Fantasy Baseball Category Analysis: Week 7

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
May 16, 2019

Nicky Lopez has made his debut batting second in Kansas City’s lineup.

Earlier this year, it was #ExtensionSeason, where teams were seemingly handing out contract extensions left and right. Now it’s #ProspectSeason as we are getting new, fresh faces for fantasy nearly every day.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a wave of prospects called up to the majors. Guys like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Nick Senzel, Carter Kieboom, Michael Chavis, and Nate Lowe.

Picking up prospects is a hit-or-miss game, as we’ve seen with the names above. Those who wasted their waiver priority or FAAB on Kieboom or Lowe are probably leery to go all-in on some of the recent names promoted. While yes, for every Chavis there is a Kieboom, don’t let that deter you from picking up a prospect who can help your team. Is it really any different from chasing saves off the wire?

Here are some players who can help you in the traditional roto categories and are owned in 50 percent of Yahoo leagues or fewer.

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Runs – Nicky Lopez (SS – KC): 13%
By moving Whit Merrifield to the outfield, it looks like the Royals are committed to playing Lopez for the long haul. It’s good news for Lopez, who was lighting up Triple-A to the tune of .353/.457/.500 with three home runs and 27 runs scored. He also brings his 14.5 walk rate to the big leagues, and the Royals slotted him into the two-hole in his first game Tuesday night.

It may mean the end of the Billy Hamilton era in Kansas City, though, at least as a starter.

The Royals offense isn’t an elite group by any stretch, but it’s also not the walk in the park that it was expected to be either.

Average – Keston Hiura (2B – MIL): 49%
I’ve mentioned Hiura in this column and in my writing in general on FantasyPros for a while now. Next to Guerrero and Senzel, he had the best hit tool in the minors entering the season. That title now belongs to Alex Kirilloff, by the way.

Hiura was called up Tuesday, as well, as Travis Shaw went on the injured list. Being a second baseman only increases his fantasy appeal, as it’s a mostly shallow position.

Long term, Hiura profiles as a prime Dustin Pedroia meets Anthony Rendon. For this year, he’s a fringe top-12 second baseman who should be owned in most formats. The secured role isn’t there yet, but like most prospects, he’ll stay if he hits. And the one thing we know for sure about him is that he hits.

Stolen Bases – Oscar Mercado (OF – CLE): 23%
There was a chance that Mercado would break camp with the Indians, but he was ultimately sent down to Triple-A. Mercado’s calling card is his speed. While speed doesn’t always translate right away to the majors from the minors, it’s a needed category for most fantasy owners, making him a must-grab in five-outfielder leagues.

His arrival could mean the end of the short-lived Carlos Gonzalez experiment in Cleveland, especially with how Jordan Luplow is hitting. Run — don’t walk — to pick up Mercado off your wire now if you need the speed.

Home Runs – Austin Riley (3B – ATL): 19%
I’m glad that Riley got the call because if not, I was going to have to write about Tommy La Stella, which I really didn’t want to do.

Riley is the latest big-name Braves prospect to get promoted, but unlike the rest of the recent names, he’s not a pitcher. He crushed 15 home runs in the minors, so it was only a matter of time until he got the call to the bigs after having nothing left to prove in Triple-A.

While he’s a natural third baseman, the Braves have had Riley work in the outfield recently in case they needed him there. After Ender Inciarte landed on the IL, it appears it was good foresight by the Braves’ brass.

RBIs – Hunter Pence (OF – TEX): 40%
I guess we’ll call him Papa Pence among this group since he’s the only non-prospect hitter to make the cut this week. The Rangers are an underrated offense in general, and with Pence seemingly finding the Fountain of Youth, the Rangers are getting him more regular playing time. Ride it until he stops producing.

Wins – Corbin Martin (SP – HOU): 39%
It’s funny looking at what we know now, compared to what we thought we knew six weeks ago. On Opening Day, the pecking order in Houston’s farm system was Forrest Whitley and Kyle Tucker, followed by Martin and Yordan Alvarez. Now, it’s the reverse.

Martin got the call last Sunday, and he impressed instantly. He’ll face a tougher task this week in Boston, but I tend to trust a pitcher going against a team for the first time.

Martin’s arrival sent Collin McHugh to the bullpen, but we don’t know if it’s a long-term move. Although the Astros have a lot of internal and external options (hello, Dallas Keuchel), we are at a point where we can’t be too picky with pitchers.

