Each week we will identify players who are rostered in fewer than 15% of fantasy baseball leagues who 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-19 virus and a multitude of injuries creating holes in fantasy baseball rosters, you may need to eventually rely on some of the players referenced in this article in order to field a complete and competitive lineup. We reference Fantasy Pros’ roster percentages (as of Sunday afternoon) in this article.
Harrison Bader, OF, STL (12%)
Harrison Bader entered the 2021 season with a career .234 BA and 29.1 K% rate, but since coming off the IL in late April he has drastically improved his plate discipline and it has helped his overall offensive production. Bader begins the week with a .283/.361/528 slash line and a 13.1% K rate. One example of his newfound discipline can be found in his improved whiff rate against offspeed pitches. Last season, Bader was whiffing on one out of every three of them. He’s only seen 10 offspeed pitches thus far this season, but he hasn’t whiffed on any of them. This newfound plate discipline has helped him post the highest overall contact rate of his career. Bader’s ability to hit for power and steal bases have always made him an appealing fantasy option, but one who would kill your batting average. At least for the short term, that doesn’t appear to be the case any longer.
Matt Beaty, 1B/3B/OF, LAD (7%)
Matt Beaty joins the long list of injury replacement players that the Dodgers have had to turn to this season as more and more pieces of their roster are forced to the IL. Beaty has been getting semi-regular starts in the outfield of late, and with Chris Taylor dealing with a wrist injury, it’s likely that he’ll continue to see regular playing time. Beaty got three hits while batting cleanup for the Dodgers on Sunday and is slashing .327/.435/.423 through his first 28 games of the season. He also has an impressive .450 BA with runners in scoring position and has 18 RBI on the season.
Josh Fuentes, 1B/3B, COL (5%)
It never hurts to include a Colorado Rockie in a deep hitter fantasy baseball article. After some severe early-season struggles, Josh Fuentes‘ bat has caught fire. He’s batting .484 with 13 RBI in his last 14 games. Like the previously mentioned Bader, Fuentes has really cut down on his strikeouts as the season has progressed. He had a 26.9% K rate through April 30th. Since then he’s only struck out 13.2% of the time. DFS players and fantasy managers who play in leagues that allow daily lineup changes should note that like many Rockies players, Fuentes is especially dangerous when playing at Coors Field. With CJ Cron hitting the IL, Fuentes will likely continue to get everyday at-bats.
Jonathan Schoop, 1B/2B, DET (5%)
Jonathan Schoop has been struggling for much of the season, but he has a long track record of hitting for power (26 HR 162-game average) and his bat has been heating up of late. Over his last six games, he’s batting .360 with three RBI and a .520 SLG. He’s also another player who has improved his plate discipline as of late. Schoop posted a 29.9% K rate for the month of April. Since then he’s lowered his K rate to 20.4%. He should continue to get regular at-bats in the Tigers lineup and he’s likely eligible at first and second base in most league formats.
Kyle Farmer, C/1B/2B/3B/SS, CIN (3%)
Depending on how liberal your league’s settings are, you might be able to insert Kyle Farmer into several different spots in your fantasy lineup. He’s been getting everyday at-bats as the Reds’ shortstop since they’ve had to reshuffle their infield after Joey Votto fractured his thumb, and he’s been making the most of them. Farmer doesn’t provide much power or speed, but he is batting .313 over his last 16 games. His multi-position eligibility and hot bat make him a useful short-term replacement-level player in deeper and NL-only leagues. Farmer has been playing good defense and as long as he keeps hitting, he should continue to play just about everyday.
Albert Pujols, 1B, LAD (2%)
Yes, the fact that Albert Pujols joined the Dodgers instead of an AL team looking for a boost out of their DH slot seems a bit weird, but with the growing number of players they have on the IL, Pujols might see some semi-regular playing time. It seems that Pujols’ best chance at getting semi-regular playing time with the Dodgers would be if the team has Max Muncy play some second base while Gavin Lux fills in for the injured Corey Seager at shortstop. Can Pujols—who struggled with a .198/.250/.372 slash line this season—still hit? Some of his Statcast stats offer a bit of encouragement. His 9.6% barrel rate is the highest of his career (barrel rates began being monitored in 2015). Pujol’s .265 xBA and above-average 41.1% hard hit rate leave room for optimism, and his below-average 14.2% strikeout rate demonstrates that he still swings a disciplined bat. He’s also motivated to show the Angels that they were wrong for cutting him. Pujols is an aging 41-year-old baseball player and his best days are definitely behind him but don’t be too surprised if he makes some noise before finally riding off into the sunset.
Khris Davis, DH, TEX (1%)
Khris Davis is a blast from the past and he shouldn’t be rostered except in the deepest of fantasy baseball leagues. However, as a player who was one of the top power hitters in the game just a few seasons ago, he should be on your watch list if you play in a deep league (15 team or more). Davis has been getting regular at-bats in the Rangers lineup and the fact that he actually got a start in the outfield this season is intriguing. He hasn’t yet displayed any of the old power that helped him hit forty-plus home runs in three straight seasons (2016 -2018) but his 41.1% hard hit rate is above the league average. Keep an eye on him in the box scores. Power hitters tend to hit home runs in bunches, so once he hits his first, there could be a bunch more on the way.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter and @justinparadisdesigns on Instagram)