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:
Rafael Ortega, OF, Los Angeles Angels: Ortega was in fact called up and has played everyday since Nava went to the DL again. I don’t need to tell you how valuable an everyday bat can be, but Ortega is an obvious hold for now. He has some speed, will score plenty of runs, and even hit his first home run on Wednesday. His ownership has actually dropped a little since last week – you could (and should) fix that right now.
Brett Wallace, 3B, San Diego Padres: Yangervis Solarte returned from the DL, while Brett Wallace filled in at first base this week for an ailing Wil Myers. He went 4-14 with 8 walks and 4 strikeouts, for a .545 OBP. Would I love to see some of his power show up? Absolutely, but I’m even more impressed with his 21 BB/30 K ratio this year. Myers looks good to get back into game action, so playing time could still be a concern for Wallace. Regardless, the improvements he’s made this year merit holding him.
Michael Tonkin, RP, Minnesota Twins: The Twins bullpen didn’t get any better this week, but Tonkin managed to throw 3.2 innings, allowing 1 run while striking out 6. Fernando Abad is getting a late inning look now, but it may just be a matter of time before Tonkin gets his chance in the 8th. If you’ve got room to hold the big right-hander, it may pay off down the road.
Randall Delgado, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks: Delgado has three shutout appearances this week, but I’m more concerned with the 5 walks he allowed over two total innings of work. Over the past three weeks he has a 1.35 ERA with 8 strikeouts, but now with 6 walks. It may be a long road back to relevance for Delgado – I think we can move on from him.
Here’s a look at this week’s targets:
Matt Barnes, RP, Boston Red Sox: Barnes picked up his second hold of the season this week, and with the Carson Smith injury he may get more opportunities late in games. Barnes is striking out nearly a batter per inning and has just a (lucky) 2.82 ERA for the year. He’s giving up too much hard contact for my liking, but with a career 3.95 SIERA, it’s not all doom and gloom for the 6’4″ right-hander. Barnes has the chance to play an important role in the Red Sox bullpen, and if he is successful, I’m going to want in on it.
Currently owned in 7% of Fantrax, 1% of CBS & 0% in Y! leagues
Brad Hand, RP, San Diego Padres: Brad Hand lost two games this week, coming into tie games in the 9th and 10th innings and allowing a run. Even including those games, he has just a 1.59 ERA over the past two weeks with 16 strikeouts in 11.2 innings of work. Hand is being relied on heavily in the San Diego pen and is tied for tenth among all relievers with 31 strikeouts for the year. I like Hand more than Barnes, even if his ownership levels suggest I’m alone there. It wasn’t long ago that Hand was a sleeper heading into the season. He may have lost the rotation spot battle, but with his highest career value, he is winning the WAR.
Currently owned in 5% of Fantrax, 1% of CBS & 0% in Y! leagues
Whit Merrifield, OF, Kansas City Royals: If you read this feature every week, and never say “who?”, you’re doing better than me. Merrifield was brought up by KC 10 days ago and finds himself hitting second in a very nice lineup. He’s hitting .348 with 3 doubles in just 23 at bats. The 9th round pick from 2010 has some good speed to go along with decent contact skills. He won’t keep up what he’s doing, but go and find me someone off the wire who is hitting in the two hole that you like better. I’ll wait here.
Currently owned in 0% of CBS, 0% in Y! & 3% in Fantrax leagues
James Loney 1B, San Diego Padres (New York Mets??): Eric Campbell is doing what I had hoped Wilmer Flores would do; that is, cover David Wright at third and Duda at first base. Unfortunately, Campbell is hitting about as well as Flores, sitting at .192/.306/.269. With Duda on the shelf with a stress fracture in his back, the Mets may look to James Loney to fill in the gap. Loney is batting .344 in AAA and can opt out of his contract for a MLB job. He won’t offer any power, but he has always hit for a good average. If he plays every day in that lineup, he should be moderately useful.
Currently owned in 8% of Fantrax, 1% of CBS & 0% in Y! leagues
Aaron Blair, SP, Atlanta Braves: How does a highly-regarded SP prospect go from a 21.4% K%-BB% rate in AAA to a -4.1 in their first 5 games in the major leagues? That’s about as cold a welcome as a person could get! Blair was demoted to Gwinnett, where he threw just a 3-inning game before getting called up again to start today. Blair was never going to set the world on fire, and projected more as a middle of the rotation arm. ZiPS projects Blair to have a 4.25 ERA and nearly a strikeout per inning moving forward. As long as you aren’t paying for more than that, I think Blair makes for a sneaky trade target while his value is so low.
Currently owned in 15% of CBS, 1% in Y!, and 31% in Fantrax leagues
Pedro Alvarez, 1B/3B, Baltimore Orioles: Alvarez isn’t the easiest player to recommend while he’s hitting .192/.296/.343 on the season with just 3 home runs. Over the past two weeks, he’s actually been even worse, sitting at .138/.219/.276. If his owner wasn’t tired of him before, he surely is now. Some positives to note: Alvarez is making more contact, while walking and going the opposite way at the highest rates of his career. Sure, the contact has been weak and his IFFB% is the 6th worst in the majors, but he is simply not this bad. With 9 games played at third base already, his value goes up significantly. Of course when your oWAR is -3.4, a significant increase may still not be enough. I do think he makes for a good gamble if the price is right- and at this point, it should be.
Currently owned in 7% of CBS, 1% in Y! & 33% in Fantrax leagues
Shae Simmons, RP, Atlanta Braves: It’s been a long road back from Tommy John surgery for Shae Simmons, but he’s now back pitching in the minors. He’s thrown three innings and issued three walks while striking out seven. In his 2014 major league debut, Simmons had a 26% K rate to go with a 53% GB rate – numbers that would suggest he would already be the Braves closer if not for his injury. I don’t normally promote relief pitching prospects, let alone the risk coming back from surgery. With Simmons though, you’re looking at a high-end late inning arm with the chance to put up excellent strikeout numbers. While not your typical “prospect”, Simmons is worth targeting while most have forgotten about him.
Currently owned in 7% of Fantrax and 0% of CBS & 0% of Y! leagues
Yairo Munoz, SS, Oakland Athletics: Munoz is more the type of prospect that I’ll be suggesting each week, with his above average power and speed at a premium position. Munoz is just 21 years old, and has hit 4 home runs in AA with 3 stolen bases in just 98 at bats. While his average leaves much to be desired, he has a respectable 15% K rate and a solid .163 ISO. Munoz is playing alongside Matt Chapman and Franklin Barreto in the Rockhounds infield. I’d argue the three have the highest offensive upside of any Athletics prospects. The difference is that you still have the chance to grab Munoz. On pure athleticism and ceiling alone, he is worth the roster spot.
Currently owned in 6% of Fantrax and 0% of CBS & 0% of Y! leagues
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