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 David Peralta, Joey Meneses, LaMonte Wade Jr., and Jonathan Hernández 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.
David Peralta – 6%
One of Tampa Bay’s trade deadline acquisitions earlier this month, Peralta entered play Sunday hitting .278 with a .297 on-base percentage in his first 37 plate appearances for the Rays.
And while the batting average is nice in a small sample size, it’s the plate appearances that are the real key stat. Or rather, the distribution of plate appearances.
Of Peralta’s 37 plate appearances with his new club, 31 of the 37 have come against right-handed pitching.
While fewer overall plate appearances obviously isn’t ideal for players from a fantasy standpoint, the opposite might be true here for Peralta, especially for fantasy managers in deeper leagues where platoon hitters like Darin Ruf are rostered and started more often.
If Tampa Bay can utilize Peralta primarily against right-handed pitching, it might pay off not just for the American League East club, but also for fantasy managers as well.
And that’s all without mentioning that the 35-year-old is registering barrels at a higher rate than he has during any season dating back to the 2015 campaign.
Unsurprisingly, when paired with Peralta’s second-best hard-hit rate since 2015, it has led to the outfielder’s highest xSLG, jumping nearly .080 points from .345 in 2021 to .426 this season. As long as Tampa Bay keeps him on the bench versus left-handers, that number should get a bit higher.
And while the Rays aren’t the run-scoring juggernauts that their division rivals in New York and Toronto are, the Rays have logged 40 more plate appearances with runners on base this season than the Diamondbacks. The more plate appearances like that the better for Peralta and fantasy managers as the outfielder is hitting .286 with a .342 on-base percentage, a .854 OPS, a .226 ISO, and six home runs in 133 plate appearances with runners on this season.
Joey Meneses – 13%
Sometimes in fantasy baseball, players become useful contributors due to opportunity and an initial good run of form. In a number of cases, that run of form is unsustainable, but with consistent playing time, they work their way onto the fantasy radar.
That might not be the case with Meneses.
Of course, the opportunity is there to start full-time in Washington with Josh Bell having been dealt to San Diego. And there has certainly been a good run of form early. Meneses is batting .400 with a .447 on-base percentage, a 1.276 OPS, and five home runs in his first 38 plate appearances.
Ok, so the .400 average and homering five timers in every 38 plate appearances parts might be unsustainable, but the power in general might just be. The 30-year-old has five barrels to go along with the five home runs so far and is sporting an encouraging 46.2% hard-hit rate, a .453 xwOBA, and a .512 xwOBAcon in those first 38 plate appearances.
Again, we’re working with an extremely small sample size. But if Meneses can continue to make the hard contact he has so far and accumulate barrels at a reasonable rate, he’ll be a useful power option moving forward for fantasy managers as there’s plenty of playing time available in Washington.
And it’s also worth noting that the 30-year-old has enjoyed plenty of success in the minors, with a career .295 average, .346 on-base percentage, and .840 OPS in 1.112 lifetime plate appearances at Triple-A. While it’s unwise to analyze a player purely based on surface-level minor league numbers, the first baseman has found plenty of success in the minors, including 20 home runs in 374 Triple-A plate appearances this season. The power production certainly isn’t new and didn’t come out of nowhere.
LaMonte Wade Jr. – 2%
Like Peralta, Wade Jr. sees most of his plate appearances against right-handed pitching – 102 of 120 this season entering play Sunday to be exact.
He can be a difference maker in the right situations for fantasy managers, particularly in deeper leagues when waiver wire options aren’t always effective options.
Because outside of not getting consistent plate appearances, there is plenty to like about the outfielder and first baseman’s numbers. He’s sporting an 11.4% barrel rate and a .346 xwOBA this season and has both lowered his strikeout rate and raised his walk rate from his 2021 numbers.
He is batting just .200 in 120 plate appearances but is also sporting a .194 BABIP so far. What’s more, while the sample size might seem rather small, the 28-year-old registered similar underlying metrics when he hit .253 with 18 home runs and six home runs in 381 plate appearances last season.
Playing for an organization that routinely utilizes platoon hitters, Wade Jr. seems poised to once again provide quality fantasy production. He’s also seeing the bulk of his starts at the top of the San Francisco lineup when he does start. Entering play on Sunday, Wade Jr. logged 76 plate appearances hitting leadoff, including on Saturday when he collected a pair of hits and his sixth home run. He hasn’t seen more than 13 plate appearances at any other spot in Gabe Kapler’s lineup this season.
Jonathan Hernández – 15%
On July 13, Joe Barlow – who leads all Texas relievers with 13 saves this season – was placed on the injured list. The reliever hasn’t pitched in the Majors since.
Since then, three different Rangers relievers have logged a save, though two of the three relievers have just one save apiece.
It hasn’t been Brock Burke, who leads all Texas relievers in fWAR, who has paced the team in saves while Barlow has been injured, nor José Leclerc who leads all Rangers relief pitchers in swinging strike percentage.
It’s been Jonathan Hernández, who made his 2022 debut with Texas on July 16 and has three saves in 10 appearances since then.
Overall, Hernandez has pitched to a 2.70 ERA, a 1.92 FIP, nine strikeouts, and a pair of walks in 10 innings this season. Though even when Barlow eventually returns from the injured list, it’s hard to imagine Hernandez not seeing at least some of the save chances, though that’s purely speculative. Still, it’s hard to ignore with the results so far.
The right-hander is sporting a 56.5% whiff rate on his slider and a 60% whiff rate on his changeup so far. He’s only thrown 59 and 21 of the pitches respectively, but it’s an incredibly encouraging start.
There’s also the fact that prior to Barlow landing on the injured list, the Rangers made a change in closers. The Athletic’s Levi Weaver tweeted the following on July 8:
“Joe Barlow’s going to get some time off from ninth-inning duties. Chris Woodward said ninth inning will be matchup-based for awhile.”
Now’s the time to add Hernandez before he further cements himself as the primary ninth-inning option in Texas.
Image adapted by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)