No this isn’t a Game of Thrones article, but why not gain your attention? Everyone had to have patience waiting for the final season to premiere, but when playing in a season long fantasy baseball league, patience can be a hard mantra to follow. Your first round Chris Sale pick is struggling. Kris Bryant continues to make you wonder if he can regain his MVP form. Mookie Betts is batting .244 and you wish you had the 6th pick instead of the 2nd (hello Christian Yelich). With only 15% of the season in the books there is time for these players to get on track, and in leagues with daily moves, you can mitigate the slow starts of some of your players.
In constructing your team, hopefully you added a few multi-positional eligible hitters such as Alex Bregman, Ketel Marte , and Rhys Hoskins. Players such as Marte and Hoskins, who are eligible at both an infield and outfield position, can make your life a lot easier when setting your lineup on a daily basis.
In leagues with shallow benches, look at the deficiencies of your team and decide where you want to churn your lineup. In ESPN standard leagues with just 3 bench spots, continue to look at your standings and adjust your bench based on your needs. Even though your league is “season long”, you maximize your production by churning your roster as if you’re playing DFS. ESPN allows you to pick up players on a daily basis so why not use this to your advantage to maximize production.
If your league uses a weekly FAAB system, look at the week ahead for teams playing 7 games, and add players from these teams to your bench to use as fill ins. Next week the following teams have 7 games: St. Louis, Washington, Boston, Cincinnati, Mets, San Diego, Atlanta, Houston, Minnesota, Colorado (3 home games), Milwaukee, Baltimore, White Sox, Tampa, and Kansas City.
Let’s take a look at some hitters that you should consider benching each day until they start breaking out of their slumps.
Yasiel Puig – Cincinnati
Puig was a hot pick in drafts this year. His ADP in the NFBC was 69. Last year he was the 123rd overall player ranked by ESPN. After the trade to the Reds the hype was there. The Great American Ballpark is a hitter’s paradise, and Puig is in what should be his prime. Last year he slashed 23/60/63/15/.267 in 125 games. I didn’t understand the hype and avoided him in draft formats. His projections across the board were in line with last year’s production so the jump in ADP didn’t seem warranted, and his production so far is bearing that out.
His K% is up to 26.6 which is about 6% higher than his career norm. His BABIP is .226 which has his batting average at .200. He is only walking at a 2.5% rate which is down from 8.1% last year. Until his plate discipline gets better, bench him for better alternatives in the OF. Clint Frazier, owned in 44% of ESPN leagues, is a good fill in until Puig gets his act together. Frazier has 85% CBS/69% Yahoo/71% Fantrax ownership so if he’s not available, consider Brian Goodwin (21% CBS/4% Yahoo/23% Fantrax). Of course since I starting writing this, Frazier has been put on the IL. Another player to consider is Raimel Tapia who is trying to convince the Rockies to take away time from Ian Desmond. Tapia is owned in 4% Yahoo/8%CBS/25% Fantrax leagues.
Jesus Aguilar – Milwaukee
There were many questions about Aguilar’s ability to repeat his 2018 breakout, and so far, he hasn’t done anything to disprove the doubts that were out there. His NFBC ADP was 82, and based upon his production last year, this was a reasonable spot for him. The one number that was a harbinger of regression was his .309 BABIP. This year it’s at .176. His other peripherals are similar or better than last year and you can speculate that better times are ahead for him, but the one thing that is worrisome is that he hasn’t hit a HR yet.
Aguilar had a FB/HR % of 23.8 last year and this year it obviously sits at 0. Eric Thames is having a decent year thus far and is starting to take at bats away from Aguilar against righties. Ryan Braun also lurks as an alternative He is also off to a slow start but showed signs of life early this week. Yasmani Grandal started at 1B on Tuesday to further complicate things. Aguilar deserves a little more time to break out of it, but he’s an easy bench candidate if you have a 1B/corner alternative on your bench.
Christian Walker (36% owned) and Hunter Dozier (28% owned in ESPN leagues) are players you should be adding immediately. In leagues where they are not as readily available (Walker 72% CBS/63% Yahoo/76% Fantrax and Dozier 66% CBS/51% Yahoo/75% Fantrax ownership), take a look at CJ Cron (37% CBS/22% Yahoo/55% Fantrax) who seems to be heating up a bit in Minnesota.
Brian Dozier – Washington
2018 was a down year for Dozier. After being traded to the Dodgers for their playoff run, Dozier found himself on the bench. A bone bruise on his right knee was to blame, and the Nationals banked on him to bounce back and replace Daniel Murphy for 2019. He has started to hit a few homers, but Dozier is being dropped in a lot of leagues as his average sits at .188. He has not been able to take advantage of Trea Turner’s injury after being moved up in the lineup. It’s starting to look like a declining skill set and not the just the injury that caused the down year. How long before the National consider Carter Kieboom? (Last minute edit: Guess not too long as rumor has it he is being called up and will be with the team today)
Dozier is only signed to a 1 year deal, and if the Nats are in the thick of things as they should be, do they consider benching Dozier? Even if the Nationals don’t, you should not only consider it, you’re already late to the party. The hot pick ups last weekend who could replace Dozier in your lineups are Michael Chavis of the Red Sox (but still needs to play a few games to gain 2B eligibility) and Cole Tucker of the Pirates. If their prices were too rich for your FAAB budget, Brandon Lowe of the Rays (38% ESPN, 59% Yahoo/80% CBS/82% Fantrax) and Jeff McNeil of the Mets (58% ESPN, 49% Yahoo/74% CBS/83% Fantrax) could be available and may be more reliable options than the rookies.
Take advantage of your league rules. Churn your roster’s bench players to take advantage of matchups and playing time each week as if it’s a DFS lineup. By maximizing your output each week, you’ll see your totals go up in Roto leagues and more wins in H2H leagues.
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