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 Darin Ruf, Edouard Julien, Bryan Abreu, and Harold Ramírez 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.
Darin Ruf – 0%
Ruf enjoyed a strong run with the San Francisco Giants from 2020 to 2021, hitting .272 with a .381 on-base percentage, 21 home runs, and three stolen bases in 412 combined plate appearances.
For much of his career, the slugger was much more productive against left-handed pitching, however, he was productive against both lefties and righties in his last full season with the Giants.
Ruf wasn’t quite as productive across the board in 2022, still, San Francisco dealt him to the New York Mets in a deal for prospects Carson Seymour and Nick Zwack, as well as third baseman J.D. Davis and reliever Thomas Szapucki. Overall, Ruf hit .204 with a .307 on-base percentage, 11 home runs, and a pair of stolen bases in 388 plate appearances split between the Giants and Mets.
After being designated for assignment by the Mets and becoming a free agent earlier this month, Ruf signed a minor-league deal to return to the Giants. The slugger is now back on San Francisco’s active roster after making his 2023 debut for the club on Wednesday.
Slotting back into San Francisco’s lineup, which has a history of featuring platoons, should do wonders for Ruf’s production – especially if he continues to bat in the middle of the lineup. The 36-year-old hit fifth for the club in his first game back on Wednesday and is in the same spot in the lineup for Friday’s matchup in Detroit against the Tigers.
The fact that he might only be a platoon option might limit him to deeper leagues, but he’s a quality fantasy option in said leagues given his propensity to get on base and connect on home runs.
Edouard Julien – 13%
To say that Edouard Julien gets on base a lot is probably an understatement. The Minnesota Twins second baseman registered a 24.5% walk rate in his first 204 plate appearances at Single-A in 2021. Later that season, he logged a 19.4% in 310 plate appearances at Advanced-A. Flash forward to 2022 and Julien posted a 19.3% walk rate in 508 plate appearances in his first full season at Double-A.
He’s done more than just draw walks too. Julien registered 18 home runs in his first minor league season in 2021 before adding 17 home runs at Double-A last year.
In his write-up of top Twins prospects near the Majors, FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen wrote the following about Julien:
“He’s as patient as any hitter in the minors and has walked at a 19% career rate; he has a .437 career OBP in the minors. When Julian does swing, he does so with bad intentions, taking a high-effort rip capable of putting balls out to all fields. He’s going to reach base a ton and hit for power.”
In the same write-up, FanGraphs graded Julien’s present and future hit tool at 35 and 40 respectively, so he might have a bit more value in leagues where on-base percentage is part of the scoring. Still, it is worth a look.
Either way, with his track record and instant impact already in the majors, Julien looks like the type of waiver-wire addition, along with the likes of James Outman and Brian Anderson, who could be crucial in deciding fantasy playoff matchups later in the season.
Bryan Abreu – 12%
A potential late-round steal for his ability to rack up strikeouts, and lower fantasy managers’ weekly ERA and WHIP numbers while potentially adding a few ancillary saves, Abreu has largely lived up to the billing so far.
The 26-year-old has pitched to a 1.35 ERA and a 3.99 FIP in seven appearances spanning 6.2 innings. The Astros reliever has struck out 12 batters compared to five walks during that span while registering a pair of holds.
Entering play Friday, he was Houston’s most utilized reliever and has the second-most high-leverage appearances on the team behind Hector Neris. And while Abreu hasn’t logged a save yet, it’s possible he could see a few as the season progresses. Astros manager Dusty Baker has already provided save chances to both Rafael Montero and Hector Neris, both of whom converted their respective save chances when Ryan Pressly was unavailable.
It’s possible Abreu stays in more of a setup role, but his potential strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP contributions are too notable to ignore in deeper leagues, especially where most closers and secondary save options are already rostered.
Harold Ramírez– 11%
Harold Ramírez, like many players currently on the Tampa Bay Rays roster, is off to a strong start in fantasy leagues this season. He’s hitting .323 with a .382 on-base percentage in 34 plate appearances so far for the American League East franchise.
Generally bringing somewhat of a high floor where batting average is concerned, with a .268 average or better in each of his three previous Major League seasons, Ramirez is now hitting for more power this time around.
In addition to the .323 average and .382 on-base percentage, Ramirez has collected three home runs and two barrels so far.
And while neither number is eye-catching in a vacuum, they are when compared with Ramirez’s career norms. The 28-year-old has just 24 lifetime home runs in 1253 career Major League plate appearances. What’s more, he had just 16 barrels last season in 435 plate appearances and 335 batted ball events.
If he can maintain that kind of barrel rate all season with somewhere north of 400 plate appearances, Ramirez should have a shot at topping his previous career high for home runs, which was 11 back in the 2019 campaign.
Even a home run total like that in the 10-15 range would raise the veteran’s fantasy ceiling considerably with his track record of posting high batting averages.
Graphic adapted by Aaron Polcare (@bearydoesgfx on Twitter)