Overlooked players who still may be available on waivers
It’s Week 19 in Fantasy Baseball and I have decided to bring the straight up “What’s Up” this week in Trending and NoteWorthy. I’m bringing to light players that are currently swinging a hot bat or throwing gems that we didn’t expect they would. Most of them have low ownership percentages and the ones that don’t are owned in fewer leagues than they should be, based on their recent performances. We have a middle infielder rising from the doldrums flashing at least four tools, a corner with plus pop and a lot of swing-and-miss in his game as well as a group of waiver wire outfielders that don’t deserve trade attention, but do deserve a starting Fantasy job while the “gettin is good.” I have included a starting pitcher who has taken a long time to make good, another who is, much to our surprise, pitching well again and a third who has popped out of nowhere without the sizzle of strikeouts.
At this point in the Fantasy Baseball season sometimes owners need to look to the wire, not for saviors, but for a short-term shot in the arm to get through the dog days when a few of their players are scuffling. That is what we have in this week’s Trending and NoteWorthy.
Rougned Odor, 2B Texas Rangers
Four HRs – Four SBs – 14 Runs Scored – Seven Runs Batted In – .400 Batting Average
71% Owned in Yahoo! Leagues
Odor batted .204 in 2017 and has struggled most of this season, but he is starting to put it together. The 2018 batting average has been a significant improvement from 2017 (.204 vs. .270), but until recently the home runs and stolen bases weren’t there.
The tools are too good and he is starting to put it together. Odor is a buy-low on the trade market in both yearly and dynasty leagues and needs to be owned in all seasonal formats. I started him ahead of Xander Bogaerts in my head-to-head leagues and other owners need to take notice, Odor is hot and he could be in for a comeback second half.
Kole Calhoun, OF Los Angeles Angels
Five HRs – 15 Runs Scored – 17 Runs Batted In – .328 BA
38% Owned in Yahoo! Leagues
Calhoun doesn’t deserve a full-time roster spot at this stage in his career. But he hits for enough power with token contributions in stolen bases that deserve ownership when he is hitting well, which he is right now. He has been the fifth-highest scorer in points leagues over the last three weeks and yet he is only owned in 38 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
New Stance Kole Calhoun now has 103 PAs.
278/339/684, with 9 HRs. His OPS is 1.023.
How many of Twitter GM's wanted him released/DFA'd in May?
— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) July 22, 2018
Owners shouldn’t target him in a trade, but in the 62 percent of leagues that he isn’t owned, especially deeper ones, he is a better alternative than most available free agents. He is starting for a few of my teams and will until the hot streak cools.
Max Kepler, OF Minnesota Twins
Three HRs – 13 Runs Scored – 8 RBI – .218 BA
21% Owned in Yahoo! Leagues
He doesn’t run and the batting average is a concern even during a hot streak, but Kepler deserves some consideration in deeper leagues. If I extended my analysis back 28 days rather than 21, his overall performance would look stronger. I don’t evaluate a player over the long term based on RBI or runs scored, but when a player is hot they win head-to-head matchups.
Kepler is a “ride the hot streak and kick him to the curb when he cools” kind of player. Recently he was riding a hot streak, but he has begun to cool slightly. Keep an eye on him, because at 21% ownership, he could be a shot in the arm in deeper leagues if you catch him on the upside of his “ebbs and flows.”
Corey Dickerson, OF Pittsburgh Pirates
Five HRs – 15 Runs Scored – 10 RBI – One SB – .383 BA
71% Owned in Yahoo! Leagues
Dickerson has been better over the last three weeks than Mike Trout in every Fantasy category except for stolen bases (seven vs. two). His .318 batting average with an otherwise pedestrian 11 home runs and six stolen bases this season makes him a must-start while he is hot, a starter in deeper five outfielder leagues and one of the better free agents on the wire in more shallow leagues.
