With Adam Eaton and several other players hitting the DL, the need is pressing as ever for replacements on your wire who can adequately fill your roster’s holes and stop the bleeding. Fortunately, many of the most added players this week have made legitimate improvements in their game, and you will want to be the savvy owner to scoop them up before your leaguemates catch on.
Scott Schebler (OF, Reds) – If you’re looking for a hot add, Scheb right up! Schebler takes the #1 most added player this week after a power binge in which he hit 4 taters in 4 games. He hasn’t hit any more in 5 games since, but they’ll come. While his 39.1% Hard% is appealing, his true evolution is his 48.4% FB% (29.1% in 2016), allowing him to make the most of his hard contact. While his higher strikeout rate might scare some away, I think it’ll come down as he’s actually improved his contact rate. He can easily hit .250 with 20-25 HR the rest of the way with a handful of SBs, which is useful in all leagues.The longball is my Schebler, and I shall want.
Hernan Perez (3B/OF, Brewers) – As a Tigers fan, it’s tough for me to be constantly reminded that the Tigers flipped both Perez and Suarez for small returns. While many wrote off Perez’s excellent and shocking 2016 season as a fluke, he’s back and proving them wrong. He’s continuing his all-fields approach with an improved 35.3% Hard%, helping him achieve a .290 ISO. His plate discipline numbers also appear improved, but he still chases at a lot of pitches. I think he can achieve similar power and average as last year, though the real question will be if he gets more aggressive on the basepaths, as his 2 SB in April is disappointing. Even with only 20-25 SB, he’s a useful asset, especially due to his positional flexibility (he qualifies in some leagues as SS as he’s played 5 games there). Get Hernan before he’s Hergone.
David Peralta (OF, Diamondbacks) – Peralta has been extremely well-rounded thus far, hitting .326 with 3 HR and 3 SB in 102 PA. He is overachieving in AVG. right now, but he still is a good average hitter due to his mix of high Hard% (43.2% this year) with liners and infield hits thanks to his worm-burning 54.1% GB%. This tendency is frustrating as it limits his home run upside, but he can still be a high-average run producer of the Eric Hosmer mold. It’s hard to find guy who can hit for average on the wire, so he’s well worth a flier.
Kevin Pillar (OF, Blue Jays) – Pillar is living up to his name, because without this Pillar holding the Blue Jays edifice up, they’d collapse. He’s hitting a robust .304 with 4 Home Runs and 3 SB. He’s a true post-hype sleeper as this is what drove his value preseason 2016, and now atop the Jays lineup he’s delivering on the promise. He has the best Hard% of his career, but I’m especially intrigued by his MUCH improved swing rates (from terrible to okay) and his Z-contact rate (which went from excellent to elite). He could go .290-.300 the rest of the way with 10-15 HR and 15-20 SB, which is essentially Adam Eaton. Buy now, Kevin can’t wait!
Josh Harrison (2B/3B, Pirates) – I couldn’t help write up a guy I just picked up in my league. Harrison has been an afterthought since his fantastic 2014 breakout, but in one month he has already surpassed his 2016 HR total (4) and so vintage Josh may be back. His 34.2% Hard% echoes his 2013 rate, and he’s also hitting 48.6 FB%, the highest rate of his career, combined with the highest pull rate (which is good with all these factors combined). I believe he can hit for a .300 AVG. too, since he’s posting the best swing rates and contact rates of his career. He may only steal 10-15 bases, but with 8-12 more Homers he’ll rate among the more valuable 2b eligible players. Of the players listed, he’s the most likely to be available, but he may be just as valuable if not more. I’m not joshing you.
Cody Bellinger (OF/1B, Dodgers) – Bellinger is supposed to be just getting a taste of the show, but he is stating his case to stick around, hitting .345 with 2 Homers, 7 RBI and 5 R in 32 PA. It’s very encouraging to see his combination of Hard%, High FB% and better-than-expected plate discipline. However, once everyone’s back from their DL stints, the Dodgers just will not have room for him. But until that happens, he’ll be plenty useful, so if you’re able to, there’s nothing wrong with picking him up and riding it out for a short-term boost.
Chris Owings (SS/OF, Diamondbacks) – Owings has always been one of the more boring players in fantasy, but he’s changing that this year with a .309 AVG, 4 Homers and 7 SB, which matches his average power output in a full season. While the power rate won’t last, he is hitting for a 34% Hard% which is the best of his career, and he also has put up a 92.7% Z-Contact% which is elite and a career-best. His crazy 30% Liner Rate won’t last, but he should still hit .270+ with another 5-10 Homers and 15 SB the rest of the way for a career year. Owings should be owinged in all but the shallowest of mixed leagues.
