Welcome back for another week of The Performance Report! We are getting to that point in the season where it’s getting harder to find guys who haven’t been talked about much while also being fantasy relevant. I sort of think of these players like chips in a can of Pringles (just go with me on this). When you first open a can of Pringles you get pristine and perfectly shaped morsels of potato goodness. Yet, we all know that as we delve deeper into the can it’s only a matter of time before the quality of the chip’s worsens. It’s safe to say that a Pringle’s aesthetic appeal is directly proportionate to its’ proximity to the top of the can. I wonder if Nick or Alex can develop an equation for this?
Either way, the chips at the bottom of the can don’t taste bad, right? They just look a little worse for wear. Sometimes that’s how I view finding value in fantasy baseball. Of course we all want the nice looking players who put up tidy numbers and don’t hurt our teams in any category in particular, but sometimes we have to settle for the guys who are like the discarded chip shards at the bottom of the Pringles can. They might not be as pretty, but they can still do what you need them to do.
So this week I did a little digging, and tried to grab a couple names that might be flying under the radar. We are also going to give you a slew of quick hits at the end as guys who may be targets depending on your team needs.
Varsho was a hot commodity at the draft table this spring. After all, it isn’t easy to pass up on a player with a double-digit power/speed potential who also qualifies at catcher. The possibility of having an edge there is tantalizing and unfortunately led many drafters towards some serious disappointment with his early season struggles.
Needless to say, Varsho did not do much to impress in the early going this season. He struggled mightily for consistent at bats and didn’t do much with the opportunities he had in those at bats. The Diamondbacks saw fit to only give him 44 plate appearances in the first 19 games of the season where he batted an anemic .171/.227/.244 with a big fat zero in the HR and SB categories. Naturally, his performance earned him a return ticket to the minors where he got back on track and mashed the ever-loving crap out of the baseball. In 19 games at Triple-A, Varsho hit nine HR while adding in a couple of steals and posting a SLG of .750!
Whether it was due to his play in the minors, or the Diamondbacks lack of talent on their major league roster, Varsho has been given a second chance to show what he’s got this season. He was recalled on June 20th and and in 22 games he is batting .200/.342/.383. I know this still doesn’t look very inspiring, but something may have clicked foe Varsho in the past week as he has smacked two HR, stolen two bases, and hit for a .412 AVG.
Amidst all of his struggles Varsho has continued to walk at a high rate (13.7% in 2021), which is a trait that I absolutely love. This means that while he continues to adjust to major league pitching, he has a little bit more value to his real life team because he will find some way to get on base. I really think Varsho is a good example of the guy who everyone gets a little fatigued on once they underperform briefly. It literally was not that long ago that the fantasy community was clamoring for this potential five-tool player. He is absolutely a risky buy right now, but sometimes you have to take a risk in order to make up ground in the standings. He might not come at as much of a discount as he would have before this past week, but then again, you might find an owner who is tired of him and is willing to sell him now. I’m inquiring on him wherever I can, and in leagues where he isn’t owned, he is a priority add for me.
I’m not going to lie, I had no clue who this guy was three months ago. John Nogowski is not a player who had even entered the fringes of my brain. The 28-year-old was DFA’d then traded from the Cardinals to the Pirates on July 3rd in what was likely seen as a very meaningless move by the common observer. Nogowski had never really carved out a role for the Cardinals and given his age was seen as nothing more than a complete shot in the dark acquisition by the Pirates.
Well, I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but the Pirates are a team with a lot of holes on their offense. This means of course that even a seemingly marginal player could get some run and an opportunity that he might not get on another roster. Since coming to the Pirates, Nogowski has started 14 games at first base and has rewarded the team with a .389/.459/.519 batting line. The small sample size is aided by a completely unsustainable .465 BABIP, but he’s also walking 11.5% of the time and only striking out 16.4% of the time. There’s not much power in the profile to speak of, but as a stat padder you could do worse.
The regression monster is coming and it’s not going to be pretty when Nogowski falls back to Earth. In the meantime, he should still get plenty of opportunities. If you need a warm body due to injuries or something, then Nogowski is a great pickup just to fill that spot. I really wouldn’t advocate spending any other resources to buy him though. In fact, if you could parlay him in a trade to another owner who might be desperate for at bats, then that is exactly what you should be doing right now.
Trevor Story: Not under the radar… like at all… BUT, this could be prime time to buy one of the game’s top shortstops on a down year in you play keeper or dynasty. He likely won’t be in Colorado next year, but that might actually be an ok thing for him. I really think he ends up with pinstripes.
Victor Reyes: This is a guy who I fell in love with last season as an incredibly underrated source of steals. He has really struggled this year, but might be finding his way into playing time again and still has speed. I’m not nearly as excited in OBP leagues, but elsewhere he is an immediate bench stash or at the very least a watchlist guy.
Kwang Hyun Kim: Kim might be one of the more underrated pitchers in the majors this year because of his lower strikeout totals. He is a good bet for innings and has strung together four consecutive quality starts. He is a trade target for me in leagues where I need another pitcher to help round out my rotation.
David Fletcher: Fletcher has little to no power, he’s very light on speed, but he does have batting average for days. I really like him as a low cost roster filler with positional flexibility to pad stats. Those types of guys are just as important to have as well!
Nick Solak: This is the third time I’ve talked Nick Solak and it’s really only to again say… I was wrong and he’s bad. I really do believe in the underlying talent, but he was shipped back to the minors this year. I know I’ll be keeping an eye on him in the minors to see if he can fix whatever is wrong with his swing. It’s possible now Solak might be free to acquire.
Jordan Lyles: Only if you are in super deep leagues and truly desperate for innings should you grab him. He gives up way too many home runs and he won’t get you the strike outs you might need. I can’t believe the state of pitching has brought us to this point, but here we are.
Photo by Mick Haupt/Unsplash | Feature Image by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)