His ownership percentage is higher than I expected and his relatively pedestrian season-long production prevents him from being a trade target, but his recent performance is NoteWorthy. Dickerson has been placed on the disabled list. If you can stash him and see if he picks up where he left off it’s a good strategy. Monitor how he does in early August when he returns.
Stephen Piscotty, OF Oakland Athletics
Five HRs – Eight Runs Scored – 10 RBI – Two SBs – .286 BA
49% Owned in Yahoo! Leagues
Piscotty doesn’t run and his .258 batting average doesn’t suggest he is a major contributor to a winning team in that category over a long season either, but he was a Top 30 scorer in points leagues over the last 21 days. That’s NoteWorthy.
At this point in the Fantasy season every week counts and players on a hot streak can help owners bridge the gap, while more deserving season long players are scuffling and need to be benched.
Maikel Franco, 3B Philadelphia Phillies
Seven HRs – 11 Runs Scored – 12 RBI – .288 BA
Franco’s long-term value has always been a dicey investment due to his aggressive approach at the plate. He doesn’t walk as much as sluggers are known to do (.273 BA with a .316 OBP and 21 walks in 315 at-bats), while he does strike out a lot. What he does offer is an above-average hit tool that can result in average to above-average BAs and plus-power that provides home runs at a corner infield position.
Over the last 21 days Franco has hit the second-most home runs in baseball, behind only the red-hot Matt Carpenter. His 56 percent ownership mark is a little higher than many of my Noteworthy mentions in this week’s column, but Franco needs to be in more lineups.
Kyle Gibson, SP MInnesota Twins
33.3 Innings Pitched – Three Quality Starts – Three Wins – 33 Ks – 3.24 ERA – 1.11 WHIP
41% Owned in Yahoo! Leagues
Gibson has scored the 11th-most points in CBSSports.com standard leagues over the last four weeks while only being owned in 41 percent of Yahoo! Leagues. He is striking out almost a batter per inning with ratios that justify being owned in all leagues. The fact that he has only five wins is an unfortunate oddity that shouldn’t prevent owners from rostering and starting the underappreciated right-hander. A player pitching this well should not have such a low ownership percentage.
Anibal Sanchez, SP Atlanta Braves
31 IP – Four Quality Starts – Two Wins – 30Ks – 3.48 ERA – 1.10 WHIP
57% Owned in Yahoo! Leagues
Sanchez is striking out almost a batter per inning and has an ERA of 3.00 and a WHIP of 1.09. His 57 percent ownership isn’t a small percentage, but it’s low and that’s what is NoteWorthy about Sanchez. He needs to be owned in all leagues.
Dereck Rodriguez, SP/RP San Francisco GIants
22 IP – Three Starts – Three QS – Two Wins – 14Ks – 2.05 ERA – .86 WHIP
43% Owned in Yahoo! Leagues
The strikeout rate is low while the ratios are more than good enough to justify a roster spot. Qualifying as a reliever in Yahoo! Leagues allows owners to attack categories like strikeouts and wins by starting a SP in a RP slot, at least during double-start weeks. As long as he can maintain these ratios owners need to roster Rodriguez. The strikeouts are too low to start Rodriguez if the ratios rise, though.
Wander Franco, 2B/SS Tampa Bay Rays
Seven HRs – Three SBs – .363 BA – Nine Strikeouts to 11 BBs
Franco is one of the hottest names in the prospect world at the moment. He is only 17, but scouts profile him to have above-average tools in hitting, power and speed. He has a knack for barreling balls and the tools to translate that into home runs as he develops and matures physically.
Franco needs to be owned in all Dynasty leagues with prospects, because he looks the real deal and it feels like he could come fast. We don’t see this kind of buzz surrounding 17 year-olds all that often, but when we do it’s wise to jump fast or miss out. The sizzle surrounding Wander Franco reminds me of Ozzie Albies when I first profiled an extremely young, extremely mature for his age, toolsy young middle infielder. I snagged him in two Dynasty leagues. Get on Franco quickly if you still can.