Jedd Gyorko (2B/SS/3B, Cardinals) – It’s rare that a guy who hits 30 Home Runs doesn’t land a starting gig the next year, but that’s the situation Gyorko encountered preseason. But he’s earned the regular gig with a red-hot .369 AVG and 6 Homers. His batted ball profile looks nearly identical to next year, save for a more all-fields approach. But he’s become more patient and has less swing and miss in his game, with a single-digit SwStrk% (9.5%) for the first time in his career. I’d expect a .260 AVG with 18-22 HR the rest of the way, outproducing keystone sluggers like Odor and Schoop in OBP leagues. Gyump for Gyorko in all leagues.
Yonder Alonso (1B, Athletics) – This isn’t the first time I’ve written about Yonder, but it’s worth a follow-up since he’s unowned in 92.4% of ESPN leagues, which is too damn high! He just cracked his 5th homer, showing the swing changes he made this offseason were legit. While it comes with a higher strikeout rate, the increased power means it doesn’t adversely affect his batting average. That 39.2% Hard% with a 49% FB% means he should hit 15-20 HR the rest of the way, which makes him a great deep-league add but also a solid add in 12-teamers.
Justin Smoak (1B, Blue Jays) – Speaking of largely unowned mid-career 1st baseman with hot starts and terrible histories… Smoak has rewarded the Blue Jays’ extreme faith in him, as he’s hitting .272 with 4 Homers in 86 PA. He said recently he’s been studying more video and not always swinging for the fences and trying to hit for contact, which could explain his improved 22.2% K rate, and although his swing rates aren’t any better, his Z-Contact% jumped from a career 86.4% to a fantastic 94.8% rate. But he’s actually still crushing the ball, with a 42.9% Hard% matching his 42.9% FB% and a 42.9% Pull%. Huh, what a cowinkydink! All the signs of a breakout are here, and where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and soon Smoak may be on fire, so snag him in deeper mixed leagues.
Kendrys Morales (DH, TOR) – He’s still owned in most leagues, but I wanted a chance to explain my rationale of dropping Morales for Harrison. I mean, he’s hitting for hard contact and similar walk/K rates, so why give up on him. See Fig. 1, a 27.5% FB rate. That’s the lowest of his career, and while he has made up for it some with a career high liner rate, that’s still too many Groundballs for a power hitter. See Fig. 2, the worst O-Swing rate (35.1%), and Fig. 3. Contact rate (74.9%) of his career, so he may be a .240-20 guy from here on out, which is simply not worth clogging up your UTIL spot with so many superior options available, especially in OBP leagues.
Trey Mancini (1B/OF, Orioles) – He was one of the first hot offensive pickups of April with his early homer surge, but his flaws have come out since. His 37.5 K% isn’t going to cut it, and a power guy shouldn’t be hitting 53.1% worm-burners, so yeah, that 45.5 HR/FB won’t last. He still has a bright future but Mancini should get seasoned in the minors, and served with shrimp linguini and scallopini.
Sandy Leon (C, Red Sox) – After my dad made a bet with me because he was so sure that Sandy Leon would have a great season, I take some pleasure in writing this. He’s hitting .196 with 1 HR, and while some of that was actually bad luck (.222 BABIP and solid Hard% and plate discipline stats), his chance to prove himself has been cut short by Vazquez’s hot start, and Vazquez has overtaken the regular gig. At least until he finds a better playing time situation somewhere else, it’s time to move on from Leon.
Kevin Kiermaier (OF, Rays) – It’s rather surprising to see his sudden erosion of skills, as he seemed to improve as a hitter every year until now. But it’s been ugly, with a double digit SwStrk% for the first time in his career, and the hideous 61% GB%, which saps his power upside and makes him more like Billy Hamilton but with 20 SB instead of 60. There should be better players on your wire, so if you stick with him, you’ll feel like a Kiermaier weiner.
Mike Zunino (C, Mariners) – I admit that I was on the Zunino hype train entering 2017 due to his improved approach after returning from the minors, but I’d rather stand in front of that train now than my on it. He simply looks lost and his 37% K rate is so bad, even in super deep 2-catcher leagues, you’d probably be better off with a part-time guy like Chirinos, or really anybody else. He’s still gonna pop some homers with his hard contact and flyball approach, but with an average that may fail to surpass the Mendoza line, it’s just not worth it. Flush away Zunino and relieve yourself with Beano.
Schebler, K. Morales, Mazara, Souza, Dickerson ROS? OPS league.
Sorry that’s a lot of names!
Trevor Story and DJ Lemahieu-Can you tel me why these two players are still taking up roster space on my roster? Am I waiting for the Colorado air to heat up? Rookie here, my patience meter is lower from lack of knowledge.