Fantasy Baseball Category Targets: Week 15
Often when we’re scouring the waiver wire, we’re looking for players to bolster a particular category, rather than the next trendy up-and-comer. Looking for stolen bases? Home runs? ERA and WHIP?
I’ve got you covered. I present to you Week 15’s fantasy baseball 5×5 category targets. For this exercise, I’ll be using ESPN ownership percentages. Stats are accurate entering Friday’s contests.
Yuli Gurriel (3B/1B – HOU): 51.7%
The truth is, we still don’t know a lot about Gurriel, who only has 445 major league plate appearances. But it’s hard to argue with results this season, with 11 home runs, 44 RBIs, and a .297 average. It’s tough to say whether he’ll continue to post a high average, but he did hit .335 prior to coming stateside. Some good signs include a 37.1% hard-hit rate, and a low 12.0% strikeout rate. Steamer projects him for a .287 average the rest of the season. In a stacked Houston Astros lineup, the RBI opportunities should remain plentiful even hitting in the bottom half of the order.
DeJong is getting scooped up at a rapid rate, which is what happens when you slug nine bombs in 133 plate appearances, and homer in three straight games entering the break. While we should temper expectations — he strikes out at a 28.6% clip and doesn’t walk much — finding power out of the middle infielder spot is always welcome. Sporting a 36.3% hard-hit rate, if DeJong keeps it up, he’ll quickly surpass the 50% ownership mark.
An elite prospect for the New York Yankees, Frazier already has three long balls in just 26 plate appearances, along with a whopping 55.6% hard-hit rate. Like DeJong, punchouts could be an issue, but there is some enticing upside here, and he could even add some stolen bases to his repertoire. Playing time could become an issue as the Yankees get healthy, but as we’ve seen with other prospects this season, swinging a hot bat could solve those worries in a hurry.
Nick Castellanos (3B – DET): 37.3%
Speaking of hard-hit rate, Castellanos’ 49.6% hard-hit rate leads all qualified hitters. That’s right, more than Aaron Judge, Paul Goldschmidt, Cody Bellinger — everyone. It’s only translated to 10 long balls, but positive regression could be coming in the second half. He strikes out too often to be much of a batting average asset, but this is a great opportunity to nab a guy with some sneaky upside while his value remains low.
Shin-Soo Choo (OF – TEX): 23.9%
Perennially under the radar, the 34-year-old is having an excellent season, and yet still goes widely unnoticed. Choo won’t wow you in any one category, but has a fine 49 runs, 12 dingers, and even seven stolen bases. A .250 average leaves something to be desired, but he remains an on-base machine and should continue to rack up the runs leading off for the Texas Rangers. A 37.7% hard-hit rate doesn’t hurt his upside either.
Whit Merrifield (2B/OF – KC): 43.8%
Merrifield has mostly been an uninteresting fantasy leadoff man for the Kansas City Royals, but with six swiped bags in his last seven games, he’s starting to get a whole lot more intriguing. He has 14 stolen bases on the year, and given that he’s striking out only 13.8% of the time, there’s hope he can keep the .281 average going as well. The Royals lack the punch of some other lineups, but as long as he’s hitting high in the order he should be a healthy source of runs moving forward.
Jordan Montgomery (SP – NYY): 47.1%
With his ownership numbers trending in the wrong direction, this is a reminder to not lose faith in Montgomery despite a couple lackluster outings. The 3.65 ERA and 1.23 WHIP still look good, and the potential for more strikeouts are there with his 13.5% swinging-strike rate. Playing behind the vaunted Bronx Bombers offense is always a good spot for accumulating wins. With a tough matchup coming against the Boston Red Sox, another mediocre start could be on the way, so be sure to keep an eye out in case another impatient owner cuts bait.
Trevor Cahill (RP/SP – SD): 31.4%
Back from the DL, Cahill has some impressive numbers in nine starts, including a 3.38 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and a robust 29.7% strikeout rate. Although he’s never shown this kind of punchout prowess before, a 13.5% swinging-strike rate suggests it isn’t a fluke. Couple that with a 59.5% ground-ball rate, and there’s a ton to like here. The only downside is wins which might be hard to come by on the lowly San Diego Padres.
ERA and WHIP
Don’t forget about Eduardo Rodriguez as well, who I mentioned last week, and is coming off the DL to start on Monday.
But if you need some ERA and WHIP help, it’s never a bad idea to look towards some relief pitchers. Betances may have high ownership, but it’s plummeting at a rapid rate due to his recent control issues. Don’t be scared off by the 1.41 WHIP — he’s been too good the past three seasons to suddenly lose it overnight. Take advantage if you see him on the waiver wire. Relief pitchers with 42.1% strikeout rates don’t grow on trees. Betances has a career 2.26 ERA and 1.04 WHIP.
Meanwhile, it’s curious to see Devenski fall under the 50% threshold. With 52 2/3 innings already this season, despite being a bullpen arm, his 2.73 ERA and 0.84 can go a long way towards steadying your pitching staff. Oh, and he can punch guys out too. In 2016, he threw 108 1/3 innings with 104 strikeouts.
Tommy Kahnle (RP – CWS): 7.7%
As we saw with the Jose Quintana trade, to no one’s surprise, the Chicago White Sox continue to rebuild. While nothing is imminent it’s possible that closer David Robertson could be the next one to go. If you have the roster space, this might be a good time to pick up Kahnle, who would presumably take over as the closer if Robertson is dealt. Kahnle has a 2.65 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 42.5% strikeout rate, so he certainly has the goods to succeed. At the very least, it might be best for Robertson owners to grab Kahnle as a handcuff.