The non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed, you're finally coming close to giving up on that struggling star, and some leagues are only a few weeks out of the playoffs.
While there is a good chance 25%+ of your league has forgotten what OPS stands for as they amp themselves up for fantasy football, the strong willed fantasy baseball owner knows this is a time with less competition on waivers. The result of this can be players lingering that can provide much needed pop or speed in the coming weeks. Let's do a blind player comparison to showcase one of those bats...
Player A: 15 HR, 10 SB, 68 RBI, .266/.361/.458
Player B: 19 HR, 4 SB, 43 RBI, .254/.305./.493
Depending on the format, there is some distance between these players. While they are both striking out at about the same rate (~22%), Player A is walking about twice as much, which puts him a peg up in points leagues. When you venture back to the realm of rotisserie leagues, the case still leans slightly towards Payer A as the six extra steals in the current baseball environment are very valuable.
Now what if I told you these players were drafted about 250 spots apart way back in March?
And then I told you that their ownership percentages are currently about 68 percentage points apart?
That's correct, Player A is Carlos Correa, owned in 99.2% of ESPN leagues.
Player B, Brad Miller, is owned in 31.7% of ESPN leagues.
While I don't mean to discourage all the Carlos Correa owners, comparisons like this can be used on tons of other players to provide grief for your draft day decisions. The point is, a great majority of times throughout the year you'll have a chance to add a player whose production is very comparable to that of the elite, young talent in baseball. And odds are, you won't pull the trigger.
This weekend, take a serious look at your team needs and consider adding a guy like Brad Miller to fill in for the struggling Andrew McCutchen, Jayson Heyward, or multitude of other big name talents that just haven't put it together this season. I'm not asking you to drop Correa for Miller, but simply showing you that actual production is often closer among players than what they are expected to do. If you produced to their projected statistics, the season would be over seconds after draft day.
Brad Miller is batting .306 over his last 15 games, with four home runs and eight RBI. In that same sample, he's been the fourth best shortstop to own, jumping up to third if you eliminate the injured Trevor Story. His peripherals suggest he's been getting a little bit unlucky on balls in play, with a HR/FB rate that should be around the 10-15% range as opposed to his current 20%. With all that out of the way, I think he should be owned in much more than just around 30% of leagues and have no problem rolling him out for the next few weeks and seeing what happens. He's a great example of overlooked talent that you can take advantage of right now.
Travis Jankowski - It's fascinating to me that this guy is under 7% owned in ESPN leagues, with six steals in his last seven games. This is the season where I've seen crazy prices accepted for elite speed in some leagues, yet in others, Jankowski just sits there with his 23 total bags in 82 games. Sure his value is limited to roto and category leagues, but the potential for him to swipe 5 plus bags in one week could be the difference between losing 4-6 or winning 6-4 in a categories league. I even looked at every roto league I'm in to see how many points I could've netted if I started Jankowski over his last seven games. In my three roto leagues, I could've jumped up one full point in two and two full points the third. I encourage you to do the same and see where your footing is. (6% ESPN, 5% Yahoo)
Yangervis Solarte - If you like watching your fantasy players in games and can't bear to watch the Padres, I understand, but Solarte has had stretches of must-own and he should at least be on your radar. His BABIP is a bit low for how hard he's hitting the ball, he's only striking out in 13% of his at bats which makes him a darling in points leagues, and he batted .304 with six homers and 17 RBI in the month of July. Give him a look and love his position eligibility. (45% owned ESPN, 36% owned Yahoo)
Hernan Perez - His last 15 games have been unbelievable, ranking as the #1 player to own in roto leagues over that stretch, insanely just ahead of Miguel Cabrera. A .340 average, three home runs, and eight stolen bases are too much to pass up, and even if he cools off in the next few weeks. The Brewers have no problem running against anybody, which means his pace to break his personal single season stolen base record at any level will most likely happen. He is hot as can be and there's no reason to not give him a whirl. (59% owned ESPN, 56% owned Yahoo)
Mark Reynolds - Gotta love Coors. It's made David Dahl, possibly the most productive rookie out of the gate, even more appealing as he garners some home starts, and this aging free swinger ownable in deeper leagues once again. Although he may seem like an obvious start versus lefties, Reynolds has actually hit righties better this season and over his past three seasons as well. I see him as a great streaming option at home against bad righties and the Rockies see Phelps and Cashner today and tomorrow. Not necessarily the worst of the righty crop, but ones I can't say that I trust, especially Cashner with his 5.14 EAR at Coors from 2013-2015. (16% owned ESPN, 18% owned Yahoo)
Prospect Stashes - Nothing like betting on some more prospects to make an impact over the next two months. It's not like we've been severely disappointed in Gallo, Reed, or some guy named Alex Bregman that I was over the moon about two weeks ago, right?! Always keep one prospect's performance independent of another, just because you're about to drop Bregman - which I don't think is insane to do - doesn't mean divert your eyes from Yoan Moncada, Aaron Judge, and Hunter Renfroe. All three are likely to be up in the coming weeks, and I like the chances that at least two are more than ownable when the dust settles. I would rank them in the order just mentioned for expected impact, as I have Moncada as my top prospect in all of baseball, and see no problem stashing one of the three if you're in a top spot preparing for playoff time. It's a risk, but only with that do you get a reward.
