Each week we’ll look at a handful of different players who fantasy managers in deeper leagues should consider picking up. Many of these players will have the most value in larger 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 Trent Grisham, Mark Canha, Alex Vesia, and Patrick Bailey 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 Friday afternoon.
Trent Grisham – 11%
At first glance, Trent Grisham’s metrics this season aren’t overwhelmingly strong.
The 26-year-old outfielder is batting just .220 on the year with a .331 on-base percentage and a 28.1% strikeout rate, though he has added 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases.
Still, it’s what the outfielder is doing from a quality of contact and underlying metric standpoint–especially in the last few months–that gives him intriguing fantasy upside.
Because while the strikeouts are there–Grisham’s whiff rate is also rather unideal, sitting at a career-worst 30.7% at the moment–when the outfielder does make contact, it’s generally been decidedly good contact.
Entering play Friday, the outfielder had turned in a .338 xwOBA and a 14.4% barrel rate on the season. And while the strikeouts have weighed down his overall batting average and .224 xBA due to less contact being made, the 26-year-old’s expected and quality of contact metrics range from above-average to very good.
In other words, some positive regression might be on the way for Grisham. In fact, we’re already seeing signs of it. Or rather, Grisham’s numbers are in the midst of evening out and improving as we speak.
Dating back to May 23, the outfielder is batting .252 with a .359 on-base percentage, six home runs, and 10 stolen bases in 182 plate appearances. During that span, he’s also sporting a 47.2% hard-hit rate and a 14.8% barrel rate. And while it’s not the biggest sample size in the world in the grand scheme of things, it is nearly two months’ worth of data.
Grisham probably has a bit more fantasy value in leagues where on-base percentage is part of the scoring system given his 13.4% walk rate, but he should absolutely be rostered in most fantasy leagues, not just deep leagues. With the way he’s producing, he looks like a borderline priority add in 12-team leagues at the moment, let alone leagues with more teams.
Mark Canha – 8%
Canha, like Grisham, is probably going to have more value in leagues where on-base percentage is part of the scoring. Of course, that’s long been the case with the veteran outfielder, who entered play Friday with a .100-point gap between his career batting average (.248) and his career on-base percentage (.348) in the Majors.
Like Grisham, Canha’s numbers might not overwhelm, but he’s very much in line with what he’s done the past few seasons, both from a surface-level standpoint and an underlying metrics standpoint.
The biggest difference though, has absolutely nothing to do with what Canha is doing at the plate. No, it’s more what he’s doing once he gets on base.
So far this season, the outfielder has stolen seven bases. And while that might not seem like too significant of a number, especially in a year when stolen bases are up around the league, Canha had just 32 lifetime stolen bases in the Majors prior to the 2023 campaign. In fact, 19 of those 32 came in 2021 when he stole 12 bases and in 2015 when he stole seven as a rookie.
Otherwise, he’d never topped four stolen bases in a single season prior to this year.
With double digits in home runs and stolen bases looking like a real possibility–not to mention the fact that he’s all but a lock for a high on-base percentage when the season is through–Canha makes for a quality addition for fantasy managers in search of outfield reinforcements.
Alex Vesia – 2%
The 27-year-old left-hander has struggled at times this season.
Through the beginning of the day on Friday, he was the owner of a 5.92 ERA in 24.1 innings of work, allowing at least an earned run in 11 of his first 22 appearances.
However, Vesia is also sporting a 3.37 FIP and 38 strikeouts (compared to 12 walks allowed) for the season.
And if anything, his recent performances are much more in line with his season-long FIP.
Since making his return to the Dodgers on July 6 after previously being optioned to the minors, Vesi has yet to allow an earned run in 5.1 innings. In fact, he’s only allowed one base runner–a Shohei Ohtani single to center field–during that span while striking out eight of the 17 batters he’s faced.
It’s a tiny sample size to be sure, but what’s crucial and important here from a fantasy standpoint is that Vesia seems to be reestablishing himself as a key late-inning option for manager Dave Roberts and the Dodgers. Since being recalled, the left-hander leads all Dodgers relievers in appearances. More important still is the fact that Vesia has also registered a save and two holds during that span.
As of Friday morning, the Dodgers had logged the seventh-most holds in the league, so if Vesia can continue to find success as a late-inning option for Los Angeles, he’ll have impact upside in saves+holds leagues.
Patrick Bailey – 18%
Despite Joey Bart making the team’s Opening Day roster and the emergence of Rule 5 pick Blake Sabol, it’s been Patrick Bailey who has established himself as the catcher of the present and future in San Francisco. And it’s not hard to see why.
The rookie is hitting .270 with a .304 on-base percentage in his first 170 plate appearances in the Majors, adding five home runs and a stolen base. And while he’s yet to start drawing walks at a high rate, with just a 2.9% walk rate as of the beginning of play on Friday, the catcher has registered double-digit walk rates at each of his minor league stops, so this might be nothing more than an anomaly when the entirety of his career is considered.
Making plenty of loud contact certainly helps make up for fewer walks.
The 24-year-old is sporting a .354 xwOBA and a 13.2% barrel rate, with a .494 xSLG on the season in the Majors. He’s also added a 44.7% hard-hit rate for San Francisco.
And while he’s not yet qualified from a plate appearance standpoint, it’s hard to overlook the instant impact he’s made, both from a real-life baseball and fantasy baseball perspective. Since he made his Major League debut on May 19, Bailey ranks second in fWAR (1.9) and third in barrel rate and hard-hit rate among qualified catchers.
Expanding the parameters to all catchers with a minimum of 170 plate appearances this season, Bailey ranks in the top 10 in barrel rate, batting average, xwOBA, and hard-hit rate.
With Sabol seeing considerable time in the outfield and Bart in the minors, Bailey should continue to get the lion’s share of the work behind the dish. If that’s the case and regular plate appearances continue, the 24-year-old will have a real shot at finishing the year as a top-10 fantasy option at his position.