Every Monday from now until the end of the season, we will take a look at players with less than 10% ownership (Yahoo!) who should be on your radar in deep leagues. The majority of fantasy baseball leagues are mixed leagues with 10 to 12 teams, though we know many of you play in 18- to 20-team leagues and/or AL- or NL-only formats. This column is for you all.
The trade deadline always opens up spots for some unheralded guys to shine. It can be a great time in the fantasy season, especially in deeper leagues where some of those guys can become fantasy useful players.
The following list includes a few stalwarts who have been on this list over the past few weeks, as well as a few new players who are getting an opportunity following the trade deadline.
Luis Arraez, 2B/3B/OF, MIN (4% Owned)
I’m running out of things to say about Twins infielder Luis Arraez. Just when you thought his .350+ batting average couldn’t stand, he went out and had two multi-hit games last week, giving him a comfortable .353 batting average.
The caveat remains his lack of counting stats and although he scored five runs last week, he didn’t have any home runs or steals and just one RBI. He has moved all over the batting order, hitting second and fourth but also sixth three times and ninth once, so it doesn’t appear he is going to settle into a spot near the top, which would boost his value quite a bit.
Still, a player hitting .353 who walks more than he strikes out and is playing every day is worth owning in more than just 4% of leagues. If you are looking for someone to help stabilize your batting average, look no further than Arraez.
His high contact rate and positional flexibility should keep him fantasy relevant all season, even if he doesn’t contribute much elsewhere.
Mark Canha, 1B/OF, OAK (7% Owned)
The baseball world—both fantasy and real life—is finally starting to take notice of Mark Canha. The relatively unheralded slugger hit 16 home runs in a partial season back in 2015, and after struggling mightily over the next two years, he returned to hit 17 round-trippers in 2018 across 411 plate appearances.
This season has seen Canha blast 17 home runs yet again, except this time it’s been in just 292 plate appearances, giving him a ridiculous .267 ISO and a 140 wRC+. His power is fantastic, but it’s also accompanied by an elite 13.7% walk rate, leading to a .254/.380(!)/.521 slash line on the season.
Canha is starting every day and hitting right in the heart of Oakland’s order, and that doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon.
Statcast isn’t super sold on Canha however, as he only boasts a 37.4% hard hit rate, which is slightly above the league average, but nowhere near elite.
So, this may not last forever, but the fact that a player with a .267 ISO and a .380 OBP is available in 93% of leagues is rather shocking, and should change soon. Don’t miss out.
J.D. Davis, 1B/3B/OF, NYM (9% Owned)
J.D. Davis is another corner infielder/outfielder who is having a quietly nice season, although the big difference between him and Canha is how Statcast views them. While Statcast is down on Canha’s hot hitting, they love Davis. I mean, look at this chart:
Sure he’s not the fastest guy in the world, but man, you cannot ask for much else. Davis is slashing .295/.364/.479 on the season with 11 home runs and 34 RBI in 291 plate appearances.
Much like Canha, Davis has heated up at the plate lately, which has opened up a bigger opportunity to get plate appearances.
I like both guys, but I’d rather buy Davis at this point. He plays in a better park, doesn’t have to face the Astros and has third base eligibility, which makes him more flexible.
You can’t go wrong with either in 14+ team leagues, and both could be useful in 12-teamers as well if you’re desperate for hitting.
Travis Demeritte, 2B/SS, DET (2% Owned)
The Tigers shipped closer Shane Greene to the Atlanta Braves at the trade deadline, getting a pair of quality prospects in return: left-hander Joey Wentz and infielder-turned-outfielder Travis Demeritte.
After hitting .286/.387/.558 with 20 home runs, 74 RBI and a 137 wRC+ at Triple-A, the Tigers decided Demeritte was immediately ready for a spot on their 25-man roster. He has started for the Tigers in all four games since getting recalled.
Demeritte went 1-for-2 with two walks, a triple and a stolen base in his first start, making quite the impression on the Detroit faithful. While the steal is probably an aberration, Demeritte’s patience at the plate should allow him to move up in Detroit’s anemic batting order shortly (he already went from seventh to sixth) and his raw power could make him an extremely appealing fantasy option for the rest of the season.
Christin Stewart will be off the IL soon, but as long as Demeritte is hitting well he will find himself a regular role in the Motor City. In Yahoo leagues where he is eligible at 2B/SS, Demeritte is worth a look in all formats deeper than 12-teamers.
In ESPN where he is only OF eligible, he’s probably only worth a look in AL-only or similarly deep formats, but a rise in the order could make him more valuable going forward.
Phillip Ervin, OF, CIN (1% Owned)
The Reds sent away outfielder Yasiel Puig in a deal to net them Trevor Bauer in what was one of the most memorable deadline deals in a long time. That trade not only netted Cincinnati an ace, but it also cleared up a spot in their outfield, which should lead to more at-bats for right-hander Phillip Ervin.
Ervin has started every game against left-handers since the trade, although he appears to be cemented into a short side platoon role for the time being.
Regardless, his season slash line of .333/.398/.548 is noteworthy, even if it has only come in 103 plate appearances and has yielded just two home runs and three stolen bases.
In NL-only leagues or deep (18+) team leagues, especially those that allow daily lineup changes, I’d be all over Ervin. He’s currently slashing a menacing .472/.537/.889 against left-handers this season. .472. Seriously. Clearly it’s not sustainable, but I’d want him in my lineup every single game that he’s facing a left-handed pitcher.
Donovan Solano, 2B/SS, SFG (1% Owned)
Giants infielder Donovan Solano is a lot like Phillip Ervin in the sense that he’s crushing the ball, but only getting a chance to start against left-handed pitching. San Francisco’s other starting middle infielders, Brandon Crawford and Scooter Gennett, both hit left-handed. So when SF faces a left-hander, Solano almost always starts in place of one of them—and he usually hits leadoff.
He currently sports a .343/.374/.496 slash line on the season with four home runs and 18 runs and RBI each. He’s hitting .348 against lefties and .338 against righties, but his .408 OBP and 148 wRC+ against LHP trumps his .387 and 111 marks against RHP.
Solano isn’t likely to keep this torrid hitting pace up, as a .394 BABIP and 86.8 mile per hour average exit velocity would suggest, but for now he’s worth owning in deep leagues with daily roster moves so that he can be pencilled in against left-handed pitching.
(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)