Fantasy Baseball Category Analysis: Week 5
What was your most memorable call-up as far as hype goes? For me, it was nearly a decade ago, when Stephen Strasburg made his debut against the Pirates in Washington.
I remember sitting and watching him dominate the lowly Pirates offense to the tune of 14 strikeouts. My favorite piece of bar trivia to pull out is asking who hit the first-ever home run off of Strasburg. That answer is, of course, the unforgettable Delwyn Young.
When Vladimir Guerrero Jr. took to the field Friday night in The Six, that was the most excited I’ve seen the baseball — not just fantasy — community in a long time. Sure, the fantasy community was pumped when Ronald Acuna Jr. debuted in 2018, but it lacked the gravitas of Guerrero’s arrival across the industry.
We’ve seen more and more players get called up recently, and that wave is only going to continue. Last week, I talked about picking up Nick Senzel. His promotion is imminent, as the Reds are preparing to bring him up on Friday to start a homestand.
For this week’s category help, I am going to highlight five top prospects — as well as five non-prospects — owned in 50 percent of leagues or fewer who can help in your category leagues sooner rather than later.
RBIs: Nate Lowe (1B – TB) – 23%
There should be far more excitement around this call-up than there seems to be. Lowe is a left-handed hitting first baseman who draws comparisons to Anthony Rizzo. It’s unclear how much he will play against left-handed pitching right away, but he should be owned as a corner infielder or utility player.
In his first game with the Rays, he smoked a double that had a 113.3-mph exit velocity. He has good power and the ability to hit for a .260 average in the middle of a great lineup, which will only help with his RBI potential.
Stolen Bases: Tyler Wade (2B – NYY) – 1%
This one is reserved for deeper leagues, but with all of the injuries that the Yankees have had, Wade is getting playing time in the outfield and infield for the Bronx Bombers. He has five steals so far, which you’ll sign up for any day in a deep league. He is obviously going to lose playing time as more players get healthy, but bank his steals while he’s an everyday player.
Home Runs: Yordan Alvarez (OF – HOU) – 7%
While Kyle Tucker has always been a highly touted prospect, Alvarez has surpassed him in the minds of many fantasy analysts. He’s absolutely tearing the cover off the ball so far this season to the tune of a .386/.474/.916 slash line with 12 home runs and 35 RBIs in just 23 games played. He’s not on the 40-man roster, while Tucker is. Still, that’s usually an overrated aspect when it comes to calling someone up.
Tyler White and Tony Kemp just aren’t getting it done. Alvarez is a must-stash player, and while he’s horrible defensively, he would be a great designated hitter for the Astros and for your fantasy team.
Batting Average: Keston Hiura (2B – MIL) – 5%
With Senzel up in Cincinnati, Hiura now owns the best hit tool in the minors. Honestly, you could make a strong argument that he has a better hit tool than Senzel. He’s advanced quickly through the minors, and he’s started off hot again this year. The Brewers re-signing Mike Moustakas hasn’t helped his early-season prospects of coming up. Talent typically tends to win out, and Hiura’s ability to get on base will find its way into the lineup. If Travis Shaw keeps striking out as frequently as he has so far, it could be sooner rather than later for Hiura, who compares to prime Dustin Pedroia with more pop.
Runs: Michael Chavis (2B/3B – BOS) – 42%
It started with a string of injuries to the Red Sox’s second basemen. But even with Eduardo Nunez, Dustin Pedroia, and Brock Holt not too far away, Chavis seems likely to stay in the lineup. They’ve already used him at first base and, as a third baseman in the minors, he could easily work his way into a steady role with the way that Rafael Devers has struggled. The Red Sox have also, on occasion, showed the willingness to play J.D. Martinez in the outfield. The opportunities will be there for Chavis, who should score plenty of runs in this Boston lineup, and contribute with solid power and RBIs, too.
Wins: Jake Odorizzi (SP – MIN) – 19%
It’s hard to buy into Odorizzi despite his 3.34 ERA and 3.19 FIP, but he had another good showing last time out against the Astros. We know that with a single pitch, this could all blow up, but he’s worth riding for now. He’ll give you innings, and the ballpark and division work in his benefit.
WHIP: Spencer Turnbull (SP – DET) – 7%
While the command wasn’t there Tuesday night, as he hit two batters, walked two, and had a wild pitch, Turnbull had another solid outing and needs to be owned in more leagues. His WHIP is 1.22, which isn’t great, but it’ll play in fantasy leagues. He’s scheduled to start this weekend against the Royals, which should be a good outing. He’s a fringe top-70 pitcher who will have some bumps along the way.
ERA: Griffin Canning (SP – LAA) – 33%
Canning’s debut started out great against the Blue Jays Tuesday night, as he was striking out everyone in sight … including Guerrero with some high cheese. The command wasn’t there in the early innings all of the time, as he was ramping up to 95-96 but out of the zone.
Toronto chased out Canning before the end of the fifth inning, but it was an impressive debut for the Angels’ top pitching prospect. While the team will likely manage his innings pretty closely, he’ll give you good ratios.
Strikeouts: Pablo Lopez (SP – MIA) – 8%
Yes, another Marlin. Lopez is averaging more than a strikeout per inning, and on the season, he has 33 strikeouts to just eight walks. His 2.99 FIP is nearly two runs lower than his 4.78 ERA, so there’s a lot to like with him. He won’t get you wins, but he’ll help you out in strikeouts.
Saves: Shawn Kelley (RP – TEX) – 11%
The Rangers announced Wednesday that they are removing Jose Leclerc from the closer’s role for the time being. That leaves Kelly and Chris Martin as the guys to own in the Texas bullpen. I give the edge to Kelley given his track record and his 1.50 ERA and 0.75 WHIP on the season.