Fantasy Baseball Category Targets: Week 19
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 19’s fantasy baseball 5×5 category targets. For this exercise, I’ll be using ESPN ownership percentages. Stats are accurate entering Friday’s contests.
Cesar Hernandez (2B – PHI): 40.5%
Scouring for batting average on the waiver wire is often difficult, but Hernandez is starting to look like he fits the bill. Since returning from the DL on July 17th he’s hit .322 over 106 plate appearances. Going back to the start of 2016, he has a fine .293 average. Playing for the lowly Philadelphia Phillies might limit his counting stats, and he has little in the way of power, but batting leadoff should make him a serviceable source of runs, and he can nab you a stolen base here and there. His 12 stolen bases mark the third straight season with double-digit swiped bags.
Rhys Hoskins (1B – PHI): 14.1%
Randal Grichuk (OF – STL): 18.9%
Hoskins is one of the latest hot call-ups in the league, making his major league debut for the Phillies on Thursday. Slashing .284/.385/.581 with 29 home runs in Triple-A, to go along with 38 bombs in Double-A last year, it’s that immense power that makes him an exciting fantasy prospect. He’s also shown nice plate discipline, with a 15.8% strikeout rate and 13.5% walk rate. A first baseman by trade, he’ll be manning left field on most nights for the club, which should make him outfield eligible in short order.
Grichuk remains a drain on the ol’ batting average (.233) but always has tantalizing power given his career .234 ISO and 39.8% hard-hit rate. With Stephen Piscotty getting demoted to the minors, Grichuk should get regular playing time the rest of the way. He has 14 dingers in 313 plate appearances.
Dexter Fowler (OF – STL): 40.5%
Fowler returned from the DL this week and has batted cleanup the past two nights, which could be an encouraging sign for his RBI opportunities. An increased fly-ball rate (39.3%) and hard-hit rate (36.2%) has lead to 15 long balls, which is already more than he had all of last season and two away from tying his career-high. He has just five stolen bases, but given he’s swiped double-digit bags in eight straight seasons, he ought to be good for a handful more.
Aaron Hicks (OF – NYY): 36.5%
An early-season surprise, Hicks also returns after a lengthy six-week stay on the DL. Given his .644 career OPS prior to this season, it’s fair to wonder if he can keep up his .283/.390/.502 batting line moving forward. Still, the New York Yankees slotted him back into the two-hole right away, so the run scoring opportunities should be there. Sporting 10 home runs and seven stolen bases, if he can keep up his hitting, he could contribute across the board over the last couple months.
Cameron Maybin (OF – LAA): 16.0%
Yet another guy back from the DL this week, Maybin is one of the better stealing mavens available in most leagues and is once again leading off for the Los Angeles Angels. Despite the missed time, he has 25 swiped bags in 79 games, which is tied for fifth in the league with Jose Altuve, who has played in 31 more contests. Like most speedsters, he lacks power but should score plenty of runs given his spot in the order.
Trevor Bauer (SP – CLE): 39.0%
Although Bauer has an unsightly 4.79 ERA and 1.42 WHIP, he could be turning his 2017 around considering his 1.23 ERA over his last three starts. He also has solid peripherals, given his 3.87 SIERA and 25.6% strikeout rate this year. His modest career numbers might leave you rightfully skeptical, but a strong Cleveland Indians lineup will keep him in line for wins if he maintains his current form.
Reynaldo Lopez (RP/SP – CWS): 15.7%
Lopez will make his Chicago White Sox debut against the Kansas City Royals on Friday and brings solid Triple-A numbers in a 3.79 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 25.4% strikeout rate. Even though he had a tough go in his first taste of the majors for the Washington Nationals in 2016, with just a 4.91 ERA over 44 innings, there’s strikeout potential here, and he’s expected to stick in the rotation the rest of the season. Still just 23 years old, there could be more growing pains on the way, but given the state of fantasy pitching in 2017, you could do worse than take a shot at a top prospect for the home stretch.
ERA and WHIP
Hyun-Jin Ryu (SP – LAD): 47.7%
Ryu has been lights out in three starts since coming off the DL, posting a 0.95 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, and 30.3% strikeout rate. While there is uncertainty as to what the Los Angeles Dodgers will do when Clayton Kershaw returns later this month, it’s hard to see them bumping Ryu when he’s playing like this. With a career 3.33 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, Ryu should also net plenty of wins playing for one of the best teams in the league.
Matt Belisle (RP – MIN): 12.6%
Cam Bedrosian (RP – LAA): 9.4%
If you’re looking for saves, many of the guys from last week are still widely available, but if you need some fresh names, Belisle and Bedrosian could be the ticket. Belisle has converted two saves and looks like the guy in Minnesota, while the Los Angeles Angels sound like they’re moving away from Bud Norris, and Bedrosian got the save on Thursday.