to stick behind the plate, but also has some power projection along with his very good bat speed. The profile is still there for a high-end fantasy catcher so if you need to get back on the bus, there’s still some room at the back.
Currently owned in 8% of Fantrax and 0% of CBS & 0% of Y! leagues
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