MLB Stock Watch: Yankees new slugger among fantasy risers


Edwin Encarnacion, New York Yankees

He’s a 36-year-old DH who was a salary dump for Seattle, but Encarnacion has bounced back with a strong season at the plate. His 139 wRC+ is higher than his career mark (126) and tied with Rhys Hoskins for 22nd in MLB. While the Mariners’ lineup was solid, Encarnacion now joins a Yankees one that could be historically good when healthy. More importantly, the trade to New York also means he joins a park that’s increased homers for right-handed batters more than any in MLB other than Philadelphia over the last three seasons. Yankee Stadium has played much more pitcher-friendly this year, but I’d mostly ignore that small sample given there haven’t been any tangible differences made.

Encarnacion has eight homers with an 1.196 OPS while walking nearly as often as striking out during June. He’ll now be in a terrific situation to rack up counting stats while batting in the middle of an absolutely loaded Yankees lineup and in typically one of the best hitter’s parks in baseball. He’s already provided a nice profit to fantasy managers (despite having a .220 BABIP that’s the fifth-lowest in baseball), and Encarnacion’s arrow is pointing further up.

New acquisition Edwin Encarnacion brings even more power to the New York Yankees (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
New acquisition Edwin Encarnacion brings even more power to the New York Yankees (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

Zack Greinke, Arizona Diamondbacks

His average fastball velocity remains in the 80s, but it doesn’t matter, as Greinke is coming off back-to-back scoreless appearances on the road. That leaves him with a 2.65 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP during a season in which many aces are disappointing. Greinke’s impressive 2019 doesn’t end there, as he’s also posting a .946 OPS with two homers at the plate (he also remains a perfect 9-for-9 on SB attempts throughout his career). He’s the only pitcher in baseball who regularly throws a pitch that’s less than 70 mph, which has produced ridiculous results. He’d also prefer not to throw a no-hitter since it would be too much of a hassle. Since 2013, Greinke has the fifth-best ERA (2.88) among starters, one spot ahead of Chris Sale and just behind Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, the late Jose Fernandez and Clayton Kershaw. Greinke’s an underrated star.

Yandy Diaz, Tampa Bay Rays

He hit six homers in April, battled injuries throughout May and is batting .361/.426/.508 in June. Diaz has settled in the middle of a Rays’ lineup that ranks top-five in wRC+ this season. He continues to hit the ball hard (he owns a career .291 expected batting average) and has increased his launch angle since joining Tampa Bay, resulting in more big flies. Diaz should be rostered in more than 41% of leagues.

Teammate Kevin Kiermaier, who’s racked up two homers and three steals over the past 10 days, also deserves an upgrade. He’s rostered in just 25% of leagues despite being on pace for an 18-homer/30-steal season.

Luis Urias, San Diego Padres

He got off to a slow start with San Diego, but the prospect has hit well in Triple-A, where he’s batting .337 with 16 homers and six steals over 208 at bats. It’s come in the PCL, where offense has gone crazy this season, but Urias entered the year as a top-20 prospect, possesses a good hit tool and appears to be developing power. Ian Kinsler has an 84 wRC+ and a 0.1 WAR, so second base is ready for Urias to soon take over. The rookie remains available in nearly 90% of leagues.

Scooter Gennett, Cincinnati Reds

He’s set to begin a rehab assignment after recovering from a groin injury he suffered during spring training. The Reds may have to get creative working him back into their lineup with Derek Dietrich’s emergence, but Gennett ranked third in wRC+ (124) among all second basemen from 2017-2018. He also averaged 83 runs scored and 95 RBI over that span, so he’ll be in there one way or the other. Gennett also returns to a home park that’s a big boost for homers for left-handed batters (only Yankee Stadium and Citizens Bank Park have seen a bigger increase over the last three seasons). He should be a difference maker for the second half of the season.

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Chris Paddack, San Diego Padres

He’s been huge for fantasy managers this season, but the rookie is coming off his first rough stretch of the season. He allowed 12 earned runs over three starts (although that came with a 16:2 K:BB ratio), resulting in a trip to the minors. Paddack was always going to be on an innings limit this year, so the move is one method to do that. The electric righty surely will be back up soon enough and needs to be held onto in all fantasy formats. But Paddack’s clear path to the Rookie of the Year award has hit a bump.

Brett Gardner, New York Yankees

With the trade for Encarnacion as well as the return of Giancarlo Stanton from the IL, the Yankees are suddenly healthier and loaded (with the recent returns of Aaron Hicks and Didi Gregorius as well). Aaron Judge could be back later this week, too. Yankees like Gardner, Gio Urshela and DJ LeMahieu are going to lose significant playing time moving forward, barring further injuries. It’s certainly a nice problem to have if you’re New York.

Justin Smoak, Toronto Blue Jays

After hitting .207 in May (despite walking more than striking out), Smoak is batting an ugly .175/.298/.250 during 40 at bats in June. He was benched Saturday, Sunday and now Monday (although a nagging hamstring injury had something to do with it). Smoak’s BABIP (.232) should regress, and his expected slugging (.554) is in the top 7% of the league, so while currently slumping, he’s a possible buy-low target.

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