The 2017 baseball season is into its second month, still early enough that fantasy owners should remain vigilant on the waiver wire. The Yahoo fantasy baseball crew is here to help identify the players to go after:
Q: Which infielder, owned in less than 40 percent of Yahoo leagues, are you most interested in adding to your fantasy team?
Brandon Funston: LOGAN FORSYTHE. Time to jump back in on Forsythe, who will be activated this weekend after sitting out for a month with a foot injury. He was a top 10 fantasy 2B in ’15, and he probably would have been at least near that level again last season had he not missed 28 games with a shoulder injury.
Andy Behrens: It’s entirely possible that IAN HAPP’s ownership percentage will jump above 40 by the time this post gets published (31 as of this writing), but whatever. Happ is going to be the one thing I get right this year, so I have to continue pushing him here. The Cubs may not have intended to keep him in the majors for good with this callup, but he certainly hasn’t been overmatched. The kid has been batting cleanup; he cleared the fence twice in his first three big league games. I’m sold.
Scott Pianowski: I’ll second the JOSH BELL recco that’s in the D3 file. I’m also more interested in TIM BECKHAM after seeing Brad Miller get hurt; Matt Duffy’s return isn’t going to automatically bounce Beckham (and maybe it wasn’t going to, anyway). Beckham is a former No. 1 overall pick, and a .279-18-7-23 line doesn’t grow on trees.
Dalton Del Don: I’m still a believer in JOSH BELL. Even with his struggles and hitting in a tough park he’s been decent. Over his last six games, he has a .333/.455/1.111 line, with four homers and nine RBI.
BUY LOW: What struggling infielder would you be most interested in pitching a buy-low offer on right now?
Funston: ALEX BREGMAN. He’s still a guy that I have lots of faith in, and judging by his recent activity in the Trade Market, he can often be had at a cut rate price. Remember, this is a prospect, lauded for his advanced feel for the game, who hit .300 with 24 home runs and 20 steals in his 146-game minor league career before he was called up last season. And we know he can battle through a slow start at the MLB level, as he opened his Astros career by going 2-for-42, but then rebounded by hitting .321 with 24 extra-base hits (8 HRs) in his final 159 ABs.
Behrens: It gets better for EDWIN ENCARNACION, people. He’s hit 30-plus homers in each of the last five seasons, and we wouldn’t expect him to completely fall off a cliff at 34. Edwin’s line-drive rate is 24.2, a healthy number. I feel confident his numbers will be there in the end. But I know you’re worried, because I’ve fielded the questions.
Pianowski: Okay, MANNY MACHADO might be hard to buy at discount, but you could at least take his owner’s temperature. Machado is one of the leaders in hard-hit rate but has a .229 BABIP; those two things don’t compute. He’s still a full-fledged first-round stud in my book. I also expect far better days ahead for some of those slumping Rangers, notably Rougned Odor and Jonathan Lucroy.
Del Don: DEE GORDON was suspended last year and is off to an ugly start, but there’s still the upside of him being among the league leaders in stolen bases over the rest of the season. His .287 BABIP is 51 points below his career average, and this is despite a career high 19.9 Hard%.
Q: Which outfielder, owned in less than 40 percent of Yahoo leagues, are you most interested in adding to your fantasy team?
Funston: BRADLEY ZIMMER. You definitely have a right to worry about Zimmer’s contact issues, but he has a very intriguing blend of power and speed, and with an athletically-built 6-foot-5 frame, he looks the part. He also homered in just his second MLB game on Wednesday. I’d roll the dice on his upside, with the understanding that it might not work out in the long run. Nothing ventured, nothing gained …
Behrens: LEWIS BRINSON is still raking at Triple-A, in case you were wondering. He’s hitting .327/.409/.518 with four homers and five steals. Whenever he arrives in Milwaukee (hopefully June), he’ll bring a 20/20 skill set.
