Every week 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.
Two players featured below were just called up to the big leagues, and while their official role on their respective teams is undefined, they both have the potential to make a big impact down the stretch. They’re joined by a handful of other players that are worth consideration in deeper leagues going forward.
Kolby Allard, SP, TEX (3% Owned)
Kolby Allard’s first start with the Rangers certainly had its ups and downs. All told, he went 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 BB and 7 K against the Brewers, along with a 35.5% CSW (33/93) which included 29/74 CSW (39.1%) on his fastball.
Allard’s fastball looked great, but his secondary stuff is remarkably average and only flashes plus on occasion. He relies on pinpoint command, which can make him susceptible to blow-ups.
However, I liked enough of what I saw against Milwaukee to consider rostering him going forward, particularly against weak-hitting teams. He gets Toronto in Toronto next, which is dicey, but in AL-only formats and similarly deep leagues, I’m content taking a shot on Allard down the stretch.
Randy Arozarena, OF, STL (0% Owned)
The 24-year-old outfielder is having a monstrous season in the minor leagues, with a .349/.435/.547 slash line with 10 home runs and 16 stolen bases in 80 games split between AA and AAA.
Arozarena could be in line for regular playing time, and has the potential to be a five-category contributor down the stretch. He has shown good plate discipline throughout his time in the minor leagues, and his 16.9% strikeout rate in AAA suggest he won’t get overmatched by big league pitching.
I’m absolutely grabbing Arozarena in NL-only leagues, and wouldn’t mind giving him a speculative add in 14-team leagues for those who have an extra roster space and want to see how this plays out.
Luis Arraez, 2B/3B/OF, MIN (6% Owned)
I’m running out of things to say about Twins infielder Luis Arraez. His August slash line sits at .324/.381/.405 with a 2.4(!!!)% strikeout rate and a 9.7% walk rate. The .324 average in August actually lowered his season average, and his season slash line now sits at .350/.421/.446.
The caveat remains his lack of counting stats, and although he’s driven in six runs since August 6, he didn’t have any home runs or steals and only scored twice. He seems to have settled into the No. 6 spot in the lineup, 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 .350 who walks more than he strikes out and is playing every day is worth owning in more than just 6% 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.
Travis Demeritte, 2B/SS/OF, 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 now started every single game for the Tigers since coming up and has hit seventh in every contest except one, where he hit sixth.
At first glance, Demeritte’s .243 average and 31.1% strikeout rate are immediate causes for concern. However, the rookie is also boasting a ridiculous 15.6% walk rate, bringing his slash line to a much more palatable .243/.356/.459, along with a home run, five runs scored, four RBI and two stolen bases.
In fact, Demeritte is the first player since 1982 to record six walks and two triples in his first eight MLB games. That’s not an exceptionally relevant fantasy stat, unless you play in OBP leagues, but it does indicate that he should continue to see everyday at bats in the Motor City, even when Christin Stewart returns from the injured list.
In Yahoo leagues where he is eligible at 2B/SS, Demeritte is worth a look in formats deeper than 12-teamers that count OBP.
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.
Jordy Mercer, SS, DET (1% Owned)
Tigers shortstop Jordy Mercer has missed a good chunk of the season with injuries, but his recent performance is more in line with what the team was hoping when they signed the veteran infielder. Of course, they were hoping for this earlier in the year so they could trade him, but I suppose they’ll take it now.
He’s slashing .379/.400/.621 through the first eight games in August, along with three runs scored, two home runs and five RBI. He’s penciled in at the bottom of Detroit’s lineup, which limits his opportunities for runs and RBI, but his consistent playing time and decent power make him worth a look in AL-only leagues and similarly deep formats.
Additionally, Statcast suggests his season line (.247/.292/.411) might be worse than it should be, as his xSlash of .269/.299/.463 is quite a bit better. He’s also sporting a solid 40.5% hard hit rate and a 7.9% barrel rate, both well above his career-high.
It’s a small sample to be sure and it’s not like Mercer isn’t a known commodity, but this could be worth looking into in deeper leagues.
Joshua Rojas, 2B/SS, AZ (0% Owned)
The second prospect on this list to be called up today, Joshua Rojas will be the first prospect in the mega Zack Greinke deal to make his big league debut. Rojas, 25, is enjoying a tremendous breakout season at the plate, with a .332/.418/.606 slash line, 23 home runs, 33 stolen bases, 89 runs scored and 83 RBI split between AA and AAA.
Rojas plays a little bit of everywhere, and the Diamondbacks seem likely to employ as a super-utility player who will hopefully garner every day at-bats.
If that’s the case, look for Rojas to contribute in five categories as a big leaguer, making him a worthwhile add in 16+ team leagues right off the bat. If he hits his way into the middle of the order, Rojas could be a 12+ team commodity sooner rather than later.
Elieser Hernandez, SP, MIA (2% Owned)
Hernandez crept his way onto The List last week, and that was before he posted six shutout innings against the hot-hitting Braves. He gets the Dodgers next, which isn’t great, but the way he has been pitching as of late makes him worth a look as a streamer in most formats and as a potential rosterable arm in 16+ team leagues.
Hernandez’s 4.92 ERA on the year is bad, but he boasts good strikeout stuff and command that has improved as the season has gone on. He’s very homer prone (2.09 HR/9) but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him string together a handful of nice starts down the stretch. At the very least, keep him him in mind as a potential streamer ROS.
(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire).