Each week from now until the end of the season, we will identify players who are rostered in fewer than 15% of fantasy baseball leagues and should be on your radar. For the most part, the players featured in this article are best suited for inclusion in deeper leagues (12 teams or more). However, with the COVID virus still wreaking havoc with fantasy rosters, you may need to eventually rely on some of the players in this article in order to field a complete and competitive lineup. We will reference Fantasy Pros’ roster percentages (as of Sunday afternoon) in this article.
David Dahl, OF, TEX (13%)
David Dahl has consistently demonstrated an above average hit tool at just about every stop in his professional career. He batted .306/.351.508 as a minor leaguer and has a .286/.334/.494 slash line as a big leaguer. Unfortunately Dahl has been plagued by injuries and has never played in more than 100 games in his big league career. He’s getting a fresh start with the Rangers where he knows he’ll be in the lineup everyday and although his numbers away from Coors Field have been less than spectacular, he possesses a blend of power and speed that makes fantasy baseball managers salivate. He’s probably already rostered in 15-team leagues but worth a spot in 12-team leagues that start five outfielders. Enjoy the fantasy production he’ll provide, but be prepared for him to visit the IL from time to time.
Luis Arraez, 2B/3B, MIN (13%)
With the notoriously slow-healing Josh Donaldson hitting the IL with a hamstring strain, it looks like Luis Arraez will be in the Twins’ everyday lineup and playing the hot corner on a regular basis for a little while. While Arraez doesn’t contribute much in the HR and stolen base categories, he is a high contact hitter with above-average OBP skills. He has consistently hit for high average throughout his professional career and is multi-position eligible in most league formats. Arraez hits right-handed pitching especially hard (lifetime .355 BAA), which makes him a good fit for fantasy managers who play in leagues with daily lineup changes.
Jazz Chisholm, 2B/SS, MIA (10%)
Jazz Chisholm is a highly regarded prospect who the Marlins got back in the Zac Gallen trade. He beat out Isan Díaz, another highly regarded prospect, for the Marlins’ starting second baseman job this spring and has already shown some flash with a triple and two stolen bases in his first three games of the season. Chisholm has underlying power and speed which has the potential to translate into 20/20 production. Unfortunately, he’s had issues with making consistent contact. Strikeouts have been an issue throughout his minor league career, and he posted a 30.6% K rate in his first taste of big league action last season. As a slick-fielding second baseman, the Marlins will probably be a bit more patient with him and keep him in their lineup as he works on improving his hit tool. Temper your expectations, but if he can improve his plate discipline there’s plenty of upside in his offensive game.
Michael A. Taylor, OF, KC, (8%)
Michael A. Taylor is being given an opportunity for a fresh start with the Royals as their everyday centerfielder. The change of scenery has done wonders for his game thus far. He’s batting .462 with two home runs in his first three games of the season. Strikeouts have been a concern for him throughout his career (31.2% career K rate) and will likely limit his ability to hit for high average for the long term. However, when given regular playing time Taylor has hit home runs and used his sprint speed—which is in the 97th percentile among major leaguers—to steal bases. In 432 plate appearances in 2017, he hit 19 home runs and stole 17 bases. Expect Taylor’s batting average to come crashing back down to earth. By season’s end it might hover around the .240 or .250 mark, but if he’s given the opportunity to play everyday, 20 home run/20 stolen base potential production is a definite possibility.
Nate Lowe, 1B, TEX, (10%)
Nate Lowe is another new face in a new place who you should reacquaint yourself with. Unlike his time with the Rays, he’ll be in the Rangers’ lineup everyday and will be given the opportunity to fulfill his potential as a power-hitting first baseman. He has hit the ground running with a .357 batting average and nine RBI in his first three games of the 2021 season. Although his 2020 K rate was the highest of his big league career, Lowe’s Chase % has fallen in each of the past two seasons. His above-average barrel rate, exit velocity and recent success against breaking balls and offspeed pitches provide cause for optimism.
Kyle Isbel, OF, KC, (3%)
Kyle Isbel knows how to hit a baseball. In college he batted .322/.390/.512. In the minor leagues he batted .284/.347/.455. He hit five home runs and drove in 10 runs this spring and that prompted the Royals to add him to their big league roster. He’s been given the opportunity to start in the Royals’ outfield for the first three games of the season and yes, it was against a mediocre Rangers pitching staff, but so far he’s made the most of his opportunity. Isbel is another prospect with power and speed. He’s also a good defensive outfielder which should prompt the Royals to want to keep his bat in the lineup.
Yermín Mercedes, DH, CHW, (2%)
How can we leave out Yermín Mercedes from this article? The guy is batting .889 (8 for 9) with six RBI through his first two games of the season. With Andrew Vaughn playing left field for the injured Eloy Jiménez, Mercedes has been filling in at DH and setting the world on fire. He set the modern day record with eight straight hits to start a season, and five of those eight hits have come with two strikes! The 28-year old is a career minor leaguer who, with a .302/.366/.491 slash line, seems to have fallen through the cracks. Will Mercedes break down and perform like a Ford Pinto going forward? Perhaps, but his story line is what makes playing fantasy baseball so much fun!
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter and @justinparadisdesigns on Instagram)