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 Daniel Vogelbach, Dane Dunning, Rafael Montero, and Yandy Díaz 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.
Daniel Vogelbach – 12%
Daniel Vogelbach’s ability to draw walks has never really been in question. It’s been more about his ability to hit for contact. That makes him more of an option in leagues where on-base percentage is part of the scoring. And while he’s only logged more than 300 plate appearances in a season once, there’s plenty in the way of a track record here.
Now in Pittsburgh, Vogelbach should continue to start regularly for the power-starved Pirates at designated hitter.
Through 17 games, Vogelbach is hitting .311 with three home runs and his trademark quality walk rate (9.0%) and on-base percentage (.373) in 67 plate appearances.
And while the Pirates’ lineup isn’t exactly loaded, the 29-year-old has hit leadoff in most of his starts this season. While that’s certainly not ideal from an RBI standpoint, hitting first might be the best thing for his fantasy value while he’s in Pittsburgh. As long as he continues to get on base, he should see some run-scoring opportunities hitting ahead of the likes of Ke’Bryan Hayes and Bryan Reynolds.
What’s more, given the lack of power-hitting options in Pittsburgh, Vogelbach should continue to get regular playing time as the season goes on. If that’s the case, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see the 29-year-old hit plenty of home runs. In his only Major League season receiving consistent playing time, Vogelbach connected on 30 home runs in 558 plate appearances for the Mariners in 2019.
Dane Dunning – 7%
The Rangers’ right-handed starting pitcher is currently sporting a 3.81 ERA and a 3.59 FIP in 26 innings spanning five starts so far this season.
Those types of run prevention numbers, combined with a low percentage of leagues that he’s rostered in, make him an ideal pickup for fantasy managers in deeper leagues. But a deeper dive into his recent numbers shows a pitcher with plenty of fantasy upside, especially considering he makes half his starts at Globe Life Park.
The Rangers’ home stadium tied with the Mets’ Citi Field for the fifth-lowest overall park factor in the sport during the 2021 campaign, according to Statcast.
Dunning, who keeps the ball on the ground plenty thanks to heavy utilization of his sinker, has thrived at home.
If you have the roster space and pitching depth to primarily utilize Dunning for his home starts and keep him on the bench for road outings, he should be plenty helpful in keeping your weekly ERA and WHIP down.
In his last two starts, both home outings against last year’s World Series participants, the right-hander allowed a combined three earned runs over 13.1 innings, striking out 13 batters in the process.
Rafael Montero – 4%
Initially serving as one of the primary setup options for closer Ryan Pressly, Montero has a 0.96 ERA and a 1.87 FIP in 9.1 innings of work this season. He’s also logged 15 strikeouts compared to just two walks and one earned run allowed.
Some of that success is due to Montero’s four-seam fastball.
It’s currently checking in with a 96.1 MPH average velocity, the fastest it’s ever been. What’s more, in an admittedly small sample size, it’s missing bats at a rate higher than any pitch Montero has ever thrown.
All of that makes Montero a useful saves+holds league option, especially in Houston for an Astros team that seems poised for another playoff run. But, with Pressly still on the injured list due to right knee inflammation, Montero is a potential save option right now alongside Héctor Neris and Ryne Stanek. It’s encouraging for his fantasy prospects that he’s already logged a save since Pressly has been injured, though he did give up a home run in that outing.
Even if the closing situation is more of a timeshare, it’d make Montero more valuable in the short-term than a number of other closing options around the league, particularly ones on teams struggling to string together wins.
Yandy Díaz – 6%
Díaz isn’t going to hit too many home runs. His career high was 14 in 347 plate appearances in 2019 and he logged 13 in 541 plate appearances last season.
He probably isn’t going to steal many bases either. He’s never had more than two steals in a season and has just five for his career.
But he’s going to get on base.
And get on base a lot.
Whether your league has batting average or on-base percentage as part of the scoring, Diaz should provide plenty of value in either category.
That he is eligible at both first base and third base in Yahoo leagues only adds to his potential usefulness in fantasy. So too does the fact that he’s hit no lower than fifth for a quality Tampa Bay lineup in each of his starts this season.
The Rays finished 2021 with the second-most runs scored in the league (857) and a team wRC+ of 109. They haven’t really slowed down from an effectiveness standpoint this season. Despite just 87 runs scored entering play on Sunday (14 teams had scored more runs), Tampa Bay’s 116 wRC+ was the fifth-best in the league and right in line with the team’s 2021 wRC+ metric.
Entering play on Sunday, Díaz was hitting .298 with a .444 on-base percentage and a home run in 72 plate appearances this season.
Adapted by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)