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 Carlos Santana, Alexis Díaz, José Quintana, and Luis González 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.
Carlos Santana – 9%
One of the first veterans to be traded this summer, the Kansas City Royals dealt first baseman and designated hitter Carlos Santana to the Seattle Mariners with cash for pitching prospect William Fleming and reliever Wyatt Mills.
The move has been excellent for the 36-year-old’s fantasy ceiling and potential. Through 212 plate appearances in 52 games with Kansas City, he was hitting just four home runs and a .125 ISO, all the while still drawing walks at a high rate. The slugger’s walk rate with Kansas City was 17% and he was sporting a .349 on-base percentage with the American League Central club.
Things have been much different in Seattle as Santana has needed just 65 plate appearances to equal his home run total with the Royals. With the Mariners, the veteran is hitting .241 with a .369 on-base percentage, four home runs, and a .241 ISO in 65 plate appearances.
And things should continue to be much different – and better – moving forward.
After starting the year mostly hitting fifth for the Royals, Santana was hitting more in the sixth, seventh and eighth spots in the order prior to being dealt. With Seattle, he’s hit cleanup or third all but twice, with those two games coming in his first two contests with the Mariners.
And while the Mariners’ run-scoring metrics don’t look too dynamic, it is worth noting that the team is ninth in the league since June 21, the date the team won their first game in a stretch that has seen them win 21 of 24 games entering play Sunday.
It’s not just the lineup either. Santana should obviously benefit from hitting in a more productive lineup around hitters like Julio Rodríguez and Ty France. But it’s the stadium too. The former Royal’s expected home run total for T-Mobile Park is currently 10, above both his season home run total and his expected home run number for 12 other parks. Already, three of his four home runs in a Mariner uniform have come in the state of Washington. And while it’s by no means a guarantee that Santana will hit more home runs at home in Seattle, it does improve his fantasy upside considerably.
Alexis Díaz – 14%
So, in short, plenty of uncertainty for fantasy managers at times. This should get more uncertain as the summer months progress as Santillan and Lucas Sims are both currently on the 60-day injured list and Strickland stands out as a speculative trade candidate.
While it remains to be seen if Díaz will step into the closer’s role full-time in Cincinnati this season – this is the same Reds team that featured six different relievers who all had between three and eight saves last year – remains to be seen. But, if he’s even in the mix for some of the saves, he’ll be worth a look for fantasy managers, as he might be the Reds’ best option for the ninth inning.
Diaz is certainly a worthwhile pickup in saves+holds leagues right now, but with his bat-missing ability, he could be an underrated source of saves in the second half if Cincinnati uses him in the ninth inning. Whether the 34-57 Reds would be able to consistently build a bridge to Díaz in the ninth remains to be seen, but for fantasy managers looking for save stashes, the 25-year-old is certainly one name to consider.
José Quintana – 14%
Quintana has enjoyed a resurgence in Pittsburgh, pitching to a 3.99 ERA and a 3.32 FIP in 90.1 innings of work for the Pirates. He’s also logged 81 strikeouts while walking just 29 batters in those 90.1 innings, which have come spread over 18 starts.
The veteran, who is working up in the zone more with his four-seam fastball and throwing his changeup more frequently, is back to limiting hard contact like he did during the peak of his powers with the White Sox.
This resurgence has certainly made the starter a potential trade chip for the Pirates. With plenty of teams in need of rotation help, a Quintana trade would not only help Pittsburgh and any organization that might acquire the veteran, but it’ll help fantasy managers as well.
Pitching on the Pirates has netted Quintana just a pair of pitcher wins so far in 18 starts. Put him on a team in need of rotation reinforcements like the Giants or Dodgers and his fantasy upside would rise considerably due to the potential increase in opportunities for pitcher wins.
Luis González – 8%
From a fantasy value standpoint, stolen bases can certainly elevate players. Excellent hitters with the ability to steal bases? They’re elevated to elite fantasy options. Players who hit around .200 with little power but can top 20 stolen bases in a season? They’re elevated from the fantasy waiver wire to fantasy relevance.
Sometimes it can be tricky finding the fantasy players who can contribute in other categories besides stolen bases who aren’t elite options. If that’s the case for you in your league, look no further than the San Francisco Giants’ Luis González.
The 26-year-old, appearing in his second Major League season, is batting .282 with a .343 on-base percentage, three home runs, and eight stolen bases in 204 plate appearances for San Francisco this season.
With a 33.8% hard-hit rate and a .301 xwOBA, González’s production is more down to his ability to make a healthy amount of contact, but he’s carving out a role as a platoon option in San Francisco.
The outfielder has been incredibly productive against right-handed pitching so far. He’s seen 153 of his 204 plate appearances against right-handers and is batting .316 with all three of his home runs, a .373 on-base percentage, and an .850 OPS against righties.
Most importantly, however, he’s registering stolen bases to go along with that production. In fact, the outfielder is one of just 12 players with at least eight stolen bases who is also hitting .280 or better.
Image adapted by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)