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 Aaron Bummer, Hunter Dozier, Michael Lorenzen, and Omar Narváez 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.
Aaron Bummer – 10%
Last year, Aaron Bummer finished the season with 21 holds, but Chicago had a number of other options to turn to in high-leverage spots. Thanks in part due to a wealth of options, the team finished with 86 holds, the ninth-most in the league.
Now, all of a sudden, the White Sox bullpen isn’t as flush with high-leverage relievers.
Michael Kopech is a starter. Craig Kimbrel is a Dodger. Garrett Crochet is out for the year due to Tommy John surgery. Codi Heuer, who was traded for Kimbrel, and Ryan Tepera are no longer with the club.
Joe Kelly will eventually help fill that void, and Kendall Graveman is around as well, but it leaves Bummer as the primary setup option ahead of closer Liam Hendriks.
And while that’s not the best news for Chicago in real life purely due to the lack of options, it’s excellent news for fantasy managers in saves+holds leagues as Bummer could rack up even more holds moving forward.
Bummer logged the most holds on the team last season even in a tremendously deep bullpen and figures to do the same again this year.
A 30-plus hold season certainly isn’t out of the question for the reliever, who has been Tony La Russa’s preferred high-leverage reliever when not turning to Hendriks later in games. The 28-year-old already has three holds on the season, the second-most in the league entering play on Sunday.
The left-hander also picked up a save when Hendriks wasn’t available and is the only other White Sox reliever to have multiple saves since the former A’s standout joined the team prior to the 2021 campaign. For what it’s worth, he’s struck out seven of the 10 batters he’s faced in high-leverage situations this season.
It’s a rather small sample size and Hendriks unsurprisingly dominates the save totals in Chicago, but it only underscores Bummer’s value in saves+holds leagues.
Hunter Dozier – 10%
Locked into a regular role in Kansas City this season as an outfielder and occasional first baseman, Dozier has yet to draw a walk this season.
But, that’s the only real blemish on the versatile 30-year-old’s resume when assessing him as a fit for fantasy managers.
Eligible in the outfield, at first base, and third base, Dozier provides the type of versatility that can be crucial for managers in deeper leagues where options at some positions are thin on the ground at times.
At any rate, being rostered in just 10% of leagues seems much too low, especially for a player who can fill in at multiple positions and also has a history of producing in the Majors.
The veteran struggled in 2021, hitting .216 with a .285 on-base percentage, 16 home runs, and five stolen bases in 543 plate appearances, but he looks to be rebounding in the early stages of 2022.
Dozier is batting .296 with a home run and a .321 on-base percentage through his first 28 plate appearances. It’s a small sample size for sure, but he’s already collected four barrels and has an xSLG (.595) more than .100 points better than his actual slugging percentage (.481). More power production is on the way.
And while he’s yet to steal a base this season, Dozier has at least four in each of the past two seasons and currently ranks in the 66th percentile league-wide in Statcast’s sprint speed metric, so there’s a modicum of stolen base potential as well. In short, he’s an ideal fit for fantasy benches.
Michael Lorenzen – 12%
A relief pitcher for much of the last six seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, Lorenzen found plenty of success in his first start as a member of the Los Angeles Angels.
Featuring his sinker much more often, and predominantly only against right-handed batters, Lorenzen limited the Miami Marlins to a Joey Wendle double and a Jesús Sánchez home run in six innings. The former Reds reliever also generated seven strikeouts and 14 swinging strikes in those six frames.
Crucially, outside of the two hits plus a lineout and a flyout, every single other batted ball the Marlins put in play was a groundout.
The steady diet of ground balls was nothing new for the 30-year-old, who routinely logged above-average ground ball rates as a reliever.
Clearly, it’s just one start, but if Lorenzen can continue to miss bats while generating grounders at an above-average rate, he’ll be a viable fantasy rotation option in most leagues, let alone deep leagues.
With the Angels deploying a six-man rotation, Lorenzen might not get quite as many innings as a hurler in a five-man rotation elsewhere over the course of a season, but at worst he could be a useful streaming option moving forward.
Omar Narváez – 12%
Finding players to help you consistently at the catcher position or in terms of batting average can be tricky.
Finding players who can help where both are concerned can be even trickier.
Last season, just five catchers, minimum 450 plate appearances, finished with a batting average above .260.
Given the top-heavy nature of the catcher position, acquiring Realmuto, Perez, or Stephenson in a trade might be easier said than done if you didn’t draft one of the trio.
If that’s the case, Narváez certainly makes plenty of sense as an addition.
Because, if anything, the 2021 production for the backstop – who hit .266 with a .342 on-base percentage and 11 home runs in 445 plate appearances – wasn’t a flash in the pan by any stretch from a batting average standpoint.
It’s not just the average either. Narváez has reached double digits in home runs in each of the two seasons in which he’s logged over 400 plate appearances.
He’s so far split playing time with Victor Caratini this season, and doesn’t hit much against lefties, but should get enough plate appearances to be a starting option at catcher for most fantasy managers.
Adapted by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)
K Graveman is currently the 1st in line and primary set-up right? If he is avail, hope you prefer him over Bummer.
In a 12-team roto mixer…Narvaez over A. Kirk or S. Murphy??
Would you prefer Santander or Dozier? They both look good on statcast, just fewer walks for Dozier and a worse park. Thoughts?