Now that we are a quarter of the way through the season, it is time we take a look at some potential additions that could help your fantasy team going forward. It is worth noting that Grossman and Munoz have started many of their team’s games recently, but they may see time on the bench due to slumps or depth. They aren’t players to add in standard 12-team leagues, but they are interesting additions in some of the deeper leagues out there.
Max Kepler, Minnesota Twins (39% Owned)
Kepler is not the only Twins player to make this list, but he is the most important. Kepler has made improvements to nearly every aspect of his game, as he currently has career highs in Contact%, O-Swing%, FB% and Hard%. These improvements at the plate have helped him post a 0.81 walk to strikeout ratio, which is good enough for 21st among qualified batters.
With his low line drive rate Kepler will most likely post a low BABIP. If his strikeout rate continues at its current rate, though, he could still end up with a batting average around .260. The most surprising part of this season for Kepler is that even though he currently is setting career highs in hard contact and fly ball rates, he has the lowest home run to fly ball rate of his career. This could mean the best of Kepler is yet to come.
Tony Kemp, Houston Astros (2% Owned)
With Fisher and Reddick on the DL, Kemp has been getting a majority of the starts in center field. He has started all but one game this past week, which makes him an interesting addition.
In the minors this season, Kemp stole 13 bases in just 183 plate appearances. He has above-average speed and good enough plate discipline to continually get on base, so he could be a good source of steals for your fantasy. Now while we have never seen Kemp hit more than ten home runs in a season, he does have some Christian Yelich power. By this I mean he has posted an above average hard contact rate but puts most of his batted balls on the ground, which last I checked it is hard to hit a home run on the ground. With his great plate vision, solid line drive rates and speed, Kemp could be a quality add in your league even if he doesn’t hit for much power this season.
Robbie Grossman, Minnesota Twins (>1% Owned)
Grossman has had a rough start to the season as he currently owns a horrendous .227/.307/.327 slash line. With Joe Mauer presently on the DL, Grossman should get the majority of starts as the team's DH. If he can prove that his early season struggles were just a fluke, then he could take playing time away from Logan Morrison who has also been struggling this season.
Grossman’s plate discipline has been nothing short of spectacular as he has had a walk rate above 10% the past three seasons. This season he has the 12th-best O-Swing% (20.1%) among batters with at least 100 plate appearances, which puts him right behind one Michael Nelson Trout. While his plate discipline is superb, his ability to make contact is not far behind.
Grossman's 84.8% contact rate ranks 39th in the league among batters with at least 100 plate appearances and ranks among the likes of Mike Trout, Anthony Rizzo, and Joey Votto. With a contact rate like that, you might expect his 21.3% strikeout rate to regress but due to his low swing percentage, it could stay around the 20% mark. Even though his strikeout rate could creep above the league average, I still feel comfortable knowing he has the contact skills to put the ball in play when needed.
When Grossman does put the ball in play, he has shown the ability to do good things. Even though his season hasn't had many positives, his batted ball profile shows some promising signs. This season we have seen him hit the ball to all fields while also posting a career high in fly ball rate and hard contact rate. With an excellent line drive and soft contact rates, not only this season but throughout his career, he should have a relatively high BABIP. This could help him post a batting average somewhere around .260 and become a sleeper to watch in deeper leagues.
Yairo Munoz, St. Louis Cardinals (>1% Owned)
Munoz is just one of many Cardinals players who have the potential to be a starter but is currently stuck in a logjam with all the other three WAR players in the lineup. He was brought over to St. Louis as part of the trade that sent Stephen Piscotty over to Oakland and was mostly seen as a low-level prospect heading into 2018. After an incredible Spring Training, though, he became an interesting fantasy stash in deeper leagues. This sudden emergence in the spring was partly due to a swing change thanks to one Jose Martinez. This swing change produced a respectable 40.3% fly ball rate with a .287/.330/.436 slash line at Triple-A this season. Martinez, just like Munoz, was also fighting for a spot in the lineup not too long ago, so there may still be hope for Munoz in 2018.
Although Munoz doesn't have a starting stop locked up, his versatility has proven valuable as he has started the past three games for the Cardinals. In those three games, he has four hits, two walks, and one home run. Over his 42 plate appearances this season, Munoz has struggled with strikeouts. Looking at his minor league numbers, however, I would expect him to be closer to a 20% strikeout rate rather than the 30% clip he currently posts.
Munoz will be an interesting player to watch as 2018 continues. He could just be this year's Tommy Pham, David Freese or Jose Martinez player or otherwise known as this year's no-name prospect who comes out of the Cardinals farm system and becomes a St. Louis hero overnight.
Other Notables: Michael Conforto (55% Owned), Austin Meadows (44% Owned), Delino DeShields (41% Owned), Dexter Fowler (27% Owned), Mallex Smith (26% Owned), Brandon Nimmo (14% Owned), Joc Pederson (4% Owned)
Which outfielder under 3% ownership would you like see sure up a spot in their respective starting lineups?
This poll is closed
Tony Kemp, OF, Houston Astros
Yairo Munoz, SS/OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Robbie Grossman, OF, Minnesota Twins