ERA – Cole Irvin (SP – PHI): 4%
Martin overshadowed Irvin’s debut, which is understandable. Irvin, in general, isn’t a sexy pitcher, as he doesn’t strike out a lot of guys. He does, however, offer assistance with your ratios, which are just as important in category leagues.

If you can find the strikeouts elsewhere, go grab Irvin.

WHIP – Ryan Pressly (RP – HOU): 38%
The middle reliever strategy still hasn’t been widely adopted yet, or Pressly would be owned in far more leagues than he is now. He may be the best pitcher in baseball, and yet not many casual fans outside of Houston have heard of him before.

In 19 innings this year, he’s yet to allow an earned run or a walk, and his WHIP sits at 0.47. Will it go up? Sure, but last year, it was at 1.11.

If you’re sick of streaming closers and you need help in the WHIP category, grab Pressly or another middle reliever like him.

Strikeouts – Tyler Mahle (SP – CIN): 14%
Do you know what’s keeping Mahle from being owned more? It’s his 0-5 record. If he were 4-1, he’d be around 60 percent owned with his 3.97 ERA, 26.8 K%, and 1.19 WHIP. 

Mahle is doing a lot right this year, and he’s due for positive regression with his 3.55 FIP.

Saves – Hansel Robles (RP – LAA): 35%
I wanted to go with Luke Jackson here, but it seems that those of you chasing saves are on the ball. Well done! I’ll instead go with Robles, who, despite my preference for Ty Buttrey, is the reliever to own for the Angels.

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Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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1Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)RB
2Christian McCaffrey (CAR)RB
3Dalvin Cook (MIN)RB
4Saquon Barkley (NYG)RB
5Nick Chubb (CLE)RB
6Austin Ekeler (LAC)RB
7Chris Carson (SEA)RB
8David Johnson (ARI)RB
9DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)WR
10Julio Jones (ATL)WR
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11Alvin Kamara (NO)RB
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13Odell Beckham Jr. (CLE)WR
14Le'Veon Bell (NYJ)RB
15Derrick Henry (TEN)RB
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17Keenan Allen (LAC)WR
18Davante Adams (GB)WR
19Todd Gurley (LAR)RB
20Amari Cooper (DAL)WR
21Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
22Sammy Watkins (KC)WR
23Chris Godwin (TB)WR
24Marlon Mack (IND)RB
25Mike Evans (TB)WR
26Michael Thomas (NO)WR
27Travis Kelce (KC)TE
28Mark Ingram (BAL)RB
29JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT)WR
30Tyler Lockett (SEA)WR
1Cody Bellinger (LAD)1B,CF
2Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL)LF,CF
3Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
4Alex Bregman (HOU)3B,SS
5Mookie Betts (BOS)CF,RF
6Trevor Story (COL)SS
7J.D. Martinez (BOS)LF,RF
8Justin Verlander (HOU)SP
9Trea Turner (WSH)SS
10Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
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11Jacob deGrom (NYM)SP
12Gerrit Cole (HOU)SP
13Max Scherzer (WSH)SP
14Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B
15Xander Bogaerts (BOS)SS
16Bryce Harper (PHI)CF,RF
17Kris Bryant (CHC)3B,RF
18Manny Machado (SD)3B,SS
19Juan Soto (WSH)LF
20Rafael Devers (BOS)3B
21Anthony Rizzo (CHC)1B
22Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
23Luis Castillo (CIN)SP
24Anthony Rendon (WSH)3B
25Aaron Judge (NYY)RF,DH
26Whit Merrifield (KC)1B,2B
27George Springer (HOU)CF,RF
28Walker Buehler (LAD)SP
29Clayton Kershaw (LAD)SP
30Yordan Alvarez (HOU)LF
1Anthony Davis (LAL)PF,C
2James Harden (HOU)PG,SG
3Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)SF,PF
4Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)C
5Kevin Durant (BKN)SF,PF
6LeBron James (LAL)SF,PF
7Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
8Nikola Jokic (DEN)PF,C
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11Victor Oladipo (IND)PG,SG
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14Joel Embiid (PHI)PF,C
15Chris Paul (OKC)PG
16Jimmy Butler (MIA)SG,SF
17Kyrie Irving (BKN)PG,SG
18Ben Simmons (PHI)PG,SF
19Kemba Walker (BOS)PG
20Jrue Holiday (NOR)PG,SG
21Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
22Andre Drummond (DET)PF,C
23John Wall (WAS)PG
24Donovan Mitchell (UTH)PG,SG
25Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
26Khris Middleton (MIL)SG,SF
27Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
28Kevin Love (CLE)PF,C
29Draymond Green (GSW)PF,C
30LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS)PF,C
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