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 LaMonte Wade Jr., Michael King, Robert Suarez, and Brandon Marsh 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.
LaMonte Wade Jr. – 15%
The 29-year-old entered play Friday hitting .268 with a .396 on-base percentage, 11 home runs, and a pair of stolen bases in 369 plate appearances.
What’s more, he’s been elite at offering at the right
pitches, and then making quality contact when he does put the ball in play.
Wade Jr. is sporting a 16.5% walk rate and a 17.3% chase rate on the season. His whiff rate checks in at 21.3%. For league-wide, context’s sake, those metrics rank in the 98th, 98th, and 72nd percentiles respectively.
Elsewhere, the slugger’s .372 xwOBA ranks in the 90th percentile.
Quality production is nothing new for the former Twins prospect, who turned in a .347 xwOBA and a .418 xwOBAcon in 2021. Still, the thing that has limited his fantasy upside in the past has been the fact that the Giants have mostly played him against right-handed pitching.
That’s still largely the case this season, but Wade Jr. has seen increased plate appearances versus left-handed pitchers and has been more productive against them as well.
And while a .282 wOBA and a 76 wRC+ might not seem significant in a vacuum, they very much are for a batter who hasn’t seen his wRC+ against right-handers dip below the 111 mark (it’s currently at 144 this season) in any of past three years.
And even if Wade Jr. never saw another plate appearance against a left-handed pitcher this season, he’s simply too productive not to add to fantasy rosters.
Among qualified hitters, only nine rank in the 90th percentile in xwOBA and walk rate.
LaMonte Wade Jr. is one of them.
Looking past the .268 batting average and back to the .372 xwOBA and the 16.5% walk rate,
Michael King – 16%
Much has stayed the same since April. King, like Wade Jr., is probably rostered in far too few leagues. King is also still playing a key role late in games for a Yankees team that is still mixing and matching in the later innings, particularly the ninth at times.
What’s changed since April is that King has started to pitch in that ninth-inning mix. In fact, he seems to be fully in the mix for saves. Because while Clay Holmes has logged the most saves in Aaron Boone’s bullpen, the Yankees manager hasn’t been shy to spread things around in terms of ninth-inning opportunities.
With Holmes leading the way in saves, it’s possible many in your league are disregarding King as a potential source of saves.
The reality is, however, he’s one of the better sources of ancillary saves in the league at the moment, especially with closers like Scott Barlow and David Robertson being traded elsewhere and either moving into setup roles (like Barlow) or taking away save chances from other pitchers (like Robertson with AJ Puk).
Robert Suarez – 5%
Suarez was a key member of the San Diego Padres bullpen in 2022, pitching to a 2.27 ERA, a 3.32 FIP, 61 strikeouts, and just 21 walks and four home runs allowed in 47.2 innings of work. He also added a save, five pitcher wins and 11 holds in 45 appearances, providing quality value for fantasy managers in saves+holds leagues.
Fast forward to 2023 and the reliever missed significant time on the injured list due to an elbow injury, not making his 2023 debut in the Majors until July 21.
Suarez has struck out just two batters in six innings so far, but he’s also allowed just two hits and one earned run as well.
Perhaps most crucially, he’s immediately returned to a high-leverage role in the San Diego bullpen. And if his early usage and numbers are anything to go by, he could have a similarly productive season where holds and wins are concerned despite the late start.
Since returning from the injured list, Suarez is tied for the team lead with Steven Wilson in high-leverage relief appearances out of the San Diego bullpen.
What’s more, Suarez has already racked up a pitcher win and three holds since his activation from the injured list, already putting him in a good spot to shatter last season’s holds tally. With the Padres opting not to trade away veterans at the deadline, the right-hander should be poised for even more high-leverage work and holds down the stretch.
He’s very much an under-the-radar saves+holds league option right now, but one that could pay serious dividends down the stretch for fantasy managers.
Brandon Marsh – 16%
Marsh is quietly enjoying a breakout season for the Philadelphia Phillies, batting .279 with a .364 on-base percentage, eight home runs, and six stolen bases in 355 plate appearances this season.
The outfielder is generally hitting the ball hard (48.3% hard-hit rate), logging a solid amount of barrels (with an 8.4% barrel rate), and avoiding too many grounders as evidenced by a 45.8% ground ball rate.
Admittedly, the quality of contact could be better on the whole, as Marsh owns just a .315 xwOBA. He’s also striking out 30.7% of the time and there could be serious regression on the horizon at some point thanks to a .354 wOBA and a staggering .402 BABIP.
But, that regression doesn’t look like it’s coming any time soon.
Marsh is hitting .284 with a .384 on-base percentage, a home run, and a pair of stolen bases in 86 plate appearances since July 1, sporting a .392 BABIP in the process.
If anything, he seems to be benefitting even more so from a BABIP standpoint as the season has gone on. It’s a small sample size, but Marsh has been even more productive, with an even higher BABIP, in the season’s second half.
He’s also improved his plate discipline considerably over last year, leading to more walks, which gives him a bit more fantasy upside in leagues where on-base percentage is part of the scoring.
Overall, some of Marsh’s underlying metrics might not be unideal, but now might be the time to add him to both your roster and starting lineup and benefit the production before it potentially starts to decline.
Though at this rate it is fair to wonder if that’ll happen at all, or how much it will happen this season given how late we are in the year. Just one other qualified batter has logged a BABIP north of .400 in a full season since 2018. That was Yoán Moncada during the 2019 campaign.
Prior to this year, only three batters have logged a BABIP north of .385 in a full season since 2018. Marsh certainly has a chance to do both with the way his season has been going so far.
Graphic adapted by Aaron Polcare (@bearydoesgfx on Twitter)