Fantasy Baseball Category Analysis: Week 3
Week 3 is an interesting week for fantasy owners. We are starting to see more roles get defined for players, but the numbers can still be skewed one way or the other. A 3-for-4 night at the plate can raise a player’s average .20-.30 points. It can also go the other way, though.
Look at Steven Matz for example. Entering Tuesday’s start against the Phillies, he had a 1.65 ERA. That’s really, really good. But after giving up six earned runs without recording an out, it shot up to 4.96, which makes him look unusable.
When evaluating who to drop for players such as those on this list, make sure you’re looking beyond the surface numbers. Here are some guys that can help you in traditional roto categories who are each owned in 50 percent of leagues or fewer.
Jose Martinez (1B/OF – STL): 26%
When Martinez signed his offseason extension with the Cardinals, it came as a surprise. He’s a player better suited for the American League as a designated hitter, and the Cardinals had a lot of players ahead of him on the depth chart. He needed an injury to be a fantasy contributor.
He may have gotten his path to playing time, though, with Tyler O’Neill going on the IL and Harrison Bader dealing with a hamstring injury. When Martinez plays, he’s really good. He’s hit over .300 in the past two years, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t provide a high average again when in the lineup.
Hunter Dozier (1B/3B – KC): 31%
The former highly touted prospect has been red hot as of late for the Royals, recording five straight multi-hit games from Thursday to Monday.
Again, all samples at this point are still small, but there are reasons to believe Dozier is having a late-20s breakout.
He’s striking out far less, chasing fewer balls outside of the zone, and has increased his fly-ball percentage while lowering the number of ground balls that he hits. Dozier’s ownership is climbing, so pick him up while he’s still widely available.
Dwight Smith Jr. (OF – BAL): 10%
Smith has been the player that the fantasy community — myself included — hoped Cedric Mullins would be this year. Smith is hitting atop the order for the Orioles, and while you shouldn’t count on this type of production throughout the season, he can be owned in deeper five-outfielder leagues as long as he’s batting second. As bad as the lineup is, he’ll still score runs, as he has already tallied 13 in 18 games.
Renato Nunez (3B – BAL): 3%
Two Orioles in one article? What is this world coming to? I like regular playing time, and that’s what Nunez is provided as Baltimore’s cleanup hitter. He has as many RBIs (11) as players such as Michael Conforto, Stephen Piscotty, and Enrique Hernandez early on. While making above-average contact has held him back in the past, he has no competition for playing time. Ride the hot hand in deeper leagues.
Garrett Hampson (2B/SS – COL): 29%
Tuesday night was the breakout game we were hoping for from Hampson, as he went 2-for-4 with three runs, one home run, and one stolen base. With the number of injuries the Rockies’ sneaky-bad offense has, Hampson should continue to get regular playing time. He was a must-draft player before the season, so capitalize if anyone jumped ship early.
Brandon Woodruff (SP/RP – MIL): 31%
Woodruff was cruising on Tuesday before a red-hot Marcell Ozuna hit a home run in the sixth inning. Two more men got aboard, and Woodruff exited one out short of a quality start. He’s the best pitcher on the Brewers’ staff — until Jimmy Nelson returns — and his underlying numbers are better than his surface numbers (5.23 ERA, 3.04 FIP, 3.59 xFIP, 3.55 SIERA). The Brewers lineup is one of the best in baseball, which only increases his wins potential.
Ryan Pressly (RP – HOU): 33%
With starting pitching being a mess and the closer landscape so undpredictable, I’m pivoting more and more to grabbing top-tier middle relievers in my roto leagues. There may not be a better reliever in baseball than Pressly, who has yet to allow a run in 7.2 innings. If something were to happen on or off the field with Roberto Osuna, you have a top-five closer on your hands.
Nick Margevicius (SP – SD): 37%
Even after getting lit up by the Rockies Tuesday night, Margevicius’ season-long line is impressive. His 3.60 ERA aligns with his FIP, xFIP, and SIERA, and his WHIP is still under 1.00 (0.90). His 1.16 minor league WHIP was also respectable. He’s never pitched above A-ball, so it’s impressive what he’s done so far. The rookie will be on an innings limit, but he’s worth grabbing and starting in the right matchups.
Pablo Lopez (SP – MIA): 5%
Again, ignore the ERA. When Lopez fully figures it out, he’s going to be a force to reckon with. His ERA is 5.85, but his FIP is 2.89. Positive regression is coming in that area, but we are here for the strikeouts. Lopez has 23 punchouts to three walks (23% K-BB), and his 26.4 K% is 31st in baseball among starters. His ownership needs to be around 60 percent.
Hector Neris (RP – PHI): 16%
Neris disappointed in the first half of 2018, but he closed out the season on a high note. With David Robertson on the IL, Neris is my bet to lead the Phillies in saves over Seranthony Dominguez. This is Gabe Kapler that we’re talking about, so who really knows?