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 Bryan Abreu, Daniel Vogelbach, Keston Hiura, and Carson Kelly 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.
Bryan Abreu – 3%
With Ryan Pressly now on the 15-day injured list due to neck spasms, the door is suddenly open for Abreu to see some save opportunities alongside the likes of Rafael Montero and Héctor Neris.
One of the best bat-missing relievers both in Houston’s bullpen and in the league, Abreu entered play Sunday with 67 strikeouts and a 16.8% swinging strike percentage in 45.2 innings of work. He’s also registered a pair of saves while pitching to a 2.17 ERA and a 2.05 FIP and giving up 20 walks and just one home run.
Unsurprisingly, the 25-year-old also sits in the 98th percentile in both strikeout rate and whiff rate. Much of the right-hander’s swing-and-miss numbers are due to a dynamic slider that Abreu throws 47.3% of the time and one that is sporting a 48.7% whiff rate. Opponents are also hitting just .160 against the pitch.
With the ability to both miss bats and limit home runs and barrels at an elite rate – Abreu owns a minuscule 4.0% barrel rate this season – he has immense fantasy upside if he can get consistent ninth-inning opportunities. Unfortunately, with Montero, Neris, and Will Smith in the picture, that seems unlikely, but he could still make a significant impact down the stretch with his strikeout totals and a few ancillary saves here and there while Pressly is sidelined.
Daniel Vogelbach – 9%
Vogelbach was mentioned in this column back in early May as a potential fantasy contributor in terms of home runs and on-base percentage.
Plenty has changed for the slugger since then.
He’s since been traded to the New York Mets and it’s probably safe to say that he’s been thriving at the plate since donning a Mets uniform. In his first 100 plate appearances with the National League East club, as of the beginning of play on Sunday, Vogelbach has continued to contribute in terms of home runs and on-base percentage – except he’s been doing both at an elite level.
100 PA, 4 HR, .256 average, .390 OBP, 17% BB%, 28% K%, 5 barrels, 9.3% barrel rate
In fact, since Vogelbach’s first appearances with the Mets on July 24, just 18 hitters – among those with at least 100 plate appearances in that time frame – have a higher on-base percentage in the league.
It’s certainly a small sample size, but a rather high on-base percentage isn’t anything new to Vogelbach. Maybe not an on-base percentage that flirts with .400, but the first baseman has logged an on-base percentage over .340 and a walk rate of at least 16% in two of his last three seasons in the Majors.
A career .134 hitter with a lifetime 41 wRC+ against left-handed pitching, the Mets have utilized Vogelbach almost entirely against right-handed pitchers, with 97 of his 100 plate appearances coming against right-handers. As long as that continues, he should continue to produce for both New York and fantasy managers.
The 29-year-old has hit fifth in all but three of his appearances with the Mets and should be a quality option for fantasy managers in leagues where on-base percentage is part of the scoring who are looking for reinforcements at first base or at a utility spot.
Keston Hiura – 5%
Hiura is quietly enjoying a quality bounce-back season at the plate.
After struggling in both 2020 and 2021, the infielder is batting .242 with a .350 on-base percentage in 183 plate appearances this season. And while the strikeouts that have been an issue for him at times in the Majors are still there – Hiura’s strikeouts rate was sitting at 41.5% as of the beginning of play on Sunday – he’s offsetting those strikes from a fantasy production standpoint in other categories.
The former first-round pick has collected 13 home runs and five stolen bases in those 183 plate appearances.
He’s been particularly productive as of late, with seven home runs and a pair of stolen bases in 64 plate appearances dating back to the beginning of July.
It’s the same home run total during the same span as the likes of Freddie Freeman, Trea Turner, Kyle Tucker, and others despite far fewer plate appearances.
Like Vogelbach, Hiura hasn’t been incredibly productive against left-handed pitching this season, batting .176 with a 44.7% strikeout rate and a .580 OPS in 85 plate appearances this season. Still, as someone who is eligible at first base and second base in Yahoo leagues, he has the upside to help fantasy managers win weekly matchups down the stretch with his power production and the occasional stolen base.
Carson Kelly – 14%
Kelly started the year with a significant cold streak at the plate, batting just .130 with a .186 on-base percentage and a pair of home runs in his first 109 plate appearances through July 3. He was also striking out 23.9% of the time walk logging just a 4.9% walk rate.
It was a notable slow start for a batter coming off a strong 2021 season in which he turned in the second-best OPS of his career at .754 to go along with an 8.5% barrel rate, a .346 xwOBA, a 12.3% walk rate, and 13 home runs in 359 plate appearances.
Since the calendar turned from July 3 to July 4, however, Kelly has been much more productive, with numbers much more reminiscent of his 2021 performance.
In 138 plate appearances during that span, Kelly is hitting .287 with a .370 on-base percentage with four home runs, a stolen base, and a .323 BABIP that is decidedly sustainable.
Of course, it’s not all the BABIP, but it helps that the former Cardinal has cut down on his strikeouts considerably while also logging a 7.0% barrel rate since July 4. Making more hard contact certainly doesn’t hurt either, especially when it’s the right kind of hard contact and not just a sharply hit grounder.
Since July 4, Kelly has posted a 38% hard-hit rate. If that was for a full season, it’d be the second-best of his career and better than any hard-hit rate he’s turned in over the last three seasons. Elsewhere, he cut down on his grounders and improved the rate at which he was hitting line drives considerably.
Considering the sometimes unideal fantasy depth behind the plate, particularly in deeper leagues, Kelly makes for an ideal late-season addition for fantasy managers dealing with injuries or ineffectiveness at the catcher position.
Image adapted by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)