Pianowski: Kudos to Scott Schebler for finally outgrowing this question, jumping into the 40s. MANUEL MARGOT doesn’t have the prettiest run production, but he’s showing category juice and hitting .274, a plus average in today’s context. I realize Craig Kimbrel has been untouchable in Boston, but someday the Red Sox will greatly regret the huge package they unloaded in the Kimbrel trade (Margot included).
Del Don: JAYSON WERTH is on pace to hit .308 and score 90 runs on baseball’s highest scoring team. He’s added six homers and three steals. It’s bizarre how little he’s owned right now.
BUY LOW: What struggling outfielder would you be most interested in pitching a buy-low offer on right now?
Funston: ODUBEL HERRERA. He’s slumping right now, which explains why he’s pulling throw-in value in a lot of his recent trades in Y! leagues. But he’s not far off a 15 HR/20 SB pace (he was 15/25 last season), and he’s hit .286 or better in each of his two full seasons before ’17, so I’d play the odds that much better days lie ahead.
Behrens: If you are looking to dump KYLE SCHWARBER stock, I am accepting all shares.
Pianowski: It takes a leap of faith to inquire about DEXTER FOWLER; the shoulder problem could linger, and he’s been unproductive when active this year. But I still think the Cardinals have one of the 3-4 best offenses in the National League, and I like the idea of getting the triggerman, the leadoff guy, someone with a broad collection of skills.
Del Don: I was out on CARLOS GONZALEZ entering the year but come on, this is a flukey start. His Hard% (37.1) is above his career mark, and there have been no trade rumors (meaning he’ll stay in Coors Field). I’d be buying here.
Q: Which starting pitcher, owned in less than 40 percent of Yahoo leagues, are you most interested in adding to your fantasy team?
Funston: JOE BIAGINI. He’s scuffled a bit of late, but I still like Biagini. He induces a high rate of ground balls (read: limits home runs), he doesn’t allow very many free passes, he has RP/SP eligibility (after his latest start) and he strikes out just enough to be serviceable in that department.
Behrens: DAN STRAILY probably needs to be owned in a few more leagues. His ratios are harmless and the Ks have always been there. Straily’s last two starts have been awfully good: 12.0 IP, 4 H, R, 8 Ks.
Pianowski: Ignore the ERA with NATE KARNS. Focus on the strikeouts, focus on the WHIP. The park and defense should also be points in his favor.
Del Don: ZACK GODLEY has suddenly become interesting. He has 19 strikeouts over 18.2 innings with a 0.96 WHIP. His SwStr% is a whopping 15.2 (that would be fifth highest among all starters in baseball if he qualified).
BUY LOW: What struggling pitcher would you be most interested in pitching a buy-low offer on right now?
Funston: EDWIN DIAZ. He’s been given a break from the closer role, but I doubt that lasts for very long. Nobody in the Seattle bullpen can hold a candle to Diaz’s stuff. Among pitchers that logged 50-plus innings last season, only Dellin Betances fanned more than Diaz’s rate of 15.3 batters per 9 IP. And Diaz is actually throwing harder this season. He’s just working through some command issues (something that has never before been a problem in his professional past) and some bad luck.
Behrens: DANNY SALAZAR has given fantasy owners a wild ride to this point, but, man … those strikeouts. Salazar has 61 Ks in 41.1 innings, good for a 13.5 K/9. His swinging-strike rate is a ridiculous 16.4. He’s sure to give us a few stellar efforts down the road; there’s no way his BABIP remains anywhere near its current level (.383).
Pianowski: I like the Salazar call above, so count me in on that. A big gap between ERA and xFIP is always nice (albeit some of your leaguemates might be hip to that). You’ll find more divergence of opinion when it comes to JAKE ARRIETA, but I’m going to trust the strikeouts and walks, not to mention a pitcher with a proven resume. I’d be more inclined to trade for Arriteta if I was looking at a struggling roster, a team that needed to take a chance.
Del Don: It’s EDWIN DIAZ. He throws 97 mph, misses a ton of bats and has been unlucky. He was treated as a top-five closer entering the year. His recent demotion will be short lived.
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