More Young Arms
Luis Severino - There are always lulls on the pitcher landscape that make you reconsider exactly how bad pitching has been overall among the top tiers this season. Yet recently I've noticed upside is abundant. Rejoining the Yankee's rotation is the 22 year old who had a 2.93 FIP in 2015 with just over 8 K/9. 2016 hasn't been nearly as kind to him, but moving forward I don't see any reason why he can't match or improve on those ratios. He'll have a tough schedule and questionable run support, but his talent is apparent and he may be my favorite arm likely on your waivers right now. (8% owned ESPN, 15 owned Yahoo)
Joe Musgrove - With an absolutely dominant relief appearance on Tuesday (8 Ks over 4.1 IP), Musgrove will get the start in place of Lance McCullers Sunday versus Texas in what is probably the pitcher I'm most interested in watching this weekend. He had fantastic control with nice strikeout numbers at AAA this season and I could definitely see him settling into a Taillon-esque stretch of respectable strikeout numbers with very few walks. Worth a look in all leagues, right around the Severino level of interest for me. (11% owned ESPN, 24% owned Yahoo)
Jose De Leon - I wrote about De Leon a few weeks ago before the deadline, speculating he would draw by mid August. While I was a little off, it looks like he'll get a look Saturday with the Dodger's starting pitchers unable to avoid the injury bug. Unfortunately I'm not as hyped on him as I was a few weeks ago mainly because his last two starts have been extremely perplexing. I'll give him a pass on his shellacking on July 25th (1.1 IP, 7 ER, 8 H), but his last start which he got through seven he only struck out one batter. With a 11.50 K/9 on the season, prospect arms need to come with strikeouts to be worth anything, so I'm merely hoping he didn't adjust anything to drop his K numbers going forward after the bad start. Only time will tell, I'm hesitant on starting him this weekend, but I'll definitely be watching closely and am open to changing my view on him. (3% owned ESPN, 10% owned Yahoo)
Jake Thompson - The Phillies have a bright future ahead of them and I'll stand by that no matter what others may say, but I'm really not interested in Thompson as he takes the place of Aaron Nola in the rotation. As I just mentioned with De Leon, strikeouts are a must in AAA for me to have confidence in translation directly to the big leagues. He unfortunately doesn't seem to possess the upside to be addable for me. Bad team, sub 10% K-BB rate, and a FIP of 3.76 in AAA, I'll pass for now. (4% owned ESPN, 12% owned Yahoo)
Jeremy Jeffress - After I mentioned all the speculative closer adds last week, a flurry of unexpected moves resulted in a completely new crop of closers. With that being said, Betances, Giles, and Diaz are surely owned, so who is next to go? Ramos seems like a candidate, but Mattingly has always had a long leash with him and Rodney hasn't been too good. My mind then immediately moves to Sam Dyson. Bannister says he's the closer, but he's had a tendency to blow up now and again. With the addition of Jeffress, a very similar sinker ball pitcher to Dyson, the Ranger's pen is now full of talent and heading to postseason time, I don't know how confident I'd be in Dyson. I have a feeling that Jeffress will be getting saves by late August regardless of what management says. If he was dropped, he's worth a stash, if you want to speculate, try to find the Jeffress owner that's not happy he was included in the Lucroy swap. (64% owned ESPN, 66% owned Yahoo)
Contact me @LanceBrozdow on Twitter if you have any questions or want thoughts on a trade.
Good luck this week as always.