Ladies and gentlemen...welcome to a mid-week edition of who should be rostered already in your fantasy baseball leagues. In general, I’m operating from a 12-team (if you’re desperate) or 15-team league sort of context here—standard 5x5 rules apply. If you’re a hardcore NFBC player who just got through waivers on Sunday, this MIGHT not be for you. However, there could always be some healthy confirmation bias in here for guys that you already own...and everyone likes reading about how awesome they are, right?
C Omar Narvaez, Milwaukee Brewers (33% owned)
Like many hitters, Narvaez struggled during the abbreviated 2020 season. However, early returns suggest he may be returning to his prior form on the offensive side of things. For instance, in 2020 he posted the worst average exit velocity of his career, at 81.6 MPH. But so far this year he is averaging 88.3 MPH (a career high) and he’s already bested his max exit velocity from 2020. Last year’s .172 xBA was a career-low, but currently he’s sitting on a .311 xBA. Narvaez is still just 29 years old, and his plate discipline looks improved so far—less swinging, less chasing, and more contact. I’m sold on him as a solid No. 2 catcher this year, with an outside shot at cracking the top 12 if everything breaks his way. The presence of Manny Pina limits the crazy upside, but I think he can be a dependable second option.
1B/3B Travis Shaw, Milwaukee Brewers (10% owned)
Shaw could be a hidden gem. He’s batting in the heart of the order for Milwaukee, and he’s popped a couple of home runs already. First base is a pretty tough spot to find a guy on waivers, and I’m willing to roll the dice with Shaw to see if he can regain his previous form. He’s only two years removed from a pair of 30-homer seasons. I’d buy him now before another couple of home runs make it much harder to do so.
2B Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics (11% owned)
If you missed the boat on guys like Eduardo Escobar or Ty France, you should give Lowrie a look. His fall from grace came quickly in New York, but we COULD explain that away with injuries. Now healthy and reunited with Oakland, Lowrie has been on a torrid stretch, aiding in the Athletics winning five of their last six games after starting off the season winless over their first six. He’ll turn 37 years old this weekend and injuries are always a concern, but he shouldn’t cost much to acquire and he’s been fruitful in the past (when healthy). He’s the quintessential Oakland player—an underrated veteran. He’s a sneaky source of power for your MI slots, and the counting stats could surprise given that he’s now the No. 3 hitter for the A’s. Ride the wave.
3B/SS Willi Castro, Detroit Tigers (20% owned)
I could have gone with Jorge Polanco here, but that’s too boring of an option—even for me. Typically I’m fine with compilers like Polanco, but I’m not convinced he’ll compile much in the way of speed. If I’m looking for a shortstop-eligible stick, I’d rather take a shot on Castro, who the Tigers seem dedicated to giving a long leash to atop their order. Castro has batted first, second, or third in every game of the year, and hasn’t missed a day yet. That hasn’t shown up in his counting stats yet, but with his speed and ability to hit the ball hard, I’m trusting good things to happen eventually. So far, his 115.4 MPH max exit velocity puts him inside the top 1% of the league...for reference, only 10 balls were hit harder than that for the entirety of 2020. Those 10 guys are a who’s who of elite power guys, too—Pete Alonso, Rafael Devers, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Javier Baez, Ketel Marte, Teoscar Hernandez, Luis Robert, Miguel Sano, Manny Machado, and Marcell Ozuna. Pretty esteemed company to keep, and it may not show up in his average exit velocity (yet) but knowing that he can approach this level is enough for me to take a shot on the skill set and the opportunity that is before him.
OF Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets (29% owned)
If you missed out on Cedric Mullins, you can consider Nimmo—one of my favorite buys in 2021. Despite opening the year with a .412/.565/.588 slash line, he’s not turning many heads. He’s always been known as an OBP machine (career .393), but he’s also quietly a 20/10 threat over the course of a full season. A bit of a compiler? Sure. But this week the Mets get a full slate of games and the boost known as Coors Field at the back end. One way or another, I expect Nimmo to produce—both in the short and the long term. Like Castro, the counting stats aren’t there yet. But he’s leading off for the Mets more often than not. I have to think the numbers will begin to come soon enough.
SP Anthony DeSclafani, San Francisco Giants (11% owned)
Explain to me like I’m five—why Tony Disco is still so low-owned? He’s in a great park for pitching, and we’ve already seen his breakout season in 2019 (3.89 ERA, 9.02 K/9, 2.65 BB/9). He’s turned in a pair of gems for the Giants already, and it’s possible he’s their next big reclamation project. 2020 can (arguably) be thrown out considering it was a mere seven starts, and considering that DeSclafani struggled with a back injury. There’s a narrative here where 2019 was the real Tony Disco, and last year was a blip given the injury. There’s also the hope that the park shift to San Francisco will be a benefit to a guy who already turned in a sub-4.00 ERA performance with a strikeout per inning. I’ve been all over this bargain all draft season, and I’m having a hard time finding the pitchers people are choosing to stream over him. One more solid start by DeSclafani, and you’ve missed your chance. Better add him now, folks.
RP Lou Trivino, Oakland Athletics (14% owned)
If you missed out on Emmanuel Clase, you can look to Sweet Lou Trivino for saves help. The A’s failed to retain the services of Liam Hendriks, and then hit some bad luck with an injury to the aggressively-drafted Trevor Rosenthal. With Rosenthal (thoracic outlet syndrome) shelved for 3-4 months, the job falls to Trivino and to Jake Diekman. Well, it was Trivino who saw the first save chance of the year for Oakland today (Tuesday) and he’s the man I think you need to add in this bullpen moving forward. Sure, 38-year-old Sergio Romo is lurking, but given that Trivino has a deep arsenal of pitches and is clearly on the ascent, I’m all over him instead of throwing darts on Romo or on the left-handed Diekman.
If I was digging for saves, Yimi Garcia in Miami would be a consideration...but Trivino is more widely available and I view their upside as very similar.
Who are YOU adding to your fake teams this week?