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.
Jed Lowrie, 2B, OAK, (1%)
Jed Lowrie has compiled a .294/.368/.442 slash line through the first 10 games of his season. While we’re looking at an extremely small sample size, his current barrel rate (10.7%), average EV (91.9 mph) and xwOBA (.441) are above the league average and career highs. Lowrie has enjoyed some of his best seasons with the Oakland A’s. With a career .271 BA as an Athletic compared to his career .245 BA during his time with the Astros and Red Sox, he might provide you with some middle infield depth in his third go-around in Oakland.
Jose Trevino, C, TEX, (1%)
With catcher being the shallowest position in fantasy baseball if you play in a two-catcher league, sometimes we fantasy baseball managers are happy to just start a second catcher who has a pulse. Jose Trevino has a pulse and then some. In his first 23 ABs of the season he’s batting .393 and has been one of the bright spots of the Rangers’ offense. You should obviously expect some major regression in his batting average, but with a .281 lifetime average and a .303 xBA as this article is being written, it appears that Trevino does have a legitimate hit tool.
Tim Locastro, OF, AZ (3%)
Tim Locastro, whose sprint speed is in the 100th percentile according to Statcast, can be a sneaky source of stolen bases and he’s probably sitting on your league’s waiver wire. Locastro recently broke the MLB record for most consecutive stolen bases (28) to start a career and with early-season injuries to Kole Calhoun and Ketel Marte, has been getting regular ABs in the Diamondbacks’ lineup. Locastro has tremendous OBP skills (.362 career average) and when he’s on base and the opportunity presents itself, there’s a good chance that he’ll attempt to steal a base. He has the potential to steal 20 this season.
Travis Shaw, 3B, MIL, (4%)
Travis Shaw is another player who is enjoying his home coming. Shaw’s only career 30+ home run seasons took place when he was a Brewer back in the 2017 and 2018 seasons and with a .308 BA, two HR and 10 RBI so far he seems very comfortable wearing a Brewer uniform once again. He’s made some gains in plate discipline so far this season, cutting his Whiff % on both fastballs and offspeed stuff, but he’s never going to be a high average hitter. However, he might be worth a waiver wire add if you need a thumper at the corner spot in deep leagues. Please note that Shaw fouled a pitch off his right lower leg on Sunday and has been diagnosed with a bruised shin.
Tucker Barnhart, C, CIN, (4%)
Some fantasy baseball managers were drafting Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson as a sleeper this preseason, but with Tucker Barnhart’s hot start and Gold Glove defense, he’s going to get his fair share of ABs for the near future. As a batter with a consistent above-average LD rate, Barnhart’s recent struggles at the plate (.225 BA 2019-2020) are puzzling. Through the first six games of his 2021 season, Barnhart’s LD rate is more than twice the league average at 53.8% and has helped fuel his .409 BA. His .284 xBA is encouraging, but the fact that he’s yet to draw a walk this season is not. Don’t get fooled into thinking that Barnhart is anything more than a deep league second catcher, but in the meantime ride him while he’s hot.
Phillip Evans, 3B, PIT, (5%)
Phillip Evans appeared on his way to having a fantasy relevant 2020 season until he suffered a concussion and broken jaw as a result of his on-field collision with Gregory Polanco. He had compiled a gaudy .359/.444/.487 slash line up until that point. Evans has picked up right where he left off this season. He’s been getting some starts at third base in place of the injured Ke’Bryan Hayes and through his first eight games of the season is batting .393 with 3 HR and 7 R. Evans has played first base, second base and in the outfield in his career and when Hayes does return from the IL the Bucs should find a way to keep his hot bat in their lineup.
Zach McKinstry, 2B/OF, LAD, (6%)
You might end up eventually adding Zach McKinstry to your roster, thinking that it might end up being a short-term move designed to add some depth to your fantasy team. After all, will McKinstry see regular ABs once Cody Bellinger returns from the IL? With a long and unpredictable season ahead of us you never know. A.J. Pollock hasn’t exactly been the picture of health throughout his career and players are still hitting the COVID -IL so again, you never know. Through his first nine games of the 2021 season, McKinstry is batting .323 with two HR and 10 RBI. The amount of depth that the Dodgers have on their team is amazing!
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter and @justinparadisdesigns on Instagram)