Each week we’ll look at a handful of different players rostered in less than 15% of fantasy leagues who you should consider picking up. Many of these players will have the most value in deeper leagues where waiver wire options aren’t as plentiful. Still, they could also occasionally be useful additions in other, more standard-sized leagues depending on your options at their position. This week it’s Jarren Duran, Félix Bautista, Dylan Bundy, and Jorge Alfaro, who are worth your time as potential additions in deep leagues.
All roster percentages mentioned in this column are via Yahoo fantasy leagues as of Sunday afternoon.
Jarren Duran – 9%
Duran, long known for his speed as a prospect, has only appeared in 40 games at the Major League level as of the beginning of play on Sunday, including just seven this season.
However, he’s been productive in that small sample size, hitting .269 with a .345 on-base percentage, four runs scored, two triples, a double, and a pair of walks. And while he’s yet to steal a base this season, the 25-year-old swiped 11 in 43 games for Boston’s Triple-A affiliate this season and has 97 career steals in 302 minor league games.
The stolen base upside alone makes him fantasy-relevant, but Durran has been hitting at the top of the Red Sox lineup lately with Kiké Hernández on the 10-day injured list due to a hip injury. Whether that trend continues when Hernandez returns remains to be seen, but it is worth noting that the veteran is batting just .209 with a 79 wRC+ and a .642 OPS in 179 plate appearances when hitting leadoff for Boston this season.
The Red Sox certainly haven’t struggled to score runs this year, as only seven teams had plated more runs than Boston entering play Sunday, but Duran certainly would provide a boost if he can continue to get on base at a reasonable rate. And if he does, he’ll have plenty of fantasy upside in the stolen base and run-scoring categories, especially considering who he’d be hitting in front of.
Rafael Devers has seen the lion’s share of the plate appearances as Boston’s second hitter this season, while J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts are the only Red Sox hitters with more than 30 plate appearances batting third.
Duran is certainly a must-add in dynasty formats if he’s not already picked up, but could make an impact in redraft leagues down the stretch as well.
Félix Bautista – 3%
The 26-year-old probably has more value right now in saves+holds leagues, but he’s also an intriguing save stash candidate for fantasy managers looking to pick up save options ahead of the trade deadline.
Granted, the end of July is still more than a month away, but if Baltimore ends up trading Jorge López, Bautista could be the direct beneficiary where saves are concerned. Armed with a four-seam fastball that averages over 98 MPH, 98.4 MPH to be exact, and two legitimate bat-missing pitches in a split-finger offering and a slider, there’s plenty to like here upside-wise.
And while his fastball has gotten lit up to a degree, with opposing batters hitting .250 with a .307 xBA, the aforementioned .410 xwOBA, and a 50% hard-hit rate against the pitch, we’re still talking about a pitcher with a 13.3% swinging strike percentage potentially stepping into a ninth-inning role.
Granted it’s not a surefire thing that Baltimore promotes Bautista to the closer’s role, or even trades Lopez. But given where the team is in their rebuilding efforts, moving the veteran certainly makes sense on paper. What’s more, Bautista is the only reliever on Baltimore’s roster not named Lopez who has multiple saves this season.
Dylan Bundy – 10%
Many of Bundy’s bat-missing metrics are down to this point across the board. If the season ended today, his 7.33 strikeouts per nine innings rate would be a career-low. His 23.1% whiff rate is lower than it’s been in any season since 2016 save last year.
Still, his slider, with a 43.3% whiff rate and a .242 xwOBA against, has been plenty useful.
And while his 5.17 ERA and 4.53 FIP aren’t particularly outstanding, much of that is likely marred by a few unideal starts. In consecutive starts against the Rays and Orioles on April 29 and May 4, Bundy allowed 15 earned runs on 18 hits in 9.2 combined innings.
Prior to that, the former Angel had allowed just one run in 15.1 frames of work spanning three starts. Since those two uneven starts, he’s allowed the same number of earned runs in 29 innings pitched.
That still works out to a 4.66 ERA since those respective starts against Tampa Bay and Baltimore, so Bundy’s fantasy ceiling might be that of a streaming option or a pitcher to utilize only in the right matchups.
Still, he’s pitching for the Twins. As of the beginning of play on Sunday, only four teams had more wins than Rocco Baldelli and company.
Bundy has already doubled his win total from last season with the Angels and should continue to register pitcher wins, especially considering the four teams in the American League Central not based in the state of Minnesota rank in the bottom third in the league in runs scored.
Jorge Alfaro – 6%
Catchers who are eligible at other positions are plenty valuable in fantasy baseball, and that’s especially the case with Alfaro, who can also be utilized as an outfielder in Yahoo leagues.
He isn’t playing full-time in San Diego, as he’s working in a timeshare with Austin Nola behind the plate. That likely limits him to deeper league usage from a fantasy standpoint, but he’s more than worth a look.
The former Marlin is batting .282 with a .317 on-base percentage in 126 plate appearances this season to go along with five home runs and a stolen base. He’s also sporting an 11.5% barrel rate, which is an encouraging sign in terms of the home run production continuing.
Alfaro is also in the 90th percentile league-wide in Statcast’s sprint speed metric, which doesn’t hurt his stolen base upside moving forward. And while it’s unlikely he’ll make a significant impact with steals, getting a stolen base here or there from any player on your team, let alone your catcher, can make a real difference at the end of the season.
What’s more, Alfaro is one of just nine catchers this year to have at least five home runs and a stolen base.
There is some strikeout concern to be had, with a 32.5% strikeout rate so far, but Alfaro brings the potential for so much else to the table in deeper leagues, that it mitigates the contact issues.
The 29-year-old is also batting .364 against left-handed pitching this season, which certainly doesn’t hurt his quest for more consistent playing time. If the Padres ever decide to switch from a timeshare to a catching situation where Alfaro gets most of the starts over Nola, he has the potential to be a top 10 player at his position.
Image adapted by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)