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.
Jon Berti, 2B/3B/SS/OF, MIA, (12%)
Jon Berti may be slumping to start the season, but with Brian Anderson currently on the IL with a left oblique strain, he’ll be getting regular at-bats in the Marlins lineup for the near future. Historically when he receives at-bats, his .352 career OBP demonstrates that he finds a way to get on base. When he’s on base, he steals bases. In 2019 he had 256 at-bats and stole 17 bases and last season he had 120 at-bats and stole nine bases. With a sprint speed in the 97th percentile, Berti could be a cheap source of steals while Anderson recovers.
Austin Slater, OF, SF, (5%)
Austin Slater has been getting regular starts in centerfield as of late, a position that was expected to be manned by the slumping Mauricio Dubon. With a .303 BA and six RBI in his last 11 games, Slater’s been getting it done at the plate and he’s been holding his own in the field. Slater is coming off of a solid 2020 campaign in which he batted .282 with five HR and he had a career-high eight SB despite being limited by injuries. His 16 HR and 19 SB 162-game average shows that if Slater is given everyday at-bats he could provide fantasy baseball manager with good value in deeper leagues.
Christian Arroyo, 2B/3B, BOS, (4%)
At the start of the season, Christian Arroyo was expected to be a part-time utility player, but his offensive and defensive play has, at least for the short term, helped him carve out an everyday role in the Red Sox’s lineup. Red Sox manager Alex Cora has acknowledged that keeping Arroyo’s bat in the lineup will continue to allow him to use Enrique Hernández in centerfield and also slot the resourceful Marwin Gonzalez wherever he’s needed. Arroyo is admittedly a bit of a one-dimensional player, but he’s multi-position eligible, he’s swinging a hot bat (.333 BA in his last 11 games), and he’s been in the lineup just about every day.
Pavin Smith, 1B/OF, AZ, (3%)
Based on his minor league career .364 OBP, Pavin Smith will continue to see regular at-bats at the top of the Diamondbacks’ lineup with Tim Locastro on the IL. He swings a power bat, but based on Smith’s 17.7% K rate, he has good plate discipline for a young hitter. Smith is batting a respectable .288 with two HR in his first 18 games, but keep an eye on his progress. He can’t hit a breaking ball and once pitchers start to regularly attack that point of weakness it’ll be time to drop him from your roster.
Willie Calhoun, U, TEX, (2%)
Based on his career .289/,356/.499 minor league slash line, Willie Calhoun was a highly regarded prospect, but injuries have thus far derailed his career. The closest we’ve seen him come to fulfilling his anticipated potential was the 2019 season when he hit 21 home runs and drove in 48 runs in 83 games. He’s finally healthy and while we only have a very small sample size to judge him by, we can’t help but be intrigued by his .333 BA in his first 24 at-bats of the season. Understand the risks that come with rostering a player with his type of injury history but based on his upside, he’s worth adding in deeper leagues.
Yonathan Daza, OF, COL (1%)
Yonathan Daza turned some heads this spring, batting .364 with three doubles and a home run in 44 at-bats. While he’s never been considered a top Rockies prospect, Daza has posted a healthy .318/.359/.438 slash line in his nine-year minor league career. He’s gotten off to a good start with the Rockies this season, slashing .325/.317/.450 in his first 40 at-bats. The Rockies are known to be inconsistent when it comes to distributing playing time amongst their young players, but Daza had five straight starts through Sunday. If you play in a deep league and are hurting at the outfield position you could do worse than rostering a guy like Daza who plays his home games at Coors Field.
Billy McKinney, OF, MIL, (1%)
Billy McKinney is a former first round pick who, with Christian Yelich on the IL, is getting another chance to show the baseball world what he’s capable of. If Avisaíl García is already rostered in your league, McKinney is worth a speculative look in deeper leagues. He’s been getting regular at-bats with Yelich sidelined, but so far the results have been mixed. He finished the week batting .240, but he has three home runs in his first 50 at-bats of the season. According to Statcast, his xBA is .289 and his xSLG is a robust .518.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter and @justinparadisdesigns on Instagram)