You know what I never thought I’d say? It sucks to lose Eric Hosmer. As his season stands now, Hosmer has set career marks in barrel rate (11.6%), xBA (.308), xSLG (.578), and hard hit rate (49.5%). All of that, and he also has a career-best 8.6 degree launch angle (on average). That’s still below the big league average, but it’s major growth from Hosmer. Hopefully we get to see a healthy Hosmer in the playoffs this year,and he’s shaping up to be a value in 2021 due to the injury smokescreen and the missed time.
We’ve got at least one corner infield stick to consider in Hosmer’s place, as well as a few more names to help you out for the stretch run...which is just crazy to think about.
OF Adam Duvall, Atlanta Braves (65% owned)
Over the last two weeks Duvall has a whopping 10 home runs, as well as TWO three-homer games during that time frame. You can remove the pair of three-homer games, and he’d still be tied for ninth in the majors with four homers over the last two weeks. Which is just absurd.
You can ding Duvall a bit in OBP formats, as he’ll never stun you with his on-base skills due to a high strikeout rate and a below average walk rate. But he slashed .267/.315/.567 in 2019, and he’s slashing .261/.312/.606 this year. Only six players have hit more homers on the season than Duvall. I say you ride out this power barrage to the end of the season, folks.
SS/OF Ryan Mountcastle, Baltimore Orioles (54% owned)
Imagine a world where MLB teams just played their best players from the onset of every season. That’s one wrinkle that baseball really, really, really needs to iron out. The Orioles (20-26) wound up as sellers at the MLB trade deadline, but this was an upstart offense to begin the year and Mountcastle could have obviously made it even more potent. He’s 25-for-72 (.347 BA) since the call-up, with four homers and four doubles so far. He’s striking out at only a 20.7% rate and walking 9.8% of the time...there’s a reason his batting order slot continues to creep upward for Baltimore. He hit third in the lineup on Saturday and Sunday, and I don’t have to tell you all that he plays in a hitter’s haven in Baltimore. The fact that he offers some flexibility at shortstop AND outfield is just gravy.
1B Christian Walker, Arizona Diamondbacks (55% owned)
First base is a tough spot to cover, and given that the D’backs were sellers at the trade deadline, Walker’s slot in the lineup has moved right on up. He’s the new No. 3 batter for Arizona, and he’ll have plenty of opportunity to drive in some runs — even for an offense that has underwhelmed. Walker’s barrel rate has dropped from 13.1% (top 10% of MLB) last year to 7.4% this year, which puts him a little above average. But his 48.9% hard hit rate is still top 10% of the league. Opportunity is a big deal in the fake game, and he’s getting plenty of it with. I dig that the xBA has risen from .265 last year to .280 this year, too. He’s also trimmed his strikeout rate, from 25.7% in 2019 to 21.2% in 2020. He’s the 17th ranked first baseman in fantasy baseball, and a solid add for your corner infield or utility slot if you’re hunting for power. There’s more power upside in this bat than the six homers he’s managed so far.
1B Mitch Moreland, San Diego Padres (33% owned)
I just LOVE recommending my boy Moreland. He had hits in three straight games entering Sunday (with a homer) and appears to be settling into his new digs in San Diego. The fractured left index finger to Eric Hosmer means Moreland has a long leash on playing time for the Friars, and he’s batted cleanup for three straight days so far (again, entering Sunday, at the time of this writing). He’s slashing .286/.375/.622 with nine homers this year, and it sucks that he’s having arguably his best season as a professional during an abbreviated year. But ride this wave onward to the end — again, first base is a pain in the you-know-what to cover. Moreland can do that for you easily enough, especially when the Padres aren’t facing a string of lefty pitchers. Moreland is prone to streaks...if he has one more to end the year, you can thank me later!
3B Maikel Franco, Kansas City Royals (19% owned)
Seriously, I’m not joking. Franco has been the RBI man for the Royals, who are on a heater as a unit right now. If you need help at third base or corner infield, add the guy who is batting .368 with 13 RBI over the last two weeks. Maybe you won’t get tons of power, but Franco doesn’t strike out a lot (top 13% of the league) and the .290 xBA mark is a career-high. He’s batting .284 with 21 runs, 7 homers, 31 RBI, and a steal this year. That’s great production that you can obtain nearly for free right now. Don’t think homers, think BA and RBI help.
That’s what stuck out to me in the hitting world. Jeimer Candelario (63% owned) is another name, but I figured I could offer up some lower-owned options instead. Hopefully you aren’t as desperate as I am in TGFBI...I was actually excited last night about adding Leody Taveras for steals help. Hopefully he can bat over .225 this week.