In an effort to streamline things a bit here at Fake Teams, yours truly is going to change Wire Warriors up a bit from now on. Brian Creagh has been bringing the 10 under 10% early in the week for all you deep league fiends, so I figured I’d bring you the “five under 50%” sometime on Tuesday or Wednesday of each week—but I’ll do it for pitchers AND hitters. I’m not married to the name, either. So if anyone has a better idea, post that mug in the comments.
This way, each article gives you 10 players to choose from and there’s a bit more symmetry on the site. And the deep league guys get their heads-up sooner in the week. You guys in leagues that are more laid back or more shallow can get this one on Tuesday or Wednesday. Cool?
I mean, this way I can pick the five best adds and not recommend someone trashy at catcher just because that person is a catcher. So, no more position-by-position. Simply the most intriguing guys will get the nod. I’m looking forward to the new format. Let’s do this.
Josh Harrison, Pirates (43% owned)
He’s been solid since his return from the DL and it’s nice that he’s eligible at second, third, and outfield (in the Yahoo game at least). He leads off for the upstart Pirates, and he’s a bit unconventional in that role with a career 3.9% walk rate. His 14.7% career strikeout rate will play, though. Harrison doesn’t do any one thing great, but he’s a pretty solid play all around. He’s an underrated speed asset as well, with totals of 12, 19, 10, and 18 going back to 2014. At age 30 he has slowed a bit in the past couple of years, at least according to Statcast. He’s still covering ground at 27.2 ft/sec though, which is a hair above the league average of 27 ft/sec. He’s 2-for-2 on steals so far, so perhaps he’ll chip in double digits again this year—and we can worry about a larger dropoff next year.
Ryon Healy, Mariners (43% owned)
He’s a career .276 hitter, so the current .254 average (and corresponding career low .274 BABIP) have some room for positive regression. He’s on pace to crank about 28 dingers and he’s batting fifth or sixth for a solid Mariners lineup that ranks upper third in pretty much every significant offensive category. He’s a safe option at the corner infield spot, even if he is unexciting.
Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays (40% owned)
Hernandez is a guy I’ve touted previously due to his ability to barrel the ball. In fact, Hernandez ranks third in the MLB in Brls/PA at 12.2, behind only Mookie Betts (13.3) and J.D. Martinez (12.6). Here’s MLB.com’s official definition of a “barrel” if you’re interested. Basically, a barrel is a batted-ball event (BBE) that meets certain thresholds with regard to exit velocity and launch angle. Barrels have resulted in a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage since Statcast was fully implemented in 2015. In short, if you hit the ball really hard and on a certain trajectory, good things are going to happen. Hernandez is third-best in the MLB at this. And he didn’t have a ton of BBEs in 2017, but if you sort for 50 minimum batted ball events he pops up again—as the fourth-best in the league with a 12.2 Brls/PA mark. This power output looks like something he can sustain, mainly because when he DOES make contact, he’s smoking the ball. There’s some batting average risk here, but perhaps Hernandez can be the next Adam Jones. It’s a really good comp, actually—Hernandez just has more swing-and-miss, but far more power.
Delino DeShields, Rangers (35% owned)
DeShields is 12 for his last 35 with 10 runs and five stolen bases to his name over that stretch. If he can keep it up in the OBP department we’ll have a three-category contributor on our hands. DeShields was a popular late-round grab heading into the season—he was seen as a cheaper version of Billy Hamilton (with less speed but better on-base skills and better pop). Perhaps everything is finally coming to fruition. DeShields has a healthy 11.8% walk rate and has pared his strikeout rate down to 21.1%. That’s not an ideal strikeout rate, but DeShields has speed in spades and is worthy of consideration while he’s hitting. I’m taking a shot on him wherever I need the wheels. Unlike a Michael A. Taylor type, DeShields is an above average contact hitter and has an epic 7.3% swinging strike rate (the MLB average in 2018 is 10.6%). I really like him in Texas. Texas forever.
Leonys Martin, Tigers (25% owned)
He’s been one of my favorite guys all year. Even when the speed wasn’t there he offered some pop and some runs due to leading off for Detroit. Now the speed is coming too, and that has been driving his ownership up a bit. I really like him as a fourth outfielder or utility bat. He is the No. 14 ranked hitter in the fake game over the past two weeks, with a pair of home runs and four stolen bases to his name. For the season he’s an OF3 (OF36 actually) but he’s widely available and should be a bonus in the runs and steals categories. He’ll do so without being a massive drain on batting average and power categories. I’ve added him everywhere I can for depth as an OF4/UTIL bat.
Nick Pivetta, Phillies (47% owned)
It’s a tragedy that he’s so low-owned. Over 79.1 innings, Pivetta has a whopping 94 strikeouts and a 4.08 ERA (1.18 WHIP). Those ratios may not astound you, but they are better than the MLB averages of 4.17 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. Pivetta has been a huge hit for me in the Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational at the back end of my roster. He could be the same for you.
Seranthony Dominguez, Phillies (42% owned)
With Hector Neris now residing in Triple-A as of two days ago, Dominguez SHOULD be the frontrunner for saves in Philadelphia. That is, if Gabe Kapler doesn’t do something insane. Better add him now to be safe—in another week’s time his ownership percentage is going to rise quickly, especially if he nabs a save or two.
Seth Lugo, Mets (45% owned)
Lugo’s curveball is now his weapon of choice, as he’s up to 30.6% usage this year after using it 17.4% of the time in 2017. Lugo doesn’t allow a lot of hard contact (only 26.5%) and SHOULD remain a member of the rotation when Noah Syndergaard (finger) returns—booting LHP Jason Vargas out of the rotation. We shall see.
Justin Miller, Nationals (13% owned)
I was just forced to choose between Miller or a below average starter in one moderately deep league, and I chose the reliever who is going to help me in ratios and strikeouts. If you can afford to carry a reliever of his ilk who won’t be closing anytime soon, Miller should be at the top of your list. Miller has a 42.3% strikeout rate, which is just crazy. He allows a lot of fly balls (57.1%) but plays in a big park and allows only 28.6% hard contact. Also, high fly ball rates generally go hand-in-hand with strikeout pitchers. Just peep Justin Verlander’s fly ball rate if you don’t believe me.
Kyle Gibson, Twins (28% owned)
I don’t actually only select NL East pitchers, and Gibson is my proof. It’s random that the four guys ahead of him are all NL East guys...right? Or maybe the general populace is down on my NL East boys? Anyway, Gibson is the lone AL guy, and luckily he’s pretty widely available to most of you. Gibson has a 23.8% strikeout rate (career high) to go along with his healthy 49.8% ground ball rate. Over the last month he’s sporting a 2.20 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 26 strikeouts over 32.2 innings. He’s an underrated back end starter for sure.